Friday, December 30, 2011

Baseball Agility

By Tom McGilliray

Baseball players may not be gymnasts, but the benefits of having extended levels of flexibility will give you an edge over your competition. Keep your muscles warm, stretched, and flexible. This allows you to make more natural movements such as tracking a fly ball, going deep in the hole, or running out an infield hit, as well as hitting.

Exercises that emphasize stretching and flexible resistance are important in developing flexibility. Flexibility and agility will help you with the following:

1. Speed - A big portion of being agility is your speed. Being able to move quickly and effortlessly is important, especially in team sports. Increasing the speed of your movements, gives you an increased chance of making the play. A good jump rope used in conjunction with gymboss is superior for building speed and overall fitness. Also, Drill exercises, such as jumping from one portion of the ground straight up in sets of 10 - 20 or running sprints will increase your speed. Interval training using the gymboss is exception for this.

2. Reaction - Training yourself to decrease your reaction time and increase your reflexes is one of the best ways to improve your agility. Plyometric drills teach a player to react quickly and will increase their overall conditioning. A quick reaction time will also allow you to recover faster.

3. Drills - Some common drills used to increase speed and reaction time are used for many sports. One of the drills (mentioned earlier)is a pyrometric exercise. This is done in the standing position, then squatting down to jump straight up in the air as high as you can. Other drills one can utilize are ladder drills, cones drills, basic form running, and working on lifting your knees high. Kettlebell training is a form of training gaining in popularity yet offers athletes a different option for training.
Having a variety of exercises and workout routines, is pivotal to keep from getting bored, and promotes a better level of conditioning.

4. Conditioning - As an athlete you are only limited by your own thoughts. Baseball players will work on their physical conditioning, but will also work on fielding, hitting, and base running. Everything you will do in a game they work on.

Today's athlete trains all year round to ensure they are in peak condition before the season starts.
Remember that agility is more than one element-it is balance, coordination, strength and speed all working together to improve the overall athlete.
Tom has been involved with coaching youth baseball for 20 years, all age levels. You can visit his website at
Article Source:

Article Source:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Common Sense Coaching - Five Myths In Youth Baseball

By Marty Schupak

In my 21 years coaching youth baseball, I've been called a good coach, a great coach, an overrated coach and a horrible coach. I guess it depends on which game or games people have seen me coach to determine which superlative to use. I like to think that my best coaching moves come from my gut and not from the "book" of coaching. People have questioned some moves I have made and asked me why I did what I did. Many times I have to respond, "I just had a feeling it would work." I have also found that the best coaches in all sports deviate from the "book" over the course of their career. Some of these uncanny moves will work and some will not. My thoughts are you cannot have all coaching moves pre-determined because situations occur with different personnel at different times. Let's look at five situations and why I sometimes stray from conventional coaching decisions.

1) Don't bunt with two strikes. This is a tough one when it fails. We have all seen it in youth baseball when the third baseman plays in close anticipating a bunt. When the strike count gets to two, the coach will yell to the third baseman something like this,
"Two strikes on the hitter. Move back so you are even with the base."

When the fielder moves back, depending on the ability of the batter, I love to give him another chance to bunt given that the defense and opposing coach are sure the batter will not bunt. I have been successful with this and at other times it has failed. One warning if you try this. When your batter does fail, you will hear from all the "General Managers" in the bleachers.

2) Catch everything with two hands. I know most coaches and parents will hold me to task on this one. When my players are moving laterally reaching for a fly ball, I just want them to catch the ball any way possible. I don't want my players thinking they have to catch everything with two hands if some catches are easier one-handed. If the shortstop is sprinting for a pop up behind the third baseman, and has to reach for it, a one-handed catch works best. When catching a pop up hit right to a player with little or no running, a two-handed catch works best. But too many coaches and parents overemphasize catching everything with two hands. Coaches need to have youth players practice catching balls with one and two hands.

3) Don't make the first or third out of an inning at third base. Tim McCarver won't invite me over to dinner on this one. I send my runner to third most of the time not worrying about how many outs we have. I have my teams run the bases aggressively. We get thrown out at third and home more than other teams. But we also win more games than we lose. In youth baseball, every game has its share of wild pitches and passed balls. From my many years coaching third base I know that we have a great chance getting the runner home on a wild pitch or passed ball.

I hate ending the inning with a player who doesn't score from third base when aggressive base-running a batter or two before would have landed him on third and he would have scored.

4) Bigger baseball gloves are better. I was guilty of this when my oldest son played Little League. Every year I wanted to get him a bigger glove figuring the larger the glove, the better chance of the ball landing in the pocket. I was 100% wrong on this. I remember going to Yankee Stadium with a close friend who had an "in" on everything and knew a lot of people. We had front row seats and before the game one of the Yankee infielders came over to say hello to my friend. As they were talking, I could not keep my eyes off the player's glove and was amazed at how small the glove was. It just about outlined his hand. I then learned that "glove control" is key for fielders. So, smaller rather than bigger gloves are better, especially for infielders, except the first baseman.

5) Bat your best hitter third or fourth. Years ago I remember in a few All-Star games, Willie Mays batted leadoff. I know the theory is that you get a couple of batters on base and the big guns will drive them in. I don't agree with this all the time. I found that in youth baseball sometimes there is a large disparity with the talent of the players. Many times teams have one or two excellent players. In youth baseball I prefer to bat my best hitter first or second. I cannot tell you how many times my team was down by a couple of runs in the last inning with the bottom of my batting order up. If my best player batted third or fourth, I'd be doing everything I could to get him up but many times games ended up with my best hitter on deck. Now I like to bat my best player first or second. I know you might think I'm sacrificing some runs but I love the idea of him getting an extra at bat a game.
Like everything in coaching your talent at the moment will determine your move as the manager or coach. The term "thinking outside the box" has been overused in many instances. But when coaching, you do want to think outside the box if it will give your players and team an advantage to succeed. Unpopular decisions may be the best decisions at the time you make them. Although coaching by the book is sometimes the best method, following your gut can give you the competitive advantage to pull out a few extra wins during the season.
Marty Schupak has coached youth baseball for 21 years and is the creator of 10 instructional videos including "The 59 Minute Baseball Practice" and author of the popular book, "Youth Baseball Drills." His new ebook "Baseball Coaching: A Guide For the Youth Coach & Parent" is available on the Kindle, Nook & iPad. He is President of the Youth Sports Club, a group dedicated to making sports practices and games more enjoyable for kids.
Article Source:

Article Source:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Think Spring Training

By Jim Bain

This time of year, as people look out their windows, most people enjoy the flickering Christmas lights and blow up animated scenes, swaying in the breeze and think of the upcoming Christmas holiday period, with its' presents and holiday cheer.

Some people gaze out their windows and see skinny lifeless trees, snow bound roads or leaves which were never raked, or were raked and now you have your neighbors. Fortunate or unfortunately, I fit well in the second scenario of people.

It's not that I'm a Scrooge, because I definitely am not. I enjoy the Holy part of Christmas, the presents and I can party with the best of them, but my heart is on the Baseball Diamond. That haggard desolate looking piece of dirt, rutted by kids riding their bikes through it when it muddy. That's where my life is spent during the warm summer months, on the battlefield between the white lines.

It's with these thoughts, and I'm sure I'm not the only one longing for baseball season to return, that I have set forth a few drills and exercises which players can begin utilizing in order to enter spring training physically fit, with improved skills and a sharp mind.

Tip 1# This should not even be a tip, but since the invention of video games and whatever other electronic devises I don't understand, seem to keep our youth sedated, we need to have a regular exercise program set up and adhered to.

Unless you're an athlete, at the appropriate age and educated guidance, such as a coach or well versed parent, it's not necessary to concentrate your exercise on one particular part of the body. One must remember, baseball is a combination of physical motions which include the entire body, so over training one specific muscle group could actually have adverse affects.

The key is to strengthen the body overall with a variety of exercises, not necessarily lifting weights, which strengthen and maintain flexibility. In other words come into camp ready to play ball, not to get ready to play ball.

Tip 2# It's a fact of life, a large portion of your power, whether it be pitching or hitting, originates with the explosion of the hips, which requires strong legs. I personally hated leg exercises, perhaps because bulging leg muscles don't impress girls like bulging biceps or six-pack abs, or I was just illiterate, but the legs must be strengthened during the off season.

My advise, if you don't like leg exercises, is to run, run and run some more. Running in combination with a few basic exercises with weights, such as squats and lunges, three times a week, will greatly help the leg strength.

Tip 3# Every baseball fan has at one time or another, dropped their jaw in amazement, witnessing an infielder making an absolutely spectacular fielding play, and wonder how in the world did he do that. I'll tell you how. He fielded, not hundreds, but thousands and thousands of ground balls. That's the Only way to improve fielding skills and hand speed.

Here is where a rubber or tennis ball becomes worth its weight in gold. During the winter months bounce and field as many ground balls as possible. If your home's basement is unfinished, or your garage is large enough, bounce the ball off the basement walls or garage wall everyday.

