Not only are their several throwing options outfielders must consider when throwing into the cutoff man in the infield, there are skills which must be developed in all the players on the team: quick decision making, and the ability to make hard accurate throws. Then10 baseball cutoff drills represented here are designed to assist players in their decision making when there are one or two runners on base.
Going over the diagrams and descriptions here, players will learn that there are situations where the cutoff man will always e the shortstop r the first baseman. For example, if there is a hit to the outfield with a runner on first, with few exceptions the cutoff man will be the shortstop.
If there are two runners on base, the throw will most often go to the first baseman. The idea is to always make the throw go ahead of the runner. Outfielders never throw behind the runner. So, if there is a runner on first, the outfielder throws to the shortstop ahead of him.
Executing these plays to get runners out and make plays on a base or at home plate, throwing skills must be developed. Any and all throws are made with little body movement. A right-handed player takes a step forward with his right foot and makes the throw.
Outfielders should never throw to home unless there is no other choice. They use always throw to the cutoff man, who will signal hm by raising his arms high into the air, providing a large target to throw at.
Below are 10 different game situations involving a cutoff man in the infield. What is consistent in cutoff situations is that the infielder who acts as the cutoff and relay player is standing in a direct line between the outfielder and the base behind which is being protected.
In cutoff plays, most of the team gets involved, playing the role of backup, in anticipation of an over throw. In fact, in most outfield base hits with one or more runners on base, every player from the pitcher to the outfield players not fielding the base hit, are utilized to back up the throw, in the event it is thrown over its target.
Bases Empty, Ball hit to left field.
This drill and all those that follow require the entire defense to be on the field. All 9 positions are filled. These are team drills which involve almost every player to play a role in the cutoff sequences.
- The coach hits a fly ball that drops into left field for a base hit.
- The left fielder scoops up the ball.
- The shortstop is the cutoff man. The left fielder throws to the shortstop.
- The shortstop throws to the second baseman who covers the second base bag.
- The left fielder retrieves the ground ball base hit.
- The third baseman moves to third base.
- The shortstop moves towards second base to get in line with the left fielder.
- Second baseman moves to cover second base.
- The first baseman moves to cover first in expectation of an overthrow.
- The pitcher moves in the direction between first and second in case of an overthrow.
- The right fielder moves to shallow outfield towards first in the event of an overthrow.
- The center fielder moves toward left field to back up the left fielder
Bases Empty, Base hit to center field
With total team coverage on all the bases, the coach approaches the plate with a fungo bat. This drill is very similar to the one above, except the ball is hit to center field.
- Coach hits a line drive to center field that drops for a base hit.
- The center fielder gathers up the ball and throws to the shortstop.
- The cutoff man is the shortstop. He catches the ball and throws it to the second baseman.
When the infield players see the ball drops into center field for a base hit, all the players are immediately set in motion. From home plate, it should appear that the shortstop and the second baseman, as well as the center fielder, are in a straight line, even before the center fielder throws the ball to the shortstop for the cutoff.
- The third baseman moves over and covers third base.
- The shortstop lines up with the center fielder and cuts off the ball.
- The second baseman moves to second base behind the shortstop.
- The first baseman moves into the infield a little, anticipating an overthrow.
- Both right fielder and left fielder move towards center field to back up the center fielder on the play.
Much of the movement on the field goes into positions where they can field the ball in the event of an overthrow. Even though the primary players are the center fielder, shortstop and second baseman, three other players are engaged (4 players if the pitcher is included), to act as backup and to be in position to field the ball if it is overthrown.
Runner on First Base, Base hit to left Field
This drill involves the shortstop as the cutoff man, and the second and third baseman to cover the infield and to field the ball. The pitcher will also play a role acting as backup in the event of an overthrow behind the third baseman. The ball ends up at third base, in front of the runner.
- Coach hits a line drive to left field that drops for a base hit.
- As soon as the ball is hit, the shortstop moves to his left in a straight line between the left fielder and third base.
- The third baseman moves to third base to cover.
- The pitcher moves over to his right over into foul territory behind third base to cover in case of an overthrow.
- A straight line is established down the line from left fielder to shortstop, then the third baseman to the pitcher in foul territory behind him.
- The second baseman moves to cover second base.
- The first baseman covers first base.
- The center fielder moves towards left field to back up the hit ball in left.
- The right fielder moves to the shallow part of the outfield in the event of an overthrow.
- The left fielder throws to the shortstop, who is the cutoff man.
- The shortstop throws the ball to third base, ahead of the runner.
- The shortstop raises his hands high to give the left fielder a larger target to throw to.
Base hit to Center Field with a Runner on First Base
This is a similar fielder setup situation as above, when the ball was hit to left field. Again, the shortstop will be the cutoff man, and infield movement will be similar but with other fielders engaged to anticipate an over throw from the center fielder.
As soon as the ball is hit and drops into center field for a base hit, the defense is engaged. Players run towards their positions in the infield and outfield.
- The ball is hit up the field to the center fielder for a base hit.
- The third baseman moves into position and stands at third base.
- The shortstop moves to his deep infield position, establishing a straight line between the center fielder and the third baseman.
- The pitcher rotates over into foul territory behind the third baseman, completing the straight line, anticipating an overthrow.
- The second baseman goes over and covers second base.
- The first baseman holds at first base.
- Both outfielders are engaged as soon as the ball is seen going into center field and will act as backup to the center fielder.
- The center fielder now throws to shortstop, who is the cutoff man.
- The shortstop gives the centerfielder a bigger target and raises both arms high in the air for throw.
- The shortstop throws the ball to the third baseman, in front of the runner.
