Lefty was playing right field at a recent practice. The coach hit a ball to the left fielder and Lefty took off towards the ball, sprinting the entire distance of the outfield until he reached left field. As I watched, I was somewhat amazed at his desire to get to the ball and somewhat shocked at the “swarm” mentality. I guess I thought that Lefty would innately know that as a right fielder, he does not go for a ball in left. The coach yelled, “Lefty! You are right field, what are you doing in left?” I realized that I needed to work with him on position responsibility. I remember hearing the phrase The Three Bs to teach young players their position responsibility. The Three Bs are play the Ball, play a Bag, or Backup. Now, Lefty was all over the first B, but knowing which B to play for each situation takes some learning. Every fielder has a responsibility on each play. Just like chasing a ball that is not yours is incorrect, standing around being a spectator is not correct either. Some plays you go for the ball. Other plays you need to cover a bag. And still others, especially for outfielders, you need to backup a play.
I read once about how the late NFL coach Bill Walsh taught his team a play in football. He would start from the center’s position and describe each player’s responsibility for that play. Each player would join the play one at a time. In this way, everyone knew their responsibility and each other’s. This may be time-consuming but I see the necessity as young players learn their roles. I think it is time to bust out the Baseball Guys with Lefty and begin some situation training.
At Lefty’s age, he is not going to remember right away his responsibilities on each play. But starting with the three Bs may help him. And, if you need a right fielder to track down a ball in left, he is your man.