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Teaching the fundamental skills of baseball, as well as developing a fighting and winning attitude in any youngster, cannot be stressed too strongly.  However, you cannot overlook a most important factor -- the spirit of the game itself, and what it can do for the boy taking part in this wonderful sport. It is a game where good clean and wholesome companionship rides with every base hit, error or outstanding fielding play.  It is a game where a win and loss are treated equally everywhere but in the standings.  It is a game where the substitute player is treated on the same basis as a star.

It is a game to build healthy bodies, happy hearts and clean minds. Remember; -- each boy is an individual:  his development, his acquiring of skills, insights and resources, and his becoming a member of the team are important.  The game is only a game and is at most a means by which the individual can acquire the socially desirable traits that build character. The boy is more important than the game, and the boy today becomes the man and the citizen of tomorrow.
 
                                                                         Eddie Robisnon Administrator (Minor Leagues)
                                                                         Atlanta Braves, Inc.
 
ORGANIZING AND CONDUCTING PRACTICE SESSIONS
 
The results of a completed baseball season, successful or unsuccessful, is in may instances determined by the time and effort spent in organizing and conducting practice sessions.
 
A coach or manager should at all times have a planned schedule set up for the day’s practice session.  Time should be allotted to the various fundamentals to be covered in such a manner as to make use of every minute you have your team on the field.  Maintaining the interest of your players is of the greatest importance in getting the most out of every practice session.
 
You, as a coach, can make your practice sessions dull and uninteresting by not being prepared to stimulate the interest and desire of a player to improve himself, or you can have a well - planned and organized session,.  fundamentals of the game and their proper execution can never be taken lightly and a great deal of time and effort should be applied in developing these fundamental skills.  Repetition, if not planned and made interesting, in this phase of development can become dull in uninteresting, but if game situations exist during these fundamental drills, you will fund that the interest and enjoyment of your players will remain at a high level.
 
To cite an example:  Let us assume you are devoting time to a bunting drill:  You have your players practicing the proper way to bunt; you have the pitcher standing on the rubber, going into his stretch, and holding a man on first; you have your 1st baseman and 3rd baseman in their proper fielding position; just as soon as the ball is pitched, game situations prevail, all players to into action and, as a result, it becomes fun for the youngsters.  You are also making use of several fundamental phases of the game; namely:  bunting, proper pitching delivery, holding man on 1st and proper fielding position, by pitcher, 1st baseman, and 3rd baseman, as well as base running.
 
During your batting practice session, similar game situations can be set up.  Pitchers can take advantage of this batting drill by learning to follow through properly, fielding their position, as well as holding men on base.  Base runners can practice taking the right lead and tagging the bases as they round the bags.  Infielders and outfielders can practice at their respective positions by playing the hitters as they would in a regular game.  A very important factor during this batting drill is to be certain you do not allow your pitcher to stay on the mound too long.  It is better to relieve him with another pitcher before his arm tires and avoid the possibility of permanent injury.  

SAMPLE PRACTICE SESSION
                                   
 
1:00 - 1:15  Warm up Period - Should consist of easy throwing, batting, catching, jogging.  Pepper games can be used. In pepper games, players should be split up into groups of three or four. If four are used, three (fielders) should line up about 15 - 20 feet from (one) batter. Ball is pitched and batted briskly.  The skills of accurate throwing, place hitting, fielding can be practiced.  It is advisable for better to shorten up on bat while batting, particularly with younger groups.  All available field space may be used for or different groups.
 
1:15 - 1:30   Sliding Drill -  Consists of each player, taking turns, practicing sliding techniques. Loose bag, grassy area, no shoes or spikes worn are recommended.
                                   
1:30 - 1:45 Bunting Drill - Consists of each player taking turn at practicing correct bunting  techniques.  To make drill more interesting players can be assigned to cover bases and game situations used.  Players having had turn may be assigned to bases or as runner.  Drill should be lively.
 
