A few days ago I published a post titled 5 Keys to a Good Blocking Position and it was very popular so I thought I’d make that a regular series.
In this post I want to cover a few key ideas about intentional walks (IBBs).
Intentional walks are one of those things that often get overlooked and rarely get practiced by catchers. Below I’ve outlined a few important things to keep in mind when you’re intentionally trying to put a runner on first base.
The most important thing that a catcher can do during an intentional walk is to always expect a bad throw. Catchers don’t practice intentional walks very often and pitchers don’t practice it much either, so they’re not always as sharp as coaches would like them to be. Don’t be surprised if the pitcher throws it at your knees or over your head. Your job is to catch everything!
A catcher’s job is to catch everything…this means balls that are thrown wildly too. Just because the pitcher doesn’t make a perfect throw and hit us in the chest doesn’t mean it’s ok for us not to catch it. Be athletic and make a great play for your pitcher if he makes a mistake and makes a bad throw.
The best way to stay in an athletic position is to keep your knees bent. This keeps you on the balls of your feet and allows you to move more quickly. When I’m coaching a game and we call for an intentional walk the catcher will always hear me remind him of two things: “Expect a bad throw and keep your knees bent!”
Just like when we’re receiving a pitch, we want to make sure that we give the pitcher a good target to throw to on an intentional walk. If you are intentionally walking a LHH (Left Handed Hitter) extend your glove hand as far as you can. If you’re intentionally walking a RHH (Right Handed Hitter) extend your right hand as far as you can so that your pitcher aims at it.
There’s a reason that this is #1 AND#5 on the list…it’s by far the most important thing we do! Each time the pitcher throws the ball you should think to yourself “Ok, I’ve got to be ready for a bad throw here…under no circumstance is this ball getting by me!”
If you’re looking for a more complete explanation of how to execute an intentional walk be sure to check out my DVD and best selling book Catching-101: The Complete Guide for Baseball Catchers.