Should Coaches Call Pitches?

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39 Responses to Should Coaches Call Pitches?

  1. Geoff Pilcher says:

    I think it depends on the catcher and how well they know the game and how well they pay attention to hitters. I caught in college and I do a lot of mental work with my catchers during practice and during the games. If I have a young (freshman) catcher on the varsity, then I will probably call pitches the early part of the year and gradually let them start calling their own games. I talk with my catchers after every inning, to find out what is working, what’s not, where we are missing with pitches and how to correct that, and pitch selection.

    My catchers know, for the most part, I am not going to be too upset if we give up 1 two strike hit, but they do know I will be upset if it is a constant occurence. Also, if a guy looks terrible on the curveball, why not keep throwing it and make him hit it. If a hitter can’t catch up with the fastball, they know not to speed up his bat by throwing anything offspeed.

    By talking with my catchers during practice and during the games, most of mine will call their own games by the end of their first season. I have enough to think about without having to call of the pitches too.

    Well, that’s my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth.

  2. Don Schone says:

    For what it is worth… my thought is- when do kids/ players learn to play the game. I feel that it is important to allow the player to learn and make mistakes. Coaches can call pitches but I feel it does not allow for the pitcher or catcher to develop into a complete player.

  3. Paul Worth says:

    No. How does a catcher ever learn to call a game if the coach is always calling the pitches. Let the players play. Coach your catcher how to call game in practice.

  4. Cornell Simms says:

    I think coaches should call pitches until the catcher understands the game. Baseball is a thinking man game. I do not want to complicate it more. Fastballs, curveballs, sliders, changups, and sinkers are supposed to be used in situations based on the batter.

  5. Mike Hughes says:

    I have done it both ways, but this year I let the pitchers and catchers work together to call the game, and I liked it that way. The biggest advantage to it, aside from letting kids experiment with what works and what doesn’t, is that pitchers will have confidence in what they are throwing. I think that makes more of a difference sometimes than calling the “right” pitch in a situation.

  6. Steve says:

    Yes in high school, no in college

  7. Matt says:

    I believe it is important for young catchers to be told what pitches to call initially early in the season, then, discuss it after the inning as to why those pitches were called and in what situations, i.e. batter’s stance, where he is in the box, how he swings, where runners are, etc. I believe it teaches the catcher to be a leader and take control. It also is important, in my opinion, so as to teach the catcher to be more aware of the strategic part of the game and to take the umpire out of the equation and to learn batters as the game progresses; to remember what pitches got the batter out in his previous at-bat, etc. Then, once you and your catcher have attained that comfort zone, you let him take control of the team and the game.

  8. James Hunt says:

    Not all the time. I understand why coaches do. They may be sitting in front of a scouting report, looking at the pitching chart, watching hitters swing, etc. and feel like they have a better idea what should be thrown. I also understand the philosophy of my job, our season, etc. could be riding on the decisions of a 15-22 year old who may not be as informed as me. However, I think it is important for the pitchers and catchers to learn this aspect of the game. As a former pitcher, I hated when a coach was calling all the pitches. I became a robot and quit thinking the game. Instead I just took the sign, threw the pitch without thinking about it’s purpose or what the next 2 or 3 pitches might be. I did not execute well in this situation.

    I want my PITCHERS to call the game. They need to be comfortable with what they are throwing in any given situation and why. As a coach I talk to the pitcher and catcher between innings and will sometimes question why we threw a certain pitch. As long as they have a reason, I try not to get upset, but will maybe explain why I think a different pitch was a better option. I also have the ability to call pitches when necessary. It does depend on the pitcher and catcher and how well they think the game, but ideally you are teaching them how to do this. If you have a scouting report, you should go over this with your pitcher and catcher before the game and between innings. I also believe in having a plan for the pitchers on your staff which works to their strengths, not the hitters weaknesses.

  9. TW says:

    I call all of my games but I let the pitcher call off pitches if they feel they need too. I have had 2 instances happen in the last 2 years where I didn’t call the pitches or a pitch was shaken off and HR’s were hit. For me that justifies me calling the game. My players seem more confidant when I call the game and they just have to perform.

  10. Brandon Hillard says:

    Absolutely!! If you are going to have any plan whatsoever for your kids you need to call pitches. Of course there is always Murphy’s law and at times a kid will hit against your defense but if you train your kids on hitting spots then you should always call pitches. This gives you the best chance of aligning your defense.

  11. Paul says:

    Before every game I create a game play with the battery. How are we going to pitch to most of the hitters? In early, away late… Pitching ‘em backwards… Get ahead with fast ball, nimble with “other” pitches… We highlight a couple guys we want to focus on, and then we might adjust as we go. I call the pitches, but they are all within our game plan.
    I don’t have a problem with the shake-off. Ultimately, it’s not the coach or the catcher throwing the pitch. If the guy on the mound has confidence and is feeling a pitch, then he’s got the ok to go with it.

  12. Darwin Pennye says:

    I don’t think that coaches should call pitches. Coaches should encourage growth in the game with their pitchers and catches. The game is for the athletes not the coaches. I do feel that he can reserve the right to call a particular pitch in a situation. If you train your athletes to do every other phase of the game physically, then why shouldn’t you do it mentally as well. Most pitchers don’t want to be robots anyway. Most wind up missing their intended target due to the fact that they don’t want to throw what they’ve been asked to throw. I just like to develop the guy who is going to have the best seat in the house, the catcher, when it comes to calling the game. Give the athlete some ownership of their game.

  13. Bob Pringle says:

    It depends on the knowledge and experence of the catcher. We often talk to our catchers on situations, reading batters, and the comfort of pitchers, but they have to want to learn and buy into the system. During fall, summer, and scrimmages I will have catchers call games and sometimes I have them send me the sign as well, so between innings we can talk about why he called certain pitches. Through my twenty years of coaching I have also found that some players don’t want that responceablity, so it all depends on the catcher you have at the time.

  14. Jon says:

    It definitely depends on both pitcher and catcher, but I think providing the battery with good scouting reports and suggesting signs have been a happy medium for me. I coach high school and only have one assistant coach, so it is difficult to manage all of the game situations when calling every pitch. I feel like I do a poorer job both calling pitches and managing defense if I call pitches.

    So the middle ground is knowing the hitters and giving the catcher an idea (work this guy inside or the out pitch is the curveball) coupled with breaking down the game during and after with both pitchers and catchers is better than strictly calling every pitch.

  15. Michael Barry says:

    There are better ways to teach catchers how to call pitches, like going over a pitching chart between innings. It’s our job as coaches to be educators and, by calling pitches, we’re encroaching on the overall learning experience of our players. A coach calling pitches is like a parent writing an essay for a student.

  16. Ted Browne says:

    Depends on the catcher. Last year, I called all my catcher’s pitches asboth he and every starting pitcher were rookies on the varsity team. This year, as a senior captain, the same catcher called the game for the same pitchers, and I only called a few select pitches late in the game when I had the benefit of knowing what the batter had done during the previous at-bats. And even then, it was only a few pitches. We also used code phrases and numbers so that he could know how to pitch a batter when the batter was walking to the plate.

  17. Michael Sammons says:

    I agree with those above that stated it depends on several factors, experience of pitchers and catchers, what level you play on, etc. But catchers and pitchers both need to be taught pitching strategy.

  18. NW says:

    I say NO. Coaches are to get the players ready to play the game up until game time.
    After the game starts they can implement their strategy on offense and defense but leave the “playing” to the players. I’ve seen coaches that call pitches act as if they were the pitcher yelling and screeming when the pitcher gets a big out or strikeout. Its a game for kids and let them play. Its not a x-box where the coach controls every move and when a coach thinks this way he isn’t doing the kids any favors and not letting them mature. High school athletics are for the students not the coaches.

