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Covering All The Basics

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Specialty Period for Learning New Skills*

From The Baseball Handbook by Bernie Walter

The specialty period is the time for teaching and learning new skills by working in small groups. By creating small learning groups you can concentrate on the individual skills of specific positions (e.g, pitchers, catchers, infielders, and outfielders). Or by grouping several different position players together you can work on some team plays. For example, pitchers-catchers first baseman could work on fielding ground balls and covering first base, the middle infielders could practice the double play at second base while the third baseman and outfielders take batting practice in the hitting tunnel. This allows for a very efficient use of practice time by focusing the instruction on only those players who need to learn a specific skill or technique.

Pitchers are the center of the infield, therefore most of the action starts with them. Use these skills to prepare pitchers for the action.

  1. Fielding ground balls and throwing to first base
  2. Fielding ground balls and throwing to second base while catchers drill on pickoffs
  3. Fielding bunts to the first-base line and throwing to second base or first base
  4. Fielding bunts to the third-base line and throwing to third base or first base
  5. Trapping a popped-up sacrifice bunt, with the intent to confuse the base runner so that he can be forced out
  6. Working on wild-pitch and passed-ball defense with the catcher
  7. Practicing rundown plays with the infielders
  8. Fielding fly balls

Catchers are known as the coach on the field, therefore their presence and skills must be sharp and ready at all times.

  1. Stances
  2. Dry framing
  3. Live framing
  4. Blocking pitches
  5. Shadowing another catcher to develop quickness
  6. Throwing to first second and third bases for pick-offs and steals
  7. Fielding bunts near home plate and throwing to the bases
  8. Catching pop flies
  9. Sweeping and punching out the runner on the tag play
  10. Wild-pitch and passed-ball defense
  11. Tennis-ball catching with the bare hand
  12. Force-play double play (1-2-3)

Infielders must move quickly and be constantly alert to any situation. The following points are great things for any infielder to practice.

  1. Stationary stances - single-handed catching of ground balls, two-handed alligator technique, midline backhand catching of ground balls, forehand (glove-side) ground balls
  2. Practicing the funnel technique by incorporating the feet and throwing - funneling the ground ball with two hands to the belly button while moving through the ball to throw
  3. Playing the short hop or big hop while fielding ground balls, thereby avoiding the in-between hop that leads to errors
  4. Making the play on a slowly hit ground ball
  5. Bad-hop drill, seated - dead, rolled, and bounced
  6. Diving for ground ball drills - from the prone position glove side, from the prone position with the back hand, from the knees, and from the standing position
  7. Catching fly balls
  8. Practicing the double play

Outfielders have to be patient in waiting for a play but nevertheless their positions require them to be constantly watchful and prepared as any hit might be hit to them.

  1. Stances and drop steps
  2. Mass drill - with the following coaching commands, "Ready, go back, move in to catch, two hands, a high-knee crow hop, simulate a throw to home plate, then finish with three hops."
  3. Catching fly balls - left and right
  4. Wrong-way fly balls - deliberately turn the wrong way and adjust
  5. Line drives (hard and soft) off a fungo bat
  6. Sliding catch sit-downs
  7. Fence packages (fly balls, CNN Catch of the Day, ground balls off the fence, three-ball drills, two-man drills)
  8. Fielding ground balls - the infield technique for safety when runners are not advancing, the all-or-none technique when the runner must be thrown out, the down-the-line technique when throwing the runner out at second base
  9. Cutoff throws to infielders
  10. Relay throws to either the shortstop or the second baseman

Batters initiate the offensive play once the pitch has been thrown. Try these exercises for making every at bat the best shot for scoring as possible.

  1. Bunting
  2. Hitting in batting cages for batting practice

Team Defense
Practice running defensive plays in small groups.

  1. One-throw rundown play
  2. Bunt defenses
  3. Pickoff plays
  4. First-and-third defensive plays
  5. Forced balk defense
  6. Wild-pitch and passed-ball defense
  7. Fly-ball protocol
  8. Pitchout with the slide step
  9. Cutoff plays
  10. Relay plays

Multiple Drills

  1. Multiple pickoff drills with rundown. Use three pitchers, two shortstops, two second basemen, one first baseman, and one catcher. See chapter 11 for examples.
  2. Multiple relay drill. Use a full team, with three outfielders, a shortstop, a second baseman, and a pitcher ready to rotate into the drill on the next fungoed ball. Hit the fungo ball down the lines and then in the power alleys for a sure double and possible triple.

*Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.