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Cutoffs and Age Appropriate Strategies

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  • andre8
    replied
    Originally posted by Scrub View Post

    That's similar to what I tell my outfielders. I tell them that I'd rather they make the wrong throw early than the right throw late. There's nothing worse than an outfielder who pauses to survey what's happening before deciding on a throw. He needs to know the scenario in advance and come up gunning. If it goes to the wrong place, I'll live with it.
    Yes, OF need to get rid of the ball. It's why I preach to throw hard to the +2 base as soon as he comes up. Cutmen and IF do the rest. The only difference is if it's some kind of game situation that requires a throw home or something, but we'll go over that in the game. There is no time for the OF to think about a different approach and then throw. He's got to let loose at the base.

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  • Scrub
    replied
    Originally posted by skipper5 View Post

    That's a good line.
    That's similar to what I tell my outfielders. I tell them that I'd rather they make the wrong throw early than the right throw late. There's nothing worse than an outfielder who pauses to survey what's happening before deciding on a throw. He needs to know the scenario in advance and come up gunning. If it goes to the wrong place, I'll live with it.

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  • skipper5
    replied
    Originally posted by omg View Post
    Most coaches- well me, anyways- don't care if a player goes to the wrong spot as long as they are diligently going somewhere.
    That's a good line.

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  • andre8
    replied
    Originally posted by baseabllmom View Post
    Andre8, I am curious - how do you coach getting the players to the right position? How do you break it down? I was talking to a student about it once - and he mentioned it was just like a smoothed vector field going towards the ball. Do you draw diagrams? Do you use the ball / base/ back up ? I think I get that you are helping the younger kids be involved in every play both to teach baseball and prevent boredom / disengagement. I can see how they might find it more fun. I imagine you don't really scold if they don't do it. How many of the kids pick it up quickly, vs how many take many reminders?
    I use as many options as possible and lots and lots of repetitions.

    I definitely talk about ball/base/backup.

    I also tell kids that in general if they move towards the ball they're doing the right thing. Example, ball to RF, ss moves towards the ball and gets to the base.

    There are some decent apps which can show you what to do in situations.

    I do like baseball video games to help.
    I have drawn diagrams.
    I have walked them through situations on a real field

    But it's just reminding to them over and over and over and over. Every practice, every game, every warmup. If a kid is out of place, I try and remind him during the game. Some kids get it very quickly, some not so quickly. Also, as they get a little older (this depends on your team) but they can lose time if they keep being in the wrong spot. We've had some team running or pushups if a player is out of position in a practice drill. Sometimes those incentives are helpful. You have to gauge the maturity of your team. Nobody gets it right off the bat and then never messes up. We
    ve been drilling this on one team for 3 years and every player at some point still messes up in a game. We're there to remind them until it's completely instinct.

    We don't generally scold unless the kid is old enough and he's repeatedly messing up over and over. Literally every kid needs reminders.

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  • omg
    replied
    Originally posted by baseabllmom View Post
    Andre8, I am curious - how do you coach getting the players to the right position? How do you break it down? I was talking to a student about it once - and he mentioned it was just like a smoothed vector field going towards the ball. Do you draw diagrams? Do you use the ball / base/ back up ? I think I get that you are helping the younger kids be involved in every play both to teach baseball and prevent boredom / disengagement. I can see how they might find it more fun. I imagine you don't really scold if they don't do it. How many of the kids pick it up quickly, vs how many take many reminders?
    Sorry to butt in but let's say, for example, a pitcher is supposed to back up third base. Personally, I would have the pitcher do his pitching motion from the mound and then have him sprint to the fence area behind third base. I would have him do this several times- at least five- as part of practice and conditioning. I do this on teams I coach- not just with pitchers but other positions as well so while the pitchers are doing this the catchers are backing up first, the first basemen are running to their cutoff position, the outfielders are backing up for some prescribed play, the middle infielders are running to tandem relay position, and the 3basemen have it kind of easy in running to their cut position so I have them dive, get up, and then run to their position. I'll put the little cones out there sometimes to help them out. The point though is they have to do it several times- experience it- in order to do it in a game.

