Today, Monday 1/25/21 California lifted the statewide stay-at-home order. While we aren’t out of danger yet, and we don’t want to minimize the current challenge, I’ve decided it’s time to prepare for Spring Baseball. I know much of the nation is operating as normal, but we in California have been locked down for months and still aren’t allowed to play organized sports. My own home league has been very quiet, not much announced by way of planning. That said, I know that the hope is to push season dates back in an effort to buy time and align with those of more cold-weathered states. Then, leagues can work backwards off of all-star dates and shorten the season as necessary.
PONY UPDATES – Our friends at PONY Baseball shared their update: Restart Suggested Protocol.
BABE RUTH UPDATES – Our friends at Babe Ruth shared this: Safe Suggested Guidelines
Really hoping this isn’t necessary, but I wanted to share the workouts we hosted for camp during quarantine / lockdown. Video explains more thoroughly, but we broke our workout into two halves.
To start the day, pods of 7 athletes were gathered down one foul line – two pods per field (14 total athletes). They would stay there for run/stretch/throw, and stay with their own group for the entire day (no rotating stations or seeing various coaches). Instead, a single coach would stay with a single pod… working them out from defense to offense, through a break, and ultimately into competition. Here’s a breakdown of the two parts to our day:
The first, “Instruction”, involved the field being broken down into an offensive-side and a defensive-side. Offense was down the left field line, with one catch net and three batting tees. Defense took the right field foul line and the diamond. In it’s most simple format, we structured five workouts across defense and offense to be carried out.
This drill is called “Soft-Throw-Scrimmage” and is nothing more than a coach standing in as pitcher. He/she puts the ball into the strike zone and initiates action. Action! That’s the key. No pitcher no catcher – in this case, because of Covid Protocol. That said, we run this drill at the HS and college level to get fast action, to simulate game-like pressure on the defense, to practice aggressive baserunning, and to do so quickly.
In fact, this absolutely develops young athletes faster than a real game. We don’t wait for strikes! Instead, we get action on nearly every pitch thrown. And we can stop the play to rewind and execute correctly – we can teach on the field. Some other benefits:
- Start each play with a situation – We would pick a situation to practice, and “reset” after each batter to that. Example: Runner on 1st base. Batter up! Start with a runner on base and play ball. After the play concludes, send that batter (now running) back to first base and clear the rest. Next batter up. Next inning: Start with two runners on base. Etc. By the the second or third inning, we let the kids play and the game was on!
- Rotate positions – Defensively, we rotated players evenly each inning – from infield to outfield even. Third base to left field, left field to shortstop, shortstop to center field, CF to second base, 2B to right field, RF to 1B.
- Space each team down the line and use fence posts to separate athletes and their equipment.
- Coach / Pitcher Options – Standing behind an L-screen, on a knee tossing darts, soft-toss… anyway to appropriately deliver strikes.
- Parents organized down each foul line as well, on the other side of the fence of course! Limit # of parents per athlete and have them sit at each fence post (typically 10 feet apart).
Certainly, you wouldn’t need to do all (or any) of these suggestions. The goal is to develop athletes and install competition into the activity. We actually played a 5-game “World Series” across a camp week, but I could see this type of workout taking the place of traditional games – were restrictions to NOT allow leagues to play games.
Several leagues I’ve consulted this spring have published this as a Plan B. Plan A is normal game competition (no restrictions) and this type of Plan B allows them to register families. Many leagues have communicated the financial hardship that would fall upon them were they NOT to be able to register athletes for Spring 2021.