This is one of the drills for [tag]coaching youth baseball[/tag] that was sent to me by David, one of my readers. Try this out with your team tonight!
I coach modified baseball in my school district. One of the toughest skills for my pitchers and first basemen to master has been picking off the runner from first base. We would practice the traditional way – with a pitcher on the mound, a first baseman, and a runner – but it has never really panned out.
About 3 yrs ago I decided to come up with a new [tag]baseball drill[/tag] to practice this skill. When we finish our long toss, I bring each pair of players back to a starting distance of about 20-25 ft. While one line of players remains stationary I have the remaining line across from them move one player over to their left so that the original starting pairs are ‘offset’ in a diagonal line similar to the configuration from the pitcher’s mound to 1B.
The drill begins with all of the [tag]baseball[/tag]s with the players in the same side of the formation. I then go over throwing from the stretch – explaining that not all of the players may be pitchers but for this drill we need an equal number of pitchers and first basemen. I start with the pitchers facing home plate and then walk them through the motion – coming set and then looking over to 1B without moving their upper body. Once they’ve checked out the runner, I have them turn and throw to the first baseman (his partner from the long toss). We practice both stepping off the rubber and quickly pivoting to throw to
1B. Their target is the first baseman’s knee closest to the base.
Once the first basemen receive the throw, they become pitchers. They face CF and we repeat the drill. We usually do this so that each pitcher makes 5-10 throws to 1B. We started practicing the pick-off this way and I immediately noticed that my pitchers were able to keep opposing runners much closer to 1B – in fact so close that some teams stopped trying to run on us. In one game, the other team threw to first probably 15 times through the entire 7 inning game to no avail. We were
safe every time and successfully stole 5 or 6 bases. Their runners stayed pretty close to first, only attempted to steal twice, and – the ONLY time we threw to first WE PICKED THE BASE RUNNER OFF!