Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Managing the 1st and 3rd play: A tip for catchers

January 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Catching, Video Posts

One of the toughest plays for young teams is the 1st and 3rd play.  The runner on first base steals and if the catcher throws it to second, the runner on third scores.  If the catcher just holds it, you know have two runners in scoring position.  Add a rundown in there and all hell break loose.

At the younger levels (below high school?), most coaches just remove the play altogether by just letting the runner go to 2nd base on the steal without a throw from their catcher.  As you get older, however, you can’t just the runner advance that easily.  Today’s video tip is for catchers (with the help from the 3rd basemen!) on one skill needed to better handle this difficult play.

Note: To read a post on how I had most of my high school teams handle the 1st and 3rd play, click HERE.


6 Responses to “Managing the 1st and 3rd play: A tip for catchers”
  1. Drew Stegon says:

    The youth coach should be looking for ways to develop the player, not train them for some rare occasional play. And just how rare is this play at the advanced levels? In 2012 MLB recorded 14 double steals. You get that? 14!!! There are 162 games in which 2 teams are playing, given 30 teams that 15*162 or 2430 games. Let’s just say that each game had 9 innings only that gives us 21,870 innings!!! We are actually practicing for something that happened 14 times in 21,870 innings??? REALLY???? In fact, there were only 36 total attempted steals of home – 18 of them because of botched “squeeze” bunt attempts. Maybe we should be teaching how to bunt better!

    If you are spending any “lengths” of time on this play you are doing a disservice to the development of the player. I agree with your Green/Red. Personally I think early in the game you go for the out at second only and work on getting your catcher better at throwing the guy out at second. You know what will get a scout looking at your catcher? His ability to throw the runner out at 2nd. Want to make him better… let him try and throw the runner going to second out every time. Late in the game, yes.. dont throw especially if the runner on 3rd is the tie or win.

    At the High School level we teach 3 ways. Cutting the ball and go home, getting the out at 2nd on the steal and don’t worry about the runner on 3rd (unless he gets a late jump and there is a chance) or a fake throw to 2nd and throw to 3rd instead. We signal into the catcher who relays the play.

    At the Little League level I coach going after the runner at 2nd… ONLY!! So many runs are usually scored at the LL level that I am rarely concerned about a runner on 3rd. There is a better than 50-50 chance the kid on 3rd is going to score on a wild pitch anyway! I also want my catchers at LL to learn how to throw runner out at 2nd and how my SS or 2nd baseman should catch and tag a stealing runner. IT IS CALLED DEVELOPMENT!!

    This is where I think the LL level development has gone astray. All the trick plays coaches are doing in order to win a 10u game. It’s silly. They are practicing stuff the player will rarely use in HS and if they get to college and beyond they will never, almost never, see these types of plays because of the level of player. So we spend time teaching things that players who will advance will almost never need? WHY???

    An example of this is stealing home in Little League. On my teams we dont do it. On a wild pitch, my runner stays. He stays because I want the batter to learn how to “drive in the run.” Simple as that. I don’t give a rats “behind” if I win a LL game and the kids get a trophy at the end of the year. You know why? Well, because as a HS coach I never asked a single player that came out for our team how many trophies they had on their shelves. NOT ONE! And parents that would bring the stat sheets of their kids to us I would throw those in the garbage right in front of their eyes.

    Spend time teaching skills that really matter to the advancement of the player. Throw the guy out at second! Teaches catcher to throw, teachers middle infielders how to catch the ball and apply the tag in a game situation.

    Just my one and half cents…

    • Thanks for commenting Drew! I always enjoy reading your point of view.

    • Mike says:


      Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Couldn’t agree with you more. During my son’s little league years, there, too, was an overzealous coach whose only purpose was to mercy as many teams as early as possible by any means necessary. One way was the typical first and third scenario. He was taking complete advantage of a young defense that wasn’t afforded enough practice time to work on throwing down to second. His goal was to win at all costs. More so, by applying the mercey rule, this coach was then depriving the young players of vital game experience. Games were ending prematurely. As an opposing coach, I challenged this coach by asking him how often will one of these players see such double steal attempt. I offered the idea of challenging his players of driving in the run rather than stealing home on a repeated basis. By doing this, the hitter can develop a better idea of the strike zone or maybe being the hero and of the game by getting a key hit. Of course, he had no legitimate answer. I only wish I was armed with your experience and research to further back my point. My only goal was to explain to the coach that proper development AND growing their excitement and love for the game is the real mission here. I always hoped that our work as a youth baseball coaching staff would be rewarded not with wins but rather their future coaches commenting on their baseball fundamentals and IQ. Please keep preaching your message, Drew. Any little league would greatly benefit from listening to your message.

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