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Help Coaching Pick Off

Feb 13, 2015
I néed help instructing catchers on a pick off throw. This is for a 14u, C level travel team and a middle school team.

I find they want to throw to 1st against the kid that takes that explosive lead off and it leads to a successful delayed steal as the throw is made. They ignore the slower runners leadoffs where they might be more successful.

Against the fast, aggressive runner, I want them to throw after the runner starts stepping back to first. If they don't start back, the throw goes to the pitcher or 2nd baseman if the lead is too aggressive. (2nd base has moved in shallow for the throw, not covering or backing up 2nd).

Against slower, less determined runners, a surprise throw 1 as soon as the ball is caught.

I have one catcher with a really good arm, but doesn't find the best time to throw. After the first successful steal, she starts skipping out from behind the plate pumping her throwing arm trying to get the runner back on base. I tell her to try to make the baserunner feel she is being ignored and then pick her off or throw to 2nd hoping for a pickle.

I appreciate hearing any and all ideas on pick offs and defending the delayed steal.

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Oct 11, 2010
Chicago, IL
I have not seen what you are stating so I am just trying to picture it in my head.

14U or MS runner is not going anywhere on pickoff unless 1st has poor arm. When in doubt throw it hard back to P..

Trying to get them in pickle would go bad for all DD's teams. :)
Nov 26, 2010
catchers exhaust themselves with this nonsense of fake throws and arm pumps after every pitch.

Best pitch to throw to first on is one in the dirt, the runner stops to see where the ball is and is hoping its past the catcher so she can run, the lesser baserunners will go flat footed while they are peering in, if the catcher pops right up with the ball and throws immediately. She has a better chance of picking someone off. Otherwise, get the ball back to the pitcher. everyone is happier.
Feb 13, 2015
After receiving the pitch, have your catcher run directly at the base runner, ready to throw once she commits to either going to second or back to first. Even if the baserunner ends up back at first, catcher has done her job by not allowing her to advance.

This is what we do most of the time. It slows the game down a lot and makes us look unprepared, which I guess we are.

We don't have the skill set to receive the ball cleanly at 1 and immediately fire to 2 if the fast runner breaks for 2 on a quick pick throw. Runner is usually safe at 2nd.

Some lead off so far, we have to throw to 2 (SS who is covering bag). Throw to pitcher gives them 2nd when they lead half way. Makes for long innings and they get to continually fish for a bad throw to 2. We started throwing to 2nd baseman playing in. That got us closer to getting an out and stopped some of the big leads.

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Feb 13, 2015
One thing we try, is a pick throw to on the first pitch as soon as they have a runner on. Our catcher has a good arm and 1B is expecting that throw. That sometimes slows down the aggressive lead offs .

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Mar 1, 2016
You can do one of two things, depending on the skills your catcher has.

One is to throw the ball back to the pitcher, hard and immediately. The throws have to be in a way that if the pitcher ducks out of the way it’s a strike to 2nd. Whether or not she ducks out of the way depends on a sign or a keyword. SS has to be there every time, which could really open up the 5-6 hole for a base hit. This keeps the runners guessing, but will also wear your catcher’s arm out pretty quickly. At the elite level, this method works to throw behind and pick off runners at 2nd.

The other thing is for your catcher to act as if she doesn’t care about the runner at 1st but keep eyes on the runner while her head is pointing at the pitcher. When the runner gets lulled into a false sense of security and drops her head to walk back to 1st, pick her. This takes a little bit of acting ability and a lot of discipline to not just throw all the time.

You COULD try the first method for the first inning when you have the other team’s jackrabbits on base and then move to the second method after. You could also teach your catcher to execute a no-look throw, but that’s risky until she can perfect it in practice. You could also invite a guest jackrabbit to practice and make your catchers figure out a way to pick her, learning from every mistake they make. Better to make those kinds of mistakes in practice than in games.

NEVER skip out from the behind the plate and pump fake. It doesn’t work. Ever see the bully at school buck up his chest like he’s going to throw a punch but never does and eventually no one takes him seriously? Same concept.

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Oct 3, 2011
Right Here For Now
I would add to TexAG1998's excellent post, don't have your catcher run towards the BR. They're already working hard enough under all that gear. All it will do will tire them out and dehydrate them even faster; especially on hot days.
I would add to TexAG1998's excellent post, don't have your catcher run towards the BR. They're already working hard enough under all that gear. All it will do will tire them out and dehydrate them even faster; especially on hot days.
As a catcher's dad where triple digit game days are common, I couldn't disagree more. Running at the base runner can be effective when done in the right situation. If the primary concern is tiring the catcher out, may I suggest additional conditioning during the week?

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