A Listening Posture and the Knuckleball

What is a ‘listening posture’? We know that it refers to a mental or spiritual attitude, but what is it like: Standing, sitting, lying prone? A baseball catcher spends much of his career in a crouch or squat. Many of the greatest baseball coaches were former catchers, because of way their role on the field prepares them for the coaching job. They are often said to be the on-field coach. The catcher has several jobs. The first is to call for a pitch, so they set things in motion. (the coaching question) The second is to catch the pitch. (hear the answer) If they fail to catch the pitch, it can mean disaster. So the alternative is to knock the ball down. It’s not ideal, but it can keep a runner from scoring. If the catcher misses the ball and a runner scores, the team may even lose the game. Ironically, the pitcher is the one who is said to have “won” or “lost” the game. But much credit is often due this on-field coach. The hardest pitch to catch is the knuckleball. This throw involves putting no spin on the ball so that the ambient air may direct the ball, herky-jerky, up, down or to the side. It can be nearly impossible to hit, but is also very difficult to catch, because the catcher can’t anticipate its direction; it doesn’t go fast, but it doesn’t go straight. The pitcher can’t spend his time worrying about whether or not the ball will be caught. A knuckleballer puts a great deal of concentration into the pitch. It can be impossible to hit, yes, but when thrown incorrectly it can also be the easiest pitch for a batter to hit. A listening posture is that crouch: ready to catch the expected or knock down the unexpected so that you can pick it up and toss it back to the speaker. A really good listener, like a confident catcher, is always calling for the knuckleball. Give me the unexpected, and I’ll knock it down, toss it back to you … and help you turn it into a win.