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  • Cutoffs and Age Appropriate Strategies

    Coaching 101 Forum -

    I am hoping you can help me see some recent coaches instructions in a positive light.

    My 11 year old likes playing centerfield, but is still learning the position. He was yelled at in practice Monday for not hitting the cutoff man on throws back to the infield. Part of it was deserved as he was throwing in to the pitcher. But the loudest scolding of the day occurred on a play with a runner about to round third, when my son threw on a one hop to home. To me, it looked like a well placed throw that might have led to a tag at home and an out. The coach yelled at him for missing his cutoff man.

    I am confused about the coaching. I thought the throws from the outfield in are supposed to allow the cutoff man to have the option of "cutting off" the throw - so aimed to be catchable high, but not right at their chest. Can you help me understand better?

    I am also confused by what is supposed to happen once the ball makes it to the cutoff. On this team, the kids in the infield aren't coached to do anything with the ball once they get it. No practice, yet, on having a quick release throw to another base for the out, so they must not be thinking of this as a relay. So it seems like getting it to the cutoff is supposed to hold the runners and stop the play?

    Thanks for your help. We watch, perhaps, a bit too much MLB. So many of the highlight plays we are awed by are well thrown balls from the outfield that gets the runner at home. It is quite possible that we have an incorrect understanding of what this play is supposed to look like at 12U.

  • #2
    Does your kid understand what the coach is teaching? I think that yelling at/scolding a kid who has no idea what he's supposed to be doing is about the worst, most counterproductive "coaching" there is.

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    • #3
      No, he doesn't understand. We have both learned with this coach that we can't really ask clarifying questions. My son is grateful for the chance to play with his friends, so just says "yes sir". I do think the coach regrets yelling at my son quite so loudly. That is not his normal demeanor. But, my son remains confused about the coaches strategy for throwing the ball back in.

      Comment


      • #4
        Baseballmom, I think you and your son have the right idea--throw THROUGH the cutoff man, not TO the cutoff man. However, my guess (and merely speculating here) is that because most kids at that age do not have the ability to throw a frozen rope through the cutoff man, most of them end up tossing a balloon to the backstop which a) doesn't result in an out at home and b) allows additional runners to advance unnecessarily. My guess is that is what the coach is trying to avoid. Again idle speculation. (The alternative is that the coach doesn't know what he's doing--that happens, too--shrug)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by baseabllmom View Post
          Coaching 101 Forum -

          I am hoping you can help me see some recent coaches instructions in a positive light.
          I'll try, but understand that there's always a difference in the "lighting" that a parent sees a coach trying to "illuminate" on their player vs. the coach's actual "brilliant" glow.

          My 11 year old likes playing centerfield, but is still learning the position. He was yelled at in practice Monday for not hitting the cutoff man on throws back to the infield. Part of it was deserved as he was throwing in to the pitcher. But the loudest scolding of the day occurred on a play with a runner about to round third, when my son threw on a one hop to home. To me, it looked like a well placed throw that might have led to a tag at home and an out. The coach yelled at him for missing his cutoff man.
          From a coach's POV...there's a difference in "yelling" to be heard by the player a long distance away (ie. CF) to communicate instruction(s) in simply a wanting to help manner vs. the "yelling" that a parent associates with a "scolding" that they do from a short distance out of anger.

          Very seldom did I ever raise my voice out of anger at a player (I'd like to say "never" but I know I wasn't a perfect coach), but I have no hesitation in saying that I "yelled" instructions or directions at them in the field a lot.

          I am confused about the coaching. I thought the throws from the outfield in are supposed to allow the cutoff man to have the option of "cutting off" the throw - so aimed to be catchable high, but not right at their chest. Can you help me understand better?
          Our coaching of this was for the cutoff person to have their arms up in the air so the thrower can identify him quicker, and then have a target to throw at...as they were instructed to throw the ball between the cutoff person's arms...preferably on a line at head level, but if they got it anywhere between the arms/hands ("between" not "over") so it was catchable...we were happy enough.

