Testimonial Tuesday: Connor Fuhrman

Testimonial Tuesday: Connor Fuhrman

Date: 1/15/19
By: Eric Leary
Graduation: 2022
Position: OF
College Commitment: University of South Carolina

It became very clear in speaking with Connor Fuhrman of Lord Botetourt High School that his views on enjoying two of his favorite activities have plenty of similarities.  He loves to play baseball. And he also loves to fish. On the diamond, the 2022 outfielder described himself as “a calm player” that doesn’t allow frustrations derail his focus to perform.  The same view can be seen from his outdoors side as he called fishing both “relaxing and intense.” He’s a competitor that loves to win. He’s a sportsman that expects to catch fish. The anticipation factor in each venture becomes a driving force.

The freshman out of Daleville, Virginia, committed his baseball skills to the University of South Carolina in the fall of 2018.  And though his high school and even his showcase career may find him in a variety of positions in the lineup (including on the mound), centerfield appears to be his favorite spot. No matter where he takes the field his competitive nature is sure to win the day.  Dirtbags Director of Player Development Brent Haynes had this to say about Connor, “He is a very versatile player that can play any position on the field and do whatever it takes to help his team win.”

,Upon becoming a Dirtbag in the fall of 2017, Fuhrman made this apparent while playing with CJ Beatty’s 14u squad. That team won – A LOT.  And Connor loved that part of the experience. In fact, he credits playing in the “big events” since being a Dirtbag as a cause for his rapid rise.  Being on center stage of the reputable Perfect Game tournaments seems to get his juices going. Also, he sees the value of playing with really good players, and learning under the coaching he’s received within the organization as critical.  And he recognizes how these opportunities have been fostered by being a Dirtbag as he stated, “Mainly, by reaching out to coaches and getting me where I need to be.”

Though still a young player he has seen growth occur since joining the Dirtbags.  This has been most notable in his mental game. Connor stated that the ability to continue to compete vs. the toughest competition and overcome adversity is a welcomed asset that he foresees to serve him through his scholastic career and beyond. He knows this will be put to the test very soon as his high school team gets started February 18th.  And while he notes the team is young he expects to win and personally sees the opportunity to grow as a leader to aid in that quest.

As the spring turns to summer and it becomes time to put on the Dirtbag uniform the expectations don’t change much.  Fuhrman wants to win – actually win it ALL. More specifically, he wants to win the WWBA. But make no mistake he understands that he has a price to pay for all this winning he wants to do.  He knows individually he must continue to grow as a player by putting in the work. Which is something he is already doing by working on his swing in the cage for multiple sessions per week and engaging in throwing sessions.  All of this baseball preparation is taking place while playing with his high school basketball team as a multi-sport athlete.

It is impressive to see such a clear vision from a player still yet to play in his first high school game.  But as Brent Haynes later added, “When you watch him at the plate you can tell he is going to be special with the amount of bat speed and power he already produces at such a young age.”  That makes it easy to see the physical tools are simply available to a young player that has already figured out some of the toughest lessons in the game. And have no doubt that he will continue to pursue his own self-improvement.

Perhaps just like the fisherman always looking for that edge to catch a bigger fish next time out.  

 

Coaches Corner: Mental Game Monday Routines

Coaches Corner: Mental Game Monday Routines

Coaches Corner: Mental Game Monday – Routine vs. Superstition

Date: 1/14/2019
By Brendan Dougherty

You hear so many times in all sports but especially in baseball “Control what you can control”. When you are watching the elite players in any sport, why do they look like they are never under stress or the moment is never too big for them? How do they do it? All the talk leading into the National Championship game was, “How will Trevor Lawrence handle this stage?” If you had the chance to see the game or even the highlights you could tell who was in control and who allowed the game to speed up on them. How was he able to play with control and poise at such a young age. As long as I have been in this game the one thing I know and understand is that the game, regardless of what sport, does not know how old someone is. Yes experience helps but it is not the deciding factor. We would all love to have the ability to slow the game down and play when the ball looks like a basketball coming at you or the hoop is bigger then ever when you are shooting. We may have experienced that one time in our lives and it is the best feeling you will ever have. How do elite athletes have that feeling so often? We have to understand that they are very gifted and talented at what they do. They also are most likely the hardest working and most prepared players on the team. That’s where it all starts for the best. How do they prepare? How do you prepare?

