As a catcher, one of the most important skills you can possess is a quick pop time. Pop time is a measure of how quickly you can throw the ball from your glove to the base, and it’s an important metric for evaluating catchers. A quick pop time can make all the difference in getting an out or allowing a runner to advance.
There are a number of factors that go into pop time, including arm strength, release point, and accuracy. While some players are naturally gifted with a quick pop time, others have to work hard to develop this skill.
If you’re looking to improve your pop time, there are a few things you can do. In this blog post, we’ll share 10 tips for improving your pop time, as well as a training program that can help you take your game to the next level.
So if you’re ready to learn how to improve your pop time, keep reading!
Ten ways to instantly improve your pop time
- Ankle mobility – Pop-time is the key factor when determining the explosiveness of an athlete. A pop-time below 2.0 is the dream of any position player, and can be the difference between making it to the big leagues or not. Improving ankle range of motion is one of the main ways to improve pop-time. By increasing the range of motion in the ankles, you are able to increase leg speed and power. This leads to a more explosive pop-time and makes you a more attractive prospect for scouts. If you are a catcher, improving your pop time can be the difference between being drafted by a major league team or not. So if you’re looking to improve your pop-time, start with improving your ankle range of motion.
- Hip Mobility – Hip mobility is critical for all baseball players, but especially for catchers. Catchers need to be able to squat low to field their position, and good hip mobility is essential for maintaining balance in a low squat. Poor hip mobility can lead to leg fatigue, a high butt position, and reduced hip rotation, all of which can limit a catcher’s performance. One of the best mobility drills a catcher can perform is merely sitting in a deep squat position and hanging out there. Eventually, you would want to work up to a continuous ten-minute hold. If you are looking for a catchers’ program that has everything laid out for you, look no further than the 2X Velocity Program, which includes a cutting-edge mobility routine that can help improve a catcher’s hip mobility and subsequently develop a sub 2.0 pop-time.
- Improve your power-to-weight ratio – A higher power-to-weight ratio is key for optimizing performance in baseball. The power-to-weight ratio is the ability of an athlete to push power well over their own body weight. This aspect is critical for all positions in baseball, but it is especially important for catchers. Catchers are required to get into an extreme squat position and then explode out of it with power. This movement is called the catcher’s pop time. Olympic lifting is a great way to develop an athlete’s power-to-weight ratio because it teaches athletes how to generate explosive power from a static position. Developing a strong power-to-weight ratio will help catchers improve their pop time and be more successful on the field. However, it is imperative to have the mobility to go through the full range of motion in any of the exercises, such as squats, power-cleans, and snatches, in order to develop the most power and have a better correlation to enhancement of the catchers’ pop time. That is why ankle and hip mobility are at the top of my list for improving pop time for catchers as the impact of having poor mobility effects every aspect of development. I have included a link to my video which talks about how to calculate your power-to-weight ratio, at the bottom of this article.
- Optimize footwork – The footwork required for moving quickly from the squat position to a throw is critical in reducing pop-time and increasing power production. The combination of a drive shuffle step from a linear to lateral position will result in the optimal pop time. In the lateral position, the shoulders are closed and the drive leg is generating the force into the front leg to create optimal hip-to-shoulder separation. However, If the catcher does not have the perfect foot movement pattern programmed in his motor coordination, then his timing will be off and his leg power will be limited. This will affect both time-to-release and ball speed which is detrimental to a catcher’s pop time. The footwork must be trained using throwing drills specifically focused on the proper sequencing.
- Get the Hips open fast – A direct link to foot work is the hips. Taking your recently perfected foot work, and pairing it with generating enough speed of movement and force production through the lower half to drive the hips completely open allows catchers to generate more power through the arm that then translates into an increase in ball speed. It is imperative to understand the correlation between a catchers foot work and how it relates to hip-to-rotation. Hip rotation plays an important role in a catcher’s pop time because it helps to generate power when throwing the ball. The faster the hips rotate, the more power can be generated, which leads to a quicker throw. In addition, good hip rotation helps the catcher maintain balance while they are moving from side to side. This is important because if the catcher is off balance, it will take them longer to recover and make a throw. Overall, footwork and hip rotation are both important components of a catcher’s pop time. Footwork needs to be well coordinated with hip rotation in order for the catcher to move efficiently and generate enough power to make a quick throw. Catchers who can master these two skills will give themselves a big advantage on the field. Med ball drills are your key to developing the motor control you need to see an improvement in your pop-time, which can be found in our 2x position player program.
