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How To Catch A Baseball

We hear the following statement from coaches and broadcasters all throughout each baseball season: “The team that plays the best game of catch wins the game”.

It sounds simple. And like a lot of things in life, it is simple…but not always easy.

As a player progresses through baseball, they will have to learn to catch a ball while on the run, with a runner barreling into them at 2nd base and even while making a diving leap. 

However, before a player ever gets to one of those situations, they’re most likely going to be learning to catch a baseball in the comfy confines of their backyard with their mom, dad, brother or sister.

If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’re needing to learn the basics of instructing a youngster on how to catch a baseball, then this is the blog for you! Dive on in…

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Step 1 - Equipment

It seems pretty obvious, but oftentimes a young player will begin learning to catch a baseball with improper gear. When learning to catch a baseball, you’ll want to make sure that your young player has two things:

        • The Correct Glove - This may seem like a shameless plug for getting you to buy a new baseball glove for your player, but hear us out first.

          Many youngsters show up for learning to catch a baseball with dad’s, older brother’s or mom’s glove from their playing days. It’s usually 12 inches or longer and the player can’t even close it. These conditions aren’t conducive to your player enjoying the process of learning to catch a baseball.

          If your player is 4 years old to 6 years old…you can get by with a pretty cost-efficient glove. As well, the glove can be pretty short (10 inches or even shorter). Essentially you want the correct fit and you also want it to be soft. The below options are great for 4-6 year olds (and even three year olds) learning to catch a baseball:
      • A Softer Ball - To start out, don’t go for a hard baseball. There are softer balls out there that look just like a baseball (and even have seams on them), but are spongier. These balls are great because they feature some density to them, but if your player misses the ball and it hits them, it shouldn’t hurt if it is thrown from a short distance and at a low velocity.


Step 2 - Glove Positioning

When you head to the backyard to teach your youngster how to catch, just have them rest the glove on their glove hand shoulder.

Rest Your Glove On Your Shoulder To Play Catch

A lot of kids will want to try and basket catch everything right from the start. And even if you have them start with the glove on the shoulder, there is still a good chance they’ll want to try and basket catch most balls you throw them. But having them start with their glove on the shoulder is still a good practice. They'll eventually feel comfortable extending the glove to catch balls above shoulder height and across their body.


Step 3 - The Distance 

When teaching a three, four or five year old to catch a baseball, you’ll want to start short. Real short. We’re taking like 10 feet short. If you’ve played a lifetime of baseball up to this point, it’ll be tantalizing. However, this is where the player is going to grow comfortable seeing a ball tossed or thrown in their direction. 

If you decide you’re going to spread out 45 feet right away, your player is probably going to be super scared when the ball is thrown and may want to give up on learning to catch a baseball for that day.

As your player gets more comfortable, you can start taking incremental steps further back.


Step 4 - A Conscious Tosser

All of your baseball or softball life, you’ve probably heard coaches say “don’t aim it” when teaching how to throw a ball. And in those scenarios, they were most likely correct. But when teaching a youngster to catch a baseball, the tosser should try to aim the ball. We’d recommend aiming for right above the shoulder where the player should be holding their glove. 

At the beginning, the less they have to move the glove, the better. You’ll be able to naturally progress to a point where they’ll have to move their glove more to catch a ball. But at the beginning, more of what you want to work on is allowing the player to get used to the feel of the ball landing in the glove (which we’ll discuss further in the next step).

And if the overhand toss is too much for them as they’re starting out, don’t be afraid to just toss underhand for a while.


Step 5 - The Feel 

Earlier we recommended getting a baseball with a spongier core. When these spongier balls enter a glove, the player will be able to feel it hit their pocket and webbing (as opposed to a wiffle or tennis ball which often can't be felt in the glove). We want them to be used to the feeling of the ball in the glove because that is the moment they need to squeeze their glove around the ball. 

Catching A Baseball

And if tossing or throwing the ball to them isn’t working, just have them hold the ball in their throwing hand and slam or toss it into their glove. Some people will call this “couch catch” and it can be very helpful for a young player learning to catch a baseball.


Step 6 - Know When To Stop For The Day

The sixth and final step is to know when to call it a day on teaching your player to catch a baseball. 

Kinda like your child’s progression on learning to walk, it can be hard to pinpoint that exact moment when your player can officially catch a baseball. One day he can catch and underhand thrown baseball. A week later he can catch a ball thrown above his shoulder. A month later he can reach across his body to catch a ball. 

What we’re getting at here is that it most likely won’t all happen in one day. If he’s starting to lose interest after a couple minutes then press pause on the coaching lesson for the day and suggest continuing to play catch a couple days later. The short spurts of baseball lessons over the long haul are what will keep him interested in baseball and prevent him from getting burned out!


We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this article as much as this JustGlove Blog Writer has enjoyed dictating it! This one is extra personal as I have been teaching my own sons to catch a baseball for the last few months!

If you’ve gotten here and want some glove-buying advice, we can take care of you! Reach out to our team of trained Glove Experts. They can be reached on the phone at 866-321-4568. They can be emailed through or you can LIVE CHAT with an expert right now!

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