Who Should Call the Pitches?

There are always two sides to the argument of whether a coach or the catcher should call the pitches. The coach has more experience but the catcher has a better view. For years I primarily called the pitches because every pitcher on our team was one of my students.

I knew the rhythm she liked to establish. I had scouted the opposing team to identify their tendencies, so it made sense for me to call the game. When I moved out of coaching, I was perfectly happy with that philosophy of pitch calling.
Later our younger daughter joined a high level 18U team and they needed some extra help on the coaching staff. Around mid-season I reluctantly agreed to come back into the dugout. By then I had carefully watched the primary catcher and liked the way she handled herself. So, when I was asked about calling the pitches it seemed right to try a different approach.
After scouting the opponent in previous games or in warm-ups, I would design a game plan. Each pitcher has different strengths, so I would meet with our catcher and go over the plan for the pitcher who would be starting. I would explain the tendencies of the opponent, talk strategy for particularly troublesome hitters, and lay out a general plan as to how she could best utilize the tools of the pitcher who would be starting. Later, if we changed pitchers, I quickly gave her a game plan for the new one. She knew our objective and set about putting it into action. A great advantage is that she was right there to take note if the other team made adjustments such as moving to a different spot in the box, trying to control tempo, or trying to anticipate a certain pitch. She could quickly make her own adjustments instead of waiting to bring me up to speed between innings.
Before long I was admiring the job the catcher was doing. She took her responsibilities seriously. In the past, if we gave up a base hit, often I felt it was my fault for calling a particular pitch. Soon I saw her taking responsible and working harder to do a better job every inning of every game. The pitchers responded beautifully and it was great to see them communicating in new ways as they worked together to keep batters in check.
Who should call the pitches? There are as many arguments as there are teams out there. The bottom line is this. I broke tradition and learned something. A catcher also learned. A team felt more in involved in their own game. Those are three pretty strong arguments for standing back and giving them room to grow.

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