Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Improving on the Bases

Taking the Extra Base: Practicing Aggressive Baserunning

Offensive Objective: To help baserunners develop an aggressive style in reading balls hit to the outfield and challenging the runner to take an extra base.

Defensive Objective: To help fielders develop strong verbal communication skills and properly execute throws during the relay process from the outfield.

Groupings: Players will be organized in groups of 3-5 offensive baserunners depending on size of the team.

Procedure: A standard infield will take their positions. All outfielders will form a line in left field. A coach, with a fungo and baseballs, will stand behind second base on the outfield grass. Another coach, with a whistle, will stand in the first base coach’s box to signal the offensive baserunners. A group of baserunners will be next to the coach. The size of the group will vary according to the size of the team. Individually, runners will take their lead at 1st base and wait for the coach’s cue to run. The baserunner’s goal is to reach third base on the batted ball. The coach, standing behind 2nd, will hit a fungo down the left field line for a double. The infielders will set up a double cut, while the outfielder retrieves the batted ball. On the coach’s whistle, the baserunner will try and advance to third base. The runner should not leave until the coach’s cue. The coach’s cue is to create a game-like simulation of the actual play. If there is a bad throw, baserunners should react by trying to score. All organized groups should go through once. If a runner reaches third base, their team receives one point.

During the next phase of the drill, the outfielders break into two groups. One set of outfielders should be in left field and the other group should be in center. Again, the baserunners will start at first base. The coach, located behind second base, will hit a ball to the left center gap. Each baserunning group will continue trying to score on the first base coach’s whistle. The defense should set up a relay to home, communicating clearly on each relay. Every time a player scores, their baserunning group receives a point.

In the third phase, all outfielders will line up in centerfield. The offensive baserunners will start at second base. The coach, behind second, will hit ground balls to the right or left of the centerfielder. The baserunner’s objective is to score on the ground ball hit to the outfield. The defense should properly set up the relay home and there should be a play at the plate by the defenders. Again, the runner is triggered by the coach’s whistle. Every time a player scores, their baserunning group receives a point.

In the final phase, all outfielders will line up in right field. The offensive baserunning groups will start at third base. The coach, who is positioned behind second base, will hit flyballs to right field. The flyball should be hit a regular depth or even shallow so the right fielder can have a play on the ball. The offensive baserunner will tag up at third base. On the whistle, the runner will attempt to advance home. The fielders should use proper communication to try and record the out at the plate.

Summary: This drill really challenges players to take the extra base on balls hit into the outfield. Working on game-like baserunning in practice is very challenging. It is hard to set up situations which simulate the pressure runners feel when they know a play is going to be made on them. With a coach using a whistle to cue the runner, these situations can be created every time a repetition occurs. Furthermore, this drill allows players to work on their sliding techniques. When sliding, runner should incorporate the traditional, hook, and pop-up slide depending on the base and situation. Also, this drill is flexible and allows coach’s to change the situations which will occur during the game and provide players will a lot of different baserunning situations. Finally, by having several different phases, players can receive a break from baserunning and work on rotating from defense to offensive. Hopefully, by constantly moving from fielding to running, players will be encouraged to incorporate higher intensity while performing baserunning activities. By incorporating high intensity into running, the fielders will have to execute proper defensive techniques to stop the offense from taking the extra base.

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