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Stealing/agressive baserunning in Little League

Discussion in 'Coaches Corner' started by moondog80, Aug 9, 2016.

  1. moondog80

    moondog80 heart is two sizes two small SoSH Member

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    I was at a tournament of 7/8 year olds, and the prevailing strategy was that pretty much all of the catchers can't throw anyone out, so the kids are stealing, successfully, all the time, even when there's not a passed ball. It becomes a game of once you get to first, you're on third within a few pitches, and at that point you're just waiting for a passed ball. It works insofar as it's the best way to win the game, but it's horrible baseball, and it's not like they're teaching the kids skills that are transferable to higher leagues. It's not as bad when you get to 11 and 12 year olds, where the good catchers can usually keep the ball in front of them and make solid throws to second, but the problem there is the delayed steal; I hate the time wasted after every pitch with the cat-and-mouse game getting the runner to go back to first, and the time wasted in practice having to teach the kids how defend this issue that never comes up once they get to a bigger field. I have no problem trying to win games or being aggressive when the situation calls for it, but there comes a point where all you are doing is exploiting the age/lack of arm strength of the kids. I don't really have a solution, just wondering if anyone else gets frustrated by this.
     
  2. 8slim

    8slim Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    In my son's 9 year old town Little League this Spring they allowed 4 "steals" on passed balls each inning. It sucked and I complained about it every chance I got. It doesn't teach the kids a damn thing about baseball.

    Honestly it was just one of a dozen things our LL program does that I think are dumb. And yet my town in CT had put teams in the LLWS twice in recent years, so what do I know?
     
  3. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    I get incredibly frustrated by this. Coaches putting emphasis on winning games at 7/8 years old over teaching kids how to play.

    I have 3 boys, oldest boy, tons of coaches like this, games were ridiculous "small ball" lots of fake bunts, delayed steals, etc. Brutal. Second son, much more reasonable group of guys, fake bunts are rare, even bunts are much more rare with this group, and the ridiculous base running is almost non existent. Third boy is still TBD, but early indications point to the group of coaches for his age being more like my oldest sons - ugghhh.
     
  4. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Some poetic justice from a few years ago - coach of AAA team - some 9's, mostly 10's and some 11's, spends half a practice teaching the delayed steal. Next game, the phenom 9 year old leads off with a triple. Anxious to put his newly learned skill to use, with nobody out and 2-3-4 hitters due up, he tries a delayed steal of home. The pitcher was alert enough to see it and he was out by two steps. Dooohhh!!!

    Also, with my oldest son, I've seen some of these Managers who play what they call "small ball" fake bunts, delayed steals, taking extra bases even with it's a low percentage play, lots of bunting anywhere in the lineup etc move all the way up to Babe Ruth and not change. As you can imagine, they don't look very bright when they try a delayed steal with 13-15 year olds on the big field, bunt a bunch of guys on the big field or "make them make a play" by trying to take an extra base in ill advised situations.
     
  5. moondog80

    moondog80 heart is two sizes two small SoSH Member

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    Yes, these guys have no problem sending a kid home from third with no outs on a 50/50 play with the heart of the lineup coming up, or running into outs when they're down 5 runs in the last inning. It is nice when it blows up on them. We won a pretty big tournament game because the other team went from 1st and 3rd with no outs to bases empty, two outs by dancing off the bases too much.
     
  6. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    It's certainly not something that should be done with overall development of baseball skills being the goal. Individually it's not the worst thing for kids to learn how to (or get really good at) the bunt or stealing, but not at expense of skill development in more important areas - certainly in the 7-11 age group. And not in a manner that takes clear advantage of the other team's or players' less developed skills at the younger ages. That stuff won't work later on.

    My son has done travel ball since he was 7 (we just completed his 4th year of it), and we saw a lot of this at times. The better teams, if we were leading or it was a close game late, would go to the small ball bunting/aggressive running thing, and it usually worked to win games. I'll give that by being in travel baseball, there's a certain level of increased emphasis on winning compared to LL purely from an environmental standpoint, and not to say one league is better or higher quality than the other. That being said, it's not really making players better to continuously manufacture runs without hits, or constantly bunt kids who can't hit the ball well. I'm happy our coach pulled back a bit this past year, and we rarely bunted. Stealing is still a big part of the game, as we have leading and are on a 50/70 field, but delayed steals are rare.

