Tips for Players & Coaches

The Knights Baseball Handbook

Base Running
Defensive Game Situations


Hitting the baseball is one of the hardest things to do in all of sports. Taking a round bat and hitting a round ball squarely is a difficult thing to do. The best hitters in the game today, like Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres, only are successful 3 out of 10 times they come to bat. That means that they don’t get a hit 7 out of 10 times.

The Knights Philosophy on Hitting

Be Aggressive in the batter’s box the player should think, “If it’s a strike, I’m going to hit it hard.” We teach the “Yes, Yes, Yes, the next pitch is mine” philosophy. This means we’re thinking yes, yes, yes, we’re going to swing. If we miss, the next pitch is mine to hit.

Hit hard ground balls and line drives. Ground balls and line drives give you the best chance for getting on base. A ground ball or a line drive has to be caught by one player, thrown by that player, and caught by another player. So there are at least three chances for a mistake by the defense. Once players learn to catch well, a fly ball can usually be easily caught by one of several players, so you will probably make an out.

Use the entire field. By that we mean, if a pitch is outside, hit it to the opposite field. Don’t try to pull everything.

Maintain good balance before, during, and after the swing. It’s very difficult to hit the baseball hard consistently if you don’t have good balance.

Know your strengths and weaknesses, play within yourself. If you’re not a homerun hitter, than don’t be at home plate trying to hit homeruns.

Stay positive. Always remember, each time you make an out, you’re that much closer to getting your next hit.

Bat Selection

Grasp the bat handle in your stronger hand. Hold the bat straight out to the side. If the bat starts to waver or the bat head drops after only 10 or 15 seconds, the bat is to heavy or to long or both. If you can hold the bat steady for 25 – 35 seconds than the bat is the proper size. Most players in our league should be using a bat that weighs 18 to 28 ounces.

  • Cub Division – Youth Bat, length 27 to 31, weight -10 to -12.
    • Worth Copperhead C405 Alloy -11
    • Easton Redline C-Core -12
    • Louisville Slugger Air Attack 2 -11.5


  • Bantam Division – Youth Bat, length 30 to 32, weight -10 to -12. Senior League Bat, length 30 to 32, weight -7 to -8.
    • Worth Copperhead C405 Alloy -11
    • Easton Redline C-Core -12
    • Louisville Slugger Air Attack 2 -11.5
    • Worth Copperhead C405 Alloy -8
    • Easton Redline C-Core -7

Depth in the Batters Box and Distance from Home Plate

Put your belly button on the break of the plate, where it angles back. This gives you a starting point for how deep to stand in the batter’s box. This is not absolute. It’s a starting point. If you are facing a hard thrower, than you may want to move back in the box to get a little longer look at the pitch. If you are facing a junk ball pitcher, you may move up in the box to hit the pitch before it breaks.

With a little bend in the knees, you should be able to easily reach 3/4 of the way across the plate with your bat. This gives you a starting point for how far away you should be standing from home plate. The thing you need to remember is that you don’t go up there and automatically stand in the same hole that your teammate in front of you stood in. Getting the correct depth in the batter’s box and distance from home plate is very important in becoming a good hitter.

Stance and Balance

We want you to use a parallel stance, with your feet about shoulder width apart, slightly pigeon-toed with most of the weight on the balls of the feet. This leads to good balance. You know you’re well balanced if we cannot move you either backward or forward with a push to the chest or the back. Make sure your head is level and you’re looking at the pitcher with both eyes.

Bat Grip

You should use the standard grip where the eight middle or “door knocking” knuckles line up on the handle of the bat. We want to avoid the “choke” grip in which the base knuckles, the ones closest to your wristline up. Don’t choke the bat! It needs to “breath.” Hold the bat in the finger pads.

Box and Bat Angle

We want to make a “box” with your arms and your body. The four sides are:

  • Across your chest is the top of the box
  • Down your front arm is the front side of the box
  • Across your front arm is the bottom of the box
  • Up your back arm is the back of the box

Keep the back elbow down comfortably at your side. Your back elbow should not be stuck way up in the air. The top hand should be about level with the back shoulder.

Hold the bat at a 45-degree angle. The bat should be about even with the back shoulder. Your hands should be close enough to your chest that you can almost touch your chest with your thumb.

Inward Turn / Load to Explode

When a pitcher throws you his “hip Pocket” you show him yours. The inward turn is a movement of only about three inches backward with your front knee, hip and shoulder. You can think of the inward turn as coiling the spring of your swing. Another way of thinking of this is “LOAD TO EXPLODE”


  • Focus the eyes on the pitcher’s release point. This will allow you to pick up the ball as soon as possible.
  • “Squish the Bug”, Rotate up on the ball of the back foot.
  • “Slap the Hands Down”, Swing on a slight downward angle, you want to keep your hands above the ball and the barrel of the bat above the hands. You can think of this as waiting to keep your hands inside the ball or hitting the inside part of the baseball or pointing the knob of the bat at the ball.
  • “Ike to Mike”, Keep your head down on the ball; our front shoulder is named Ike. Our back shoulder is named Mike.
  • Follow through; don’t think that you’re hitting just one baseball. Imagine that you are hitting a second and third baseball just in front of the one you are actually hitting.

