CRT Belt Use and Terminology Breakdown
Howdy everyone! Let's dive in on a few of the different elements that the CRT Belt aims to improve with respect to a catcher's receiving skill. While the terminology will differ from player to player or coach to coach, I want to breakdown a few of the terms we use to describe the mechanics/movement patterns achieved while using the CRT Belt. First, if you haven't already, please checkout this video detailing proper fitment and intended use/outcomes while using the CRT Belt:
Below is some of our terminology related to the CRT Belt. Keep reading for a summary of what these terms mean and how they apply to receiving the ball, especially while utilizing the CRT Belt:
1. Strength: this is pretty straightforward - when we are receiving the ball there needs to be an inherent level of strength properly applied to each reception. However, if a catcher is weak or is not properly applying strength while receiving (mechanically or at the wrong time) the incoming force of the pitch will "bully" their glove back towards their body or away from the zone. Those small movements can make a difference in the outcome of the pitch i.e. ball or strike! Catchers need to make sure that when the ball hits their glove the glove is strong enough to "stick" the pitch or the glove is able to continue moving to the zone as the ball hits the mitt. Not doing so creates movements away from the zone at contact with the pitch and may lead to lost strikes/borderline strikes. Resisting the movement of the glove from pre-pitch to contact with the ball, when done properly, will help to reinforce where and when a catcher needs to apply strength to their reception.
2. Efficiency: again, this is a fairly straightforward term - "the state or quality of being efficient". In baseball words, efficiently catching the ball. A common analogy that I use with my players is to imagine you are running from one spot to another. The fastest way to get there is to run directly towards your intended target. To run in a zig zag pattern or go left, right, etc. would increase the amount of time it takes to get to our intended target. Liken this concept to our glove mechanics, and we want to avoid creating extra movement up or out prior to contact with the ball. This creates efficient and compact movement from the bottom of our pre-pitch move to the ball as we are receiving the pitch.
Note that the graphic above only illustrates one potential inefficiency. The glove may also move early, to the left, to the right right, etc. in a manner that affects how efficient a catcher can be. While wearing the CRT Belt, the cable will 1) force the glove to move efficiently to the ball or 2) provide exaggerated feedback on inefficient movements as in the video above.
3. Connectedness: "the state of being joined or linked". This term as we use it describes the relationship between the glove and the body while glove movements are happening. Relative to the CRT Belt, we would encourage more "connection" to the body with the glove. In other words, keeping the glove in a position closer to the body before executing glove movements. A common flaw that catcher's display is reaching out too far or extending too early to receive the pitch. The CRT Belt aims to eliminate this movement prior to when the ball hits the glove, and should help to maintain better positions/movements throughout catch.
4. "One-pieced": this term refers to desired glove movements while receiving and involves the efficiency of said movements. When the glove moves from a catcher's pre-pitch to contact with the ball and finally into presentation those actions should happen in one move. We may say that the glove should be smooth or fluid as well. When the glove does not travel along one path we tend to slow down, stall out, or "bounce" the glove before presentation to the umpire. As an example of a pretty solid move:
5. "Two-pieced": this term refers to the opposite of a "one-pieced", fluid, or smooth movement through catch. Again, when the glove does not travel along one path we tend to slow down, stall out, or "bounce" the glove before presentation to the umpire. As an example:
Notice that the glove travels up, then down to the ball, and finally back up into the zone. This is 100% going to happen from time to time but we should work to lower the frequency of such movements into presentation.
6. Leverage: the term leverage relates to a catcher maintaining the ability to apply strength correctly to the ball. The glove should be in a position of leverage before contact with the ball is made. If a catcher does not adhere to the items listed above, they may lose their ability to maintain and apply leverage to the ball at catch.
7. Flexion: here, we are referencing flexion of the elbow (a.k.a bend at the elbow). Typically, too much or too little flexion when the ball hits the glove can create negative receiving outcomes more often than desired.
8. Extension: the opposite of flexion at the elbow. As we mentioned above, we typically want to avoid getting into full extension (i.e. stabbing or reaching) when the ball hits our glove.
Primarily, the two types of glove movements would be described as moving from flexion to extension or relative extension at catch into flexion (i.e. absorbing the ball).
Example of receiving into extension:
Example of receiving into flexion:
The CRT Belt can both resist movements into extension AND assist movements into flexion while maintaining the other items mentioned above.
To wrap this up, making sure that the CRT Belt is being used correctly while also understanding its application and some of the terminology behind it is important to developing cleaner, more repeatable receiving mechanics. Hopefully this post provides some further information on how to use and best utilize the CRT Belt. If you have recently purchased a CRT Belt or are thinking of purchasing check out the video below for a simple drill package to use in your receiving work:
You can also check out this brief video on the application to the CRT Belt as it relates to game-like receptions:
Dominate the zone.