C o a c h e s S t u d y G u i d e : : S I G N S & S I G N A L S

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1 C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 1

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Offensive Communication Touch Signs 3 Descriptive Hand Signals 9 Verbal Cues 15 Defensive Communication Outfielder Communication 20 Infielder Communication 24 Recap 34 Quiz Answers 35 C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 2

3 OFFENSIVE COMMUNICATION 101 Hello, I m Elliott Johnson and we re going to talk about baseball signs and signals today. Signs and signals deal with communication and communication is important in any endeavor. It doesn t matter if you re talking about baseball or business or education or marriage, communication is important and it s important that we communicate clearly and quickly and adequately. So, there s different ways that we communicate. We communicate with words, of course, but in our culture today, we re communicating a lot with tone of voice, we re also communicating with body language. In fact, someone made the comment that they said if we have to choose between a person s body language and his words, we re more accurately interpreting his meaning if we interpret by his body language. That s kind of an interesting idea and we communicate in all those ways in our sport of baseball and we re going to talk mostly today how we communicate with three different systems. We communicate by touch signals, we communicate by descriptive hand signals and we communicate by verbal cues also. So, I hope that what we have to say will be helpful to you in your baseball program whether it s in college or high school or whether it s in youth sports or whether it s in the softball program because the same things that we talk about in communicating in baseball apply to softball as well. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 3

4 TOUCH SIGNS First of all, the offensive touch signs that we might use, let s talk about several different essential players that you might want to put on. We need a sign for steals, bunt plays, hit and runs, squeezes. We need a sign when to take a strike, maybe a sign to take off a play, maybe a sign to take off a play, maybe a sign to tell the batter or the runner that he s on his own, maybe a sign to say don t attempt to steal on this pitch. So, we have a need for a lot of different signals to indicate those plays to the players that we coach. The signs from the coach or manager to the players on the field need to be given immediately after the preceding pitch and they need to be distinct and they need to be quick. If we take time to go through all the signs in slow motion, the opposition s going to have a better chance of deciphering what we re intending. So, we want to give them quickly and we must get the player s attention immediately after the preceding pitch. The hitters and the runners need to review the signs frequently so that they are sure of what is being intended and part of that is the responsibility of the coach. We do a lot of base running drills in practice and we use signs before we run sprints to review the signs that we put on so that players are reminded frequently. The player needs to also look immediately upon reaching base or after a pitch; he needs to look immediately to the coach to find out what is going to go on. To have him fool around with his batting gloves or adjusting his socks before he s gotten the sign, takes time and we ve got a batter in the batter s box or near the box waiting for what s going on and we need to have their attention immediately after the preceding pitch. The batter or runner needs to be sure he keeps his attention on the coach all through the sequence of signs and if one of them takes their attention away before the sequence is finished, it s telling the opposition that the sign has already been given and it might contribute to their picking up signs that way. So, be sure, players, that you watch the coach until he s finished through the sequence. There are a lot of systems that we can use in giving signs that all of them work just so they re memorized. We can touch different body parts to indicate what we might want done. You ve seen those traditional signs being given and when I touch a body part that might be a sign that we want that player to do a certain thing. We might have an indicator just before we touch that body part that says this is the sign that s coming up next or we might have an indicator that says it s the second sign coming up after this indicator. Another system that we can use is a number system where we would as- C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 4

5 TOUCH SIGNS sign a number to each of the plays that we indicated earlier and have the players memorize that number. So, if we did that, then the player would just count touches and he might count the touches of the right hand or the left hand or he might count both, but most of the time it s done with counting touches of one hand or the other. So, if we went through a system of touches with either hand, the player would just count how many times a hand, if it s the right hand, how many times that hand touched a body part, get a number and then by memorizing the seven or eight or nine different plays that we have in effect, he would know which play we wanted to put on. So, that s a system that would work. Another system that you could use would be based on where the coach stands on the coaching box. He might be standing to the front or to the rear or to the side or he might be straddling the line of the coach s box. His position might be the sign that s given and all the touches that he goes through might mean nothing and so you could give a sign system based on where the coach is standing and so there s a lot of ways to communicate that are very difficult to pick up in baseball. You might also have a sign that means ignore whatever I m doing right now and, of course, players sometimes do that anyway, don t they? But the players that we really find effective they re playing close attention and but you might have a sign that says, I m going through a sequence here and I don t and it all means nothing. I just want to show the other team all of our signs and they all mean nothing and so if they think they ve picked up our signs, they re wrong and hear are system of signs. So, you might have an ignore sign. The key to success in giving signs and communicating is simplicity and deception. They ve got to be simple and your own players have to be able to understand them and they have to be repeated often enough in practice and meetings so that there s no uncertainty on your own players part. If they get so complicated that your own players can t pick them up, then they re useless. So, they need to be easy to decipher and they need to be yet deceptive for the other team. You can change the indicators if you want by the game or by the inning. Maybe an indicator would be an elbow or one of the touches on the chest or the belt, maybe that would be an indicator in the first inning and another indicator would be in effect for the second inning and the third inning or maybe you d have an indicator in effect for the first three innings C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 5