Situational Hitting

  • Two Strike Hitting — Look for the pitchers “out” pitch. If he’s thrown a big round house curve to the last five hitters with two strikes, you’d better be looking for that roundhouse curve. Choke up on the bat a little to attain quickness and bat control. Cut down on your swing just a little. You’re trying to get the ball in play. With two strikes, if it’s close, we want you swinging. Don’t leave it up to the umpire to call strike three.
  • Runners on Second and No Outs — We’re trying to move the runner to third. This generally means trying to hit the ball to the right side of the infield, towards the second baseman or first baseman. Of course this depends on the strengths and the weaknesses as a hitter. For example, if your 3, 4, or 5 hitter, we want you up there driving in that run. We don’t want you hitting a weak ground ball to second base just to advance the runner. On the other hand, if you’re our 8 or 9 hitter, then we want you trying to advance the runner to third.
  • Runner on Third and Less Than Two Outs — We want to get that run home. Again, what we do as a team will depend on your strengths and weaknesses as a hitter. For some of you, this will mean trying to hit a fly ball that is deep enough to score a run on a sac fly. For others, this will mean laying down a squeeze bunt.
  • Hitting Off a Hard Thrower / Fast Pitcher — If you’re facing a really hard thrower, we are going to make a couple of changes in the way we hit to give ourselves every possible advantage.
  1. Move back in the batter’s box to give yourself a linger look at the ball.
  2. Choke up on the bat an inch or two or change to a lighter bat so you can be a little quicker with your swing.
  3. Take “pull” field out of play. By that we mean, if you’re a right-handed batter don’t try to pull the ball. Try to hit the ball back up the middle or towards right field. This will give you your best chance to get a hit off a really fast pitcher.
  • Hitting the Curveball

The first thing you have to do to be able to hit the curve ball is to recognize that it is a curve ball. Look for a difference in the pitchers delivery that tips off when he’s going to throw his curve. Maybe he “cocks” his wrist, Maybe he slows down his delivery maybe he changes his release point. Learn to see the ball spinning and realize that it’s a curve ball.

Hitting Drills That Can Be Done At Home

Mirror Drill — The goal of this drill is shadow hitting. Using a full-length mirror, position the hitter either sideways facing the mirror or looking at the mirror as though it were the pitcher. The hitter then takes a look at his stance, stride, and inward turn and evaluates how he sets up and gets ready to hit. If there is room (and you are sure that you aren’t going to break anything!) the hitter swings at an imaginary ball. In this drill, the hitter should make sure that his weight is evenly distributed and that is balance point is straight down the center of the body. He should not lean either forward or too far backward, At the same time, he can check many aspects of a proper swing, such as the box, the head, eye angle (both eyes looking at the pitcher), front shoulder, hip, inward turn, and stride. Although it takes no more than a minute or two per day, the mirror drill is important in stressing key points to work on in improving the stroke. This drill can be enhanced with the use of a video camera.

Iso-bat Drill — The goal of this drill is to maximize the strength of the hitter’s swing without the use of weight machines or barbells, so it is especially good for young hitters who are not yet old enough to lift weights. It is based on an isometric exercise, which requires a partner. The same hitting fundamentals used in the systematic approach to hitting should be followed. The hitter is to roll up on the back foot (“squish the bug”), thrust the hips, keep the head down with his chin on the chest (“Ike to Mike”), extend the arms completely in a straight line from the front arm right on down through the bat, and slowly swing the bat. The aim here is to get the hitter to the point where he extends the arms with the bat out over the plate with his head down as though he were going to hit a ball up the middle. The partner should now place his hand in front of the bat and provide a light, steady resistance on the bat all the way around to the follow-through position as the player finishes his swing. This develops strength in the hitter’s swing. The resistance should not be so heavy that it forces the hitter to change any portion of his stroke in order to be able to follow through. The young hitter should do 5-10 repetitions per day, while the older hitter who enjoys doing this drill and sees some merit in it would benefit from 10-20 repetitions per day. This drill can be easily done at home with a parent.

Bat Behind the Back Drill — The goal of this drill is to improve the hitter’s hip quickness, to develop the habit of squishing the bug with every swing, and to quicken the swing, particularly on inside pitches. The bat-behind-the-back drill is particularly important for young players, who are just beginning to develop their fundamental skills. After warming up, the hitter gets into his regular stance and places the bat behind his back either right on the belt or on the belt line of his baseball pants. He then puts his hands on the backside of the bat so that he can pull hard while executing the drill. With the head of the bat pointed toward the pitcher, the hitter strides and pulls the bat around his back with his right hand (for a right-handed hitter; or with his left hand for a left-handed hitter). At the same time, he rolls up on the back foot and squishes the bug. Fifteen to twenty repetitions of this drill should be part of every hitter’s daily routine. Although the drill takes only two to three minutes to complete, the benefits are immeasurable.

1-2-3-4 Drill — The goal of the 1-2-3-4 drill is to help develop a proper inward turn. It is especially helpful for dead-stop hitters. These are players who are not going back before going forward. They are not coiling like a jack-in-the-box, gathering strength, and then uncoiling. In general, the dead-stop hitter’s problem begins with the first movement, which is straightforward. To correct this problem, it is important to break down the stance and inward turn into a four-step process. This way you can isolate and concentrate on the hitter’s specific problems and simplify the steps needed to correct them. Position the hitter in his stance and have him begin moving back and forth. All he needs to do is lift his heels off the ground one at a time, shifting his weight from one side to the other in a bit of a rhythm. He’s actually moving back and forth from the pitcher to the catcher. In other words, he: 1. Rocks toward the pitcher, then 2. Toward the catcher, then 3. Toward the pitcher, and then 4. Toward the catcher (to coil and explode into the swing). The motion is not an exaggerated one. In fact, it’s very slight. This drill helps the hitter develop some rhythm and movement, making an inward turn easier. It is better to have some rhythm and movement than none at all. As the hitter rocks back and forth, call the 1-2-3-4 count. That is, as he rocks forward, call “1.” As he rocks back, call “2.” As he rocks forward again, it’s “3,” and as he rocks back, it’s “4.” In this manner, the hitter makes the inward turn. You want the hitter to move his hands back just a little bit, but not in a manner distinct from the rest of the body. On the “4” count, the hitter rocks the hands and swings, forcing him to make his inward turn. The front half of the body — that is, the front knee, the front hip, and the front shoulder — should do the rocking of the hands for the hitter. Young hitters tend to have a problem with this drill when they get away from the rocking motion and lose their rhythm. The rhythm actually gives them an opportunity to time pitches. Timing becomes extremely important, as the hitters get older and faces off-speed pitches with regularity.


Bunting is an excellent baseball strategy to move a runner along or to hit the ball toward a poor defensive player.

How to Bunt

  • Move up in the batter’s box slightly. This will get your bat in fair territory once you square around. This will improve your chances for a successful bunt.

  • Take a small step out with your front foot and step up with your back foot so you are facing the pitcher. This is known as “squaring around”. Don’t step on home plate! You’re out if you step on home.

  • Grip the bat with the thumb on top of the bat and the index finger and long finger cradling the bat underneath.

  • The bottom hand slides up the bat slightly (3 or 4 inches) to give better control. Don’t wrap your top hand all the way around the bat. You will get your fingers broken this way!

  • Hold the bat at the top of the strike zone at a 45-degree angle. Have the barrel of the bat pointed just inside first base.

  • Get the bat OUT IN FRONT of you! Your arms should be extended with a little bend in the elbows. You don’t want your arms completely extended – you tend to bunt the ball too hard. But you don’t want your arms in by your sides either.

  • Knees are bent.

  • Hips and shoulders are level.

  • Eyes see the ball through the bat and are on the ball.

  • If the ball is low, bend at the knees to bunt it.

  • If the ball is higher than the bat, pull the bat back and let it go by for a ball.

  • You want to bunt the ball toward the first or third baseman. Do not bunt the ball back to the pitcher–it makes you an easy out.

  • The proper way to bunt is to “tap” the ball or to “catch” the ball on the bat.

  • Bunt the ball before you start to run. Get the bunt down on the ground, and then start for first base.

Slash Plays

The slash play is when we square around to bunt, then pull the bat back and swing away. It’s an exciting offensive play that puts a lot of pressure on the defense. If it’s executed properly, the defense is moving all around. The first and third basemen are charging, the second baseman is going to cover first; the shortstop may be going to cover second or third depending on the game situation. This creates holes in the infield that we can hit through!

The philosophy of the slash is to first sell the sacrifice to the defense. Square around a little earlier than normal, but not so early that you give it away. The grip is the same as for the sacrifice bunt. As the pitcher gets ready to release the ball, you pull the bat back to your back shoulder; the top hand slides down to meet the bottom hand that was choked up 3-4 inches for the sacrifice. We are looking for hard ground ball contact through one of the holes in the infield.


At this level of baseball and at every level up from here, the teams that have the most success are the teams with the best pitching. Yeah, you still have to hit the ball to score runs and you still have to catch the ball to get the other team out, but if you don’t have good pitching, it’s difficult to have success. So, one of the first things we’re try to do is find out who can pitch and start working with them.

The Knights Philosophy on Pitching

  1. We want to make the batter swing the bat – The best hitters in the world only get a hit 3 out of 10 times at bat. That means they make an out 7 out of every 10 times they bat! So as a pitcher, the odds are with you if you throw it over the plate and make the batter swing the bat. The one thing I want to stress to our pitchers is that they don’t have to win the game all by themselves. We have eight very talented guys out there playing defense whose job it is to help the pitcher.
    • We want to throw first pitch strikes – It puts the batter on the defensive
    • You lose games by walking people – If the lead off batter in an inning walks he will score over 50% of the time!
    • You don’t try to make the hitter miss until he has two strikes – Once you get two strikes on him you can try getting him to expand his strike zone and chase a bad pitch
  2. Pitch to our strengths – If you’re a fastball pitcher, when the count is 3-2, I want you throwing your best fastball. If you’re a breaking ball pitcher, I want you throwing your best breaking ball when the game is on the line. If you get beat, I want you to get beat with your best pitch.
  3. Work early in the count (we’d like to average 4 pitches a batter) I don’t want a lot of 3-2 counts. The fewer pitches you throw to each batter, it stands to reason, the more batters you can pitch to in a game.
  4. Work to advantage counts (first pitch strikes) – The batter is on the defensive when the count is 0-2 or 1-2. He will often expand his strike zone and swing at pitches that are not strikes. He will, in effect, get himself out for you!
  5. If we lose the advantage (fall behind 2-0 or 3-1), we call that CHALLENGE TIME – throw the ball right down the middle and let your defense bail you out. WE DON’T WANT TO WALK PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

Proper Care of Young Arms

Make sure that you are adequately warmed up (10 – 15 minutes) before you throw hard. Make sure that you throw with the proper mechanics to decrease the chance of injury to your arm. Make sure you have on a sweatshirt on cold and/or rainy days to keep your arm warm.

Qualities of a Good Pitcher

  • The ability to pitch with control. – I don’t care how fast you throw, but you must throw strikes. Walks will almost always come back to haunt you! On our team, the players that pitch will be the players that can throw strikes consistently. Make the other team “earn” their way on base. Throw the ball over the plate and let your teammates help you on defense.
  • The ability to pitch with confidence and poise – I want you to know that you’re going to get them out. I don’t want you standing out there hoping you’ll get them out.
  • The ability to throw hard – At this level, throwing hard is not nearly as important as throwing strikes! It’s nice to have a 98 – 100 MPH fastball like Mark Wohlers, but you gotta throw it for strikes!

Pitching Goals

As a pitcher you should work on at least one of these every time you throw a baseball.

Our “pitching goals”:

  1. Sound delivery/mechanics – you cannot throw strikes consistently if you do not have sound mechanics. You also risk arm injury if you throw with bad mechanics
  2. Location – To be a successful pitcher you have to be able to locate the ball. Inside/outside, up and down
  3. Change speeds – You don’t throw every pitch the same speed. You put a little more on, you take a little off. It keeps the batter off stride. There is an old adage about hitting that says: Hitting is all about timing. Pitching is all about disrupting the hitters timing. You disrupt a hitters timing by changing speeds
  4. Field your position – You can win yourself a lot of ball games if you can field your position.

Three Components to Any Pitch

There are three components to any pitch. They are:

  1. Location (most important) Your fastball may not be 100 MPH, but if it’s on the corner at the knee, it’s hard for any batter to hit it.
  2. Movement (second most important) It doesn’t matter how hard you throw it, if your pitch is as straight as a string, good hitter will hit it. It’s the late movement on pitches that make hitters miss
  3. Velocity (least important, but nice to have!) OK, I’ll admit it’s nice to be able to throw hard enough to throw the ball by hitters, but velocity is the least important of the three components to any pitch.

Key Points of Pitching Mechanics

by: Rick Hatcher, Former Pitching Coach, University of South Carolina

  1. Foot Position on the Pitching Rubber
    • Right handed pitchers should be on the right side of the rubber.
    • Left handed pitchers should be on the left side of the rubber.
    • Heels of your feet should be on top of the rubber and about 6-8 inches apart.
    • Balls of your feet should be in front of the rubber.


  2. Signal Receiving Position
    • The ball should be placed in a preset position in your glove
    • Knees should be slightly bent and in a comfortable position.
    • Feet should be about 6-8 inches apart. Fingers on the ball should be pointed straight out from the belly button.


  3. First Movement of the Windup
    • Take a short 6-inch rocker step back and slightly to the side of the rubber.
    • Weight should be on the ball of your rocker step foot. Do not let your heel touch the ground. This causes improper weight transfer.
    • Head should remain over the pivot foot.
    • Your hands should move up to your chin or slightly above your eyes.


  4. Shoulder Turn – Pivot Foot Placement
    • Turn your front shoulder to your target as you place your pivot foot in front of the rubber.
    • The knee should be slightly bent over your pivot foot.
    • Your back leg should be bent slightly from start to finish.


    • Lift your knee, not your foot, up and back to the mid-point of your body.
    • The leg should be belt high and parallel to the ground.
    • The lower part of the leg should be relaxed.
    • Your toe should be slightly lower than the heel of the foot.
    • Your elbows should be pointed down to the ground (45 degree angle).


  6. Front Shoulder
    • Shoulder should be pointed to your target.
    • The chin should be over or slightly in front of the shoulder.


  7. Hand Separation – Ball out of the Glove
    • Hands should separate between the belt and chest.
    • Movement of the ball out of the glove should be the first movement. Nothing goes forward until the hands separate.
    • Take the ball back and up with your hand, not your elbow, to the top of the throwing circle.


  8. Arm Extension
    • Start arm action back with your throwing hand, concentrating on the thumb pointing down and the fingers pointing back towards second base.
    • The elbow should work with the throwing hand.
    • Throwing hand should be in a position above your back shoulder with the fingers pointing up to the sky in centerfield. You can think of your index and long fingers of your throwing hand like fangs of a snake. You want the fangs pointed away from you so you don’t get bit!


  9. Front Side Actions
    • The front arm should be strong and firm throughout the delivery.
    • The lead elbow is slightly bent and points toward home plate.
    • The front arm determines the speed for the pitch.
    • The glove should be in a semi-tucked position at the point of release.


  10. Hips
    • Your hips are your power
    • The pivot will drive the back hip, the back hip will drive the front hip to the plate, and the hips will turn the landing foot.
    • The pivot foot is the key to when you open your hips.


  11. Landing Foot
    • You should land with a slightly bent front knee.
    • The foot should land flat on the ground; toe and heel should touch together.
    • The stride should be approx. 5 shoe lengths from the front edge of the rubber.
    • Keep your weight back as long as possible when you land on your stride foot.


  12. Throwing Arm Extension
    • You must have a relaxed grip and wrist; allow your throwing arm, hand, and wrist to go completely through the delivery.
    • The hand must extend to the target, then the head follows the hand down, and then the backside creates the follow through.
    • Be “long” in front. Be a rifle, not a pistol.

The Three Basic Pitches

  1. Fastball
    • 4-Seam Grip – Grip the ball across all four seams. Excellent pitch to throw hard, up in the strike zone.
    • 2-Seam Grip – Grip the ball along the two short seams of the ball. This produces a sinking pitch. Use this grip to keep the fastball down and get a little move movement on the pitch.


  2. Change Up
    • Circle Change up – Grip the ball by making the O.K. sign with your thumb and index finger. Place the middle and ring finger on the seams and let the pinkie finger rest on the outside of the baseball. Use the same throwing motion that you use throwing the fastball so you don’t tip off the pitch.
    • Choke Change up – If your hands are too small to throw the circle change. The choke change is an excellent pitch. Grip the ball with a 3-fingered grip with the ball pushed back in the palm. Use the same throwing motion that you use throwing the fastball so you don’t tip off the pitch.


  3. Curve
    • There are a couple of different ways to grip the curve ball. Grip the ball along the seam of the “horseshoe”. Put most of the pressure on the middle finger. The wrist is snapped down and when the ball is released, it comes over the index finger. When thrown properly, the ball breaks down (and away) from a right-handed batter when thrown by a right-handed pitcher.


Grip the ball across the seams of the baseball with your index finger and long finger. This is called the four-seam fastball grip. The thumb should give support underneath the ball. You should try to throw the ball with grip every time.

The Throwing Motion

  • Grip the ball properly
  • Line the shoulders up with the target, the first baseman for example
  • Establish the back foot as your pivot foot, the foot your going to push off of
  • Stride toward the target
  • Throw with 3/4 arm action
  • Follow through toward the target


The Set Position For Fielding

In the set position, your feet are a little more than shoulder width apart, your weight is leaning slightly forward and your hands are on your knees. You are looking at the situation on the field.

In the set position you should be thinking about:

  • What’s the score?
  • What inning is it?
  • How many outs are there?
  • How many runners are on base?

You use this information to decide the answer to these questions:

  • What am I going to do with the ball if it’s hit to me?
  • What if they hit me a ground ball? (Can I get a force play?)
  • What if they hit me a line drive? (Can I double somebody off?)
  • What if they hit me a fly ball? (What base do I throw to?)

The Ready Position For Fielding

There isn’t much difference between the set position and the ready position, but it is important. As the pitch is getting ready to be made, you look only at the batter who is getting ready to swing. Take you hand off your knees and position them in front of you, so you are ready to catch the ball when it is hit to you.

How to Field Ground Balls in the Infield

  • Feet spread – so you have good balance to go either left or right, up or back
  • Seat down – so the ball doesn’t go between your legs
  • Hands in front – so you can see the ball as it enters your glove
  • Use two hands every time!
  • Bring the ball up to your belt buckle
  • Throw the ball using the proper throwing motion

How to Field Ground Balls in the Outfield

Three Techniques

  1. Drop to one knee – It’s the safest way to catch, but it takes the longest. It keeps the ball in front of you. This is the method we will use with no one on base.
  2. The infield technique – This is the way that you will use most often.
  3. The “do-or-die” – Only use this technique in game-saving situations like the last inning with the tying or winning run at second base. You scoop the ball up on the run and come up throwing.

How to Field Line Drives

  • Line Drives Above the Waist – Catch the ball with your hands and fingers pointed up.
  • Line Drives Below the Waist – Catch the ball with your hands and fingers pointed down.
  • Always use two hands!

Catching Fly Balls in the Infield and Outfield

  • Drop-step first, then crossover step (if the ball is hit over your head).
  • Get behind the ball.
  • Catch the ball while you are coming in toward the infield, so your momentum is toward the infield not away from it.
  • Catch the ball above your shoulder with a small bend in your elbows and knees to “cushion” the catch.
  • Throw the ball to the cut-off man. Don’t hold the ball in the outfield!


Our catcher is our “field general.” The catcher is the only player who has everything in front of him. He has to have courage to take the foul tips off his body and to stand his ground for the collisions at home plate. He has to be able to communicate with the other players, so he can tell them where to throw the ball. The catcher is the most important defensive position on the field. If you have a good catcher, you can have a good team defense. I want the players who we designate as our catchers to study the handbook daily until they know it like they know their names.

The Catchers Equipment

The catcher’s equipment is sometimes called the “tools of ignorance,” but nothing could be further from the truth. The catcher must be one of the smartest players on the field, but since his job is also the one with the most danger, he gets some special protection.

  • Shin guards
  • Chest protector
  • Helmet Mask and throat guard
  • Protective cup (required)
  • Catcher’s Mitt


The Sign-Giving Position

  • Wrap the glove hand around left knee to hide the sign from the third base coach.
  • Point your knees at the pitcher to keep the first and third base coaches from looking in and stealing your signals.
  • Keep your right hand held deep in your crotch, so no one can see the sign except your pitcher and middle infielders (second base and short stop).
  • Don’t have your fingers so low that the opposition can see them. Make sure the hitter isn’t looking back trying to steal the signal.

How to Get the Proper Distance Prom The Batter

You need to be far enough behind the batter so you don’t get hit with the bat and called for catcher’s interference. If the batter hits the catcher with the bat while swinging, it is called catcher’s interference, and the batter is awarded first base. You need to be as close to the batter as you can get without getting hit with the bat. When the catcher is close to the batter it allows the umpire to get a good look at the pitch. A good catcher who is set up close to the batter can steal some of those borderline pitches for his pitcher (get them called strikes when they may have been balls) by framing them for strikes. A good rule of thumb on how to set up is: You should almost be able to reach up and touch the batters back elbow with your catcher’s mitt.

The Receiving Position Stance With No Runners On Base

After giving the sign, the catcher assumes the receiving position. With no one on base and if the batter isn’t a threat to bunt, you can catch in whatever position you feel most comfortable in. We call this our primary stance. Feet are shoulder width apart. With no one on base, I want your “meat hand” (the one without the glove on it) to be held behind your back with your thumb folded inside the other fingers, so you don’t catch a foul tip off of it. Catching arm should be outside of the knee. Catching arm should be out in front with the elbow slightly flexed (not fully extended and not in right next to your chest protector).

The Receiving Stance With Runners On Base

With runners on base or a bunting threat at home plate, we have to be in position to field the bunt or make a throw to get the runner trying to steal. We call this our secondary stance. Feet wider than shoulder width. Weight up on the balls of the feet. Right toes about even with left instep. Legs parallel to the ground. Butt up and stay low to give the umpire a good view of the pitch. The meat hand now comes up (with thumb still folded inside the other fingers) to a position just beside the right edge of the mitt. Make sure you catch the ball before you try to throw it. Remember the position you’re playing is CATCHER.

Framing a Pitch

With runners on base or a bunting threat at home plate, we have to be in position to field the bunt or make a throw to get the runner trying to steal. We call this our secondary stance. Feet wider than shoulder width. Weight up on the balls of the feet. Right toes about even with left instep. Legs parallel to the ground. Butt up and stay low to give the umpire a good view of the pitch. The meat hand now comes up (with thumb still folded inside the other fingers) to a position just beside the right edge of the mitt. Make sure you catch the ball before you try to throw it. Remember the position you’re playing is CATCHER.

Blocking The Pitch in The Dirt

We do not expect our catcher to catch every low ball in the dirt, but we do expect him to block them so they don’t get through to the backstop letting runners advance.

  • Technique for blocking the low pitch right in front of you
    • Fall to your knees.
    • Glove into the ground like a “pitch fork.”
    • Meat hand behind glove.
    • Relax your chest.
    • You are not trying to catch the ball, you are trying to block it.
    • Your chest protector acts as your glove
    • Keep your body square to the ball.
    • Hunch your shoulder forward.
    • Keep your chin down, so the ball doesn’t fly up and hit you in the throat.
    • Direct all balls back toward home plate. Keep the ball in front of you! If it’s in front of you, you can still make a play.
  • Technique for blocking the ball in the dirt inside or outside
    • Jab step with the near-side foot
    • Drive off the opposite leg Stay low Get “around” the ball
    • Direct the ball back towards home plate


How to Field Pop Fouls

The important thing to remember is the idea of “infield drift”. What this means is that any foul ball will tend to drift back toward the infield.

Technique for fielding foul balls


  • Find the foul ball.
  • Turn your back to the infield.
  • Throw your mask far enough away so that you don’t trip over it. (Don’t laugh, it’s happened even to major-leaguers!)
  • RELAX! You’ve got more time than you think.
  • Raise your mitt above your chin.
  • Catch the ball with two hands above your chin. Do not catch it “basket style” in front of your waist.
  • Your elbows and knees act as shock absorbers to give a little when you make the catch.


How to Field Bunts

  • How to Field Bunts down third base line We have two options on bunts down the third base line.
    • Small jab step with left foot go out and round off the ball. Get your plant foot (right foot) behind the ball, scoop and throw.
    • Head directly toward the ball. Get your right foot over the ball. Spin toward first base and make the throw.
  • How to Field Bunts back toward the mound (but a ball that the catcher can get to)
    • Head straight out toward the ball.
    • Round off the ball when you get to it.
    • Square up to first base.
    • Make the throw.
  • How to Field Bunts down the first base line
    • Head straight toward ball.
    • Scoop the ball up.
    • Either step into the infield to get a better angle on the throw or step into foul territory to get a better angle on the throw.
    • You must make sure you don’t hit the runner with the throw.


Some baseball players are fast runners and some baseball players are slow, but you can be a good base runner even if you aren’t very fast. Knowing when to run and knowing when not to run are more important than being really fast. Of course, it’s best if you’re really fast and a good base runner! In this section, we’ll talk about what makes a good base runner and how to slide.

