Everything starts between the ears and in the chest. No catcher will ever reach their potential without the drive and desire to be a great catcher. The Catcher Mindset is the hub of The Complete Catching Wheel because everything else hinges on it. It is no exaggeration to say that it is The Key to Everything.
What does the Catcher Mindset look like specifically?
The Catcher Mindset is defined by three key characteristics and can be easily remembered using the acronym H.A.T.:
Every time a catcher has the opportunity to put on their gear and take the field, they must always be “wearing their H.A.T.”. Catching is the most uniquely challenging position on the field. It is the more rigorous physically, requires the greatest amount technical expertise, and requires the most mentally of any position on the field.
Not every player is cut out to be a catcher, and that is OK!
But for those who do want to be catchers, it’s essential to remember that no catcher can be a great catcher without the Catcher Mindset characterized by Hustle, Attitude, and Toughness.
Now that we have established the importance of the H.A.T. Catcher Mindset, what does it all mean practically?
Hustle. Catchers must always, always, always hustle. Period.
Before going any further, though, we need to address something very important: do not use MLB catchers as your example when it comes to hustling all over the field! MLB catchers have spent their entire lives hustling like we are about to talk about, but when they get to the MLB, they have to be strategic and take care of their bodies. MLB starting catchers will catch somewhere between 120-140 games. MLB teams often have stretches where they will have as little as TWO DAYS OFF over the course of TWO MONTHS. Think about that! The grind on their bodies is unlike anything else. In the MLB catchers can (and sometimes should) jog to 1st base on a routine ground ball or walk off the field. Until then, it is our belief that every catcher must hustle at all times.
To think about what hustle looks like on a practical, day-to-day basis, we use these two principles:
No one should ever “sweat more” than the catcher. By sweat more, don’t literally mean the amount of perspiration but rather the effort. Catchers should always set the tone with their work ethic. There is never an excuse to let someone else outwork us. Why? Because our effort is always 100% within our control.
Now, please notice that we are not talking about performance or stats. Are you going to feel 100% every day? No. Are you going to perform perfectly every day? No. Every human being is going to have good days and bad days, but the key we are talking about here is the effort. Regardless of performance, the catcher with the proper mindset always Sweats More.
"As a team member, one of the things you control every day is your effort. When you work harder and sweat more, you bring out the best in yourself and your team" (The Hard Hat: 21 Ways to Be a Great Teammate, Gordon, Jon p. 49, Kindle Edition).
Steve Prefontaine was an American middle and long-distance runner who competed in the 1972 Olympics, won numerous NCAA National Championships, and set many American records. He has a quote that is the epitome of the Hustle Mindset that a catcher should always have:
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift” (Steve Prefontaine)
At the end of the day you should be able to look in the mirror and know that you gave your very best effort. The opportunity to play baseball at any level is a gift that should not be taken for granted. Every player’s days are numbered. Every playing career comes to an end at some point, and sometimes it comes unexpectedly quick.
If you play every pitch like it’s your last then you’ll look in the mirror every day and know that you did not sacrifice your gift, but rather did everything you can to make the most of it.
100% hustle, 100% of the time.
Play Every Pitch Like It’s Your Last.
That is the definition of a true catcher with the right Catcher Mindset.
The Catcher Mindset, as defined by H.A.T., is absolutely required for any catcher to perform at a high level… no exceptions. The catcher is the cornerstone of a team’s defense. No other position is involved in every single pitch of the game with the same level of responsibility to the team’s success every game. Catching skills matter, and The Complete Catcher will absolutely teach every skill and drill necessary to develop the necessary catching skills, but none of those skills will matter if the catcher does not have the right mindset.