6 TOUCH SIGNS and the second three and the third three. So, it s possible to change indicators that way and like we said a while ago, you could also say that we re going to use the second sign or the third sign after the indicator. And so it really would take a lot of effort and time for an opposition to pick up your signs and if they did, it would be easy to change them and in my opinion, it s not profitable in the college level at least to spend a lot of time trying to decipher the other team s signs. We have enough trouble executing our own and so we want to focus on what we re doing and we have not spent a lot of time trying to pick signs of other teams. Now, there are some people that are very good at it and they have a knack for stealing signs and if they can do it, it might give an advantage to the team that they re stealing signs for. We have mentioned that we have an ignore sign, we also may have a set of personal signs and we ve never used this, but I know some teams would where if they play a lot of games and they know the coaches, get to know the tendencies and the exact thinking of other players very well on the team, they might have a personal sign for steal or for hit and run or something else that they want done and it just means something to that player and so to another player it might not mean anything and so that sometimes can be done as well. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 6

7 TOUCH SIGNS Section review: Touch signs are used to put certain plays on A lot of different signals to indicate the plays that are called The key is simple signals Many different sign systems; mainly touch certain body parts Indicator sign helps players identify which signal is called Also an ignore sign The key to signs is simplicity and deception Repeat signals often in practices and games and in dugout Focus on team signals, not stealing other teams Sometimes teams have personal signs for players Key terms: Touch sign A signal for a player that is provided by touching certain parts of the body: nose, ears, shoulder, hips, bill of the cap, etc. Indicator sign A sign to the player that the next signal is the play that is called Ignore sign Means ignore what coach is signing Simplicity Simple signs that players can understand is important C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 7

8 TOUCH SIGNS Quiz Why are signals important? a) In case it s raining so hard your players can t hear verbal instructions b) To make your team look more advanced c) To communicate strategy to your players without the other team knowing d) To practice sign language Signs are typically used to call which plays: a) Bunts b) Steals c) Hit and runs d) Take the pitch e) All of the above Touch signals involve talking to the players. True or False? An indicator sign means: a) The next sign is the play to run b) The coach is pointing at you c) The previous sign was the play to run The signals should be repeated and practiced with players. True or False? C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 8

9 DESCRIPTIVE HAND SIGNALS The second way of communicating in baseball or softball is by descriptive hand signals and there are a lot of hand signs that we do just quickly on the spur of the moment that communicate to our players and we ll go through a list of those here. First is the palm over the head. If I do like this to a base runner, I m telling him reminding him make sure that a line drive goes through the infield before you take a step towards the next base. It means freeze all line drive, it means when the hitter hits the ball, let s not have any outs on the bases, let s make sure that the ball gets through before you attempt to move over. I might clap to the hitter, I might give a sign such as a hit and run and let s say that the pitch is fouled off and then let s say the runner returns to first base on a hit and run, the batter gets back to his original position and I don t want to give the sign again. And so if I don t do anything, if I just clap, same sign is on. I don t have to show the opposition what the hit and run sign is again. So, that could be a sign. I might give a fist on fist. If I have a runner on third base particularly and I want him to go on first contact and react on contact and try to score, I might just do this and that means that we re going on contact. If I m coaching first base particularly or third base and it could even come from the dugout and I see that the pitcher continually just takes one look at the base runners, either at first or second, he s a one looker, I might just do that and that s a sign to the base runners that hey, if you re stealing, you can go after he takes his one look because he s probably not going to look twice and that s a fault that a lot of pitchers have is they fail to look twice and so you can give a quick hand signal to a base runner to tell him that s a type of pitcher that this is. If I do this to a base runner, that could mean that we want him to stay in a rundown. So, we might have a steal sign on and follow it with this that we want him to stay in a rundown between bases and we want to try to get another runner to score while he s in that rundown. If I give this sign and I don t want to give all our signs here, we use some of these and some we ll not, but this is kind of a hang loose sign. It could mean a pitcher is picking doing the third to first pick move where a pitcher would fake a throw to third base and pick to first base and that s another hand sign that could be used. I might also point my finger to the chin and this could be done as a first base coach with a left-handed pitcher where he is a we call him a head guy; he will look to first base and throw it to home almost every time. In fact, probably every time or he will look to C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 9

