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What are the core responsibilities of a 1st base coach and a 3rd base coach during the game?

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Obviously each coach has their own responsibilities.  I happen to coach both but without a doubt, coaching 3rd is harder.  The 3rd base coach has to be aware when to send the runner home or not.  This depends on a variety of factors that need to be decided in a fraction of a second.  First off, you need to know the speed of the player.  Other factors are the strength of the arm of the throwing outfielder, the positions of the defense and how many outs.  I also keep in mind who is the next 2 hitters.  If the heart of my order is coming up, why should I send the runner home for a possible out when I know he is scoring anyways with either one of the next hitters.  Again, it depends on how late in the game it is, the score, etc.  

I was at Sunday's Cubs game. Cubs had a runner on 3rd with a lefty at the plate. The Braves 3rd baseman was playing well off the line which means the 3rd base runner can take a huge lead which he did not. Wild pitch goes to the backstop and the base runner gets thrown out at home. 
If he had a big lead like he should, he could have been home standing up. This out was entirely on the 3rd base coach for not taking advantage of the slight defensive shift. 

And the Cubs wonder why they can't win?

Actually Dave, professional runners aren't taught to get a big lead at 3rd base, rather they are taught to start with a short lead, a few yards of Frye base and on the grass and as the pitcher starts his delivery he goes ONE, TWO, THREE, with his steps and freezes with a plan to go home with a wild pitch or passed ball and back start back to the base on a line drive or ball in the air. If the guy that you watched got thrown out at home its not because of the lead, but because the ball took a good bounce, the catcher made a Great throw and the pitcher did his job by covering and making a tag. Professional runners DO NOT get big leads at 3rd because there are 8 ways to score from there with less than 2 outs and those that wander into the Twilight Zone soon get picked.

Kip, I also teach that 1 2 3 approach but that does not mean you cannot help your cause by taking a bigger lead off.  I also do not understand the freeze method.  Why stop your momentum?  The guy I saw that got thrown out was definitely because he did not take a bigger lead.  If he did, he would have easily scored standing up.  When I say take a bigger lead, that does not mean be stupid about it. If the player wanders into the twilight zone, as you say, he not only deserves to get picked off, but also pulled from the game.  Same with the 3rd base coach.  It's his job to pay attention to the 3rd baseman.  

This sounds like a timing situation. I'm assuming that, since we all run right footed, that 1, 2, 3 means right, left, right and #3 is timed to touch as the pitch is delivered. That would allow the runner to have some momentum going forward, giving him a slight jump which can be the difference between safe & out. The 3 steps don't necessarily have to be giant steps. If the 3rd baseman happens to be shading the bag the coach should tell the runner never to be farther off the base than the 3rd baseman. The runner can adjust his steps & still maintain his timing with the pitcher. What I don't agree with is freezing since momentum would be lost & one of the most difficult things to do in sports is to accelerate from a dead stop.


That is exactly what I was saying.  I never did understand teaching the freeze method.  Losing the momentum could be the difference in the winning run or not.

I teach the 1-2-3 approach as well...was taught it in college.  Rather than having my players' lead foot hit the ground as the pitch is delivered...I teach the lead foot should be down as the pitch goes over the plate.  My rationale is that they are moving when the pitch enters the hitting zone.  As for moving from a dead are very correct, tight muscles take longer to respond.  All one has to do is watch film of Rickey Henderson taking a lead. He had a slight sway back and forth.  Glad someone else teaches this b/c the high school players I coach had NEVER heard of this before.  

OK Bill, let me take a shot. By "core" I'm assuming that you're referring to basic responsibilities. 3rd base coach - relay signs to the hitter and/or base runners & the simpler the better. More signs are missed by the offense than are stolen by the defense. Paying attention to the outfielder's positioning. With a runner on 2nd, watching the SS & 2B and having the runner watch the pitcher. I like this better than having the runner watch the 2B because the runner can concentrate on the most important defensive player. The one holding the ball. So the runner watches the pitcher & listens to the coach and the communication from coach to the runner must be constant. Constantly reminding runners of the number of outs. Being able to come down the line so you are in a better position to send or hold the runner. Giving a runner coming to 3rd hand signals re: stand up on the base, round the base, slide & indicating which side of the base to go for. Reminding a runner on 3rd that he is tagging on all fly balls & getting back as quickly as possible on line drives. I don't think that "freeze on a line drive " is a good cue since, if the runner has a big lead he can be doubled up if he's not moving and the fielder makes the play right near the base whereas, if he's going back at the crack of the bat, he has a chance to beat the play. I'm sure that I've omitted some but that's off the top of my head. 1ST BASE - First is to check & see if the catcher is sloppy in flashing the signs. Big advantage if you can steal them. When you get a runner at 1st make sure that he knows # of outs, if he is the tying / go ahead run, being careful if there is a runner ahead of him so on a wild pitch / passed ball, don't run off the lead runner. Help runners out re: pitcher's move to 1st. For RHP tell your runner to watch the back heel since, in order to throw over, the heel must move 1st. LHP, does he tip his move ? How? Is the move good or poor & probably most importantly, does he come over 2x in a row ? In my experience most pitchers youth through HS hardly ever throw over twice in a row so if he comes over once, take a shot &, on the following pitch, go on 1st move. Most of this is geared towards Frosh - JV baseball, not younger but I hope that it was somewhat helpful.

