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HORSHAM LITTLE LEAGUE
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Machine Pitch / Minors Skills Training

Players should be taught:

  • Boundaries of the strike zone
  • Difference between force play and tag play
  • How to bunt
  • How to round first
  • How to slide
  • How to get out of way of wild pitch
  • What constitutes the “base path” (3ft. on either side of baseline)
  • What constitutes fair and foul territory, especially around home plate (plate is in fair territory)
  • When runner can leave the base (when pitch reaches the plate, not the catcher)
  • Difference between interference and obstruction
  • Meaning of infield fly rule
  • To throw ahead of the lead runner (two bases ahead on a single, one base ahead on a fly ball)
  • To call for the ball when sure he can get to it (“I got it, I got it, I got It!”)

Note: Coaches should re-teach all catching, throwing and hitting fundamentals from tee-ball curriculum

Bunting:

  • Teach pivot or squaring methods (squaring better for getting ball out in front of plate)
  • Use bat handle to direct bunt
  • Make contact out in front of plate so ball can use dirt to slow speed of bunt
  • Teach to bunt toward 1st or 3rd, not back to pitcher
  • “Receive” pitch with bat
  • Low strikes are good to bunt; bend knees
  • Don’t bunt pitches that are balls; get bat back out of strike zone or pitch could be called strike
  • Batter out if bunts with a foot out of batter’s box

Rounding first base:

  • Start veering out about 2/3 of way to first
  • Hit inside front corner of bag with either foot
  • Take 4-5 aggressive steps toward second, see ball and either go or return to first
  • Want to get straightest possible line toward second

General baserunning:

  • Never make first out of inning at third or home; never make third out at third
  • Run hard through the bag at first base and hit the nearest edge
  • On base, elbows and knees flexed, hands out in front for balance and quick break
  • On every pitch, shuffle step off bag when pitch reaches plate
  • Use crossover step when breaking for next base
  • Make sure the line drive goes through
  • Don’t break on ball hit back to pitcher
  • Don’t overrun second or third
  • At third with less than two outs, automatically tag up on a fly ball
  • At third, come off base in foul territory so will not be called out if hit by batted ball in fair territory
  • At second when not forced, break on grounders to 1st or 2nd, wait on balls in front of you (to ss and 3b) to see what happens; listen to3b coach
  • Slide on any close play and when coach tells you to

Sliding:

  • Practice on grass; best after a rain.
  • Don’t start slide to close to or far from bag (about 8-10 feet OK)
  • Kick one leg up and tuck other let under knee of extended leg
  • Throw both hands up into the air
  • Slide on seat of pants and lower back
  • Stay in contact with bag at all times or call time to pull yourself up
  • HEADFIRST SLIDING IS PROHIBITED IN LITTLE LEAGUE

Avoiding a wild pitch:

  • Turn front side away from and back side toward ball; lower the head
  • DO NOT turn front side into pitch
  • While turning, lower bat (don’t let go of it) so ball can’t hit it and be called a strike (foul)

Pitcher – General Principles:

  • Use four-seam fastball for better control
  • Throw changeup with same arm speed as fastball but hold ball deeper in palm
  • Throw from pitching arm side of rubber
  • Short step straight back, not to side of or forward of rubber
  • Keep weight balanced over pivot foot; don’t lean back Get leg kick up to belt at least
  • Glove arm shoulder and hip are facing plate at this point
  • Bring throwing hand down and back with fingers on top of ball
  • Elbow at least shoulder high as approach release point
  • Shoulders stay horizontal until arm coming forward; don’t slant shoulders upward
  • Drop pivot leg knee slightly before striding for more power
  • Stride out with foot pointing toward plate and lined up with it
  • Keep head still, eyes on catcher’s mitt
  • Stride, then throw; land flat and slightly closed
  • Glove arm is pulling in for greater speed
  • Let arm follow its intended path; DO NOT RECOIL THROWING ARM
  • Bring wrist forward through release
  • Head moves directly toward plate; get nose out over stride leg knee
  • Pivot leg follows around to end up in balanced fielding position

Catcher – General Principles:

  • Stance – (no runners) throwing hand in fist behind body, low crouch, close to hitter, catch with one hand; (base runners) throwing hand in fist behind mitt, rear end up, feet spread wider, throwing-side foot back a little
  • Framing – set up close to hitter, attack the pitch, make “picture frame” of strike zone on all close pitches
  • Low balls – drop both knees, keep ball centered, chin down, glove covers “five hole,” throwing hand behind glove, block, don’t try to catch
  • Pop-ups – Take off mask and find the ball, throw mask in opposite direction, catch ball with back to infield; on balls in front of plate, run past ball, turn your back to infield and adjust from there
  • Tag at plate – put right foot on front edge of plate (to know where plate is without having to look down); left foot always pointing up third-base line to avoid injury from sliding runner; face the throw, receive throw and cover ball with all four fingers of bare hand, step up the line and take plate away from runner, make tag well ahead of plate, ball wrapped in the glove

Position Responsibilities – Basic

Catcher:

  • Be “alive”
    • Back up first on infield grounders, no one on base
    • Block plate when having possession of ball to prevent runner scoring
    • Return ball to pitcher with a good, direct throw so pitcher doesn’t have to work as hard

1st Baseman :

  • Charge on all bunts
  • Cutoff man on throw from right and center (optional)

2nd Baseman :

  • Cover first on bunts
  • Take throws from right fielder
  • Backup throws to shortstop

Shortstop :

  • Leader of infield
  • Take throws from center and left fielders
  • Backup throws to 2nd baseman

3rd Baseman :

  • Charge on certain bunt situations
  • Cutoff man on throws from left (optional)
  • Hold bag on all other situations with runners on

Outfielders :

  • Backup each other or backup a base on every ball hit
  • Tell fellow outfielder where to throw ball
  • Don’t let ball get past you – last line of defense
  • Backup throws from catcher to bases

Pitcher :

  • Backup third or home on throws from outfield
  • Cover first on all balls hit to right side of infield
  • Get first pitch in for a strike
 
 
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