Thursday Pitching Tips
Best Options for Holding Runners on Base
A common baseball saying goes like this, “You steal on the pitcher, not the catcher.” That is true at the higher levels of baseball, but less so, at the lower levels, as catching at the youth level, is less efficient. Never the less, at every level of baseball, it is important that pitchers learn that holding runners on base is another responsibility of pitching, and one that helps teams win.
Besides stealing bases, other reasons exist for holding runners on base, as making it less likely runners can go from first to third, or third to home on hits, as well as keeping players from breaking up double plays, beating throws, and advancing on bunts.
Coaches should coach pitchers:
- The best way to keep players from stealing bases is with a quick delivery home. This does not mean they should rush, with a super short knee lift and slide step, but that the delivery home should involve a smaller knee lift.
- To throw to first any time the ball is in play, meaning whenever the umpire has not called time out. Many young pitchers believe they can only throw to first after coming to the set position.
- To learn to vary their pick off moves. When throwing to first base, pitchers can and should check on the runner at various times, as before they take the sign, when first set on the mound, as they raise arms to set position and once set; realizing they can throw over at any of those times, too.
- To hold the ball for different lengths of time, within reason, once they come to the set position. Nothing disrupts a good base stealer more than changing the pitching rhythm.
- That it is important, as when holding runners on first base, to learn to check on runners at second and third base more than once. Of course, they do not have to check on runners each time at all of these times.
Other Holding Runners on Base Coaching Tips
Coaches Should Explain:
- That it is important, when holding runners on at second base, to have the option of turning completely around (spinning) or using the inside move after raising the lead leg. This inside move option keeps runners at second base more accountable from getting an enormous lead for stealing and leading off.
- That they have the option of throwing out of the stretch position, when runners are on third base, and especially for runners, who are getting huge leads off third base.
- To not worry about the runners so much that they lose perspective on their main objective, making good pitches.
- To develop quick feet for their pickoff move to first base.
- To learn which opposition players are most likely to be base stealers, as those are the runners pitchers must pay the greatest attention to.
Left handed pitchers have a bigger advantage for holding runners on first base, but it is still necessary to learn good pickoff moves and to pay attention to runners. As with all baseball skills, holding runners on base takes practice and experience, so pitchers can help themselves win games and help catchers throw runners out, when stealing.