1:45 - 2:00  Cut off and Relays - (See section of Cut offs and Relays)
 
2:00 - 2:45  Batting Practice - Consists of each player taking turn at getting hitting practice.  Practice should be standardized so that players know assignments, when it is their turn to be on deck, bat, how many swings or hits to take, and what to do following their turn.  Pitchers should pitch according to coaches’ instructions, and be relieved at coaches’ discretion.  Drill should be lively to maintain interest. Batter can run out last hit, or try to beat out bunt if  swing five, bunt one system is used.
 
2:45 - 3:00  Infield and Outfield Practice -  Consists of entire team, with the exception of pitchers, getting practice and drill at their respective positions.  Both infield and outfield practice can be carried on simultaneously. A regular pattern should be established for infield drill.  When this has been learned to perfection, then variables or surprises plays can be called by coach.

Sample infield drill:  Coach batting and calling play:  (No pitcher used.)
 
  1. Ball batted, on ground to each position starting and 3rd and working in clockwise direction.  Coach calls, “No one on, take one”.  Infielder fields ball, throws to first.  Ball relayed from 1st to catcher to 3rd to 2nd to 1st, and back to catcher.  Ball then batted to shortstop, and so on.  After each play at 1st, ball is thrown to catcher who pegs to fielder (covering bag) who originally fielded ball. 
  2. Ball batted, on ground to each position -- (same as #1).  Coach calls, “Runner on 1st, get 2.”  Infielder fields ball, throws or tosses to 2nd, ball relayed to 1st.  1st relays ball to catcher..Catcher throws to infielder (covering bag) who started the play.
  3. Same as #1 and #2.  Coach calls, “Bases loaded, get two, home to 1st.  Infielder fields ball, throws or tosses to 2nd, ball relayed to 1st.  1st relays ball to catcher.  Catcher throws to infielder (covering bag) who started the play.
  4. Same as #1, #2, #3.  Coach calls “Bring it in.  this sequence can end the drill.  Each fielder fields the ball, thrown to the catcher and  returns from field.
NOTES: A drill of this type should be worked into slowly.  When perfected, it can make a a team “look good”, and at the same time provide a necessary warm-up prior to game time.  The above sample infield drill is suggested as only a method.  It can be varied by each coach depending on player ability.

CUT OFFS AND RELAY FUNDAMENTALS
 
1.         No on base - single to outfield.
            a.         Ball to left field - Shortstop to 2nd base.  2nd baseman backs up throw.
            b.         Ball to center field - Call play between shortstop and 2nd baseman.
            c.         Ball to right field - 2nd baseman to 2nd base.  Shortstop back-up throw.
 
2.         Man on 1st - single to outfield.
            a.         Ball to left field.  3rd baseman on bag.  Shortstop lineup throw from left fielder to
                        3rd base.  2nd baseman to 2nd base.  1st baseman to 1st base.
            b.         Ball to center.  Same except shortstop lines up throw from center field to 3rd base.
            c.         Ball to right field.  Same except shortstop lines up throw from right field to 3rd base.
 
3.         Man on 2nd - Single to outfield.
            a.         Ball left field.  3rd baseman cut-off man to plate.  Shortstop to 3rd base.  2nd basemen
                        to 2nd base.  1st baseman to 1st.
            b.         Ball to center or right field.  1st baseman cut-off to plate.  2nd baseman to 1st base.
                        Shortstop to 2nd base. 3rd baseman to 3rd base.
 
4.         Man on 3rd, Sacrifice fly to outfield.  Same cut-off positions as (3) man on 2nd, single to outfield.
 
5.         Nobody on base, Long single - possible double.
            a.         Ball to left field.  3rd baseman to 3rd base.  Shortstop to cut-off position to line up throw.
                        2nd baseman to 2nd base.  1st baseman to 1st base.
            b.         Ball to right field.  3rd baseman same.  Shortstop to 2nd base.  2nd baseman to cut-off
                        position to line up throw.
 
