Home' Junior Baseball : November-December 2013 Contents 38 • September/October 2013 • www.juniorbaseball.com
"How Do I Teach Rundowns?
Is It Best to Just Chase the
Runner Back to the Base?"
Coach: This may seem trivial but
we go through baseballs like
crazy at practice. Any ideas
of how to track our team's
baseballs during practice?
Coach Marty: This is not trivial at
all. Most youth teams go through more
baseballs than they should during practice.
I have always said to coaches if you have to
go into your own wallet for anything, do it
for baseballs. With that said I always walk
the field after practice picking up baseballs.
Here is an idea. I know a dynamic youth
coach in Brooklyn. His league and team
has a limited budget. He numbers his
practice baseballs 1-50 with a sharpie. After
practice, his team has to line up all 50. If
they come up with all of them, each player
receives an extra three swings for batting
practice at the team's next practice.
Coach: Our team has gotten buried in the
last three games on a ground ball between
first and second base with no one covering
first. Any practice drill suggestions?
CM: The ball hit to the right side of
the infield in youth baseball is always a
challenge. I always have my pitcher run to
cover first. A key here is communication.
Set up a drill throwing a grounder between
first and second from home with a
baserunner, and either the first baseman or
second baseman fielding the ball (I like the
second baseman because his momentum
is moving toward first). The pitcher will
cover first and whoever fields the ball must
flip it to the pitcher covering the base. A
few hints: Make sure your fielders learn
the concept of leading the pitcher with the
baseball. Also make sure the pitcher doesn't
take a direct line toward first. He should
aim about 6-8 feet before first base on the
baseline and run up toward the base. This
will help cut down on potential collisions
Coach: What is your philosophy on run
downs? I see other coaches tell their team
just to chase the runner back to the base he
came from. Is this correct?
CM: Rundowns are a matter of your own
philosophy and how you coach. I want to
get the out on rundowns. I believe it is a
gift if you coach your team properly. We
practice rundowns between all the bases. I
teach my team the ideal number of throws
is "none." This happens rarely so I like to
teach my team to try and limit the throws
and one throw is ideal. The key to rundowns
is not to throw long throws, have back-ups
and most important, get the runner into
a "sprint mode." Once the baserunner is
sprinting, it is hard for him to stop and
change directions. This skill has to be
Coach: I was the head coach during the
season and am assisting with All-Stars.
The head coach insists on playing our best
player in centerfield. Shouldn't the best
fielder play the infield?
CM: In youth baseball, I like to fill the
infield with my best fielders. About 55-60%
of all fair balls hit in youth baseball go to
the infield. This is not to say the outfield
isn't important. But in youth baseball I
don't go by the regular theory of baseball
defense that you have to have the strongest
players up the middle, placing your best
fielders at second, shortstop and centerfield.
Also in my league, bunting is huge so many
times I have my best fielder playing third
base. With that said, in All Stars with elite
players, know your opponent and play
defense according to their strength.
Coach: I am a first year Tee-Ball coach.
The young kids are having the toughest time
catching fly balls. Any suggestions?
CM: In Tee-Ball, catching fly balls is one
of the toughest challenges for these kids. In
fact if you put them right out in the field and
have them try to catch a fly ball and they
get hit in the head or face, there is a good
chance that player will not want to play
anymore baseball. I have addressed this
before. I use the "progression method." You
can start using the old "Scatch" game with
a velcro ball and paddle. Then move on to
having players with their glove just make
contact with fly balls and not necessarily
catch them. For instance hit a soft covered
or tennis ball with a paddle or racquet.
The players should only attempt to make
contact with the ball and their glove. It is
important that the whole team do this drill
the same way so the better players are not
making it a competition.
Coach Marty Schupak has coached
youth baseball for over twenty years.
He is the creator of eleven baseball
instructional videos including "The 59
Minute Baseball Practice." He is also the
author of the popular ebook, "Baseball
Coaching." He is president of the Youth
Sports Club. www.YouthSportsClub.com
Junior Baseball welcomes questions to
Coach Marty Schupak. Follow him on
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