Friday, October 30, 2009

Coaching Baseball - Four Valuable Coaching Tools That Every Baseball Coach Should Own

By Nick Dixon

First of all, let me say this is not a commercial or endorsement for a baseball training tool or product, although my company sells some of the best in baseball. This article is about 4 relatively inexpensive components that are valuable coaching tools that are available in your favorite mass merchant store. I feel that these components should be in the carry bag of every sports coach.

We all know and realize that productive practices do not happen by chance. The good practices are well planned and organized with specific practice time periods and specific skill drills. As a high school football and baseball coach with over 25 years of experience, I am 100% convinced that these four components can make any sport practice, at any level, more organized and productive.
Those components are
1) a Stop Watch,
2) A Detailed Practice Schedule,
3) a Video Camera, and
4) Practice Cones or Markers.

How these four coaching tools improve the quality of practice and instruction.

1. Stop Watch - It is essential that every practice be divided into specific individual or team drill periods. A good stop watch helps keep everything on time and running smooth. It is recommended that time slots be kept shorter for younger age groups. Very seldom would a drill go over 10 minutes for youth teams.

2. Written Practice Schedule - Going on a practice field without a written practice schedule is like driving a car without a steering wheel. You can not conduct good practices without good planning and organization. The practice schedule is divided into time periods with specific team and individual drill. Taking the time to evaluate what the team needs most is extremely important. These written schedules should be kept and reviewed to see when various topics, fundamentals, and skills were taught and practiced. Each schedule outlines what drills are done, the time of the session, what players are involved, and what coaches are conducting the drill.

3. Digital Video Camera - As you have heard many times over and over, the "big eye in the sky does not lie". A saying that coaches use to emphasize that what you see on video is exactly the way it is. The video camera is a coaches best friend when it comes to teaching hitting, pitching and fielding fundamentals. Video filmed practice action shows players what they need to improve on or correct. Video play backs can also provide positive or negative feedback to reinforce coaching and teaching sessions. If they actions are wrong, they can see their mistakes. If their action is correct, they can see how well they performed. Players recognize and understand verbal instruction much better when they can see a video. Hitters can correct a flaw in swing mechanics much easier if they can actually see the mistake they are making. It is a good idea to video both individual and team drills for later review.

4. Plastic Practice Cones or Markers - These relatively inexpensive cones or markers are used to set up drills. They are orange in color and stack inside themselves to make this easy to store and carry. There are many uses that these can be used for. You can mark bunt zones. You are mark the "get to the line" spot for pitching fielding practice. You can use them to mark the path for a base runner to "fish hook" at first base on a ball hit through the infield. You will come up with many more uses as you plan your practices and workouts.

I hope this article has been useful to you. If you are looking for more articles on baseball, you may visit the Baseball Coaching Digest Blog and the Youth Baseball Clinic Blog. Both feature daily post and articles on all aspects of coaching baseball.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

3 Things Every Tee Ball Baseball Batter Must Be Taught When First Learning to Hit

By Nick Dixon

It is important that very young baseball players receive proper instruction in baseball hitting mechanics. Young baseball players benefit greatly from top quality instruction and teaching that is easy to understand, simple to execute, and consistent from one lesson to another. Young baseball players experience a higher level of success, satisfaction, and enjoyment when they are taught to "do things right". Here are 3 things that every Tee Ball player must be taught when first learning to hit.

1. Keep your eyes on the ball. The batter must learn to keep their eyes on the ball from the time the ball leaves the pitchers hand until the ball leaves the bat after contact. If the batter keeps the eyes on the ball, the possibility of the batter having one common flaw, the "pulling of the head", will be eliminated.

2. Have a proper grip. The proper grip is a grip with the "knocking knuckles" on both hands aligned with each other. This puts the grip of the bat in the fingers and out of the palm. This grip allows for smoothly and quicker hand which will improve bat speed.

3. Take a short step toward the ball. When kids are very young they need to learn to shift their weight. They are need to learn to take a shirt stride. Having them take a short step toward the pitch or pitcher is the best way to teach this early.