    Most coaches- well me, anyways- don't care if a player goes to the wrong spot as long as they are diligently going somewhere.

    There is a lot of running in baseball.

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  • JoeG
    replied
    Originally posted by mudvnine View Post
    Well it sure sounds like pre-teen ball has changed a bunch, and is a whole lot better than from what I remember of it (my oldest turns 30 today). Cuz it sounds like y'all got a bunch of mini Rick Ankiels, and Vlad Guerreros roaming your outfields...t
    In our rec league, it was typically 2-4 players per team that could make throws from the outfield to 3rd or home. So part of the job of the catcher was, before yelling "4! 4! 4!" or "3! 3! 3!" to make sure that the outfielder fielding the ball was someone who was actually capable of making the throw.

    Understand that the throw was not that far. At the 7-8 year old level we're talking about a 100 foot throw, at the 9-10 year old level around 120-130 feet, and at the 11-12 year old level maybe 140 feet. Nobody tries to make the throw from the warning track of a fenced field, but shallow to mid outfield throws did not require Rick Ankiel level throws.

    It was these shallow to mid outfield throws where I saw so many teams have kids just lob the ball 20 feet or so to a cutoff man who was not even in line with a base, I guess the idea being that it gets the baseball closer to the action? Not really sure.

    P.S. Loved watching some videos of his throws over the years. I thought it was hilarious that he stopped being a pitcher because he didn't throw enough strikes but then he threw this strike from the warning track:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSFkhzpTnVU

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  • JoeG
    replied
    Originally posted by baseabllmom View Post
    Andre8, I am curious - how do you coach getting the players to the right position? How do you break it down? I was talking to a student about it once - and he mentioned it was just like a smoothed vector field going towards the ball. Do you draw diagrams? Do you use the ball / base/ back up ? I think I get that you are helping the younger kids be involved in every play both to teach baseball and prevent boredom / disengagement. I can see how they might find it more fun. I imagine you don't really scold if they don't do it. How many of the kids pick it up quickly, vs how many take many reminders?
    A coaching book that I found particular helpful for positioning players was John T. Reed's Youth Baseball Coaching (you might not like his tone in various parts of the book but there's lots of really good baseball detail if you ignore the preaching).

    One of his suggestions for getting in reps with positioning was to make a 1/3 size baseball field, and then throw a tennis ball to various parts of the field. That way the outfielders don't have to run 50+ feet on each rep and you can get a lot more reps in. I did this a couple times each year when I coached. I would yell "freeze!" really loud after there was a bit of movement and then I wold tell everyone where they should have been on that play if they were out of position. You can get in 2-3 reps per minute on the reduced-sized field like this.

    I haven't ever seen another coach use this reduced-size field method but it worked for me as a coach and my teams got enough reps to learn how to do it in games.

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  • baseabllmom
    replied
    Andre8, I am curious - how do you coach getting the players to the right position? How do you break it down? I was talking to a student about it once - and he mentioned it was just like a smoothed vector field going towards the ball. Do you draw diagrams? Do you use the ball / base/ back up ? I think I get that you are helping the younger kids be involved in every play both to teach baseball and prevent boredom / disengagement. I can see how they might find it more fun. I imagine you don't really scold if they don't do it. How many of the kids pick it up quickly, vs how many take many reminders?

    Leave a comment:


  • andre8
    replied
    Originally posted by bbrages View Post

    Ok, I see. Have each player go to the right spot and have the fielder throw to the correct base. Well, that clears it up. Simple indeed.

    Again, I agree with what you're saying overall, but for typical kids I'm dealing with, just getting the third baseman to recognize a force in front of him instead of attempting an unlikely thow over to first is a battle. Also, multiply the difficulty x9 if you are moving players around to different positions...
    This certainly comes down to working over and over on situation understanding and prepping before the ball is in play. It's hard and it takes them awhile, but they can get it. I recommend players with these types of issues to play baseball video games to get a lot of mental reps on proper situations in a fun way.

