Friday, November 28, 2008

Dugout Organization - 3 Benefits to Your Baseball Or Softball Team

By Drue Carney
If you have a son or daughter playing baseball or softball then you probably have noticed the chaos that ensues in the team's dugout. Most ball field complexes consist mainly of fences and benches. The few types of dugout organizers that exist are easily damaged or just hold one equipment item such as bats. So there often is no place for the players to put their equipment. A lot of young players carry very simple bat bags to their games and hang them on the fence but once the players take their stuff out of their bags it doesn't go back in until the end of the game. In these instances, players typically just toss their gloves and hats about the dugout and they often end up on the ground where they can get stepped on. As well, bats are leaned up against the fence and regularly also end up on the ground where they get kicked and stepped on.

When a dugout is unorganized, the players spend a lot of time trying to find their things. In the absence of any type of dugout organizer equipment, a coach should take the time to teach his players how to keep their team's dugout organized. Coaches should explain to the players that they should put their gloves, hats and helmets in the same place all the time. If players do this then they will know where their things are and can then focus more on the game and the coaching and strategy being provided by the coaches.

If players are taught how to keep the dugout organized then the end result is that their equipment will be treated better. Players will respect one another's equipment if it is placed in the same spot all the time in the dugout. An organized dugout enables the players to help each other at the end of an inning by finding the player's hat and glove to bring out to him or her on the field - otherwise referred to as "picking him/her up."

The third benefit of an organized dugout is that it minimizes risk. The risk of injury is minimized by fewer things being thrown around on the ground where a player can easily trip on something like a bat. The risk of a player losing equipment is also reduced because if a team is taught how to keep their dugout organized then they are more likely to know where each other's things are located.

It is challenging to teach young boys and girls how to take care of their baseball or softball equipment. Their mindset is that they are there to play a game and have fun. Unfortunately this results in a dugout that is not organized and the wasting of a lot of time by players looking for their hat, gloves and helmets. To help make their team run smoothly, baseball and softball coaches should spend some practice time teaching their players about keeping their dugout organized.

Drue is a parent of kids playing youth baseball and softball. Like many parents, he could not stand the sight of a messy dugout, especially seeing all of the expensive gloves, helmets and bats parents had bought for their kids being stepped on and kicked around as well as kids wasting game time by not being able to find their equipment before going on to the field. In order to solve this problem, he designed The Bench Coach, a portable dugout organizer. Take a moment to see how easy it now is to have an organized dugout at
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I am blessed with a great life, wonderful family and great friends. Please remember to do something nice for those less fortunate. Donate to a local foodbank, give old clothes to the Salvation Army, donate old baseball equipment to a youth league who needs your support. Giving makes you feel alive.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. If it's warm where you are have a catch (with a baseball) at halftime!

Coach Bob

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just Beginning Youth Sports? Two Questions to Consider

By Greg A. Marshall
If you are the coach of a youth team (or planning to be one), you should share these thoughts with the parents on your team. You may want to prepare a handout with your coaching philosophies and distribute them at your pre-season team meeting.

Before a parent signs a up a child to participate in a youth sports activity, the parent must answer a couple of questions about the child's role in the activity as well as his own
A. Make sure your child is ready for Youth Sports.

Obviously, this is the most fundamental element of whether you and your child enjoy the youth sports experience. Many children play sports simply because their parents want them to play. Children WANT to please their parents, so naturally they will usually do what their parents wish whether they want to or not.

Ask yourself:

1."Does my child even WANT to play an organized sport?"
2. Is he/she physically/mentally ready for an organized sport?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, it is better to wait until next year, simply because of the level of interest and safety concerns.

B. Assuming your child is ready and wants to play, what must you, as a parent do to help get them ready to play?

Long before the first practice, spend some time in preparation. Begin by making the experience a fun and learning one. The best way is to begin teaching without the child even realizing that he or she is being taught - so it doesn't become "work." For example, to get ready for the baseball season, indulge in the pure enjoyment of "having a catch" with your child. This is great fun for you and your child, and will lay the foundation for many enjoyable hours later on. In "having a catch," you are teaching the proper way to catch and throw the ball. As your child's skill level improves, you (and they) will begin making more difficult throws and catches.

In addition to "having a catch," playing "wiffle ball" is a great (and inexpensive) way to begin developing batting skills. Developing the hand/eye skills necessary for batting is vital to success and satisfaction. Take a moment at the outset to demonstrate the proper grip, batting stance and swing. Don't allow yourself to become frustrated if it takes awhile for your child to grasp the concepts you present. That is the surest way to kill the desire to learn.

Whatever you do, give lots of praise and encouragement when warranted. The surest way to speed up the learning process is to praise when your young player gives solid effort and executes a procedure well. They will work extra hard to earn more praise. If they struggle, take a break, get a treat, and come back later. Sometimes a little time off does wonders.

