Friday, April 30, 2010

Coaches Must Learn to Teach Proper Pitching Mechanics

By Nate Barnett

Just Throw Strikes?

Have one of your coaches ever told you to "just throw strikes" and get us out of this inning? Many coaches out there make the mistake of telling pitchers to "just throw strikes". Of course your pitchers are trying to throw strikes to end the inning; what they really can't do is control their emotions or they lack correct mechanics. When a coach tells pitchers to "just throw strikes" what the coach is really implying is they don't know what else to tell the struggling pitcher. They lack the education behind what is really going on in the pitchers mind in different game scenarios; or they lack the knowledge about pitching mechanics.

Many youth pitchers hear "just throw strikes" and they do just that. Many pitchers start aiming the ball and they forget about their basic pitching mechanics. They may slow their motion down; not exploding to foot strike. Many pitchers often open up to soon taking more of a step instead of a strike to home plate; guiding the ball over the plate instead of simply throwing it. The pitcher begins to throw batting practice and the batters begin to tee off. Yes your pitchers are throwing strikes, but they are often right down the heart of the plate with no velocity behind the ball. See ya! Game over! You Lose!

If you are a coach, you will do more harm than good throwing out little comments like "just throw strikes", "rare back and fire", "throw hard now", "get er done" what do all of these things mean to your pitchers? Do you know what they mean?

Every pitcher is going to have a different interpretation of what these things mean unless you are very clear in presenting to them what they mean. What does "rare back and fire" mean? We have all heard that one. Does it mean to rock back and throw as hard as you can? If so, a pitcher will lose all control of the baseball if they rare back because they lose their balance. What does "throw hard now" mean? When you tell a young pitcher to throw hard, what do they usually end up doing to their pitching mechanics? One, they never try to get power from their legs, hips, torso and shoulders (entire body) as they should; they use too much of their arm to throw when trying to get more velocity. The only time these small innuendos work is if the coach explains to the pitchers what the terminology means. Otherwise these words are just filler words for lack of better education.

To get better results out of your pitchers in games, it is imperative that you understand proper pitching mechanics. You also need to know your pitcher and how they react to different game situations. Do they get nervous and buckle under stressful game situations? If so, you need to figure out why they get nervous.

It's time to get educated on proper pitching mechanics.

Nate Barnett is co-owner of The Pitching Academy.

After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued his coaching and motivational training career. You can find The Pitching Academy's videos, blog, and more articles when you visit the website.

The Pitching Academy's pitching mechanics DVD

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How to Buy a Baseball Glove

By Brad Neuendank

The "Why" about baseball glove sizes and webs

Note within a note: I love making Jimmy O sweat. He's a buyer, he's a coach, he's a player. He knows his stuff. But I tend to ask the questions that most people just "know" instinctually, because when it comes to sports, I don't have instincts until I get to know the mechanics of the game, the physics behind the technologies. [CM]

Infielders use smaller gloves because they are handling the ball more. They are catching grounders, scooping quickly, transferring to their throwing hand, etc. They need to feel where the ball is right away so they can complete the play. Larger gloves will make it difficult to feel exactly where the ball is because the pressure is spread across a greater surface area. The deeper web would also make it a bit more difficult to transfer the ball quickly and efficiently to your throwing hand, so small is the way to go. They'll use a modified trap web, I web or basket (also called tartan or closely woven) web, something designed for a smaller glove, something that doesn't create a deep web where the ball can get lost (okay, not actually lost, but at least less accessible).

Pitchers generally wear infielder's gloves with a modified trap, tartan web or basket web. The web has to be closely woven so you can't see the way he's gripping the ball inside the glove. Some teams prefer their pitchers to wear large gloves, up to 12.75", to offer more coverage and give them more opportunity to snag shots.

