By Maxx Garrett, Catching Coordinator and Hitting Trainer
What is it?
This program is a combination of velocity training and receiving development for catchers. It takes you through eight weeks of velocity programming of tested Driveline protocols.
It also has 8-weeks of receiving progressions aimed at addressing the main defensive skills of catchers. The program is set up to do simultaneously as part of your off-season development plan but can be done on their own.
Who should do this program?
Athletes who are looking to improve their catching skills. This program has progressions for receiving, throwing, and blocking over the course of several weeks. Whether you are looking to be a better receiver or thrower, this program combines initial Driveline receiving programming and a velocity throwing program for getting the most out of your training period.
The throwing portion of this program is a velocity program built for athletes who are returning to high intent throwing. It is designed for biologically mature high school aged catchers and
up, who have undergone a full on-ramp and are throwing full intent prior to program start. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend the program for athletes 14 years or older who have a solid base of throwing, sound mechanics, and experience with weighted balls.
What it’s not meant for:
- Jumping straight into without proper on-ramp. The first ball you throw should not be the first throw of the program. Workload should be built up before beginning.
- Trying to complete while in season. If you are competing weekly then velocity work can compromise your readiness for gameplay. Gameplay can also leave you compromised for your throwing program hurting any sort of growth and risking injury.
It is also recommended to put athletes through a detailed Functional Movement Screen to detect any functional deficiencies and asymmetries the athlete may have. If you have an athlete with extreme deficiencies, we recommend addressing these with mobility and stability exercises and then re-testing on a regular schedule. If you do not know whether or not you or your athletes possess mobility deficits, investing in a comprehensive screen from a physical therapist is an inexpensive way to learn. Consider it an investment in the length of your career.
You must be medically cleared to throw. Any athlete who has recently undergone a significant throwing arm injury needs to first finish any prescribed physical therapy and complete a physical therapist’s throwing program before starting this program. You will want to be 100% before beginning any velocity training.
How to get the most of the program?
When it comes to throwing:
- Do the program as it is laid out. Plan out your schedule beforehand to give yourself enough time for an on-ramp and 9 weeks of dedicated training. The extra week is for a de-load week before beginning team practice or season start. Velocity creation and improved performance is a deliberate, slow process with many weeks of self-doubt and despair.
- Do the program exclusively. Resist the urge to combine programs or mix and match. Resist the urge to “do more” simply because you feel great. At the end of the 7 weeks, you want to feel great and to feel like you are ready for the season or the next training phase. Do not try to do this program in season or during competition. You will compromise your training and could leave yourself compromised for a game.
- Don’t skip the warmup or recovery work. Your body breaks down when you work hard. You need to give it the proper nutrients, care, and rest to recover and “build back stronger.”
On the receiving side:
- Focus on these two principles:
- Minimize negative movement during the catch – We refer to any movement of the glove away from the middle of the zone during the catch as negative movement. .
- Move the ball towards the strike zone through the catch – We want the “frame” to move back towards the strike zone in a single movement through the catch.
- Explore the drills. There are a lot of ways to set up and create rhythm, along with options for how pitches get moved towards the zone. We recommend trying out different setups and glove patterns to find what fits your style. When you factor in limb size, mobility, stability, previous injuries, etc. you will find different bodies have different strengths and limitations. Use these drills to find what works for you.
There are 3 different training days split up for 3 different periods. This means that Weeks 1&2, Weeks 3-5, and Weeks 6-8 all have 3 specific receiving training days. These 3 training plans are meant to be repeated once during the week, giving you a total of 6 days of training. These can be completed on their own or after your throwing program. Make sure to complete the catching warm up before beginning.
You will notice that the 3 workouts each have a different focus. The main skills for catchers involve receiving, blocking, and throwing. These training plans address those with a different focus each day. Receiving is what catchers do the most and that is reflected in this program. We see blocking and throwing as a subset of receiving because receiving is normally the priority and what happens most. Blocking is proper receipt of balls in the dirt, and throwing is receiving to get into good throwing positions, quickly.
This program has workouts for 6 days a week and includes machine work. If you do not have access to a machine you can double down on the Plyo Ball ® and short toss work. You may also substitute bullpens which are the best way to test what you’ve been working on. In my experience, local batting cages are very generous when you are just coming in to receive off the machine.
Recovery – Don’t mistake these for non-important days. There is a reason they are prescribed and it’s important for you to use these effectively. Proper rest and nutrition on these lighter days help you to be at your best on your test days. Align your off-days from your lifting program with these recovery days as well.
Hybrid B – This is a lighter intent day (60-70%). Do not air out your Plyo Ball ® just because you’re feeling good. Adhere to the on-ramping so you can build up a proper workload. Use this day to feel out your arm path and work on your mechanics at a lighter intent. There are two Hybrid B workouts in this program, one with some weighted ball catch play and one without. You will only be executing the extension phase of catch play. That is lengthening out with long, loose, high-arching throws.
Hybrid A – The intent on this day is higher than a Hybrid B as you will approach 90% RPE (rate of perceived exertion). This workout includes weighted ball throws and compression throws. After finishing the extension phase you will work into the compression phase. As your partner comes in you will pull down, throwing the ball on a line. You should be moving aggressively at your target during these throws with a shuffle. Catchers can make this shuffle quick to have it more game like.
Plyo Ball ® Velocity – These days are low on volume but high on intensity. You will record your velocities of each Plyo Ball ® throw for multiple exercises. This is a testing day where we can see how the body is adapting. Everyone adapts differently and the path to velocity growth is not linear. Your body may respond well to the new stimulus right away, or take several weeks before breakthrough. Velocity training is best done with one of our trainers. Warm up throwing is all done in preparation to throw PlyoCare® balls at full intent.
Velocity – This is the game like high intent throwing day in this program. You will go through regular warm up and catch play in preparation for throwing down to second base. Don’t overspend workload on your warmup by trying to long toss as far as you can or throw a bunch of compression throws. Once you are sufficiently warm, complete your high intent throws from behind the plate. You will be using different weighted balls. The purpose is two-fold. You will be training velocity but also the proprioception to deliver different weights to your target. This helps to develop feel for release and can help develop accuracy in your throwdowns.
Consult a physician before starting any new workout regimen. This information is presented as a template only and not a specific recommendation for any individual athlete. This program should be undertaken only by physically mature athletes who are medically cleared to throw.
Driveline Baseball will not be held responsible for the injuries that happen as a result of following this or any other workout program. By voluntarily following this program, you agree to hold both Driveline Baseball, it’s owners, and employees harmless.
All athletes should seek medical advice before beginning this workout program. If you are under the age of 18, seek parental or guardian consent before starting this program.