Catcher’s Signs to Pitcher
Having a pitcher throwing a baseball to you, especially at older ages, and not knowing what type of pitch is coming is a very scary experience. You can get crossed up causing a passed ball, but even more, have the possibility of getting hurt. That’s why it’s important to ALWAYS communicate and get on the same page with the pitcher on what is being thrown.
Giving signs to the pitcher should be very simple with nobody on base. The signs are very basic so the pitcher can keep a good rhythm. By using the Signal Stance that was mentioned in the previous chapter, here are the basic signs for each pitch you would call. All of these with no runners on are done by giving just one sign.
Now we’ve covered signs with nobody on base, let’s discuss signs with runners on second base. This is the time when giving just one sign is not a good option because if the runner is watching, he could relay a sign to the hitter to tell him what is coming. There are an array of options you can use for a system of signs. Still, you want it to be easy for the pitcher so he doesn’t fall too far out of rhythm. Here are a few viable options ranging from easy to a little more advanced.
*In the event of a pitcher shaking a pitch off, just use first sign but give a multiple of signs still.*
Previous Pitch: This is a great option because the indicator (which is the previous pitch thrown) is usually going to change a lot. How this is done is by giving a multiple of signs and once the sign for the previous pitch is given, it would be the sign after that. If you have a pitcher that is not very attentive, this is not a good option! You will need to go with something easier for him to remember.
Outs: This is used a lot and doesn’t require a lot of remembering on the pitcher’s part. How this is done is how ever many outs there are, that would be the sign that the catcher wants. For example if there are 2 outs, it would be the second sign given. If there is 1 out, it would be first sign.
Odd/Even: This system is done by paying attention to the hitter’s number. If the hitter’s number is odd it would be first sign. If the number of the hitter is even, it would be second sign. you can also switch it up if you wanted.
First Sign Indicator: This is a good system if you have a pitcher that can pay attention. This is done by whatever the first sign that is put down, it will represent the indicator. So once you see that indicator again, it will be the next sign after that.
Last Sign: This is a very simple and basic system. It is done just as it sounds. It will be the last sign given.
Second Sign: This is another easy option. It would be the second sign given.
These are only a few examples of sign systems. There are many more that are even more complex. With any of these systems, it is important the pitcher is easily able to figure out the signs. Not all pitchers can do the more complicated systems. Most pitchers will have their own system they like so it is up to the catcher to remember what each sign system the pitcher likes. This is also a great way to make sure a team doesn’t pick up what signs are being given.
Another important note of giving multiple signs is pace. Do not try to go really fast while giving them and all of a sudden slow down when you give the pitch you want. The pitcher will have trouble seeing the sign and you will face a possibility of a cross up. Be slower and more steady in pace so the pitcher can keep up. It will be more difficult for a base runner to pick up a sign when the pace is the same.
Signals to the Pitcher – Fastball
As you can see in the picture, here are 2 variations of the fastball sign. The sign is given with just 1 finger. This is a great way to give the fastball so your arm doesn’t move around a lot when giving a sign. One sign is given with the index finger and the other one is given with the pinkie. We do this for location of the fastball.
For calling a 2 seam fastball, you can do the same thing but wiggle your index or pinkie finger when you want a a 2 seamer.
Signals to the Pitcher – Breaking Balls
As you can see in the picture, here are the signs for a curve ball and slider. The curve ball is given with 2 fingers. The slider is given with 3 fingers. The easiest way to give the slider sign with 3 fingers is like giving an “ok” sign with your hand but curl your index finger into your thumb. This makes the 3 fingers very visible to the pitcher so he doesn’t get crossed up.
For giving locations of each one, you can turn your hand slightly to either side if you want the breaking ball inside or outside.
Signals to the Pitcher – Change Up
As you can see in the picture, here is the sign for the change up. The change up is given with 4 fingers while wiggling them slightly. The reason why you wiggle them is to break up the sight of having a lot of fingers down and you can tell the difference between the breaking balls and change up.
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