Never use a glove, train to catch bare handed and a glove will feel like using a vacuum. Bounce the ball at angles, different speeds and hops trying to force yourself to make difficult catches. The more accustomed you become to making difficult catches, the smoother and easier you'll be able to field the other 95% of chances.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on pitching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
Article Source:

Article Source:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sources for Baseball Batting Instruction

By Jeffery A Wise In many careers and areas in life, it's a good idea to get a continued education. What that means is that you continue learning a certain field or area well after graduation. As long as you live, you grow in your knowledge on that subject. This should be true for those who love playing baseball. It is important to continue receiving baseball batting instruction the entire time you play the sport. There are several ways to get continuous baseball hitting instructions. First, it's a good idea to play baseball all year round, during the spring and fall seasons. That helps you improve quicker and you're less likely to forget things you learned or lose any developed skills from lack of practice. To be the best in your league, you have to go above and beyond. As often as possible, try to get some one on one time with a coach. If they see your interest and your seriousness, they will be more willing to help you. This can be challenging since coaches are very busy and they have a lot of players to help. But don't be afraid to be forward and ask for that personal assistance. If your dad loves baseball or played when he was younger, ask him for help. This is an excellent way to get batting instruction. You know he has your best interest in mind and he'll be upfront with you about how you're doing. Another option is to hire a professional hitting instructor during the off season. This will give you that personal attention from a professional that you may need. Also, it can sometimes be easier to accept advice from someone you're not emotionally attached to. Baseball hitting camp is a great choice. These camps, or clinics, specialize in helping baseball players so you are sure to get some great tips and improve on your game. Find someone who's been playing longer than you, such as a college baseball player. Ask if you can get some hitting tips. Sometimes college or pro players hold public events and you can talk to them easily. Don't be afraid to ask them any hitting questions you may have. When considering these options, you have to ask yourself a question. How good do you want to be? To be one of the best, you have to be willing to do things that most people won't do. Getting the extra baseball batting instruction will push you ahead of your competition. Remember that the reason to have baseball batting instruction is to give you skills and talent to become the baseball player you want to be. Learn more with these Baseball Hitting tutorials that are perfect for you. Article Source: Article Source:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

American Legion Baseball Versus Travel Baseball

By Vic Read Sixteen and seventeen year old high school baseball players who want to play summer baseball have to make a choice between American Legion baseball versus travel baseball. And quite often there is some heavy recruiting from the American Legion coaches. Over the past few years legion coaches have seen a drop in the number of players wanting to play American Legion baseball. They now have to actively pursue players. Let's take a look at why American Legion baseball numbers are dwindling. Little League Baseball Explodes The little league baseball scene exploded about fifteen years ago for ten through fourteen year olds. World Series tournaments went from just a few organizations with eight or ten teams to many organizations with tournaments of one hundred or more teams. And over the last six years this expansion of teams and tournaments has carried over to the fifteen through eighteen year old age groups. Travel Baseball Previously the baseball choices for these high school age players were limited to a few AAU teams and American Legion teams. Now there many teams called travel baseball teams. These teams do just what their name implies; they travel around the country playing in tournaments or showcases. Some sporting goods manufacturers help sponsor many of these traveling teams. With this expansion of travel teams, college baseball coaches have figured out a new way to scout and recruit high school players. Rather than travel all over the country and chase summer teams, they now have these traveling teams come play at their stadium. Many college coaches will organize a couple of tournaments each summer. They make a little money on the tournament and get to see lots of players without having to travel. For the players the exposure to college coaches is invaluable. And they get to play on college baseball fields and see college campuses. Other Sports Demand Summer Time Another reason for the drop in players wanting to play legion baseball is other sports. It seems like every high school sport has a summer long training program or other activity forcing kids to play only one sport. High school football and basketball players do not want to go lift weights and workout every morning, and then go play a baseball doubleheader that doesn't end until eleven pm. It is sad but true that many high school players are forced to choose one sport. Legion Age Limit Raised A few years back American Legion raised the age limit of legion players from eighteen to nineteen. This increase has helped teams keep their numbers up. Many freshmen in college like coming home and playing another year of baseball. And recently American Legion has started promoting their Jr. Legion baseball program. They feel that the sooner they get players into the legion program the better. It is too early to know if this feeder program will be successful or not. What to Do? So what should a high school baseball player do? Should he play American Legion baseball with his high school buddies, or find a travel team to showcase his skills to many college coaches? I can speak on this subject from both sides of the fence. I have a son who played four years of legion baseball and another one who is playing travel baseball. American Legion baseball is an old and proud program. Players on the team all come from the same town or city. You wear an American Legion patch on your shoulder. Typically legion coaches stay with the program for many years. You play lots and lots of games, and your home games are played close by. And usually the cost is reasonable. But from my experience not many college coaches or recruiters come to legion games. Travel teams are usually made up of players from many different high schools. They will practice a lot and it may be far away. Quite often travel teams have hired coaches. They may travel three out of every four weekends. Many tournaments start on Wednesday or Thursday during the day. Lots of car pooling becomes necessary. There can be many college coaches and professional scouts at their games. The cost of travel teams can be very high. I believe both types of teams are needed and will survive. Travel baseball is not for everyone, nor can everyone afford the cost. However, if you or your son is good enough, there can usually be something worked out. Travel team coaches want to win, so they will find a way for good players to be on the team. If you are a good player it is worth your effort to find a travel team. The college and professional baseball exposure is substantially better with travel teams. But the American Legion program will continue to be a great choice for many high school players. Many professional and division one players have come out of the legion program. There are just a little fewer coming from legion baseball now. After my many years of coaching, watching and traveling to out of town baseball games, I decided to share my baseball tips and stories that I have learned and experienced along the way. To check out more articles that I have written, please visit my website at Helpful Baseball Drills. You will not only find baseball drills that will help you, but also more great articles like the one above. Article Source: Article Source:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Handling Stress - Part II

By Jim Bain A quick review from Part I of stress management in case you missed it. Stress affects the mental, emotional and physical performance and well being of a player, and not controlled can actually render the player totally incapable of playing. We examined how proper preparations can be used to control stress, but let's exam more methods of stress control. We have practiced and prepared as much as we could before today's game, but you're still queasy to the stomach and you can't quit pacing for more than a couple of minutes. These are normal Pre-game Jitters which every player, even major league players experience. We discussed fear of failure being the main culprit in creating the stress and anxiousness, and major leaguers, whose very livelihood depends on producing positive results on the playing field, whether it be hitting, pitching or fielding, endure a tremendous amount of stress. So how do they handle it? When I was playing there were Two basic methods players used to control the nerves and stress issue, which will also work for you. 1. Sounds silly, but having a normal pre-game routine helps reduce stress. There are hundreds of baseball stories about players' odd pre-game routines, from eating a stack of pancakes an hour before the game, didn't matter if it was a day or night game, to having a conversation with their bat as they rubbed it with a fur mitten while in the clubhouse before the game. I doubt any such, shall I say, different routine, would be helpful to you. However, setting a routine such as, taking a nap the day of the game, always drinking two glasses of ice water before warm ups, or eating a Specific type of candy bar can be used. Most human beings are by nature, creatures of habit. We associate the smell of burning wood to the campfires we enjoy, the smell of ginger reminds us of the holidays and so on. When you eat your candy bar or drink your water, your mind instantly associates this act with preparation to play baseball. It becomes automatic and anything we do which is automatic, does Not create stress. For instance, if we don't breathe, we'll die, pretty stressful thought. However, breathing is so automatic we don't think about it, but if we're under water and our diving air tanks are dangerously low, we are stressed about the thought of breathing. Setting a routine which creates automatic conditioning helps control stress. 2. Visualization or imagery is another excellent method of controlling stress. Find a quiet place, or at least less hectic, sit still and after taking several deep breaths, close your eyes and begin Visualizing yourself hitting the baseball or nipping the corners of the plate with your curveball. You have created this imaginary event, but your inner mind doesn't realize this fact. It actually sees and feels the event of you imagining, swinging and hitting the ball, as reality. After performing this visualization numerous times your inner mind is convinced you can and will perform the task of hitting the baseball hard. This confidence is imposed on the conscious mind and there's no doubt you are quite capable of hitting the ball, eliminating, or at least restricting the fear of not being able to hit this particular pitcher. Confidence breeds strength through positive thoughts, which controls stress. In summary, establishing a routine which includes quiet visualization is an excellent method for controlling dangerous stress in a player. Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on pitching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website: Article Source: Article Source:

Friday, December 9, 2011

How To Handle Stress

By Jim Bain The regular youth baseball season is winding down, and except for a few divisions in certain leagues, which are still being hotly contested, you know if your team is headed for the playoffs or not. If you're one of the talented, or lucky teams that are headed into Post-Season play, how well you perform very well may depend on how you handle the stress. Briefly, and in layman's terms, stress is that anxious feeling you experience before an important event or test, such as a championship game or a college entrance exam. It's that queasy unsettled feeling in your stomach which makes you feel as though you may throw up, or not being able to stop bouncing your foot up and down. The inability to handle stress can render an athlete totally unable to compete, literally making the player so sick, he's unable to perform. However, on the flip side of this situation, an athlete accustomed to stress and has developed the ability to control it, can channel this anxious energy into a positive thing, which allows him to explode onto the playing field with an abundance of energy and motivation. So how do we control or learn to channel the anxious energy stress creates? Perhaps we should examine what creates stress first. In my experiences I found Fear, fear of failure, creates most types of stress. For instance, while in pre-game warm ups against a team which is clearly in the wrong division and your team has defeated four times by an accumulated score of 52 - 1, you are loose, humorous and anxious to get the game underway. However, during the same pre-game warm ups against a known and powerful opponent, or worse yet, an unknown opponent, you are fidgety, somewhat sick to your stomach and constantly scanning the other team attempting to assess their skills. In the first scenario, there is a calmness created by the complete belief and confidence of not only winning the game, but more importantly, you know you'll perform well. Previous encounters with this team's pitchers have resulted in nothing but your success and there's no reason to believe today will be any different. The second scenario paints an entirely different picture. The game is very important, an elimination game from the tournament, which your team must win or go home. This added weight of winning means everything, puts nerves which are normally calm, on edge and irritable. Fear, fear of the unknown and what it can mean directly to you, sends your nerves into a frenzy. Will I be able to hit this pitcher? Will I let a ball go between my legs? Can I steal without being thrown out? These and another hundred questions race through your mind because of your fear of failure. Of course you don't want to let the team down, but what directly happens to you, success or failure, is what spurs stress to an unhealthy level. Let's exam one method to not only defeat stress, but turn it into an ally. Fear of failure is created when the mind wonders if the body did everything it could to prepare for this test. For instance, if you had planned on going to the batting cages on two separate days before this game, but stayed with your girlfriend at the swimming pool instead, your mind knows this and knows you're not as prepared as you could be. Because of this there is an increased anxiety of possible failure. However, if you had gone to the batting cages twice a day for two days prior to the game, and was hitting bullets off the fastest pitching machine available, your mind knows you are prepared. The nervous energy you now experience can be channeled into a positive adrenalin resource which very well may give you that spurt of energy which allows you to catch the line drive, instead of missing it by an inch. Proper Preparation is a major key to handling stress. Remember, you can not hide from yourself and you can not lie to yourself. Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on pitching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website: Article Source: Article Source:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Three Steps To Breaking In Your New Baseball Glove

By Jason C Specht The art of breaking in a baseball glove is a very important thing to consider if you want to get that same feel of old baseball gloves. There are several different ways to go about breaking in a glove, but we are going to go over one of the more common methods here. It used to be pretty tough to break in a new glove, as all of the gloves were very stiff when they came from the manufacturer. I remember way back when that my dad actually put mine in the oven for a while after rubbing some kind of weird oil on it to loosen it up. Many things have changed in the world of baseball gloves, and most of them these days are softer than their counterparts from twenty to thirty years ago. So here are the three steps to breaking in a baseball glove: •The first thing that you will need to do is to pick up some baseball glove oil. There are many different brands out there, and all should do pretty-much the same. The oil that I used was the Franklin Baseball Glove Oil that I picked up at WalMart, but you could get yours at a sporting goods store or online as well. •After you get your oil, you will want to remove all of the dirt and debris from your glove by wiping it down with a clean, dry cloth. After this is done, you just apply the baseball glove oil to the inside part of your glove. You only want to put it on the inside part, not the outside. While the procedure for different oils may vary, you usually just wipe it on with one dry cloth and then wipe it off with another clean one. After doing this, you just let it sit for a while so the oil can soak into the leather. •This next part is the way that I personally break in my own gloves. After applying the oil and letting it sit for a while, I'll take a baseball or two and put them into the web of the glove and then close it up tight. I'll then take some string, shoelaces, or whatever else I can find and tie the glove up tight, with the balls inside the web. This will help to form the pocket. After tying it up, I put it underneath my mattress and sleep on it for a night or two. After doing all of this, your glove should be well on its way to being broken in. It will surely give you that worn-in feel of old baseball gloves that is so desirable. Visit us at for more information on gloves, bats, and baseball in general. So ditch that stiff feel of a brand new glove, and break yours in today! Article Source: Article Source:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How Youth Pitching Machines Can Improve Your Skills As a First Baseman

By Lincoln Hawk As a first baseman, you have the possibility to be involved in every defensive play. This means that you will need to be skilled in multiple areas. To help you develop your all around defensive game, youth pitching machines can be used to help you go through drills and improve your defensive prowess. Here are a few different drills you can use to get better playing first base. Shots Down the Line Playing first base, you will see many balls hit sharply down the first base line. It's your job to get to those balls. Here's a way to improve your quickness and corral more of those balls for outs. Begin by setting up youth pitching machines at home plate to fire line drives down the line. Assume your standard defensive position at first, about 8 - 12 feet off the line. As the machine fires balls down the line, work to keep as many as you can from getting to the outfield. Even if you can't retrieve it and make the play, if you can at least knock it down and keep it in the infield, you are probably saving an extra-base hit. Applying a Tag at First When playing first base, you are going to have opportunities to try and pick off base runners at first. It's important to practice catching the ball from the pitcher and quickly applying a tag on the runner who will presumably be sliding back to first. Youth pitching machines can help you practice apply that tag. Set up the machine on the pitcher's mound so that it faces first base. Maintain a stance at first that will provide a target for the "pitcher". Practice receiving throws from the machine and applying the tag on the runner. You can adjust the throwing angle to help simulate the potential for errant throws from the pitcher. Chasing Foul Balls As a first baseman, you are going to have to try to catch foul balls where obstacles in foul territory can make that difficult. Using youth pitching machines, adjust the settings to throw pop ups into foul territory. Try to maintain your focus as you chase these balls down to make the play. You may have to deal with avoiding dugouts, fencing or tarp, but when you can make an out without the batter leaving the batter's box, your team has a much better chance of winning. For more information on where to find youth pitching machines, check out Article Source: Article Source:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Problems With Travel Baseball Under the Age of 12

By Andy Pohl Originally designed for middle and high school aged baseball players, summer travel teams are now providing opportunities for kids as young as 8 years old. I have even heard that in certain parts of the country they are offering travel t-ball. These youth league teams travel all around the country like big leaguers so kids still learning to read, write and complete elementary mathematical computations can play the toughest competition for the biggest prizes. Sounds like a great opportunity for kids who love baseball, correct? Not really. I believe that travel baseball is out of control, and the problems with travel baseball for kids under the age of 12 far outweigh its benefits. Proponents of travel baseball argue that playing more games against the best possible competition facilitates athletic development. It is hard to disagree with that. However, I urge parents with kids under the age of 12 to evaluate travel baseball with a more critical eye. In doing so, parents should ask the following questions: 1) Is my son really playing the best completion, or is he playing against mainly watered down teams in over-hyped tournaments? 2) Is the focus too much on winning and not on my son's athletic, social, and emotional development? 3) Is my son's travel schedule so rigorous that he has lost his ability to be a kid? 4) Is the pressure associated with playing tournament competition age appropriate? 5) What are my son's long term goals regarding baseball, and how does participating in travel baseball fit with those goals? While I would like to remove travel baseball all together from the 11-U youth league landscape, I understand that travel baseball is here to stay. With that being said, allow me to offer the following advice to parents: • Do not let your son play travel baseball until they are at least 12 years old. If you feel that it is absolutely necessary to play travel baseball before the age of 12, find a team that plays about 30 games with minimal travel. • Look for teams that focus on player development, not winning. Gravitate towards coaches who understand emotional and social development. This can be more important than baseball knowledge. • Seek out teams with professionally trained coaches or teams who have hired professional coaches to consult with the team throughout the season. • Find teams who run practices during the season. Running practices during the season is a critical component to the athletic development of young players, as this gives them opportunities to improve skills that were not performed correctly during games. • Be careful of newly formed travel team. New travel teams are usually formed by those who have self-serving reasons for creating this new team. Andy Pohl - Co-Founder, DNA Sports DNA Sports specializes in personalized baseball and softball skill programs, college recruiting education and preparation, and coaching clinics. Learn more: Article Source: Article Source:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Problems With Travel Baseball: Not Enough Practice Time