  19. marty olmstead says:

    yes, especially in high school. coaches see things from the dugout that the pitcher and catcher do not. also some umpires have a sweet spot and the coach can signal to that spot during a game. as the season progresses they pitcher and catcher will pick up on the coaches tendencys and should all be on the same page as the season progresses.

  20. Dave Onusko says:

    Yes, Yes, Yes, No! This is HS baseball. More of the mental side of baseball appears here than any where prior to their HS involvement. It is a great opportunity to teach the catchers how to call pitches, set up hitters and utilize the pitchers strengths. Not every pitch has to be called and not every game has to be controlled by the coach. A well thought out plan as to when and where to call the pitches can supply a great learnin curve. Lets be honest, not many of us are in a position to coach (and continue coaching) just on how well we teach the game. Calling pitches left strictly in the hands of an inexperianced catcher could allow the losses to mount, games could be lost. I have had the good fortune of having very good catchers for a long time. As they work through our program they learn and understand what we want and how we want to achieve the right situation. The more they learn the more they call the game, and the more we all are on the same page. Teaching, experience and communication, they are a wonderful trio!

  21. JD Sullivan says:

    Do you want to win? If the answer is “Yes,” then the coach needs to call the pitches. There’s no way that a 17 year old catcher knows the game as well as the head coach. We chart every pitch and location to every batter and then analyze what pitches we should throw him in the next at bat.

  22. Forrest Frank says:

    What I see here is a bunch of coaches that think they know it all. I am sure many of you do however I know from experience that a lot of hs coaches got their jobs because of politics and seniority. That being said, there are many factors that go into this equation. This includes how the pitcher is throwing his pitches. The catcher should know if he warmed his pitcher properly. Is there a power struggle between the pitcher and catcher ? Some catchers are lazy and don’t want to block curveballs. Maybe that is because the pitcher doesn’t have good command and is beating the catcher up. The coach can be effective only if the pitcher believes in him. There has to be a level of trust. At our hs, the pitcher calls his pitches. That works as long as the pitcher understands pitching. At that age they often think they can blow a fastball by anyone. We all know better. Ted Williams said that good pitching upsets hitters timing.

  23. frank cimorelli says:

    Pitch location is much more important than pitch selection. The earlier pitchers learn this the better they will be. No,coaches should not call pitches but you should review with your pitcher why and when you should throw certain pitches. Pitchers pitch off of the feel for the game. Just because a coach calls pitches does not mean there will be success and the player doesn’t learn to think for himself.

  24. Don Reed says:

    I believe in high school baseball coaches should call pitches. They have a better under standing of the best pitch to throw. Catches can learn from this as well. You let the catcher call some pitches when the game is not on the line

  25. JASON STEWART says:

    No and yes. No if the pitcher is in command of his pitches and can get them over for strikes. Yes when the catcher and pitcher start a pattern of throwing the 0-2 curveball and other pitches trying to be cute instead of letting the hitters get themselves out. No if their is no scouting report on hitters. Yes if the coach has charted the opposing team and has found weaknesses in their swings. Age, ability and knowledge of the pitcher and hitters play a huge roll in calling pitches. Pitch location can be a bigger choice for the younger kids. Hitting corners and moving ball up and down, in and out is usually enough until they get to 13-14u. As they get older other pitches are needed to get the better hitters out. I call pitches when I find the catcher getting comfortable calling fastball after fastball when a pitcher is struggling. Making him throw a curve or off speed pitch can sometimes break that cycle of bad pitches. It also can just change his mental page and reset it after they have to think about the off speed pitch.