6.         Nobody on base. Sure double.
            a.         Ball to left center. 3rd baseman to 3rd base.  Shortstop line up throw to 3rd in relay
                        position 2nd baseman back-up shortstop and calls play.  1st baseman trails base runner
                        to 2nd base for possible pick off from relay man.
            b.         Ball to right center. 3rd baseman same as above. 2nd baseman lines up throw to 3rd in
                        relay position. Shortstop backs up 2nd baseman / calls play. 1st baseman same above.                   
            c.         Ball to left field corner.  3rd baseman to bag.  Shortstop to left field line in relay position.
                        2nd baseman to left field line in back up position to call play.  1st baseman trails runner
                        to 2nd as above.
            d.         Ball to right field corner.  3rd baseman to 3rd base.  Shortstop to mound area to line up
                        in cut-off position for play at 3rd or subsequent play at home.  2nd baseman and 1st
                        baseman to right field line in relay and back up position.  Best relay arm to handle ball.
                        Center fielder and shortstop alert to cover 2nd base as play develops.  Left fielder alert
                        to back up 3rd baseman on 1st base.  .
 
7.         Man on 1st base.  Sure double.
            a.         Ball to left center.  3rd baseman, shortstop, 2nd baseman same as nobody on base.
                        1st baseman to cut-off position around mound. Right fielder alert to cover 2nd base.
            b.         Ball to right center.  3rd baseman, shortstop, 2nd baseman same as nobody on.  1st
                        baseman same and alert to cover 2nd as play develops.  Left infielder back up 3rd.
            c.         Ball to left full corner.  3rd baseman to 3rd base.  Shortstop and 2nd baseman to relay
                        and back up position.  1st baseman to mound areas in cut-off position.  Right fielder
                        and center fielder alert to cover 2nd base.
            d.         Ball to right field corner.  3rd baseman to 3rd base.  Shortstop to mound base area to
                        line up in cut-off position for play at 3rd or subsequent play at home.  2nd baseman
                        and 1st baseman to right field line in relay and back up position.  Best relay arm to handle.

BATTING HINTS     
  • Take a natural stance - one that feels comfortable.
  • Use a bat that is easy to swing.  Not too heavy or too light.
  • Know the strike zone.  This is probably the chief fault in weak hitting.  The strike zone is normally from the arm pits to the knees.
  • Try not to lunge at the ball, but to stay balanced and hit off your back leg
  • In making contact with the ball, try to keep your arms extended and away from your body.
  • Taking too big a stride will have a tendency to hit off your front foot - avoid balls like this.
  • Keep your eye on the ball and do not pull your head away.
  • Try to hit where the ball is pitches; I.e. if the ball is outside, try to hit to the opposite field; If it is inside, try to pull, and if it is over the middle, try to hit through the box.
  • Follow through with your swing.
  • Try to maintain a level swing and not drop your shoulders when swinging.
  • Stay relaxed.
  • Never take your eye off the ball.
  • Once you step into the batters box, be ready to hit.
  • It is said “hitters are born, not made”.  However concentration and practice can improve your hitting.
 