    I envision I may go back an coach the younger kids as a non-parent once my son gets older and moves on (I assistant coach him now). I banned bunting before when I coached the local league seasons in the 6-8 age range, and would continue that rule.
     
  7. doc

    doc Member SoSH Member

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    In our town under 11 you had 3 steals per inning with 1 steal of home, no leads, and you can't take off until the ball crossed the plate. At 12 in AAA 4 steals and 2 home, or in Major A (our 50/70 division) we had leads, balks and stealing at will. I think this allowed the younger kids to focus learning part of the game, then the older kids learn the base running skills when they are more capable.
     
  8. 8slim

    8slim Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Not to derail this thread, but issues like this are even more noticeable to me because my son plays travel hockey and lacrosse as well. Neither of those sports sees anywhere remotely close to the amount of "gaming" the game as I see in baseball. It really sucks.
     
  9. Cumberland Blues

    Cumberland Blues Dope Dope

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    Our town 9-10 division limits stealing a bit. We don't go home on pb/wp as it's really just an invitation for a collision - and if it's clear that a catcher cannot make the throw - we don't swipe 2nd or 3rd except on pb/wp. But we usually only have 3-4 teams, so we have to play teams from other towns too. It would always amaze me when we have the pregame meeting that these teams would insist on running on everything...and then they have no idea how to cope with the running on defense and we'd beat them at their own game. Virtually every time we played a team from a town that insisted on running, we won, and their inability to cope with the running game was the main reason.
     
  10. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I managed a 7-8 year old rec league team this past Spring. I have no kids in the program. It was all about teaching for us while other coaches scammed minimum and maximum play rules all season long.

    Our league does not allow fake bunts. If you square, you must attempt a bunt or pull away otherwise you're out. Safety issue with corners crashing and such. Consider proposing such a rule in your league.

    We finished the regular season in last place and were the last seed in the 'everyone makes the playoffs' end of year tournament. Minimum and maximum play rules do not apply in the playoffs. Regardless of ability, I refused to sit a kid more than two innings a game during the playoffs.

    I channeled my best Herb Brooks and we ran the table and won the league championship, winning three of the four games by 10 run mercy rule.

    It was a wonderful lesson and experience for the kids and the coaches enjoyed it too. I still feel good about it.
     
  11. Byrdbrain

    Byrdbrain Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    First off 7 and 8 year olds shouldn't be playing in any kind of competitive tournaments, I'm sure others disagree but to me that is just wrong. That is a time they should be learning the basics of the game there is plenty of time for competitive play as they get older.
    Regarding LoweTeks comment above on fake bunts are you referring to pulling back and then slashing? If so that should absolutely be abolished as it is extremely dangerous. I took fake bunt as simply squaring to get the fielders moving and then running behind them. While I don't think you should have 7/8s doing that it is a very different thing.
    I'm pretty sure it is the latter because if it is the former then I just don't know what to say.
     
  12. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Pulling back and slashing is illegal in LL - I don't mean that by fake bunts, I mean squaring to bunt, waving bat to distract pitcher, then pulling back and taking the pitch. Some coaches have kids do this on EVERY 3-0 count.

    I agree Baseball is the worst for coaches trying to insert themselves into the game, because they control a LOT of the action. In 10 year old district play last summer, one of my son's assistant coaches wanted to signal pitch type and location every single pitch to the catcher to then relay to the pitcher. 10 year olds! This is for a team that had about a month of practice before games started and used the cages once and did not work on pitching, other than throwing live BP even once.

    My middle son is a really funny kid, he just started pitching and didn't wait for the signs. He's lucky they still let him pitch, but he told me he'd rather not pitch than take signs like that for every pitch.
     
  13. doc

    doc Member SoSH Member

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    Like a 10 yo can locate a pitch, or should throw anything but a fastball.
     
  14. BigMike

    BigMike Dope Dope

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    I am shocked and amazed to find out there are places where 7 year olds play in a stealing league. Anything below 9 is silly

    I do hate the way baserunning is taught at the younger leagues where a coaches are often doing things like waving runners from 2-3rd when the shortstop already has the ball, Or running kids from 2nd to 3rd when the first baseman throws the ball to the pitcher. Heck I watched on team this year waiving a kid from 2nd to 3rd when a 2nd baseman standing 7 feet away had the ball in his hands. Sure maybe the talent level is so weak that it is a high percentage play but you aren't teaching a child anything about proper baseball, and really you are embarrassing the defensive player.
     