  26. jim says:

    no let the pitcher think. the catcher will learn. pitchers should see things as game goes on.catcher will call a pitch pitcher shakes off hitter hits homer.pitcher and catch will talk mid inn.pitcher shake off called pitch and gets k same thing .theyll talk mid inn.pitcher needs confidence in pitches and catchers.its a give and take

  27. Tim Saunders says:

    I believe coaches should call pitches at the high school level but it is also important to talk to the catcher and pitcher after /before each inning about why certain pitches are being called in different situations. The pitcher however has the right to call off a pitch at any time but must be able to defend why. I let my catcher and pitcher call pitches in the summer season if they want but we discuss what plan is being used.

    I believe catchers do a better job of catching when they don’t have to think about calling pitches. I see colleges and pros calling pitches at different times so it definitely has merit. I really don’t care if my catchers know how to call pitches–i care about how they catch the ball.

  28. Alex McKinstry says:

    As a high school baseball coach I believe that coaches should call pitches. The reality is that most players will never make it to the level that requires them to call pitches anyway. They are not given the same type of information that professional players receive on what a hitter can and can’t hit and almost never a scouting report. So we as coaches tell them to call a good game and give them this added responsibility why? To convince ourselves that we are helping them learn to call the game instead all we are doing is adding stress to them so we as coaches don’t have to worry about calling pitches.
    This year the coach I have had calling pitches for my team was removed from the program. I allowed the catchers to call the game for the first couple of games because I was not comfortable calling pitches. After some really bad pitch calling I have taken over that responsibility and call most pitches. I still let the catcher call pitches, but in key situations I am calling the pitch. Next year I will be calling all pitches for our team and letting some of the other less important decisions to my bench coach and my other assistants.

  29. Jason Salter says:

    Yes, especially if you are dealing with a young team. When I have a young catcher just coming into the program, I will call the pitches. However, the goal is to progressively give him more responsibility. That being said, sometimes we, as coaches, put way too much pressure on kids. Yes kids, it is easily to lose sight of but we all are dealing with kids. Asking a young catcher to call the pitches is, often times, adding to an overwhelming push for performance. This could backfire and be more harmful than productive.

  30. Rich Sammon says:

    Folks, it all depends on a variety of factors….age, level of skill of the catcher, skill of your pitcher,etc…also keep in mind that if the player ever reaches college he’ll just about NEVER call a game….the coaches do it ALL….with that said my style is this…when my players are new with me as their coach i’ll assess their game calling skill….I will have a catcher take signs from me for a portion of the season or game….then as part of development I’ll let him do it and if things start to go well leave it alone, when things go sour i’ll pull it back….my style is a balance of development and building player confidence to call a game and OWN the outcome….I will say for those coaches who NEVER do it I think that’s a lazy way to improve your players knowledge of the game…you can’t just say he kid, figure it out…also, when a catcher takes signs from you they will learn how the coach thinks and leverage that when they need to…that’s building a better player in my view….also, it helps when you want to call a special play because the catcher from time to time looks out for the coach…also, i mix this approach because it also give me as a coach the ability to interact with the catcher asking why he called that, i would have done this or that…it really builds trust in player development and the player looks at the coach as a resource….yes, we want to WIN games but we also want to develop better catchers…and I also tell the pitcher that if he shakes off the catcher and the outcome is not what we wanted he should be able to comment on why he did what he did.

  31. Sonny Gann says:

    Earlier in my career I called every pitch. Now, I have a system in place where if I want a particular pitch called I can, but I pretty much leave it up to my pitchers and catchers. Just believe they have a better feel of the game because they’re playing, what pitches working that day, etc… Of course there is plenty of discussion with both (pitchers and catchers) on how to pitch before the game and between innings. My catcher this year was a sophomore who caught as a freshman. I called three times as many pitches last year as this one because he has developed a feel for calling. In conclusion, they call with the coaching staff being able to pull a trump card on an as needed basis.

