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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baseball Coaching Tips - When to Put on a Defensive Shift

Baseball Coaching Tips - When to Put on a Defensive Shift
By guest author: Jim Bain

Baseball players have their "Normal" fielding positions which are designed to provide the greatest amount of area coverage in which one fielder will be able to reach and field a hit baseball. These positions are tried and true from tens of thousands of ball games.

However, these "Normal" positions are just that, Normal. There's nothing set in stone as to not being able to vary the defensive set depending on the situation. Let's look at a few of these situations which could dictate you moving your defense into a shift.

The very first and most used shift involves the corner infielders. Once again depending on the score, the manager must determine if his best bet is to put the odds in his favor as far as the third baseman or first baseman fielding the ball for an out, or increase his odds of not allowing an extra base hit.

With the score close, within 2 or 3 runs of each other, and the game being in the late innings, 6th and 7th of a 7 inning game, 8th and 9th of a 9 inning game, the coach will position his corner infielders very close to the base.

The reasoning for this is quite simple. A ball hit through the infield to the left side of the 3rd baseman or the right side of the first baseman, will result in a base hit, as the outfielder will easily be able to field the ground ball and get it back into the infield, holding the runner at first base.

However, a hard hit ground ball to the right of the third baseman or left of the first baseman, which gets passed the infielder, will most likely result in a double for the hitter, placing him in scoring position. The reason for this huge difference, is a ball hit like this will have a natural spin which will take the baseball in direction towards the foul line and away from the outfielder.

Instead of waiting for the ball to reach him, he will have to go and retrieve the ball which allows the runner more time to reach second base.

Another type of shift utilized is an Over Shift, in which either the second baseman is shifted to behind second base or slightly on the shortstop side of second, or the shortstop is shifted behind second or slightly to the right field side of the base.

The reason for utilizing this shift, as we will see, is actually two fold. This shift is implemented when there is a Pull hitter, with power at the bat. Some hitters are capable of pulling (hitting) any pitch, whether it be outside or not, into a specific field, most likely left or right field.

The extra infielder is placed on the side of the field the hitter will 99% hit the baseball, giving the defense an advantage of fielding the ball for an out instead of a base hit.

Secondly, the shift is also implemented in order to induce the hitter to hit the ball to the open side of the infield, which will be his Non Power side. The team in essence is saying "I'll allow a free base hit in order to prevent a home run or extra base hit."

In a pitcher's duel, this shift and the results it produces, could have game winning or losing implications.

Jim Bain - Former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth. Visit his exciting info packed website:

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1 comment:

  1. Play to your teams and pitchers strengths, obviously if your pitcher commands one side of the plate better than the other then that will dictate what your fielders are doing. I think alot of times as coaches we focus to much on what the other team is doing and not enough on what ours does well, and playing that way.


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