          I am also confused by what is supposed to happen once the ball makes it to the cutoff. On this team, the kids in the infield aren't coached to do anything with the ball once they get it. No practice, yet, on having a quick release throw to another base for the out, so they must not be thinking of this as a relay. So it seems like getting it to the cutoff is supposed to hold the runners and stop the play?
          In a perfect world the receiver at the base that ball is headed should be the one "yelling" (see what I did there? ) at the cutoff person telling them what they should do with the incoming throw..."CUT!!" meaning "relay the ball to me"..."CUT2!!" meaning cut it off and throw to 2B (the number after the "CUTX!!" is the base he wants the throw to go), or say absolutely nothing, meaning to let the ball go through, and don't touch it, I'm going to catch it myself and make the play (when that happens, the cutoff person feigns catching the ball, and then tries to slow the other runner(s) down who the plays not going to by then either faking a throw in their direction, or simply fake the catch, and run/move towards them.

          Thanks for your help. We watch, perhaps, a bit too much MLB. So many of the highlight plays we are awed by are well thrown balls from the outfield that gets the runner at home. It is quite possible that we have an incorrect understanding of what this play is supposed to look like at 12U.
          The highlight throws you're seeing are just that "highlights", and don't happen as regularly as one might come to believe...or they wouldn't be "highlights".

          But more importantly, MLB OFers have cannons for arms, and can have throwing velocities in the mid 90's throwing "frozen ropes" (relatively speaking) playing on the same sized field as a 13 y/o with a throwing velocity of maybe mid 70's who are attempting to reach the plate via rainmaking arcs that take forever to come down outta the sky (yes, I know you're son is only 11, and probably playing on a smaller field, but his throwing velocity is even less than those 13 y/o's)....and why it's usually much quicker ("shortest distance between two points" and all) for the young OFer to throw the ball on a straight line as far as he can to a cutoff man to relay if need be...than it is for them to let it sail like a moon shot takeoff into orbit, as we all then wait for it to reenter the atmosphere somewhere enroute to home plate.

          However, as they get older and their arms become stronger around HS...we use the cutoff man, and accompanying throw height as explained above...more so to have an option of controlling the running game of the other runner(s) on the base paths so we don't give them extra "free" bases on a throw that we know is not going to get the runner it was intended to just because the runner was faster than the throw, and the distance it was coming from....so we "cut" it to either get the other runner trying to "advance on the throw" or to simply catch the ball on the fly, and not risk a short-hop bounce that has a higher probability of getting past the receiver....for even more free bases for the other runner(s) than just catching the doggone ball might have.


          Hope that helps a little,
          mud -
          Last edited by mudvnine; 09-04-2019, 08:34 AM.
          In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

          Comment


          • #6
            I wasn't there so I can't say whether your kid did something wrong or not. Don't know what the situation was. At that age on the little field it is hard to set up and move to multiple different cut positions like happens on the big field because the plays happen so quickly and the arms are many times to big for the field.

            I always had the kids set up as if the play was 2 bases in front of the lead runner on a hit and one base in front of the lead runner on a fly ball. Then the outfielder would hit the cutoff man or the throw would go through as you describe to the base to make the play. On the small field a play can be made to any base from the cut-off man so we didn't roll to another position if it was in the gap. We did do a tandem relay on gap shots, especially when we played on a 300' fence but we didn't change the initial set up from 2 bases in front of the lead runner on a hit or 1 on a fly. On the big field we will recognize that the guy on second is going to score on that hit (usually a cue like soft base hit, or outfielder's back got turned to the infield) and we will move to set up a relay to another base. Back ups will shift accordingly also.

            I say all that as a preface to this, in your situation the infielders could have been set up for a throw to a different base (I would assume 3rd as maybe the runner started on first) and your son threw home because he thought he could make that play. In doing so, the runner didn't go home (as you said he wasn't out) and the batter reached second because the throw was not to the cut-off man. I am not saying that is what happened, but I could envision that being the case. That would also explain why a one hopper to home didn't go through the cut-off man's head.

