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Are basic defensive fundamentals (ex:relays) emphasized in 14u travel baseball?

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  • Are basic defensive fundamentals (ex:relays) emphasized in 14u travel baseball?

    bbf.13u.single.relay.JPG

    Here's screenshot of a baserunner sliding into third (a split-second ahead of the tag) on a "sure double/possible triple" to CF in a high-level 13u game at East Cobb, Ga. The game was close--a one-run game--when the ball was hit.

    Only one middle infielder went out for the relay. The other MIF is spectating from the area of second base. The relay MIF is badly misaligned for a play at third base. The pitcher--despite tons of lead time--is totally late and out of position to back up the throw to third.

    Arguably, the runner would have been out if the relay man had been reasonably aligned. Unarguably, the lack of a tandem relay risked turning this triple into a "home run" (if it had dribbled into the huge gap between the two MIFs) as did the lack of backup by the pitcher.

    Is this the norm for high level 14u travelball? Or just a one-time brain-cramp by the infielders and the pitcher?
    Last edited by skipper5; 08-01-2018, 08:18 PM.
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  • #2
    Here's a screenshot from a respectable level of 14u travelball. The SS is standing straight up and down with his feet close together as the batter swings at the pitch.

    It takes minimal coaching knowledge and hardly any energy for a coach to require his infielders to adopt a ready position when the pitch crosses.

    It baffles me that any coach at a respectable competitive level would tolerate the nonsense depicted in the screenshot. What's going on?

    bbf.un-ready.ss.JPG
    Last edited by skipper5; 08-01-2018, 08:11 PM.
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    • #3
      BTW, I'm not negative about "travelball". To the contrary, I'm glad it exists because It drastically increases the number of players who can play competitive baseball, as compared to the "good old days" when your choices on the 60/90 diamond were to play on one of the limited number of spots available on Babe Ruth and Legion teams.

      Mostly I'm just wondering if the paid coaches on a lot of these teams at the 14u level are performing the basics of their job?
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      • #4
        Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
        BTW, I'm not negative about "travelball". To the contrary, I'm glad it exists because It drastically increases the number of players who can play competitive baseball, as compared to the "good old days" when your choices on the 60/90 diamond were to play on one of the limited number of spots available on Babe Ruth and Legion teams.

        Mostly I'm just wondering if the paid coaches on a lot of these teams at the 14u level are performing the basics of their job?
        In both of your examples above, my son's coach since 13u (he's now almost 15) has coached the players well. They've executed the "ball past the OF cut" several times, either holding the runners to a double or throwing the runners out who tried to stretch it to a triple.
        As for the SS not being ready, most good players around here know how to be in ready position. Who knows? Maybe he just took a play off?? I'm not excusing it, but maybe he's usually ready...

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        • #5
          There are two kinds of elite teams through 14u. One is well coached with solid execution. The other is recruiting masher early bloomers. I saw both. I was a stickler for learning how to play the game properly. We would spend entire practices on one type of defensive play.

          We skipped 15u and went to 16u. By 16u teams are typically well coached. The pretender coaches were out of the game. Their lack of coaching knowledge was exposed as puberty leveled the playing field.

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          • #6
            Some people now complain that modern youth ball is more about measurables (60 dash, throwing and exit velo) than about fundamental baseball skills but I'm not sure if this is true or just past time glorification
            I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

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            • #7
              I say likely brain cramps:

              1) There are more good coaches than there ever has been. This includes the dads who are highly motivated. The info is out there.
              2) A lot of multi-position guys and it's just not that easy to instinctively go where you're supposed to. So a coach needs to do a lot of yelling, i.e., "tandem", "back up 3rd"...
              3) Guys pout. I pouted, you pouted, Cal Ripken pouted.
              4) There is a general lack of understanding though as to how much running is involved in baseball. What attracted a lot of kids to the game is that they think you stand there, wait for the ball to be hit right at you, wait for your turn to hit, and par-tay with your buddies the majority of the time like you're at a Chuckie Cheese play date.But there's a lot of running in baseball, there just is, and most don't get it.
              Major Figure

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              • #8
                Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
                bbf.13u.single.relay.JPG

                Here's screenshot of a baserunner sliding into third (a split-second ahead of the tag) on a "sure double/possible triple" to CF in a high-level 13u game at East Cobb, Ga. The game was close--a one-run game--when the ball was hit.

                Only one middle infielder went out for the relay. The other MIF is spectating from the area of second base. The relay MIF is badly misaligned for a play at third base. The pitcher--despite tons of lead time--is totally late and out of position to back up the throw to third.

