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Many of us baseball coaches spend too much time working on individual defensive fundamentals and not enough time coordinating the positions with each other. Every year at Cal State Fullerton, we begin with an in-depth explanation and demonstration of what we want out of our team defense. This article will touch on some of the areas we stress.

IMPORTANCE OF TEAM DEFENSE

We begin by defining in detail what we mean by team defense. We want our players to commit to our system of signs and, in turn, share the information with other positions on the field visually and verbally.

The goal of the defense is to space themselves properly and to play defense similar to a zone defense in basketball or football. We do not want each defensive player doing his own thing or playing a man-to-man defense. We are trying to coordinate our scouting information with our pitching plan to help predict where the ball is most likely to be hit. If our positioning and spacing is good we enhance our chances to have a defensive player capable of making the play.

By starting with this discussion and follow-up drill we feel the players might buy into the philosophy that interaction with teammates is imperative to good defensive play. It certainly encourages them to look at and communicate with the other defensive players. Even if the information is incorrect, we feel that by starting the communication process, we can work on getting them to pass along the proper information with some help.

GOALS OF AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSE

Our mission is to play defense at a level that accomplishes certain goals. We would like to cover the middle of the field as a first priority. We would like to eliminate free bases, extra bases and mental mistakes. We would like to get an out on all bunt plays.

We believe that with sound defense you will establish momentum, regain momentum, or eliminate momentum that could have been gained by the opposition. We also feel there are offensive lessons to be learned through the understanding of difficult defensive situations.

We also try not to be too fancy in our defensive approach. We feel if you get too many picks, bunt defenses, defensive plays, or signs, the chances of confusion go up and the chances of being able to play fundamental catch go down. We work very hard on keeping the mission simple and repeat defensive priorities quite often in scrimmage or practice time.

The players need to understand and be comfortable with the team system. They cannot play with confidence if they are confused. And players cannot perform, even with an understanding of the system, if they lack confidence in their individual fundamentals. But while individual defense must be practiced in a repetition manner, so does team defense. Neither can be neglected.


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