The Three In One Drill, Part I - Set I
By Coach Jack Dunn
Part I is divided into three (3) sets. A detailed explanation of the proper mechanics and their execution is included for each drill.
A brief summary and review of the three sets is as follows:
- Pitchers covering first base.
- Middle infielders... "reverse double play."
- Pitcher and third baseman coordination with the sacrifice bunt in order and runners on first and second bases.
- Middle infielders work on double play pivots and feeds.
- Pitchers and middle infielder work on "count – pick off play" at second base.
- Third Baseman practices fielding slow rollers.
- First Baseman practices fielding bunts and throwing to third base...first and second sacrifice bunt defense.
How much time should be devoted to each Drill or Set and specifically what situations should be practiced is a matter of individual choice by the coach, the age and physical maturity of the players, and their level of play must be taken into consideration when choosing drills.
Set I – Pitcher is Covering First Base/Shortstop and Second Baseman practice reverse double play – Involves the pitcher covering first base and working primarily with the first baseman in a variety of fielding situations.
While the pitcher and first baseman are practicing their coordination, the middle infielders are working on the reverse double play and several double play situations unique to their positions.
I. Pitcher Covering First Base:
- Normal ground ball to first baseman.
- Pitchers single file behind the mound.
- Each pitcher has a baseball.
- One catcher assumes a position three feet into foul territory and approximately thirty feet from home plate down the first base line.
- All other catchers are at home plate.
- The first baseman is in his position on the dirt back of first base.
- The coach is at home plate with a fungo bat and a baseball.
- Place a pylon thirteen feet from first base toward home plate and approximately four feet from the first base foul line in fair territory.
- The pitcher steps on the rubber, winds up and delivers the ball to the catcher.
- The coach fungoes the baseball to the first baseman.
- The pitcher must hold his position until the ball is fungoed before breaking to cover first base.
- The first baseman fields the baseball and tosses it to the pitcher covering first base.
- After making the put out at first base, the pitcher turns to his glove side and throws the baseball to the catcher positioned up the first base line.
- Some runners will attempt to score from second base while the pitcher is covering first base.
- This teaches the pitcher to be aware of this possibility and to make the put out and then quickly turn and be prepared for a play at home plate, or elsewhere.
- The catcher gives the coach the ball he caught from the last pitcher and the drill continues.
- Player stationed down first base line returns the ball back to the pitcher who made the play.
- Pitcher returns to end of line in back of the mound.
- Coaching Points... Pitcher – Must break to first base on all balls hit to his left.
- Run in a direct line to the pylon.
- This is the fastest way to get to first base.
- Do not run a curved or banana route as a fast runner may beat you to the base.
- Run around the pylon and then inside and parallel to the first base foul line.
- Slow down and begin breaking down getting your body under control by using short choppy steps when three steps from the base. No Later!
- Breaking down establishes lateral movement and facilitates the fielding process.
- Make eye contact with the first baseman and ask for the ball early when two or three steps from the base, if possible.
- A one-handed catch is acceptable as it gives greater flexibility and reach.
- Watch the ball into the glove...Catch the ball first!... then touch the base!
- Tag the base with the right foot on the inside third of first base to avoid contact with the runner.
- Stop at the base when the ball is fumbled by the first baseman and take the throw like a first baseman...touch the base with the ball of the foot (throwing-hand side foot)... Right-handed... right foot, left-handed...left foot...do not run past the base before receiving the throw!
- First Baseman: Coaching Points...
- Fields ground ball and moves aggressively toward first base. This does two things:
- It shortens the distance to the base making for an easier throw.
- It helps the first baseman determine if he can make the play unassisted.
- If the play can be made unassisted...Run the pitcher off!
- Never throw the ball if the play can be make unassisted... Slide into the base if it is going to be a close play, or if the possibility of a collision exists.
- Get the ball out of the glove keep it in the pitcher's view at all times.
- Give the ball to the pitcher as soon as possible, usually when he is two or three steps from first base.
- Getting the ball early enables the pitcher to make the catch and find the base.
- Use an under handed toss to the pitcher if your momentum is going toward first base and you are within twenty (20) feet of the base.
- The underhanded toss should be made with a stiff wrist, palm up. The tossing hand should go no higher than the shoulder.
- Follow through when making the toss to the pitcher. Follow through should be like that of a bowler.Walk through your toss! Do not stop your momentum.
- Give the pitcher the ball chest high when he is two or three steps from the base...No Later!
- Use a three quarter arm action on balls hit to the right, or balls that take a first baseman away from first base.
- This presents the ball on a more level plane....
- Overhand or submarine throws fool the receiver on two planes, vertically as well as horizontally.
- On balls hit to the right of the first baseman where a three quarter arm action is required wait for the pitcher to get to the base.
- If time will not allow, throw the ball chest high slightly in front and toward the pitcher's right side.
- The throw must be ahead of the pitcher so that he can run into it! A throw directly to the pitcher will be behind him!
II. Fielding the "topped ball"— the in-between ground ball:
- This is an extremely difficult situation to defend. It will occur in most every game and is often misplayed at the major league level.
- HARD AND FAST RULES ARE A MUST!!
- Pitcher steps on the rubber, winds up and delivers the ball to the catcher.
- The coach fungoes the baseball softly between the pitcher and the first baseman.
- Remove the pylon from the previous drill.
- Pitcher: Coaching Points...
- Breaks on a straight line from the end of delivery to first base.
- Field only those balls that can be handled easily...do not dive or leave your feet...this would leave first base uncovered.
- If you can easily field the ball while on a direct line to first base, yell... I've got it! This will release the first baseman to go to the base.
- Run hard toward first base and expect to make the put out unassisted whenever you field a ball while moving in a direct line toward first base.
- You may field balls to the right, or in front of the direct line to first base. Call for the ball! This will release the first baseman to go to the base.
- First Baseman: Coaching points...
- First Baseman must go after the ball assuming he will have to field it.
- If the pitcher yells... I've got it! You reply, "Take it!" and return to first base.
- If you field the ball, you may have to toss the ball to the pitcher while he is running to first base and looking over his left shoulder.
- Toss the ball slightly in front of the pitcher to compensate for his forward momentum.
Both the pitcher and the first baseman must go after the ball. However, the pitcher must understand that he cannot field a ball behind the direct line from his position at the completion of his delivery and first base, or dive for the ball leaving his feet; if he does, first base will be left uncovered.
If the pitcher can field the topped ball with normal effort, and run directly to first base, the defense's chances of retiring the batter/runner are at their best.
III. Ground ball between the first baseman and second baseman:
- To give the first baseman and second baseman practice in making the longer throw to the pitcher covering first base.
- To teach coordination on ground balls hit between the first baseman and the second baseman.
- Pitcher steps on the rubber, winds up and delivers the ball to the catcher.
- The coach fungoes the baseball between the first baseman and second baseman.
- Pitcher: Coaching Points...
- On balls to the first baseman's right, the pitcher should break straight to first base and receive the throw like a first baseman. (This is the quickest way to get to first base and will allow either the first baseman or second baseman to throw to a stationary target.)
- Receiving the throw:
- Tag the base on the infield side of the base not on top of the base.
- Tag the base with the ball of the foot not the side of the foot.
- Tag the base with the right foot if right- handed.
- Tag the base with the left foot if left-handed.
- Stride to meet the ball and make the catch only after the ball has been released and you know its location...Step to the ball after it is released! Not before!
- First Baseman and Second Baseman:
- On ground balls hit between the first baseman and second baseman, the second baseman should yell, "I've got it!" if he can make the play.
- The first baseman's rule for going after the ball to his right is:
- If it's HOT – "Give it a Shot!"
- If it's SLOW – "Let it Go!"
- Allow the pitcher to get to first base and set up if time permits.
- Give the pitcher a chest high three quarter arm throw.
- Pitcher makes the catch and then throws the baseball to catcher located up the first base foul line.
- Pitcher gets ball back from catcher and goes to the end of the pitcher's line.
IV. Shortstop/Second Baseman – Reverse Double Play:
- To teach the middle infielders with runners on first and second bases that after they have made the force out at second base and there is no chance of completing the double play at first base that a play may exist at third base if the runner going to third base makes too big a turn rounding the base.
- The runner from second base will often assume that the middle infielder will throw to first base and make an extraordinarily big turn at third base.
- The base runner rounding third base will be in jeopardy and often is an easy out.
- If the third base coach is not alert.
- Because the runner has his back to the play and cannot see the play developing behind him.
- Because when rounding third base, the base runner's momentum is going toward home plate and away from third base and a quick change of direction is often difficult.
- Shortstop, second baseman, and third baseman in their positions.
- Middle infielders have a bucket of baseballs.
- Assistant coach or student manager rolls ground balls to middle infielders, or middle infielder bounces the ball to himself.
- After a prescribed number of ground balls and/or feeds to second base by one middle infielder, the procedure is reversed and the other middle fielder becomes the feeder.
- The second baseman fields the ground ball and throws to the shortstop covering second base.
- After five feeds to the shortstop, the procedure is reversed and the shortstop becomes the feeder.
- If neither assistant coach nor a student manager is available, the middle infielders can bounce the ball to themselves in place of fielding a ground ball... (See JNL #27 – Bounce Drill.)
- Middle infielders should use and practice their regular double play throws when making feeds to second base...No sloppy feeds!
- After receiving the feed throw, the middle infielder makes a fake throw toward first base and then throws to third base.
- Shortstop: Coaching Points...
- Assumes double play stance at second base and prepares to receive the second baseman's throw.
- Receives the second baseman's feed throw and then executes his double play pivot but only fakes the throw to first base.
- The key to the success of the play is a legitimate fake throw. The ball must be brought all the way down to the side of the body (to the hip.)
- Too fast a fake throw does not give the opponent a chance to react or take the bait.
- If the middle infielder executes a legitimate "full-arm fake throw" toward first base,
- The third base coach will automatically follow the non-existent throw to first base.
- With the third base coach's attention momentarily diverted from the base runner, the base runner is put in jeopardy and even the smallest turn at third base could result in a put out.
- The fake throw must be such that the third base coach momentarily directs his attention from the base runner and direct it to the non-existent play at first base.
- Shortstop should hop into throwing position and throw the ball to third base after faking the throw to first base.
- Second Baseman:
- Assumes double play stance at second base and prepares to receive the shortstop's throw.
- Receives the shortstop's feeder throw, steps on second base and immediately throws to third base.
- Because the second baseman is facing third base and the play is in front of him, no fake throw to first base may be necessary against an overly aggressive base runner or team or:
- Step on the base for the force out, make your double play pivot and fake a throw to first base.
- After making a pivot and legitimate fake throw to first base, step with the right foot toward the mound, hop into position to throw and throw the ball to third base.
- Third Baseman:
- Assume a position on the infield side of third base facing second base.
- The inside position prevents the base runner from getting between the ball and the third baseman as he attempts to return to third base after rounding the base.
- Once the throw has been determined to be accurate and clear of the runner, step back across the base with the right foot, catch the ball, and apply the tag if the base runner slides back into the base, or make a sweep tag similar to that of a first baseman if the base runner returns to the base standing up.
- Inaccurate throw! Leave the Base and get the ball. No Cheap Runs! Ball first then base!
V. Backside Double Play:
- This is a somewhat unusual play.
- It occurs when there is a runner on first base a left-handed pull hitter at bat who hits a ground ball to third base.
- The second baseman cannot get to second base because he is playing the hitter to pull and as a consequence is too far from the base; therefore, it becomes the shortstop's responsibility to receive the third baseman's throw, make the force out at second base and complete the double play throw to first base.
- Purpose: To teach the shortstop to cover second base, receive the third baseman's throw and complete the double play.
- Third Baseman: Bounces the ball to himself, fields it and throws to the shortstop covering second base.
- Covers second base on the third base side of the base facing the third baseman.
- Receives the third baseman's throw like a first baseman if a double play is not possible or if there are two outs. Shortstop tags the base with the ball of the foot and not the side of the foot.
- Should wait until the third baseman has thrown the ball and the direction of the ball has been determined before striding.
- Stride to meet the ball with the foot on the glove hand side. Tag base with the ball of the opposite foot.
- Tagging the base with the ball of the foot assures better contact with the base. The longer the stretch for the ball the more solid the contact with the base will be...tagging with the side of the foot could result in loss of contact with the base.
- If a double play is possible and the third baseman's throw is accurate, the shortstop can tag second base with his left foot, step to meet the ball with his right foot and then throw to first base to complete the double play. This move is the same as the second baseman's double play pivot "via the free right foot!"
VI. Shortstop to Third Baseman: Ball in the hole between shortstop and third base.
- Purpose: To make the shortstop and third baseman aware that a play exists at third base when there is a runner on second base and a ball is hit to the shortstop's right (in the hole) and he has no play at first base. When there are runners on first and second bases and a force out at third is possible, this play is especially effective.
- Bounces the ball to himself in the hole to his right...medium depth.
- Makes the catch and throws the ball to the third baseman covering third base.
- Third Base:
- Covers third base and prepares to receive the shortstop's throw.
- Plays the base like a first baseman if a force out exist, or prepares to apply the tag on the runner if no force out exists.
For further instructions on this drill see JNL #63 September Part I – Set II and JNL #64 October for Part I – Set III.