4. Hit the ball hard. Young batters should learn to swing level and "kill the ball". The harder you hit the ball, the more successful a batter will be. "Soft" contact leads to outs. The emphasis should be for the batter to make good solid contact by driving the bat barrel through the baseball.

5. Keep the head still during the swing. The lower body strides. The upper body will rotate. But the head should remain still, chin down, and with the eyes on the ball as mentioned in #1. The batter begins with his chin on his front shoulder and ends the swing with his chin on his back shoulder. Is you hear someone say go "Ike to Mike", that is what many coaches use to describe this movement of the shoulders.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Baseball Coaching Digest - Trick Play Alert - Fake Time Call by the Batter

By Nick Dixon

This offensive baseball trick play is often used by youth baseball teams to confuse young and inexperienced pitchers and to get balk calls. The ploy uses the inexperience and lack of knowledge of a young pitcher to get a balk call.

Here is how the "Fake Time-Out" play is done:

After the young pitcher begins his pitching motion, the batter simply raises his front hand and acts as if he is asking for time to the pitcher instead of the umpire. The player will in most cases, not say anything, but simply raise the front hand as if calling time. This front hand movement mimics the raining of the back hand to the plate umpire to as for time to be called. The action is done to disrupt the pitchers concentration. The very young pitcher will fall for the "prank" and stop his delivery. If the pitcher stops or alters his normal delivery and pitching motion, it is a balk.

How does a youth baseball coach prevent his young pitcher from falling victim to this trick?

Here are 3 recommended coaching points:

1. Coaches must coach their players to always finish the pitch unless one of the umpires calls time. It is recommended that coaches make sure that youth pitchers know that the only person that can call time out is one of the umpires. If a player, coach or fan yells "time", "stop", or anything abruptly, the pitcher should finish the pitching motion. If it is the opposing team, the umpire will rule verbal obstruction and warn the other team.

2. If the batter steps out of the box, raises his hand or verbally calls time out, the pitcher should not hesitate, stop, or change his delivery. The pitch should be thrown.

3. Make sure that your youth pitcher knows that one of the umpires is the only person that can stop play once the pitching motion has started.

In summary, this trick play does not work well if coaches take the time to inform their players of the rules regarding calling time.

I hope that this article is useful to you and your team.

Good luck til next time, Coach Nick

Make sure to visit the Baseball Coaching Digest Blog for daily articles and post on every aspect of coaching baseball.

Check out the Baseball Coaching Digest Blog for daily articles and post an every aspect of coaching baseball.

Check out the Bat Action Hitting Machine baseball pitching simulator. This high speed training machine is 100% Guaranteed to raise Batting Averages and has a full year warranty.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Coaching Youth Baseball - 3 Simple Basic Steps in Teaching a Young Baseball Beginner to Throw

By Nick Dixon
There are 3 basic steps that every beginning baseball player must be taught when learning to properly throw a baseball. These three steps are simple actions that make learning to throw easier and simple to understand.

The three basic steps in properly throwing a baseball are:
Step 1:

Turn your body before you throw. The body should be turned toward the player's throwing arm. This makes sure that the players shoulders are properly turned, putting the ball on the back side away from the "target" to which we are throwing.

Step 2:

Get both elbows up to a level "T" position. As I said the proper throwing arm position is commonly called the "T" position. Both of the player's elbows should be lifted to a horizontal position at shoulder height. The front elbow should be pointed toward the "target". The back elbow should be equally as high and pointed in the opposite direction from the front elbow.

Step 2:

Take the ball back, up & away. The ball should be lifted to a position that puts the back elbow at a 90 degree angle with the horizontal position of the "bicep" portion of the upper arm. The ball should be positioned in the hand with the ball turned away from the body. This means the ball will be directed away from the player's body. This ball position insures that when the player's shoulders turn during the throwing motion, the ball will be in the correct throwing position when the arm comes forward.

Step 3:

Step toward your target as you begin the throwing motion. Transfer your weight onto the front foot as you throw the ball. Step forward with your back foot as you complete your throw.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Baseball Coaching Digest - Fake 3rd Out Defensive Trick

By Nick Dixon
The Fake 3rd Out is a trick play ran by defensive teams to trick an unsuspecting base runner. If the base runner is not alert and aware, he may step off the bag and give the defensive team a cheap out to end the inning. Coaches should make their players aware of sure plays and tactics to prevent this trick from happening to their team.

I saw this trick play pulled in a 12 and under tournament. The defensive team caught a young base runner off guard and used the play to get him to step off the bag and a quick tag was put on him to get the 3rd out in the inning.

Here is how the Fake 3rd Out trick play was ran.

The center fielder made the catch on a routine fly ball that was actually the 2nd out in the inning. The center fielder nonchalantly threw the baseball to his cut-off man who is the second baseman. The second baseman drops the ball and slowly retrieves it. The second baseman was close in behind second base.

Meanwhile, every defensive player on the field acts is if they were going to their dugout as if it were three outs in the inning. The unsuspecting and "gullible" second base runner started off the field also.

The defensive second baseman who has lagged behind, simply ran up behind the runner and tagged him out for the 3rd out in the inning. The umpire rings him up and the inning is over.

Coaches should always make sure that every base runner knows how many outs there are at all times. Coaches should tell teams about this trick in order to let them know that some teams will use this play to get a cheap out.

I hope this article will help you prepare your team for the approaching season.

Good luck till next time, Coach Nick.

Make sure to visit the Baseball Coaching Digest to see daily post and articles on every aspect of coaching baseball. Check out the archive of over 200 articles on coaching baseball.

Check out the Baseball Coaching Digest Blog for daily articles and post an every aspect of coaching baseball.

Check out the Bat Action Hitting Machine baseball pitching simulator. This high speed training machine is 100% Guaranteed to raise Batting Averages and has a full year warranty.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Baseball Coaching Digest - Stop and See - 1st & 3rd Double Steal Base Running Play

By Nick Dixon

Name - "1st & 3rd Stop and See Steal" Play

Type of Play - Offensive

Situation - Runners at 1st and 3rd base with 2 outs.

Objective - The offense will use this play to achieve one of the following 3 results:

1. The first base runner wants to steal and draw a throw to 2B in hopes of scoring the third base runner.

2. The first base runner will advance to 2B if a throw down is not made by the catcher.

3. The first base runner will try to create a rundown if a throw down is made. The offense tries to force a defensive error or "buy time" for the third base runner to score.


The first base runner will take his normal lead. He wants to make sure that he does not get picked off by the pitcher. The offensive team wants the catcher to throw to second. The third base runner will take an aggressive but safe lead. The third base runner will make sure that the catcher's throw down clears the pitcher or any possible cut-off man. The 1B runner will execute a straight steal and will look in, like a hit and run, but he is reading the catcher's actions and not the batter's contact. The batter will be taking the pitch.

If the 1B runner sees the ball going down to second, he will stop. He will stop and retreat quickly back toward first base. If the defense quickly throws to first base, he will get in a run down. If the defense throws to home to get the third base runner who has his break for home, the 1B runner will advance on to second base. The third base runner will also read the catcher's actions. He will expect a full-arm fake and check back to third base. If the catcher releases the ball toward second base, the third base runner will make sure that the ball clears the pitcher and any possible cut-off man. If the 3B runner "reads the ball through", he breaks hard and slides hard in home.

How do you stop it?

It is hard for the defense to stop this play. They are not aware that the 1B runner may stop. The best method of defending this play is for the shortstop or second baseman to take the throw and quickly throw to home plate. The defense must communicate.

Points to Remember?

1. The 1B runner has to make sure not to get picked and that he properly reads the catcher.

2. The third base runner must take an aggressive but safe lead. He is expecting a pitcher or infield cut or a full-arm fake by the catcher.

3. The "stop and see" play is great for scoring a "cheap" run when the weak part of the batting order is up.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coaching Youth Baseball - Coaching Your First Baseman

By Nick Dixon
Here are important points and skills that you must teach your First Baseman.

Getting to the Bag When the Ball is Hit

The First Baseman must get to the back immediately when the ball is hit by the batter. He should position his body to face the infielder making the play. The feet should be slightly apart, wide enough to straddle the bag, and near the bag. Straddling the bag allows him to stretch in any direction to field the throw.