10 DESCRIPTIVE HAND SIGNALS home and throw to first and so a quick point to the chin might mean that this pitcher, he only does the opposite of what his head is doing and that s a quick way to communicate there. If I spread my hands from the third base coach s box to a runner, I want him to get a bigger lead. It doesn t mean he s running, but I want him to get his lead extended and he s always able to jump back and dive back into the base and beat a pick off throw. Or, if I know the left-handed pitcher has a great move to first base, I might mimic that move by just raising my right knee and mimicking a throw to first base just real quick just to say in a hand signal, body signal, body language that watch out this pitcher is a pretty good has a pretty good pick move to first base. If I take if I show the number of outs, this is an easy one, one out, two outs, no outs; I want the base runner to flash back what I have just given him so I know that he has received that number. I don t want him to just look at me and then turn away or just look at me and do nothing. I want to know that I have communicated with him that there s one out so I require him to show it back, one out or two outs or nobody out and that s the way we communicate with hands with base runners and number of outs. If I m coaching third base and a runner is rounding second and the ball is behind him, then I m going to signal him whether to stop or whether to keep running. Now, if the ball is front of a runner rounding second base, then he s to make his own judgment. He can see, judge and evaluate quicker than I can communicate with him and we expect him to have enough sense about the importance of his run, the number of outs, the hitters coming up, the inning and the score to know whether he should try to get to third base. But if the ball s in front of him, he makes the judgment, but he might be running on a ball that s hit on the right field line where it s behind him and he can t see. So, he has to pick up the third base coach before he gets to the base to see what s going on there and I ll give him a sign if I know I m going to hold him, I ll be up. If I want him to keep coming, be rotating an arm. After he hits the bag, he has to look again. So, I have two decisions to make as a coach based on how the right fielder fields the ball, maybe it s taken a bad hop on him, maybe he s bobbled it, maybe he s fielded it cleanly come up throwing, so then I have to decide is he going to continue on. So, after he looks down and touches second base, then he continues to third and he looks. Now, I may want to stop him or I may want him to keep coming. So, those are hand signs for how we communicate with a runner around second base. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 10

11 DESCRIPTIVE HAND SIGNALS If we have runners on third base or second base and we re concerned about do we want them to be reminded of the number of outs and their situation, we point to the ground, we want them to go on a ground ball. Now, that s kind of the same thing as two fists together, we re going on contact, but if we want to point to the ground, we can signal that we definitely want them to make sure the ball s on the ground and then we re going to try to score. If my hands form a small box, I do this to the hitters a lot of times, we re reminding the hitter, be especially selective and hit a pitch that s a strike, don t help the pitcher by swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, don t chase, maybe he s a mediocre pitcher that has control troubles. And so we re saying be selective, make the pitch be where you want it to be where you can get a good swing at it and don t chase because we think that this pitcher can get himself into trouble with his control. If the hitter approaches the plate and maybe we want to change the tempo, you know, a pitcher who controls the tempo is if he s throwing really well, he may go through our lineup pretty easily some days if he s a very good pitcher. And so maybe we want to stretch the inning out so maybe we ll give a sign like this, we want to take a little more time between pitches as a hitter, stretch the inning out and change the tempo a little bit and not to have that pitcher dictate the tempo of all the pitches that he s going to make and that would be the hand sign that we d use for that. If we went in a circle and this is pretty much a player who doesn t understand what sign you ve given, if he wants the sign given again, we just have him do this and so we re communicating that way. Now, I don t like to see a lot of this because that means they either hadn t paid attention or maybe I haven t done it clearly enough, but we try to minimize the number of times we have to repeat a sign, but I d rather have a player ask to have it repeated then try to do something he s not sure about. The same way at first base, I would rather have a runner at first base go call a timeout and talk to the first base coach if he s not sure about what play we want to have run. If a runner is approaching third base and it s going to be a close play and I need to have him give him some help about whether to slide or stand up, now if it s not a close play, of course, he s going to stand up and we re just going to have my hands up, but if we want him to slide, some coaches will lie down on their belly and that could be done. Another way of signaling to a player that C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 11