Three Rules of Good Base Running

  1. Check the coach for a signal – perhaps a steal or maybe a bunt’s on. You have to know the signal before you leave the base.
  2. Before you EVER leave a base, find the baseball. Do not get caught in the old “hidden ball trick.”
  3. Check the defense.

Fundamentals of Running The Bases

Run “loose” with no tension. This does not mean not to run hard, it just means don’t run tense. Shoulders are level. Hands and arms work in a “piston-like” manner– the hands go no higher than the shoulders in front and no further back than the hips behind. Hips are level, like the shoulders. Knees come up to the level of the hips. The toes land before the heels. Run in a straight line.

Running to (through) First Base – ground ball on the infield

  • Base running starts at the crack of the bat! Good hitting mechanics allow a player to get a better jump out of the batter’s box.
  • First step out of the batter’s box – Right handed hitter will take his first step to first base with his right foot. A left-handed hitter would crossover with his rear foot (left) by opening up his stride foot (right) after contact with the ball.
  • Quick Peek – On the third or fourth step, the batter may grab a quick peek to see if the ball is on the infield (and he’s running through the bag), or got through the infield to the outfield (and he’s making a turn at first base), or got between the outfielders (and he’s thinking double) Do not watch the ball after your quick peek — it only slows you down. Last season, I saw a lot of kids get thrown out at first base because they were watching the ball instead of running hard.
  • Run in a straight line for first base. You must run in the restraining box that begins about 1/2 way up the first base line. If you are hit with a thrown ball and you are not in the restraining box, you can be called out.
  • The runner must never leap for first base.
  • The runner must attempt to touch the front of the base.
  • The runner must touch first base every time.
  • The runner must run full speed through first base.
  • On ground balls on the infield think of first base as the finish line in a race. Good runners “run through” the finish line.
  • After running full speed through first base, the runner then chops his steps down and looks to his right (toward foul territory) for the overthrow.

Rounding First Base – ground ball through the infield

  • On your quick peek you see the ball is through the infield.
  • About half way toward first base, begin your banana turn.
  • Hit the inside corner of the bag with your inside foot (left) Make the ball stop you.
  • Follow the ball all the way back to the bag
  • We’re thinking “two out of the box.” Doubles are made between home and first not between first and second.

Runner on First Base and A Fly Ball is Hit in the Outfield

On fly ball to right, go 1/3 of the way between 1st and 2nd. You will have to turn yourself so you can see if the right fielder catches the ball. On fly ball to center, go about 1/2 way between 1st and 2nd. On fly ball to left, you can go almost 2/3 of the way between 1st and 2nd. Your weight is on the balls of your feet. Your arms are hanging loosely in front of you. If the ball falls in, you’re on your way to second base. If the ball is caught, you’re scampering back to first base.

Runner on Second Base and a Ball is Hit – no runner on first

“Apply the Rule”: On ground ball to right side (second base, first base), advance to third. On ground ball back to pitcher, hold and make sure he throws the ball to first (you can be a couple of steps off the bag, just don’t be so far off that the pitcher can pick you off), then if you’ve gotten a good jump, go over to third. On ground ball to left side, make the third baseman or shortstop throw the ball to first before attempting to go to third. (You can be a couple of steps off the bag; just don’t be so far off that they can pick you off.) Make a line drive go through don’t get doubled off! On fly balls, if it’s obviously going to be caught – go back to second to tag up. If the fly ball is kind of iffy (may be caught and may not be caught), you need to be far enough off the bag so that you can score if the ball falls in for a hit, but not so far off the bag that they can double you off if the ball is caught. Obviously, the coach doesn’t have time to go over all of possible scenarios in a game. So, I’ll just say: Apply the Rule.

You’re a Runner on Third Base

  • Scoring on a passed ball or wild pitch — As the ball goes by the batter, the runner at third will push off the bag with their back foot and take two or three hard strides toward home plate in foul territory (if you are hit with a batted ball in fair territory, you’re out), finishing with their weight going forward. Then, if there is a passed ball or a wild pitch, the runner is in position to score. If the catcher catches the ball, the runner retreats back to third base, but he does so in fair territory (so if the catcher throws to third the ball has a good chance of hitting the runner in the back, caroming into left field and we score the run).
  • Tagging up on fly balls — Make the line drive go through. Don’t get doubled off! On any fly ball to the outfield that isn’t obviously a base hit (and less than two out. With two outs, of course, you’re off on contact), you go back to third base and tag up. Timing is very important. If you leave the base too soon, they can appeal the play and you can be called out. If you leave the base too late, they may throw you out at the plate. If it’s going to be a close play, the runner must leave the base at the exact time the ball touches the glove of the outfielder. The runner must be able to observe the catch himself, rather than relying on the third base coach to tell him to tag up. The only way the runner can clearly see the ball while tagging up at a base is to have the foot on the base that will allow him full sight of the baseball as it is touched by the outfielder. Just as the ball touches the outfielders glove, the runner pushes off hard with his foot that is in full contact with the base, achieve maximum acceleration as quickly as possible, and slide at home plate. If you run into the catcher and don’t slide, they will call you out. You must slide at home.