Great topic Bill. I agree with David and Thomas on their points. The one biggest thing I would add is that these coaches need to really be paying attention to the other team's warm up work. How strong are the arms in the OF? Do they come up firing or are their motions slow? What weaknesses are exposed on the IF? Is 2B covering the front or back of the bag? Does the SS take the throws from the C too far in front of the bag on warm up throws? 

My 3B coach is critical to the flow of the game and how aggressive we are on offense. The 1B coach's job is to get my runners into scoring position. Both run stop watches on pitchers and catchers, so they should have a good feel. The 1B coach is also counting or timing the pitcher on his pitches to the plate. We use a simple timing mechanism with our runners and coaches. We count off seconds basically using S-T-E-A-L. If a pitcher is consistently an E or A, then the runner had better be on 2B within 2 pitches. Funny thing is that at our level (JV & Varsity) we have not seen a single 1B catch on to our S-T-E-A-L timing. That to me is pretty funny!  

Mike : Good point about getting runners into scoring position. The 1B coach is in a good position to judge if the throw will overshoot  the cutoff man and he can get the batter / runner down to second. That method of timing the pitcher is very cool. Brilliant in its simplicity. That is worth adding to anyone's repertoire.

I just remembered some additional responsibilities for the 3rd base coach. Remind the runners to go " down in foul, back in fair. " When they're returning to 3rd they should jump to the inside of the baseline in order to block the catcher's view of the base. They should also look over their inside ( right ) shoulder at the catcher so they wouldn't be caught off guard. Never let a runner turn his back on the catcher. Finally, if you have a situation where you want to send a runner on 3rd home even with the infield in, a good rule of thumb to teach the kids is that if the pitch is above the belt it will probably be hit in the air & below the belt chances are it will be on the ground so it gives the runner a slight edge which can be the difference between safe & out.While we're on that topic make sure that the kids all take walking leads off 3rd and that they are coming down on their right foot when the pitch is delivered. Why ? Well we may throw right or left but we all run right footed so by employing this technique, the runners are gaining a quicker break. The last thing that you want to see at 3rd is the kid who sprints 1 / 2 way down the line and when the pitch enters the hitting zone the kid is jamming on the breaks and moving back to the base. How is he going to score on a grounder even if the infield is back ?Also, all the defense has to do is to pitchout & throw back for the pick. 3rd baseman breaks for the bag as the pitch is delivered since the ball wouldn't be put in play & the runner has hung himself out to dry. I think that covers most of the core responsibilities but I would welcome imput from other coaches

The base coaches are nothing more than another pair of eyes to aid the runner in deciding what to do.  I hit a two hopper to short and the throw hit the first baseman's mitt a step and a half before I reached first.  I heard no call from the umpire so I turned around and saw the first baseman throwing the ball back to the pitcher and started walking back to the dugout.  The pitcher threw the ball back to the first baseman and he tagged me so the umpire yelled "OUT!"  See, what had happened was, the ball popped in the pocket of the first baseman and came out.  I did not see it pop out because I was crossing the bag and the play was behind me.  I made no effort to take another base.  I simply assumed the out and walked toward my dugout which was the third base side so I was walking back down the first base line but now on the infield side of the base.  They called me out for "abandoning my base".  No one was coaching first to help me out so it was our fault but I question this ruling since I was not trying to get to second and the umpire did not have a verbal call of safe.

Perfect example why I teach my kids to never walk off the bag and assume you are out.  I teach them if they do not know, stay on the bag until you ask the umpire.  I also teach them you are never out until the umpire and only the umpire asks you to leave the field.


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