Defensive Youth Baseball

by Coach Zapata
Pipe Creek, Texas

An alert capable defense makes for a winning team. The ability to make the routine play consistently is the hallmark of solid defensive play. Defense wins! Good defense will keep a team in most games. Defense can be taught. Spend time working on the fundamentals. CATCHING AND THROWING!

A good hitter, who is weak defensively, will never "knock-in" the number of runs he "lets-in!" The designated hitter is the exception of course. Consider playing the defensive player ahead of the poor defender/good hitter. By minimizing defensive errors and mistakes, you limit your opponents to only those opportunities they earn.

Develop your pitching staff. Pitching is considered to be 80 to 85 percent of the defensive game. "Good pitching beats good hitting."

Develop your catcher. A strong mentally alert catcher is necessary if a team is to be solid defensively. The distinguishing mark of a great receiver is his ability to catch the low ball and balls in the dirt, to keep runners from advancing. Practice catching low thrown balls constantly.

Develop your short stop and second baseman. The majority of batted balls are handled by the infield and of these, the majority is handled by the shortstop and second baseman.

Develop a centerfielder. The centerfielder should be the outfield quarterback. He should take charge of the outfield. Because he must cover the greatest amount of the territory in the outfield, he must have the ability to "get a jump" on the ball, be fast a foot and possess a strong throwing arm. The outfield corrects the pitcher's mistakes and the infielder's errors.

Teach your outfield to move at the crack of the bat. If they wait until the infield makes a mistake to move it will be to late. Outfield must back up the bases on ever throw.

Defensive philosophy

Get one out for sure. Regardless of what happens during the course of a play "get someone out" This is particularly true when your team is ahead. Make the easy, routine play. Make it consistently and under pressure. If you make the easy plays, the hard plays will take care of themselves. Limit your opponents to what they earn.

No random throws. Whenever a player makes a throw where there is little or no chance of making an out, it is considered a random throw. The only result of a random throw is something bad.

When a throw is made to a base, the closer a base runner is to homeplate, the more certain you must be that there is an actual chance of throwing the base runner out. If a throw is to be made at third base, the defensive player should be 90 percent sure he has a play before making a throw. Don't give your opponents an easy unearned run by throwing the ball away when no play on the base runner exists.

Know the priority system of "ball then base". If you are uncertain whether to leave the base or get the ball on a throw, GO get the ball. If you are not involved in a play that is taking place, cover your base. A subsequent play may develop at your base and you must be there.

Count your runs - know which runs are important and which runs are not. This can be determined by counting the number of runners on base and the batter, and determining what the score would be if they scored. When your team is ahead in the game, don't keep your opponents rally alive by throwing to homeplate or attempting to throw out a base runner whose run means nothing. Throwing to third base or home on a single to the outfield when the run is meaningless allows the bater to advance to second base. This takes the double play opportunity away from the infield, scores another run on a single and keeps your opponents rally alive. Keep the double play in order by conseding the run.

Should I play my infield in or back? Counting your runs will help you determine when to move the infield in. Playing the infield in to cut off a run makes a .250 hitter a .500 hitter. It doubles the batter's chance of getting a hit because the infielders have less time to react. Early in the game, playing the infielders back can be the difference between a big inning, or a one run inning for your opponent.

Play the infield deep with a runner on third, early in the game, when ahead by two or more runs and when bases are loaded or if there are runners on first and third. Go for the double play unless runner on third is the winning run.

Play the infield in to prevent the winning run from scoring, when you are behind by a large score, with one out and a runner on third base, playing the infield in is a pretty good gamble.

More Youth Baseball Instructional Articles

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Youth Baseball Coaches Forum

Youth Baseball Coaching Instruction

Coaching Tomorrows Youth Baseball Player

Handling Young Pitchers

Baseball Fundamentals - Hitting

Baseball Fundamentals - Throwing and Catching

Defensive Youth Baseball

Baserunning Fundamentals

Setting up Hitters

Throwing Fundamentals



 
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