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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baseball Coaching Digest: The Perils of Defensive Assumption in Baseball Action

Baseball Coaching Digest: The Perils of Defensive Assumption in Baseball Action
By guest author: Nick Dixon

Assuming or taking for granted certain things when your team is playing defense can lead to costly mistakes and could lead to a loss. This article outlines three things that coaches and players should never assume when you are playing defense.

Assuming Every Player Knows the Number of Outs

This is the most common mental mistake a team or coach makes. They have a player that does not know how many out there are. I have witnessed in many different forms. Several times I have seen catchers think that there were three outs and the inning was over, so they rolled the ball toward the pitcher and allowed an alert runner on third score on a mental error.

I have seen an outfielder think that there were two outs when he caught a fly ball hit shallow into center field. He assumed that there were two out when he caught what he thought was the third out. He relaxes after the catch only to realize that the runner at third base has just tagged up and scored.

Making such mental mistakes can be prevented if the middle infielders relay and communicate the number of outs to the outfielders and other players after each out is made. It should be a standard procedure that every player on the team show at least one teammate the sign for the current number of outs after each out is made.

Assuming Everybody Knows the Bunt Coverage

Assuming everyone in the infield knows what the bunt situation is and the coverage that is on at the time can lead to a costly mistake. We have all seen it happen. The first baseman charges the bunt. The pitcher bounces off to the third base side and the catcher bounces out perfectly. The catcher calls the first base man off the ball, fields it, and comes up throwing to first. However, the second baseman was napping and did not get there to field the throw. The second baseman had what we call a "brain fart". He was not mentally alert and in the game. Therefore, it is important that the catcher call time, step out in front of the plate, and signal the bunt coverage that has been called for the situation.

Coaches must not assume that every player is alert. The key is communication between coaches and players. The coach must talk to his catcher and middle infielders constantly to make sure that they are in the game. Players should be taught to talk the game between pitches and communicate the situation, likely plays by the offense, and whose "got the bag" between pitches.

Assuming a play will or will not be made
Wrong assumptions can lead to devastating results when a team is on defense. A player should always hustle to a ball or to the correct position when the ball is hit or put into play. It can be costly for an outfielder to relax on a ball in the gap because he thinks the other outfielder is going to make the play. Not getting over to back up a fellow outfielder can cost a team valuable bases and even a run, if the ball is miss-played, missed or is a base it that gets by an outfielder.

Outfielders should always hustle, talk, and communicate when the ball is hit. Even if the other outfielder calls the ball, the outfielder should hustle over the back up on the play.

Outfielders should always back up throws as if the throw is going to be missed. Defensive players should never assume a catch. Catchers should sprint to back up throws at first base when there are not runners on. Just when the catcher assumes a ball will be caught, rather than missed, the first baseman will let the tying run get to second base with a miss-played short hop. If the catcher hustles to back-up on the play as he should, the runner does not advance to second base.

I hope that you found this article to be informative. I appreciate you taking the time to read it. For more articles like it, visit the Baseball Coaching Digest, Youth Baseball Digest, and the Baseball Parent Guide websites and blogs. Good luck to you and your team.
Have a great day, Nick.

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Nick Dixon is the President and founder of Nedco Sports, a sports training company established in 1999. Dixon is also an active and full time high school baseball coach with over 25 years experience. Dixon coaches at Boaz High in Boaz Alabama. Dixon is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association and Alabama Baseball Coaches Association.

Dixon is better known as the inventor of the BatAction Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Derek Jeter Hurricane Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Target Trainer, the SKLZ Derek Jeter ZipnHit Pro, and the SKLZ Strikeback Trainer. Dixon is considered an expert in baseball training and skills development. Dixon also serves as an active consultant to baseball equipment companies and other sports product inventors.

Dixon is also a contributing writer for the Baseball Coaching Digest, the baseball Coaching Digest Blog, the Youth Baseball Digest, the Youth Baseball Digest Blog, the Baseball Parent Guide, the Baseball 2Day Coaches Journal, and Blog4Coaches.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick