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Coaching Baseball:
Amazing Tips for Cut-Offs & Relays

teaching cut offs and relays for baseball

For most of us, coaching baseball fundamentals and teaching baseball to kids is a rewarding challenge.

It is not an easy game to teach since there are many facets of the game. There is the whole pitcher, catcher and hitter area that can be quite complex.

Then there is baserunning, game strategies, and knowledge of the rules. In addition, there is infield and outfield play.

This advice filled baseball article teaches the quickest way to teach kids how to play baseball when it comes to outfield and infielders practicing cut-offs and relays.

Baseball Skills
Teach Baseball to Kids

Talk to 100 youth baseball coachesfrom little league, Ripken baseball, High School coaches, college and the professionals and you will get almost 100 different ways to conduct cut-offs & relays while coaching baseball.

Not every instructor is going to use the exact same alignments and techniques. And, you really do not have to teach baseball the exact same as anyone else.

You do need to teach a system that leaves room for improvement and allows the players to critically think as the play evolves. Cut-off and relays is a constant teachable moment because it is difficult to execute perfectly even for the major leaguers.

Teaching Baseball Tips
from a Hall of Famer
Bobby Doerr, Boston Red Sox

catcher tag plays

Years ago I was working as a capable body at a Boston Red Sox fantasy camp. One morning workout practice they were practicing drills on cut-offs. Hall of Famer and class gentleman Bobby Doerr and was there as a former major leaguer as a guest instructor.

Someone asked Bobby as a former second baseman, to show us where he would go on an extra base hit in the right centerfield gap. Bobby said humbly but honestly, “I really cannot tell you where to go, but hit the ball out there by the fence and I will be in the right spot.”

Really what Bobby was saying is there is no exact playbook cookie cutter answer. Every play has its own uniqueness. We mainly need to understand the baseball basics and use our framework to do the best we can as players and coaching baseball.

Teaching Kids Baseball Skills
Coaching Baseball

Since every play is unique we have to work within procedures of our personal teams’ framework. Here are some baseball tips to help shape your teams’ fundamental framework during while you are coaching baseball. 

  • Each and every play is unique with regards to baserunners running speed, the ballpark dimensions, the score, inning and outs.
  • Use common nomenclature consistent with throughout your team. If you want the throw ‘cut’ then make sure everyone is on the same page. The pros use ‘relay’ when the throw is off line or running out of steam. The pros say nothing at all if they want the throw left alone.
  •  Eliminate vocally yelling out ‘right, right, left, left,’ Players at all levels of youth baseball are quite able to line themselves up in a straight line between two points. Just glance around a time or two.
  •  Catchers and players on the base should avoid having the ball ‘cut’ and relayed unless absolutely necessary. If the throw is only one or two steps off line and has some zip on it let it ride. The ball will travel way faster than taking the time to catch it and relay it.
  •  Fielders tagging runners: If the outfield throw is on line then catch the ball directly over the base. Then immediately slam the glove straight down to tag the runner. Avoid reaching out to catch the ball and doing a swipe tag.

More Baseball Coaching Tips
The One Exclusive Tip You Have to Know

The one common thread you want your youth sports players to keep in mind and work off of is: Make sure everyone is either

1) Covering a base or

2) Backing up a base or

3) lining up as a cut-off man.

If you can get your team to understand that then a high percentage of your defensive plays should be fairly well done. At least the kids are in the right place…catching and throwing accurately is another story.

  • Teach pitchers to back up bases—not act as a cut-off man. Only exception is a foul pop fly down the right field line when the firstbaseman goes out for the play and a runner is tagging up at third base. (Unless you have Derek Jeter playing shortstop…he will do it).
  • Double cut: When the batter runner has a ‘sure double’ then the shortstop and the second baseman form a ‘double-cut’ tandem lining up to either 3B or home plate depending on the situation. They stick together in a mirrored alignment about 20’ apart constantly glancing at the runners, their own alignment and the ball from outfield throws. If the outfield throw short-hops or fly over the head of the first man then the second player is the safety value and relays the throw.
  • Coaching baseball takes patience and respect of the difficulty to make plays. Use teachable moments to learn from especially with cut offs and relays.

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