Holding runner on 2nd

Would like to hear some thoughts on how to appropritely hold a runner on 2B.

The pros don't have the SS & 2B dancing back and forth, slapping their gloves, trying to keep the runner close. They simply play their positions, and if a pick is called, they execute the play.

Seems like this is how the kids should do it as well, but how many times do you see the "dance" takikng place.

How should this correctly be taught?

Original Post

You got right calling it "the dance". I have never understood the incredible preoccupation with runners on base. Most AAU and HS coaches go so overboard on this part of the game.

How many times do you see a runner actually get picked off of second versus the number of times the play goes awry or a base hit occurs because the SS or 2B is out of position?

This situation also tends to seriously mess up young pitchers. They focus too much on the runner, to the point for many of them that will try to come to the plate while still looking at the runner. For most young pitchers, this usually results in fewer strikes thrown. They get behind in counts and either groove pitches or walk batters. Consequently the exact situation you are trying to avoid (he advancement of the runner) gets compounded.

At the HS level, I feel having the pitcher "freeze" the runner, stepping off, and the occasional quiet (no glove slap) pick off play are far more effective than having your middle infield running back and forth.

I want the pitcher more focused on the batter than the runner. Once he has decided to throw a pitch, I want his head and eyes on the target to give the greatest possiblity of throwing a good pitch.
At the HS level, I feel having the pitcher "freeze" the runner, stepping off, and the occasional quiet (no glove slap) pick off play are far more effective than having your middle infield running back and forth.

NH -- I couldn't agree more!
I got this from Fernando Vina - draw an arc (radius from the bag) where you feel very comfortable getting to the bag on a pickoff play. Now, that arc is the same amount of feet from the bag and yet, where you stand on that arc gives the perspective that the runner is being held. Walk the arc and "explode into your coverage area on the pitch." You should also be able to get to the bag on a pickoff and so, you never have to do the dance.
It depends on how agressive the baserunners are on second base. If they are not stretching their primary lead then there is no need to work at holding them. If they are hanging out after the pitch is caught then throw them out. If they are not dont worry about them. Now if they are working a big primary lead just work on flashing making sure that your timing is correct. Good baserunning teams will work a normal primary and be agressive on the secondary busting back hard on the catch. One things for sure a good strong armed catcher can negate this problem in many ways.
As per usual, excellent advice from CoachB25 & Coach May. I luv B25's advice on creating the arc and exploding back to your position in the shortest distance. And Coach Ric's lesson regarding the tendency of the particular baserunner is very useful.

Here is my $.02. Add into the equation the game situation. Are you up by several runs, down by several runs, early in the game, late in the game, in a close game where the potential run on second can beat you? Do you have a set pickoff play for the pitcher to throw to the base; for the catcher to throw to the base?

At the risk of being accussed of "going overboard" I must admit that I am one of those coaches that practices both types of pickoff plays. The reason they are executed a lot in practice is because they are not often used in game situations. But when they are used, they are often successful in getting the runner out or, at least, in making the runner concerned about his lead. If these plays can be consistently accomplished sucessfully without throwing the ball away in practice, they should be of value to you in tight situations more than once during the season.

The short version of both 2B pickoff plays begins with a signal given by the catcher for both the pitcher's pickoff or the catcher's pickoff[each signal is different of course]. The pitcher and the middle infielders have a return signal to the catcher. This is designed to make certain that everyone is in on the play before it is atempted. After all, we are dealing with 15-18 year olds here.

From that point on, the way the pitcher's pickoff play is executed depends on what you want to use as your "trigger". Usually the shortstop feints coverage and then goes back to his fielding position [not his coverage position that CoachB25 talks about]. He will then slap his glove once or twice [whichever he does not do in the normal situation] and the pitcher counts three seconds and the second baseman runs to the bag at the appropriate time so that he will be on the bag the instant the ball arives [it might be that he starts running to the base at 1 second or 2 seconds; it depends on where he positions himself and how quickly he can arrive at the base. That is why it has to be practiced in order to get it right]]. But once it is perfected, I would still not use it unless the particular runner consistently takes a very big lead.

The play for the catcher's pickoff [again, only after the play is set in motion by the catcher and return signals] is to call for a pitchout and immediately throw the ball to second with middle infield coverage pre-planned. This play seemed to work for us about 50% of the time. [but we had a catcher with a gun for an arm]. Keep in mind it only works against an aggressive runner that does not hustle back to the base when the catcher catches the ball.