Greg A. Marshall is the creator of, a unique website offering excellent teaching and coaching tools for coaches and parents of very young baseball enthusiasts. The resources on the website are designed for the parent or prospective youth coach who is overwhelmed at the prospect of starting from scratch. The website and materials offered are full of practical advice to help youth coaches from the very first day of practice.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Bring Out the Best in Your Youth Sports Team by Setting the Example

By Greg A. Marshall

Bring out the best ... in your youth sports team, in yourself, and in your team's parents. So, how do you do this? By setting the example - in the way you coach, the way you think, and the way you behave. We all hear the horror stories of coaches whose bad examples of preferential coaching treatment, poor sportsmanship, and negative attitudes seem to hold sway on youth sports.

But it doesn't have to be that way. You CAN be the coach who sets a positive example in these and other areas. What's more you can lead by example, showing the way for other coaches and parents to see your positive demeanor and honorable character as a yardstick for themselves, perhaps. Even if your behavior doesn't change another coach's style of coaching, at least you will always be able to know that you conducted yourself in an honorable and sportsmanlike manner.
Certainly, if nothing else, you can be the best possible example for your team's players, parents and "extended family." If your players see you as a coach whom they can trust - who conducts himself honorably, and treats the team fairly, they will respond to you better in the long haul. What's more, they will move on from your team and carry some of those attributes to their next team and allow them to develop their own sense of fair play and "best behavior."

This works for parents as well. Those parents who tend to behave poorly during a game will be more likely to temper their behavior if they observe that you keep yourself under control. Even if they don't change their behavior long term, they will generally be motivated to "tone it down" by the rest of the parents on your team "buying in" to your style of coaching. This encourages the parents to be more mindful of their attitude and actions than they might normally.

But the best possible result? It may cause a youngster to stop and think, "I'm going to play fair because my coach does."
And THAT is well worth the effort.

Greg A. Marshall is the creator of, a unique website offering excellent teaching and coaching tools for coaches and parents of very young baseball enthusiasts. The resources on the website are designed for the parent or prospective youth coach who is overwhelmed at the prospect of starting from scratch. The website and materials offered are full of practical advice to help youth coaches from the very first day of practice.
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

How Baseball Hitting Drills Will Improve Your Average

By Alan Bryan
Even the most established ball player uses baseball hitting drills on a daily basis to help keep their skills sharp and look for improvement. Hitting baseball, or softball for that matter, is a difficult task. Even a quarter of an inch difference in your swing can result in a weak pop up or ground out back to the mound. There are many baseball hitting drills that can help you refine your swing.

Hitting off a tee: Not just for tee ball players, even major league players hit off a tee almost daily to practice hand eye coordination and tweaking a swing to get the head of the bat through the hitting zone quickly

Short Toss: Practicing hitting off a pitcher from very short distance will help with reaction time and also help with taking out the waste in your swing. If you dance around in the batters box in short toss, the ball will be by you. This is also helps with hip and foot placement

Shorter Bat: Probably a little known baseball hitting drill is to use a bat that is shorter than what you use in a game for practice. What this will teach is getting your arms extended through the swing zone and better hand/eye coordination

Learning some basic baseball hitting drills, and doing them on a daily basis can help you become a most successful hitter on any level. Remember that there is no replacement for hard work and determination. Baseball is a game based on failure. Even the most successful hitters fail almost 70% of the time.

Doing basic baseball hitting drills may seem like a waste of time, but even the most season pro use the same basic drills every day to keep on task. For the best baseball drill videos and techniques. visit

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Friday, November 21, 2008

How To Become A Complete Baseball Player

This is the ultimate goal for a ball player right? Developing the "five tools". It takes commitment and dedication of course, but it also takes a positive attitude towards improvement.

I read a quote yesterday from a college coach that really stuck with me...

"you will never improve a skill or ability if you start out thinking
you know everything about it."

Sounds simple enough. Some would say "keep an opened mind" says the same thing but I think there's more to it. My interpretation of this statement is... in order for a person to reach their goals they must be open to learning from others who have been down the road before them. In relationship to baseball it means listening to all advice and finding the good in it.

A baseball player will work with many coaches throughout their career. Youth players generally have different coaches every season. Some more experienced and knowledgeable than others. If you are lucky enough to play for a coach who really knows his or her stuff you will do yourself a great service by opening up, paying attention and taking in everything they want to teach you. You may not agree with everything, but take it in. Then you can balance that knowledge with what you have learned from others. This is how players improve... take the best lessons from the best coaches and put it all together. That's how you become a "complete" player.

