Increase your pitching velocity - https://baseballtrainingprograms.com/3-tips-to-instantly-increase-pitching-velocity-lm/
Pitcher pick off move to first base - https://youtu.be/o458nQ8moqg
Mastering the change-up - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17GDx8KVF9A
Holding Runners on at Second Base
Covering 2nd on a steal:
And SS covering 2nd on a steal:
Shortstop and second baseman need to know how to hold a runner at second base, as well as how to initiate and execute a pick-off play.
Holding runners close to second base is a skill, and it takes understanding between you and your pitcher. Here are a few things to think about when trying to keep the runner as close to second base as possible.
Who are you REALLY holding on?
Who is your strategic opponent in this situation? Here’s a tip, it’s not only the runner.
If the runner has his eyes on the baseball like he should, then it is the 3rd base coach who is watching you. He is the base runner’s eyes, and the runner is trusting the coach to let him know if you are going to try a pick-off move.
You can use this to your advantage by keeping the coach wondering if you are planning a pick-off move. If you can make him say “careful” or “back,” the runner will probably stay close to second for at least one more pitch. So keep in mind what the third base coach is saying to his runner and try to disrupt him.
The runner is usually not watching how far or close you are, but if he is, you can use it against him. When his attention is on you, it's not on the pitcher. If you run hard toward the base, the base runner has to get back to safety because he doesn’t know where the ball is. He is probably not going to steal third if he is too worried about where you are playing.
Keep them guessing.
Use different techniques and switch them up quite often. Sometimes per inning, sometimes, every hitter, or even every pitch.
Just keep them guessing.
At times be really quiet so the runner doesn’t know where you are. Sometimes this can be a little tricky because as a runner you may be a little nervous about getting a huge lead if you really aren’t sure where the second baseman is. Or you can try talking loud, hitting your glove and keep him thinking about you.
Know your pitcher
Be the Pitcher’s Eyes.
Your pitcher will be more focused on the hitter than the runner at 2nd, which is a good thing. But it is your job to be his eyes and if you see something a little out of the ordinary, put a pickoff attempt on or go to the mound and talk to him.
Know your pitchers time to home plate.
The pitcher’s time to home plate is the time it takes from the beginning of his motion to the moment the ball hits the catcher’s glove.
Is he fast or slow?
I guarantee the runner knows, so you should know as well. If he is slow, you’ll need to work a little harder to keep the runner close to the base or tell the pitcher to speed it up a bit.
Look for tendencies in your pitcher.
Is he looking the same amount of times to second base every time? If he is very systematic and predictable, then it is a good idea to get your pitcher to change up his looks. If the runner is getting a read on him, have your pitcher get his sign and then throw home without looking at the runner. This is one of the best moves to throw in on occasion. The runner has nothing to time if he just delivers the ball home.
Know the situation
How many outs are there?
Runners are much more likely to attempt a stolen base of third base with one out.
With nobody out, they are letting the hitter move them up. With two outs they are already in scoring position.
Another thing to think about is… Is holding the runner on base your priority? This is dictated by the situation as well.
Your coach would much rather a runner steal third base with 2 outs than a ground ball get through the infield, on a play you could have made if you weren’t worried about keeping the runner close to 2nd base.
The old unwritten rule for base runners is never make the first or third out at third base.
What is the score?
If there is a big run differential, it may not really matter if he steals 3rd base. It may be better suited to play deeper and increase your range so you can get to more batted balls.
Off speed pitches.
Know if the runners have a tendency to run in predominately off speed counts. Most runners would rather pick to steal on a curve ball or change up, because it takes longer to get to home plate and it is usually a little more difficult for a catcher to catch and throw on an off speed pitch.
Did the runner just steal 2nd base?
It has been proven that the best time to steal 3rd base is the next pitch after you just stole 2nd. The pitcher usually relaxes a little and thinks you are where you want to be, so often times he is not worried about you. It is your responsibility to get the pitcher locked in to keeping him close to the bag.
Know the runner
Is the runner fast or slow?
This you should at least be able to see by body type, and by watching how he ran to 1st base. Also, the positions people play will tell you a little about a persons speed. A center fielder will run better than a catcher, usually.
This is also a good time to cash in on some pre-game preparation you could have done. Just check the stats and see how many attempts and steals each runner has.
