Move Em In
Equipment: JUGS Toss Machine, Baseball Field, Bats, Gloves, Ball, 1st and 3rd Base Coaches
Purpose: To teach the fundamentals of hitting behind the runner. To teach base runners to learn aggressive walking [and] lead from second, in order to score on a single to the right side. To teach hitters to leave hard out of the batters box, and to read throws to home and advance to second.
Split players into two teams or three teams (depending on roster size). Each fielding position should be filled during the game, including a pitcher and a catcher that is shelled up in their gear. Place a runner at second base. Using a JUGS Soft Toss, or coach soft tossing, have player assume his batting position in the batters box. Balls should be tossed so they are located [from the] middle to outside of the plate (middle out). The batter’s job is to hit the ball behind the runner at second base, in order to score them. Upon hitting the ball, the batter will run. The batter must reach second base in order to receive 1 point for second, 2 points for third and 3 points for a home run. The base runner at second will receive 1 point for reaching third base, and 2 points for reaching home. If the ball is hit on the ground in front of the base runner on second base (ground ball to short stop or third base) and the runner runs, 1 point will be deducted. The team hitting will add their points up until three outs are made. Once three outs are recorded, switch batting teams. This also is fundamental in teaching proper outfield mechanics, as well as catcher set up and receiving balls to home in a dynamic environment.
Hitters should be instructed to let the ball travel and keep the hands inside of the ball. Remind them that 70% of all pitches thrown are to the middle out of the plate, which is optimum for hitting behind the runner. If a runner is in scoring position, you are looking for the middle out pitch, laying off the inside pitch when you are in a plus-count or hitters-count situation.
Base runners should take a normal aggressive walking lead at second base, looking to score on all balls to right or center field, using the inside of third base and base coaches to advance in a quicker manner, while not advancing on balls hit in front of them. Batter must be told to take a hard turn at first and to read and react to the throw, while listening to the first base coach and checking the third base coach prior to approaching second base.
Fielders should be held to task on proper fielding mechanics, and [on] cut offs. Outfielders will have an opportunity to work on fielding fly balls on the throwing side, working forward through the ball on the catch, and delivering the ball to the base or cut off with no or [a] low crow hop and a long follow through. Cut offs should work at being in a good position to throw the ball, listening to their line up from the catcher. As well as receiving the ball with their glove-hand shoulder facing the target they will be throwing to. Catchers will have the opportunity to work on proper line-up technique for the cut off, receiving the ball at home in position to block, and throwing to a base after the play at home to catch runners advancing.
By: Mike Swiech