Many former catchers will tell you that they would never trade their experience as a catcher for anything. However, the excessive squatting required in the position often leaves long-term injuries on the catcher’s knees.

“I want to go to college and play softball, just not as a catcher,” says Brittni Hagemier, age 17, from Elsberry High School. “It just hurts too bad and I don’t want to keep doing something that will permanently damage my knees.”

Brittni Hagemeir loves catching and is good at it, but she plans to play another position in college. Why? Credit: Scott Cleveland.

Hagemier was an All District and All Conference catcher in the Eastern Missouri Conference for two years, and this year she was selected All Region, as well. She has been catching for three years,

The pain was present the first game she played this past year. She says it hurts to walk and run, and after running she says she feels like laying down and not moving due to the pain. 

“Doctors told me that the tendon moves back and forth over my kneecap and is the cause of the pain.” Her knee is bigger than ever before and is constantly swollen.  “The pain is constantly increasing so before each game I have to take four ibuprofen to try and lessen the pain for when it comes,” says Hagemier.

According to Sandy Miller, a physical therapist at Advance Physical Therapy located in Silex, MO, catchers are most susceptible to knee injuries at the ages between 10-15 years old. Injuries are also likely when catchers are going through large growth spurts.

Miller also says that less than 10% of the clients she sees are due to softball injuries. However, out of that 10%, 50% are from catchers.

Trudy Bull, a softball coach at Elsberry High school for 16 years, was a catcher from middle school up through college, stretching over a 10-year period.  “The experience was great but I now face the consequences everyday,” states Bull.

The movements catchers use cause the break down and degeneration of the cartilage of the knee, according to Wesley Pennington, with Bio Mechanics Research Department, Steadman-Philippon Research Institute, in Vail, CO. The torque associated with the painful conditions and stresses that catchers go through, such as repetitive incidents or lower magnitude forces, ultimately make catchers more susceptible to knee injuries than any other position on the field. According to Pennington, the excessive squatting required in the position leaves long time catchers prone to permanent damages of the muscles within the knee.

One of the most popular ways to help prevent the injuries is using knee-savers, which are little blocks attached to the back of the shin guards. These are used to increase the angle between the knee and thigh. However, no scientific studies have been conducted to prove how efficient they actually are, says Pennington.

Injuries are not just due to inexperience. Injuries occur in the major leagues as well. Jason Castro, who plays for the Houston Astros, had to get surgery on his right knee last March. He had torn his ACL, which is the anterior cruciate ligament, while catching in a spring training game.

Miller says that one source of knee pain is the poor tracking of the patella, which is the kneecap, caused in the weakness in the hip and quadriceps.

To guard against injury, many catchers do a variety of stretches before and after a game or practice. This will not only help them gain flexibility, but also strengthens the muscles. The most common stretches are squats and lunges, according to Miller.  These types of workouts require maintaining the correct form to avoid damaging the muscles or causing knee pain. It is also recommended to jog beforehand so that muscles are loose when it comes time to stretch. When stretching, it is common practice to focus on the groin and hip areas so that nothing is pulled. Catchers should also stretch out after a game to allow the muscles to wind down slowly.

Related stories: Dangers of Student Athlete Concussions; Baseball Bats Become Weapons

After an injury or when you feel pain, Miller recommends that you see a physical therapist as soon as possible so that you are able to recover and continue catching. You should also get a “patello-femoral brace” to help by keeping the kneecap aligned. Icing can also help the recovery.