By Andy Pohl When travel league schedules revolve around tournament play, winning inherently becomes the primary focus. Rarely do these teams have time to practice due to the heightened amount of travel and games. This is a glaring problem with travel baseball, as kids need a combination of practice and games to best facilitate athletic development. Simply throwing young kids out on the field to play as many games as possible does not necessarily facilitate athletic development, as younger athletes need considerable practice time to develop their hitting and defensive skills in a pressure free environment. Basically, what travel baseball has done is put 8-11 year olds in an adult created setting where the pressure to win and perform takes precedent over the emotional and athletic development of the players themselves. A bi-product of this reality is the coaches themselves acting as if they were managing professional players - the yelling, the throwing of equipment, the arguing with umpires, the sulking after losses. And while it may appear that these travel coaches know what they are doing with their custom made dry-fit coaching shirts and Oakley Sunglasses resting on the brims of their fitted caps, the fact of the matter is that most of travel coaches possess the same amount of knowledge as your average house league coach. In fact, the majority of travel players are being coached by parents who don't know the first thing about baseball or the social and emotional development of kids. Many of these parent coaches cannot even properly parent their own kids! Rather than winning, the focus for youth baseball needs to be on development. After all, once these kids hit puberty, it is really not going to matter which travel team your son played on and how many tournaments they won. Athletic excellence and success cannot always be identified at an early age, and inferior athletes will frequently blossom and attain success in later years given the right opportunity to compete and develop their skills. Consistent practice time is a critical component to this development. Though some may disagree with several of the statements in this narrative, understand that my goal is to report in an honest and straightforward manner what I know to be true from my many experiences working with youth baseball players. I have no hidden agenda. The well-being of kids is always my top priority, hence the reason why I created this article. Andy Pohl - Co-Founder, DNA Sports DNA Sports specializes in personalized baseball and softball skill programs, college recruiting education and preparation, and coaching clinics. Learn more: Article Source: Article Source:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bunting Drills to Allow You to Become a Much Better Baseball Player

By Thomas E Wilson Once you've learned the best way to bunt, it is important to practice this type and repeat the motions repeatedly. This will bring about you eventually doing this essentially without thinking when game time comes. The following drills will allow you to ensure success bunting at the plate if done as part of your regular baseball workouts schedule. Bunting Pepper: This drill requires four players. Have one player take his batting stance as well as the three other players form an arch around 20 feet from him. Starting using the player in the center of the arch, ask him to softly toss the ball on the batter whose job is to bunt the ball to one of these two other players who didn't throw the ball. The player who the hitter bunted to should now throw the ball to the hitter. Continue for a few minutes, after which rotate. On the Corners: This drill requires two players or one player plus a coach. Place a cone 10-20 feet abroad plate and 10-20 feet away from the third base line and the other cone 10-20 feet away from home plate and 10-20 feet out of the first base line. Have a coach or another player pitch towards the hitter. The hitter's goal is to bunt as many pitches as possible (that are strikes) between the third base foul line as well as the third base cone or involving the first base foul line and also the first base cone. The hitter gets 1 point for each time he successfully places the bunt. Soft Bunts: This drill requires two players or one player plus a coach. Have the hitter stand on the plate and put a bucket directly as you're watching plate. Have a coach or some other player pitch for the batter. The goal with the batter is always to make sure he is absorbing the velocity of the pitch therefore softening his bunts so they drop directly into the bucket. This is a crucial skill to learn to ensure that even as the ball player sees faster and faster pitching as he ages, he will almost certainly still be able to soften his bunts. Next practice, give these drills a go and see the way your players' bunting improves next game. Remember, if a player would like to see better results with his bunting, make sure he is also practicing these bunts as part of his regular baseball workouts program in the home! Are you interested in improving your game and being the best baseball player you can be? If so, check out to find more helpful information as well as baseball workouts that will take your game to the next level! Article Source: Article Source:

Monday, November 21, 2011

How to Buy the Perfect Size Baseball Glove

By Earl Crocker There are two main things to consider when purchasing a baseball glove. First, what position will you be playing? If you are going to play the infield, you will need to have a shallow pocket glove. This will give you better control and provide an easier transfer of the ball. When playing the outfield, you will need to consider a deep pocket baseball glove. This will allow for easier catching of fly balls and fewer errors. Next, you need to consider the age of the player. When buying a baseball glove for your kids, don't buy a glove for them to "grow into". This will only cause errors and frustration. Youth players need a glove made to fit. This means their glove may not last for years, but they will have a much better little league career if they have a baseball glove that fits. Baseball players ages 8yrs. and under should most likely use a 9 inch glove if playing the infield, or 11 inch glove if playing outfield. Ages 9yrs.-13yrs. should use a 9-10 inch glove for infield and 11-12 inch for outfield. High school/ Adult players may consider a 10.5-11.5 inch glove for infield and a 12-12.5 for outfield. When buying a catchers mitt the average youth will need a 31-32 inch mitt. The average adult size is 33-34 inch. However, to be sure of your correct size, here an easy formula to follow. First, find your regular glove size. If you don't know it then measure your glove from the heel of the glove (by your wrist) to the top of the glove on the palm side (near your fingers). Next, subtract this number from 12.5, then take that number and subtract it from 34.5. This will give you the perfect size baseball mitt, but remember, catchers mitts fit tighter than regular baseball gloves. So you will need to adjust the straps and allow time for breaking in your new catchers mitt. The best way to break in your new glove is to simply play catch with a friend. This will help your glove and your game. Also, it is good to use a little oil (not too much). And some people like to place a ball in the pocket of the glove and tie it shut, this helps form the pocket of the glove. Just remember, it's all about having fun! Whether you are 2 or 92, beginner or pro, boy or girl, baseball is a great sport, so get out there and PLAY BALL! Earl Crocker Article Source: Article Source:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pressure - Good Or Bad And How To Handle It?

By Jim Bain Baseball is no different than other sports, there are times of coasting and times of extreme pressure. Everyone pretty well knows how to coast, but not everyone knows how to handle pressure and there is no cookie cutter formula which applies to everyone on the team, so pressure can be good or bad depending on how it's handled. Even though, at the time of this writing, we don't know the final outcome of the 2011 Wild Card Race in the National league, the intense battle between the St. Louis Cardinals to catch the Atlanta Braves for that spot is exciting and quite a demonstration of handling, or not handling pressure. The Cardinals, just as any other ball club, has sustained numerous injuries to key players throughout the season. Their superstar, Albert Pujols, sustained a fractured wrist in a collision at first base and Matt Holliday, their enforcer whose powerful bat forces teams to pitch to Pujols, has suffered numerous injuries which have sidelined him for extended periods. There were many other injuries, including the loss of their Cy Young winning pitcher, Adam Wainwright, before the season began, but these are the types of situations which all teams must play through. The Cardinals led the National League Central division for months, slowly putting distance between them and the Brewers, Reds and the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates. Suddenly, for some unknown reason, the Cardinals went into a tailspin where instead of not being able to lose a game, they were incapable of winning a game. As the hungry pack behind them inched closer, the Cardinals began to buckle under the Pressure, as their starting pitching, which had been praised for exceeding all expectations despite the loss of Wainwright, began to fail them. This in turn placed an ever increasing amount of pressure on their bullpen, which became overworked and began to fail miserably, continually blowing 1 and 2 run leads in the 9th inning, only to lose the game in extra innings. The inability for the Cardinal starting rotation to have quality pitching appearances and the failure of the bullpen to maintain 1 & 2 run leads, put a tremendous amount of pressure on the Cardinal offense, which many sports writers have declared the most powerful lineup in the National League, to not only produce runs, but produce an exceedingly increasing amount of runs per game. With this extra pressure the offense began to falter, hitting into more double plays than any other team in baseball and the once, very reliable 2 out hit, completely vanished. When teams are pressed offensively their defense usually suffers, which was the case for the Cardinals. Their offense produced 8 runs, but between walks, hits and errors, they allowed 9 runs and still lost. The Milwaukee Brewers caught and surpassed the Cardinals, completely dominating them in head to head play, and the Cards appeared to completely crash and burn. The Pressure had overwhelmed them. August came and the Cardinals, pre-season picks to win their division, were struggling to maintain their self respect with little thought given to playoff contention. All pressure to win was gone, only professional pride kept the team afloat. As the season continued through August, the lack of pressure on the team and the addition of few new faces, through trade and elevation of Minor League players to the majors, the team began to put together winning streaks, taking 2 of 3 or 3 of 4 games in each series against different opponents. Suddenly, the thought of playoff contention began to permeate through the club house. The pressure to win, as the Braves began to lose, increased with every game as they began to inch closer to their target, Wild Card Team. Ironically the pressure endured previously, which had all but sapped the strength from the club, had now turned into a driving force. The pressure, which had been a paralyzing effect, now became a motivator, and with each win the pressure increased. What happened? What caused the change? How could something so harmful to the club suddenly become their best ally? How pressure affects a team, or one player, is determined on how mentally tough that team/player is. A mentally tough team, which can be greatly influenced by the manager, knows what they have and are capable of accomplishing. They question the "bad luck" which seems to have them losing & losing, but they never question their abilities, and the ability me to play through the bad times, when even the toughest wonder if it'll ever end, once it does end and success returns, the pressure becomes the thrill of playing, of hitting next or pitching today. It's viewed with great anticipation, not dread. Pressure will always be a factor in sports, as in life itself. It's how you handle that pressure which determines if its' a friend or foe. Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on pitching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website: Article Source: Article Source:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Secret of Baseball Hitting Mechanics