TW344, nice presentation. I was very proud of my kids last night in that we are entering our regional play and so, in our last regular season game, they practiced most of our plays during the game. Our SS, 2B and Catcher can all call plays. Naturally, I can as well. They took it upon themselves to work on coverages since we had a comfortable lead and knew that nothing can duplicate true game situations. Some plays called included an inside move, a fake pickoff play or what we call a "dive play", a snap throw to both first and second and a bunt coverage switch off play. I was/am very proud of them for doing this.
Great job coaches. The Arc is something that can be promoted in many situations including the double play turn.
With a roller to third, the 2b should arc towards the bag so that the 3b will have him in his sites as he is making the throw. This way if the throw is off, the 2b is actually running toward the bag, and with his feet moving, he will be in control to save an errant throw. He will also have his feet moving instead of standing on the bag and this will allow a better transfer and pivot to 1b.
Congrats B on moving thru the regionals. Keep us posted.
Just to add another idea, here is what we do (stolen from a coach I respect, of course). We hold runners on at 2nd with the "weak-side" infielder in a position we refer to as "one and seven". For instance the SS holds the runner on with a left-handed hitter & vice-versa. The infielders positioning is based off of our double play positioning which is 7x7. In other words, we take 7 paces down the line and 7 paces depth. When holding the runner at 2nd the positioning changes to 1x7, or one step down the line and seven steps of depth.
R2 will become confortable without the "jockeying" and will extend the lead, which is what we are waiting for. We feel we can pick off anyone who takes what we refer as a 7 step lead at 2nd, and we will. If a pick-off is not on, the middle infielder will take two quick shuffles back to the 7x7 position and will "de-cleat" just as if he has creeped into the ready position. One benefit is the strong side infield can play the hitter anyway that is necessary (like to pull) without problems of being caught up to close to the bag while faking breaks to hold the runner.
Holding runners at 2nd base is a part of the game that is very seldom taught and at the same time is a part of the game that must be developed and comes easier to both middle infielder and pitcher with age.

First: Understand that holding runners at any base is not just keeping a runner close to the bag. It is ultimately preventing a runner from getting a good jump so that your catcher has chance to throw him out......The pitcher has huge responsability here.......Remember I am talking about holding a runner NOT PUTTING ON A PICK OFF PLAY......

Second: When holding runners at second you must first determine who is going to hold him? or are you going to hold him at all?....

IF you are going to hold him you can do the thinking for your players as you can simply point at the middle infielder you wish to hold him.....the other middle infielder will simply play his position......

This makes if very clear who is holding the runner and makes it very easy for the pitcher to understand who he is working with so to speak...

PLEASE NOTE:::: you do not simply select the off middle infielder to hold the runner....depends on the hitter and situation...for example you do not want the second baseman holding with no outs and a man on second only.....for the obvious reason.....In most cases the hitter is trying to hit the ball to the right side of the infield...not always but more often than not.....must post ....will add more....

OK here we go....

Understand the best situation to run (steal second) w/ runner at second only.......

**1 out...(Runner doesn't want to make the first or third out at third)
**Right handed hitter at the plate....
**Runner at second can run....
**Score not lop-sided....

Worth noting....If you do not pay any attention to the runner at all when there are zero or two outs then you run the risk of the opposing team attempting to steal...If you give it to them they will take it, as the wild pitch / passed ball come into play far more at lower levels than at higher levels.....

Let's assume that it is a good situation to run and that your SS is holding the runner, for arguements sake.

You must predetermine how much of a lead you are willing to allow the opponent to get and relay or work w/ your players in practice what this distance is.......is it 12ft?...13ft?...etc...

Your SS should start at that point and stay there while the pitcher is coming set....

NOTE: The pitcher should come up looking at Second.......

As the pitcher comes set the SS should be just on the right shoulder of the runner....he may be 3ft from runner or to preference.....what you want to avoid is the SS running in and out while the pitcher is set....it becomes very confusing to the pitcher when this happens....

While the SS is holding (just off of the right shoulder of the runner) and the runner attempts to increase his lead the SS will run a day light to second. If the runner is stopped then the SS will retreat and the pitcher must pitch at that point.....

Remember you want to try to leave the runner at a distance from second that it will make it difficult for him to steal third provided you get the ball to the plate in a timely manner that the catcher makes a good throw that the third-baseman can handle....

I will stop here, as it is very difficult to explain without visuals....

How about DO's:

DO: Know the situation
*who is holding runner (one guy, not two)
*Who ever is holding should start on the runner or if it is the 2B he should start close (approx 12 ft from second base)
*Pitcher comes up looking at second base
*Make runner stop or be moving back to second before the pitcher kicks to pitch.
*Make sure that middle infielder who is holding is moving back to position before pitcher kicks to pitch.
*practice it live

I'll stop now ....my fingers are tired....
Nothing is more annoying than watching 'the dance' and seeing it delay the game. I hate th dirt-kicking and glove slapping and the weaving in and out - I think most times it not only affects the pitcher's rhythm [he wants to throw, but either SS, 2B or both isn;t in position] or the infield isn't properly covered, b/c the MIFs aren't in the right place or moving int he wrong direction when the ball is hit.

I like the step off and an occasional pickoff attempt, but spare me the ballet and sound effects

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