The cat-and-mouse game between a pitcher and a baserunner is exciting and nerve-wracking all in one. The baserunner hopes to advance by stealing the next base, and you, the pitcher, didn’t even want them on your base paths in the first place. Nevertheless, you want to keep them at the base for as long as possible. A good defense against a potential infield robbery is a well-executed pickoff or stepoff move.
Pickoffs and stepoffs are perfect additions to any indoor baseball training routine. Champion Youth Baseball Coach Branndon Pezzelle has some insightful tips on how to hold up your opponents on the base paths with solid moves from the mound.
To start practicing your pickoff move, begin from the stretch position rather than the windup. Pezzelle notes that your main focus should be to get your back foot off of the mound as quick as possible, so that you can legally throw over to first base without balking. For right-handed pitchers, there are a few techniques that you can use to limit how far the baserunner gets off the bag.
“You can do the slow move, where you just throw the ball over and keep the runner under your control,” Pezzelle says, “or you can do it very quickly to catch him off-guard and try to get an out.”
Practicing your stepoff movement is based on your communication skills with your first baseman.
“If the first baseman doesn’t like the lead that the runner has,” Pezzelle says, “what he’ll do is communicate to the pitcher, ‘Hey, step off.’”
At this point, you can take your back foot off of the mound and throw the runner out at second base or force him to retreat back to first. The stepoff move is more of a preventative skill to have, while pickoffs are more direct and aggressive in nature.
Don’t let baserunners run amok while you pitch this season. Put in the work and put the brakes on your opponents with these pickoff and stepoff moves for pitchers.