How Baseball Players and Coaches Communicate

 

catcher

Baseball is one of America’s oldest games. It was invented by a soldier named Abner Graves during the Civil War in 1839. The game was first played in Cooperstown, NY where the baseball hall of fame is now located. Baseball is a very strategic game that teams will do anything to gain an advantage. One advantage a team can have against each other is secretly communicating by using hand signals.

If you have ever watched a baseball game, you have probably seen the nonverbal communication between players and coaches. The most obvious being the catchers hand signals to the pitcher to signal what pitch to throw and where to throw it. Another form of nonverbal communication used in baseball is the hand signals used by the coaches. These signals tell the player if they should bunt, swing, take a pitch, etc. Baseball teams use these signals so that opposing teams do not know what to expect when they are playing.

The main example of hand signals in baseball is from the catcher. If you have ever watched a baseball game on TV you have seen a catcher use these signals. These signals allow the pitcher and catcher to know what pitch and what location to expect whenever the ball is thrown. For example, typically a catcher pointing his index finger means a fastball. If the catcher shows two fingers it generally means a type of off-speed pitch, either a curveball or a slider. If a catcher would put up three or four fingers, this would be a pitcher’s choice of his specialty pitches, such as a two-seam fastball, sinker, or changeup. Catchers also use these signs to signal the location the pitch needs to be located. A catcher could put two fingers and move them to the left side of his leg it means throw a curveball to the right side of the plate.

Whenever there is a runner on base however things get a little more complicated. On second base a runner can directly see what signs the catcher is using. If the catcher used his regular signals the baserunner could tell his teammate what pitch is coming next. To prevent this from happening, when there is a baserunner catcher add more signals to for one pitch. The most common form of this would be the first sign being the pitch and the last type the location. The first sign is determined just by the number, and the location is determined on if the last number is odd or ever, odd numbers meaning outside of the plate and even numbers being inside of the plate. For example, if a runner is on second base, the catcher could put down a sequence of: 1, 2, 2, 1, and 4. This would mean the catcher wants and inside fastball. During the game catchers and pitchers may change their signal in order to ensure the opposing players do not crack the code.

Infielders also need to know the signs to determine who will cover second base. If a left-handed batter is at the plate the shortstop will look at the catcher to see what the pitch is coming. After looking a what the pitch will be he will then figure out whether he or the second baseman will cover the bag. He relays this message by covering half of his face with his glove and using his mouth to say me or you. An open mouth means “you” and a closed mouth means “me”.

The last example of non-verbal communication in baseball is the coaches hand signals towards the players. Signs differ from each team and most likely change in each game. These signs are given by the coaches to determine whether or not to steal, bunt, hit and run, hit right or left side of the field and many more. Some of these signs are very hard to understand for spectators, but players know exactly what their coaches are saying. Examples of what these signs are touching both shoulders for a steal, touching your hat for a bunt, or running your hand down your arm for a hit and run. Normally when looking at these signs the last sign the coach gives is the play you need to make. An example of this would be the coach touching his hat first, grabbing one of his ears, running a hand down an arm, and then touching both shoulders. This would be the coach telling a baserunner to steal second base. It is important for players and coaches to have backup signs just in case the opposing team figure out what the sign means.

Baseball is a very strategic game. Players and coaches use hand signals to relay messages secretly. Next time you go to a baseball game or watch a baseball game, try and see what the players and coaches are doing to see if you can guess what is going to happen next.

By Spencer Silence, Business Major

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: