Why Teaching Situational Baseball is Important

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by: Jim Janick

Uneducated fans like to complain that baseball is too slow a game. They tend to follow the ball and ignore the complex activity occurring away from the ball and between pitches.

Are your young players guilty of the same thing?

When a ball is hit in the gap, does your first baseman trail the runner to second base, looking to catch him unaware should the runner round second too aggressively? Does your pitcher back up any bag that might get a throw from the
outfield? Does your catcher race up the first base line on all ground balls in anticipation of overthrows? Do your middle infielders adjust their positions based on whether the pitcher is about to throw off speed or straight heat? Does every player on your team know their individual responsibilities on every cut off and bunt play?

Baseball is not too slow. In fact, there’s barely enough time to manage the many play-to-play adjustments the finer points of the game require.

Too many young players think there is nothing for them to do if the ball is not coming their way. Their thoughts wander. Their attention fades. Not only is this bad for team spirit, it can be downright dangerous for the inattentive player.

Our job as coaches and parents is to make sure they know how much there is they can do, if only they would learn the intricacies of the beautifully complex game of baseball. There is always something to attend to on the diamond during ball games, and there should be constant activity during practice as well.

Involve your young players in practices. Do not allow them to stand around waiting for action. Don’t let them think for one minute that there is nothing for them to do. They should never be bored on the playing field. Make them think, what is my role on this next pitch? How can I help my team get an advantage?

The use of multiple coaches serves this purpose best. Enlist any knowledgeable and willing parents to help. Set up hitting stations, fielding stations, pitching stations for every practice. Segment the various aspects of the game for concentrated instruction. Make your practices a three-ring circus of activity.

Kids who stand around looking bored will come to think of baseball as a boring game. It is our job to teach them the finer points. Positioning. Anticipation. Situational baseball. Once our young players understand the details of baseball, they will begin to appreciate the wonderfully complex thrill of playing the game the way it was meant to be played. What’s more, they will never be caught unprepared in game situations, and they will never feel bored on a baseball diamond again.

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