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Don’t Forget To Teach the Offensive Tactical Skills

Don’t Forget To Teach the Offensive Tactical Skills

     How many times do we hear baseball and softball coaches lament about making too many “mental” errors… the errors that don’t appear in the box score? There’s not a whole lot a coach can do to prevent those bad hops or wind blown pop-ups…other than practice those Technical Skills over and over again. Most coaches understand that the bad hops and physical errors are part of the game, even if Little Johnny stayed down on the ball and used two hands. However, the “mental” errors are the ones that cause coaches much stress. Missing the cut-off man, not covering the right base, forgetting how many outs there are, and throwing to wrong bases are just a few examples of the common type of “mental” errors that occur. We call these the Tactical Skills in that you’re applying the fundamentals in game situations. How do coaches teach their players these Tactical Skills?

     The focus has usually been on the Defensive Tactical Skills…knowing what to do in various situations, like cut-offs, 1st-3rds and bunts. However, many Offensive Tactical Skills need to be taught as well. Skills like situational hitting and knowing when to be aggressive on the bases should also be stressed. What’s interesting is that while you’re working on defensive tactical situations, remember to also teach the Offensive Tactical Skills. For example, coaches spend time working on defending the 1st-3rd double steal. They may develop 3-4 set plays to defend this common situation. They will practice these plays often as they realize that these have an impact on the outcome of the game. However, do they spend enough time teaching the offensive side of the 1st-3rd? Do they teach the early break or how to stay in a run-down? Do they teach the runners at third when to come home? Do the players know what to anticipate based on number of outs, batter and the score? These are also areas that coaches should be teaching while working on defending the 1st-3rd. Scoring runs in the 1st-3rd are just as important as preventing them.

      It’s difficult for one coach to do both so make sure you have at least 2-3 coaches present. Assign one coach to work on just the offensive aspects while the other coaches focus on the defensive. Make sure you rotate all players into the running positions. Too often, the SS, catchers  and 2B don’t get the necessary reps at running the bases.

The key here is to make sure that while coaches are working on teaching the Defensive Tactical skills for a variety of situations that there is emphasis on also teaching the Offensive Skills as well.

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