Brandon Smith - Blocking the Plate
Editor's notes: The most exciting play is baseball? Casey is right, it is the play at the plate. Today, friend of the show, Coach Brandon Smith, tells us how to safely block the plate and make the tag at home. This is a must see show for all catchers and coaches! For our 1st time viewers, Coach Smith played professional ball for 6 years. The last 15 years Brandon has worked as a professional instructor, and for fun he has coached youth baseball. You can find out more about Coach Brandon Smith by clicking on If you like this show, be sure to check out our archives for more instruction from Coach Smith. You can subscribe to CHG or share today’s show with your friends and family by clicking on the “Subscribe and Share” tab in the menu at the top of the page.

Video Transcript:

Casey: It’s been said that the most exciting play in baseball is the homerun. I don’t agree with that and maybe it’s because I’m a Braves fan and I grew up watching Dale Murphy in the outfield and now I have Jeff Francoeur in right field but to me the most exciting play at baseball is a play at the plate. Well today friend of the show Brandon Smith back and he’s going to work with us on how to block the plate. Receiving the throw and making it out of the plate.

Brandon we really appreciate it, thank you so much I’m going to turn it over to you because people don’t want to look at me anymore than they have to so today its plays at the plate on Clubhouse Gas.

Brandon: In today’s session we’re going to talk about blocking home plate and make an attack plate. Now this one of the often overlooked parts of baseball that coaches or the players work on but if you think about it you know this is going to not only get us an out but this will preserve a run from going on the score board for the opponent so it’s a very important play from that aspect not to mention the safety aspect so I want to go over some of the key reference points on how to block up home plate to where you’re catcher’s are going to make successful plays. They’re going to get the guys out and their going to do that in a way that they’re protected that their safe.

The first thing I want to talk about is where we position our self on home plate. When that runner comes around third base, I want my left heel to be anchored against the front corner of the plate here, that’s were I want to put my shin guard but by doing that my shin guard is now directly in line with this runner coming down the third baseline. If he slides into my shin guard from here then I’m just going to end up dropping down on him and we stay relatively safe here.

If I do it the way some of the guys do where they will just open the foot up to block home plate, now when this guy slides in well my knee doesn’t bend that way that well so you’re going to get a sprain knee or the least sprained ankle so make sure the heel is anchored in that shin guard is right in line to the base runner coming around third.

The other thing it does is it shows the runner the outside part of the plate, that’s where we want the runner to go. A common mistake for a hitter or for a catchers is to straddle home plate. I’m not really blocking the plate right now because the runner is able to see the front corner, that’s where he’s going. He’s coming to the closest place. He’s coming right at the corner and I’m really not doing an effective job of blocking the plate.

So we don’t want to straddle the plate, get the heel in the corner, shin guard down the third base line so that we’re in a safe position to block the plate up and get the guy out. As we catch, this ball is coming in whether it’s coming in from right field whether it’s coming in from center or whether it’s coming in from left I want to assume the position of an infielder. If that ball comes in I’m looking for a tough hop, maybe a ball that takes a bad hop so I’m down.

I want to catch the ball and now as I catch it immediately the ball get sin to my bare hand and as it’s in my bare hand we catch ball bare hand, my back knee is dropping down so I can get down to make this tag. If I end up catching ball and dropping down with my lead knee and for whatever reason this runner decides not to slide or wasn’t planning on sliding, you can see the exposed position that I’m in. I’m going to get hurt, I‘m going to get run over right here.

But if I keep my knee, my left knee up and I drop the back knee now I can get down and if the runner stays up I’m still in a low position to push him off the plate and to make a safe effective tag. So as we’re blocking home plate a couple of things I want you to remember, take the front corner away. They heel gets anchored in, shin guard down the third base. We’re going to catch the ball. The bare hand gets on it and then we’re dropping the back knee to tag and that leads me to another point here that I didn’t tell you earlier but as you tag, tag with the back of the glove.

A lot of times catches will catch the ball. The go to tag and they expose the ball here. Well that’s going to be easier for the runner to kick I out. If I block and tag with the back of the glove, now it’s more protected, right so we’re going to tag with the back of the glove, bare hand on the ball. Try not to block like this or to tag like this because if my hands get separated there’s a greater chance that I drop the ball. This way if my hands get separated all the umpire is going to ask for if my hands get separated because the guy slides in all the umpire is going to ask for is show the me the ball.

Well if I got a firm grip on it the runner is going to be out so make sure that if we tag we’re dropping down the tag ball and the bare hand tagging with the back of the glove. Because this back hip comes in it’s going to ride the base runner out but it’s also going to keep us out of the fray of getting tangled up here at home plate. We don’t want to have a big collision to where I can’t come up and react to the bat or runner.

Now this runner may be around in first going to second and we want to be in a position to tag and then come up and be able to make the next play. If we’re not in that position if we just drop down and this is what we do, we’re going to get injured that runner clearly is going to get to the second and we may not make this plate the plate. So take these tips and implement them in the year gamer coaching so that you’ll be able to see immediate improvement on this type of play at home plate.

Casey: Brandon, thank you so much again, we really appreciate it. His website is our website is Clubhouse Gas which you probably know which it says it right up there in your address bar be sure to go into the archives and check out all of Brandon’s shows, Brandon is going to come back and work with us in the cage also some different fundamentals of hitting so we hope you come back for that. So that’s going to do it for us today and we really look forward to seeing you next time, right here on Clubhouse Gas.