Coaching Third Base for Youth Baseball
An exciting part of baseball is coaching third base. Although exciting, it is not as easy as it may look. Good third base coaches are like umpires; the best ones make few mistakes and go un-noticed. Even though baseball appears to move slowly, game moves come fast in the third base coaching box. The third base coach is the source of all the offensive game maneuvering in little league baseball.
Coaching baseball at the major league level is easier in a sense because major league managers only have to worry about calling the shots, not helping base runners, too. Higher levels of baseball have coaches for about everything, but youth coaches have to do it all. Youth baseball coaches have all the responsibilities.
The good news is coaching third base keeps baseball coaches involved in the center of the action. The bad news is decisions have to come quick, and a coach needs to know how to coach baseball to make those immediate decisions. Coaching third base involves only some basic signs at the beginner stages. But that changes soon with advanced ages and travel teams. Advanced players know game situations and base running strategy, making it easier on the base coaches. Coaches of young players have to do a lot of base running thinking for players, too
- Review offensive signs often before games and use them in practices
- When another player is first base coach, teach them the basic arm gestures and base running terminology
- Keep signs simple but not too obvious
- Know opposing pitcher’s delivery, catcher’s arm, outfield arms and defensive positioning
- Teach players to look for signs immediately upon reaching batter’s box and between pitches
- Begin with signs for basics – steal and bunt
- Add advanced signs as players develop – hit and run, delayed steal, bunt and run, steal and hold up for intentional run down, first and third steal signs, and take the sign.
- Remind base runners your first responsibility is the lead runner. Other runners key off the ball’s whereabouts and the first base coach.
- Know essential arm gestures for base runners – wave on, hold up, stop on base, slide, slide left or right
- Have a player signal to show they did not get a sign
- Remind players of number of outs
- Tell runners to freeze on line drives with less than two outs
- Know backstop distance from home plate to inform runners whether to break on passed balls or wild pitches
- Know where to stand in the coaching box depending on the situation
- Help players with lead-offs from second base
- Have a verbal suicide squeeze signal with runner and confirmation sign from batter
- Inform runners what want when on third – run on contact, make it go through, tag and go, tag and bluff
- Remind runner on second and no one on first to make ground ball to the left side go through infield.
Other Notes for coaching third base
Although players look for base running help at the young ages, coaches must develop players to learn to make decisions on own.
Coaches must think ahead in games to prepare for possible pinch hitters and other substitutions. They also have to keep thirteen players focused on the games, too, ages where the minds tend to wander.
Many responsibilities go with coaching third base, with quick decisions and clear signs essential.