Setting Up to Receive the Throw

It is crucial that the First Baseman learn to wait until the thrown ball is released and the throws path is determined before stretching. Waiting to the last moment allows the first baseman to adjust the feet and stretch to field wild or errant throws.

Stretching too early is a bad habit that must be identified and corrected. The ball must be caught. It is the first baseman's duty to do whatever he has to to stop or catch the ball. If he must come off the bag, then he must. Allowing the ball to get by will in most cases allow the batter runner advance to 2nd base. Good first basemen always find a way to catch high, low or wide throws. Coming off the bag is not a sin. Letting the ball get by is!

Teach the first baseman not to panic on short hops or balls thrown in the dirt. He should learn to play the short-hop. Fielding the short hop is a skill that must be practiced. He must understand that low throws are simply ground balls. He is an infielder and he must field those "thrown grounders".

How to properly stretch to catch the ball.

The leg extended in the stretch should be the glove side leg. Right handed first basemen extend the left leg and left-handed first basemen extend the right hand. The foot on the bag should be held on the front corner.

In later articles, I will cover coaching tips on teaching the first baseman to field, throw, and how to hold runners.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Coaching Little League Baseball - Bad Habits Make For Bad Coaching

By Nick Dixon

Here are 10 bad habits of bad Little League Coaches:

Laziness is the #1 trait of bad coaches. It is impossible for a coach to fool the players. They more than anyone else know when a coach is lazy. It is difficult to get players to work hard enough to be successful if the coach is not willing to put forth the effort.

Lack of knowledge is another trait of an inadequate coach. They do not know enough to properly teach and instruct. If a coach did not play as a child or teenager, they should become a "student of the game" and learn the correct terminology, fundamentals, techniques and strategies to be successful.

Not being organized is another trait that bad coaches are good at. They seldom have what they need or have a plan for practice or games.

Not being on time is another characteristic of a terrible coach. They arrive late for practice and games. They often have to miss practice or have to leave practice early. They find it impossible to find enough time to be a good coach.

Negativity is a trait that helps make a bad coach worst. They are always expecting the worst. They expect it to be a bad day and most of the time they are right. They expect to lose and often find a way to justify losing.

Lack of attention to detail. They are too busy to see what is happening or to pay attention to small details that make big differences in a player's and team's success. They often ignore swing flaws, mechanical mistakes, and sub-par performance at practice or a game. They chose to over-look the mistake than correct it. They do not consider little things important. Therefore, their players and teams never reach their fullest potential.

Bad coaches often speak before they think.

They are quick to panic or over react. They are impatience.

They are not consistent in teaching and instruction techniques.

They don't really like kids.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Baseball Coaching Digest - Deep Lead in the Outfield Base Running Play

By Nick Dixon

This offensive play is called "Deep Lead in Right Field". The play is run when a team has base runners at 1st base and 3rd base. The play is used to put pressure on the defensive team in an attempt to force an error that will allow the runner at 3rd base to core.

Name- "Deep Outfield Lead at First" or "Skunk in the Outfield"

Type Play- Offensive

Situation- "Runners at 1B and 3B"

Objective- The offensive team will run this play to do the following:

1. Use as a "Safety Steal" to safely steal second with less chance than getting thrown out.

2. Force a defensive "blunder" and score the runner from 3rd base.


The unique thing about this play is where the 1B runner takes his lead. The 1B runner will take his lead in the outfield. Do not confuse this play with the typical "cat and mouse" or "get in a rundown" play often ran by offensive teams to score a runner from 3rd. In this play the 1B runner will take his lead 15-20 feet out on the "outfield grass" half-way between 1B and 2B. The runner will simply turn and sprint to this "spot" when he takes his lead.

The 1B runner will "hold his spot" until a defender, with the baseball, approaches him and is within 15 feet. He should make sure that when he makes a move, he goes directly toward 1B or 2B. He must not take a step back under any circumstance. A step backwards will make him in violation of the "base path rule".

