Abbott-O-Rabbit Coaches Orientation

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1 Abbott-O-Rabbit Coaches Orientation Thanks For Coaching at AOR! The reason for having this session is provide you with some tools to teach basic baseball/softball skills at AOR. It is also intended to promote consistency within each division and continuity through the AOR system on basic skills. I also hope that this, together with our new local rules (on the website under coaches info ), will greatly decrease on-field uncertainties and make for better players and coaches: it should basically improve AOR a bit. We haven t done this recently, and I hope it s useful. The session is informal, so feel free to ask questions and provide suggestions. I may not be able to answer all your questions, but I ll do my best. Apologies in advance for the amount of talking in this session, but! Mission of the league (from AOR Constitution and Little League): The objective of the league is to implant firmly in the children of the community the ideals of good sportsmanship, honesty, loyalty, courage and respect for authority. Winning is a not the primary objective of 11/12 and Juniors Allstars games, all other games are for player development. This is especially true at minors and below. At majors and above, there is more of a fine line: We play to develop and to win if we can. In other words, if a team can win every single game, but only develop 2 pitchers in the process, that is not appropriate. Nor is it appropriate to force kids into positions where they are seriously uncomfortable, or where it consistently & significantly decreases the level of play, just in order to rotate positions (e.g. every time Johnny pitches, he walks 6 straight, then rotates out that is inappropriate). So, use your common sense, but we do not play to win at all costs in our regular season games. AOR s high standard for sportsmanship. The coach must reinforce this. You are a true role model. This is no joke the kids will look up to you and follow your lead. So behave, be good sports, and remember the winning-and-losing part is just a game but the role model part is no game (e.g. never tolerate players making fun of any others). Equal play. It is strongly encouraged that each team member gets equal playing time. This is true for every division. At minors and below, AOR requires that player-positions rotate so that each player at least has an opportunity to play each position if the player desires. Coaches at majors and above are not required to rotate players but are strongly urged to give each player opportunities at each position. Talk to the parents early. Get them involved and don t try to do it all alone. Communicate with each other, with the VP, with me, with Rob Allred, our most experienced coach. We are all on the same team. Familiarize yourself with the LL Rulebook and know the AOR local rules (bylaws)! -Tom 1

2 Skills Basic skills in black Hints / suggestions in blue italics Batting: Rotational technique Grip knuckle to knuckle - off palms Stance weight back on load up, firmly planted, arms relaxed Swing start with hips, squish bug. No extended swing Keep the hands in, don t swing around the ball, fence drill, ball or glove under armpit to keep hands in. Back arm relaxed no elbow up Head/eye on the ball grab the helmet, colored balls, check swings, watch ball into glove for several pitches Shoulder to shoulder motion Very short stride Focus on Pitcher s release point Proper way to get out of the way of a pitch (drop bat & back shoulder and roll toward catcher and out). Do not just duck. This can be practiced by throwing softly, with a soft ball, at the batter. General mechanics When the pitcher shows you his back, you show yours (load up). Stride only with toe point, show your hips. Vertical pole through the body. Keeping hands in increases bat speed, prevents rolling over & enables adjustments. Bunting: No full square Pivot just like batting squish the bug Lower hand slides up to tape Upper hand to barrel Thumbs up Sweet spot higher bat tilts down to inside of plate Bat covers the high pitch Never come up for a bunt Pivot or square early Hands in front, then Catch the ball with upper hand Throwing (very similar mechanics to pitching): Back foot square to target Find the 4 seam grip (practice while watching TV or hanging around) Ball faces away Cobra fangs, sipping the cup Rotate the body Shoulders lined up to target Snap the throw towel drill get the backspin Head/eyes on target until caught Nose to leather Catching a throw: Providing a target with both hands Show the box Move the feet to get body square to incoming throw Quick to separate Accordion/find the seams 2

3 Base running: Run through the base, turn to foul territory, look & listen for fence Easy but critical to drill this Round first on base hit drill it wide turn. Every base hit is a double until it s not Look at 3 rd base coach Taking a lead Slide step spikes in the ground. Square up In baseline not behind (except sometimes at 2 nd ) Secondary lead Drill it - foul territory off 3 rd base All of the above can be part of one drill Stealing commit and go with eyes ahead, don t start with a 5 step. Left foot first. Dirt/batting gloves in hands for finger protection Foot first slide One leg bent under the other drill it once or twice at low levels Infield play: Cover first throwing hand foot on infield side of bag. This should not have to be taught at majors! Cut-off. LL way is simplest. Cut the field in half. Big target: Cut Cut How to cover on force play Regular target, don t stretch until trajectory is known Non-force play toes behind bag - straddle Double play OK toss, Hula hoop target Run-down Follow the ball, arm cocked, target out of baseline Get the lead runner Watch Ball all the way into glove Infielders out of baseline unless in play (obstruction) If you see it, correct it. Even if you re the first base coach on the other team No unnecessary throws NUN rule Calling for the pop up: Ball ball ball. Middle Infielders have right of way. Outfield has right of way over infield. Shortstop has right of way over 2 nd baseman. Loudly. Fielding grounder: Alligator technique is just getting the throwing hand up above the glove. Below minors, just get that habit going. Minors and above: Anticipate the hop 3 basic kinds of hops, anticipate them (play the ball not vice versa) drill them, sometimes you know early that you must retreat on the ball. On balls of your feet Butt down, head up, hands in front, glove open ball rolling drill Charge slow balls right left right Come up throwing pop up, separate quickly, rotate, basic throwing techniques Bare-handing a slow roller: Throwing hand open How wide can you open your hand? That s it! Scoop it with fingers down Set your body as best you can Do or die i.e. you often should not make the throw Covering on a bunt (or slow roller between mound and 1 st ): Good luck on a small field! Best technique is to have first basemen cover on all bunts. 3

