The Baseball Zone Blog

Ryan Armstrong | Mar 1, 2015 7:00:00 AM

The "Inside" Pickoff Move to Second Base

With a runner on second base it is essential to hold the runner close. Holding runners close will serve to decrease the chances of the opposition scoring on a single from second and also serve to give your outfielders a chance to throw them out at the plate if they do indeed attempt to score. If we hold the runner effectively it will decrease the distance they can reach on both primary and secondary lead offs thus making it less likely they score. Holding runners at second can also decrease a runner's jump making it harder for them to steal third base. If they reach do third base, especially with less than two outs, it is much easier for them to eventually score.

At the high school and college/pro levels, runners are coached to be aggressive and to put pressure on the defense. Pitchers must be able to combat aggressive runners by developing the ability to hold them close to the base they are at. This is skill is essential at higher levels as runs are harder to come by, but don't wait until you are there to develop it - get ahead of the game and work on it. One of the most essential moves you can develop to help you in this regard is the "Inside" pickoff move (or simply the "Inside move") to second base. Here is a brief video demonstration and explanation of it:

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Topics: pitching, pitching tips, pitching instruction, pitching skills, pitching advice, pick off moves, controlling the running game, inside move

Ryan Armstrong | Feb 20, 2015 10:05:21 AM

How Pitchers Can Vary Their Looks On the Mound

In the second part of this series on Controlling the Running Game, we talk about varying looks. Varying looks can be thought of as varying your timing to the plate with runners on base, not necessarily how many times you look at a runner, although that can be considered an element as well.

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Topics: pitching, pitching tips, pitching instruction, pitching skills, pitching advice, holding runners, Defense, pitcher's defense, controlling the running game, varying looks

Ryan Armstrong | Feb 12, 2015 6:00:00 AM

The Jump Pivot Pickoff Move to First Base

As players get older and play at higher and higher levels of baseball, keeping runners out of scoring position is even more crucial than at younger ages. This is true because as players get older they typically make less errors and pitchers throw more strikes, thus reducing the number of runs scored. Scoring is at a premium and thus preventing extra bases is as well. One way pitchers can help themselves and their time is by developing an effective pickoff move to first.

Right handed pitchers here in the Greater Toronto Area - and likely just about anywhere they play baseball - typically come equipped with the basic step off the rubber method. This is where the pitcher disengages the rubber with their back foot and throws to first. This is a great move to learn as one's first move as it is relatively safe and simple and every once in a while just might catch a sleepy baserunner off guard. The problem however is at higher levels this move is just not that effective anymore. As the back foot comes off the rubber it provides baserunners with too much time to recognize the pick off. In some cases  pitchers might even step off and not throw as the runner is already back to the bag. This completely defeats the purpose of the pick off, which is to hold the runner close, decreasing their jump and chances of reaching scoring position.

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Topics: pitching instruction, pitching advice, Defense, pickoffs, pick off moves, pitcher's defense, controlling the running game

Rick Johnston | Jul 11, 2013 6:56:00 AM

5 Keys for Controlling the Running Game (Not Incl. a Pick Off Move!)

One of the keys to a pitcher becoming a complete pitcher is the ability they have to control the running game of the opposition. At many levels, the control of the running game is often talked about but the talk far outweighs the actual time dedicated to such a task. If pitchers do a poor or less than adequate job, it is safe to say they have a better chance of getting run from the mound versus staying on the mound.

"Well isn't controlling the running game all about having a good pickoff move?"

NO - it helps, but isn't essential. Surprised? Good.

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Topics: baserunning, baseball instruction, baseball pregame, pitching tips, pitching instruction, pregame observation, pitching skills, pitching advice, holding runners, pitcher's defense, controlling the running game

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