One of the foundational elements of a quality infield is the frequency and efficiency of communication. Infielders should be talking constantly and communicating with all players on the field. It is also important to standardize this communication.
Infielders should communicate the number of outs to the other infielders and to the outfield before every play. Infielders should learn to position themselves based on tendencies of the opposition and then communicate their shifts to their teammates. Infielders should also try to communicate the pitch that is about to be thrown with the outfielders. Pre-pitch communication is very important in the chess game of baseball. To advance our pre-pitch understanding, reaction, and knowledge, our program will be utilizing the same wristband communication system used at hundreds of colleges and high schools across the country. This is just one of many ways in which we are attempting to prepare our athletes for the next levels of the game.
As the ball is put in play, the infield should be the first to communicate the result. A ball in the air should be pointed to immediately while calling “UP” right away. Infielders will call “BALL” on a ball in the air, while outfielders will call “I GOT IT” to avoid confusion in communication between the position groups.
On balls on the ground, specifically on a double play ball between the 2B and SS or a groundball to the 1B to flip to the P, the infielders should communicate “OVER” to throw over the top or “FLIP” to use an underhand toss. The movie “Flip and Over” shows the physical movements of the flip and over techniques.
In addition to these verbal cues, there are a number of non-verbals that are vital to communication. Players should use hand gestures to communicate the number of outs. The middle infield should communicate with an open mouth if the other player will cover the base on a steal and with a closed mouth if that infielder intends to cover the base himself. Finally, as a simple pick play at 1B or 2B, the infielder should show an open hand or open glove to back pick the runner. The movie “Infield Communication” shows the open and closed mouth as well as the simple open glove/hand sign an infielder can give the pitcher when calling for a pick play.
Practicing communication is vital to reinforcing the principle. Coaches can use a fungo or machine to practice live situations. Organizing live game situations in a Doghouse scrimmage situation can also bring communication to the forefront.