6 tips for a good old-fashioned game of catch

A game of catch is a beautiful thing. Maybe it’s the simplicity and calming rhythm of it. It’s like a silent conversation – your turn, my turn, back and forth. Maybe it’s the cooperative element – you’re trying to make a good throw so your partner can catch it. Maybe it’s the symbolism, particularly as it relates to father/son relationships. At the end of the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character calls out to the apparition of his late father, tentatively asking: “Hey, Dad – do you want to have a catch?”

Whether you’re heading out to play with a parent, a sibling, a friend, a roommate, or a teammate, here are some tips from Baseball Canada for your next game of catch.

1. FITS LIKE A GLOVE

Your glove becomes an extension of your hand when catching a baseball, so it needs to fit properly. As a general rule of thumb, players under the age of 12 should use a glove between 10 to 11 inches in length, while players 12 and up should wear a glove in the 11- to 13-inch range.

2. READY, FREDDY

When preparing to catch a baseball, you should be in an athletic stance (or “ready position”) with your knees bent, your weight on the balls of your feet, and your shoulders facing the target. Starting in this position allows you to react more quickly and move to the ball, since it’s not going to come right to your glove every time.

3. EYE ON THE BALL

This is an obvious one, but it’s a must-do for both safety and success. Keep your eyes fixed on the ball from the time it leaves the thrower's hand until it lands in your glove. As the saying goes: “You can’t catch what you can’t see,” meaning it will be difficult to catch the ball if you’re not tracking its flight path. Also, getting hit by the ball can cause injury, so be sure to pay attention and concentrate on what you’re doing.

4. GET A GRIP

Gripping the ball properly will help you get the proper spin and trajectory. Put your index and middle fingers across the seams with your thumb underneath. If you’re having trouble grasping this, imagine the Montreal Canadiens logo. Find the “C” formed by the seams on the baseball and place your two fingers across the middle like the letter “H” in the logo.

5. SQUEEZE PLAY

Catch the ball in the pocket of the glove and close your hand immediately to trap the ball inside. Get into the habit of following the ball into the glove with your other hand to secure the catch and prevent it from popping out.

6. GAME ON

Have fun and invent your own games. See how many throws you and your partner can get in a row without a drop. Throw pop flies or roll ground balls to each other. Find an open, grassy spot and try diving to make a highlight-reel play. Simulate a pitcher throwing to a catcher and count the balls and strikes.

If you’re feeling ready to move from playing catch to having an actual game, round up some friends, grab a bat and head over to the “field of dreams” nearest you. You can also find out more about organized baseball programs across Canada at baseball.ca.

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