4 Proper rotation can be covered in Juniors. Outfield play: Backing up on a ball drop step drill One knee grounders when no play at the bases or very hard hit Anticipate hop on sinking liner Crow Hop All about momentum and backspin Running for a fly ball Hit the cut-off man Get body under a fly ball before opening glove Do the race a few times Calling for the fly ball: Ball ball ball. Center fielder has right of way. Outfield has right of way over infield. Loudly. Pitching: Grips 3 or 4 fingers for lower divisions, 2 seam 4 seam grip for more advanced/bigger players Change-up Grip: Circle grip for bigger hands, otherwise, lots of friction The recommended motion is the simple stretch position because it reduces movement with body and eyes & is easier to balance: Short Stretch Come to balance point your body is a straight-backed chair, point front toe down Arm goes back and up elbow slightly elevated Ball faces backward Cobra fangs, sipping the cup Don t lean back Shoulder to target Rotate hips Alignment (KNESHIP) Snap through towel drill Landing on ball of foot directed at target the other towel drill Front-facing motion Small step back Rotate foot All else really the same Using the rubber - Good front leg extension, but not too much draw the kid s landing spot No short-arming tough one to fix cobra fangs and demonstrate what short arming looks like Other pitching stuff: Get the ball back to the pitcher but play s not over until pitcher/catcher ready for next pitch. Curveballs are discouraged many kids have a natural curve. Effective pitches at Majors and below are fastball and change up. 4

5 Backing up 3 rd on hits to outfield and backing up home on past ball. Catcher s Skills: Good balance Protect throwing hand Drop to knees, glove pointed downward on balls in dirt Slide to block Be ready to pounce on Bunt Covering home in front of plate Pop fouls Different catchers prefer mask on or off Beware of obstruction with bat Throws to bases pop up while reaching back, basic throwing technique Basic Baseball Rules Rule-A-Day Quiz Players should know these basic rules Force vs non force play (coach pitch) explain why this is. Start with a batter being forced to run. Obstruction (coach pitch) especially at first base Interference (majors) Tagging up (coach pitch) Running on 3 rd strike (new rule for majors) When is stealing allowed (varies by division) Balk (Juniors) Infield Fly Rule (majors) Awareness is most important for baserunners, if the ball drops after the ump makes the call the force is off Drills Use multiple stations whenever you have the help! Baserunning Running thru first base bag (peel to foul side only after going hard thru bag) Rounding first on ball to left or center (go in foul territory to prep for turn, take a BIG turn, keep eye on ball when going shuffling bag to bag) Rounding first on ball to right (same as above but turn not as big, and back should be facing home when shuffling back to bag) Secondary leads (BIG ones, shuffle back quickly when pitcher receives ball back) Double (don't overrun 2nd) Sliding (arms up) Secondary lead drill Running on contact with two outs Tagging up (back to bag FAST, listen to coach) 5

6 3rd base baserunning (down in foul, back in fair) Situations: Line them up at home, call out where ball is hit after they phantom swing (pulls it together) Batting: TBall bat forearm drill Soft toss BUT NOT AGAINST FENCES Wiffle balls and wiffle golf balls Batting stick. Work on technique not power. Colored ball Fence drill for keeping hands in or not swinging around the ball Use the batting cage Try to get families to donate up front for some cage time. Have stations at the cage (Stick, Tball) No stride Practice opening hips without stride (Squish the bug on back leg) Open stance. Hitter facing straight at pitcher with both feet on back line of batter s box. Pitcher throws underhand. Swing the bat like that designed to swing the bat with the hands. Knee to knee. Normal stance. Weight on back foot. Take front knee and move toward back leg before and during swing. Stepping. Hitter facing straight at pitcher with both feet on back line of batter s box. Pitcher throws underhand. As pitcher begins takes back foot and places it in proper position, then steps other leg up. Point of contact. Stop as soon as contact is made. Hit should come back to pitcher. Coach can help affect point of contact. One-arm. Choke up or use light bat. Take some swings with each arm and other arm on chest. Bottom hand is making straight contact, top hand hits should be square or opposite field. Regular BP (With multiple coaches, 1/3 team can be taking BP, 1/3 doing soft-toss drills, and 1/3 shagging BP balls) A good drill is the "rotation" game. Have 8 players in field (coach is pitcher) and 4 ready to hit. There's always no outs in this drill. If hitter gets on base, he stays on base. If he scores he goes to end of hitting line. If he makes an out either at the plate or on base, he goes to right field. Other players rotate: goes in to hit Coach all aspects of the game in this drill. Have base coaches if possible. 6