  32. Dave says:

    In the grand scheme of things, no. The catcher should call the game based on the knowledge he’s had instilledin him by his coaches. If a catcher calls the wrong pitch, or wrong location, training should be held with the catcher by the coaches to explain why the pitch/location was wrong. But in an important game the manager should know his catcher’s ability to call the game and take over the pitch/location calling duties to get the win. Then hold training with the catcher as to why certain pitches/locations were called. Getting the win for the team ranks higher than allowing 1 player to fail and learn later.

  33. Dave says:

    Pitch calling still happens in the Majors so it can’t be too bad…

  34. Tommy says:

    Yes and No, if you have pitchers by all means, but on the other hand if you have throwers, then whats the point? You can call a pitch and the thrower will be on the other side of the plate from where you called and up when you wanted it to be down.

  35. Frankie says:

    My pitching coach calls all pitches (high school level). We have discussed this many times. Our teaching is geared toward mechanics and game performance. Adding pitch calling to this level doesn’t help them as much as you would think because A) they don’t see hitter tendencies as well and B) they tend to call what they like as opposed to what has the best chance for success in that situation. Us calling the pitches IS teaching them to think because many times they’ll come in after a change up/ground ball out knowing that that was the proper call. Those that do move on to the next level will learn the game as we go….this is not a hindrance but additional learning time. Why do coaches call the offensive game? No one ever questions the third base coach calling steals/bunts/hit and runs, etc. Because our job is the ebb and flow of the game itself and by us calling the game we put our kids in the best position for success!

  36. Paul Ortiz says:

    In responding to the question of who should call pitches, I think a lot depends on what is your level of job security and secondly, what is your philosophy. If you are the head coach for a school that expects you to win consistently, make the playoffs, and win championships then that may dictate how you approach the question of pitch calling. For example, in the mid 1990’s I attended a major national baseball coaching clinic where a big-time Division I coach at the time stated to over two thousand coaches in attendance that there was no way that he would entrust 19 and 20 year-old players with calling pitches when his job, and those of his staff, were at stake. He was expected to annually compete for national championships. Furthermore, he went on to say that with so much accumulated scouting information regarding opposing teams that he and his staff had at their disposal, he felt more comfortable with himself or his pitching coach calling pitches; he just wanted his players to concentrate on performance and execution. Frankly, I thought then, and still think now, that this college coach was being brutally honest.

    In terms of philosophy, as a coach are you interested in teaching players “the art of the game”? Can you trust your players to make pitch-calling decisions knowing that there are going to be mistakes made along the way? How much accountability and responsibility are you willing to place on your catcher and/or pitcher?

    To me, the answer to the question of pitch calling comes down to several factors. I’ve already mentioned one in the first paragraph regarding job security. Another might be how secure is the coach within himself to allow players to have more input in the game. Still another is how much effort and time do you want to put into teaching players how to call pitches especially at a time when the trend at the high school, college, and professional levels seems to be for coaches to handle that aspect of the game. Ultimately, the question comes down to one word: trust.

    I’ve been on both sides of the fence on the pitch calling issue over the 26 years that I’ve been a high school coach. Over time, I’ve moved from calling pitches with no tolerance for players deviating from what I wanted to a position where I want to work with the pitcher and catcher in calling a game. In most cases I still make the initial pitch selection call while allowing the pitcher or catcher to change it if they see or know something I don’t. There have been times where I’ve got a veteran catcher behind the plate—someone I’ve worked with over time—who I trust to make the pitch calls. The same can be true for a veteran pitcher on the mound. In all cases, there is a lot of dialogue that goes on. Initially, before a game even begins, I will speak to both pitcher and catcher as to how we are going to approach an opponent given what pitching arsenal my hurler brings to the game. During the game, between innings, there is even more dialog in terms of what’s working for the pitcher and what the catcher is seeing from both the pitcher and the batters from his vantage point behind the plate.

    I think that calling pitches is an art that takes time to develop. In short, how much teaching do you, as a coach, want to do and how much are you willing to trust your players?

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