SITUATION BASEBALL: Basics of knowing what to do with the ball

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We teach our players to stand on the same side of the base the ball is coming from, but not in the path of the runner. This teaching detail can can be reserved for players at the 10 year old level and above. Positioning for a force out is slightly different. In this situation the defensive player starts in a Ready Position facing the ball, with their throwing hand foot's heel centered at the side of the base the ball is coming from, and a couple inches from the base.

This is primarily in reference to taking a throw at first when the side of the base the ball is coming from is not in the path of the runner. When taking a throw on a force out at another base or home plate, the defensive player often would find themself in the path of the runner when standing on the side of the base the ball is coming from.

In such case, the defensive player, in a Ready Position, positions the heel of one foot next to the corner of the base, with the other foot away from the path of the runner.

This is where the common confusion of the 'stretch' position of taking a throw comes into play. It is not until the throw is in the air and the player sees that it will be accurate that they move into a stretch position. The teaching statement is, "Don't commit your feet until you see the ball". The problem in the misunderstanding of the 'stretch' position comes from the fact that, when watching a game, our eyes are following the ball and not the defensive player setting up to take the throw at the base most often this is first base.

We don't see that the player often the first baseman , first sets up in a 'Ready Position'. Only after they recognize the throw is accurate, so they move into a stretch position. But the average fan, who is following the ball, only sees the player receiving the throw at the end of the play after they have already moved out of the Ready Position to a Stretch Position.

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The actions of the game are dictated by where the ball is on the field its relationship to the defensive players and the the base runners. Given these facts, players on defense want to watch the ball. However, the infielders who are not making a play on the ball have higher priority regarding their defensive responsibilities - they need to cover a base. When coaching our team we want to constantly remind our infielders that if they aren't getting the ball, they need to cover a base. Covering a base properly means taking their eyes off the ball and directing their eyes to the base they are responsible for covering.

This means staring at the base, while sprinting to it.

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Only after they arrive at the base do they turn around and face the ball in preparation for the possibility of receiving a throw. This action requires maybe a second or two to complete. We tell our players, 'Cover the base, then you can watch the game from there'. Look for other runners - In many teaching situations this phrase is taught as "look for the next play".

When working with kids we want to structure our talk as literally as possible. When looking for the next play what are we looking for? We are looking to see if any of the other runners are trying to advance, and if they are, be prepared to make a throw. After making a play at a base, we want to train our players to immediately get into a Power Position, while Moving Their Feet towards the middle of the diamond. With this habit in place, when there is a time that another runner is trying to advance, our players are prepared to throw and are moving towards the base they need to throw to gaining ground toward the middle of the infield is moving a player closer to the other three bases.

This section is dedicated to helping coaches teach kids their defensive responsibilities on each play regardless of where the ball is hit or where the runners are.

The concepts laid out in this section can help us improve teaching kids 'how to play the game'. Before digging in, let's add something to the old coaching comment, "Be sure you know what to do if the ball is hit to you". But the ball is hit to one player; what about the other eight? We must also teach our players to, "Know what you are going to do when the ball is NOT hit to you". When the game is played properly each player on defense is moving sprinting the moment the ball comes off the bat.

Often, as the play evolves, and the ball moves around the field, some players will have to MOVE and re-position themselves as their responsibilities change. Moving the Ball on Defense. We want to instruct our players to 'keep the ball moving' when handling it on defense. There are two ways to transport the ball around the field:. Most kids only consider the first option. We want to teach our players early on that they are not required to throw the ball in order to move it around the field.

It is perfectly acceptable to carry the ball. Many young players do not recognize they have the option of carrying the ball to its destination. They believe that the ball is only moved by making a throw. It is important to point this out to our players very early in the year. When those times come up that a player is not sure what to do with the ball, the teaching is run with the ball straight for the pitching rubber. Each step closer to the middle of the diamond, the player with the ball becomes a greater threat to the base runners and they are that much more likely to not try advancing to the next base.

When the ball is near the pitching rubber, the player with the ball is an equal, and significant, threat to all base runners. This is why the pitching rubber is the destination for a player who is not sure of what to do with the ball. While that player is heading toward the pitching rubber, they are assessing the the situation on the field. It is likely that while they are on the move, they will figure out where to throw the ball. At which time they can go ahead and make the throw.