 
CATCHER HINTS
 
  • Size, fast hands and strong throwing arm are qualifications of a good catcher.
  • Always give a good target to your pitcher.  Let him know where you want the ball thrown.
  • Know your hitters - their strong and weak points - and pitch accordingly
  • Know your pitcher - know his best pitch that day - use it in a jam.
  • Be alert to his physical condition - he may tire in the late in a game - especially in hot weather.
  • Be aggressive and full of hustle; it sets a good example for the rest of the team.
  • Practice stopping balls thrown in the dirt - you may have to drop down on your knees to do it.
  • Do not hesitate to shift positions in catching wide pitches.
  • Make sure your sign to the pitcher are not seen by the opposition.
  • Know who is covering 2nd base on an attempted steal. This will guide you in accurate throwing.
  • With a man on 1st and 3rd on an attempted steal, take a look at 3rd base before throwing to 2nd; if he is off too far, you could pick him off.
  • Practice throwing to all bases.  Throw directly overhand and low for speed and accuracy/
  • On a bunt fielded by the pitcher or an infielder, in case of doubt, call the play.
  • On a close play at home on a tag play, take the ball on 3rd base side in front of home plate  and block plate.          
  • Be alert on balls bunted in front of home plate - it may be your play.
  • Set up pick-off signs with your infielders and have the courage to try the play if the runner takes too big a lead.
  • On a throw home with no chance to get the runner, run up to meet the throw and perhaps prevent the hitter from taking an extra base.
  • Keep your throwing hand closed until after the swing and the ball is in the glove.
  • Your pitcher looks to you for encouragement; try not to show anxiety or discouragement. 
 
PITCHING HINTS
                                               
  • Conditioning, especially the legs, are extremely important to a pitcher.  Do plenty of running.
  • Develop one style of pitching - this will help develop proper muscles used in natural delivery.
  • control is most important asset of a pitcher.  Learn to pitch to spots.
  • Develop proper pitching form beginning with proper stance on rubber.
  • Take catchers sign while on rubber.
  • follow through on all deliveries - this is a natural move and will ease the strain on pitching arm.
  • Practice pitching with men on base.  Going into s stretch and developing a legal move to 1st base keeping the runner close to the bag.
  • Make it a point to always aback up plays from outfield to 3rd base and home.
  • Keep the ball well hidden in your glove prior to delivering the pitch to the batter.
  • Try to throw all pitches with the same grip and motion.
  • For young pitchers, stay with the fast ball, curve, change of pace, and control.  Do not try to develop other pitches until you have reached maturity.
  • Always be in position to field balls hit through the box or in vicinity of pitching mound.
  • With man on 1st base and 2nd base, and bunt situation in order, be ready to break for 3rd base line to field bunt and possible force play at 3rd.
  • Always break for 1st base on balls hit to right side of infield - you will then be ready to take toss at 1st base in the event the 1st basemen is pulled away from the bag.
  • Effective curve balls are thrown around the knees - do not throw it high.
  • Whenever in trouble, use your most effective pitch.
  • Study your hitter and watch his movement in the batter’s box - he may tip you off on what he is going to do or pitch he is looking for.           
  • In possible bunt situation, throw shoulder high and hard.
  • Do plenty of running between pitching - this is the only way you can keep your legs strong.
  • Have an idea on what you are doing on every pitch - know the inning, score and count on hitter at all times.
                                                           
 
 
OUTFIELDER HINTS                                                            
 
  • Know what you are going to do with the ball if it is hit to you on every pitch.
  • Know the inning, score and hitter at all time.  This will guide you in deciding where to throw ball.
  • Don’t waste time getting the ball into the infield - get it to the proper man as quickly and accurately as possible.
  • Get to a fly ball as fast as possible.  Do not get into the habit of timing your catch.  There may be times, however, when you time your catch to get more power on a long throw.
  • Practice throwing over hand and low - this will enable you to get power and accuracy.
  • Spend  lot of time judging fly balls, especially those hit directly over your head.
  • Study your hitters so you will know who pulls and who hits for distance, and play accordingly.
  • On short fly balls between he infield and outfield, the outfield, the outfielder should catch it except sacrifice fly situations.  It is easier play for him and he is also in a better throwing position.
  • Practice throwing to all bases and low - so ball can be handled easily on a cut-off play.
  • Outfielders would help each other out and aid in calling plays for each other.
  • On all balls hit or thrown to infielders, move in towards infield and be ready to assist in case of error or overthrow.
  • Spend much time in fielding ground balls - learn to play them like an infielder - eyes on ball, hand out front and head down.
  • On single through the infield with winning run on 2nd base, charge the ball to make play at home waiting for ball will be too late.
  • If two outfielders are in good position to catch the ball, let one with the better arm make catch.
  • In catching a fly ball do so in a relaxed and natural manner.  Do not fight the ball./
  • Give every fly ball an honest effort - you will be surprised at the number you catch that you didn’t think you could.
  • Unless you have a good chance of  throwing the runner out, throw to the base ahead.
  • Always look for your cut-off man and throw shoulder high.
 