You don’t have to memorize stats, but it helps to know if a guy has a lot of steals or doesn’t really like to run.
Check his lead.
You should have an invisible spot in the baseline where if the runner gets to this spot you need to flash your hand and put a pick-off attempt on. Also you should try to see where his lead is and if he is getting a little bigger, smaller, or staying the same with every pitch.
You have two moves that each pitcher uses, one is the daylight play or flash play, and the other is the inside move.
1. The daylight or flash play
is when the pitcher comes set and is looking back at the runner. When you decide to break, throw your hand out (or glove if you are playing shortstop) toward the bag so the pitcher knows you are not bluffing. The pitcher will spin and throw right over the bag. You need to get to the second base bag and straddle it, wait for the ball, and apply the tag.
2. The inside move
is when the pitcher picks up his leg like he is starting his pitch home and then continues that move around so that foot lands on the backside of the mound. He will deliver the ball to 2nd base. This move is to try to get the runner to commit early and we can get him in a run down. This is a great move if the runner is getting antsy.
Baseball Catcher Tips: How to Catch a Pop-Up
Turning the right way and gaining the proper position are key steps to mastering this all-too-common play.
Any play during a game can be unpredictable, so you have to prepare for it all. Maybe a batter snaps the ball so that it pops up in the air and you have to catch it from below.
Because your mask cuts off upward visibility and your glove is designed to catch flat, this situation can be a bit challenging. So, how can you prepare to handle pop-ups? Let’s take a look.
When a pop-up goes in the air in your vicinity, it is important that you work behind the baseball, with your back to the mound. Keep your center of gravity low, catching the ball above your eyes as the revolution of the baseball is taking it back toward the mound.
This is crucial on any pop-up. You don’t want to throw your mask down immediately and then trip over it as you track the ball. As the ball goes in the air, take your mask off and hold it in your bare hand. Identify where the ball is going to land and then toss your mask in the opposite direction. If the ball is going to your left, you want to toss the mask to your right and vice versa.
When there is a runner on base, it is important to always attempt to catch the ball with two hands so that you can immediately transfer the ball to your bare hand and look up to make the next play.
In order to win against a pop-up, you must first master the proper technique. Practicing this sequence can help you prepare so that you’re ready to handle every scenario behind home plate.
Two Strike Hitting
Effective two strike hitters use a physical or mental adjustment at the plate, or a combination of the two.
There are 3 common physical adjustments that can be used at the plate when hitting with 2 strikes.
1. Choke up on the bat.
· This will increase your bat control, by making the bat feel lighter in your hands, your bat will feel more balanced, but you will give up a little whip.
· It will give you a shorter swing. The distance from your hands to the barrel is closer, thus making the distance your bat has to cover a little shorter.
· It will give you a quicker swing. This is because your bat path and the distance your bat has to cover is a little shorter, making your swing time a little quicker.
Note: Choking up on the bat will make the bat easier to handle but you will lose a little whip that can create a little more pop off the bat.
2. Spread out your stance.
· This will give you less body movement. Which is good when trying to make contact, the less moving parts in your swing the easier it is to hit the baseball.
· It will give you less head movement. Anytime you can limit the movement in your head the better hitter you will become. You can’t hit it if you can’t see it, and the more your head moves the harder it is to see the baseball.
3. Moving closer to the plate.
Will help you cover the outside part of the plate better. This can be a good approach because most of the pitches that a pitcher uses to get you out, are on the outer part of the plate.
Being closer to the plate will give the pitcher less room for error on an inside pitch. Standing closer to the plate will force the pitcher to make a good pitch if he tries to come inside. If he makes a mistake, you may get a good pitch to hit, or the ball may hit you and you will be awarded 1st base.
A few negatives to moving closer to the plate.
· Moving closer to the plate can make it more difficult on the pitcher but it can also make it more difficult on the hitter.
· You get comfortable with where you are at in the batter's box and you get familiar with how pitches look out of the pitchers hand. Your eyes get used to seeing and identifying pitches early as being balls or strikes.
· If you move closer to the plate, pitches that may have looked earlier in the count inside (in relation to how far it is away from your body), may now be a strike because you brought the plate closer to you.