First-basemen don't really wear gloves, they wear mitts. Without separate finger stalls, the glove wears like a mitten -- a big, bulky, leather mitten. First base mitts are generally very large, up to 13". The webbings are wide and usually posted for stability. They need to catch the wild balls thrown at them in desperate attempts to prevent a run.

Third basemen have a wide array of gloves to choose from. They can pretty much wear anything they feel comfortable with. They are in between infield and outfield as far as skill sets go, and they can benefit from the larger, looser webs of the outfield but may find it easier to handle the ball with a smaller, tighter glove. Once you're in the outfield, it's all about size and extending your reach. The gloves are larger, and the webs are bigger and looser.

In the outfield you'll see Trapeze webs and Ichiro webs that create a very deep ball pocket. You might also see specialty webs like the ladder web, Y web, H web or Aso web. The basic gist of these gloves is to make the ball pocket huge, so you'll make a bigger bullseye for the ball.

The gloves are larger, and some are even flared at the ends to create a funnel effect to direct the ball toward your palm.

The diamond is calling. Let Eastbay answer with our huge selection of baseball gloves! For everything baseball, we have one of the largest selections of baseball gloves available online. Gloves come in a variety of sizes and are geared to fit both the position you play and the level of your game.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Derek Jeter and His Baseball Psychology

By Nate Barnett

I'm not a Yankees fan. There, I said it. I know that half of you are now finished reading this article, and I'm ok with that. I guess I should explain my opening sentence a bit more thoroughly. While I'm not a Yankess fan, I AM a fan of good, solid baseball. I consider good solid baseball players those who have a firm grasp on both the physical as well as the mental game of baseball. One of the first players I think of who has both components under control is Derek Jeter.

As with most years in his professional career, 2009 was an outstanding year for Jeter. First and foremost, he was a major contributor in the Yankess winning the World Series. Some of his 2009 personal accolades included:

1. Appearing in his 10th All-Star game
2. Winning his 5th World Series Ring
3. Has become the Yankees all time leader in hits wit 2,747
4. Won his 4th Gold Glove
5. Won his 4th Silver Slugger with a.334 batting average and.406 on base average
6. Won the Hank Aaron Award as the best hitter in the American League

If you get a chance to read Derek Jeter's book, The Life You Imagine, you will quickly learn what makes him tick. The mental game of baseball is high on Jeter's list of reasons why he has become a highly successful baseball player. I've added a couple quotes by Jeter below with some of my own commentary following.

"You have got to have fun. Regardless of how you look at it, we are playing a game. It is a business, it is our job, but I do not think you can do well unless you are having fun."

Derek Jeter

* Hard work, competing, and winning are what make baseball fun. Once in a while I hear younger players mutter under their breath about not having fun any more with baseball. Sometimes coaches can remove some of the fun from the game, however, I think typically players can regulate their own fun-meter while playing ball. Those who enjoying working on developing their hitting mechanics or pitching skills over and over again think baseball is fun. They know at some point they will enjoy the benefits of their hard work. Those who go head to head with tough competition think baseball is fun. And finally, those who continue to work through mistakes and achieve great things think baseball is fun. Fun doesn't always have to be easy. I tend to think Jeter would agree.

"We just want to win. That is the bottom line. I think a lot of times people may become content with one championship or a little bit of success, but we do not really reflect on what we have done in the past. We focus on the present."

Derek Jeter

* Getting stuck in what you did or did not do in the past will destroy your forward momentum. Lingering too long on your accolades from a couple years ago does nothing productive for you or your team in the present. I think Jeter has nailed this by saying that he doesn't reflect on what he or his team has done in the past. A new year is a new year. Another athlete who has talked about this quite a bit is Albert Pujols, who by the way won the Hank Aaron Award for the National League last year in 2009.

If you are looking for a couple good resources for developing the mental game, I'd suggest picking up the following books for starters. Both are fairly east to comprehend and will help you out in the baseball psychology department.