12 DESCRIPTIVE HAND SIGNALS you want him to slide in which direction is to get down on a knee and point. So, you can get down on a knee and you can wave your hands to one side or the other side to indicate how the throw is coming and which side you want him to slide to or you can point to one side or the other side to indicate to him how you want him to slide into third base. The same thing could be done with the on-deck hitter and sometimes teams don t work on the on-deck hitter telling the base runner who s coming into score at home plate whether to slide or not. They need to be coached in that and so the same signs apply if the runner is to stand up, the on-deck hitter should be opposite the runner approaching the plate with his hands up if he s to if the throw is coming to the inside, he should be to the outside and signaling, slide that way or if it s to the outside and you want him to slide to the inside, he should indicate that. But the on-deck hitter can help the base runner attempting to score by indicating with signs, hand signs, how he is to approach the plate. A runner at second base sometimes will try to steal signs from the catcher and relay them to the hitter. Now, that can be a little bit risky because the opposition doesn t like that and if the runner at second base makes too obvious of a move to indicate to the hitter, then pretty soon the defense is going to be onto the trick and know that, hey, they re stealing our signs and they don t like that. But I certainly believe it s part of the game if you can legally steal signs, there s no rule that says it s illegal, but if you do relay signs just a short foot movement or a head turn is the best way probably instead of some kind of touching system or hand movement system because then the offensive runner might give away that he thinks he has the signs. I personally don t like to steal those signs. If I were hitting, I would not want them because I m just looking and concentrating on the baseball and there s always an element of uncertainty in stealing signs from another team. You may have them and you may not and even if there s only a 10 or 20 percent chance that you don t have them, that element of uncertainty puts a doubt in a hitter s mind and doubt and uncertainty cause confusion and I d rather just let the hitter look for the ball and anticipate and hit the baseball without stealing signs. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 12

13 DESCRIPTIVE HAND SIGNALS Section review: Palm over head = Make a line drive go through Clap = Same sign as last pitch Fist on Fist = Go on contact Finger to eye = Pitcher is a one-looker Finger Hops = Get in a run down Hang Loose Sign = Watch for third to first move Finger to Chin = Lefty is a head guy Spreading Hands = Get a bigger lead Mimic LHP Move = Lefty has a good move One/Two fingers = Number of outs (requires acknowledgment from player) Windmill or Hand up = Keep running or Stop Point to ground = Read the down angle Hands forming small box = Be especially selective Fingers stretching rubber band = Extend the inning Finger in circle (player) Please repeat sign Lying Down / One Knee pointing down = Slide Hands up = Don t slide Head turn or feet position = Runner on second giving location Descriptive hand signals describe different things on the field and in the game C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 13

14 DESCRIPTIVE HAND SIGNALS Not touch signals Spur of the moment signals in the course of the game Provides instructions to players; not like signals to describe the play you want to run Act as reminders for players; palm over head tells base runner to wait until ball gets through the infield, etc. Communicates different things a coach notices on the field like a pitcher being a one-looker Shows to take bigger lead; watch the pitcher s throw to first If coach is showing player game information it is always good for player to mirror what the coach described: for example if coach flashes two out with two fingers, the player should do the same. Can be used for offense plays and defense Stealing signals is not illegal; but most teams don t appreciate it! C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 14

15 DESCRIPTIVE HAND SIGNALS Key terms: Descriptive means it is giving a description of a scenario or a situation on the field. Fist on fist Go on contact One looker A pitcher that one takes one look at base runners Signal A non-verbal form of communication Quiz Descriptive hand signals: a) Can be used on offense or defense b) Should only be used in bunting situations c) Should only be used in the last inning of the game Players need to watch the base coaches for their descriptive hand signals. True or False? Descriptive hand signals act as reminders to players about the game situations. True or False? A coach can hold a runner on first with a descriptive hand signal. True or False? When a coach shows a player there is two outs, the player should: a) Repeat, with signals, that there are two outs b) Nod his or her head c) Do nothing - as long as the player has seen it C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 15