This throw has a better chance of being a good one because, as a result of moving the ball toward the middle of the diamond, they have shortened the distance required of the throw. As soon as a player has control of the ball they must immediately move the ball No standing in one spot holding the ball. The first day we work on team defense we want to explain that the catcher's position is Not behind home plate Once the ball is put in play the catcher moves to their 'position', in front of home plate One of the most valuable tools a coach can use is the Mini Diamond.

Any drill in which the focus of the teaching is something other than working on full on overhand throwing technique can be run on a Mini Diamond. Use of the Mini Diamond is referenced throughout the Coaching Guide. It is constructed using cones, throw down bases, ball caps, extra shirts that are laying around, a leaf, anything. Examples of drills that can be run using a Mini Diamond include relays, backing-up and base coverage responsibilities, and first and third defense. Keep in mind that for most activities the throwing and catching aspect is the last skill that needs to be mastered and we take care of that during 'Playing Catch Practice'.

Proper movement, positioning and communication need to be understood and mastered to some extent before be add the throwing aspect to cement the execution of the activity. The Mini Diamond is also used to teach drills and plays before running them on the regular size field. Players are able to get many reps in a short period of time on the Mini Diamond. This more compact environment enable coaches to better communicate and teach.

When players take the learning and habits established on the Mini Diamond to the regular sized field, their work can focus primarily on throwing, catching and timing. Three Individual Responsibilities - Three B's.

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Regardless of level of play or the situation, each player on defense has one of three responsibilities: Once the ball is fielded and moved to another point on the field, the responsibilities of some players change, while most have to reposition themeselves in relationship to the ball's new location on the field. Early in the teaching process our objective is to train our players to correctly respond to where the ball is hit off the bat. As the season progresses we want to teach our players that their our positioning on the field in relationship to the bases and the ball changes each time the ball moves.

That may be as subtle of a movement as a slight turn in order to keep their body facing the ball. It may be more dramatic as running 30'' to reestablish the straight line relationship from the ball to the base to them in their backing up of a base. Stop the ball - this begins by establishing in the minds of our players and constantly reinforcing that they want to go get the ball and get it as quickly as possible. Stop the runners - the runners stop when they determine that further advancement might put them at risk of getting out.

Quickly moving the ball closer to the runners helps them to determine its time to stop. The other way to stop a runner is to get the ball to the base ahead of the runner. Often it requires a player backing up the throw in order to ultimately stop the ball we'll address backing up soon. At the youth level of play, no defense is truly out of the woods until the ball arrives at the middle of the infield and is securely in the hands of the pitcher.

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Some kids will excel in the infield while others will have a knack for catching a fly ball in the outfield. Infield Base Coverage Responsibilities - Explained There are four infielders, the game is played with one ball and there are three bases. Usually the shortstop is a better player than the second baseman and we want the more talented player handling the ball as much as possible. Unlike most games, a running clock does not limit the length of a baseball game. Contact Advertise Comment Policy Legal. Each infielder has only two possible responsibilities:

It is critical to establish a mindset in our players that their defensive responsibilities do not end until the ball has arrived to the middle of the infield. We also want to establish a sense of urgency to get the ball to the middle of the infield as quickly as possible - every play. The first action, by each of the nine players on the field, when ball is put into play, is to make an aggressive step towards the ball. For most it will quickly be obvious that they aren't playing the ball, so they move to their next responsibility: The three players in the middle of the field: Now that you have a basic understanding of how the game works, let's take a deeper look into the game of baseball, starting with the basic equipment.

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Former Braves pitcher Russ Ortiz. See more sport pictures. Photo courtesy Atlanta Braves. The pitcher and the batter are at the center of the action. Related Content " ". How can I meet my favorite baseball team? Up Next " ". Left field tends to see more baseballs than right field in young age groups, so if you have a player who is struggling to develop, right field is an area where they will get the least action. Use practices as a time to place them in a more challenging outfield position in order to earn that position during game time.

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In the later years, the catcher rules the field. Many baseballs will be hit to or around the pitcher. Your Overall Strategy Your most important defensive positions are up the middle. Shortstop Arguably, this should be one of your best defensive players. Outfielders At this age, you really just need a player who can catch a fly ball. Catcher In the later years, the catcher rules the field.