Cook has been president of the Conklin Raiders, a girls’ travel softball team with five finishes in the national top 16, since 1989. He currently coaches the Raiders U-18 team and has also coached the Susquehanna Valley Sabers to five New York state high school titles.
● What It's All About Rips and Reps pairs two players together as a batter and base runner to work on situational hitting and running, but Cook likes the drill because it also keeps defensive players involved.
The defense is positioned as it would be in a game, and two players are put to work as the hitter and base runner before swapping roles to complete a cycle of the drill. The offensive players get work on handling specific game situations and the fielders get work on defending them.
● How It Works The runner is placed on a predetermined base, and the hitter is given a set of tasks — usually three different skills — to advance the runner during one round of the drill.
Cook often starts the runner at first base. The hitter then begins by attempting to advance the runner with a sacrifice bunt. Next the runner returns to first base for a new attempt, such as a slap bunt or a fake bunt/hit. And to complete the round, the runner might be placed on third for a squeeze attempt.
● Rotating Players Following the round of three skills, the players reverse roles as batter and runner. When the players have completed a turn as both the runner and the hitter, they move back to the field so two more players can take over on offense.
● Keeping Busy With multiple coaches, others can make sure the defensive players keep busy.
“I’ve got two coaches, one on each side of the batters’ box, with a screen next to them,” Cook said. “If the ball doesn’t get hit or doesn’t get hit to a certain section, the coach is hitting a fly ball or a groundball to somebody in the field, so they don’t get bored.”
Although the drill is designed for situational hitting and running, it serves many purposes.
“You have a lot of things going on,” Cook said. “You’re getting a lot of kids reps with fly balls and groundballs and at the same time, you’ve got a live situation.”
● Higher Levels The drill can be advanced to higher levels. Cook said he also uses a round where hitters have to execute a hit-and-run, get a line drive through to the outfield and hit a fly ball to get a runner in from third base.
“We’re trying to give kids situations (so they) always have their mind in the game,” he said.
● Add Some Competition Coaches can make the drill into a competition by adding point values to successfully completing skills.
“You take two kids and create a series of things that they have to do to score points, so it also makes for a little competition while working on their skills,” Cook said.