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  • bbrages
    replied
    Originally posted by andre8 View Post
    It's not that hard. each player goes to a certain position and the fielder throws at a particular base. Outfielders generally know before the play where they are going and the infielders cut if needed. Sure teams can always use a bit of a refresher and some more finer points, but it's easy to learn.
    Ok, I see. Have each player go to the right spot and have the fielder throw to the correct base. Well, that clears it up. Simple indeed.

    Again, I agree with what you're saying overall, but for typical kids I'm dealing with, just getting the third baseman to recognize a force in front of him instead of attempting an unlikely thow over to first is a battle. Also, multiply the difficulty x9 if you are moving players around to different positions...

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  • andre8
    replied
    I would always rather a kid be overly aggressive which can be reigned in. Trying to increase aggressiveness is hard. I always like younger kids to make a throw to get someone out, especially if it's remotely close. At the youngest levels I want them throwing to 1st or to a base 99% of the time, even if the kid is 3 feet past. As they get older, I like for them to try and make a play until they've messed up twice. A small kick and he should still continue. A small kick then a fumble of the ball, probably not. If the kids are trained to hold the ball on any ball not fielded 100% clean, will have the same tendancy when the bases get bigger, plus they're losing a game rep and those are rare.

    IMO always encourage a kid to make a play, then if it was a terrible, terrible decision, talk about it afterwards and discuss why that might have been a poor choice and what should've been done. I also don't like the kids considering who they are throwing too. If you need to throw to 3B and the 3B is likely to miss the ball, throw it anyway. It's your job to throw and his to catch. The kid catching the ball isnt' going to get better if nobody throws him the ball.

    edit: Re: yelling. This is hard. I've had to make sure I talk to each of my players to let them know that when I yell it's always to get their attention and rise above the other distractions. It's important to let the kids know this. I took it for granted that they understood my yelling was not in anger, I shouldn't have.
    Last edited by andre8; 09-13-2019, 11:17 AM.

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  • baseabllmom
    replied
    I have been monitoring the conversation in the thread and found it really interesting. Thanks for all your responses.

    Just to provide a quick update. My son is playing on his first "travel" team - in quotes because this is absolutely a dip-your-toe into the travel experience. The team is assembled from similarly aged kids in his little league. They are competing as a 12U team in a weeknight double header fall league. I assume they are entered as a 1A team. Many of the kids are playing fall ball in the LL for the same coach, and he is doing a good job monitoring pitch counts for the players on both teams.

    So, the team has played a few games now. First, it really is a nice opportunity for the kids to play in this league in the fall. The fields are so much nicer than our local LL, and that makes the fielding much better. The fences are also close and short, which makes both hitting home runs easier and has given my kid a chance to try to rob a few. The team is using SS and 2nd as the cutoffs. I don't think it has changed the outcome of a play / game, yet. The opposing teams' baserunning has been pretty tame. The do a nice job backing up throws from the infield (for instance for the catcher trying to throw someone out at second).

    I have found it interesting that the team has a mix of cautious players and aggressive players. Often being aggressive isn't quite the right play, at least for the game outcome. For instance, my kid was playing 3rd and charged an infield hit that was clearly going to roll foul. Good effort, made a good throw to first, but not in time. Good experience to have though. Still, it seems that choosing to make what throw maybe more strongly related to a kid's personality, and maybe less about coaching than I expected.

    I do appreciate the feedback. Mudvine helped remind me that the field is large and yelling maybe not intended to be scolding. At least I can pretend that is true. OMG did help refresh my own realization that I can be overprotective and overly-invested in my kids in general and youth baseball in particular. My son liked the suggestion of taking our wiffle ball pitching machine to the field to practice home run robs.