16 VERBAL CUES On the offense, you might use some verbal cues to coach runners according to balls hit to the outfield. An outfielder who catches a fly ball with the runner on third base is either shallow enough to make a play, there s a doubt he might be not shallow enough, but he might be, or he might be too deep depending how the far the fly ball is hit. So, you re going to coach your runner at third base accordingly and I will only say one of two things to a runner at third base, I will have to make a decision as a third base coach whether I want the runner to attempt to score on an outfield fly ball. And so if he is catching the ball and he is definitely deep enough for the runner to score in my judgment and I ve evaluated the score and the inning and the hitter coming up and all of those things, if he s definitely deep enough, I will tell the third base runner that he is deep enough. That s all I ll say, Deep enough, and that means he is going to score as soon as the fly ball touches the glove of the outfielder. If he is too shallow in the outfield and we do not want to make have the risk of the runner trying to score and get thrown out, I will say, Too shallow, too shallow, we are not going to try to score on that. The runner is to take a couple of steps off after the catch and return to third base. If I say nothing, the runner is on his own that means it s okay with me. If he thinks he can get a jump after the outfielder has touched the fly ball and he feels confident in his ability, I will not get mad at him if he gets thrown out. If I say nothing, it s up to him. So, that we minimize the number of words spoken verbally here to a runner on third base, depending on the situation on an outfield fly ball. A runner on second base I ll only say two things also, two words, I ve got the short stop, I m covering his back. The short stop is behind him. He can t see him. He s got to keep an eye for the second baseman out of the corner of his eye. Now, I m going to also help him, but I put the responsibility on him for the second baseman because I m focused on a short stop and I want the runner off second base to keep his feet moving and when he gets far enough off where I still think he can beat the short stop back to the bag if there was a race, then I ll say, easy, and I want him to keep his feet moving, but I don t want him to gain anymore ground. And so, the one verbal queue I ll use to have him stop extending his lead is easy. If he is in a foot race to get back if the short stop makes a play to get to second base, I ll yell one word and that s real loud, back, and I will try to scare him back. And that little adrenalin shot will help him get back a little bit quicker. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 16

17 VERBAL CUES So there s only two words that I ll say to a runner off second base. I want him to keep extending his lead and keep his feet moving until he hears one of those words and one of them is easy, and one of them is back, and so that s the way we coach runners off of second base verbally. If I say, Make the ball go through, it just means what it says. It s a reminder that don t get into a play at the next base before the ball gets through. We re not wanting outs on the bases. We re playing pretty much station to station. In fact, we ll use that very phrase, No outs on the bases, station to station, in a case where the outs are more precious and we may be late in the game, maybe we re behind and we don t want any outs on the bases. We feel like we can hit the runners in instead of taking extra chances. If the hitter has two strikes on him, the verbal queue we ll often use is just fight to stay alive. You want to use positive, verbal cues and that word fight to stay alive some coaches use the phrase, don t let him in that means don t let the pitcher get the ball past you over the strike zone. But any phrase that would indicate verbally that you want to remind the hitter protect that plate, don t strike out. The only problem with using a negative like don t is sometimes all the hitter hears is the strike out part and so I like the phrase, fight to stay alive. When you have a conference with a hitter and, of course, here you can personally talk to the hitter and many times you re going to tell him you just remind him of some fundamentals and look for a first pitch fastball or be patient with this pitcher or you can verbally talk to him in a conference maybe while there s a timeout or maybe there s a pitching change and so those are the standard things that most coaches will use when they talk to a hitter during a time out. Or, maybe a pinch runner who goes into the game and you might verbally tell him when you want him to steal or if you want him to steal; you might name the pitch you want him to go on. All that can be done verbally in a conference before the player actually goes into the game. So, those are some verbal cues that can be used on the offense. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 17

18 VERBAL CUES Section review: Sac Fly situations: Deep enough = Tag up and go Too shallow = Don t tag up Silence = up to the runner s discretion Lead-off situations: Easy = Stop extending lead Back! = Get back to base now Make the ball go through = Don t get doubled up on line drive Station to Station: No outs on the bases Two Strike Hitter: Fight to stay alive NOTE: Don t say Don t strike out. Player may just hear strike out Conference with Pinch Hitter: Hit first pitch fastball Conference with Pinch Runner: Steal on second pitch Verbal cues are spoken clues to help the players on the field Provide game instruction to help players during a play Tell the players what is happening on the field (that a runner is tagging up and going, as an example) To help position the players through words Reminder of the game situation Verbal cues can be given in conferences (like on the pitcher s mound) C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 18

19 VERBAL CUES Players can respond to the verbal cues Can remind players of the fundamentals, if they are struggling Verbal cues can get a player thinking about what they need to do Key terms: Verbal cue means that it is a spoken signal Game situation Verbal cues can help a player get through a game situation. Sometimes a coach can see something different in a game situation, and coach a player through it. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 19

20 VERBAL CUES Quiz 1) Verbal cues are different from touch signals because: Verbal cues are for baseball only, not softball Verbal cues are spoken while touch signals are silent Verbal cues should only be used by advanced teams 2) Coaches can help players make better plays on the fly with verbal cues. True or False? Coaches can issue verbal commands to: a) Position players b) Describe a game situation to a player c) Help them make a play on the field d) all of the above A coach can use verbal clues to help a player with fundamentals they may be overlooking. True or False? 5.) Touch signals are more effective than Verbal cues. True or False? C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 20

