ABCA Clinic Recaps - Keith Vorhoff


Liam Carroll

Catching Foundation: Receiving and Blocking Techniques, Skills and Drills
Keith Vorhoff – Assistant Coach, University of Kentucky

Clinic Topics

1. Foundation/Stances
2. Receiving
3. Blocking
4. Bullpens

Coach Vorhoff delivered a detailed outline of how he teaches and reinforces Catching techniques with the Wildcats.  His energy, passion and attention to detail reinforced his approach to coaching: “show up everyday and grind.”

The foundation for Vorhoff’s Catchers is receiving and blocking.  As coaches we often get caught up in how well a Catcher can throw but Vorhoff reminds us that it doesn’t much matter how well a Catcher throws if they can’t receive and block.

I particularly liked Coach Vorhoff’s drills for determining a suitable “Active Stance” – i.e. a stance in which the Catcher can receive, block, throw and catch big misses.  Coaches often spend lots of time on drills to coach those skills but to be a great receiver or blocker the Catcher must start from a great stance.  Vorhoff’s drills for stance promoted athleticism and range of movement, aspects often neglected in the stance but expected of the position.

For each skill Coach Vorhoff introduced a goal (such as “catch the ball, eliminate movement after the catch” for receiving), and progressive drills to reinforce sound technique.  The range of drills, involving different types of balls, pitching machines and other equipment, challenges his Catchers and keeps practice fresh.  Two straightforward aspects of technique that you can look out for with your Catchers are keeping the glove-side elbow beneath the glove when receiving and leading with the opposite knee when blocking laterally.

Great coaches freely admit to “borrowing” ideas and drills from other coaches – Vorhoff passed on some great stuff from great coaches (just as I’m doing now), including placing an emphasis on pitches on the edge of the zone, called the “Stra-Ball” by the legendary Jerry Weinstein.  Catchers can really stack the odds in the defence’s favour by getting as many borderline pitches as possible called Strikes.  That will be a result of great receiving technique such as eliminating movement after the catch.

Charting Pitchers, including their Bullpens, in an extremely common practice; Coach Vorhoff highlighted his attention to detail by speaking about how his Catchers are charted during Bullpens, with results and rankings produced.  This promotes concentration, not only enhancing Catcher development but also Pitcher development.

My Most Important Thing

Coach Vorhoff was a Pitcher and has spent the majority of his coaching career working with that position. He was asked by his head coach, Gary Henderson (a great coach and clinician himself), to work with the Catchers, a change that could feel threatening to a coach.  Vorhoff has embraced the role and broadened his knowledge of the game as a whole; head coaches should challenge their staffs to coach different areas.

Last Up: Butch Thompson

On Deck: Jim Meier


tagged under: baseball, coaching, softball, catching

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Keith Vorhoff 14:41

Thank you for a great summary of my recent presentation at the ABCA…. Feel free to use myself or the Kentucky Baseball staff as a resource for any future blogs or baseball articles.  Thank you for promoting our great sport worldwide.

Best Wishes,

Keith Vorhoff
UK Baseball

About Liam Carroll

Liam Carroll

Liam was a Regional Coach and then Development Coordinator for BaseballSoftballUK until May 2014. He returned to his hometown of London to work for BSUK in 2010 after stops in Somerset, Bristol, Cornwall, California and Nevada. Growing up playing in Britain, Liam made the move to America to study and play university baseball. After figuring out that his future would be brighter as a coach rather than player, he moved to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to finish his degree and coach college baseball. Since then he’s coached youth and adult teams on both sides of the atlantic and with the Great Britain Baseball National Teams.

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