  15. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Exactly. Plus, think of the size of an average 10 year old's strike zone, average 10 year old boy's height is four ten.
     
  16. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    How about when there is a runner on third and the batter walks, he touches first and just keeps on going to second? Defensive team's manager says don't even try to make the play because he doesn't want the runner on third to score.

    I hate that. Depriving kids of game situations where they can make a play. I'll probably never manage a LL team (I'm usually an asst coach), but if I did, I'd tell my kids to try to throw the runner out in that situation, score be damned.
     
  17. BigMike

    BigMike Dope Dope

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    20,887
    Yeah, I kind of go a bit of both ways on that. Sometime it is silly where the pitcher has the ball before the kid is half way to 1B, and yet he goes around again. I have a couple plays for that, but rarely have the players to pull it off. And on the other side so often teams don't coach the runners.

    I played a game this year, and I had a very good SS. Ball goes to pitcher. Pitcher throws to 2nd, baserunner who has not properly been coached runs straight into an easy tag at 2B. Baserunner who has not been properly coached is still standing flatfooted on 2B. . When they did it the second time my jaw dropped.
     
  18. doc

    doc Member SoSH Member

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    I never saw that, if I did I'd be tempted to bean the other coach somehow
     
  19. Hank Scorpio

    Hank Scorpio Member SoSH Member

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    When do leagues start to differentiate in terms of talent levels, such as your "everyone plays" versus "going to the nationals" or whatever?

    What about kids who draw "too many walks"? Curious, because when I was a 4'3" 12 year old, I heard it from some opposing coaches because my batting like was often something like 0-0 4 BB, often with multiple "steals" out of the leadoff spot.

    This was just ordinary "little league", nothing serious in terms of competition. Also 20+ years ago...
     
  20. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Ordinary little league spring season is everyone plays, summer district play, is like an all star team, where the 12's could go to the LL World series. We have districts for 10, 11 and 12's, one team each. Just a few years ago, our LL was big enough to have two charters and send two teams in each age group to districts (American and National), but there are a lot fewer kids playing baseball in town now.

    My boys just play LL, "everyone plays" ends a lot sooner if you go travel/AAU baseball.
     
  21. BroodsSexton

    BroodsSexton Member SoSH Member

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    Three times I started a post on this precise issue--each time giving up because it infuriates me so much. So dumb and annoying. There is one team in our league who pull this shit all the time. The same coaches who make the kids run during the game while the team is in the dugout if they make a boneheaded play on the field.
     
  22. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    In our 8U division, a runner is not permitted to advance once an infielder controls the baseball on the dirt, for exactly this reason. Coaches try to get away with it regardless. Umpire is constantly sending runners back to a previously occupied base.
     
  23. Cumberland Blues

    Cumberland Blues Dope Dope

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    Our 7-8 division uses the same rule as LoweTek describes. We also do not take 2nd on overthrows to 1B or 75% of ground balls would be doubles. Basically the rule is one base if the ball's on the infield, and if they hit it to the OF they can run until the ball is back to the infield.
     
  24. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Good, sensible rule for that age. I wish we had that, our local LL seems to be going in the other direction.
     
  25. twothousandone

    twothousandone Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    That's age appropriate, and I like the wall at third base (runner only scores on a batted ball or forced in on a walk) because they also focus on a skill - control the ball in the field, put the ball in play at bat. I'll deviate from the general consensus here, a bit, and say it's up to the league to put those kind of rules in place. (And, IMO, not penalize kids for violating the rule. Just send them back to where they should be.)
    Within the rules, I believe there's a very important lessons from taking an extra base -- take the extra base whenever you can! ALWAYS be on the lookout to take an extra base.
    Now, I'm sure some of these coaches are jerks. But simply telling kids to take the extra base whenever they can, I don't think, makes them a jerk. The league needs to put the rules in place.
     
  26. Cabin Mirror

    Cabin Mirror Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    In my son's 8-9 year old in-town league, there was no stealing for the first half of the season, and then only stealing second for the latter half of the season. This seemed a very sensible rule to give a little taste of stealing, but not making it ridiculous.
     
  27. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    I agree, good rules. My youngest played in an 7-8 summer league where there was no stealing until halfway through the season and then they were allowed 3 steals an inning, but not home. It was funny to watch the kids, they all wanted to steal, and they'd be bummed if all 3 steals got used up in an inning before they got their chance.
     