21 DEFENSIVE COMMUNICATION 101 Let s talk about some defensive signs and signals. On defense, you want to improve the odds of your retiring the hitters and base runners and so in improving those odds, you will want to read swings. Catchers are good at this. They will watch a hitter take dry swings before he steps into home plate and watch how he swings and if he swings the same every swing, he s sending you a real message about where he wants the ball and where his strengths are. And so I think it s important that a catcher and coaches be observant of a hitter s dry swings. We can also read charts to determine the tendencies of hitters where they re likely to hit the ball and we also compare pitchers with hitters. We watch pitchers warm up, we look at their past statistics and tendencies to do they walk a lot of people or do they have pretty good control. We watch them warm up in the bullpen to see what pitches they throw for strikes and what they can t throw for strikes and so we compare pitchers with hitters. We look at our own hitters bat speeds and have an idea of what their speeds are and then we look at the velocity of the pitcher s throwing at and we compare pitchers with hitters and so both on the offense and the defense and if we defensively speaking, realize that a hitter has real good bat speed, then we might have tendency to use few more change ups and other off speed pitches in an attempt to get him out. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 21

22 OUTFIELDER COMMUNICATION On defense, the coach sometimes signals to outfielders. If I signal to an outfielder with a hand behind the head, a hand signal, it means nothing over your head, don t let any ball get over your head, play a little bit deeper and make sure that you keep everything in front of you. If I, on the other hand, put my hand in front of my body, it means you can shallow up a little bit and try to take away a short Texas leaguer that might just get over the infield and this hitter, we don t feel like is probably going to drive it over your head so shallow up a little bit. There are a lot of systems that you can use to position defensive players and one easy system is just a fist to the center fielder. If you re signaling the outfielders where you want them to play, if you just raise a fist straightaway, straight over the top that means the centerfielder s playing him straight him and the other two outfielders align themselves accordingly. If you want to shade him to the right, you might hold an arm to the side, to the right side and he d shade him to the right side of the field, the leftfielder would go along, the right fielder might shift over towards the line a little bit. If you wanted him to shift to the left, you could hold up a hand signal and have the centerfielder shift that way, the other two outfielders aligning with respect to the centerfielder. That s one system that could be used. You could use a number system. Here s an outfielder and happens to be our centerfielder and you could assign numbers to different locations on the field. As you can see, if we call a number to this player, No. 1, he s going to come in and go to his right, our left as we see the outfielder and by the way, if you use the numbering system, it s important you communicate number in relation to who, the giver or the receiver. But if we use this system, if we called a one, he would go in and to his right. If we called a two, he would come straight in. If we called a three, he would come in and to his left and likewise, if we called four, he d go straight to his right and not in, but just straight. If we called five, he d stay where he is, if we called six, he would go this left and then seven, eight, nine is deeper and right, middle or left in relation to the player. So, we have a number assigned to any position that we might move him to. Now, if you called a series of three numbers, you could move all three outfielders with one three-digit number so that you might want your leftfielder to move in so you d use two, you might want your centerfielder to move over so you d use either four or six, you might want your right fielder to go deeper and you d use eight or nine and so you could call a number like 249 and move all three outfielders with one number and all they would have to do is each outfielder knows which number refers to him C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 22

23 OUTFIELDER COMMUNICATION left, center and right and then he would move accordingly. Pretty nice system, pretty easy system and some teams will use it and some teams will not, but it s a suggestion. It works in softball, it ll work in baseball and it s a quick way to communicate. Other verbal cues that we use on defense would be things like we ll say, Keep the double play in order. Now, that certainly means just what it says and it s a fundamental for outfielders to make sure that they try to keep the batter runner on first base and so we have a chance to turn a double play on the next pitch. Or, we might say keep the batter runner off second base. It means the same thing and that s an important fundamental when you just communicate verbally. I think it s important when use verbal cues that the words mean something. Instead of meaningless chatter, when we communicate, I think it s important that the words mean something and when we use a lot of meaningless chatter on the field, it distracts from meaningful communication. We have priority calls assigned to the outfielders and the infielders and most coaches are familiar with that. The centerfielder has the highest priority on the team. It s understood, we ve gone over that before the games even start. An outfielder always has priority over an infielder, a middle infielder has priority over a corner player and they all are coming in. The catcher has low priority and the pitcher has probably the least priority, but we allow the pitcher to catch a pop up. There s some teams that angry if the pitcher catches a pop up, but if it s right to him, it s not real high, he s standing there, it s a lot easier play for him than for an infielder to run a sprint to the mound and fight the stumbling over the angle of the mound and try to make a great play. We let the pitcher catch a pop up when it s right to him. Now, if it s a high fly ball, a high pop up on the infield, we d rather have the infielders handling that because they re more used to it. But we also have a fundamental in the outfield where a gap shot, a ball that s hit not real high, but maybe semi-line drive to the alley, we don t want to have a collision and it s understood that the centerfielder is going to charge the ball and catch it if he can, higher and shallower and the corner player outfielder is going to take an angle, a route to the ball where if he catches it, he s going to catch it behind a little bit lower and a little bit deeper and so I think you can understand that might prevent a collision between two outfielders. It s just a simple it s not even really a call, it s just an understood fundamental, but when you communicate on the field with line ups and numbers, then I think it s important that you understand that fundamental. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 23