For example, my friend's son has played for a coach the past 3 seasons who is VERY knowledgeable about hitting.. he played Div1 ball, was a powerhitter, taught him a lot. This coach also thought he knew a lot about baserunning. He knew some, but another coach this player worked with privately was a base stealing phemon who taught him things that the hitting coach had never learned. However, when the hitting coach gave him baserunning instruction he listened and took it in. Yet he practiced and used most of what the baserunning coach taught him. One day he had a game where he stole 3 bases. After the game the hitting coach said "say, great game today, you seem to have come up with a baserunning technique that really works for you, stay with it". Get the picture?

There are very few absolutes in baseball. While there are general guidelines on how to do things, every player is different. Players learn baseball skills in a way that fits them. That's why when you look at college and pro players, they all have similar elements in their swings, yet every swing is different.

Good coaches know that not all players have the same batting stance or the same load/stride technique, or the same stance when leading off 1st base. A good coach wants a player to get the most of their mental and physical ability.

The best advice to you, the player, is listen to all your coaches and take in the best parts from each. If you do this you will be well on your way to meeting your baseball goals and become a "complete player".

Coach Bob

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lightning Fast Bat Speed

By John Furia
How can I speed up my bat? I want to improve my power! For baseball players bat speed is a necessity! How do you acquire it if it does not come so naturally? The key is strength development in the lower body and trunk (core).

One of the key muscles in improving bat speed is a low back muscle called the Quadratus Lumborum. This muscle is critical in laterally flexing and rotating the spine and aids the obliques in further rotating the spine. The key word here is rotation! Once improved strength is gained in this area trunk rotation will improve drastically which then in turn develops greater bat speed.
It has most often been thought that superior bat speed is developed solely through efficient swing mechanics. I have found the trunk rotational strength component to be even more effective even with a poorly executed swing. So imagine the combination of mechanically sound swing mechanics in conjunction with superior targeted strength in the Quadratus Lumborum and surrounding trunk muscles. So how do you strengthen the Qadtratus Lumborum? One of the most effective strength exercises to improve Quadratus strength and function is the "Seated Good Morning" exercise.


Place a barbell in a squat rack. Deload the bar from a standing position. Have a bench with a height of about 24"-36" behind you depending on your height. With the bar sitting across the upper trapezius (not the top of the neck) sit on the very edge of the bench with your feet wide apart and your toes slightly pointed outward. Your grip on the barbell should be as wide as the bar will allow. From the seated position lower your trunk slowly to the floor. Head up, chest tall and with an arched low back bring your trunk as far as your body will allow forward. Range of motion will vary from individual to individual. Do not force range of motion and allow the motion to come on its own. After several exposures to the exercise range of motion and end range strength will improve enough so that you will end parallel to the floor. Rep range should be in the 6-10 range.

Try this exercise for about four to six weeks in conjunction with your lower body program. Exercises that work well with the seated good morning are barbell squats, front squats and trap bar dead lifts. With these movements you will see noticeable improvements in bat speed which will reap huge payback with gap power.

John Furia is the owner of Furia's Xceleration Strength & Conditioning located in Deer Park, New York. John is a highly sought-after Strength & Conditioning coach for healthy and injured athletes alike, he has helped athletes at all levels - from youth sports to the professional and Olympic Levels - achieve peak performance in a variety of sports.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hitting Tips, Batting Tips, Sports Psychology and Baseball - How to Break Out of a Hitting Slump

By Jay Granat
Every week, I get calls from parents, from coaches and from baseball players who are concerned because they or someone they are concerned about is stuck in a hitting slump.

Hitting a baseball is difficult and when you lose your confidence and your focus, it is very hard to perform well when you are batting.

A lot of the players who call me or who come to see me have excellent swings. Many of these baseball players have had private hitting coaches for years. Some have hitting coaches, fitness coaches, flexibility coaches, speed coaches and nutritionists. The athletes are hoping for baseball scholarships and some are hoping to play Division I baseball or professional ball.

So, you might ask, why to players with great strength, great balance, great technique and good timing get into slumps? And what can be done to shorten the slump and get the hitter on track once again?

In my view, many of the hitters who I counsel know very little about their own psychology. That is, they don't know how to get their mind into the right place prior to getting up to the plate. In addition, they don't know how to adjust their mental attitude in a way that will allow them to break out of their hitting slump.

Sometimes, we need to revamp their whole approach to hitting to get them to hit to their potential.

In other cases, one minor adjustment can solve the problem. I try to start with something simple first. Changing something small can sometimes free up a baseball player to feel confident and empowered at the plate.

One batter was given a confidence building slogan that he was to repeat to himself in between pitches.

Another was taught a simple way to relax when he got up to bat.

A very talented switch hitter needed a different way to focus when he got into the batter's box.
Another batter changed what he did in the on deck circle. This helped him to feel more comfortable when he came up to bat.