  28. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I have a 12U Fall team. It's 70/50 and they lead, steal and go on dropped third strike. This is the first division in our league where they allow those advances. I have a player who is mentally challenged (I believe slightly autistic) and in an ugly custody battle between his parents. The Dad won't drive him to practice when he stays with him. This kid appears as though he has never played organized baseball before. I met him for the first time at the first game last Saturday.

    He sees all the excitement generated by runners going on dropped third strike. He is batting with a runner on 2B. He swings and misses at strike two and it gets by the catcher. Everyone yells for the runner at 2B to go. The hitter promptly drops his bat and runs to first base! Catcher picks up the ball and attempts to throw out the batter-runner at 1B. Overthrow. Runner from 2B scores. Batter-runner is at 2B excited and jumping around.

    Umpire, who is the UIC, calls the runner back to the plate but explains he has to allow the runner from 2B to score because the ball was live and the other team threw it around. I had sent him back to 2B thinking undo the advantage gained, etc. Sent him back to the dugout. I talk to the hitter to explain he can run only when it's strike three.

    Kid gets a base hit on the next pitch. He is actually quite coordinated and sees the ball well.

    I thought I'd seen most things that could happen on a baseball field but never saw anything like this before.

    Kid got on and scored in both of his ABs. I gave him a game ball.
     
  29. bgo544

    bgo544 Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    My son's 9-10 year old league allows stealing, runner can't leave until the ball crosses the plate. Midway through the season, they allow stealing home as well. It is all pretty stupid. This is my son's second year in this level, and I have yet to see a catcher throw out a runner at second. Only once have I seen a runner thrown out at third. The steals of home are about 80% successful, because the ball inevitably gets by the catcher (this is the first level of kid-pitch, so the pitchers struggle with control). Makes for some crappy baseball.
     
  30. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    As a 9-10 manager this year with the same rules, I completely agree. If leagues want to introduce this at 9-10 then limit the number of advances per inning. I watched a playoff game Saturday where 7-8 runs were scored via PB/WP.

    Limit it to 2-3 per inning.
     
  31. Saints Rest

    Saints Rest Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    If I were king for a day, there would be no steals allowed on passed balls or wild pitches and no stealing home. At least not until kids are 11 or older
     
  32. Skiponzo

    Skiponzo Member SoSH Member

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    I coached in a 9/10 league and there is open stealing as well (same deal with the ball crossing the plate) but the difference is we have them also do it at league age 8 which creates the same cluster being alluded to above. However, the 9/10 kids get it and we've thrown out like 40% of the guys stealing second. It's tough when they first begin but I think it speeds their development.
     
  33. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    I think it depends on the league and the level of play/coaching. I agree that sometimes, it's just idiotic if stealing 2nd is nearly 100% and stealing home is 80% successful, what's the point? To see who can win more bad baseball games?

    To the mindset that you have to start at some point, then the kids should be practicing more, not playing games. The problem with that is most LL managers have no idea what to work on at practice or how to do it.

    Sorry for the cynicism, I'm on son #3 in LL, seeing the same stupid stuff over and over and over again and it gets more brutal each time.
     
  34. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

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    My daughter plays in dixie angels, first year, and the pitching is so awful it's just walks and steals to score. We ended a game tied 17-17 with only two hits. There is a tenth batter rule and if you walk the tenth batter she gets two bases but if you hit the tenth she only gets one. That same game we had tenth batter at the plate with bases loaded and a 3-0 count down 17-16.. Our batter got hit and only could advance one base to tie.. A walk would have moved her to second and two runs in. Man they're learning so much
     
  35. BigJimEd

    BigJimEd Member SoSH Member

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    That sounds like the most miserable experience ever.
    Our town LL does sort of the opposite. When starting kid pitch, after 4 consecutive walks, batter takes his base but an out is recorded unless there are already two outs. There are issues with that but I'll take it over a 17-17 two hit game any time.


    At 9/10 there is also no stealing home but running is rampant elsewhere. Never saw anyone thrown out at 2nd. Saw very few at 11/12 for that matter but lot less running at will there.
     
  36. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

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    Also two player cannot steal at the same time yet I've seen them fake a steal to second and draw a throw then the runner go back to first and the runner on third runs home. It blows my mind.
     

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