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Sign stealing

My question is this...is it fair, ethical, poor sportsmanship, to steal signs? I have often picked up on the catchers signals to the pitcher, being the first base coach, and when a change for instance is called I usually holler out "watch for the change". I have considered implementing a strategy of calling the girls by their last name if a change is coming. Is this fair or dishonest?
Jun 24, 2008
How are they ever going to learn how to recognize and hit a changeup if you're letting them know it's coming?

Forget the ethics of the situation. I assume this is a younger age group you're working with. As the girls get older, pitchers are going to have more pitches and catchers will likely be able to keep you or anyone else from consistently stealing the signs.

Hitters have to learn how to pick up pitches early and adjust accordingly. Help them learn that now and they will be better in the long run.
Jan 13, 2009
Good coaches will find a way to make you look silly. Forget the ethics, if I think someone is stealing signs, besides a runner on second base, my catcher changes the signs to ensure you are wrong.

Teach your hitters to correctly identify and hit the change.

Amy in AZ.

Super Moderator
May 7, 2008
If they are letting you steal the signs, of course, relay it to your batter. It is up to the defense to hide their signs.

It is no different than telling your batters that the pitcher is throwing a 1st pitch, letter high strike to every batter. Or she is throwing fast ball, fast ball, change.

When DD pitched, there were a number of teams that would take the first pitch. I never could figure out why they did that. But, whatever. I always made sure that she knew that and would not waste a 1st pitch outside of the zone.

That said, many coaches don't care if you know what pitch is coming and they just sit outside the dugout and point to places on their face. (But, then, maybe I am watching too many HS games.)


Ex "Expert"
Feb 25, 2009
Nothing wrong with stealing the signs. I had a "book" on every team in our area and all of their signs. The thing is, I coached against some of these teams for a couple of decades and they never changed their signs. If you want to relay them, that's fine. I don't think you inhibit the development of your hitter doing so since they will play plenty of games where you won't have the sign. There are pleanty of systems where you can do that relay in a covert manner where no one will know. I had to laugh the other day when watching my daughter come up to the plate, I told her, "drive the ball, move the ball." That is simply a reminder to her to turn and burn on the inside pitch and to let the ball get deep to her on the outside pitch. However, a parent from the other team thought I was relaying signals. I asked that parent how I knew the signal before my daughter got in the box. I only say it as she is approaching the box. That ended that. This might sound silly but I don't have a problem with people on the field doing this. I do have a problem with people in the stands doing it.
May 13, 2008
This might sound silly but I don't have a problem with people on the field doing this. I do have a problem with people in the stands doing it.
I agree with you 100%. On the field it is part of the game, but in the stands it is bush.
May 12, 2008
Shouldn't let people steal your signs. Shouldn't let people know you are relaying the signs. Kids should be looking for tells from the pitcher or catcher in addition to signs. Does she dig in her glove for the rise? Pump her knees deeper loading for the change? Catcher sets up differently for x pitch? Likes to start off with a back door curve called strike? That sort of thing. Being that "into it", they will start picking up and recognizing pitches. Someone once asked some mlb HOF hitter, don't recall who now, when he recognized the curve. His answer was, before it left the pitcher's hand. Great athletes pick up subtle things that allow them to anticipate actions before others are in a position to recognize actions. Sometimes they know these things conciously, and sometimes they don't.


Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
Dallas, Texas
I'm with Amy. Coaches should be a little bit careful

There was a girl playing 3B that picked up on my signs for bunting. I was using an indicator. I warned her not to do it and I warned her coach, and they both chuckled.

SO--I changed the indicator, I gave a sign for a bunt with the old indicator, and then gave a sign for a mandatory swing with the new indicator. 3B went charging in and was 10 feet from the plate when the batter took a big, Babe Ruth swing. Needless to say, 3B stopped trying to steal my signs.
May 12, 2008
To avoid getting schooled like that is one reason you should disguise the fact you are picking their signs. The other reason is it's bush to be obvious about relaying stolen signs.

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