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How To Run Good Practices

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As the manager of a baseball team, it is imperative to be able to handle 12-15 kids at the same time and keep them occupied both physically and mentally.  In doing so, you must be prepared to delegate authority, hold players (and parents) accountable and maintain discipline without prejudice, even if it means disciplining your own child.

Here are some helpful tips for managers and coaches (and parents) in running a successful practice:

1.    Problem #1:  Batting Practice Nap Time:   Batting practice is one of the most misused opportunities during practice.  Many times I see (1) player batting, (1) coach pitching, and (11) players standing around.  This will undoubtedly create boredom and restless players.

Solution:  How To Run A Successful Batting Practice:  There are two ways I like to handle my batting practices:
  • Team Defense vs. Offensive BP  (employs 2-3 coaches/parents)
  • Individual Batting/Individual Defense (employs 3 or more coaches/parents)

A)    Team Defense vs. Offensive BP:  All players are divided into four groups of 3 players or three groups of 4 players.  Each group will have a specific job assigned to them and learn.  The batting practice will mimic a game situation with baserunners and pressured circumstances.  Here is an example:

  1. Group 1 (Hit/Run Group):  This group’s responsibility is to hit the ball and hit the ball hard.  While (1) player is hitting live, (1) player is on deck and (2) players are running the bases like a game situation. 
  2. Group 2 (Infield Group):  This group plays the ball off the bat live.  Whether the ball is hit to an infield position or outfield, the players must properly communicate and react to the ball in one of four ways:  Fielding the ball, relaying the ball, receiving the ball or backing up the throw.
  3. Group 3 (Outfield Group):  This group plays the ball off the bat live as well.  All outfielders must learn to react to the ball, properly communicate and either:  Field the ball or backup the play or throw.
  4. Group 4 (Individual Hitting Drills):  This group will get the most swing repetitions during this type of batting practice.  An assistant coach (or helpful parent) can throw batting practice or soft toss in a cage or into a net.  Players can also hit off a tee, or do other helpful hitting drills in this group.  Want the entire article? Click here to become a TBB member today!  
Last Updated ( Monday, February 23 2009 10:39 )  

Double Cut Relay Left Field Line

The Double Cut relay is one of the most beautifully choreagraphed plays in all of baseball.  The Double Cut is the defense's strongest weapon against balls hit down the line or in the alleys.  It requires speed, communication and quick decision making from all players on the field.  The relay's primary goal is to throw out the lead runner trying to score, while the secondary goal is to stop all runners from advancing extra bases.

A Double Cut situation is needed on ALL balls hit to the fence down the line or in the gaps.  In these cases, unless the runners are ridiculously slow, the defense must assume the runner(s) will advance at least two bases, so the defense will set up three (3) bases ahead of the lead runner.  In the flash video on the left, the offense starts with a runner on first base and a ball is hit down the left field line to the fence.

Step 1:  Immediately, the defense assumes a two-base advance, so the relay will be set up to throw to home plate (Runner 1st, three bases away).

Step 2:  Both LF and CF will sprint to the ball.  While the LF will most likely get to the ball first, the CF is there to help back up and help communicate the relay if necessary.  The RF moves down towards the infield to help back up a possible back pick throw to 2B.

Step 3:  The shortstop and second baseman will sprint into relay position, calling to the outfielders for the relay as loudly as possible.  In most cases, the shortstop will handle the lead relay while the second baseman positions himself 5 yards behind the shortstop to protect from any errant throws over the SS's head or short hops.  The relay must be seamless and any missed throws will allow the runners to advance and score, so the second baseman's responsibility is extremely important to this play.  In a perfect relay, you should be able to draw a straight line from the LF, through the relay INFs to the target; in this case, home plate.

Step 4:  While the third baseman covers 3B, the first baseman sprints to second base (trailing the runner) and awaits a possible back pick play to 2B.  This is extremely important, as more often than not, most of the attention is focused on the primary runner and a play at 3B or Home plate.  Many times, the trailing runner can lose focus and round 2B too far and can be back picked at 2B so LOOK FOR THIS PLAY.

Step 5:  The Catcher remains at home and directs the play, lining up the relay Infielders and making the final decision on which option the defense will take.

Option 1: (Primary Play) Relay to HOME
Option 2: Relay/Backpick to 3B
Option 3: Backpick to 2B

Shown at Left:  Option 2

In this video, the defense realizes that although the lead runner (primary play) will score, the batter runner can be easily thrown out at 3B.  The Catcher in this case makes the decision to divert the relay to 3B and nail the batter runner at 3rd.
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