· Moving closer to the plate opens up a potential hole for the hitter, because now if the pitcher can throw the ball inside for a strike, it may tie up the hitter and make it more difficult to hit.
Making a mental adjustment can be just as helpful as a physical adjustment. Mental adjustments can be a thought that can alter a hitters approach so he doesn’t have to be uncomfortable with a physical adjustment that he hadn’t worked on.
Typical mental adjustments:
· Hit the ball up the middle.
· Hit the ball to the opposite field.
· Let the ball get deep in the strike zone.
· See the ball as long as possible.
· Put the ball on the barrel.
· Short and quick.
· Slow it down.
CAUTION – Just pick one. You can pick any of these or use one of your own that works best for you to help with a 2 strike approach. If you have more than one mental adjustment, your body will not react to either of them properly because it will be trying to do both, and it is proven that too much information can be problematic.
A few notes on two strike hitting approach:
CAUTION – What NOT to change. It is important to not change your baseball swing with two strikes. You work on your swing in the cage, in practice and every time you swing the bat. Change your set up and approach, but not your swing. Your swing is your swing, and if it differs with 2 strikes you are making the art of hitting even more difficult.
Practice your two strike physical changes, if you plan on using them in the game. If you normally stand upright and have your bottom hand on the knob of the bat and with 2 strikes you spread out your stance and choke up, you will feel uncomfortable and will only be hurting yourself. Don’t play with something you don’t practice.
How to Bunt for a Hit
Drag Bunt; i.e. Bunting for a hit down the 3rd base line
The drag bunt is used mostly when a right handed pitcher is throwing. He will usually fall off toward the 1st base side, and it’s difficult for a pitcher to change his momentum and try to make a play, especially if he is off balance.
Right Handed Hitters: How to execute a drag bunt
Step 1: Assume your normal stance in the batters box.
Step 2: When the pitchers momentum and arm are starting to come to home plate, set your bat angle and get your base in the correct position.
· Set your bat angle by using the same upper body mechanics used when sacrifice bunting (hands away from body, barrel above knob and bat at top of strike zone).
· Point the end of your bat to the second baseman, this sets the angle to third base.
· Take your right foot and drop it back so your stance is now closed off toward the pitcher. This gets your feet in a strong position to start your run to first base.
Step 3: Try to put the baseball near the foul line. It’s better for the ball to be bunted foul rather than bunted right back to the pitcher. If it’s foul, you still have another strike or two to try again or start swinging.
Left Handed Batters: How to drag bunt
Step 1: Assume your normal stance in the batter's box.
Step 2: When the pitchers momentum and arm are starting to come towards home plate, set your bat angle by sliding your left hand up the bat toward the trademark (as well as your other upper body mechanics in bunting) and get your base in a position to start your run.
· Your left foot can step a little closer to the plate. This will open your stance up toward the pitcher and give you a better angle toward first base.
· Be sure not to step on the plate, stay in the batter's box. If a foot is out of the box and you make contact with the ball, you are out.
Note: This left handed bunting style of taking your left foot and moving it closer to home plate to get an angle, is easier than a crossover step and bunting. This crossover step involves taking your left foot and crossing your right foot, bunting, then running. This leaves you vulnerable with a pitch that is coming at you. It also involves a lot of foot and head movement which can make it difficult to lay a quality bunt down.
Push Bunt; i.e. Bunting for a hit toward the second baseman
When to use the push bunt; i.e. Push Bunt Strategy
The push bunt is often utilized with a left handed pitcher on the mound.
This is because when the left handed pitcher throws a pitch, he will naturally fall off the mound in the direction of the 3rd base line. This opens up a bunting lane toward the 2nd baseman.
The idea is to push the baseball hard enough to get it past the pitcher and directed toward the 2nd baseman. Most of the time if you can make the 1st baseman vacate his bag, it will be an easy hit for you.
Right handed batters: How to execute a push bunt
Step 1: The set-up and mechanics are the exact same with the drag bunt, the only exception is that instead of catching the ball with the bat and gently bunting the ball towards 3rd base, you will firmly bunt it towards the 2nd baseman.
Step 2: Push the bunt with your legs, and use your momentum to go through the baseball. Try to keep your arms as still as possible and rely on your legs.
Step 3: Try to make the ball end up where the infield dirt and infield grass meet in between where the first baseman and second baseman play. The push bunt is hard to defend if it’s done well.