The Life You Imagine - Derek Jeter

Mind Gym - Gary Mack

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball. His website is devoted to teaching the mental game of baseball and hitting mechanics. After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued his coaching and motivational training career.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

One Word That Will Make You Sound Like a Baseball Expert - 5 Tips For Hitting, Pitching & Fielding

By Jack Perconte

Not everyone knows the finer details of the game of baseball and, of course, many do not care to be baseball coaches or experts. Everyone has there own interests and that is fine. However, that does not mean you cannot say helpful things to young ballplayers. Using this one word will make one sound like a baseball expert and sound like you really know the game of baseball. As a baseball instructor over the past 21 years there is one word that I believe I have said more than any other word. This word is revealed below. If you would like a hint, think of the first thing that you teach your dog to do?

You guessed it - stay. Using the word "stay" with most any baseball term gives instant, "expert" credibility to the one saying it. Following are the terms good coaches often use when talking to players about the three key skill components in baseball - hitting, pitching and fielding. People, who use these terms with the magic word "stay," will sound like a knowledgeable, baseball expert.

Hitting Tips:
1. Stay back - good hitters do not jump at the ball, they let it come to them.
2. Stay inside - good hitters do not reach for balls, they try to hit the side closest to them on all pitches.
3. Stay behind - when good hitters swing, they rotate, transfer their weight and throw their bat at the ball while keeping their head back over their rear hip.
4. Stay balanced - good hitters swing the bat at 100% speed, but make it look like they are not working hard at all.
5. Stay ready - good hitters always expect the next pitch to be "their pitch."
6. Stay focused - good hitters concentrate on just watching the baseball from the pitcher's release to the hitting zone and tune out all other thoughts.

Pitching Tips:
1. Stay balanced - good pitchers throw at maximum speeds but make it look effortless.
2. Stay direct - good pitchers keep great direction, stepping on direct line towards home plate with their delivery.
3. Stay on top - good pitchers keep their fingers on top of ball on backswing and at release.
4. Stay behind - good pitchers do not rush themselves, allowing their arm time to come around.
5. Stay focused - good pitchers remain focused on their target, and tune out any distractions.

Fielding Tips:
1. Stay ready - good fielders "want" and expect the ball to be hit their way.
2. Stay down - good fielders approach ground balls low to the ground and keep their glove below the hop initially.
3. Stay smooth - good fielders make fielding look effortless, moving through the ball with grace.
4. Stay focused - good fielders keep their concentration on the ball, ready for any hop.
5. Stay balanced - good fielders have great footwork when fielding, always remaining under control.

You may have noticed that there are two terms used with our word "stay" that applies to every fundamental tip and those are balanced and focus. Everything in sport requires great balance and focus. So, when you are not sure what to say to your athlete, you can never go wrong with saying, "stay balanced" and "stay focused" as long as they are said in a positive, affirmative manner.

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

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Top 5 Baseball Drills to Improve Your Baseball Game

By Kendra L Fagan

Open professional baseball tryouts are designed to help scouts determine the physical talents and abilities of aspiring baseball players.

Though many of the drills that young MLB hopefuls are put through might seem random. This is because different drills are put to people to test their skills level. While one person trying out might have a killer pitch and he knows it, a scout might want to see what the person's skill level is with other types of baseball maneuvers.

Scouts look for speed, arm strength, glove skills, and hitting skills and overall mechanics. The tryouts are grueling and not like any version of American Idol you've seen. There is no "nice" judge. Instead, baseball scouts simply call out the names of those they like. The rest of the players go home, and many of theme eventually give up on their dream.

But not unlike any talent-based industry, hearing "no" is just part of the game. It is up to you and your trainers to make sure you are getting all the necessary drills and skill-building exercise to take you to your goal of becoming a professional baseball player.

I have compiled some of the best drills for cross-skill development that will give you a leg up in the competition and hopefully win you the interest of a baseball scout.


The "Around the World" drill is a great conditioning exercise that will help any baseball player develop physically.

