Whether you have recently been drafted into your first position as a third base coach, or you are looking to improve your skills, keep reading to find out how to coach 3rd base.
Where the first base coach focuses on the base runner from the position that they hit the baseball, ran from the first base toward the second. Before they hit the ball, the 3rd base coach is responsible for the batter.
As the third base coach, you will give important signals to the batter. Coaching third base is an exciting role in baseball, however, it is not easy. Thus, it is vital to know how to successfully coach the third base.
A good third base coach largely remains unnoticeable on the field and doesn’t make many mistakes. While the game can sometimes appear slow, it moves fast around the third base.
The third base coach is in charge of all of the aggressive or offensive plays in the game. It is often a position that is easier at a higher level because you do not have to worry about aiding the runners too.
At a higher level, baseball teams have coaches for all positions and players, but youth coaches have to take up all of the responsibilities.
You must be effective at making quick decisions; communicating effectively, and maintaining your team’s confidence and morale.
Keep reading to find out more about coaching third base…
First Base Vs Third Base
Compared to a first base coach, the third base coach has more important responsibilities. The first base coach is responsible for:
- Signaling for the runner to run toward the base without slowing down;
- Telling the runner whether to continue to run toward the 2nd base or remain at the 1st;
- Praising the batter for a good hit;
- Signaling for the runner to steal the second base;
- Altering the infielders’ depth;
- Telling the runner about a fly infield, instead of waiting for the umpire;
- Ensuring that the runner is aware of the number of outs;
- Having an awareness of the catcher’s strengths and tendencies;
- Knowing which player will take the throw-down.
While this list is not small, it is nothing compared to the high amount of responsibilities of the third-base coach. Being a third-base coach requires much knowledge and skill.
The third base coach must be focusing on all areas of the game at one time. The third base coach is responsible for:
- Telling each runner the correct number of outs;
- Telling the runner how to approach the third base
- Offering signals to the batter
- Keeping players calm
5 Tips To Be a Great Third Base Coach
As a third base coach, you are in the middle of the action of every game, thus, you must be able to make the right decisions quickly and communicate effectively with your team.
1. Keep Players Calm
As a third base coach, it is your job to keep the players calm on the field. If a strike is called, it is important to prevent your batter from becoming upset.
If the player doesn’t agree with the umpire, it is important to have a calm and collected discussion about the decision. In many cases, a player may disagree with an umpire’s decision and give up for the rest of the game.
If your players become easily upset, it is likely that they will not play to their ability and will be struck out quickly while on the pitch. Be aware of your player’s tendencies.
If a player becomes upset and stressed, request a time-out and speak to him/her to calm him/her down. Make sure that you do not put too much pressure on your players, especially if they are young.
As a coach, you should get to know each player individually and find out what always cheers them up or makes them laugh. This will help to ease any stressful situation.
A quick gesture or kindness such as a hug or a joke can make all the difference in changing your player’s mood and ensuring that they don’t get down on themselves.
2. Give Every Player a Chance
As a coach, especially if you are coaching young children, it is important to give every player a chance to reach his/her potential.
Even if some of your players are slower than others, or worse batters than others, giving them a chance will boost their confidence and likely encourage them to practice harder.
If never given a chance on the field, a player is likely to lose interest in the game. Be aware of your players’ strengths and weaknesses and play for them.
It is also a good idea to give all of your players a chance to score when batting, rather than consistently playing it safe, especially with less skilled players.
Be aware of the position of the third baseman and know his tendencies. Give your players the best chance to score, even if they are slower than others.
It is often helpful to give your batter a signal so that he/she fakes a bunt, then pulls back. This can often result in a runner reaching the third base, as well as scoring.
Carefully watch the catcher as well as the pitcher and note their tendencies. If the catcher is slow at returning the ball to the pitcher, it could help your player to score.
3. Help Your Players to Visualise Plays
As a third base coach, it is important to have a variety of coaching techniques to suit different players. Some players will learn by practice, while others will benefit from visualizations and plans.
At the beginning of the season, it is often helpful to start visualizing and talking about plays with your players. If a player has hopes of scoring for the first time or holding a critical play, help them to visualize this in their mind.
Don’t put too much pressure on your players, and try to teach them that pressure is a positive thing rather than a negative thing. Let them know that pressure should just be something that pushes them.
Make sure that they know that you will not be disappointed in them, no matter how hard they play. If they feel too much pressure, especially at a young age, it can be detrimental rather than beneficial.
It is also important to get to know each individual player, as some may thrive on pressure and tough words, where others need a softer touch.
For the players that do enjoy the pressure, it is often a good idea to keep them back until the end so that they can score at a crucial point at the game.
You may also want to consider holding up the runners at third base, to give your other players a chance of scoring at second base.
You should aim to make each player comfortable in making their own decisions when on the field. As the season continues, each player should have more confidence in their own ability and strengths.
4. Be Confident in Your Ability
As a third base coach, you must be confident in your own ability, to instill confidence in your players.
You want to build a smart and confident team that is comfortable with making aggressive plays. You and your players mustn’t be afraid of failing.
With more aggressive styles of playing, more players will likely get run out, at the same time as scoring more often. So it is important to stay confident in your ability and plan.
You must ensure that your team is happy with this style of play resulting in a few more outs, to make more runs.
As a coach, you will make mistakes and you will not always make the right decisions. In these cases, it is important to accept your failures, take note, and move on.
Chance and odds come into play, thus, just because a play didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean that you made the wrong decision.
Your players can still get out even if you made a perfect play, so make sure that all of the players know this. Try to prevent criticism among your coaches, players, and their parents.
Ensure that all of the players are aware of your intended plays. If everyone agrees before the game, it will prevent any criticism or arguments if, because of odds or chance, it does not go to plan.
5. Don’t Push Your Players Too Hard
While an aggressive and confident playing method is usually a good thing, it is never a good idea to be overly aggressive or to push your players too hard.
Try not to avoid making aggressive plays by running bases. If at all possible, if there are no outs, try to keep your runner at the 2nd base if there could be a play made at the third base.
If the runner is at the third base and less than two outs are remaining, ensure that he knows if a fly ball is hit, he should remain on the third base and run home once the ball is caught.
If he ran before the ball was caught, he would likely risk running back to the third base before running home. There is usually enough time to return home once the ball is caught.
There is no need to worry about whether the ball was caught or not. The umpire should be sure that the runner was at his base when the ball was initially touched.
The runner should not think about what is going on elsewhere and rather focus on returning to the home base once the couch signals to him/her.
Ensure that the runner knows what you are trying to communicate with him/her. Let your players know of your intended signals before the game to avoid any confusion.
If you are unsure as to whether the player has understood your signal, make sure he knows to either ask you again or call for a time out.
Never punish a player for making a mistake while running during a game. Instead, during the next practice season, explain to him/her the play that you intended and practice it instead.
How Can You Coach Youths at Third Base?
Coaching youth teams as a third-base coach can often be a lot harder than coaching higher level teams. High-level teams have coaches for almost every position, whereas a youth coach has to take up all of the responsibilities.
As a third base coach for youths, you have one of the most exciting positions in the game, but the decisions you make have to be made quickly.
When coaching youth baseball teams there are some things to remember:
- Make sure to talk about offensive plays before each game and use them often in practice;
- If another player is the coach for the first base, make sure to teach them simple signs and gestures;
- Make sure to keep your own signs simple without being obvious to other teams;
- Know the opposite team’s pitcher, catcher, and outfield positions;
- Teach players to be always aware and looking for signals;
- Start by teaching your players the basics such as stealing and bunting;
- Begin to include more advanced plays and signals as the players improve, such as hitting and running, delayed stealing, bunting and running;
- Let the other players know that your main focus is on the first runner;
- Teach a player a signal to use if they do not understand a gesture of sign;
- Make sure players are aware of the correct number of outs
- Tell runners to remain on line drives if there are fewer than two outs;
- Know where you should stand depending on different plays or situations;
- Help players to learn to make their own decisions;
- Make decisions quickly.
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As a third base coach, you have one of the most exciting positions in baseball. However, you must be able to make offensive decisions quickly; communicate effectively with your players, and ensure your team is confident in their plays.