Sports in general all have their little quirks but baseball probably has the most. We do have a lot of down time before and during games. It gives our minds a chance to wander and think about the good things, but also the bad things. The best players have the shortest memory, they have the ability to control the things they can control. The reason they are able to do that is because they have a belief! They have confidence in their ability! They have a process! They have a routine that they are accustomed to doing before each practice or game. We think that baseball players live by superstitions and have to do all these crazy things before they can do anything on the field. The difference between having a routine and a superstition is that a routine is something that is always going to be there regardless of the situation. It is not eating chicken before every game because you got two hits the last game after you had the same meal. Superstitions do not last! A routine is something that you use as part of your preparation for a game or practice. It is something that is always able to be done. You may have to change it some but you know and understand that it is concrete. There is a great ESPN E60 story on Evan Longoria. He has been working on the mental game since he started in college. Part of his routine before he got in the box was to take a deep breath and look at the left field foul pole. The reason he did that was because it would clear his mind and get him focused on the present moment and the at-bat he was about to have. He was not focused on the last at-bat or an error in the field two innings before. You have to be able to release the past and get focused on the present. Having a routine allows you to have a process and ability to always be in the present moment. Develop your own pregame, practice and gameday routine.

Definitions- Which one do you use!

Routine- A SEQUENCE OF ACTIONS REGULARLY FOLLOWED, A FIXED PROGRAM

Superstition- A BELIEF OR PRACTICE RESULTING FROM IGNORANCE, FEAR OF THE UNKOWN, TRUST IN MAGIC OR CHANCE, OR FALSE CONCEPTION OF CAUSE

Click here to watch ESPN E60- Longoria and the Mental game

Instructional Friday: Pitching Grips

Instructional Friday: Pitching Grips

INSTRUCTIONAL FRIDAY – 1/11/19
PITCHING – HOW TO GET A “GRIP” ON PITCHES
By: Eric Leary

Pitchers and pitching coaches have a laundry list of physical and mental boxes to check in order to ready a young hurler for consistent result on the mound.  Everything from the delivery to the arm strength, to the pitching philosophy can be considered as essential. But be careful not to bypass the importance of the grip.  How the pitcher holds the ball and the skills executing that grip can be the difference between winning or losing, all-star or sandlot, and all-league or all done.

In analyzing the grip of the pitcher to pitch the baseball, first understand that HAND STRENGTH is a deciding factor. The righty or lefty that offers the firm handshake to the coach is already ahead of the competition (and not just because he shows confidence).  Hand strength is a necessary component for anyone playing a sport that uses the hand to perform skills. It provides an advantage in areas like command and action on the ball.  It often determines which pitches can be executed. While hand size can be important (more specifically, the length of fingers – big hands often bring more options), even small hands can deliver quality pitches when they have been strengthened to meet the task.  Seek out some quality exercises to improve hand strength. (By the way, Dirtbags CEO Andy Partin recently posted a video on Twitter highlighting some proven tactics on this very topic.)

Transferring the acquired hand strength to the mound then requires the pitcher to practice the various grips that will be used to deliver pitches.  Decisions need to be made on how many pitches and which pitches are best suited for this player. A ton of factors could be considered. The suggestion is to stay simple.  Be able to locate the fastball first and add a changeup next. Age and repeatable mechanics will often dictate when to add the breaking ball and what type should be used. The secondary pitches in the arsenal are all about command and feel.   This essence of feel leads to the concept of experimentation with grips. Setting up drills to allow the pitcher to determine which variations of a grip for a pitch fits his hand best can lead to maximum potential of that arm on the mound.