Left handed batters: How to push bunt
Step 1: The set-up and mechanics are the same as a left handed drag bunt with your upper body (hands away from your body, barrel above the knob and bat at the top of the strike zone).
Step 2: Set your bat angle by pointing the end of the bat in between the 3rd baseman and shortstop. This will give you an angle toward the alley you want to lay the bunt in.
Step 3: From this point you have two options
1. Take your left foot and use a small step toward home plate and use that foot to drive toward the direction of second base.
2. Or, you can use the crossover step and take your left foot and move it past your right foot in the direction of the pitcher.
Step 4: I personally think the first way with less body movement is easier, but this is a personal preference. It can be a little difficult to get the velocity on the bunt you need sometimes this way, but it's more consistent.
Step 5: Same as the right handed bunt, keep the ball away from the pitcher and try to make the ball end up where the infield dirt and infield grass meet in between where the first baseman and second baseman play.
How to Sacrifice Bunt
1. Square Up.
Start out by getting in a regular batting stance and make sure your feet are square towards home plate. If you normally hit with an open stance, square your feet up and be in a relaxed position.
2. Step to the front of the batter's box.
We give ourselves an easier angle and more room to keep the ball fair than if we were further back in the box.
3. Take your back foot and pivot towards the pitcher.
Make sure to pivot all the way around, so your back hip is facing the pitcher. When you make a complete pivot, your bat will end up in front of the plate, which is a much more consistent position to bunt from.
4. Hand Position.
Move your top hand up the bat to just above the label. Keep your bottom hand near the knob of the bat, don’t bring it up to meet your top hand.
5. Extend your arms toward the pitcher.
This accomplishes two things:
1. The bat is in fair territory. It is easier to keep the ball fair if your bat is already there.
2. Keeping your bat away from your body allows your hands to work independent from the rest of your body, and will help you make adjustments to the pitch coming in.
3. Your eyes will be able to see the ball make contact with the bat, if your hands are out in front of you properly.
6. Start with the bat at the top of the strike zone,
for two reasons:
1. It is easier to lower the bat to bunt a baseball than to move it up.
2. Anything that is above your bat will be a ball, so all you need to worry about are balls beneath the height of your bat.
7. Keep the barrel of the bat above the knob of the bat at all times, even at contact.
If the barrel drops then we have a much better chance to pop up a bunt, or miss the ball all together. Be extra careful on pitches away, we may feel we get more plate coverage when we need to drop our barrel. Not true.
8. Use your legs.
To bunt a ball lower than where our bat started, we need to drop in our knees to get lower and keep our angle on the bat the entire time. This is where we can get lazy and just drop our barrel and not use our legs.
9. Finally, catch the ball with the bat.
Be soft with your hands, don’t jab at the baseball.
Quality at Bats
Do something productive at the plate every single time, such as hitting the ball hard and taking walks. It helps the hitter to not get discouraged when he or she doesn’t get a hit.
“Situational hitting – it might be a long fly ball to score a runner from third, when other times a fly ball is the last thing we want,” “Other times it might just be a ground ball if the infield is playing back to score the runner from third. It may be being very good at sacrifice bunting on offense but also being very good at bunt defense. The point is – do not be upset about a batting average because it can be very misleading and in this game confidence is everything.”
What are examples of a quality at bat?
· a long fly ball to score a runner from third (a sacrifice fly)
· a ground ball if the infield is playing back to score the runner from third (giving yourself up)
· a sacrifice bunt
· a hard hit ball on the ground or a line drive
· a walk or hit by pitch
· advancing a runner with no outs
· a nine or more pitch at-bat
· a hit
· swinging aggressively, not defensively and being selective when the count is in your favor (0-0,1-0,2-0,2-1,3-0,3-1)
· protecting the plate, fouling off pitches, getting the ball in play when there are 2 strikes on you
Base Running – Leading off 1st base, 2nd base and Secondary Leads
Proper mechanics and pro tips for leading off first base and second base, as well as some tips to improve your secondary lead.
How to Take a Lead off First Base
1. Eyes on the Pitcher. Always keep your eyes on the pitcher (or wherever the baseball is) when you are off of the bag. Even if you are just one foot off the bag, keep your eyes on the baseball.
