Wednesday Web Gems
What is Straight Up Positioning and Why so Important to Defensive Baseball Strategy?
I was in a conversation one day with the great, baseball Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken, and he mentioned how many youth ballplayers did not understand “straight up positioning.” Of course, I agreed with Cal Ripken, who would not? Both Cal and I agreed that understanding straight up positioning was the whole key to defensive baseball strategy, and just as importantly, is the key to smooth baseball coaching.
Straight up positioning is the equal distance between the bases for middle infielders and corner outfielders, and directly in line with home plate and second base for centerfielders. For first and third baseman, it is the correct distance from the base, as far as distance towards the outfield and distance away from the line. This distance from the bag varies depending on whether left handed or right-handed batters are up to bat. Coaches must explain and demonstrate this distance to corner infielders. Often, corner infielders and corner outfielders tend to “hug” the base lines, which is why this coaching is necessary.
Straight Up Positioning Baseball Defensive Strategy Drill
Coaching youth ball players the concept of “straight up” for defensive baseball strategy takes time, especially because players change positions often at the youth level. The following drill is effective for teaching players correct straight up positioning.
All players begin at the pitcher’s mound and coaches assign players a position, except fro pitcher and catcher positions. When coaches yell now, players run to their assigned position and set in the spot they feel is “straight up.” Coaches analyze these spots and make the appropriate adjustments. Coaches bring players back in and repeat the same assignments, or give players different assignments, before doing the same thing. Coaches perform this drill until they are satisfied players know the correct player defensive placement.
Once this positioning becomes second nature to players, all defensive baseball strategy begins with having them start every batter in the straight up position. Coaches then use hand signal adjustments to move players from those initial spots. Thus, defensive baseball becomes easy, with the ability to move players around from batter to batter. Without that knowledge, baseball defensive placement of players requires too much communication, which is difficult from batter to batter, or pitch to pitch, as is often necessary in baseball. With runners on base, players must learn to make the correct defensive adjustments from their initial positioning, also.