Single to Right Field with a Runner on First Base
Note that in each of these drills, there is a great deal of movement to anticipate overthrows. To accomplish this, players must form a straight line starting at the point where the ball is hit.
In this case, the right fielder retrieves the ball, and a straight line is established starting with the right fielder, then the shortstop, the third baseman, and finally the pitcher, who positions himself in foul territory at the end of the straight line behind the third baseman. The pitcher would stand near where the third base coach is located.
- The second baseman moves to cover the base.
- The first baseman holds at first.
- Center fielder moves to right field when the ball is hit to back up the right fielder.
- Left fielder moves into shallow left between the shortstop and third base, should there be an overthrow.
- Right fielder throws to the shortstop who is the cutoff man.
- The shortstop gives the right fielder a large target with his arms.
- The short relays the ball and throws it to the third baseman.
Around the Horn “Four Corners” Drill
Coaches should observe closely the accuracy of the throws in all these cutoff drills. Every throw each player involved in the cutoff play should be hard, fast and accurate. The idea is to never have an over throw although every play anticipates it as the defense engages to back up every throw.
Preventing runners from reaching an extra base can only be accomplished with fast and good throws to the cutoff man, followed by the other infielders involved in each play. The better the throws, the more control the defense has over the movement of the runners on base.
Players should always avoid running and throwing. Running before the throw wastes precious seconds when runners are on base. Players should take one step of the foot on the side of their throwing arm and throw with speed.
- Coaches place a fielder at each base.
- The drill starts at home plate.
- Catcher throws to third base.
- Third base to second.
- Second to shortstop
- Shortstop to first base.
- First base to pitcher.
- Pitcher to home.
Make this a timed drill, to see how rapidly the ball can be thrown around the horn without dropping the ball. The drill can begin with only Home to 3B, 3B to 2B, 2B to 1B, 1B to home. Once they’ve reached their target time, add the shortstop and the pitcher.
Mix it up, start with 1B to SS, SS to 2B, 2B to 3B, 3B to 1B, 1B to home. There are numerous variations.
Full Team Long Throw Drill
In this drill, the outfield is involved in high speed throwing to the second base and shortstop cutoff and relay positions in the infield. This drill covers the correct cutoff from right field to the shortstop as cutoff. Shortstop then relays to third.
- Home to SS
- SS to 1B
- 1B to RF
- RF to SS
- SS to 3B
- 3B to Home
- Home to 3B
- 3B to 1B
- 1B to CF
- CF to SS
- SS to 2B
- 2B to 3B
- 3B to Home
- Home to 2B
- 2B to LF
- LF to SS
- SS to 1B
- 1B to 3B
Throwing drills involving both outfield and infield improves throwing skills and accuracy in longer throws. This drill pulls together outfield around the horn drills and infield throwing drills into one. Long throws are common in real game situations and long throw drills should be incorporated into every team practice.
Runner on Second Base, Base Hit to Left Field
In this drill, the third baseman this time is the cutoff man. The shortstop covers third base. In this situation, the baseball must stay ahead of the runner, who in this instance is heading to home.
- Ball is hit to left field and drops for a single
- The infield moves as soon as the ball is seen going into the outfield.
- The baserunner at second runs towards third. He will round the base and head to home.
- The shortstop runs to third to cover.
- The third baseman moves between third and home plate. He raises his arms to provide a large target to the left fielder.
- The second baseman runs to the second base bag to cover
- If there is no play at home, the third baseman relays the throw to second base ahead of the baserunner from home.
- The catcher prepares for the throw from the third baseman.
- The third baseman throws to home as the runner slides in attempting to score.
- The catcher tags out the runner, then looks to second where the second baseman is covering the bag.
- Whether the runner is safe or is out at home plate, the player should track the runner who made the base hit and is running toward second. He throws to second ahead of the runner.
Runner at Second Base, Base Hit to Center Field
The shortstop covers second base. The first baseman moves and positions himself between second base and home, as the cutoff man. He will then turn and relay the throw to home plate.
- Base hit to center field, runner at second base.
- The runner advances and rounds third base on his way to home.
- There is a play at home.
- The center fielder throws to the first baseman.
- The second baseman moves to cover first base.
- The first baseman relays the throw to home plate.
- The catcher tags the runner out.
This play involving the first baseman as the cutoff and relay man is scored 8-3-2.
Base hit to Right Field, Runner at Second Base
This cutoff drill assumes there is no runner at first base.
- The shortstop moves to cover second base as the ball drops into center field. He will have the tag if there is no play at home.
- Second baseman covers first base.
- The third baseman covers third base in the event of a play.
- Pitcher runs behind home plate to back up the catcher, anticipating an overthrow.
- Center fielder moves to right to cover the play in right field.
- The first baseman moves into a straight line between right field and the catcher at home.
- Right fielder throws to the first baseman, who is the cutoff man.
- First baseman throws to home for a play at the plate.
Runners at First and Second Base, Base hit to Center Field
The cutoff and relay man will be the first baseman. He will determine whether to cover first base or relay the throw to home plate.
- A line drive base hit to right field.
- The center fielder fields the base hit. He decides whether to throw to third base or to the first baseman.
- The first baseman is positioned between the pitcher’s mound and home plate, in a straight line with the center fielder.
- The third baseman moves to cover third base in the event of a throw from the center fielder.
- The second baseman covers second base.
- In this case, there is a play at the plate. The center fielder throws to the first baseman.
- The first baseman throws to home for the out.
Coaches should also create real game scenarios by positioning runners at first bae for some cutoff drills, then have runners at both first and second. Observe the decision making by your outfield. Call out directions to fielders, reminding them to throw to the cutoff man in the infield.