                Arguably, the runner would have been out if the relay man had been reasonably aligned. Unarguably, the lack of a tandem relay risked turning this triple into a "home run" (if it had dribbled into the huge gap between the two MIFs) as did the lack of backup by the pitcher.

                Is this the norm for high level 14u travelball? Or just a one-time brain-cramp by the infielders and the pitcher?
                I think your analysis of this play is off but if I go back and look at the clip I will still not be happy with the player positioning. If this is the hit posted yesterday, there were runners on 2nd and 3rd when the ball was hit. The center fielder should have caught the ball, but it went off his glove and was redirected back towards center. So on contact this is a fly to Center left that would have a 1st baseman being cut off for a throw to home with the pitcher going there to back up. When the ball was dropped things flow into a little bit of chaos sometimes. With the ball dropped you first think don't let the guy on 2nd score as he should have had to make sure the ball wasn't caught before going. You would still be set up for throw home but now with ball dropped the 2nd baseman goes out too still in line for home. When the decision is made that no play can be made at home, then the throw is made, cut and thrown to 3rd. Pitcher appears to be going from mound to back up 3rd, I would rather see him heading from home to get there. 1st baseman is near mound on line with what I would expect, although with the depth of the hit, I would expect him more towards 2nd also.

                Anyway, I don't think a screen shot tells the whole story was my main point.

                The shortstop standing straight up is inexcusable.

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                • #9
                  Is the runner sliding into third the runner that was on 2nd or the batter?
                  Major Figure

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                  • #10
                    This shouldn't be emphasized in 14U travel baseball, it should be habit. This is something that should be taught and perfected in the 10U/12U level.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bman52 View Post

                      I think your analysis of this play is off but if I go back and look at the clip I will still not be happy with the player positioning. If this is the hit posted yesterday, there were runners on 2nd and 3rd when the ball was hit. The center fielder should have caught the ball, but it went off his glove and was redirected back towards center. So on contact this is a fly to Center left that would have a 1st baseman being cut off for a throw to home.
                      bman,
                      You're correct that this was the hit that was posted yesterday. There were in fact runners at second and third, but there were two outs. The ball was hit about 300 ft. in the air to right center. The CF muffed the catch and deflected the ball almost all the way to the warning track in straightaway center.

                      With two outs, the runners at second and third became irrelevant. All that mattered was the batter/runner.

                      The instant the ball was deflected towards the track it became a sure double/possible triple. Almost seven seconds elapsed from the time the ball was defected until it reached the relay man-- in other words, plenty of time for the other infielder to realize that he needed to hustle out to be the trail man on a tandem relay (or whatever people prefer to call it).

                      Btw, if there had been less than two outs, and the ball had been caught, the throw should have gone to third--not home--because the CF didn't have a prayer for a play at the plate considering his depth and the fact that it would have been a running catch carrying him towards RF.....though, to be realistic, there also would have been no chance of nailing R2 going to third base on a tag-up.
                      Last edited by skipper5; 08-02-2018, 12:44 PM.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bman52 View Post



                        Anyway, I don't think a screen shot tells the whole story was my main point.
                        I didn't post the full video because I didn't want to detract from from the dad's experience of posting that video, which depicts a well-hit ball in a close ballgame between two top-level 13u teams in an impressive ballpark...and televised by ESPN. It doesn't get any better than that.
                        Last edited by skipper5; 08-02-2018, 01:17 PM.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by skipper5 View Post

                          bman,
                          You're correct that this was the hit that was posted yesterday. There were in fact runners at second and third, but there were two outs. The ball was hit about 300 ft. in the air to right center. The CF muffed the catch and deflected the ball almost all the way to the warning track in straightaway center.

                          With two outs, the runners at second and third became irrelevant. All that mattered was the batter/runner.

                          The instant the ball was deflected towards the track it became a sure double/possible triple. Almost seven seconds elapsed from the time the ball was defected until it reached the relay man-- in other words, plenty of time for the other infielder to realize that he needed to hustle out to be the trail man on a tandem relay (or whatever people prefer to call it).

                          Btw, if there had been less than two outs, and the ball had been caught, the throw should have gone to third--not home--because the CF didn't have a prayer for a play at the plate considering his depth and the fact that it would have been a running catch carrying him towards RF.....though, to be realistic, there also would have been no chance of nailing R2 going to third base on a tag-up.
                          Your whole analysis is correct. I went back and looked at the clip. There were 2 outs and that does change everything. Runner on second now is off on contact behind so there is nothing holding him at second. I should have gone back and looked at the clip again, because I was wondering why the batter got to 3rd on a close play but a runner that should have been tagging up at 2nd easily scored. I apologize for not going back and looking at it.

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