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Relay/Cutoff practice-what works best?

Mar 23, 2009
3
0
Tried for the first time tonight at practice going over relays and cutoffs with my girls at practice. In theory all worked great, but once we started live hitting and got into some game-like situations, it was all but a disaster. Balls everywhere, bad throws, relay people confused, etc. Obviously I am not going over something clearly or correctly and feeling like a big dork. :)

What can I do better to help them with these scenarios? I'm looking over some coaching books I have and there are over 30 different pages of coverage situations for all different types of hits!

What can I do to best prepare my girls in the little time I have until our first game? Would be highly in debt to those that respond. :) My girls are high school age and very beginner skills.

Thanks!
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,921
83
Dallas, Texas
Relays fall apart due to lack of communication. Generally, the girls don't understand the importance of talking to each other. One way to point out the importance of communication is through a simple demonstration.

(A) Set up a relay line of four girls. Have them all face one direction. Give the girl at the far end of the line the ball. Tell them that when you say go, they should do the relay--BUT, no one can say a word. Before you say go, move players around so they aren't in line. Then say "GO". Then, do the drill a second time, except this time say, "This time, yell at the player who will be throwing you the ball. This way, she will know where you are without turning around to look at you." You'll be surprised at how much quicker the whole thing goes.

If you want to teach something besides softball, point out that humans have stereo hearing for a reason: it allows us to approximate the location of an object without seeing it.

(B) From a social perspective, a relay includes one girl telling another girl what to do. Girls like everyone to be equal, so it is difficult both for the "order giver" and the "order taker" to do this. This is especially true since your SS (probably your best player on the field) is suddenly taking orders from 3B. (ie., right, right, right or left, left, left) So, you have to give permission for them to scream at the other players.

You give them permission by getting the whole team together and saying, "on a relay, 3B or C are responsible for alignment of the girls. If it doesn't work right, you 3B and C, are at fault. So, you had better make sure everyone is doing it right." And, if it gets messed up, hold 3B and C responsible.

(C) Insist on PERFECT EXECUTION of the relay every time. Do not accept anything less. If it isn't done right, you have to get on them. When the CF lobs the ball in rather than hitting the cut-off, it is time to get tough.

(D) For throws home, teach "CUT-1", "CUT-2" and "CUT-3".

During a game, the 3B coach is looking for an identifiable mistake by any of the fielders in the way they set up or in the way they receive a ball. Do this right, and you will stop runners from even trying for that extra base.
 
Dec 28, 2008
390
0
I've mentioned this in several posts for batting but the same holds true for anything in the game ....

Practice is generally done in an environment where the girl has peace/quiet, gets a ball and just has to do X with the ball in response. Then in the game that "pristeen" environment is shot to crud with extra players moving, base runners moving, parents/coaches screaming, her heart rate is up from running to get in position etc.

Try and force them into situations in practice where they have to cut out the distractions and do their job. Shoot a water gun at them just before they receive the ball, blast a horn as they get ready to pivot and release, have big obstacles near/around her target, whatever it takes to put them in an uncomfortable situation where she has to "zone in" on the ball coming and the target she has to throw to.
 

Cannonball

Ex "Expert"
Feb 25, 2009
3,902
63
Set up situations such as runner on 1st and no outs. You stand in the batter's box and have a runner stand in the left hand batter's box and pretend to hit. Natually, a runner is at first as well. Toss the ball up and hit it where ever you want creating the scenerio you want. Now, the runners are running. You watch the results and then coach what should have happened. You can create so many scenerios in this fashion and do so much coaching that they will eventually "get it" for numerous potential plays.
 
Feb 8, 2009
267
16
Cannonball makes sense. Repetition with runners on will do the trick. Be as fundamental as possible. You are dealing with beginners. They will get it eventually. Be patient.
 
May 5, 2008
358
0
Yes, start with one thing at a time. Don't run several situations at once. Work one basic one then move on.

I would probably focus on relay to home most, then relay to 3rd second-most (is that even a term?) since that's probably the ones you'll use most in the game.

But focus on one at a time and don't only do it once and not just this week. Keep working with them on it, then you can add other things in later IF necessary.
 

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