Baseball coaches who run an aggressive offense-- squeeze, hit and run, and double steal-- obviously have need of a sign system that will enable them to communicate with the players and adapt to changing situations and personnel quickly and efficiently.

A good sign system will include all or most of the following:
"Indicators" that alert the players that a "live" sign may be on its way.
"Wipe-offs" that negate every live sign that has been flashed to that point.
"Activators" that tell the player to proceed with the designated play (a green light).
"Decoys" -- meaningless signs, at least in the context of the sequence in which they appear.

Perhaps the most common way of flashing a sign is through touching a particular part of the body or uniform, e.g., an ear or the bill of the cap. The most common and effective signal systems usually stem from one of these three methods.

Letter Association
Coaches from youth to semi-pro ball often use a simple system in which the first letter of the object touched matches the first letter of the corresponding sign. For example, a touch of the hat will call for the "hit & run", a touch of the belt for "bunt", and a touch of the sleeve for "steal".
Opinion – Must be simple to avoid confusion. Obvious signs are easy to detect by opposing coaches.

Number of Taps
Another popular sign system emphasizes the number of touches or taps rather than the location of the touch. For example, 1 tap will call for a take, 2 taps for a bunt, 3 taps for a hit & run, and 4 taps for a steal.
Opinion – More difficult and results in missed signs. Taps must be seen from across the field and delivered slow enough to make each tap distinct. Kids must memorize a number to be associated with a play.

Indicator and Location
The coach will flash an indicator, followed by touching a location on his uniform associated with a play.
Opinion – Easy, effective and can be changed during the game without much confusion.

Regardless of how the coach delivers the signs, his system must be easy to comprehend and remember.

Tips on Making Signs Easy Under Game Conditions:

1. Deliver the signals early and keep the number of touches or taps to just 4 or 5. Too much touching, tapping and decoying just drags the game out and looks dumb. Keep the pace of the game going and your players in a rhythm.

2. Use you entire arm as an indicator. Tell the kids after you touch your arm, the sign will be the first or second location touched.

3. The last sign flashed is a “DO IT” or “Wipe Off” indicator. This is effective since players tend to look away and give away a called play once they have seen the live sign, but before the coach is flashing decoys. Some coaches "release" the players‚ attention by concluding every sequence with a simple gesture, like clapping the hands. Two claps is a “DO IT”, one clap is a “Wipe Off”.

Thomas Baker High School. When locations or numbers represent the plays, it will be helpful to train the players to memorize the plays in sequential order. A mnemonic can turn the plays into a memorable phrase. For example, the players can remember Take, Bunt, Hit & run, Steal as "Thomas Baker High School!". When you flash the number "3", or tough the third quadrant of your upper torso, the players can run through the mnemonic phrase and notice that the third word is High, which means Hit & run". Used in combination with the indicator, this method allows a coach to alter indicators or rotate starting quadrants in the middle of a game and keep the other team guessing.

Example: Tell your players the upper left breast is ”Thomas”, so following a clockwise pattern, “Baker” = lower left, “High” = lower right, “School” = upper right. You can also tell them the live sign is the first thing you touch after touching and coming off your arm. This way the players are just looking for what quadrant you touch after you get done touching your arm.

Suggestions for Camouflaging Live Signs:

Change or Rotate Periodically. Change the indicator before every game, each time you face the same opponent, or during a game based on the inning or count.

Hold the indicator constant and rotate the live signs. By telling the players “Thomas is now the lower right quadrant”, they should all be able to quickly understand.

Frequently flash the steal sign when no runners are on base. It is meaningless to the hitter and helps prevent the other team from learning it.

The most important rule when devising a system is to keep it simple. A very basic set of signs can be highly effective with just one or two wrinkles thrown in.

Simple Ways to Frustrate the Opponents:

1. Have a sign meaning “repeat the same play called on the previous pitch". This makes it hard for other teams to pick up your signals. If you keep signing the same play over and over, they will learn it.

2. Have a sign meaning “Fake”. If you draw a circle in the quadrant rather than a simple touch, then it means “Fake Steal “ or “Fake Bunt”.

Practice Makes Perfect

Players will need to learn your signal system and be able to read the signs in game situations. Make this something fun to do in practice. Here is a easy way to do this.

1) Have the players divided into two equal groups
2) Each group lines up facing you. A player from each group steps forward three steps and watches your signals.
3) After you deliver the signs you ask one of the two players, “What is the play”?
4) After the player answers, you ask the other player if the given answer was correct?
5) After both have offered an answer, announce the correct answer and award points. Correct answers equal 1 point for their group.
6) Players return to the back of their lines and the next players take their turn. Repeat the process so each player goes through the line twice.
7) Winning team gets to take water break right away, while the losing team runs a long lap first.
8) One obvious rule… any help offered by teammates prior to an answer being given is a penalty of plus 1 for the opposing team and negative 1 for the offending team.