“I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come.”
I get sick and tired of seeing teams that aren’t ready to play. When I first teach my players to “creep-step” or get a “walk-in”, other coaches look at me and wonder why I’m so concerned about what happens in between pitches. Well, it usually takes about 3 innings into the first game of the season for them to figure it out. The first hot shot hit to a mediocre fielder that makes a great play will typically settle the argument.
Getting your players in a effective pre-pitch position not only ensures that your players will be in the proper physical position to make a play, but also the correct mental frame of mind. Here’s what we teach from beginning to end:
- Stand relatively upright with weight on the balls of feet; glove side foot slightly in front of the other; knees slightly flexed.
- Shoulders squared to home plate.
- Glove should be open to home plate; The rule for the glove hand is “Thumb out, elbow in”.
- With the pitcher’s motion, take two “soft, but aggressive” steps towards home plate. Younger players will hop and/or kick up dirt. Don’t punish them for this movement. If you get them moving forward, just try to get them to get to “soft, but aggressive” footwork.
- During the steps towards home plate, the player shoulder work their posture lower to the ground. Basically, get their butts and gloves down. Their gloves should still be open and their weight should still be on the balls of their feet.
- Outfielders should still creep-step, but they do not need to be as low as infielders. They need to remain a bit more upright in order to be ready to sprint in many directions.
Benefits of making this mandatory for your players:
- Obviously, they are in a great position to make a defensive play.
- Mentally, they have a job to do on every pitch. It keeps the body moving, keeps the blood flowing, and keeps the brain focused.
- It’s intimidating as hell to your opponents. Your players may be all thumbs, but when all 7 defensive positions are performing “creep-steps”, it says that your team is ready to play.
- Players still have to make plays, but you increase the probability of any ball hit to any position on the field will be caught.
- As players become more advanced, you can teach them to focus on other clues, such as position of the catcher, that may lead them to predict where balls are likely to be hit.
Ultimately, this concept has to be drilled. Simulate, the real thing at practice, both individually and as a team. Then continuously reinforce the skill throughout the season. Give many verbal reminders a day, both during practices and games. Do not allow your team to forget to perform an effective pre-pitch position. If you do, don’t whine at your left fielder when he/she barely misses catching that game winning single by inches. That one will be on you!
Check out this You Tube video. Not all of the examples are perfect. Some are works in progress. They include players age 4-18.
Please feel free to comment 🙂
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably enjoy these: