Throughout the years in baseball, teams have practiced many different aspects of the game. Most practices consist of the three main components of baseball; hitting, defense, and pitching. Although baseball is based around those three aspects, there are a lot of little things in baseball that get overlooked in practice but need to be worked on if one is to expect them to be committed flawlessly in a competitive situation. Every coach should have a rule that you cannot put a kid in a situation they haven’t practiced. Here are three of those situations that get overlooked in practice but will get used in games, often making situations worse off than they could have been.
A pitchout is a technique that seems like it should be easy, but it needs to be practiced. Pitchers often have issues throwing this pitch where it needs to be. The location of this pitch is so important because every inch the pitch is off is an extra inch the catcher has to make up for in their release. This needs to be practiced by the catcher as well because it’s different than a typical throw to second base. The catcher needs to worry about getting their body over in time, but also worry about not leaving the catcher's box before the ball is released.
From a baseball perspective, intentionally walking a batter should be the easiest thing to do in baseball. It seems like it's just playing catch, but it’s not to the pitcher. To the pitcher, it’s something they will probably do once or twice a year and it’s almost always in an important situation. Pitchers at all levels have difficulty making the transition from trying to throw a strike as hard as they can to throwing a ball, at whatever speed they want. Although it should be no problem, it tends to be an issue for a lot of pitchers. You have to give pitchers and catchers the opportunity to practice this or it’s a mistake to call for it in a game.
Pick Off Play
A lot of times teams will have pick off plays that seem like they may be routine, but they can be difficult if not worked on outside of games. Whenever a team does a pickoff play to second base, it usually takes great timing between the middle infielders and pitchers to execute these plays properly. Without practicing these plays it makes it very difficult to get the timing right and will often lead to errors from improper throws, to improper positioning to simple miscommunication.
For anything that’s asked of a player or players to execute in a game, there should be dedicated practice time to develop that skill and harmony. You cannot expect a player to be successful at something if they’re not given a chance to work on it. These are three pretty fundamental baseball plays that unless practiced by their participants can lead to costly errors even though they may seem like simple plays to the untrained and inexperienced eye. So if you want to deploy them in your team tactics this year, make sure you learn how they need to be executed and dedicate the time to practice them. Otherwise it may just be as well to allow everyone to concentrate on the simpler tactics like simply getting the hitter at bat out.
Kevin Hussey MSc BSc - The Baseball Zone
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