 
1ST BASE HINTS
 
  • Spend must time on shifting your feet in taking throws on opposite sides of the bag.
  • Play as far off the bag as you can and still be in a position to get back to bag to take throw.
  • On a bag throw, leave bag if you have to in preventing ball to get away.
  • Field ground balls in front of you, head down and eyes on ball.
  • Spend much time on most difficult play of all - double play going 1st to 2nd and back to 1st.
  • On play with pitcher covering 1st, give him a lead throw, chest high, before he easily reached the bag.          
  • Do not hesitate to take balls hit to your right - 2nd baseman may not be able to make play.
  • Take all fly balls from home plate out and pitchers territory on 1st base side.
  • Play the hitters - especially known left-handed pull hitters.
  • Guard the right field foul line in late stages of a close ball game.
  • In a bunt situation with man on 1st and 2nd, break fast and try to make play at 3rd base.
  • In holding man on base, give pitcher good target in setting up a pick-off attempt.
  • Play the ball, do not let it play you.
  • Line up all throws from the outfield to home plate with exceptionof play 3rd baseman lines up.
  • On balls fielded by catcher or pitcher along foul line, give thrower good target inside the line to avoid thrown ball from hitting runner.
  • Give runner plenty of room, avoid body contact whenever possible.
  • Practice stretching out to receive throw, one step may mean the difference of an our of safe hit.
  • Know game situation at all times; inning, count on hitter, outs, score, type of hitter and speed of hitter.
 
           
2ND BASE HINTS
 
  • Practice all types of throws, especially sidearm and underhand, which are used most frequently in completing a double play.
  • Know the type of hitter and especially his speed.  This will aid you in stationing yourself on possible hit ball to your territory.
  • Make every effort to knock down hit ball, even though you may not be able to throw out hitter.
  • Have a sign with shortstop as to who will cover 2nd base on possible attempted steal.
  • Be ready to cover 1st base on a bunt with 1st baseman charges into field ball.
  • In taking throw from catcher on attempted steal, get there as fast as you can - straddle bag and allow runner to tag himself by sliding into the ball.
  • Practice coming in on slowly hit ball, fielding with base hand and throwing to 1st underhand this is on a do or don’t play.
  • On a double play, ball fielded in path of runner, practice tagging runner and throwing to 1st to complete double play.
  • On a double play, ball fielded close to bag, step on bag and throw to 1st to complete double play.
  • Practice tossing ball underhand to shortstop on ball hit close to bag for double play and make sure he sees the ball at all times.  Do not hide it and throw out of glove.
  • On double play, balls hit to your left, pivot and throw sidearm to shortstop coming across the bag.
  • Many double plays fail because an attempt is made to throw the ball before it is actually in fielders possession.
  • Play the ball, do not let it play you.
  • Field balls in front, keep eyes on ball and head down.  Learn to judge the hops.
  • Try to take as many fly balls as possible hit behind the 1st baseman unless an obvious easy chance for 1st baseman.
  • Learn to make the double play many ways as you do not always receive the throw in the same manner.
  • On double play, balls hit to shortstop or 3rd baseman, get to bag as quickly as possible thus being in position to shift according to the throw.
  • Get rid of ball as quickly and accurately as possible to avoid sliding runner.
  • When a runner is trapped in a run down, make every attempt to force him back to the base he started to be tagged.
  • With a man on 1st base and ball hit back to pitcher, have it understood before the pitch, with the shortstop, who is to take throw from pitcher on attempted double play.
  • Recover fumbled ball as quickly as possible, you may still throw the runner out or prevent a run from scoring.
  • Practice fielding ground balls in all directions. 
  • Study and understand game situations at all time. Know the inning, score, count type and speed of hitter.
SHORTSTOP HINTS
 
