Danish LongballFocus Skills: Running Bases · Scoring A Run · Strategically Hitting The Ball
Danish Longball is one of my all-time favourite striking and fielding games to include in my physical education program. The game provides so many opportunities for modifications and builds that you can really explore a great variety of skills and tactics, regardless of your students’ current learning levels. Over time, I’ve adapted the builds I use for the game, which is why you are seeing a new version of it here. Big shout out to Joy Butler and her awesome article on the game for helping me better tailor the activity to meet the needs of my students!
The playing area is set up with two parallel lines (the front line and the back line) about 10m apart. A square base is set up adjacent to the front line using four cones (this is the home base). A second square base is set up adjacent to the back line (this is the runner base). A pitcher’s mound is set up a poly spot or hoop at an appropriate distance from the home base.
Class is divided into two teams.
One team starts as the batting team, the other team starts as the fielding team.
The batting team lines beside the home base and selects a batting order.
The fielding team sets themselves up beyond the front line and select one player to play the role of catcher (the catcher stands behind the home base) and another to play the role of pitcher (who stands on the pitcher’s mound).
The first batting player steps into the home base. The pitcher pitches the ball using an underhand throw.
The batter runs to the runner base whether or not they strike the ball. However, before running, the batting player must drop the bat inside the home base.
Once at the runner base, the running player may choose to stay on that base or run back to home base in order to score a point. However, once a player has committed to running back to home base, they may not turn back.
Offensive players in the runner base may opt to stay there until they think it is safe to run to home base.
Following the pitch, they fielding team will attempt to get the batting player (or any other offensive player who is running) out.
A player is out if a) they are caught out, b) they are tagged by a player in possession of the ball while in between the front and back lines, c) they hit the ball behind the front line, or d) they throw the bat outside of the home base after having swung at the ball.
If the fielding team is not in position to get a player out, they can simply send the ball to the pitcher for the play to be dead. Once the pitcher has the ball while standing on their mound, offensive players may no longer attempt to run to home base.
The batting teams stays at bat until the fielding team manages to get three players out. After three outs, the teams exchange roles.
Build One: Beat The Fielders
To set up for this build, the teacher will create the playing area by establishing two lines and two bases that are 10-20m apart. There is a front line and a back line, with a square home base set up adjacent to the front line and a runner base set adjacent to the back line. With the playing area set up, the teacher then divides the class into two teams and selects one team to start at bat and the other to start in the field.
The batting team sets their batting order and gets in a line beside the home base, with the first player in line getting into the base itself. Meanwhile, the fielding team gets into a scattered formation beyond the front line. Each player should be at least five big steps away from any of their teammates.
The teacher begins with a ball in their hand. Once the teams are both set up, the teacher throws the ball into the playing area.As soon as they do so, the player in the home base attempts to run to the runner base and back. As soon as they get back, the next player in line does the same. For every player that gets back to the home base, the batting team scores a point.
To stop the batting team from scoring as many points as possible, the fielding team must successfully field the ball. To do so, the player closest to the ball picks it up, throws it to a teammate, and then sits down. This continues until the last fielding player standing receives the ball and calls “FREEZE”. Once they have done so, the batting team tallies up their points and the two teams switch roles.
Build Two: Freeze Ball
In this build, we’re ready to introduce some of the rules of Danish Longball.
The fielding team must now select one player to play the role of catcher and another to play the role of pitcher. The catcher stands a few feet behind the home base and the pitcher stands on the pitcher’s mound which is marked by a poly spot.
The first player on the batting team steps into the home base with the striking implement (which can be anything from a bat, a foam fat bat, or even a racquet depending on the skill level of your students). The pitcher underhand pitches the ball for the batting player. For a pitch to be legal, it must be within a bat’s distance from the batter belly button and between knee and shoulder height. The batting player swings at the ball. Whether or not the strike it, they must drop the striking implement inside the batting box and run to the runner’s base.
As soon as the batting player makes their initial run, the fielding team attempts to get the ball to the pitcher. Once the pitcher has possession of the ball, they call “FREEZE”. If the batting player makes it to the runner’s base before FREEZE is called, the batting player may choose to run back home. Making it back to home base earns their team a point. However, if they do not believe they could make it home before FREEZE is called, they may opt to wait on the runner’s base until another batting player has a turn at bat. This means that you can have multiple players in the runner’s base at a time.
If FREEZE is called when a batting player is running from the runner’s base to home base, that player must return to the runner’s base and wait for the next player to have a turn at bat. If FREEZE is called before a batting player can make it to the runner’s base, the batting player may continue to the base but may not run during the next at bat. They will have to wait a turn at the runner’s base before attempting to run home. Once every player on the batting team has had a turn at bat, the batting team may tally up their points and the two teams switch roles.
Build Three: Danish Longball
In build three, we will introduce the system for getting a player out.
Using the same set up as in build two, the batting player once again has to run whether or not they hit the pitched ball. The fielding team now has a few options for getting the batting player out, which eliminates their ability to score a point during that turn:
- If the batting players throws the striking implement outside of the home base after having swung it, they are out.
- If a fielding player catches the struck ball out of the air, the batting player is out.
- If a fielding player tags the batting player while in possession of the ball, the batting player is out.
- Fielding players can also tag out batting team players who are running from the runner’s base back to home base.
If the fielding team also has the option to throw the ball to the pitcher to cause the play to be dead, in which case batting players may no longer move to the next base.
The fielding team has to successfully get three players out in order for the teams to switch roles.
Build Four: Fielder Rally
In build four, the fielding players may no longer run while in possession of the ball. That means that, in order to get a batting player out, they will need to relay the ball to a teammate who is in position to do so. Fielding players also have an additional way of getting batting team players out: if the fielding player in possession of the ball manages to touch a batting team player below the knees as that player is running between bases, the batting team player will be out. However, fielding team players may only use an underhand throw to tag batting team players when using this method.
Grade Level Outcomes
Strikes a pitched ball with an implement with force in a variety of practice tasks.
Identifies the correct defensive play based on the situation (e.g., the number of outs).
Identifies open spaces and attempts to strike object into that space.
How do you decide where to strike the ball when at bat? Why would you try to strike it there?
When on the runner base, what factors influence your decision to run back to home base?
When fielding, how do you decided whether to a) attempt to tag a player out, b) relay the ball to a teammate, or c) send the ball to the pitcher?
How does the number of outs affect your decision making both on offence and defence?
As required in the rules, players may not throw the bat outside of home base after a swing.
Players may not obstruct a player who is running between bases.
Soft tags should be used whenever attempting to tag a running player.
Fielding players should stand at a safe distance from the batting player.
Hoop or poly spot
Striking implement (bat, foam bat, pickle ball racquet)
Dense foam ball or whiffle ball
Baseball tee (optional)
Baseball gloves (optional)