The "base path rule" is not enforceable until a runner is attempting to avoid a tag or play by the defender. If a runner leaves the base path to avoid a tag or play by a defender, he is out. Many people misinterpret this rule. This rule in no way restricts where a runner may take his lead. He can legally take his lead anywhere he wishes. The runner's base path to 1B or 2B is determined by where he is when the defense begins to make a play on him.

If the defense makes no play on the 1B runner, he will sprint directly to 2B as quickly as he can on the next pitch. He has used the play to easily steal second safely. If the defense makes a play on the runner he will not panic but will rather hold his spot and break at the last moment. The 3B runner will take a safe but aggressive lead and will read the actions of the defense. When the 3B runner or coach feels that the defense has moved out of position or has taken the ball too far out to make the play at home, the 3B runner will break and attempt to score.

How do you stop it? There are several options that the defensive team has to choose from when they are faced with this play. Any of the following three options may be used:

1. Ignore the Runner - This is the fastest way for the defense to react. Do not "take the bait". The defensive team will simply let the 1B runner do whatever he wishes. They will let the runner take second base or do whatever he wants without making a play on him. The defense will concentrate on the batter and forget about the runner. Coaches must remember that the pitcher can not hold the ball or try to "wait the runner" out because the "20 second pitch" rule that gives the pitcher a time limit in which to pitch the next pitch.

2. Play the Runner - The defense may be in a situation where they feel like they have to make a play on the 1B runner. The best method of playing the 1B runner is to "give the ball up" or throw it quickly to the shortstop or second baseman. The defender with the ball will then walk toward the runner while keeping his feet and body turned in a position to make a throw to home if the 3B runner breaks. The defender will actually walk backwards toward the 1B runner. The defender should never drop the ball from the "cocked throwing position" and he should never take his eyes off the 3B runner. If his teammates have to "talk him" to the 1B runner then they should do so. Good communication between defenders is crucial. The defense may also wish to use the right or center fielder as the "tag man".

3. The "Huddle or Covey Play" - This method of defending the play is the most "creative" approach that I have seen. The defensive team's shortstop, second baseman, first baseman, and pitcher will "huddle together behind the pitcher's mound. The center fielder will be covering second base and the right fielder will cover first base. They will huddle closely and the ball will be secretly transferred to a chosen "tag man". After the huddle and the passing of the ball, the players will each sprint to their assigned spot. The base runners and the offense do not know to whom the ball has been passed. The shortstop will sprint directly toward the 1B runner, the second baseman will sprint toward the 3B runner, and the pitcher will sprint to a spot directly between the 1B runner and second base. The "tag man" should be the shortstop or the second baseman. The safest thing to do is let the shortstop take the ball and charge the 3B runner. All of the defenders must keep both hands in their glove to conceal whether or not they have the ball.
Note: This play is a difficult play to defend. The defense must practice and be prepared should an opponent try this play. The play is very effective in putting pressure on young or inexperienced defenders.

Points to Remember:

1. The 1B runner may take his lead where ever he wishes. In this play the lead is taken in a location that prevents a pick off.

2. This play can be used as "safety steal" to allow he base runner to safely steal 2nd base or as a play to force a defensive error.

3. The 1B runner's base path is determined by where he is when the defense begins to make a play on him. He must not step backwards, but rather must go directly toward 2B or 1B, in a straight line, when the defender approaches with the ball.

Visit the Baseball Coaching Digest Blog for daily post and articles on every aspect of coaching baseball. The Baseball Coaching Digest Blog. Check out the Bat Action Hitting Machine baseball pitching simulator. This high speed training machine is 100% Guaranteed to raise Batting Averages and has a full year warranty.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Coaching Baseball - Bunting - How to Execute the Sacrifice Bunt

By Nick Dixon

Bunting is a skill that must be learned and practiced on a regular basis. It is often one of the most neglected aspects of a team's offensive strategy. There are various techniques of bunting and each should be taught and practiced.