2. Don’t Cross Your Feet. When stepping out to your desired length, don’t cross your feet. At any time the pitcher could try to pick you off and if you are crossing your legs when he is throwing over you are not in a very good position to get back into the bag.
3. Strategy. Some players like to take their leads and take one step closer to the pitcher, this gives off an optical illusion that you are closer to the bag than you really are.
Others like to take their leads and take one step away from the pitcher. This is so when they dive back into the bag, they will make contact with the back corner.
This makes the tag a little more difficult for the first baseman, but this angle makes it look like you are a little further away from the bag than you really are.
4. Consistency. Your leads should be the same every time so you don’t tip off when you are about to steal.
You should be able to get to the same lead every time without looking back at the bag to see how far you are away. Get your lead the same way every time.
5. Distance. Your ideal lead is somewhere between 9 and 12 feet away from the bag.
How to Take a Lead from 2nd Base
There are two types of leads you take at second base:
1. The first is with less than 2 outs, or looking to steal third base.
2. The next is with 2 outs or, you are not worrying to much about moving up to third base, you are committing to scoring on a single to the outfield.
Lead #1: Less than 2 outs, or Looking to Steal 3rd
With less than 2 outs or if you are trying to steal 3rd you want it to be a straight line between 2nd and 3rd.
Don’t get outside the baseline. The quickest path between 2nd and 3rd is in between the bases. If you move out away from the baseline (back toward shortstop) you are creating a longer distance to third base.
You want to get 10-15 feet off the second base bag. This depends on how comfortable you feel off the bag, and how quickly you can get back to second.
· The initial distance in your leads from 2nd should be based on whether you can get back to the bag on a pick from the pitcher, regardless of where the middle infielders are playing.
· As the middle infielders get further away, you can take another step, but as they get closer move back to the spot where you know you can get back to 2nd safely. From that spot you can confidently hold your ground, until he moves back into a fielding position.
Keep your eyes on the pitcher
· It is a good habit to always look at whoever has the baseball. As long as you know where the baseball is, you should never be surprised.
· As you get to your desired lead, listen to your third base coach, he will help you with the middle infielders and how close they are to you.
· Before you take your lead, you should have an idea who is holding you on. If it is the shortstop, you are using the eyes of the 3rd base coach to help you out. If it’s the 2nd baseman, you are still using the 3rd base coach’s eyes but you are also using your peripheral vision to aid in getting back to the bag.
Once the pitcher starts to pitch the ball, we start our secondary lead, expecting a single hit to the outfield where we have to score.
Lead #2: Two outs
With 2 outs we are not worried as much about just moving up to third base, we are going to be a little more aggressive about trying to score and we want to give ourselves the best opportunity.
With 2 outs usually the middle infielders are not holding us on, or if they are it is not to close, they don’t want to create holes in the defensive positioning.
· We want to have a 12-15 foot lead initially toward 3rd base. From there take about 3-5 steps back (toward the shortstop) so the baseline is in front of you.
· This angle we create by moving back 3-5 steps will help our running path to home plate be shorter and straighter. We want to set an angle coming around third so the distance we run is as short as possible. Moving back a few feet will do this.
· Also, by setting this angle before we start running we will be closer to top speed the whole way to home plate rather than losing a little speed trying to bow out and set an angle around third base.
Secondary Leads - A secondary lead is the movement you make toward the next base once the pitcher has committed to pitch the ball home.
Our objective is to create some momentum and cut down the distance to the next base in case of a batted ball or a pitch that gets away from the catcher.
· Shuffle Steps - Once the pitcher starts his movement home, your lead starts to turn into a secondary lead by taking 2 shuffle steps toward the next base.
· Balance - As you take your shuffle steps, keep your feet close to the ground and keep your center of gravity over your toes in case you need to change direction quickly.
· Weight Distribution - As the pitch gets into the strike zone you should have your weight about 70/30 to your right foot, and your momentum should be stopped. From this position you can continue easily to the next base; or if the catcher tries to pick you off, you are in a good position to get back to the bag.
· Step Back -Once the catcher secures the ball, take at least one hard step back to the bag. This hard step will stop any thoughts of catcher trying to pick you off and will give you good habits to prevent any base running mistakes.