Any drill of this nature is easily worked into a throwing routine on flat ground and often best suited for shorter distances.  The frequency of drills to experiment with grips can be determined by how often the player is throwing and what time of the year it happens to be.  More emphasis could be put on these sessions in pre-season or early season work, with some tweaking dictated by performances once the season starts.  The ability for the pitcher to create a comfortable, repeatable grip for a specific pitch is key. Don’t settle for “that’s pretty close.” Precision of the feel is important and will be recognized by the command and actions created on the ball.  

Consider the following guides in finding the best grips for the identified pitches and then a few drill suggestions to serve as the proving grounds.

FASTBALL  Determine if a 2-seam or 4-seam is the best fit for this pitcher.  Experiment with fingers split or close and even placement as to impact factors like velocity, movement and command.  Closely related to grip is wrist angle; it can be a movement enhancer if it proves necessary and can be accomplished.

CHANGE UP  Remember the amount of skin in contact with the ball should impact the loss of velocity, not the arm speed.  This pitch is all about the grip. Best results seem to be when the middle finger can access the inside of the ball.  Variations with the thumb on the bottom or not can impact comfort and command. Also consider working this pitch off the best fastball grip to create similar spin patterns on delivery.

BREAKING BALL  This is definitely a pitch impacted by the fingers and whether it is a curve or a slider the ability to find the best seam for leverage is critical.  Again, the middle finger is often the determiner here. Finding that placement to allow the middle finger to work in front of the ball and pull that seam to initiate spin brings consistent results.

Drills:

  • Delivery drills  – Pitchers can execute basic delivery drills/warm up routine with a singular grip focus.  Best results would be fastball or changeup. Can create comfort of the grip.
  • Knee down grip drill – Used in the delivery drill sequence or as a stand alone, this drill allows for the significant focus on the arm action and the grip by eliminating the bottom half.  Distance should be short. Consider spinning breaking balls that bounce in the middle to get the pitcher to finish the pitch with the fingers.
  • Stretch to stride  – Either from a mound or on flat ground at 45-50’ have the pitcher start at stride point.  He should load momentum back with the ball in the glove, break and deliver a pitch to the strike zone.  Emphasize finishing the delivery with the lower half. The quickness at which this drill operates allows for a number of reps of a specific grip in a short period.  Consider spinning breakings to a target on this drill: seat of a chair, into a bucket or a trash can on its side.

Remember, only attempt to throw pitches in games that the pitcher can locate.  This only happens if those pitches are practiced. Practice the skill of finding the right grips of the pitches to dominate on the mound.

Meet The Staff: Brendan Dougherty

Meet The Staff: Brendan Dougherty

Date: 1/9/19

For our first episode of “Meet The Staff” we sat down with South Carolina Director Brendan Dougherty. Dougherty has coached at many levels of baseball over his young career, including a 17 year stint in the college game. Learn more about Coach Dougherty below..

Take us back, how did you get started in coaching?

I had just finished playing at Coastal Carolina University and wanted to stay in Baseball. I had an opportunity to work camp at Elon University. (It was Elon College back then), I told Mike Kennedy I wanted to get into coaching and wanted to work for him. A friend of mine was his assistant the year before. He told me he only had a GA position and it didn’t pay anything and I needed to think about it for a few days after camp ended.

Two days after camp ended he called me and said both his assistants were leaving and asked if I wanted the recruiting job. I told him yes right away, before he could tell me what the pay was. At that time college baseball was not what it is today so the pay wasn’t exactly the best.

It really didn’t matter he gave me an opportunity and a lot of freedom to recruit and coach and he taught me how to become a better coach, person, and father. I will always be in debt to him for taking a chance on me.

Where have you been in your coaching career?

I started at Elon University and was there for four years. I then was at Auburn University as the Volunteer assistant. I moved from there to the United States Military Academy for two years. From there I had the chance to come back and work at Coastal Carolina University for six years and then on to Western Kentucky for four years before coming on with the Dirtbags.

When coaching college baseball, what did you know about Dirtbags Baseball?

You always knew when you went to see a Dirtbags team play, what you would see. A group that was going to be good, play hard and do things the right way. A culture was started back in 2002 and that culture has stood the test of time. There have been many great players that have come through this organization and when they are done with their Dirtbag career they know what the Dirtbag way is! I was always excited when I got a chance to see the Dirtbags play you just knew what you were going to get!!