    So far my son's favorite experience has been pitching in this league. He had the opportunity to partner with his catcher for the first time - where his catcher was giving him signs about pitch location and pick off moves. The two of them were having a fantastic time "calling" a game, and it made a clear difference in my son's pitching. Nice to see how they can share the load. The kids who love to play the game sometimes make leaps in it on their own when given the opportunity to play.

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  • andre8
    replied
    Originally posted by bbrages View Post

    These concepts are not very simple IMO -- we can't even agree on who decides where the outfielder throws (the fielder, the catcher, or the coach). Maybe I'm a dummy, but I'm not sure I have them figured out myself.

    The most fundamental of fundies for 10 year olds are throwing with strength and accuracy, catching balls in the air and on the ground, and squaring up pitches with a hard swing.

    IMO - flame away - cutoffs/relays/etc are not fundamental skills for most 10 year olds. It sounds like you were able to teach cutoffs to 8 year olds so well that no more practice time is required on this by age 10. That seems to me like elite kids and very highly committed parents. Maybe I'm wrong.

    I agree with the rest of your posts, though. Teaching these skills is a good thing and kids are capable of more than you think. Actually I agree with everybody's posts. Except for the stuff I disagree with.

    It's not that hard. each player goes to a certain position and the fielder throws at a particular base. Outfielders generally know before the play where they are going and the infielders cut if needed. Sure teams can always use a bit of a refresher and some more finer points, but it's easy to learn. Where most coaches fail is that they worry that teaching their kids what to do will inevevitably lead to them actually doing it and messing it up costing their team a run. This is the whole point.

    Teams that don't teach this stuff young often deal with outfielders holding onto the ball and infielders standing around. If you train their instincts to move into the correct position on every play, they will eventually be there. If outfielders can know decisively before the play where to throw the ball, they will not hold onto it. The poor throws and overthrows are a significant help to this learning. 95% or more throws home will need to be cutoff. Which reinforces the players being in the right spot and moving to the ball.

    Also, throwing the ball home is fun. I teach every kid I coach at every age that if there is a runner on 2nd and the OF does not need to turn his back to home to field it, he should throw home. Every time. When it works, the teams are so fired up and having so much fun.

    The kids will remember that out long after they forget about the w/l results of the game. Which maybe as soon as that evening. I really see no value in waiting to teach this stuff.


    edit: I've had 6u rec players throwing home and the 1b in position to cut the ball. Of course the 1b didn't stop the ball and the OF threw it way off line, but they were easily able to grasp the concept and attempt it. At that age I don't explain much other than tell them where to be and when.
    Last edited by andre8; 09-13-2019, 11:04 AM.

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  • bbrages
    replied
    Originally posted by andre8 View Post
    Where to be on the field and where to throw are very simple concepts that 7 and 8 year olds can easily understand them.
    These concepts are not very simple IMO -- we can't even agree on who decides where the outfielder throws (the fielder, the catcher, or the coach). Maybe I'm a dummy, but I'm not sure I have them figured out myself.

    The most fundamental of fundies for 10 year olds are throwing with strength and accuracy, catching balls in the air and on the ground, and squaring up pitches with a hard swing.

    IMO - flame away - cutoffs/relays/etc are not fundamental skills for most 10 year olds. It sounds like you were able to teach cutoffs to 8 year olds so well that no more practice time is required on this by age 10. That seems to me like elite kids and very highly committed parents. Maybe I'm wrong.

    I agree with the rest of your posts, though. Teaching these skills is a good thing and kids are capable of more than you think. Actually I agree with everybody's posts. Except for the stuff I disagree with.

    Leave a comment:


  • skipper5
    replied
    Originally posted by Orbic18 View Post
    Pardon me for being direct but please get some psychiatric help. ...
    Baseball was made for kids, Adults only screw it up- Bob Lemon. You are that adult.

    .
    Orbic
    I'm assuming your a new poster on this forum.
    Civility is highly valued here.
    Flaming other posters is not.

    Leave a comment:

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