- Optimize hip-to-shoulder separation – Hip-to-shoulder separation is when the hips have opened to the target and the shoulders are still closed the moment the front foot lands and stabilize in the pitching delivery. By enhancing hip-to-shoulder separation you are able to place more of a load on the arm, which will stretch and fire the arm at a faster rate. However, with catchers, this is a little more difficult to implement. If there is too much hip-to-shoulder separation it may increase the ball speed but impair the pop-time reaction. This is where it becomes more dependent on the catcher’s preference and whether he requires a faster pop-time or higher ball speed.
- Front Leg Stability – By now you have probably gathered that a failure to develop the lower half is detrimental to decreasing your pop-time. This tip only adds more fuel to that fire and will hopefully motivate you to direct your attention to where it is critically needed. Studies have shown that when the front leg lands it has to absorb as much as 200% of a player’s body weight in 45 milliseconds! If you are not able to handle the amount of force generated when the leg lands, and transfer the energy efficiently back through the trunk into the arm, you not only set yourself up for injury but also a massive energy leak that will severely hamper your ability to develop an elite pop-time. Single-leg bench drops are an excellent plyometric that you can easily incorporate into your program to help with single-leg stability and are part of the 2X Position player program.
- Develop a faster arm path – this next tip may be a bit difficult to grasp if you are new to our methods of training, but it will be of great benefit to you in the long run. Understand that the path of sub 2.0 pop-time for a catcher is short and fast. Flexing the arm to 90 degrees and then loading the throwing arm scap into hip-to-shoulder separation is the key to getting the mechanics on point. From there the arm will launch back into external rotation and then explode into elbow extension internal rotation and even pronation. If you are looking for an introduction to help you understand these mechanics I would suggest checking out topvelocity.net/patreon which will help you optimize your mechanics and get you started with the basics of developing a healthy elite athlete with a sub-2.0 pop-time.
- Learn how to get into a cocked position faster – As any catcher knows, the key to throwing out runners is a quick release. The faster the catcher can get the ball to the infielder, the more likely he is to make an out. However, increasing pop time is not simply a matter of cocking the arm earlier. The catcher must also find the right balance between cocking the arm and opening the hips. If the catcher cocks his arm too early, he will lose velocity on his throw. However, if he waits too long to cock his arm, he will lose precious time in his release. As a result, finding the right timing is critical for any catcher who wants to improve his pop time. Fortunately, there are a number of drills that can help with this task. By practicing these drills on a regular basis, catchers can learn the proper timing and improve their pop times significantly.
- Put all of these tips together in less than a second – As any catcher knows, pop time is critical for success on the diamond. A well-timed throw can help to nab a runner at first, while a late throw can lead to disaster. That’s why it’s so important to have a training program that can help you improve your pop time. The 2X Velocity Program is designed specifically for catchers, and it has been proven to be successful in improving pop times. The program includes a calendar of workouts and goals to help you stay on track, and it covers all of the important mechanics that are necessary for throwing with speed and accuracy. If you’re looking to take your game to the next level, the 2X Velocity Program is the perfect tool for the job.
Improve your Pop-time with the number one training program for catchers
If you are a catcher looking to improve your pop time, the 2X Velocity Program is the perfect solution. The program includes a comprehensive training program and calendar to help you stay on track, and it covers all of the important mechanics that are necessary for throwing with speed and accuracy. With the 2X Velocity Program, you can take your game to the next level and become the elite catcher you have dreamed of becoming. Thanks for reading!
Free Stuff for Catchers
(1) How Position Players Use Med Balls for Velocity | TopVelocity – YouTube
(1) Workouts for outfield velocity and how to calculate power to weight – Ep144 – YouTube