7 (Don't forget about your catcher - - have them in for a while but then get someone else in) Catcher Drills: Blocking Drill Coach throws in dirt and wide to catcher Throw to 2 nd Drill Catcher throws just over pitcher s head. First Base coaching: Through the base Run through first Turn and look turn and look coach points to spot where runner should stop Turn and go turn and go to 2 nd, pick up 3 rd base coach. This is the only one I use any hand motions for. Back back back quickly back to bag Watch the line drive know how many outs "Run on contact" (2-outs) "If the ball is hit in front of you, you do not have to go or Don t run into an out (Runner on 2nd, less than two outs) "If the ball is hit on the ground, you must run" (Force) If going from 2nd to 3rd, do not look at the ball, look at the coach Fun Drills: Kareoka run Competitive Drills target throwing, etc Backwards run Webgems Rule a Day Quiz Save the Home Run Situation quizzes Find the ball Infield: Simple infield ball rolling Sit/stand on inner edge of infield at shortstop Players at deep short on fringe Proper ground ball fielding-throwing technique throughout Very slow rollers first then a bouncer (short hop), then a big hop. Hit a KNOWN sequence of hops every time. Work in back hand plays and foot work plays. Right foot, left foot, right foot Easy grounders especially in pre-game See who s bending at the waist at practice Double infield 2 coaches hitting grounders One coach slightly up 1 st base line hits to SS, who throws to first for a force Other coach slightly up 3 rd base line hits to 2 nd baseman, throws to 3 rd for force Balls can either be dropped in a bucket at 1 st and 3 rd, or thrown back to coach (I wear a glove). Note: be careful with this drill because on a small field sometimes the thrown 7

8 ball can hit the other player who is fielding. Place your fielders & grounders to avoid make the team aware of this risk. Shortstop/2 nd base feed drills Everyone lines up as either a 2 nd baseman or a SS. Practice the DP feeds from either side. First without throwing, then throw to first. Shuffle Drill Long toss (and pull-down after max distance) Rapid-Fire (proper receiving target, pop into throwing position, quick release) 4-Corners (proper straddle, tag on the ground, get off base if necessary) Two-way grounders (fielding fundamentals only, no throws) - two coaches needed. Max grounders in short time period. 2 coaches w/50-60 between. In outfield each coach w/fungo on right of line of fielders. When fielder fields grounder, he hands ball to coach who hits it. 4 Cones (charging the ball) cones in a square 15 sq. line of players line up behind box. Coach on other side Kid must field ball in box. Must charge. Rundowns (everything happens inside the baseline) Standard infield with extra throws (pulls all elements together) Turn and Throw (handout) Around the Field (handout) Outfield/Cutoffs: Finding the ball (back faces coach who throws ball up and calls: ball ball ball Double outfield Same as double infield, need cutoff. Anticipating hop on sinking line drive Relay drill (be vocal "CUT!", line up with intended target, proper target, turn the correct way) Simple tosses ~90ft away (glove in proper position) Simple tosses but move them right and left (beat the ball - don't drift, don't run with glove out) Simple tosses but behind them (drop-step correctly depending on which side it's on) Fungoes (pulls it together) Pitching: Balance knee lift Pivot foot Third Base coaching: On the base No slide necessary. Stop sign up with one hand, other hand pointed at base. Down Down Slide bent over praising the bag "Score" (Coach waves runner home) Back back back quickly back to bag Watch the line drive know how many outs "Run on contact" (2-outs) "If the ball is hit in front of you, you do not have to go or Don t run into an out (Runner on 2nd, less than two outs) 8

9 "If the ball is hit on the ground, you must run" (Force) Warm up tossing: On outfield foul line and parallel line space out. Slowly separate all the way to long toss, the players on the foul line stay put, others move Other hints Get the parents involved. They can help with stations or many other things. Get them going at the very first team get-together. Have that coach-parent meeting. If you have a problem with player rotation, sometimes you may consider the pitcher s velocity and place your fielders accordingly. Majors and above Rotate your middle infielders. 6 should play a lot of 4. Especially if 6 is also a pitcher. 9

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