What’s your message to young players out there trying to get to the next level?

If you want to be really good at anything, you have to make sacrifices. Whatever you are doing preparing for practice to start, in the weight room, in the cages, on the game field attack it like it is the last time you will be able to do it. Someone is always evaluating you it is not just a College coach or Professional Scout.

When you hear the word “Dirtbag”, what comes to mind?

Hard nosed, tough kids that play the game the right way and wear those crazy camo uniforms!!! The Dirtbag Way!

What are you looking forward to the most about the 2019 Dirtbag Season?

To see the returning players go out and compete but also the new crop of players learn and see what it is like to be a Dirtbag.

Best Dirtbag memory?

I would love to say winning the World Championship in 2016 but due to sickness I was not able to make it to Jupiter but still enjoyed the moment from my computer. The best memories for me are from the kids when they have trusted this organization to help them through the entire process and they arrive at a decision and commit to a school. Those are great memories for me!

Favorite Food:  Northeast Style Pizza

Favorite Movie: Good Will Hunting/Young Guns

If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be and why?

My son Knox. He has special needs but it does not define him. He is the happiest kid you will ever meet and there is no other time that he is happier then when he is watching his big brother play baseball or football or when he is at the field with us. He may never have the chance so for one day I would love for him to be able to play ball like the rest of us!!

What you like to do in your spare time?

Spend time with my family and be at a field.

Coaches Corner: Angular Throwing Drill

Coaches Corner: Angular Throwing Drill

Date: 1/10/19
By: Brendan Dougherty

The majority of errors made throughout the course of a season or even a game is throwing. If you watch any MLB, high level college or high school game there are many guys out on the field with plus arms. If you watch closely see how many times, they throw the ball as hard as they can across the diamond. They only use their arm strength when it is needed. They play with a 2-step rhythm after they field the ball and on the second step, they are ready to throw. It starts with their footwork and the ball staying in the middle of the body with the hands together. They are working for accuracy over velocity! Many young infielders today feel they have to throw every ball as hard as they can, I also see guys feet stop moving after they release the ball. The feet are a huge part of how we throw with accuracy and carry. The Angular Throwing Drill is a great drill for working the feet and throwing with accuracy.

Angular Throwing Drill Breakdown

This drill series is every ground ball that we can expect as an infielder. You start off at a close range where the infielder takes his route to the ball then gets to the fielding position and is short-hopped a ball. He then plays the ball live from when he catches it.

Flash- Only throw when 1st baseman flashes hands. Shuffle with hands together until he flashes.

Forehand- Pre-set fielding position for a ball to the Forehand.

Backhand- Pre-set fielding position for a ball to the Backhand.

Drop-step- Infielder starts ball is thrown on 1 hop to either forehand or backhand Inf will us drop step reshuffle then throw.

Quick toss- Infielder only has 1 shuffle then must get the ball in the air to 1B with accuracy. We use this with a plus runner.

Bobble- After infielder fields the ball he will let it drop and must recover and throw to 1B. Key is not going back into the glove after it is picked up.

Freeze- After the catch we hold for a 2 count in the fielding position then throw.

Run-Through- Infielder charges a high one hop. After catch settle feet and makes throw.

On the run– Infielder attacks ball and makes throw on the run using different arm angles. Start with using the glove then can use barehand.

Exchange- Infielder will run at coach a ball will be dropped as the infielder gets close to him. Must catch and exchange the ball 1 step is ideal. Must use body control and different arm angles.

Under The Gun: Hunter Ridge

Under The Gun: Hunter Ridge

Date: 1/10/19
By: Eric Leary

For today’s episode of “Under The Gun” we sat down with North Moore High School Head Baseball Coach Hunter Ridge. Coach Ridge has also been coaching with the Dirtbag organization since 2015.

As a coach with the Dirtbags, we know you played college baseball at UNC-Wilmington. Take us through the process how you got the opportunity to play there.

