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6th Grade A Team - Expectations and What to Teach

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
    The problem is that when I just let them be, they show off by doing baby throws and seeing how bad they can throw.

    Some of the issue is that some of these kids are very immature and/or need lots of attention, and I can only do so much because I am not getting very much help. Some of these kids literally can't or won't be quiet when one of the coaches is speaking. They are always talking to each other or muttering under their breath.

    I do have them play Indian Ball, and they tend to be very competitive when doing that, but that doesn't work on all of the fundamentals like team defense.
    Let them make their own beds. Communicate your expectations regarding attitude and respect. They are 11 and 12 learning some responsibility. Give them some rope and explain their playing time will be determined by positive attitudes and respect for each other and the coaches. Provide a safe environment while you have them and let them enjoy the game.

    Are they playing baseball for other teams? How long is your league? If they are playing for other teams, and have some experience, expect them to know the fundamentals of bunt defense and cut-offs. Our school ball season is very short. Assuming yours is as well, building "NEW" skills will be difficult. Especially if they are currently playing on different teams that might have different fundamental ideas than yours.

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
      I teach everyone to bunt as part of hitting, so that's covered.
      That's excellent, too few kids come to us at the HS who are able to lay down a decent sac bunt. Pushing and dragging are not that important, but it sure would be nice to not have to spend so much time at the HS level on something that I think is one to the fundamentals to the game, that can/should be taught at the lower levels.

      What I'm interested in are people's feelings with respect to things like bunt defense and team defense (e.g. relays and cut-offs).
      A basic bunt defense is fine, but there are several different ones that are used by HSs (we use four different ones), and there are variations to those, so getting real detailed in bunt defense at that age is not all that important, as they will learn new and different ones, depending on their HS coach(es).

      "Team defense" as you mention is another one of those "basics/fundamentals" that again, can and should be taught at a younger level.....especially for 6th graders (11/12?) on up.

      I wouldn't be too worried about getting it exactly right (if there even is such a thing, as I've seen so many variations), but if you can get the kids to start thinking about getting the ball back into the infield to a cut-off man, and have other players positioned properly at all of the bases to throw behind a trailing runner (the "3 B's"), you'd be putting them farahead of the kids that we're having show up to us as incoming freshman.

      I have good enough athletes (most are at least athletic enough to have a shot of playing in high school) that I can start to teach everything the right way, so what do you think a competitive 6th grader should be learning?
      If you have those types of athletes available to you, and they have the skill set fundamentals down (throwing, fielding, hitting), than this is the perfect team and age to be teaching the more mental part of the game.

      Also, a big portion of the game that seems to be left out and not taught is decent base running knowledge and skills......"middle by", "down angle", "6-hole reads", when to, and not to tag at 2nd, early steals, delayed steals, rounding bags properly, when and where to pick up the base coach, teaching them how to slide properly to prevent injury......so many of the little things that seem to be left out before they reach HS.

      Finally, please teach them the proper "two throw" method for a rundown. It drives me nuts to watch a quality team all of a sudden revert to the sandlot, as a kid gets hung up between bases, someone yells, "PICKLE!!!"......and every player on the field (and I swear one or two off the bench sometimes), has to touch the ball before the out can be recorded, or the runner manages to wind up safely on a bag.....usually the one he was trying to advance to anyways. Aaarrrggghhh!!

      Best of luck to an educational, and as a result winning season. The best players don't always win ball games, the best prepared ones typically do.
      In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by mudvnine View Post
        Finally, please teach them the proper "two throw" method for a rundown. It drives me nuts to watch a quality team all of a sudden revert to the sandlot, as a kid gets hung up between bases, someone yells, "PICKLE!!!"......and every player on the field (and I swear one or two off the bench sometimes), has to touch the ball before the out can be recorded, or the runner manages to wind up safely on a bag.....usually the one he was trying to advance to anyways. Aaarrrggghhh!!
        This is actually something I'm having trouble with.

        We played some hot box the other day when we didn't have the outfield, and I told them that the correct way to do a run-down is to have the receiver call for the ball, but they can't or won't do it correctly. As a result, they tend to throw the ball too early and the run-down goes on and on.
        Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

        I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
          Yes, but I'm interested in prioritization.

