Here's a competitive game/drill your players will love that also serves as a great warmup or practice ending drill. "Ultimate Baseball" is modeled after "Ultimate" - a fast-moving team sport played with a Frisbee on a football field. The only difference in the baseball version is you play with a RIF 1 or safety-soft baseball and gloves. What makes it a great warm up drill is that you can start with as few as four players (2 on 2), and players can join in as they show up. Many of your kids are already familiar with Ultimate as it is a popular among PE teachers for it's simplicity and fun.
This game can be played anywhere you have a large open area, ideally rectangular in shape. The area can be as small as a basketball court (yes - this can be played inside too), up to a football-sized field if you have enough players. Mark the corners of the field with cones or whatever is handy. The "end zones" are five yards deep. Divide into two evenly-matched teams, have one team turn their hats backwards so players know which team is which, and send them to opposite ends of the field.
Play begins with a "kickoff", as one team throws the ball to the other - the ball does not have to be caught in the air. The objective is to move the ball up the field into the end zone they face. The ball is advanced by catching throws from a teammate. Once a ball is caught, the offensive player must immediately establish a pivot foot, from which they will make their throw. Any "pass" that hits the ground results in a turnover with other team assuming possession of the ball, and they immediately begin to advance the ball the other way to their end zone. Defensively, players typically "match up" with an offensive player, with a defensive player guarding each offensive player. No contact is allowed on purpose between offense and defense. One difference from Ultimate - the defender guarding the player with the ball must give them room to throw, to minimize any chance of injury. Defensive players can intercept the ball in the air, which also constitutes an immediate turnover. After the offense scores by catching a pass in the endzone, they just drop the ball and get back on defense. The offensive team then begins their drive from the endzone.
Short, accurate throws to open players have a much greater chance for success than the "long bomb". Unless your target is wide open, a long high pass is easy for the defense to intercept. This won't stop young or inexperienced players from trying - but they usually learn with time a shorter pass is bette than getting picked off. If the defense is hanging back waiting for the long ball, two offensive players can just run up the field by constantly tossing back and forth (underhand) until the defense decides pick them up.
"Man to Man" defense works best. Good passes are just too fast and accurate with a baseball for a Zone defense to work well. Matching up with someone of similar abilities gives the defense their best chance to prevent scores. Smart defenses will smother the short game, and force the offense into longer throws.
That's it - pretty simple as far as rules. What about "pass interference" you ask? As with Ultimate, the "spirit of the game" calls for any offensive player that feels they were interfered with to call the foul. There is no arguing the call - and the ball is simply returned to the spot of the throw for a "do over". You may be surprised to watch kids play a game that doesn't require a referee, but it just seems to work. All you have to do is stand back and watch them run themselves ragged, or grab a glove and join in the fun!
By Author. All Rights Reserved. Date
May 28, 2010
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