Angels Baseball


Gain Playing Time
Improve Defense

"Defense to me is the key to playing baseball."
- Willie Mays

It frustrates me to watch defense today at Youth Baseball games.  The product I see on the field clearly shows that kids are NOT working on their defense.  And please don’t tell me that “I hit my kids groundballs during practice.”  That simply doesn’t cut it.  And, let’s be realistic about that statement.  If you have 12 kids on your team, and hitting them one groundball at a time; how many groundballs are they actually getting?  I strongly doubt they are getting more than 10 each.  

Defense is such an easy, AND FUN, skill to work on during practice (and even outside practice).  But why aren’t coaches doing it?  Simple.  The focus is on scoring runs and not preventing runs.  Everyone is enamored with hitting that we fail to focus on the other side.  There is so much stress on hitting at the Major League level (along with a glorification of hitting long home runs) which is then carried down through each level.  Glory, to many, is achieved through the bat and not with the glove.

I wish this mindset would change.  As an individual player, your avenue to playing time (or more playing time) could be through your glove.  Coaches ultimately do want players to be skilled on defense; yet they just don’t spend time on it.  If a player was skilled with the glove and proved to be reliable; I strongly believe their playing time would increase regardless of how they do on offense.  Coaches need players that can make plays.  Coaches need players that can help keep their pitchers’ pitching counts low.  The more errors made, the more pitches on an arm.  It’s pretty simple.  Make plays and your pitcher gets off the field with a low pitch count.

So why are Coaches not spending more time on defensive drills?  I don’t have an answer other than what I stated earlier; which is they simply want to outscore the other opponent.  And by outscoring, they are focused on getting more runs than their opponent and not giving up less runs.  There are MANY drill videos that focus on defense.  Nate Trosky, who I consider the best infield coach, has enough online drills to keep your team busy for years.  So, it’s not a lack of content.  Could it be laziness?  Possibly.  It does take more effort for a coach to work through defensive drills.  Hitting drills are more or less just standing around.  Working on your defensive requires more movement.  Another factor is likely weather.  Teams in colder weather states spend more time indoors, especially during the Winter.  You’re in a confined space which limits your possible drills.  BUT, there are still plenty of drills one can do, but it takes interest.

Ultimately it does come down to the player and their interest.  And I do believe that players are MUCH MORE interested in hitting than defense.  As mentioned before, there is more glory in hitting.  Hit a homerun and people will remember for days.  make a great play and few will remember it tomorrow.  Players know that if they hit very well, they will play, regardless of how they do on defense.  My hope (because I love 1-0 games) is that we begin to flip that script.  Less players on a team are better at defense than they are hitting.  So, play the odds.  Get better at something very few are good at…DEFENSE.  If you struggle to hit for a few games (and you will), you will lose favor with the coach and you’ll find yourself on the bench looking for a way to get in the lineup.  Well, pick up your glove and get to work.