Baseball Drills - Offensive Pressure Creates Opportunities
By Nate Barnett
One of the best ways to force long innings (when you are on offense of course) and to win more games is to put added pressure
on the defense. There are multiple ways of doing this, a couple of which are outlined here. Understanding the concerns of
a defense and exploiting those concerns are valuable techniques any good coach will insert into his baseball drills.
Pressure Cooker #1 - Run Like the Wind:
Don't skip this part because you, your son, or the team you coach has little speed. You don't need any to understand this
concept. The more offensive movement is created on the base paths, the more potential there is for defensive mistakes. Create
movement the following ways:
A. Bigger lead offs. Most youth baseball players don't get a proper lead off at any base. Because of this, the defense
doesn't feel the perceived threat of the runner. How long is a good lead? A runner should be able to rotate and dive (body
fully extended) back to the bag in time if he is watching the right movements from the pitcher. Getting aggressive leads will
do two things. First, it will force the pitcher to split concentration between the runner and the hitter. This will help out
the hitter as pitch location may improve with the lack of focus from the pitcher. Secondly, the more throws drawn by the runner
at first base (primarily) can results in potential overthrows as well as an increased opportunity to utilize a stolen base
or a hit and run play.
B. Take aggressive turns on the bases. I frequently see many younger players after hitting a baseball, jog down to first
base and take a small turn around first. This puts zero pressure on the defense. The first goal on any hit to the outfield
is to reach second base. The mentality that every hit is a double will help runners become more aggressive. Obviously I'm
not advocating running bases wildly, I'm simply promoting adding some extra heat on the defense to provoke some mistakes.
Pressure Cooker #2 - Have a Pitch Plan
It's quite common to watch hitters all the way through high school swing at pitches quite out of the zone. Most of the
time this is caused from a lack of a game plan, or improper teaching during baseball drills. Each hitter should have a specific
pitch plan based upon his hitting strengths. Every hitter has a special pitch, or one that is more favorable to hit than others.
This needs to be the focus early in the count. No other pitches should be offered at early in the count other than the favorite
pitch. The only thing that would change this scenario would be if a coach called some sort of offensive play.
A more selective approach to hitting will put pressure on defensive two different ways:
A. More pitches will be thrown by pitchers which will (hopefully) force a pitching change earlier in the game. Since more
relievers in youth baseball are not as good as starters, this is a plus for the offense.
B. Getting better pitches to hit will create more baseballs in play. The more balls hit hard there are, the greater chance
there is for a mistake by the defense.
Finally, there is no secret that perceived pressure causes more mistakes. If an offense can manufacture pressure and remain
confident in doing so, they will enjoy watching an error filled defense play more timid and give games away.
About the Author
Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball http://bmibaseball.com and is based out of Washington State. His expertise is in
the area of hitting, pitching, and mental training. Coach Barnett's passion is working with youth in helping expand their
vision for their baseball future. After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued
his coaching and motivational training career. His instructional blog is located at http://bmibaseball.com/blog
His new FREE ebook, Toxic Baseball: Are you polluting your game? can be found on the main BMI Baseball website.
Hitting 101, an ebook on complete hitting mechanics will be released by June 1st, 2008. Features include numerous illustrations,
video clips, and a special offer to discuss your hitting questions over live on the phone strategy sessions.