Baseball coaches can get conditioning and speed work done at the same time they are working on stressing good baserunning habits.
West Scranton (Pennsylvania) High School baseball coach George Roskos likes to use a drill called “Think Two” for that purpose.
“It’s a baserunning drill that we use kind of as conditioning at the end of practice,” Roskos said. “Basically, “think two” is what we want our kids to mentally practice when they hit a single.”
Roskos said the drill can be used earlier in the season when teaching and conditioning are a bigger part of practice, but he also go will back to it throughout the season to provide a bit of a refresher in either or both areas.
Players start out in the batter’s box as if they have just put a ball in play to the outfield.
“We want them to be full speed running out of the box and then, at about 45 feet, when the runner’s box starts on the baseball field, we tell them that’s the point where we want them to start their turn by turning right and going very wide and preparing to make the turn around first base,” Roskos said. “We’re going to make an aggressive turn and we’re going to ‘think two,’ meaning this: Even though we’ve hit what is most likely a single, we want to run the bases like we’re going to stretch it into a double.”
Running players through the drill repeatedly in an early-season practice gets some sprinting and conditioning work done. It also is designed to ingrain habits in the players that will help them take advantage of situations that arise occasionally during the season.
If the players have those good habits of always sprinting on routine singles, Roskos said, they are in better position to make the most of an opportunity.
“We’re going to think two,” Roskos said. “We’re going to run hard out of the box. We’re going to run at full speed. We’re not going to ‘Cadillac’ it down the first-base line.
“And, if we see that the outfielder is approaching the ball lazily or if he approaches it over-aggressively and bobbles it a little bit, any type of thing like that would result in us trying to take what is a single and stretch it into a double.”
In the drill, there is no chance of a player watching his batted ball and developing lazy habits while anticipating those plays that will only result in a single.
Roskos uses a coach or coaches to signal to the player at some stage in his sprint whether he is continuing on to second or returning to first after an aggressive turn.
“I’ll have a coach standing probably 30 feet from first base, toward second base,” Roskos said. “He’ll give them some type of signal whether to continue to second base.”
Roskos said if the drill is being repeated, the players will sometimes be signaled before they reach first base whether they are continuing to second or not.
“The key thing that we’re trying to teach and emphasize is that we go 100% out of the box,” he said. “ … We don’t want kids to cruise down the first-base line and just stop at first or make a token turn.”
Roskos said the drill is also run indoors before the team can get outside for practice and games.