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Pre-Season Checklist

By: Austin Alexander-February 6, 2006

As every spring rolls around, coaches across the country ready their teams for the upcoming season, optimistic about what is right around the corner!

Pre-season practice usually begins with endless fungos hit, countless hours inside the cage and fly balls lifted to our outfielders as the pitchers gear up in the bullpen. As players begin to cross that line from rusty to ready, and opening day sits two weeks away, any coach worth his salt now begins to ponder, “What else do I need to do to make sure my team is ready when that first bell rings?”

We stress fundamentals and repetition, we preach “one day at a time” and “remain focused on our goals” but our report card, our win-loss record, will ultimately prove whether our team was prepared to play.

We’ve all been there as that first game of the year closes in; we rack our brain over and again, “What else?”

Allow JrDP to provide you with valuable information I received years ago, you’ve got to start with a checklist. Without a listing of coaching points, you will scramble at the eleventh hour to ensure you’ve covering everything.

We’ll work our way around the diamond and provide you with a list that will put your mind at ease when the first pitch is made.

We’ll start our tour around the infield from the mound. If that area of our team is not a well-oiled machine, the remainder of the product will skew off-track.

A few things to consider:

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Pitchers

ü      Get his pitch count up

ü      Make sure he’s faced hitters using all pitches in his arsenal

ü      If you call his pitches, do it during an intra-squad at game speed using the catcher

ü      Has spent ample time in the wind-up AND the stretch (controlling the running game)

ü      Videotape if possible

ü      Pickoffs to 1B, 2B (inside and spin move) and 3-to-1 move for RHP’s

ü      Has fielded bunts and followed with throws to each base (including home)

ü      Has fielded come-backers and made throws to 1B, 2B and home

ü      Run-downs between each base following a pick or come-backer

ü      3-1’s, 4-1’s and 3-6-1’s

ü      Early break (ie. 1st and 3rd)

ü      Backing up bases

ü      Pitchouts

ü      Intentional walks

ü      Pop-up responsibility

ü      Covering the plate on a ball to the screen

ü      Make sure he’s practiced his pre-game routine

ü      Review mound presence; dealing with umpires, bad conditions (weather or mound), errors, lack of offensive support, etc.

Catchers

ü      Receiving

ü      Block

ü      Block and throw to all three bases

ü      Throwing/footwork to 1B (inside and out), 2B and 3B, on feet and from knees (if you allow it)

ü      Fielding bunts and throwing to 1B, 2B and 3B

ü      Tracking ball to the screen/backstop followed by a throw to the plate

ü      Pop-ups

ü      Taking throws from every position on the field (including pitcher: 1-2-3 DP), tag play and force-play from infielders/pitcher, tag-plays from outfielders.

ü      If you call his pitches, do it during an intra-squad at game speed

First Baseman

ü      Groundballs to the forehand/backhand-side and dive-play

ü      Footwork on throws from across the infield (including catcher, inside and out)

ü      Taking short-hop throws from across the infield (including catcher, inside and out)

ü      Fielding bunts and throwing to 1B, 2B, 3B and home

ü      Making a throw to 2B following groundballs in front of/behind the bag and a left-hander’s pickoff move

ü      Groundball with infield in following by a throw to the plate

ü      Pop-ups

ü      Backing up throws on passed ball/wild pitch

ü      3-1’s

Second Baseman

ü      Groundballs to the forehand/backhand-side, dive-play and slow-roller

ü      Groundball with infield in followed by a throw to the plate

ü      Footwork on feeds at second base from P, C, SS, 3B

ü      Pivots at second base on feeds from P, C, SS and 3B

ü      4-6-3’s (directly at him, forehand side throw, backhand side flip)

ü      4-3’s (directly at him, forehand/backhand)

ü      4-3 unassisted DP’s

ü      4-1’s to forehand side

ü      Pop-ups

ü      Taking throws from the outfield, tag-play

Shortstop

ü      Groundballs to the forehand/backhand side, dive-play and slow-roller

ü      Groundball with infield in followed by a throw to the plate

ü      Footwork on feeds at second base from P, C, 1B and 2B

ü      Pivots at second base on feeds from P, C, 1B and 2B

ü      6-4-3’s (directly at him, backhand side throw, forehand-side flip)

ü      6-3’s (directly at him, forehand/backhand)

ü      6-3 unassisted DP’s

ü      Pop-ups

ü      Taking throws from the outfield, tag-play

Third Baseman

ü      Groundballs to the forehand/backhand-side, dive-play and slow-roller

ü      Groundball with infield in followed by a throw to the plate

ü      Footwork on feeds from P, C and 1B (bunt)

ü      5-3’s in and deep (directly at him, forehand/backhand)

ü      5-4-3’s (directly at him, forehand/backhand)

ü      5-3 unassisted DP’s

ü      Pop-ups

ü      Taking throws from the outfield, tag-play

Outfielders

ü      Flyballs live off the bat

ü      Flyballs fungoed right, left, in, back, soft liners and line drives right at them

ü      Flyballs fungoed on the ground and in the air right, left, in, back, soft liners and line drives right at them followed by a throw to all four bases

ü      Playing the sun

ü      Mis-direction flyballs

ü      Groundballs to the right, left, right at them (no one on/glove drags)

ü      Playing the wall/fence

Team Defense

ü      Bunt Defense

ü      Run-downs

ü      1st and 3rd situations

ü      Cut-offs/Relays

ü      Double-cut/tandem responsibilites

ü      Fly-ball communication

ü      Pick-off plays

Team Offense

ü      Baserunning (Leads at each base, stealing bases, stealing/relaying signs)

ü      Bunts (sacrifice, push, drag, slash, squeeze play and safety squeeze)

ü      Hitting, batting practice

ü      Hitting, see live pitching

ü      1st and 3rd situations

ü      Run-downs

ü      Sliding

ü      Dirt ball reads

Hopefully this quick refresher ensures your players will play with confidence as you can finally relax knowing you didn’t fail in getting him prepared. While you can never fully simulate every situation that may arise during a ballgame, the more scenarios you can familiarize him with, the more comfortable you both will be.