          Are relays and cut-offs more important than footwork at second base when receiving a ball on a throw-down?

          Part of the issue is that some of these guys seem uninterested in doing things the right way -- things like making sure that the catcher and the first baseman are on the same side of the line on a throw down to first after a dropped third strike -- and I'm trying to figure out what to get on them about and in what order.
          IMO, you don't really need to pick and choose, some of these things are taught in five minutes or less.

          During your pre-game routine, incorporate a couple "bunt scenarios" for the catcher (we do it after we've hit to the outfield and we're walking in from the IF grass), simply walk behind the catcher, roll a ball out to the right side of the plate a bit, and as he fields the ball, he should be yelling, "INSIDE!!".......also, there is nothing wrong to have the 1st baseman yell "INSIDE!!" right along with him, so they're both on the same page.

          If you like, you can also simulate a dropped third strike with the ball in foul territory, and again have both players yelling, but this time, "OUTSIDE!!".......as they do this, they naturally go the the proper side of the bag to make the play. Kind of hard to be yelling, "OUTSIDE", and then be standing on the inside of the bag waiting to accept the throw.

          Most times, I feel that the kids don't realize that it's ok to play the game on both sides of the lines.....having them yell "inside" and "outside", gives them the "OK" to do so.
          Last edited by mudvnine; 04-03-2012, 09:06 AM.
          In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
            This is actually something I'm having trouble with.

            We played some hot box the other day when we didn't have the outfield, and I told them that the correct way to do a run-down is to have the receiver call for the ball, but they can't or won't do it correctly. As a result, they tend to throw the ball too early and the run-down goes on and on.
            The thing that makes or breaks the two-throw rundown is the receiver's ability to not only call for the ball at the proper time, but also to be moving towards the thrower as he does so. IOWs, both players should momentarily be closing the gap on the runner, not just the player running him down.
            In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

            Comment


            • #21
              Mud,

              At what age would you have the catcher call out cuts and where the ball should go? Is this a 6th grade thing or an 8th grade thing?

              I want the catchers to start doing this at some point, but I'm louder and faster with my calls.
              Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

              I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by mudvnine View Post
                That's excellent, too few kids come to us at the HS who are able to lay down a decent sac bunt. Pushing and dragging are not that important, but it sure would be nice to not have to spend so much time at the HS level on something that I think is one to the fundamentals to the game, that can/should be taught at the lower levels.


                A basic bunt defense is fine, but there are several different ones that are used by HSs (we use four different ones), and there are variations to those, so getting real detailed in bunt defense at that age is not all that important, as they will learn new and different ones, depending on their HS coach(es).

                "Team defense" as you mention is another one of those "basics/fundamentals" that again, can and should be taught at a younger level.....especially for 6th graders (11/12?) on up.

                I wouldn't be too worried about getting it exactly right (if there even is such a thing, as I've seen so many variations), but if you can get the kids to start thinking about getting the ball back into the infield to a cut-off man, and have other players positioned properly at all of the bases to throw behind a trailing runner (the "3 B's"), you'd be putting them farahead of the kids that we're having show up to us as incoming freshman.


                If you have those types of athletes available to you, and they have the skill set fundamentals down (throwing, fielding, hitting), than this is the perfect team and age to be teaching the more mental part of the game.

                Also, a big portion of the game that seems to be left out and not taught is decent base running knowledge and skills......"middle by", "down angle", "6-hole reads", when to, and not to tag at 2nd, early steals, delayed steals, rounding bags properly, when and where to pick up the base coach, teaching them how to slide properly to prevent injury......so many of the little things that seem to be left out before they reach HS.

                Finally, please teach them the proper "two throw" method for a rundown. It drives me nuts to watch a quality team all of a sudden revert to the sandlot, as a kid gets hung up between bases, someone yells, "PICKLE!!!"......and every player on the field (and I swear one or two off the bench sometimes), has to touch the ball before the out can be recorded, or the runner manages to wind up safely on a bag.....usually the one he was trying to advance to anyways. Aaarrrggghhh!!

                Best of luck to an educational, and as a result winning season. The best players don't always win ball games, the best prepared ones typically do.
                Or listen to Mudvine!