            None of that should have gotten a loud scolding other than the raising of a voice of instruction to be heard by all on the field.

            Comment


            • #7
              honestly it's not coached very well. Your son is making the right move. runner on 2nd, ball to CF -ball is thrown home- on a line- F3 is the cut, F2 calls the play -cut or let it through or cut 3. The reason you don't use F6 or F4 is they can't see the runners and have a different role. F6 covers 2nd base, F4 watches the B/R and covers 1b. -F3 moves in to be in line with the throw home, somewhere around the pitcher's mound. this allows him to track runners as directed by F2 who can decide if the throw home has a chance. If the ball is hit deep enough -to the fence -then F4/F6 can become part of a double cut but runner at 2nd will score, so will switch to a cut 2 or 3 depending on the B/R speed.

              IME, LL coaches coach it differently. All throws from the OF return to F4/F6 -usually because these are your better fielders/arms with baseball IQ. By 11u, a good arm can throw someone out from CF so I would allow it provided the ball isn't a Hail Mary rainbow throw. Throw out a couple of runners this way, and they'll start holding them at 3b.

              The way I taught the situation you describe -cut4, LF uses F5 as the cut, CF/RF use F3 with double cuts for deep balls in the gap. OF doesn't think, they throw home or to the guy waving his arms. this was always part of my beef with let everyone play everywhere. I always felt it was good to learn 1 IF and 1 OF position for the season and know it well. IME, properly executed throws/cuts can be a major difference maker in a game. But all that said, coach is the coach and coach makes the rules.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you - that was the helpful, illuminating light that I was hoping for. I don't think X understands any of this. He will be excited to learn! The guidance to throw to the play and through the arms of the cutoff man is great. I can see how that would help.

                I spent a few minutes looking through defensive positioning and cuts this morning. Right now the team is not repositioning in the traditional way, but you are correct, bman, this is on a 50/70 field, so there is plenty more baseball to grow into. I appreciate learning about the communication the kids will develop with more experience. My son expressed that, at the moment, he hears multiple people yelling at him different things, so he just tries to make the best decision and best throw he can.




                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bluedawg View Post
                  honestly it's not coached very well. Your son is making the right move. runner on 2nd, ball to CF -ball is thrown home- on a line- F3 is the cut, F2 calls the play -cut or let it through or cut 3. The reason you don't use F6 or F4 is they can't see the runners and have a different role. F6 covers 2nd base, F4 watches the B/R and covers 1b. -F3 moves in to be in line with the throw home, somewhere around the pitcher's mound. this allows him to track runners as directed by F2 who can decide if the throw home has a chance. If the ball is hit deep enough -to the fence -then F4/F6 can become part of a double cut but runner at 2nd will score, so will switch to a cut 2 or 3 depending on the B/R speed.

                  IME, LL coaches coach it differently. All throws from the OF return to F4/F6 -usually because these are your better fielders/arms with baseball IQ. By 11u, a good arm can throw someone out from CF so I would allow it provided the ball isn't a Hail Mary rainbow throw. Throw out a couple of runners this way, and they'll start holding them at 3b.

                  The way I taught the situation you describe -cut4, LF uses F5 as the cut, CF/RF use F3 with double cuts for deep balls in the gap. OF doesn't think, they throw home or to the guy waving his arms. this was always part of my beef with let everyone play everywhere. I always felt it was good to learn 1 IF and 1 OF position for the season and know it well. IME, properly executed throws/cuts can be a major difference maker in a game. But all that said, coach is the coach and coach makes the rules.
                  Thanks Bluedawg - this does seem to be the setup. In the Spring, X played centerfield for a different coach who had him practice getting the out at home. He does have a good arm for his age and played with a good catcher. He doesn't throw rainbows - they look more like ropes, I think. They got quite a few outs at home. His current coach does have F4 and F6 run to the edge of the infield grass and be the cut on all plays. That is what confused X, because with his arm, that is a super easy throw that doesn't lead to an out, and it is away from the play. But, yes, the coach is the coach. Learning that has been quite difficult for me. I was never good at not challenging authority.