Two kinds of sacrifice bunts are common, the square around and the pivot bunts get their names from the footwork used for each. For a square around bunt the batter will square the feet around when the pitcher begins his motion. It is better to square too early than too late. Squaring late often cause the ball to be contacted poorly or popped up. For a pivot bunt both feet pivot and the batter turns his shoulders square to the pitcher without moving stepping his feet. Both feet pivot on the balls of the feet. Using a pivot bunt allows the batter to show bunt a bit later and it allows the bunter to pivot back if the pitch is not a strike or inside. The pivot bunt is becoming the choice sacrifice bunt technique of most teams.

12 coaching points of teaching players how to execute a sacrifice bunt:

The pitch must be a strike. Do not bunt pitches that are not in the strike zone. Coaches must make sure that the base runner knows that he must "see the ball down" on the ground before he breaks for 2B.

The bunted ball should be bunted away from the pitcher. The pitcher must have to move at least 10 feet to field the ball. The bunter should bunt the ball too close to the foul line because the ball may roll foul. The best sacrifice bunt is in a zone 2 to 4 feet off the foul line.

The ball should be bunted far enough that the catcher can not pop out and field the ball. The offense does not want the catcher to be able to field the ball. The catcher is the one fielder with the best angle to execute a perfect throw to first or second base.

The batter should move up in the batters box. Moving up allows the batter more fair territory in which to bunt the ball.

The batter should bunt the ball before it reached the plate.

The ball must be bunted downward. A ball bunted into the air could result in an easy double play. Plus, the runner must hold to see if the ball is caught. The defense may field the ball and make the play at second base to get the out and prevent the sacrifice. The batter must bunt the top half of the baseball.

The hands should be moved to the bunt position as the feet move. The top hand slides up the barrel to a location about 10 to 12 inches from the barrel. The bottom hand grips the knob and is the hand that controls the bat angle. Many coaches prefer the bat angle to be at 45 degrees and many coaches teach the player to keep the bat angle almost flat. Either way the knees should be flexed and the bat should be slightly lower than eye level.

The height of the bat should be changed by bending the knees. If a batter tries to change the level of the bat by lowering the bat with the hands, the ball is often popped up.

The arms of relaxed and the ball is "mushed", not "pushed" off the bat. This means that the arms have a lot of give in them to deaden the bat impact on the ball. Both elbows should be pointed downward.

The batter should leave the box after the ball is bunted. Two of the main causes of sacrifice bunting failure are 1) A batter trying to run before the ball is bunted. This bunt is a sacrifice bunt. The key word is sacrifice. If you get out, so be it. The main thing is to get your job done and get the bunt down in the right spot. 2) The bunter starts his bunting motion too late. Chances are good that the other team expects a bunt in this situation. The batter should get around early enough to make sure that the hands and feet get to their correct positions. As I said earlier, I would prefer a batter show a sacrifice bunt too early than to be too late to get the job done.

I hope these coaching points are useful to you. Make sure to visit the Baseball Coaches Digest Blog and the Youth Baseball Clinic Blog for daily posts and articles on every aspect of coaching baseball.

Good luck till next time, Coach Nick.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Every Youth Sports Coach Should Watch This Video

A story of an autistic kid in Rochester who loved his sport... and a coach who knows how to do things right...

Coach Bob

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Baseball - First & Third Double Steal Defensive Strategy

By Nick Dixon

The "First and Third Double Steal" situation is when the batting team has a base runner at first base and a base runner at third base. Often times the offensive teams will put on a base running play to attempt and confuse, fool, or trick the defensive team into making a mistake that will cost them a run.

Before a team can defend this situation, you must know all variations of plays that an offensive team can employ. The two most common plays used by the offensive team in this situation are,

1) Early break by the first base runner off first to attempt to get in a run down to distract the defense long enough for the 3rd base runner to score.

2) Straight steal of 2nd by the first base runner. If the catcher throws down, the 3rd base runner will go home.

Every team must have a "First & Third Double Steal" defensive plan. Most teams have at least 3 or more defensive plays that they can call and execute to counter the offensive team's actions.