Many of these techniques can be found on 101 Ways To Break Out Of A Hitting Slump With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis. Here is the link to get this program.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and the founder of - He has written several books and developed several programs to help people perform to their fullest potential at sports, at work and at school. Dr. Granat, a former university professor, has appeared in The New York Times, Good Morning America, AP, ESPN, Golf Digest, The BBC and The CBC. He can be reached at - His books include Zone Tennis and Get Into The Zone In Just One Minute. He is also the author of How To Get Into The Zone With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, How To Lower Your Golf Score With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, 101 Ways To Break Out Of A Hitting Slump and Bed Time Stories For Young Athletes. Golf Digest named Dr. Granat one of America's Top Ten Mental Gurus. He was recently featured in a documentary film on long distance running. Dr. Granat writes a weekly column for three newspapers.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Becoming a Mound Magician

By Nate Barnett
I remember being a twelve year old pitcher and trying to strike every hitter out by throwing hard fastballs by everyone. I carried this same mentality into high school with some success. But, it wasn't until I pitched in college that it was clearly communicated to me why throwing a good change up as well as changing the speeds of my fastball was so important. At first, I was quite nervous with the prospect of throwing a slower pitch. I had a tough time with the fact that I would be taking speed off of pitches to produce positive results. Once I began to change velocities, however, pitching got much more fun.

So what makes Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, and Mariano Rivera so effective as pitchers? They change speeds, angles, and create movement on most all of their pitches. The goal of a pitcher should always be to mess with the balance and timing of a hitter by changing speeds. This doesn't mean that pitchers should be less aggressive while throwing a fastball; it simply means that all fastballs thrown should not be at 100% effort. There are a lot of pitchers who throw with great velocity. But, few have mastered the ability to change speeds like Greg Maddux and Jamie Moyer have.

You don't need a blistering fastball to compete as a pitcher. You do, however, need to create the illusion of a blistering fastball by keeping hitters off balance. Learn a good change up; it will be one of the best investments of time you make as a pitcher.

Nate Barnett and his business partner, Dan Gazaway are owners of the The Pitching Academy, a pitching information website designed to improve your on the mound performance as a pitcher.

The Pitching Academy contains information, products, training, free articles, and more on pitching, pitching workouts, pitching mechanics, different baseball pitching grips, and much more.
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why Goofy Pitchers Win

By Nate Barnett
Every team has a couple goofy pitchers, and if you watch closely it doesn't take a long time to figure out which ones. I haven't solved the mystery as to why there are more goofy pitchers compared to hitters, must have to do with all of the emotional stress pitching can cause or something. I've seen some jump over the third and first base lines every time they enter or exit the field as well as brush their teeth between every inning. But it's not just the superstitions, a lot of ball players are superstitious. It has to do with a certain amount of carefreeness combined with a dosage of competitiveness that has a way to produce success on the mound.

We always hear that pitching is such a mental sport. So why do many "goofy" pitchers have success? The reason is they simply don't think! It is not meant to be a negative in this context. Pitchers who don't allow negative results to affect how they go about their business tend to last longer, remain more in control of their emotions, and can bounce back from failures quickly.
If you haven't been blessed with the "goofy" gene, it's ok. Here are some things you other hurlers can learn from these guys.

3 Ways to Increase your "Goofiness" Factor

It's alright to take breaks while performing

Baseball is a sport that depends greatly on momentum and rhythm. There are brief periods of high focus and intensity followed by mental vacations that sometimes last quite a while. The key is to learn how to balance the two. Do you know any athletes who play on one speed, FAST? They all suffer from system failure at some point during the season and perform inconsistently. A baseball game is like a good movie, there is plot development early, build up, and then an apex. Keep your attitude right with the flow of the game and you'll find yourself mentally invested when you need to be.

Learn to fail, learn, and forget

Everyone fails in this sport. Get over it, you're not immune. Instead learn from your mistakes, work hard at changing, and then move on. I know this sounds simplistic, and it is. It's emotionally freeing to never be wrapped up in past performances.

Find your outlet

This last point is directed to those of you who have a hard time letting down after a tough performance. If you can't let go of a game an hour after the performance, this is for you. Discover what takes you out of reality for a bit. Watch a movie, play some video games, listen to music, or hang around some friends who have nothing to do with baseball. Once you find what takes your mind off of your situation and frustrations, use it as a tool to help you achieve relaxation and freshness of mind so you can perform free of baggage next time.

Nate Barnett and his business partner, Dan Gazaway are owners of the The Pitching Academy, a pitching information website designed to improve your on the mound performance as a pitcher. The Pitching Academy contains information, products, training, free articles, and more on pitching, pitching drills, pitching mechanics, cut fastball grips, and much more.

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