                  Thanks all for sharing your baseball knowledge and the gentle reminder about parent/ coach interaction expectations. I did keep my mouth shut at practice, which shows some personal growth. My son is a quicker study. He just accepted the criticism and moved on. After practice, he asked me to find out more. Thanks for your help.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    IMO, the resistance to clarifying questions means the coach is a lousy coach (He is insecure because he doesn't really understand what he's teaching, and questions expose that ignorance.) and you should keep that in mind when it becomes time to pick a team again. JMO...

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bbrages View Post
                      IMO, the resistance to clarifying questions means the coach is a lousy coach (He is insecure because he doesn't really understand what he's teaching, and questions expose that ignorance.) and you should keep that in mind when it becomes time to pick a team again. JMO...
                      I am looking forward to him potentially choosing other opportunities as they eventually present themselves. One of my son's defining characteristics is loyalty, so he is committed to finishing out the LL experience, and he accepts what goes with it. The coaches are all trying their best. I do think that clear explanations of what is expected and why separates the coaches who win a lot and the ones who don't win as much. This year, X has the opportunity to try out for his middle school program. So fingers crossed that works out.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by baseabllmom View Post

                        Thanks Bluedawg - this does seem to be the setup. In the Spring, X played centerfield for a different coach who had him practice getting the out at home. He does have a good arm for his age and played with a good catcher. He doesn't throw rainbows - they look more like ropes, I think. They got quite a few outs at home. His current coach does have F4 and F6 run to the edge of the infield grass and be the cut on all plays. That is what confused X, because with his arm, that is a super easy throw that doesn't lead to an out, and it is away from the play. But, yes, the coach is the coach. Learning that has been quite difficult for me. I was never good at not challenging authority.

                        Thanks all for sharing your baseball knowledge and the gentle reminder about parent/ coach interaction expectations. I did keep my mouth shut at practice, which shows some personal growth. My son is a quicker study. He just accepted the criticism and moved on. After practice, he asked me to find out more. Thanks for your help.
                        Bluedawg is right on this. In my opinion if he is having F4 and F6 be cut on every play then he is doing a disservice to the players. Did I miss that the runner that was "about to round third" started on second base when the ball was hit? If he did then F3 is absolutely the cut-off.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          One of the questionable life-lessons of baseball is when outfielders miss the cutoff/relay and nail the baserunner, and then they get a high-five from their coach.

                          One of the quirks of baseball is that during I/O the infielders and catcher will shout out alignment to the cutoff/relay--"left-left", etc.--but in never happens during a game.
                          Skip

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
                            One of the questionable life-lessons of baseball is when outfielders miss the cutoff/relay and nail the baserunner, and then they get a high-five from their coach.

                            One of the quirks of baseball is that during I/O the infielders and catcher will shout out alignment to the cutoff/relay--"left-left", etc.--but in never happens during a game.
                            The opposite was true for me once, Skip. My CF threw a balloon far too high over the cut's head. It ended up landing on time and nailing the runner at home. The bleachers erupted with "attaboy's." I, on the other hand, took the kid aside and corrected the mistake. The player's mother saw me correcting him rather than high-fiving him. Then I got an earful from the mom.

                            [Side note: my son was playing CF, so the mom was my wife. She thought I should let him "have his moment." I thought he should learn to play the right way. Shrug.]

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Outfielders should never ever throw to a cutoff man. They are to throw to the correct base. If a guy is on 2nd he should throw home. If it needs to be cutoff, then the catcher should instruct the 1b to cut it off. The outfilder should make a throw that is able to be cutoff, ie a low liner, but that's his only responsibilty.

                              This can and should be taught at the age of 8. I think this coach does not understand what he should be teaching.


                              Also, the pitcher should never be taking this throw. The Pitcher needs to be backing up the C and the 1B is the one cutting this off.
                              Last edited by andre8; 09-05-2019, 01:22 PM.

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