The 4 most common defensive plays for defending the "Double Steal" situation are:

Throw to 2nd base by the catcher with a read and cut action by a middle infielder. The catcher will throw down as usual. The 2nd baseman or shortstop, depending on whether a right-handed or left-handed batter is batting, will come early and get into a position to execute a cut of the throw and a quick throw to home plate if the 3rd base runner attempts to steal home. Most times the cut man will sneak a peek to read the 3rd base runners action or the 3rd baseman will make a loud "CUT!" call to let the middle infielder know to cut the ball because the 3rd base runner to going home. If no cut call is made, the middle infielder will let the ball go through to get the out at 2nd.

A middle infielder comes early and fakes a cut to hold the runner at 3rd base while the runner is tagged out at 2nd base.

The catcher will make a quick throw to the pitcher that will immediately checks the runner at 3rd to try and pick the runner off or get him out while attempting to steal home.

The catcher will make a full-arm fake to 2nd base and then makes a snap throw to 3rd in an attempt to catch the 3rd base off the bag far enough to get an out.

Coaching Points:

If a tag is made at 2nd base, the middle infielder must make a swipe tag and come up checking the runner at third. Sometimes the runner at third will make a late decision to break for home when he sees a play being made on the runner at 2nd base.

When the catcher executes the full arm fake and throw to 3rd, he must come out in front of the plate a step or two to make sure that the throw will clear the runner.

If a throw is going to be made to 2nd, sometimes you can hold a runner at third by having the pitcher fake a cut.

When the middle infielder is faking a cut at 2nd, make sure that he comes early enough to clear the throwing lane. This allows the other infielder a clear view of the bad and will not block his vision during the throw.

Remember, when a fake cut call is made at 2nd, you must have the center fielder backing up the throw at 2nd because both infielders are in the box without a back up at 2nd.

I hope that you find this article useful. Have great day, Nick.

There are other calls and variations that I will cover in later articles.

Visit the Baseball Coaching Digest Blog for daily post and articles on every aspect of coaching baseball. The Baseball Coaching Digest Blog. Check out the Bat Action Hitting Machine baseball pitching simulator. This high speed training machine is 100% Guaranteed to raise Batting Averages and has a full year warranty.
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Extraordinary Baseball Strength - The Gospel When it Comes Down to the Best Workout For Baseball

By Brandon Richey
Strength and conditioning for baseball is a must if you want to be competitive in today's game. When it comes down to getting the best workout routine for baseball players I have to exert my professional opinion by telling you about the single arm kettlebell swing. As you may know by now the kettlebell is an ancient strength and conditioning device that has been used by the world's greatest athletes for over three centuries. This ancient strength and conditioning device brings a style of training with it that is dynamic in nature and translates better than anything over to any athletic sport, especially baseball.

The base strength endurance lift that is performed with the kettlebell is known as the double arm kettlebell swing, but for this article I am going to address the single arm swing. It doesn't matter if you are looking for a baseball pitching workout, rotator cuff exercise, or just a generic workout routine for your baseball performance the single arm swing satisfies them all! To perform the single arm swing you must first understand the proper technique which is performed with the double arm version known as the hip snap. The hip snap is a movement that is done by you fluently and constantly flexing and extending at both your hips and knees in order to create the necessary momentum to swing the kettlebell up to chest level.

With the single arm swing you first want to properly set your grip before beginning the exercise. With the bell on the ground simply grab the handle towards the inner half of the bell depending on which hand you want to start with. Next, make sure that when you grip the handle to rotate your knuckles so that they point to the sphere of the kettlebell. This is known as a hooking grip and allows you to firmly hold the bell with the hook of the palm of your hand and not exhaust your grip by using your fingers. From here pick the bell up and begin the hip snap. As the bell elevates to chest height make sure that your palm is pointing down and as it descends to between your legs allow your forearm to rotate to a thumbs down position. Continue this natural rotation back and forth with each swing. You will quickly realize how much of a major league baseball workout this drill is once you start.

Take the time to endure the learning curve with kettlebell training my friend. This will no doubt take your strength and conditioning workouts to the next level. Remember that anyone can train hard, but only champions train smart!

