Friday, October 24, 2008

Winter Programs, Staying Fit In The Off Season

That sad time of year is here in the northeast. It's the time when we bid a seasonal farwell to the smell of cut grass and the baseball diamond. Time to think about how to keep baseball fit in the offseason.

Many young players fail to realize the importance of maintaining muscle memory for hitting and throwing during the offseason. It takes lots of practice to learn how to hit and throw, and lots of practice to stay in the groove. If you let 4 or 5 months go by without picking up a bat or throwing a baseball make no mistake, you're going to get rusty. If you're a more competitive player, your competition is probably working hard and will gain ground during the off season.

Here are a few recommendations...

Take some time off... especially if your a player who has played alot of games during the spring, summer and fall seasons. You should give you body a month of rest from throwing at a minimum. But during this time it's ok to swing the bat a few times a week.

Swing 4 times a week... whether it's BP at an indoor cage or hitting off a tee in your garage. It's important to swing the bat at least 4 times a week. The number of swings per session will depend on your age but at least 25 and no more than 60 per session.

Learn something new... the offseason is the time to work on those little things you felt in your swing, or to learn a new pitch. Either professional coaching or your Dad... learn new things that will help improve your game.

Strenghen your arm... after the initial month off you should throw at least once per week. if you can rent an indoor cage for 1/2 hour break it into 15 minutes of throwing and 15 minutes of hitting that's perfect.

Practice position specific... work on drills in your garage or basement that will help you play your position. do a few google searches and you will find many things you can do to help you improve.

Indoor camps and programs... in most communities you can find indoor baseball camps or programs that can help kids improve. these are great for younger kids. older players might want or need more specific programs.

Stay fit... baseball players should have a daily program of excersise which should include pushups, situps, pullups and running. Doing this 4-5 times a week will keep you spring training ready all year round.

Coach Bob

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Confidence and Baseball

"Some players put pressure on themselves. I put pressure on the pitcher."
- Mark Texeria

I've got to tell you I love this philosiphy. "Tex" hits it right on the screws with this thought.

I've written before about developing confidence as a baseball player. For those player who are more serious about the game it comes from hard work and a defined program to develop skills.

It's great to play the game as a casual player too. However as kids get older the casual player must take BP on a regular basis to have continued success at the plate.

If you've done the things you need to do to be confident at plate I recommend committing Mark Texeria's words to memory and saying them before every at bat, or every pitch even. You will be one step ahead of winning the battle at the plate.

Coach Bob

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baseball Pitching - The Stride

By Martin Ellise

In Baseball Pitching, a Pitcher's Stride Length is a very important element in getting the pitch right. In this article I talk about how a baseball pitcher should stride.

A mechanical flaw in baseball pitching can lead to decreased performance and loss of power. And of course a lot of these flaws exist, which need to be identified and then, corrected proactively.

Stride Length:

The pitcher will start to stride forward after his knee is lifted to his chest. The proper technique to do it (assuming you are a right-handed pitcher) is with the side of your front foot facing the target and his toe pointing at 3rd base. This will enable you to keep your hips closed throughout the "expansion" of the lower body off the mound and to the target. A left hander should stride with his tow pointing at 1st base. It's also important to stride out with the front foot low to the ground. This keeps a pitcher's shoulders relatively level.

Hip Action:

One thing that needs to be constantly checked is the hip action during the stride phase of the pitching delivery. Most pitchers will either open their hips too early, or they don't open their hips at all. Both, of course, are mechanical faults that can cause a decrease in power.
For a proper pitching, stride out toward home plate leading with the stride foot, keep your weight on the back leg, and land toes to the target or slightly closed as opposed to open. Then, once that stride foot lands, it's the action of the "backside knee drive," thrusting forward and inward, that explosively rotates the hips, which rotates the shoulders and creates power.

Martin ElliseBaseball Pitching
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Friday, October 10, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Becoming A Better Hitter - Video

Hitting basics from Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Slow Runners Can Be Great Baserunners

By Steve Rau
Some baseball people believe that a player needs to have blazing speed to be a great baserunner. This is a total misconception among players and coaches. Baserunning is all about instincts. I love coaching those players who always know when to take the extra base or what's the opportune time to take a risk. Don't get me wrong, pure speed can be extremely valuable to your team and very disruptive to the opposition, but usually the not so fast, instinctive baserunners are the guys who can make the difference in a game.

How does a player become an instinctive baserunner? The answer is the same as to how one becomes an instinctive baseball player; study the game. Great baserunners know the situations and variables that go into, not only each game, but also each play.

Here's a list of items instinctive baserunners consider on the base paths:

Speed of the outfielders
Arm strength of all fielders
Range of the infielders
Weather conditions (wind, rain, sun, etc.)
Your own speed
Flight of the ball
Speed of the ball
Length of the grass
Grass infield vs. dirt infield
Right-handed vs. left-handed (ball fades or hooks differently)
Direction fielder is going to field the ball
Score of the game
Inning of the game
Outs in the inning
Batter on deck

I may have overlooked a few, but you get the picture. It's not all about speed; slow runners can also be great baserunners, but they'll need to study the game.

Coach Steve Rau is a long time baseball instructor and co-founder of Play Ball Academy. He has been a part of championship baseball programs as both a player and coach for over 20 years. He currently helps hundreds of coaches and young ballplayers improve their baseball knowledge through online and offline instruction.

Baseball coaches can find baseball tips, video lessons, and audio sessions at:
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