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Dugout and on deck batter’s skills are mental skills that are very important if a player is going to reach his potential and advance. At the high school level and beyond the competition is fierce. Players that once enjoyed a size and strength advantage, due to a fall birthday, usually lose it during post puberty years of the 9th and 10th grade. At this level the smart (coachable) player can often outperform a more talented but less attentive player. We believe that coaches should begin teaching the “intangibles” at 9-10 or beginning in the first year of kids pitch baseball.

The dugout and on deck circles are places to relax but NOT LOSE THEIR FOCUS. It’s not a time for them to have mom bring them a Gatorade. It’s not a time to socialize with friends and family outside of the fence either (they can do that after the game). It’s not just a time to get loose either. It’s a time to learn and gain an edge (increase their odds of being successful later in the game), by studying the umpire, pitcher and the opposing defense.

Learn the umpire’s strike zone during the first inning.
Does he consistently call a high or low strike zone?
Does he give pitches that are 1 ball in and 2-3 out?
Does he give the call if the pitcher hits the mitt?

Learn the pitcher’s tendencies.
Does he throw a 2 seam or 4 seam fast ball?
Does he start everyone off with a fast ball?
Does he try to strike everyone out?
Can he throw his off speed pitches for strikes?
Does he throw the bottom of the order all fast balls?
Does he alter his delivery when he throws off speed pitches?
Can he throw off speed pitches during fast ball counts?
What are his “out pitches”? (pitches during 0-2 counts)-high heat, curve in the dirt, fast ball on the hands, fast ball 6 inches out side?
Does he ever use a submarine delivery?
After a real wild off speed pitch, is he embarrassed and come back with a fast ball?
Does he throw more fast balls when the base runners on base are a threat to steal?

Learn the pitcher’s tendencies with runners on base.
How many looks does he give to a runner at 1b, 2b,
Does he go to the stretch with a runner at 3b?
How many pick off moves does he have to each base?
Does he have 1st and 3rd skills?
How many times in a row will he throw over?
Does he slide or quick step?
Do they have a “pitch out” play?
Do he and the catcher change signs when a runner reaches 2b?

Does the pitcher field his position well?
Is he athletic?
Can he field bunts quickly?
Does he back up 3b/home on balls hit to the outfield?
Can he cover home on a passed ball?

Does the infield shift according to the pitch that is being called?
Does the outfield shade hitters?
Does the 3b ever set up differently on every pitch?
Do they move when you show bunt early?

On deck duties:
Coach the 3b runner to slide or stand up at home.
Chase passed and foul balls for the opposing catcher (with nobody on base).
Is there a running lane?
Learn the slope of the infield. If it’s a downhill run from 1b to 2b, it will be an uphill run from 3b to home.
"In the hole" batter has the responsibility of retrieving foul balls, not the on-deck batter. It is his job to pay attention to the pitcher he is going to face.

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