24 OUTFIELDER COMMUNICATION Section review: Hand behind head = Play deep and keep everything in front Hand in front of body = Play shallow, take away bloopers/texas Leaguers Verbal: Keep DP in order, Keep batter off second base Priority calls (Gappers: CF shallow/high, Corners deep/ low) Coach helps position outfielders Can help outfielders with going deeper, being shallow, or aligning left or right Can be arm signals or be verbal cues Coach can help outfielders with the game situation Keeps communication open between bench and outfield Coach can indicate priority of different players on the field Communication with fielders in the case of a ball hit where both can reach it Important that the communication on the field means something, instead of idle chatter C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 24

25 OUTFIELDER COMMUNICATION Key terms: Shallow In closer to the infield Deeper Out further towards the fence Shade Move right or left in the outfield to align for a batter Gap shot A ball hit in between two outfielders C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 25

26 OUTFIELDER COMMUNICATION Quiz for Section #4 1) If a coach motions to push outfielders away, this means: a) They should be deeper b) He or she doesn t want them on the field c) They should be shallower 2) Coaches communicate with outfielders to: a) help them position themselves b) to remind them of game situations c) to help the fielders communicate between each other d) all of the above 3) Communication is important between the coach and the outfielders because: a) It allows fielders to decide what they want to do on their own b) It ensures all fielders are on the same page c) The coach needs to appear to be in control of the game 4) Coaches can indicate fielder priority with communication. True or False? 5) It is OK to have idle chatter in the field. True or False? C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 26

27 INFIELDER COMMUNICATION We also have numbers that we use in communicating to infielders. The coach might call a number one, two or three to the infielders to indicate where he wants them to line up according to their depth. If we were back deep towards the outfield grass and still on the dirt, we might call that one depth that s the deepest part and if we have a third baseman with a good arm, he s going to play one depth most of the time and likewise, the other infielders depending on their arm strength. If we played two depth, we would be halfway in and that applies to any infielder. If we played three depth, then we re talking about playing in on the edge of the infield grass and in that case, we would want to cut off a runner at the plate, who might be attempting to score on a ground ball that we fielded in the infield. So, we have three different numbers indicating one, two or three depth and sometimes we ll want the first and third baseman to play in a three-depth and the middle infielder is to play back and we might go crossed arms just on the spur of the moment to indicate that. That means we re going home on a ball to the corners and we re going to play for two on a ground ball up the middle, and so a numbering system is in effect there If we re communicating with middle infielders, usually right-handed hitter in the batter s box we want the second baseman to cover second base on an attempted to steal not always, but usually. If we know that that hitter hits the ball to the backside a lot, we might do the double pistols here that means we want you change responsibilities and we want the second baseman to stay over in the hole and let s let the shortstop cover second base. If we want to pinch the middle, maybe there s a tendency of hitters to hit the ball up the middle, we ll just do this. We want to pinch the middle, a hand sign that communicates that to our players. If we want an infielder to go and talk to a pitcher or a catcher, we might ask him to go talk to the pitcher because the coach doesn t want to go out, maybe he s used up his conferences at the mound in that inning or that part of the game, you just do this that means I want you go in and talk to the pitcher for a while and take some time and change the tempo. So, a hand sign there. If we have a situation where a double play is in order, the verbal sign we ll use a lot of times, we ll just yell out to the middle infielders or the corner guys, Good feeds, make good feeds. Make a good throw on the ground ball that s hit to you, make a good throw to second base, a good throw is very important in turning a double play and it s the key to turning a good double play is a throw that s right over the bag and the middle infielder can handle. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 27

