A good defensive team does a lot of communicating. They communicate with teammates before the ball is hit and when the play is ongoing. They communicate between innings, before and after games, and during practice. All good stuff.
On the other hand, players can sometimes become too dependent on communication. I wrote a post about this a while back called “Don’t rely on teammates.” In that post I mentioned that in some circumstances communication is not possible. One is when a field is too loud or too windy to hear anything. Another is when a player doesn’t have time to listen for an order and then react. They just have to react on their own.
Here are some examples:
- Players need to know where they are at all times as a cutoff man and should not need to be told to move LEFT or RIGHT by someone else.
- A runner hits a ball in the gap with runners on base. The batter/runner will have to watch what previous runners do before deciding on whether to stretch it into a triple. The third base coach is preoccupied with preceding runners. You cannot wait to get help from the coach. A runner needs to take care of that himself.
- With a slow runner on second base, a ball is bunted hard back towards the pitcher. The pitcher should not have to be told where to throw. He should know to line up his feet for a throw to third base.
- On a 3-6-3 play, the shortstop should not have to yell INSIDE! or OUTSIDE! to let the first baseman know on which side of second base the throw needs to be made. He should know based on where he is in relation to the baseline.
Teaching your players to communicate is extremely important for success. However, your practice drills should also work to improve their own judgement on what to do based on what they see for themselves.
The game requires both.