The Ole Ball Game

do coaches teach the runner on 2nd to skip 3rd on a double suicide bunt in order to score

by matthew

Just because the umpire can't see it, or doesn't see it, is it the right message to send your players?

Just because the umpire can't see it, or doesn't see it, is it the right message to send your players?

Matthew asked: Double steal.

I have a coach that told our kids to steal third on a suicide bunt but to skip third when the ball was thrown to first in order to score.

Told them the umps would not see this as they were looking at the throw to 1st.

Rick answered: Matthew, thank you for your question.

Wow, where to start!

Let's start with the basics of your question and the play itself.

I can't provide you an answer on the number of coaches who teach a runner to intentionally miss a base because they believe umpires will not catch it; but there are certainly those that do.

The particular play in question, with just two umpires, it is very possible the umpire responsible for checking the backside of this play may not see it.

In youth baseball, Little League age players, highly possible with the lack of experienced umpires that neither is watching the backside of this play. Could even happen at the high school level, although not as easily.

The question then becomes, what are we teaching our kids? In my opinion, a teaching point such as this one says, "it's alright to cheat because you won't get caught".

As coaches we teach our players to watch the pitcher and see if you can pick up if he tips his pitches, doesn't vary his look at base runners, or look for other habitual habits he may have, which will provide you with an edge when attempting to steal a base.

Pitchers and catchers are taught to study hitters for elements in their stance or swing which would indicate how they might better pitch to a particular hitter.

These are just 2 of many ways to create some form of advantage for yourself on the baseball field, while maintaining your integrity as a player or a coach.

Teaching players, at any level, to intentionally cut a base because you believe no one will see it or have batters sneak a look back at the catcher's signals, show a win at all costs attitude and a disrespect for the game.

If you are unable to operate within the rules of the game, then you shouldn't be working with kids who want to play it, building life skills and attitudes to carry forward, for parents who expect you to do just that.

Where do you go next? Let your pitchers alter the surface of the baseball, maybe add a small foreign substance? Let your hitters use an illegal bat? Once the game starts, would umpires really notice?

While this coaching point may seem to be a small thing here, it is all about the integrity of the game and those involved in it. From a coaching standpoint, I would refer you to a page on my site baseball rules.

An additional page at baseball coaching philosophy, can provide some additional thoughts on what to consider before you as an individual decide to work with kids who will listen to what you tell them and make it part of their philosophy going forward.

One might wonder how we get to the point where teaching players to openly disregard the rules of established games (baseball has been around for over 170 years), just because you can get away with it, seems to some to be a creditable coaching point.

Since day one, the game has had 4 bases, each 90 feet from the other, with a strict rule that a runner must touch all 4 bases, in succession, to score a run. How does a coach justify in his mind that it is ok to cut one, or all the bases for that matter, if it is possible an umpire will not see it.

Everyone I ever played for or have coached with delegates the time to teach players to get a good lead, a good read and jump, making a solid tight turn at the bag, hitting the base with their right foot and heading for the next base.

If we do all that, and the defense is able to put it together and throw us out, hats off to them.

If we end up scoring, then we did everything right, within the rules, and it came out good. We have a right to be excited and proud of what we just achieved.

Teach your players to circumvent the rules to score the run, you have accomplished what? That cheating pays off and you don't really need to pay attention to any rules that are out there. Copy someone's homework, who's going to know. Cheat on a test, no one can see me. That list can become rather large.

Yours in baseball,


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