By Dr. Chris Yeager The Secret of Baseball Hitting Mechanics is to effectively time and coordinate the proper movement of your Back Arm with the proper movement of your Back Leg. When you throw a baseball: •You will "step" toward your target and you will create energy/momentum to be transferred into your throw of the ball. •Your back leg will Abduct ( meaning your back knee will move toward your target) at the hip joint and drive your Center-of-mass (body weight) in a straight line toward the target. Your energy is created by the Back Leg Pushing Sideways against the ground and driving the body towards the target. Your energy/momentum created by the Back-Leg-Push is blocked and transferred to your hip segment by the Front leg. As your front leg plants, it "catches" your energy/momentum and drives it up the chain through your body. When your front foot lifted off the ground to LOAD the Back Leg by placing all of the weight/pressure onto your back foot: •your long bone in the upper arm, your humerus, should begin to turn in or IN-ternally rotate and lift (sometimes we call this elbow up) or raise your elbow up just as elite level infielders will do when taking the ball out of their glove. The scientific term for this is ABduct. This lifting of your back elbow is proper loading of your back arm in your throwing pattern. You will use this same universal loading pattern for throwing when hitting a baseball Fluid and relaxed lifting of the back elbow during the loading phase of hitting a baseball (scientific terms are: Abduction and Internal Rotation of the Humerus): This is a universal loading pattern used by quarterbacks, catchers, infielders, tennis players and other elite level athletes that may be throwing or hitting a ball. It is absolutely necessary for you to learn to load the back arm properly. Proper loading will give you a good start to an elite level baseball swing and throw. If you do not load properly, inadequate internal rotation("turning in" of the long bone in the upper arm or lifting/raising of the elbow) will often cause you to have poor rhythm, fluidity and speed in your throwing arm pattern as a baseball player. Extending at the back elbow is often a sign that you as an infielder, catcher or hitter have inadequate Internal rotation/"turning in" of the long bone in the upper arm (humerus). There are ways to fix this problem and help you begin your throwing and hitting motion with a high level pattern so that you can begin your hitting and throwing pattern like great baseball players begin their hitting and throwing motion. The lag position during the attack phase of the back arm when hitting or throwing a baseball In the attack phase of hitting: You will want to "slot" your elbow or bring your elbow "down and in" towards the ball - The scientific terms are Humeral ADDuction and External Rotation. The attack phase of hitting follows the load phase of the back arm during hitting where you lifted or raised your back elbow in an upward direction. This phase has your elbow simply doing the opposite of what your elbow does in the load phase of hitting and throwing. While the front foot is still in the air, just after the back leg has begun to pushing the direction of the target, the long bone in the upper arm will begin to reverse its direction and Externally rotate the shoulder joint ( aka turn outward). The bone will continue to "turn outward" as the Back Leg finishes its push, as well as during front-foot's initial interactions with the ground. This External rotation or turning-out of the long bone in the upper arm is how the ball when throwing, and hands & bat when hitting, truly gets back and stays back at the correct point of the throw/swing. •This "turning of the bone" creates your "lag". It can also be thought of as your second loading phase of the back arm. •The External rotation of the long bone positions the ball during throwing and your hand back during hitting as the last link in the Kinetic Chain, allowing the other body parts to do their work to create and funnel energy to the bat head for hitting and to the ball for throwing. Many pitching coaches will teach you to reach back and place the arm into a high, extended position as you take the ball out of the glove( you may have heard the term scratching the back wall), believing that this will help you get the ball "back" in the correct position. This is an incorrect attack pattern for you. Many pitching coaches are unaware that the truly critical "back" position is measured with a flexed elbow (greater than 90 degrees) at the maximum external rotation of the humerus - this is where the ball lays back for you just before your release. This means your arm should stay bent until just before release of the baseball when throwing. Throw the ball harder with a bent elbow before release The primary lesson that pitching coaches should teach you with regard to your throwing or pitching arm pattern is to achieve flexion at the elbow of 90 deg or more before the humerus begins to turn - this is when you lay the ball back before extending forward to throw the ball. Obviously there have been many professional pitchers who have been successful by achieving flexion after the bone begins to lay back, however, this sequence makes achieving quality flexion at the elbow much more difficult. If the angle of your elbow is too wide as the foot plants, your lever arm will be lengthened prematurely and there will be more stress placed on your shoulder and elbow joints. As your front foot plants, your hips reach their maximum speed. Your hips subsequently pull the torso and then your torso pulls your shoulders around. If your elbow angle is wide as your shoulders are being rotated toward the target, the prematurely lengthened lever arm created by the wide elbow will create more stress than a sharper/more flexed elbow would create. From a performance standpoint, your efficiency and effectiveness is also decreased with a wide elbow angle at Front-leg block. A wide elbow angle of less than 90 deg will reduce the degree to which the long bone in the upper arm can lay the ball back. Speaking biomechanically, a wide elbow angle of greater than 90 deg will reduce humeral external rotation before release. Use the example of a catapult to understand this phase of the throwing action. Assuming the materials, design, propellant of two catapults are the same, the catapult that is brought back the farthest will result in the greatest speed and distance traveled of the object. The case is similar for the thrower: Assuming two identical throwers in terms of size, strength, physiological make-up and delivery, the thrower that lays ball back the farthest will result in the greatest speed of the ball. Again - if all things are equal, you will see players with less external rotation(meaning more elbow bend) before release throw harder than players with more external rotation(less elbow bend). Other factors such as how ligaments and tendons attach to bone and muscle can affect this outcome. Comparing throwing pattern to Hitting Pattern It is important and interesting to note that when throwing the baseball the great majority of professional infielders and catchers do not extend/straighten at the elbow as they take the ball from the glove nor do they increase the degree of extension at the elbow until just before release of the baseball as the humerus turns inward to propel the ball toward the target. It is also important and interesting to note that the professional quarterback throws with a nearly identical pattern as a high level infielder or professional infielder. As the front foot lifts off the ground to load the Back Leg by placing all of the weight/pressure onto the back foot, the long bone in the upper arm, called the humerus, begins to turn in or Internally rotate as well a lift or Abduct. This IN-ternal rotation and lifting of the long bone in the upper-arm is how the elite player loads up for his throw. While the front foot is still in the air, just after the back leg has begun to push in the direction of the target, the long bone in the upper arm will begin to reverse its direction and Externally rotate @ the shoulder joint ( aka turn outward). The bone will continue to "turn outward" as the Back Leg finishes its push, as well as during front-foot's initial interactions with the ground. This External rotation or turning-out of the long bone in the upper arm is how the ball when throwing, and the hands & bat, when hitting truly gets back and stays back at the correct point of the throw and swing. Compare the elite level batter hitting patterns to the elite level thrower throwing patterns: •The elite level batter moves his back arm, which is the Bat-Head-Throwing-Arm, in a nearly identical pattern as the thrower. •As the front foot lifts off the ground to load the Back Leg by placing all of the weight/pressure onto the back foot, the long bone in the upper arm, the humerus begins to turn in or INternally rotate as well a lift or Abduct. (This IN-ternal rotation and lifting of the long bone in the upper-arm is how the elite hitter loads up for his throw of the bat-head behind the ball. The elite hitter has the same pattern as the thrower). Note: Inadequate Internal rotation/"turning in" of the long bone in the upper arm often reduces rhythm, fluidity and speed in the throwing AND hitting arm pattern of the baseball player and often forces the batter to attempt to load the back-arm inefficiently by extending at the back elbow. •While the front foot is still in the air, just after the back leg has begun to push in the direction of the target, the long bone in the upper arm will begin to reverse its direction and Externally rotate @ the shoulder joint ( aka turn outward). •The bone will continue to "turn outward" as the Back Leg finishes its push, as well as during front-foot's initial interactions with the ground. As the bone is turning, it is also moving down and towards the body or ADDucting. Most call this movement "slotting the elbow". •The player should "slot" this flexed or bent elbow in the direction of the pitch.... It should not be slammed into the ribcage. This External rotation or turning-out and ADDucting or moving down and in of the long bone in the upper arm is how the hands & bat truly gets back and stays back at the correct point of the throw/swing. Do not Extend at your back elbow during the load phase of hitting When you extend your back elbow during the load phase of hitting, similar to poor throwing mechanics, you are prematurely lengthening your lever. This is a poor start to your baseball swing. This makes your bat "heavy" very early in the kinetic sequence of hitting a baseball. Your bat is "heavier" to you when hitting when your back elbow extends because: •Your barrel moves away from your body and most often your bat barrel is flattened when your barrel moves away from your body. When your barrel is flattened, the center of gravity of your bat is moved out of alignment with your hands creating unwanted torque or force. •Your bat should be stacked directly over your hands in the science of a perfect swing and not in a poor position leaning away from your hands. By "flattening" the barrel of your bat early, you increase the difficulty of throwing your bat head by unnecessarily creating a "heavy" bat early in your hitting sequence. The elite professional hitters utilize much more efficient usage of the long bone in the upper arm (humerus) to increase rhythm, fluidity and speed. •Elite hitters reduce the tendency to extend at the back elbow which greatly assists in delaying the flattening of the barrel. When you delay the flattening of the bat barrel, you will create a mechanical advantage for yourself by having the center-of-mass of your bat closely stacked above the hands to keep your bat "light" by reducing the unwanted torque or unwanted turning force created by taking your barrel too far out of alignment with the hands. •The elite professional will load the back arm by lifting and turning the bone in the upper part of the throwing arm. This Abduction or lifting and internal rotation or "turning" is nearly identical to the loading pattern utilized by elite professional infielders. This allows the player to load up by "winding-up" the throwing arm and produces the most efficient throw for the baseball and the bat-head. Dr. Yeager is a PHD in human performance and an expert in the physics and physiology of the baseball swing and throw. He is one of the founders of Iso Baseball. Iso Baseball's mission is to design and develop scientifically based baseball/softball hitting instructional devices/ Please visit to learn more. Article Source: Article Source:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Beginners Need Baseball Hitting Basics

By Jeffery A Wise Baseball is an all-American sport and it is loved all across North America. It's even becoming more popular in other countries, such as Australia. From a young age, kids develop a love for baseball and they start playing on teams and in leagues. Just as with everything in life, the thousands of yearly baseball beginners need coaching and instruction. They must learn the baseball hitting basics before anything else. A balanced batting stance is important to learn very early on. A child should stand with their feet shoulder length apart and their knees should be slightly bent. Make sure they put their weight on the balls of their feet instead of their heels. When weight isn't properly distributed, it causes kids to swing off balance. Another thing a beginner must learn is how to hold the bat. They should line up their knuckles and grip the bat with their fingers. The bat should be held firmly but not too tightly. Make sure they also don't hold it too loosely as they may drop the bat as they swing or make contact. Of course, having the right bat is important too. A child's age, size and experience will determine which bat is the best for him or her. Allow them to practice holding and swinging several bats to see which size and weight is the most comfortable. Kids also need to constantly be reminded to keep their eyes on the ball and their head down. They will only be able to hit the ball if they are watching it. Teach them to be focused at the plate and to keep their eye on nothing else but the ball. As baseball players learn these important baseball hitting basics, they should then learn how to shift their weight during a swing. During the hitting process, a player's weight should shift from the front, to the back and then to the front again during contact. This technique really helps with power and bat speed. While this can be a difficult technique to learn, once you get it you're guaranteed better hits. To be good at playing baseball, a beginner must be willing to practice often. While baseball is a favorite sport by many, it is also a very difficult sport, especially the hitting aspect. It takes years to be a great hitter. Children should try not to get discouraged if they have a hard time. Most of all, baseball should be fun for all players. Remember that the reason to practice your batting is so that you can get better and practicing baseball hitting basics will give you skills and talent to become the baseball player you want to be. Find out why you should look into quality Cheap Baseball Bats that are comfortable in your hands which could help you out in a big way. Article Source: Article Source:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Finding a Batting Helmet That Provides Excellent Protection

By Scott Smoot Sports-related accidents have become more of a concern today as much talked about athletes as well as novice adults, teens and children playing the sport sustain concussions and other types of head injuries. In baseball, a batting helmet that is properly fitted is vital. Playing baseball with no helmet, or with one that doesn't correctly protect the head, is requesting trouble. Brain injuries brought on by wildly thrown pitches can result in bleeding around the brain which leads to cracked skulls or stroke-like bleeding on the brain. Children and teens particularly may become victims of badly thrown pitches or line drives since their fellow players are simply beginning to understand the art of ball control. Even pitchers today are starting to wear batting helmets while on the mound to avoid injuries from line drives aimed right at them. There are many items you should look for when you begin searching for batting helmets. The helmet's protecting padding is its most important feature. Experts suggest that a helmet have a minimum of a half inch of cushioning produced from polystyrene or comparable material to cushion the head. The materials should meet requirements set from the National Operating Committee on Requirements for Athletic Equipment. A few helmet producers offer dual foam construction that consists of an inner layer of high-impact density foam for protection plus an outer coating of memory foam that adjusts to the head, creating a much more secure fit. Players who are comfortable inside their helmets are far more prone to put them on. A batting helmet that offers excellent head protection still will not be well-liked if it hinders the player's capability to see the ball. There are numerous companies that are producing these with new technologies. This engineering can help to eliminate the glare which comes in the helmet's face guard. The technology has been called eye black for sporting equipment. A hot, cumbersome helmet can be another liability that may make players reluctant to utilize it. A helmet manufactured with lightweight supplies offers a much more comfortable fit. Present day helmet also features air vents that permit the player's head to breathe. It's much more pleasant and effective for a mixture to stand in the batter's box awaiting a pitch when perspiration isn't rolling down his or her face. RIP-IT batting helmets are created from the highest quality ABS material. This means they are the only batting helmets to be both functional and amazing to look at. The design of RIP-IT batting helmets takes into account all of the features players need in a batting helmet. If you play softball you know the importance of investing in a high quality bat. There are a variety of fast pitch and slow pitch softball bats bats on the market as well as batting helmets. You will want to test each of these out to see which one will help maximize your performance. Article Source: Article Source:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How to Hit Faster Pitchers