To learn more about how to utilize your body, Kettlebells, and to achieve Mind Blowing fitness get your copy of My "Better Than Steroids Ebook" by clicking here:
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

How to Teach Ballplayers to Catch a Ball in One Or Two Sessions

By Jack Perconte

I've said this numerous times, but as the saying goes, "Doing something almost correct and doing it correctly is the difference between success and failure."

There is nothing more important in baseball and softball than being able to catch a ball correctly. Unfortunately, a great percentage of kids learn the wrong way or get hurt trying to catch the ball, then quit before playing much baseball. Additionally, it often takes a great amount of time for ball players to learn how to catch because they are not taught efficiently and/or correctly. If taught correctly, players have a chance to become outstanding fielders with the chance of advancing up the ladder of baseball. Additionally, by following the correct process of learning how to catch a ball, players can learn to catch in a very short time, even in as little as one or two 20 minute sessions.

A few initial suggestions: Do not teach players using a normal "hard" ball. Tennis balls or any similar softer balls will work. Also, the greater number of softer balls available, the quicker the learning process will be. Along with faster learning, more balls will promote less boredom and less wasted time picking up missed balls. At first, players should just set balls they catch to the side instead of throwing them back to the coach. If a number of balls are unavailable have the player stand in front of a backstop (i.e. wall or net) so they do not have to chase missed balls.
*Also, make sure their glove is not a cheap vinyl one and be sure it is broken in so it can squeeze easily. (Adult should use it for a time if it isn't broken in.)

Quick Learning Process

1. From close range (4 or five feet away) the coach, who is on one knee, flips balls continuously upward towards the fielders face area.

2. Players should start with elbow slightly below shoulder height, out to side of body and with glove slightly higher than elbow.

3. Balls should be flipped upward or straight with no loop on toss. Putting an arc on ball will naturally cause player to turn glove under which is incorrect for balls above the thigh level. Players will get the idea of keeping glove up and not underhanded pretty quick because it will bop them upside the head if they turn glove under - thus the reason for using a softer ball. Coach should remind players to keep elbow out to side (outside body slightly) when catching balls in face area.

4. After throws towards face and when player gets used to keeping their glove up with fingers pointing upward, the coach can start to flip balls a little right of face, left of face and then lower etc. Players will get the hang of moving glove in front of ball in this correct, glove-up manner.

5. After awhile, have the players begin with their hands down at their side before the ball is tossed to learn to raise the glove up in the correct catching manner.

A couple extra points:

* Once again, the greater number of balls will allow the coach to rapid fire balls to the learning player so in a short amount of time they will get numerous attempts to catch balls.

* Coach should point out incorrect attempts at catching balls until players begin to self-correct.

* Generally, the toughest ball for a player to learn to catch is the ball that comes just to the outside of their glove side or the ball right around waist high. On the ball outside their glove side, players should be taught to rotate their catching elbow in towards their body and push out towards ball slightly. On balls around waist high, players should be taught to bend their knees slightly so they can keep their glove in the upright manner. Reminder, all balls above thigh level should be taught with the glove fingers pointing skyward.

* Eventually, coaches can flip balls to player's knees and ankles where they will then turn the glove under as if fielding a ground ball.

* Coaches should not insist or even mention using two hands to catch balls until they are very proficient with catching with glove hand only. Two hand catching usually confuses young players. Teaching players to use two hands when catching should only come after they become adept at using the glove. Two hands is for getting rid of ball quickly and not catching it. Eventually, getting rid of ball quickly, and thus two handed catching, will become necessary, of course. Additionally, as they get more proficient coaches can begin to back up and stand up. Continuing to use softer balls for a while will allow coaches to challenge players with straight balls and not looped balls. If players revert to underhand catching on balls above the waist area, coaches can go back to initial practice drill.

* Finally, as they get the hang of catching the ball with the glove only," have players add their second hand for good throws (inside body- right at them) and one hand (glove only) for balls they reach for. * When teaching players to use two hands, make sure they place their bare hand slightly out front of their glove when catching as opposed to behind the glove, which most players do. Finally, teaching players to move there feet in order to get to and get in front of thrown balls is essential, and the last piece to learning to catch a ball correctly.

Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball hitting lessons advice can be found at is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his parenting blog can be found at

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