Reading batted balls correctly
Look at the infield and outfield positioning
First things first… Be able to have a feel of where everyone is playing, so when a ball is hit, you may be able to get a great jump and anticipate a hit, rather than wait for a ball to fall before you commit to running to third base. Knowledge of the defense will help with getting a better jump.
Know the number of outs
This is important because you will play batted balls differently depending on whether there is 0,1, or 2 outs.
– 0 outs – Your goal is to get to third with one out. You are trying to do this so you can score on a sacrifice fly or a ground ball in the infield if the infield plays back (number 1 depth).
On a fly ball hit to the outfield, you want to tag up and try to get to third. Don’t worry about getting half way and watching to make sure the outfielder catches the baseball. Be in a position if he catches the baseball where you can tag up and move up to third. Let the hitter knock you in, don’t try to do too much and make a mistake.
– 1 out – With one out you are already in scoring position and tagging up and moving up to third doesn’t help too much. Being at third with 2 outs is not much different than being at second with 2 outs.
On the same fly ball that was hit with 0 outs, you want to play it differently with 1 out. As the baseball is hit, you want to get at least half way between 2nd and 3rd base. This will allow you to be able to score in case the outfielder makes a mistake and drops the ball. If he catches the baseball, just get back to second and hopefully the next hitter will get a hit to bring you in.
The mindset with one out is different than with 0 outs because with one out we want to be in a position to score or get back to second base. With 0 outs we want to be able to move up to third base, that is our priority.
– 2 outs – Our goal is pretty simple with 2 outs, once the baseball is hit we run. Make sure you anticipate a swing and if you see contact, run hard and expect to score.
When to advance on ground balls in the infield.
The idea is basic, but there are a lot of mistakes made when a runner tries to advance to third when he shouldn’t have.
Most mistakes are caused because the hitter makes an unproductive out and the runner tries to help out the hitter and make a great base running play. This usually backfires and the runner will be at fault, and you will take yourself out of scoring position.
· If a batted ball is hit to your right (after you have completed your secondary lead) stay at second base. The throw to first is long and a much easier play for the shortstop is to come up and throw to third base.
· If a batted ball is hit to your left (after you have completed your secondary lead) advance to third base. If the shortstop is moving to his left, he will just continue and take the out at first. A ball hit to the second baseman is too risky of a play to try to get the out at third.
Exceptions to the rule
· If a batted ball is hit to your right and the third baseman is playing deep and has to go a long way to his right or left to make a play, you may be able to move up to third base. If you leave early enough he may be in a bad position to tag you before you can get to the third base bag. His only play will be at 1st base.
· If a chopper is hit where the third baseman has to charge in hard and field the baseball on the run somewhere on the infield grass, move up to third base. His momentum will take him away from the bag, and if you read it early enough you should be able to get into third easily. Just make sure you can beat the shortstop over to third base.
Understanding when and when not to move up to third on a batted ball can help your team or really hurt your team if you aren’t sure what you are doing, or don’t react properly. If you talk to yourself about the situation, and you know what you are going to do before it happens, it makes reading balls a lot easier.
12 Signs of Great Base Running
When answering the question of how to run bases, here are 12 things you can focus on learning or improving.
1. Being able to go from 1st to 3rd on a base hit to the outfield (when possible).
2. Reading a line drive while on 2nd base and being able to score on a single.
3. Running hard all the time.
4. Knowing how and when to break up plays by sliding hard into base.
5. Not missing any signs put on by the coach.
6. Being able to read and anticipate pitched balls in the dirt and advancing when possible.
7. Knowing your speed and understanding when to take a chance and when to play it more conservative.
8. Not making the first or third out at 3rd base.
9. Knowing where your defense is playing behind you, especially the outfielders so you can react to the ball and not have to wait and look to see what happens.
10. Not getting doubled up on a line drive to an infielder.
11. Always running hard through home, especially with two outs. If a runner gets thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double and you are taking your time touching home and the out happens before you score, the run does not count.
12. Getting good secondary leads so you can try to get that extra base on a hit.
How do I stop upper cutting or dipping? Keep your shoulders level and bring your hands down to the ball.
How do I prevent from stepping out or flying out? Keep your stride foot semi-closed - toes pointing at an angle toward first base, keep your head still and your lead shoulder and elbow tight to the body.