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Situational practice.

Sep 21, 2017
173
28
PA
Several have mentioned 1st and 3rd steal situations. My observation is that as you move up in age you see (16u-18u) fewer, not more, teams who use special 1st and 3rd defensive plays. You either have a catcher who can discourage that attempted steal of 2nd or you don't. The other team either wants to be aggressive or they don't. If your catcher can't make a very competitive play regardless of a runner's speed at least 75% of the time then you probably have no business trying to defend that steal or making a trick play. Let them have it, keep the runner on 3rd, and move on. On the other hand, if you have a consistently good catcher and the situation is right (for me it's 0 or 2 outs with an average or below average runner at 1st) go for it. Don't mess with a trick play just try to get the out. You'll be amazed how often the runner on 3rd is either caught flat-footed or assumes there must be a trick and doesn't go home or breaks late enough to try and make a play there as well. I just haven't seen the typical 1st and 3rd cut-off or trick plays work often enough to justify practicing them. I'm curious if others have though.
I'm with you. I'm of the mind practice most what happens in your games. That's going to depend on the level you coach. I'm not saying don't practice 1st and 3rds or bunt defenses, just spend the most time on the things you're going to see most. I'm a HS Varsity HC. We spend a few days early in the year on our 1st and 3rd calls and rundowns until we have them, but after that, we hit them every now and then to keep fresh, but it's not at all close to daily. In the last few years, we just haven't been in a ton of those situations. But when they do happen, we know what our priority is and how to handle the situation.

When it comes to 1st & 3rds, we throw through or 2B cuts it off, we're not trying to trick anyone. Score and situation determine which. In our league and area, no-one is getting an out at 3rd with a quick throw. Teams are too well coached. Majority of the time, our priority is runner at 3. 2B has the option to read the play and cut even if we call a throw through if she feels she has a "better than good" chance to get the runner between 3 and home. Again, score and situation plays a big factor.

One thing about situational practice, don't always tell them what to do. Let them figure it out. Coach, yes...but speak quickly and only when you need to. Let the team huddle and talk it out. Situational IQ is one of the hardest things for teams to learn, but when you over coach and always make the calls, they don't learn to react, they learn to do what you say. They need to learn to understand situations, not always follow directions.
 
Nov 30, 2018
338
43
Marikina, Philippines
I have never coached a girl under 14, and those only on our 16u team. Anyone who coaches 10u and 12u is a hero. So any thoughts that I have are instinctual not from a standpoint of knowledge.

The younger the girls, the more errors are a part of the game. But the best way to make them an inflated part of the game is to emphasize them with an emotional reaction. For one thing the kids will see the error less than they see fear of the reaction.

I think there are just as many throwing errors at that age as their are glove errors. You add the "playing" errors in and they seem huge. For the errors I think it is a matter of time and repetition. But most important in this matter is to build confidence, and a reward system of good feedback from the coach during and after the game. I have a system even with our national team girls where every skill must fall in between a success rate of 60-90%. If they are failing more than 40% then I make it more simple, like throwing from shorter distances, etc. then build up to 90% and make it more difficult. And practice it enough to make it unconsciously successful. "Muscle Memory".

Good throwing is established with good footwork. What usually makes a catcher's throw sail or tail toward RF? The same holds true for any throw from anywhere on the field. So proper footwork drills are useful.

You can make rundowns a competition. Starting with groups of 3-5 girls and seeing who can complete a successful out the fastest. It will seem less like a test and less physically punishing.
Learning to stop the trailing runner is a big deal, and it should be a religion! So kudos to learning the cutoffs.

Another situation that plagues all age groups is play continuation. The ball goes to a base and the play stops while other runners run in circles around the bases because DD is looking at the umpire to see if he made the right decision. Continuation throwing is a big part of our practices even with older girls.

One more thing I forgot. I would tend to work on things as they come up. Specific issues to the game that day or that week where there is recall. I don't know, but I think it is hard to prepare the youngest kids for something that isn't tangible.
 
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RADcatcher

Possibilities & Opportunities!
Dec 13, 2019
2,297
113
California
With runner on 3rd. Work on pass balls/wild pitches play at the plate.

Work on over throw/bad throw missed to first, retrieved, get the batter/runner going to 2nd.

Work double play from runner on 3rd or 2nd, tag at home, then throw to tag out batter runner going to 2nd.

Work on throws from the outfield to 1st base!

Please remember to develop pitchers defensively!

GO DEFENSE !
 
Last edited:
Jul 28, 2020
9
3
I try to coach movement. Yes simple movement. Now I'm mostly 10U and 12U coaching but it always amazes me how I know these girls from hockey, basketball, volleyball, soccer etc. where they are constantly moving on every play. Then they get to softball and suddenly they become spectators. It's too much work to RUN to cover home plate on a pass ball, or to back up 1st from right field, or to run at a girl hung up between bases (focus on the "RUN" in rundowns). All of these "movement" plays can save 50 runs over a season.
 
Jun 16, 2010
234
28
Maybe we're just more aggressive in TX :) but even at 18u I see them regularly. Naturally, it happens much less than at younger ages, but that just makes each one more valuable.


The OP was asking for situations. Of course, practicing any of those at the expense of, or instead of, basic skills would be ridiculous and worthless. I've seen teams practice runners at 1st and 3rd scenarios for hours on end and rarely end up using them in games.

In travel ball my dd playing 3b , if fielding ball, was taught to fake throw to 1st...then turn around and get the lead runner on 3rd out in some situations. Worked virtually every time. She did it naturally in HS and jaws dropped....

Wish her college team had let her do that. They always got the out at first and then the out at home. Sometimes giving up the run.

travel ball had complete confidence in the pitcher and the infield even if you had the bases loaded and no outs we were probably going to get out of it without a run score. Benefit of great pitching and great infielding ... And great pitch calling by the coach.
 
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Aug 12, 2014
546
28
I try to coach movement. Yes simple movement. Now I'm mostly 10U and 12U coaching but it always amazes me how I know these girls from hockey, basketball, volleyball, soccer etc. where they are constantly moving on every play. Then they get to softball and suddenly they become spectators. It's too much work to RUN to cover home plate on a pass ball, or to back up 1st from right field, or to run at a girl hung up between bases (focus on the "RUN" in rundowns). All of these "movement" plays can save 50 runs over a season.
I'm coaching a 10U rec team and we are struggling with this. Today we had several grounders that nobody even tried to field because they weren't hit right at them.
 
May 6, 2015
1,677
113
I'm coaching a 10U rec team and we are struggling with this. Today we had several grounders that nobody even tried to field because they weren't hit right at them.
two player two cone drill. two players with about 15 feet btween them, cones about 10 feet outside players. Balls hit anywhere in between cones. both players must move (and hopefully communicate), one to field, one to BU, but both must move. and always stress ball first, then base, a lot of young infielders as soon as ball is hit run to cover. ball first, second, and third priority. of no one fiels the ball, there will be no throw to any base. again, have them be over aggressive with respect to ball at that age, sacrificing coverage sometimes, to ingrain ball first. then as they gain experience and confidence in each other, they will learn better when to cover rather than go for ball.
 
Dec 2, 2013
1,470
113
Texas
Start with this and Remind players regularly. The 3 "B's"

Ball, Base, Backup. In that order.

Every player has a job on any given play. First field the ball. If you don't have the ball, cover a base. If you don't have the ball or a base assignment back up the play.
 

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