My sophomore year I picked UNCW over UNC, NC State, HPU, TCU and Coastal. After going on my visits, I felt like it was home away from home and the coaches saw me as someone who could come in and compete for a starting job. Coach Howell (Current Georgia Tech Pitching Coach) and Coach Hood (Current UNC-Wilmington Associate Head Coach) stayed on me 24/7 and also I had three guys from my legion team go there a year before me so that made it easier as well. Also, it’s hard not to want to play at the beach with the great weather.

When thinking back on your days of being a Seahawk Baseball player, what do you miss the most about that experience?

Being apart of a brotherhood/family of winners. As a unit we would do whatever it took to win.

What’s one area of the game you feel you were able to grow the most in your transition from high school to college?

My approach in the box. I was able to learn on how to study a pitcher in college. In high school it was either here comes a fastball or a walk. In college I had to learn what pitch or location the pitch would go too.

What was your mindset, or approach, as a hitter when you got in the box?

My approach was to do whatever I could to have a quality at bat and hit it hard to ALL fields. Stay short and drive the ball backside.

What is the best drill you would urge young hitters to do in order to improve their skills?

Tee work. I loved doing tee work because it was all about getting your swing back to normal when struggling and you can easily slow your swing down with this drill. You can also set the tee up for the pitch to be anywhere around the plate. High tee to get on top of the ball or Low tee to elevate.

Help us understand the commitment required for a college student-athlete.  Can you describe the work and time it takes at that level to be a successful player?

You are committing four years of your life to a college for baseball. But, you are a student-athlete (student first). Classes, weights, practice and then study hall. It’s a job that you technically don’t get paid for until you get your degree.

Now that you have transitioned from playing to coaching, as a high school coach and with the Dirtbags, what do you try to instill in the hitters you coach?

Make loud outs. Hit the ball where it’s pitched and do not try to do too much.

Thanks so much for sharing with us & we look forward to seeing your coaching career take the same rise as your playing career did.

 

Testimonial Tuesday: Alden Kolessar

Testimonial Tuesday: Alden Kolessar

Date: 1/8/19
By: Eric Leary
Graduation: 2020
Position: OF

Baseball coaches want players to play with energy. Positive energy can spread through a team and catapult players into performances that unleash their talents or even operate above them.  With coaches always looking for players who can be that source for the energy, uncommitted outfielder Alden Kolessar is that guy. As a 2020 prospect attending Rockingham County High School, Alden plays with the intensity that can move team culture off the charts.  Dirtbags GM Trey Daly says this about the left-handed hitter, “When Kolessar puts on the Dirtbag uniform there is no doubt he leaves it all on the field. Kolessar is fun to watch and you never have to question his passion for the game.”

All that energy comes with expectations too. Kolessar is excited about the 2019 season where he hopes he can “be a leader and set an example” for his Cougars of Rockingham as they look to play past their 1st round exit of last year.  And having been with the Dirtbags since the fall of 2017, Alden wants to put his club in the top 20 PG rankings for the upcoming summer by hitting like he did at major events in Georgia last summer and Florida last fall.

If it hasn’t become clear yet, the young man likes competition and welcomes the challenges it presents. Don’t mistake his attitude for all talk when he states, “they won’t be able to keep up with the intensity that I bring” as we spoke about him always looking to take the next bag when he gets on base.  That’s because Alden Kolessar is a worker too. This off-season he’s been in the weight room getting stronger during sessions before school each day. And he’s looking to translate that to his swing where he’s also working to generate more power.  All this work according to Alden has been ignited by the successes he has experienced, particularly in the last year and a half. He cited that being a part of the Dirtbags has fueled his desires to elevate his game.

Digging deeper into that transition to being a part of Dirtbags Baseball uncovers a few revelations that makes sense for a player of Kolessar’s focused intensity.  For him it was all about wanting to get with the “right guys, the best organization.” He stated that after having been with a few other organizations, the coaching and exposure with the Dirtbags is the difference.  He recognized that wearing that uniform “gets guys in front of the right people at the right time.”

When asked what the term Dirtbags means to him, it was a simple response of “intensity – when you play the Dirtbags you know you are playing somebody.”  Well, Alden Kolessar is definitely somebody that reflects that characterization of the program and his energy looks to serve him well as he is looking for his next opportunity.

