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Pickle (also known as a Hotbox or Rundown) is a baseball situation, and popular kid’s game, that actually has nothing to do with food. Instead, “pickle” in this instance describes the difficult situation a baserunner may find themselves in when stranded between 2 bases while one of the infielders is in possession of the ball at one of those bases. This situation is often practiced making sure players are ready in case it occurs in a game. Of course, you can’t practice this drill without baseball gloves, baseballs or bases! Below we will discuss the pickle drill itself, as well as some tips for both fielders and runners to help better execute the play from both sides.
Teams should practice successfully getting out of the pickle (for runners) and successfully foiling the pickle (for the fielders). To set this up, either practice directly on the field, or place 2 bases or cones 20-30 feet apart. Make sure to have a few balls and each fielder will need a glove. The base runners may want to wear helmets for safety, and cleats for better traction for quick side to side movements. You will need at least two fielders but having extras to jump in for a more complex drill is always good, and at least one base runner. Start with the base runner in between the two fielders, or have the base runner start near one of the bases and practice getting into a pickle after a pickoff attempt.
This drill will help runners build up their anticipation and base running skills. Fielders work on throwing to a target and placing accurate and strong tags on the runner. Your players need excellent timing skills for proper execution of this play and that needs to be practiced regularly to keep the timing sharp.
When executing a pickle, rundown or hotbox in a game or drill, there are a few key tips and tricks to remember that will make getting the runner out much easier. Remember, your key objectives in this game situation or drill is to either get the runner out, or at least make them retreat to the base they started at.
Typically, being in a pickle (rundown) results in an out at higher levels of play. While younger players can usually force the defense to make a mistake, and at the very least get back to the base they started from. Below we have highlighted a few key tips that may be able to help you get out of a pickle (rundown) play.
When executing a pickle (rundown) play, you have to be ready for anything and everything to happen. The videos found below highlight some great examples of different scenarios you have to be ready for when executing a pickle play in a game. These things can be tough to practice, but if you are aware of them, your in-game instincts may take over to help you perfectly execute the play.
Josh Harrison of the Pittsburgh Pirates gets caught in a rundown after a pickoff attempt. Watch as he dodges tag after tag to advance to the next base, even though the pickle (rundown) play was executed very well by the defense.
Even the big leaguers poorly execute the pickle play here and there. This video shows great examples of what NOT to do as a fielder in a pickle (rundown).
Sometimes, a pickle (rundown), isn’t always as simple as they seem in the drill. This video shows an instance where two pickles occur back to back on the same play, and the defense executes it perfectly.
Now that you have read through these tips and tricks, go out there and start practicing the pickle drill on your own! You never know when you may have to execute it in a game situation! If you require any further information, or would like some in-person advice on which baseball gloves, baseballs or bases would be best for this drill, stop by your local MonkeySports superstores to talk to one of our expert baseball associates.
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