Here's how it works.

Take the players to the foul pole in left or right field. Then time them from foul pole to foul pole to get a good accurate base time. Then have a set time that they should complete each of the laps. Some choose seven laps, some others. The number should be based on the number of innings one would play professionally. A good hint is that coaches should remember to adhere to is to not let a lap count if it is under time. This will help the player push himself to get it right. There is no "almosts" in pro baseball.


Besides basic conditioning, this drill helps to build the players speed and quickness back to the bag. Also, it is helpful to work on quickly leaving the bag as well as helping the players to recognize how big of a turn they can make around a bag to make sure that they get back in case of a throw. Here's how a good Dive Backs drill is set up.

The players start out at Home Plate and run around first base, making an aggressive turn, and then dive back into the bag. After diving back they get up as fast as they can and head to second base to do the same thing. They do this also at third then slide feet first into home plate to end their round.

A good way to prove the get back theory is to have an outfielder and a second basemen trying to get a player out every couple of times through. This exercise works wonders for agility and speed skills which is an absolute necessity to play in the major leagues.


Conditioning is a grueling task, so some fun elements need to be used as well. A good fun conditioning drill is great because you can make them the hardest and the fun elements makes it not so bad.

The glove drills starts off with separating players in groups of 4 or 5. (If you are just with yourself and your coach, find a friend or two to help.) Line the people up and put their gloves in the outfield at about 25 foot intervals apart, away from them. They start the drill with a ball in their hand and run to the first glove and set the ball on it and come back to the line and go back and get the ball and come back to the line and go to the second glove and set the ball down and go back to the line and so on and so forth, until all the players have gone through and the winners get out of laps at the end of the practice.


In any good baseball training program, player development is a primary concern. As players get older they also raise their level of function in the game. One of the areas to try to improve is the physical or talent area. If you are at all seriously about playing professionally you must first be in the talent pool of players. If you can't do the physical levels, no one will look at the skill or playing abilities.

A well rounded pre-season conditioning program starts when the players get back from Christmas break. Work should be focused on 3 areas essential to playing baseball at a professionally competitive level - speed, quickness, and power.

The first day should be spent testing the components of each skills set that are vital to an overall skill matching assessment. Test items can include:

· 40 yard sprint
· 10 yard sprint
· Standing 2 footed vertical jump
· 30 second dips
· 30 second sit-ups
· Home to 1b
· Bench press
· Dot jumps
· Diamond push ups

After the testing is done, you should have a good two months dedicated to a program that incorporates exercises, running, and strength training. Once this part is done, practice the test points listed above again. This will help you accurately measure your progress and where to improve.


This is used to determine sheer sprint speed, and it is chosen to determine the athlete's ability to run from the length of two bases. If you decide to incorporate this for your child, do so sparingly and make sure that your child is warmed up. Also reduce the length from 60 yards to only twice the distance from home to first. Of course, make sure that your child is medically approved to do sprinting. Keep the number of such dashes very low and GRADUALLY build up over time.

Here is a good pointer:

When asked to hit, scouts do not look at the end result of whether the ball was a hit, home run, foul ball, etc. Instead, they look at mechanics in order to determine if there is a "loop" in a batter's swing, weight transfer, and the batter's overall approach to the plate appearance. If you are able to introduce your child to one of the scouts during a break at the tryout, ask the scout to give you a minute to understand what he likes to see in his ideal batter. You may learn quite a bit.

Baseball Pros Store has excellent online deals on baseball equipment, strength training books, and off-season training guides to help you get into the major leagues in no time! baseball shop is your one stop shop for baseball bats, gloves, and training equipment. Plus items are updated everyday so you don't have to waste time driving from sports store to sports store. Begin your dream of playing professional baseball and visit today!