28 INFIELDER COMMUNICATION If the runner is a fast runner at home plate and we know that we re going to have to play a little shallower to get him out, we ll just yell, Good wheels, or Good speed, or Foot speed, or something like that to indicate to the infielders that this guy runs really well and if we make a play on a ground ball, we better get rid of it in a hurry because he s going to get there pretty quickly and we re going to have to hurry our throws a little bit. Infielders to pitchers Sometimes infielders communicate to pitchers on defense. We hold the infielders responsible to hold the runners at second base and at the other two bases too. The pitcher focuses on the plate, on the hitter at the plate, and if that runner is not held close, we are holding the infielders responsible for that. So, as the infielder looks at the pitcher between pitches and we like the pitcher as he made a throw to the plate when he returns to the mound, he always picks up that infielder and sees what he s doing and he can give a sign. He can give a sign, he can do this, a sign like this, he can do this with one hand or the other, he can do a number of things to communicate to the pitcher and that could mean we re going to put a pick play on now or we re fine we don t need to put a pick play on or watch for a daylight play or any number of different types of picks that we can use, but we hold the infielders responsible for keeping the runners close. We have a lot of different pick plays that are possible to be put on and some are timed and some are daylight and different teams use different pick plays. Here are some shown on this overhead. This first one is a pick from the catcher to first base on a pitch out and that s initiated by a sign from catcher, actually it starts with the dugout to the catcher. Here s a pick play put on by the short stop to the pitcher. Here s a play put on by the second baseman and here s a daylight play. Any time the short stop gets daylight between him and the runner in the pitcher s viewpoint, he s going to continue to second base and the play s automatically on even without a sign. So, those are some signs or some plays that could be put on and picks run off of them. Infielders to outfielders Infielders communicate with outfielders and infielders certainly need to communicate with one another and here s a picture of an C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 28

29 INFIELDER COMMUNICATION infielder communicating to the second baseman, this is a short stop. He s telling the second baseman what the who s covering by an open mouth or close mouth. Then he s telling the outfield what the pitch is and then he s going to also signal where the ball is hit. In this case, it s a pop up over the short stop s head and he s communicating by pointing. Now, he s got a lot of jobs to do and he hasn t even fielded a ball. So, here s the pitch that s coming, here s the communication who s covering, and here is a ball that s hit and he s going to point it out to help the outfielder. So, there s a lot that goes into this game communication wise even if the ball s not hit to the player. Coach to catchers Sometimes a coach communicates to catchers, the type of pitch and the location that he wants and there s a system there s a lot of systems that could be used. And some use a face system where we touch different parts of the face and indicate that way where the pitch is or what type of pitch that we want called. Sometimes we ll use parts of the body to indicate what the pitch is or where the location is. The coach also has to indicate to the catcher what defense he wants in a first and third situation or a bunt situation. So, the coach can communicate that in the same way to the catcher and he ll just call out to first and third and that means these signals that we re giving from face or body relate to a first and third situation and the catcher then steps out in front of the plate and gets the attention of everybody. He needs to be vocal and bold and he will get everybody s attention and he will use a series of touches of his body to indicate what play is going to be put onto defense of first and third. Or, he ll do the same thing if it s a bunt situation, he ll use touches of his body to indicate what bunt defense that we want to run. Picks and pick offs are also signaled by they can initiate from the coach, they can initiate from the catcher, but here s a series of pick moves. This one comes from pitcher to first baseman and here the first baseman sneaks in behind the runner and the pitcher makes a pick move. Here the first baseman has covered up the runner and the runner s extended his lead and now the first baseman can beat him back to the bag that s another strategy that could be used. Catcher to Infielders or Pitchers The catcher sometimes when he communicates to pitchers or in- C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 29

30 INFIELDER COMMUNICATION fielders communicates to the pitcher, pitch and location. He can also ask the pitcher to shake him off, to try to deceive the hitter or the base runners. He can shake his head to say I want you to shake me off, he can point to the ground or put his glove on the ground to say bury this pitch. I want it in the dirt. He can use the second or third sign, he can use a different sign with one out or two outs or no outs. It can be understood between pitcher and catcher that with no outs we re using first sign, with one out we re using second sign, with two outs third sign or any combination of those strategies could be used to communicate between pitcher and catcher in a way that s hard for the opposition to pick up. On picks, a catcher can initiate a pick move by the infielders by popping his mitt or dropping his mitt. The same could be done by another infielder within a line of sight. So, there are a lot of ways to initiate movement on the field. The catcher also signals the pitcher not only the pitch type, but the location and he can also signal pitch outs to the pitcher and the most standard sign is probably a closed fist that a catcher would use to signal to a pitcher that he wants a pitch out. C o p y r i g h t A l l R i g h t s R e s e r v e d w w w. h i t t i n g s u c c e s s. c o m 30

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