 

Coaches Corner: Mental Game

Coaches Corner: Mental Game

Coaches Corner: Mental Game (1/7/19)
By: Brendan Dougherty

In today’s game the best players are always looking for an advantage. We have so much information at our hands and it really comes down to how we use the information and apply it to our own game. Something that may work for one player may not always work for another. We are always trying to find what works best. Baseball is the only game in the world that you fail more than you succeed. The best players in the game at any level are the ones who have a short memory and can move on to the “Next Pitch”. Any camp, clinic, or speaking engagement that I am working I always ask this question: How much of baseball do you think is Mental? The answers are always the same anywhere from 65% to 95%. I like to follow that up by asking how much they work on the mental side of the game. Most of the time the answer is a very small amount. Baseball requires a lot of reps so most players at all levels work on the physical side of the game. That is a huge part I get that!

How can we say that the mental game is so important but we work on it so little? Every player feels like he is mentally tough and can handle any type of situation that comes about. I have watched a lot of talented mentally tough guys have the game of baseball tear them apart. They could handle the failure and they did not have a plan in place to be able to say “So What Next Pitch”. MLB, college, and some high school teams have a true focus on working the mental game every day in practice and on game days. They have hired mental game coaches or they have brought them in to work with their teams. I hear this term used a lot: “Slow the game down” many times the players hear that but they do not understand it. Each week I am going give you some things that you can use to help with being able to slow the game down.

About ten years ago I had the opportunity to work with Brian Cain. Brian is one of the top Peak Performance coaches in the World. I learned how to slow the game down and how to really focus on being in the present moment. Like I said in the beginning of this article not everything works the same for every player. If you really want to attack the mental game then you have to buy into things that will be successful for you as a person. I am hoping to give you some guidelines and things that may help. This first week we will introduce the concentration grid. It is something that I still do to this day and it is something that can be used to work to help with your focus when things are out of control. I am also going to add a few books and websites that may be helpful as you begin to attack the mental game of baseball.

Books

Heads-Up Baseball- Tom Hanson/Ken Ravizza

Heads-Up Baseball 2.0- Ken Ravizza

Toilets, Bricks, Fish Hooks and Pride- Brian Cain

Website

www.briancain.com

CONCENTRATION GRID

46  03  16  34  31  29  61  69  81  76
 32  12  63  98  39  94  54  36  52  82
 24  70  72  07  89  21  15  08  40  65
 28  14  09  73  02  38  44  37  33  60
 10  23 48  30  51  68  35  66  53  25
 93  84 90  99  87  88  43  74  67  06
 41  20  05  55  83  57  96  77  92  62
 71  42  50  17  13  00  97  78  01  49
 80  85  91  22  58  95  79  64  27  47
 86  45  75  18  19  04  56  59  11  26

 

*Objective is to start at 00 and then find each number after that up to 99

*Cross off the Number the same way

*This should be a timed event

*Start off in a quiet controlled environment and as you get better you should build stress in as you are doing it. (Example- Loud Music, Talking, Banging, ETC.)

*This is a timed event. You should work to lower your time each grid you do.

Distribution of Pitching Innings

Distribution of Pitching Innings

By: Andy Partin

Every college program is different the way they handle their pitching staff. Some schools rely on less arms and have them throw more innings and others use more arms and have them throw less innings.

If a coaching staff tends to rely heavily on 6-8 pitchers throughout the season it’s going to be tough for the other pitchers to play a part throughout their career in that program. I’d suggest finding out how that coaching staff distributes innings.

Look back over the different season’s stats on the school’s website and you’ll be able to see how many different pitchers got to pitch throughout the season. This will give you a solid idea of what your chances are like when you show up.

If a pitcher is throwing close to 25 innings during a season then he played a solid role. If a pitcher doesn’t throw near that then he was probably never a guy that was involved in a situation that could dictate the outcome of a game.

Let’s not discount the fact pitchers who struggle in practice or early on in games will have a tougher shot getting a chance to prove themselves again in games. The players have to perform in order to receive opportunities.