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Buying Youth Catcher's Gear

By Matt Danner

Parents face a tough choice when deciding whether or not to buy their child a youth catcher's gear set. In most cases children are still growing and spending $100 or more on catcher's gear may not seem like a sound investment. For some families, money is no problem and their children receive new catcher's gear and mitts every other year. But, for most families money must be spent wisely.

As a parent, you must first determine if your child is serious about catching or if it's a passing fad. Most teams have a set of gear to use, so, if your child is curious about trying the position, encourage them to use this gear first. Although, be aware that many times this gear is not very well maintained and can also pose a minor health risk if multiple kids are sharing equipment. If you discover that your child is serious about catching, you should consider buying a full set of gear.

How much should you spend on a complete set of youth catcher's gear?

Expect to spend about $100 for a complete set of the basic youth catcher's equipment and glove. Higher end catcher's gear and the top of the line catcher's gloves can combine for a $900 price tag. A typical or average set of gear with a decent mitt will run you around the $200 - $300 range. Cheaper sets can be found online and these online stores usually offer discounts when purchasing complete sets.

If this price tag still seems too high and your child is serious about catching, I do recommend at minimum buying their own catcher's glove. Prices for catcher's gloves can range between $25 - $200.

Make sure everything you purchase has a warranty!

One last point. Do not make the mistake of buying a set that is too big for your child thinking that he/she will grow into it. Catcher's gear should fit properly. Proper fitting catcher's gear is important for two main reasons: safety and performance.

Shop around different sports stores in your area or check online to find equipment in your price range.

Some brands that you should consider for catcher' gloves include: Wilson, Easton, Mizuno, Rawlings, Akadema, and Nokona.

Brands that sell youth catcher's sets and bags are: All Star, Rawlings, Easton, Wilson, Mizuno, Diamond, McGregor, Nike, Schutt, and Under Armour.

Baseball Catcher
Baseball Catchers Gear

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Friday, April 2, 2010

How to Get Faster For Baseball With a Single Exercise!

By Brandon Richey

If you are looking to run faster for baseball then you have got to have a smart strength and conditioning program. As a professional I can tell you that one great strength and conditioning tool that will help you with your baseball running speed is the ancient kettlebell. By now you may have heard of this evil training device and know that it has quite the reputation for building Elite athletic bodies. Read on if I have your attention.

Overhead Kettlebell Swings

If you are going to work on improving your running speed for the game of baseball then you have to engage in strength exercises that focus in on helping you develop explosive hips and a strong core to match. One exercise that is great for doing just that is the overhead kettlebell swing. There are many variations of kettlebell swings, but the overhead version promotes the explosive development of your sprinting powerhouse which consists of the muscles of your hips, abs, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and shoulders. When you integrate all of these muscles into the dynamic of the overhead swing you have a recipe for speed.

In order to execute the overhead kettlebell swing you will need the availability of a single bell of moderate resistance. Start by squatting to pick the bell up from between your legs with your feet at about shoulder width distance apart in length. Allow the bell to hang at your groin. From here begin to forcefully flex and extend at both your hips and knees allowing the bell to "hike pass" between your legs at the bottom of the swing in order to build momentum and elevate all the way above your head at the top of the swing. As you forcefully swing the bell back and forth throughout the arc of motion make sure to keep your abs tight and your shoulders secure in their sockets. You will quickly see just how exerting and challenging this lift can be for the development of your running speed for the game of baseball. If you want to be the fastest running man in baseball and improve your athleticism then this is a great way to start.

If you haven't already started to implement the use of overhead kettlebell swings into your baseball speed training workouts then you are missing out. If you are interested in learning more on issue feel free to access the rest of my articles on the subject for free. Remember that most any athlete can train hard, but only the champions train smart my friend.

To learn more about Kettlebells, Fitness, and achieving Total Mind-Blowing Strength come and visit me at
To be one of my members and to receive more tips on INSANE BODY CONSTRUCTION please visit me at:

I'm Brandon Richey the Strength and Conditioning Pro!

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