Sliding is “controlled falling.” It is not a jump or a leap. We will teach only the Figure-4 slide. Headfirst sliding is illegal in our league. If you headfirst slide, you will be automatically out. Whenever we steal a base, advance on a passed ball or on an overthrow, we assume the slide. I don’t want anyone thrown out because they didn’t slide.

Figure 4 Slide

The player tucks one of his legs underneath him as he goes into his slide. This is called establishing the tuck leg. The top leg is slightly bent, so it can give a little when it hits the base. It’s important for there to be some bend in the top leg, otherwise it can break when it jams into the base. The head is up looking for the base. The arms are off the ground.

The Cardboard Sliding Drill

It’s fun and easy to learn with the cardboard sliding drill. The players will get a running start, come in and execute a Figure-4 slide on a big, slick piece of cardboard. Wear old socks the day we do the cardboard sliding drill, because we slide in our sock feet. I don’t want your mom mad at me because we trashed a pair of your good socks learning to slide!


Everyone likes to hit the ball, run the bases, and score runs, but not everyone appreciates just how important defense is in baseball. Defense is just as important as offense. If we play good defense and the other team doesn’t score, then we can’t lose!

The Four Magic Rules Of Defensive Success

  1. Catch the ball! You can’t throw the ball before you catch it. Don’t laugh! Even Major Leaguers make this mistake. Catch the ball by looking it into your glove. Don’t be in such a hurry to throw it that you forgetting to catch it!
  2. Always take the easy out! As the old baseball saying goes, you don’t want to give the other team “four outs.” That means it is better to take a “sure out” instead of trying to make a really difficult play. The difficult play could lead to an error and the other team scoring a bunch of runs.
  3. Get the lead runner out when you can. Keeping their runners as far away from home plate as possible is always a good thing to do, but not if it means violating rule #2.
  4. Outfielders: We throw two bases in front of the lead runner on ground balls to the outfield. We throw one base in front of the lead base runner on fly balls that are caught in the outfield. If you catch the ball (either grounder for fly ball), we will throw directly to the base. If the ball gets by you and rolls to the fence (either grounder for fly ball), we will throw directly to the cut-off man. Always throw toward the correct base and hit the cut-off man. If you don’t, the other team usually takes extra bases and scores extra runs.

Call For Pop Flies

When the fly ball is at it’s apex (highest point) and you’re going for it, I want you to scream as loud as you can – “I got it, I got it!” and wave your arms from side-to-side to show your team mates that you’re going to catch it. This keeps you from running into a teammate and possibly injuring one another.

Run Downs

The idea in a run down is to get the runner out with as few throws as possible. Ideally, we will run the runner back toward the base he came from, make one throw and tag the runner out. Make sure that you don’t stand in the baseline blocking the runner without the ball; the umpire can call the runner safe if you are blocking his path by standing in the baseline without the ball. Of course, if you have the ball, you can stand in the baseline and tag him out.

Special Situations

  • Bases Loaded — Hopefully, we’ll play such good defense that no one will load the bases against us! But just in case it does happen a time or two this year, I’d like to spend a little time discussing it. After the other team loads the bases, we must minimize the damage, “stop the bleeding”, if you will. We’re trying to keep them out of the big inning where they score 5, 6, or 7 runs. If you only give up a run or two in a bases-loaded situation, that’s not so bad. But if you give up a bunch of runs, you can find yourself too far behind to catch up!
  • Bases Loaded and Two Outs — We have a force at any base, including home plate. Remember Magic Defensive Rule #2–always take the easy out. If the ball is hit to the third baseman, he can just step on the bag, because it’s the easiest out (he doesn’t even have to throw the ball). The same thing applies for the ball hit to any other infielder, get the easiest out possible.
  • Bases Loaded and One Out — What to do with the ball in this situation isn’t nearly so clear-cut. We have a force at any base, but if we can turn a double play then we’re out of the inning. What you will do depends on where and how hard the ball is hit. If it’s hit right at you, the best play may be a force at home. If it’s hit up the middle, the shortstop’s and second baseman best play may be going for the double play. If it’s hit to the first baseman then the best play may be for him to step on the bag, and then throw home to, hopefully, get the runner coming in from third. Remember, after the first baseman has already gotten the batter, the force play is no longer in effect and the catcher must tag the runner, not just step on home plate.
  • Bases Loaded and Nobody Out — We have a force at any base (including home). If the ball is hit to you sharply, your best play is probably a force at the plate. All the catcher has to do is touch home plate. He doesn’t have to tag the runner if the force is in effect.
  • Last Inning and the Winning Run Is on Third — If this run scores, we lose. So, we have to bring the infield and outfield in so they can throw the runner out at the plate. If the force is not in effect, the catcher must tag the runner.

Kids Baseball Links:

Baseball Rules
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Fair and Foul Balls
Hitting and Pitching Rules
Making an Out
Strikes, Balls, and the Strike Zone
Substitution Rules
Player Positions
First Baseman
Second Baseman
Third Baseman
Baseball Strategy
Types of Pitches and Grips
Pitching Windup and Stretch
Running the Bases
Derek Jeter
Albert Pujols
Jackie Robinson
Joe Mauer
Tim Lincecum
Professional Baseball
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