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Shortstop duties

By Chip Lemin

The shortstop will need to back up throws to third base on steal attempts. The left fielder will also be helping out on backups, but the shortstop is the best chance to cut down runner trying to score on an overthrow.

For one thing they will be closer to the play. The shortstop usually has a more accurate arm, and is used in making these kinds of throws. Being mentally ready and recognizing runners beginning to steal, gives them that split second jump to get into position to back up the throw.

It is the shortstop's duty to yell loudly as the runner begins to steal. So make sure to have the shortstop hustle over and back up third base, that's the best chance to nail a runner trying to advance home.

When there is a bunt to the left side, the wheel play requires your shortstop to quickly cover third base to take the throw from the pitcher, or catcher to tag or force the runner at third. It is vitally important that the shortstop get the sign to all the players involved, since this is a timing play. Straddling the base in an athletic position, allows the shortstop to adjust for an offline throw and still make a play.

Shortstops must also be the relay man on a ball hit past the left or center fielders. Knowing the arm strengths of your outfielders is crucial. You must be positioned as a relay man to make short accurate throws to the bases.

In other words, don't have your shortstop go so far into the outfield that they will have a long throw to whatever base they are throwing to. This is where mental preparedness will help your shortstop. If they already know that your right fielder has a great arm, have them set up where there is a realistic shot at third base. A relay throw that bounces to you is far better than relay throw over your head. These are all the minute details of baseball that are often overlooked by many coaches.

For an accurate quickly relay throw, they must receive the ball with your glove shoulder pointing toward the infield or base you are throwing to. The shortstop must catch the baseball, transfer, and throw all in one motion.

This quick smooth transfer will save you precious time to get the base runner out on a close play. Shortstops with strong throwing arms are an asset on relay throws. They can gun down base runners trying to move up and possibly score. When the opposing team sees your team has a strong relay technique, they won't be so aggressive on the bases.

Shortstops must also be very vocal on short hops or fly balls into the outfield. When your shortstop is certain it is a ball they can catch , they must continue to yell loudly to ward off your outfielders. If the fly ball has been in the air for a long time, the outfielder may call them off. They actually have a better route to the ball. They are also coming in, so if they hear the outfielder call for the ball, clear out, and let them have it. They have run a long way for the ball, so let them have the reward. They also have a lot of momentum, and we want to avoid collisions at all costs. That is why practicing fly ball drills is so very important.

The position of shortstop requires a special athlete. It also requires the coaching staff to have all the knowledge they can get to maximize this position. Do your best to study or research as much coaching material as you can. A well coached team is a pleasure to watch. That part is your responsibility.

Thanks for your time.

Coach Chip

Chip Lemin has been a promoter of youth baseball since they started using aluminum bats. That's a long time. I have witnessed many good people get into coaching without solid coaching skills and it is not fun for them or the kids.Today's newer coaches are also being shortchanged on sportsmanship, like there is none. Visit my site to sign up for a insightful, informational, free coaching e-course at

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