  • A strong, accurate arm, good hands, and ability to move feet are important qualifications of a good shortstop.
  • Know the type of hitter and especially his speed.  This will help you determine how quickly you must get rid of the ball.
  • Most of your throws will be made overhand, especially those from deep shortstop.  However, coming in a ball over pitchers head and close plays to 2nd can be done underhand and sidearm.
  • On throwing to 2nd baseman for double play, make sure the ball is chest high and easy for him to handle.  Try to give him the ball just before he reached the bag.
  • On double play, balls hit close to the bag, you can step on bag with your left foot and throw to 1st at same time.
  • On taking throw from 1st baseman, 2nd baseman or pitcher on double play there are a number of ways to touch bag; the most important thing is to touch it and throw to 1st trying to avoid sliding into runner at same time.
  • Do not ease up on any of your throw, even though you have plenty of time, throw natural at all times.
  • Try to catch as many fly balls as possible behind the 3rd baseman, it is an easier play for you.
  • Keep your eye on runner on 2nd base.  Distract him as much as possible.  A bad start from 2nd base hit may prevent a run scoring.
  • With a man on 1st and 2nd and the bunt in order, play as close to 2nd as possible, preventing a good break on a possible play at 3rd base.
  • The shortstop will normally take throw on a ball hit back to pitcher on double play situation.  Always check with your 2nd baseman in the event he is to cover on plays where you will be unable to get to the bag on time.
  • Get to the bag as quickly as possible after the pitch on attempted steal - straddle the bag with arms outstretched to receive ball from catcher.  Let the runner slide into the tag - make sure the ball is held securely in your gloved hand when making the tag.
  • On bunt play, be ready to take force play at 2nd base.
  • Learn your position on all cut-off plays, (Study chapter on cut-offs and relays).
  • Knock down every hit ball you can; do everything you can to prevent it from getting to the outfield. This can stop a runner from taking an extra base.
  • On run down, force the runner to the base he started from and make the tag there if possible.
  • Spend as must time as possible in the execution of the double play.  Have balls thrown to you from all directions and learn to shift your feet accordingly.
  • Work together with the 2nd baseman and have a complete understanding as to your actions on every pitched ball - especially with men on base.
  • On balls fielded in deep shortstop, slide your right foot sideways to serve as a brace for your long throw.
  • Do not let the ball play you - take charge and play the ball.                                                 
 
 3RD BASE HINTS
 
  • Know your hitters and play them accordingly.
  • Play in close to grass on players who are fast and may bunt.
  • Play close to line on known pull hitters.
  • Play every hit ball you can, especially balls hit to your left.
  • In throwing to 1st base on balls hit keep over the bag, start the throw high - it will carry better.
  • Practice all types of throw; overhand, sidearm and underhand.
  • Throw natural at all times - do not let up on a throw.
  • In a bunt situation with a man on 1st, play in close and be ready to break in with the pitch.
  • In a bunt situation with a man on 1st and 2nd, play in on grass, but do not break in with pitch wait until you are sure pitcher cannot field ball.  this is a judgment play and need much practice.
  • Take all fly balls you can from home plate out, including 3rd base side of pitcher’s territory.
  • Get in front of every ball you can - do not play it to the side unless you have to.
  • Do not give up on a ball you have fumbled, recovers it quickly as you may still have a chance to throw him out.
  • Play slow men deep, thus covering more territory.
  • In fielding ground balls, keep your eye on the ball, head down, and field ball in front.
  • Play the ball, do not it play you.
  • In a run down between bases, run player back to base he came from for the tag.
  • In a close ball game in late innings, play close to line to prevent possible hit putting runner in scoring position.