“Icing causes reflexive heating, which brings in a healthy blood flow to the areas, thereby helping with healing and a decrease in inflammation and in pain,” says Miller. Ice should be used for only 10–20 minutes at a time. This should be done after the sport or, if swelling is present, throughout the day. Madison Cleveland

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  1. :flag:smile:flag:arhh:flag:flag:yes:good:good:good:gamba:why:shh:shh:shh:shh:huh:yes:flag:good:good:arhh:sweat:sweat:wuwu:zzz:shh:ak:erm:congrate:wah:cried:wuwu:yes:flag:shy:sweat:good:yes[code][/code]

  2. catching is something that is fun to do. but theres times when its not. it could be very harmful. catchers should have a little more gear

  3. I caught for 13 years. My knees absolutely kill me every second of the day. Having more gear isn’t the issue. Knee savers, while increasing the angle between your thigh and calf, actually put more stress on the knee itself in my opinion. The bottom line is that it’s the hardest position there is on the diamond. It’s also the best and the most fun. But in the end you pay a price for it.
    Even with all the pain that I’m in constantly from catching, I wouldn’t play any other position.

  4. I’m currently a high school catcher and I plan on catching in college. I love softball and catching with an extreme passion, and I feel any future knee pain or possible injuries are worth these amazing, unforgettable years of fun and success playing the game I love.

  5. I belevie that catching is fun but im a type of person that dont like soft-ball or what ever but i think for who ever that wants to read this will help them learn about it

  6. this article is very helpful to me cause I play softball and am interested in being a catcher. but I feel that you can get hurt playing any of the positions on the field not just catching.

  7. I have been catching 2 to 3 years. This season I was the only catcher. That means I catch 5 to 6 games all by myself. Now my knees really hurt. Any tips so I don’t kill myself this fall?

  8. Catching from age 6 to 22, I’m almost 25 now. All of you kids out there, healthy diet and learn to master your body. Educate yourself on your anatomy, how it works, what does what. Take care of yourself, you only have one body. Good luck and learn to masterthe game of baseball/softball just as I have. Once it’s gone all you have is the wonderful memories. As unbearable as the pain in your knees and back can get, you’ll miss it when it’s gone. So be sure to take care of your young bodies. Had in sure all of us known this information as young individuals, I’m sure everyone of us would have done more to protect our bodies. Still, I would not trade those wonderful memories for anything, pain or no pain. :good

  9. I am a 42 yr old ex-catcher. I loved my days as a catcher and did it from 8th grade through jr.yr of college, 8 yrs. Couple that with 3 yrs as high school field hockey goalie and that equals chronic knee and back pain at 42! Up until now I always recommended the positions because of the fun and excitement. Having had 3 cortisone shots and surgery in the future I would say seriously take care of your body before, during and AFTER your catching days are over! But I still say I loved it!

  10. I have been catching for 9 years now, and i am currently 14 years of age. im have also been the only catcher for all 9 years, and my coaches have me catch the whole game out of all of them. I feel that all my injuries are worth it. It may sound crazy, but i just love battle wounds, cus they come with cool stories to back them up. catching makes you alot more tought then the typical players in my opinion. :smile:smile

  11. I’m a varsity baseball catcher a my school. I’m the best catcher here at my 4a school. I recently suffered a torn ACL from football. I had surgery on it about a month ago. And was wanting to know if I could possibly return to catching with 4 months of physical therapy and rehab?

  12. I am a #1 catcher in my league in Iowa and was wondering if I keep catching for my life will i hurt somthing like my back a=or knees

  13. i’m a former catcher and play football in high school. there are so many days that i wish i would have stuck at third or second base rather than strap on those shin guards. although the three years of football i played didn’t help, the catching was the worst. the only upside? i can tell you if it’s going to rain soon. just wish it didn’t hurt as a bad. so if your a catcher or the parent of a catcher, stop them. it’s not worth it. the pain is sometimes unbearable. it’s been 12 years since i’ve gotten behind the plate, and it’ll be too soon if i never do.

  14. I was just wondering, I am 14 years old and I was thinking about playing catcher. It looks painful but fun though. Should I do it and talk to my coach or should I just not. I mainly play 3rd base and pitcher. My Height – 5’11, 180 pounds

    • i’m 14 and a catcher too. i play 3rd base and i’d definitely say go for it. catching is the most fun and the most involved position. it’s also one of the most important. just make sure you stretch a lot cause your knees will hurt and crack i’d buy a knee brace in advance but just try it for now see if you like it.

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