                School ball gets 2:15hrs (3 - 45 minute practices) a week practice time for 8 weeks. LL ball receives 4hrs (2 to 3 2hr practices, depending on the team) a week for 14 weeks during the same period.

                This is our situation, and as a dad I am very happy with the results. Happy kid, happy team that is producing good results! This is not what I expected at the beginning and I would have gone down the, "How much baseball can I cram in" road if it was me. After watching this season roll out, I would have been wrong to teach as much fundamentals as possible in the short time. They are or should be learning that on their primary teams which have more help and more time. This is more of a pick game or secondary team for all the players. It's working for us.
                Last edited by real green; 04-03-2012, 09:18 AM.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by mudvnine View Post
                  IMO, you don't really need to pick and choose, some of these things are taught in five minutes or less.

                  During your pre-game routine, incorporate a couple "bunt scenarios" for the catcher (we do it after we've hit to the outfield and we're walking in from the IF grass), simply walk behind the catcher, roll a ball out to the right side of the plate a bit, and as he fields the ball, he should be yelling, "INSIDE!!".......also, there is nothing wrong to have the 1st baseman yell "INSIDE!!" right along with him, so they're both on the same page.

                  If you like, you can also simulate a dropped third strike with the ball in foul territory, and again have both players yelling, but this time, "OUTSIDE!!".......as they do this, they naturally go the the proper side of the bag to make the play. Kind of hard to be yelling, "OUTSIDE", and then be standing on the inside of the bag waiting to accept the throw.

                  Most times, I feel that the kids don't realize that it's ok to play the game on both sides of the lines.....having them yell "inside" and "outside", gives them the "OK" to do so.
                  Good use of dead time.

                  I learned about the importance of this last year. In a few games I put in random catchers. On a DTS, it seemed like their default was to try to lob the ball down the line and over the head of the runner.

                  It didn't work very well.
                  Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

                  I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by real green View Post
                    Let them make their own beds. Communicate your expectations regarding attitude and respect. They are 11 and 12 learning some responsibility. Give them some rope and explain their playing time will be determined by positive attitudes and respect for each other and the coaches. Provide a safe environment while you have them and let them enjoy the game.

                    Are they playing baseball for other teams? How long is your league? If they are playing for other teams, and have some experience, expect them to know the fundamentals of bunt defense and cut-offs. Our school ball season is very short. Assuming yours is as well, building "NEW" skills will be difficult. Especially if they are currently playing on different teams that might have different fundamental ideas than yours.
                    It's actually a bit complicated.

                    We had 24 guys try out. However, we can't do a straight 12/12 split due to vacations and guys also playing for other teams (last year I had 20 on the roster and had 9 guys available for my second playoff game).

                    We're going to do a dual roster, where 6 guys are dedicated to each team and 12 float between teams.

                    Part of the thing is that the top 6 only occasionally make it to practice due to other commitments. We do go through at least June, so I like Jake's idea of coming up with a list of 20 things to work on and working on what needs working on the most as the weeks go by and as the games progress.
                    Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

                    I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
                      Mud,

                      At what age would you have the catcher call out cuts and where the ball should go? Is this a 6th grade thing or an 8th grade thing?

                      I want the catchers to start doing this at some point, but I'm louder and faster with my calls.
                      Most definitely by 6th grade ball.....

                      There are a lot of things that we can do louder and faster out there than the players, but they're eventually going to need to be pushed out of the nest. If you have the talent, by all means let the catcher start calling the cut plays......he should also be directing the fielders on where to throw during bunt the coverages that he's not himself fielding.

                      The catcher has the whole field in front of him to see the plays developing.....the sooner he learns to be the "general" out there (so to speak), the better it is for his personal development, and for the team as a whole.
                      In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
                        Here's a question about the cut-off man.

                        I know that some people want the cut-off man to have his arms up and out so that the OFer can throw the ball through the goalposts to the bag, but is that the right way to teach it? Should the guy on the bag be the one whose arms are up so that it's more obvious who is the cut-off and who is on the bag?
                        Huh? If the kid doesn't know where the bag is, that's where I would start.

                        The cut offs arms are not up to throw through but to make a big target as if to say, "here I am". Also, his hands are slightly up because he is preparing to receive the ball. Kind of hard to catch the ball with your hands down.

                        Comment

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