Bottom line, just be educated about the programs you are interested in. Knowing how many guys on a roster played a role will give you a sense of how much you can expect to pitch and contribute to your team throughout the season.

Instructional Friday: Base Running

Instructional Friday: Base Running

INSTRUCTIONAL FRIDAY 1/4/19
BASE RUNNING

Players wanting to bring value to themselves by making their team better should look no further than finding ways to help the team score more runs. Working on base running skills can go a long way towards improvement in that area. Of course, getting faster can be a key element to enhancing a player’s ability to round the bags. But the development of sound base running instincts and techniques by having awareness and efficiency in routes can maximize player potential.

The skills of emphasis here will largely focus on getting to each base with that efficiency and being cognizant of the situation to determine routes, bag access, breaks and awareness of the ball in relation to defensive positioning and execution. Each situation is followed by the most prioritized skills with a drill setting to support.

To execute the following drills, a coach will be hitting fungos to varied locations with runners responding as determined by defensive execution.  If not enough players are available to supply the needed defensive positions, use barrels or buckets to simulate positioning and have base runners assume likely results while reading the hit ball.  A second coach in the third base box  is necessary for the second and third phases of this drill to communicate with the baserunner.

Going to FIRST BASE

Skill

  1. Find the ball … Players must know where the ball is hit and how the defense responds with a quick glance out of the box.
  2. Take the best route … Balls that are down and stay in the infield require a route through the bag; those that get into the outfield demand a challenge turn.
  3. Pressure the throw … When running through the bag runners should expect the overthrow and determine opportunities to advance. With the ball in the outfield, the runner should insure it is secured by the defense all the way back into the infield.

Drill

  • Defenders needed:  1B, 2B, SS, LF
  • Runner’s start is in appropriate batter’s box.
  • Coach fungos balls to left side
  • Fungos should vary from ground balls to fly balls & be routine plays or base hits
  • Runners read balls out of box and perform appropriately.

Going to SECOND BASE

Skill

  1. Find the ball (and coach) … Players must know the defensive positioning, OF arm strength, and speed & depth of ball. Once the break is made they must get cues from SS positioning and/or seeing the coach to determine decisions at 2B.
  2. Take the best route … Balls that stay in the IF will require routes straight into the bag. Balls into the OF call for a slight “banana” prior to approach to create an efficient angle to 3B.
  3. Access the bag … On balls that stay in the IF the runner needs to slide straight into the bag.  Balls in the OF need to have the runner strike the inside of the bag and accelerate if being signaled to advance to 3B.  This is where the best base runners show instincts as they are able to anticipate this opportunity when the ball is at a distance from the RF even on a single.

Drill

  • Defenders needed:  1B, 2B, SS, RF
  • Runner’s start at 1B  with a lead (trigger a secondary lead on command)
  • Coach fungos balls to right side
  • Fungos should vary from ground balls to fly balls & routine to base hits
  • Runners read balls on the break

Going to THIRD BASE

Skill

  1. Establish the lead  … Players can influence the defensive positioning in the middle infield with aggressive leads at 2B.  Keeping eyes on the pitcher while listening for the 3B coach to communicate simple information can pressure the defense to “give up” its positioning to hold the runner.
  2. Read the ball … Players should know their team’s rules for reads at 2B.  Routinely they should look to advance on balls down to the right side and through on balls to the left side.  Balls that stay up to the right side may allow for a tag or a decoy, while those to the left usually require a release based on depth and arm of the outfielder.
  3. Attack the route … When accessing 3B take the bag with the intent to score.  Pay attention to the coach’s communications upon approach and read the visual cues (arm waving or “stop”).

Drill

  • Defenders needed:  1B, 2B, SS, RF (a pitcher added here can allow for work on leads)
  • Runner’s start at 2B  with a lead (trigger a secondary lead on command)
  • Coach fungos balls to either left or right side
  • Fungos should vary from ground balls to fly balls & routine to base hits
  • Runners read balls on the break

Remember, the team that scores the most RUNS always WINS the game!

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