The class is divided into two teams: a batting team and a fielding team.
The playing area is set up as a regular baseball diamond except that there is no third base. Instead, there is a cone at third base which is where the batting players line up and wait for their turn at bat.
The teacher pitches the ball to the batting player at home base. When the player hits the ball, they can choose between scoring one point by running to first base or they can go for two points by pushing to second base. However, once they pass first base, they cannot turn back: it’s two points or nothing!
If the fielding team successfully fields the ball to the base the player is running to, they deny that player the opportunity to score points. If the player makes it to the base before the ball, they score for their team.
Once each player on the batting team has had a turn at bat, the teams switch roles.
Build One: Base Running
In build one, the teacher sets up the playing area by placing hoops or similar base markers for home, first base, and second base. Where third base would be, the teacher places a cone instead. The students then all line up behind the cone at third base. The first player in line moves to home base. On the teacher’s signal, that player takes off and runs to first, then second, and then to the back to the end of the line.As soon as the player takes off, the next player in line moves to home base where they will wait until the first runner reaches second base. When that happens, that is the second runner’s cue to take off to first base.Players keep running in this cycle until each player has had a turn running the bases three times.
Build Two: Singles
For build two, the teacher will divide the class into two teams. One team will start as the batting team and the other team will start as the fielding team. Also, the teacher will remove second base for this build and will place a bat at home base.The fielding team will designate one player as the first baseman. They will switch who plays first base after every other at bat, ensuring that all fielding players have an opportunity to play first base before anyone gets a second turn.The batting team lines up behind the cone and sends their first player to home base for their turn at bat. The teacher can play the role of pitcher here or they can select a player from the fielding team. Either way, the pitcher’s role in this build is to set the batting player up for success by pitching the ball in such a way that it is likely that the ball is struck by the batting player. Players cannot strike out or be caught out in this build. The only way to get the batting player out is to field the ball to first base before the batting player successfully runs there after have hit the ball.As soon as the batting player strikes the ball in play, they must run to first base as fast as possible. The fielding team will attempt to field the ball to that base as quickly as they can. If the batting player makes it to first before the ball does, they score a point for their team. If the fielding team fields the ball to first before the batting player gets there, they stop the point from being scored. Either way, once the play is dead, the batting player returns to the end of the batting team line behind the cone.Once all players on the batting team have had a turn at bat, the teams switch roles.
Build Three: Doubles
For this build, the teacher will return the second base marker to the playing area. The fielding team will now have to assign players to both first base and second base.Play continues just as before except that the batting player has two choices: they can run to first to score a single point or they can attempt to run past first and then to second base to score two points for their team.If the batting player decides to run to second, they cannot move back to first: it’s two points or nothing. After the play is dead, the batting player goes back to the end of their team’s line at the cone.The fielding team now has to quickly read and react to the batting player’s actions. They’ll be looking for cues to decide whether to field the ball to first base or second. Either way, if the ball beats the batting player to the base they are currently running to, the fielding team denies that player the opportunity to score any points for their team.Just as before, the teams switch roles once every player on the batting team has had a turn at bat.In between switch overs, I like to talk to the students about the cues they will be looking for that will influence their decisions on defence. I like to keep track of their ideas on either a real whiteboard or a digital one such as Google Jamboard.
Build Four: Ribby
In build four, we will be adding more complexity to the game to really push the students’ decision-making skills.In this build, although the pitcher will deliver the ball just as they did in the previous builds, players can strike out after three strikes. Batting players can also be caught out if a fielding player catches the ball right out of the air off of their hit. Just as before, a batting player is out if they fail to make it to a base before the fielding team fields the ball there.In build four, the batting player can choose to stop at first and remain there. They still score a point for getting to first base but they can attempt to score a second point by running to second base during the next at bat. That being said, if a batting player decides to stay at first, they are forced to run to second base when the next batting player hits the ball in play. I usually use this build to teach my students about forced run situations.The fielding team must now read the game and decide which defensive play is the best one to attempt to complete based on the current situation. The fielding team also has the option to complete a double play by successfully fielding the ball to both base before the batting team players make it to the bases.The fielding team can now cause a switch over in three ways:Teams switch roles once each player on the batting team has had a turn at bat.Teams switch roles once the fielding team has successfully got three players out.Teams switch roles if the fielding team successfully completes a double play.The game goes on for a designated amount of innings or until a team scores a pre-determined amount of points. After the game, I’ll invite my students to demonstrate their understanding of defensive tactics and decision-making by completing the assessment tool that I prepared for this activity. You can find this resource in Ribby Game Pack.
Students at bat should make sure that they do not throw the bat after having struck the ball.
Fielding players at base should not prevent the batting players from running.
The catcher should play a safe distance away from home base.