By Ryan A Knox The Science of Hitting the Fastball Some helpful tips how to face and conquer faster pitchers from Little League all the way up to the pros. When swinging a bat, every hundredth of a second counts. It can make the difference between a fair or foul ball, and also the difference between making contact or 'big whiffing'. That is why hitters spend so much time concentrating on improving bat speed. There are several tips below to help you increase your bat speed, as well as a couple drills. Hopefully, with this information, combined with your determination and hard work, you can see some improvements in your speed and overall improvements in your hitting game. Good luck! Increase Your Bat Speed Every split second counts. Imagine what it would feel like to swing a bat that felt as light as a broom stick. Not only would there be tremendous bat speed, but you'd be able to wait on a pitch and track it longer. That's a nice advantage to have over a pitcher because the longer you can track a pitch, the better you're able to adjust to it's movement. Combine bat speed with correct tracking utilizing visual acuity where the eye-brain connection has you seeing the ball almost in slow motion, and you can immediately understand the difference it could make in your hitting. By adding 1 oz weights gradually to a light makeshift bat, like a broom stick, we can accomplish this. Age and strength will determine your bat weight goal. Once there you can maintain and add more strength by overloading. Do this, but overload without stressing the joints. This will get more power to your bottom(lead) hand which is usually weaker than the top hand. Another great training method is to get a rubber ball about the size of a tennis ball. Squeeze the ball with your fingers (against the palm of your hand) hundreds of times a day. This will work your wrists and forearms. The end result is a stronger pair of wrists that will improve your bat speed through the strike zone. It will also have a good effect on your throwing. This exercise was done by Roberto Clemente when he was a kid. This exercise is very inexpensive. It is also quiet and can be done anywhere, such as class or work, if you do not make a big deal of your activity. One other real good quality exercise I've seen performed by major league hitters is to stand a bats length from a fence and swing the bat and try to keep it from hitting the fence. It helps to keep control of your swing and it will also works your muscles. This is more for control, but also works your muscles that determine reflex speed. Use a Pitching Machine to Increase Bat Speed I've seen increases up to 10 mph after extensive training with a baseball pitching machine. The adjustable speed and consistency of the machines make it easy to set up and work your technique as well as coordination. Training your eyes to "see" the pitches and really know what certain speeds look like as they come out the pitchers hands is a big bonus to having a pitching machine. This takes away a lot of the variables encountered when hitting off a real pitcher in practice or the back yard. You have speed variances, rotation variances, even mechanic variances. Normally these are all good to experience, as they will lend to keeping you on your toes and learning to pick up on different rotations and types of pitches. But for the sole purpose of increasing bat speed, I like to set up a pitching machine at a certain speed, say 60 mph and work 20 to 30 pitches off that. Then increase it by 5 mph and do the same number of pitches. Repeat until you are at the level you want to be at. Then decrease and start to work back down to your starting pitch speed. Then work back up. Once back up to your max speed, hit about 20 more and call it a day. Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day. This will take time and lots of dedication and practice, but the results are well worth it. There are some great pitching machines to be had at really affordable prices. First Pitch makes a model that is relatively inexpensive but the quality is right up there with the big boys of the industry such as Atec and Jugs. Another thing you might be interested in is good batting cages. Not a must, but could keep you out of a few window repair bills. If you don't have access to a pitching machine, go check out a local batting cage. I don't recommend this though, because if you really want to see results you need to do this consistently. And quite frankly, that could get expensive. A lot more than buying a cheap machine for the backyard. Weight Training Lastly, if done correct, weight training can offer increases in your swing. Abdominal Training The trunk (abdominals and low back) creates a powerful twisting motion during the swing. Rotational torque provides speed and momentum to the arms and eventually the bat head. Like other muscles, it is necessary to develop strength by using resistance. A common mistake with abdominal training is to perform body weight resisted exercises and expect the abdominals to continually gain strength. In the beginning you will develop a certain amount of strength. However, after a while the exercises become nothing other than calisthenics or maintenance type movements. To develop strength you must add some sort of resistance to the movement-as is the case in all exercises. The good news is that you can use most of the same traditional stomach exercises plus added weight, to get the desired results. The three areas for you to concentrate on are the lower, upper and oblique abdominals. Upper Abdominals Weighted crunches (non-weighted crunches shown) - Lying on your back with legs up in the air, knees bent at 90 degrees, hold a weight of your choice at straightened arms length. Using only your upper abdominals, raise only the upper body, keeping your back flat on the ground. Three sets of 20-40 repetitions. Lower Abdominals Hanging leg raises - Hang from an overhead bar, with your feet not touching the ground. Your grip should be about shoulder width. Contracting the lower abdominals, lift the legs together, knees bent at 90 degrees, so the knees are just above waist height. Lower and repeat. Three sets of 10-25 repetitions. * This a difficult exercise which does not require much weight to increase the difficulty. Use ankle weights for the resistance. * Do not rock back and forth to make it easier to raise the legs. * To increase difficulty without adding weights, keep your legs straight while lifting them. Rotational Abdominals Standing weighted twists - put yourself into an athletic stance with your feet spread at a comfortable distance and your knees slightly bent. Hold a weight about 6-to-12 inches in front of your body. After a slow warm up, begin to twist at the waist (do not twist or bend at the knees) as rapidly as possible. The key to rapid movement is maintain a low, balanced stance and make sure your shoulder reaches the chin on the twist. Three sets of 20-40 repetitions. Leg Strength Never underestimate the value of leg strength for good, powerful hitting. The legs do not appear active. And in terms of movement, they really are not. But it is the strength of the legs that enable the abdominals and trunk in general, to promote bat speed. As the swing begins, the stride is in place and the body begins to rotate. Without a firm base, the body will not be able to generate any strength from the legs into the trunk. The force is generated from the ground, into the legs, to the trunk and finally the bat. Without leg strength, the force necessary to start a powerful bat is not produced. To take it a step further, the swing might be flawed due to only upper body generation and nothing to stabilize the legs. Basic leg strength has been outlined in previous articles. Do not expect to have the best swing or the most powerful bat if you are only going to work on the upper body and ignore your legs. Forearms Beginning with the grip and finishing with the forearms (the two are connected), the bat head will take the proper path if there is strength in the hands. Notice how I say hands instead of forearms. This is because the grip strength (fingers, hand) is the most important part of forearm strength for baseball. Take a look at a swing and follow through. The movement is not about forearm flexors or extensors. There is really no point in the swing where these movements are dominant. However, the hand and hand strength are involved the entire time. You can have strong forearms, but not necessarily a strong grip. This is why you must work grip-specific exercises into your routine, such as squeezing tennis balls, racquet balls and softballs. This will strengthen the fingers, hand and overall grip. When you add these exercises to the already common wrist curls and reverse wrist curls, you'll have excellent results. Total Body When you are looking for running speed, a powerful swing or mph on your fastball, you don't just work the specific muscles involved. Take the approach that the entire body is a system and when all the parts work together efficiently, the outcome will be much more positive than singling out certain muscles. Train your whole body if you want optimal results, not to mention reducing the risk of injuring yourself. The baseball pitching machine is by far the greatest tool in a hitter's tool kit. As a long time coach, the secret I've found to great hitting has been to work constantly with a pitching machine. It allows the hitter to work alone and not have to rely on someone else's accuracy to replicate pitches. The best is to have a curveball pitching machine, but a standard machine will work also. Again, I cannot recommend or speak more highly of my dealings with Pitching Machines Supply. But I am not here to freely promote them. My focus is to educate young hitters so that they may grow into becoming one of the great hitters of our beloved sport. Article Source: Article Source:

Friday, November 4, 2011

3 Reasons to Wait Until December to Buy Your BBCOR Bat

By Ryan M Davis As a member of the high school or college baseball ball community you may be faced with a BBCOR Baseball bat purchase in the next 6 months. Given the expensive and uncertain nature of these bats, smart consumers are waiting until December to make their BBCOR bat purchases for a few good reasons. Reason #1 More BBCOR Models coming this fall As we approach the 2012 high school and college season BBCOR production will increase tremendously. BBCOR Bat manufactures are forecasting huge spikes in demand for their products as all high school and college baseball players must swing BBCOR baseball bats in 2012. This unique opportunity to sell tons of bats has bat manufactures and retailers buzzing about a lucrative 2012 baseball bat season. Many manufactures have plans to release new BBCOR models this fall just before the holiday season. With many new BBCOR bats hitting the market later this year it's a good idea to wait until December to ensure you see all the bat industry has to offer. Reason #2 Holiday Discounts The holiday season is typically a great time to purchase new bats as many retailers offer discounts to attract holiday shoppers. It's common for retailers to send out promotional holiday newsletters or email blast just after Thanksgiving or on Cyber Monday. These promotional newsletters and email blasts typically include coupon codes or sale details for their store or website. It may be a good idea to sign up for a few of your favorite retailer's newsletter to ensure you will be included in their holiday promotional efforts. Given the competitive nature of the BBCOR market it's safe to assume retailers will offer aggressive discounts to win sales. With many popular BBCOR models priced above $249.99 waiting until December can save you money! Reason #3 More Feedback on newly released BBCOR Bats One of the best reasons to wait until December to buy your BBCOR bat is the lack of product feedback and reviews currently available. Insightful product reviews can be very helpful when selecting a new bat. Many BBCOR Bats have only been on the market for a few months, and with limited product feedback it's difficult for consumers to make informed decisions. Its fair to assume the longer you can wait the better, as newly released BBCOR bats will have more time to accumulate product reviews. Waiting until December will ensure you have enough product feedback to make the perfect bat purchase. Smart consumers know, it pays to be patient. New product releases, retail promotions and additional product feedback are all great reasons to wait until December to buy your BBCOR baseball bat. About The Author: Ryan Davis is a baseball enthusiast and self proclaimed bat wizard. His website at offers in-depth BBCOR bat reviews, news, price comparisons, videos, products and podcast. Ryan's Free podcast is jam packed with insightful BBCOR information Subscribe for FREE at Article Source: Article Source:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Care and Cleaning of Your Baseball Glove

By Peter V. John Baseball glove care is often overlooked during the season and the off-season. Many players simply throw their gloves into their bags and walk away. To get the most out of your glove, one must take care of it in season and in the off-season. Here are a few tips for caring for your baseball glove: Keep it clean! Cleaning the glove periodically not only keeps it looking better, but it keeps the pores of the leather clear. Keep your glove dry, wipe off built up dirt with dry cloth. Never soak your glove in water or put it in a microwave oven to dry it off. Keep the glove conditioned with proper baseball glove conditioner. This keeps the glove leather hydrated and supple. After all, a glove's leather was alive at one time. It's skin. While conditioning, you don't need much. Put a small amount of oil on a cloth and lightly rub in and coat the glove. Do not allow oils to soak in as this will cause the leather deteriorate faster. Store a ball in the pocket of the glove. Whether it is in season or off-season, this will help keep the shape of the glove's pocket. Place a baseball or softball in the pocket and tie the glove shut with a rubber band or belt. A regular practice workout of at least 100 good tosses daily will continue to soften the glove and help mold the pocket to your hand. Store the glove in room temperature. Extreme heat will cause it to dry out and become hard. Extreme cold will cause the glove to become hard and not pliable until it warms up. Keeping a baseball glove at a constant room temperature when it is not in use will keep it from deteriorating as quickly. Keep the laces tight. Tighter laces keep the glove in shape. Loose laces are more susceptible to breakage and place tension on other parts of the glove, speeding its breakdown. This can result result in the glove becoming floppy and needing to be replaced sooner than it would otherwise. Quickly replace any frayed or broken laces. Frayed laces will break quickly. Broken laces transfer the tension to other parts of the glove, usually the other laces. Added tensions to these laces cause them to stretch and break quicker. Simply using your glove will keep it in good shape. The more play time your glove experiences, the better it will properly mold to your hand. Once your baseball glove is broken in, it will be ready to serve you for many seasons to come. If you follow these tips, they will help maintain the longevity of your baseball glove and aid in helping you Make the Play! Vinci manufactures a full line of baseball gloves and equipment. Find first baseman mitts, catcher's mitts and more. The Vinci baseball glove break in kit includes a wooden mallet, baseball glove conditioner, rubber bands and a plastic ball. Made for players of any level! Article Source: Article Source:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Learn How to Play Baseball While Playing Football

By Dr. Chris Yeager

Let's discuss some of the best movements (call them drills if you prefer) to help players ingrain a back-arm loading pattern for baseball while playing football. The back arm-loading pattern applies to throwing a football, throwing a baseball and hitting a baseball. It's a universal loading pattern for football and baseball.

So, dad's relax. Your son doesn't have to fall behind in baseball because he is too busy playing football. In fact, it's probably better that you are giving him a break and having him play other sports.

But don't waste your time. Use your time wisely and practice these universal-loading patterns with the football.

Here are some ideas to improve your son's baseball skills while playing football:

1. Walking Rhythm Drill

One great way to introduce the back arm loading pattern movement is to utilize a walking-rhythm with the arm action. The "walking-rhythm" refers to simply stepping laterally (taking your stride) repeatedly down the football field. The back arm will naturally load up as we step. In addition, the "thought" of throwing will naturally develop timing and rhythm within our footwork. We just need to learn to load the arm correctly.

Make sure feet, knees, and waist are set up correctly

-the feet are working straight ahead

-knees bent "one click"

-waist bent "one click"

- and be sure the shoulders drop over the knees.

-The shoulders and elbows should be down and relaxed.

Our feet for the walking drill are set up a little more narrow than it would be for a regular batting session.

2. Use the Football

Because of its size and shape, a football can be very useful in developing an elite level throwing pattern. Remember, this is the same pattern used in hitting a baseball as well. It is easier to see the football turn with the long bone in the upper-arm. As that elbow turns up, the ball turns with it.

This can really help the player feel the turning or the winding up nature from this elite-level loading phase.

Use the same rhythmic lateral stepping pattern moving down the football field saying "load, load, load" as you load the back-arm by turning the bone up and keeping the elbow bent.

3. Isolation Drills

Continuing our focus on phase-one of the back arm, we will isolate the movement for three repetitions with no stride. Then incorporate a live stride for three repetitions, preferably against the live motion. Do this with a football.

We're going to isolate the movement for just three repetitions and really focus on the movement at the shoulder joint as the only action (no step or stride) "load, load, load." Again we're focusing on the out-of-the-glove action, lifting and turning of the long bone in the upper arm with the football.

Next we use a football and simply add a live stride to phase one of the loading phase. Again, the cadence is "load, load, load." As we perform the movement, we want to make sure that the hand stays in front of the shoulder as we turn the elbow up during this loading phase.

The plan is very simple and the movement is easy. It's just going to take some repetitions to make permanent. If you don't get the loading phase of the back arm correct, it's very difficult for your swing or throw to recover.

Go ahead and get better at baseball while you are playing football.

Dr. Yeager is a PHD in human performance and an expert in the physics and physiology of the baseball swing and throw. He is one of the founders of Iso Baseball.
Iso Baseball's mission is to design and develop scientifically based baseball/softball hitting instructional devices/ Please visit to learn more.

Article Source:

Article Source:

Friday, October 28, 2011

How To Control The Bunt

By Jim Bain

The utilization of the "Bunt" as an offensive weapon is not a new strategy, thus the rule which declares an automatic third strike call on a batter, who has two strikes and bunts the ball foul. The rule was created in order to prevent a player from being able to continue attempting to bunt until he finally got it right.

With the implementation of the rule the ability to successfully lay a bunt down in no more than two attempts, creating a two strike count on the batter, became more important than ever.

There are two distinct contrary philosophies in baseball pertaining to using the sacrifice bunt as a weapon.

1. Earl Weaver, famous manager of the Baltimore Orioles, eloquently expressed one point of view by stating " I only have 27 outs in a game, why would I give one away?" The idea of trading an out for advancing a runner into scoring position, with the hope he can be driven in, did not set well in that day and age.

2. The second thought process is, trading an out for the increased percentage of being able to score a run by advancing the runner, is no different than increasing your odds by bringing in a left handed pitcher to face a left handed batter.

Differences of philosophy not withstanding, one issue on which there is no disagreement on is Giving up an out without accomplishing the intended goal, is totally unacceptable. In other words, if you're going to bunt to move a runner into scoring position, you'd better be successful.

The key to a successful bunt is the ability to place the baseball in a particular area of the field which prevents the defense from throwing out the lead runner, and that ability is created by having complete control of the bat.

Let's exam a few of the skills required in order to become a proficient bunter.

1. Knowing how to hold the bat, which sounds simple enough, is totally different than your normal batting grip. The bat, instead of being firmly gripped with both hands, is cradled loosely allowing for the bat to move in your hands.

A. Your right hand (right handed hitters) will slide up the barrel of the bat, loosely held with the finger tips, never wrap your fingers around the barrel of the bat placing your fingers in the hitting zone. By holding the bat in this manner you allow the bat to recoil in your hand as the ball strikes the bat, which absorbs the ball's energy, which in turn reduces the travel distance off the bat.

B. Your left hand will firmly grip the handle of the bat, because this hand will control the angle the bat is moved in, which controls the direction the ball will be bunted in. Push your left hand out away from your body and you pull the bat barrel backwards, which will push the ball to the right side of the infield. Pull the bat handle in towards the body and the produced bat angle will push the ball to the left side of the infield.

It's the command of knowing how far to angle the bat, and how firmly to grip the bat head, which will dictate the exact placing, direction wise, and distance wise, which is the key to successful bunting.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on running baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

Article Source:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The New BBCOR Baseball Bat Rule in High School Baseball

By Adam LaGrange The world of high school baseball is changing. A brand new standard for baseball bats will take effect January 1, 2012 for all high schools all over the country. The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) has ruled that all baseball bats used for high school play will have to be BBCOR certified beginning from the new season. The state of California already had this rule in place for the 2011 season. The NCAA, in addition to the other collegiate associations, also applied the brand new principle for 2011. The acronym, BBCOR, means "Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution." The brand new standard will replace the previous BESR (Ball Exit Speed Ratio) standard that had been in position in the 2011 season. The latter rule measured the ratio of the baseball's exit in comparison to the speed of both the pitch and also the swing of the bat. The BBCOR rating essentially measures the trampoline effect of the bat's walls. I won't bore you with the precise formula for the measurement, but think about the wall of the bat as being a trampoline. When you hop upwards and after that down onto the flexible fabric of the trampoline, it compresses after which it springs back up, so you can leap higher than you would off of a typical floor. The same thing happens using a thin-walled baseball bat. When the baseball hits the bat, the wall of the bat compresses like a trampoline, permitting the baseball to essentially maintain more of its energy and travel farther and a lot quicker away from the bat. The BBCOR standard regulates this trampoline effect, proclaiming that it cannot be over a measurement of.50. All bats shall be forced to contain the BBCOR logo branded on them to be lawful in high school play with the 2012 season. By putting into action this brand new guideline, the NFHS hopes to return the experience more to its roots, when wooden baseball bats were typical. This standard will hopefully bring the overall performance of the bats closer to their wooden cousins. By reducing the speed of the ball, the game will likely be played in different ways. Homeruns will not be as frequent as they have been in recent years. Plus, we'll possibly experience a return to "small-ball." There could also be the chance of hitters to revisit utilizing wooden bats a little more. With the BBCOR bats performing more like wood, batters definitely won't be gaining quite as much when using the non-wooden bats, allowing them to get the personal choice of working with wooden bats again. Safety factors are yet another area the NFHS desires to see a marked improvement with the advent of the BBCOR standard. The lowering of the ball's acceleration should minimize the risk that fielders deal with on the defensive side of the ball, especially for the pitcher. With the gain in safety, it will be interesting to look at how similar leagues follow the NCAA and NFHS. Little League Baseball suspended composite bats last season, but removed the moratorium on specific bats. Will they follow suit and make BBCOR their certification too? Leagues, such as Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken, Pony, etc., don't currently have particular prohibitions on bats currently. Quite possibly, they're waiting around to check how the BBCOR standard plays out in the older age leagues before making a conclusion on their side. Obviously, that is pure speculation on the author's part. Overall, the new guideline really should make the sport a better experience for every individual included. No longer should it be just an offensive highlight as it has been in years past. And, the better safety of the sport will likely be a marked improvement for players, coaches, umpires, and spectators. To learn more about BBCOR baseball bats and baseball bat reviews, please visit www.eBaseballBatReviews. Article Source: Article Source:

Monday, October 24, 2011

How To Hold Runners Close To First Base

By Jim Bain

There is a Cardinal rule, especially at the Major League level of play, that a runner steals second base off the pitcher, not the catcher. This rule basically means, by this skill level most, if not all catchers have strong and accurate throwing arms, which makes outrunning the ball to second base nearly impossible. Therefore, the runner must get a good lead off and running start off the pitcher's actions.

Left handed pitchers enjoy a huge advantage over their right handed counterparts when it comes to holding runners at first base, close to the bag. By virtue of their set position, they are looking directly at the runner, easily viewing their lead off, which in itself, limit's the runner's ability to creep too far off the base.

Even without a slide step, a modification to their delivery home, they can freeze a runner by briefly holding their leg lift, a position they can legally throw home or to first base, limiting a runner's attempt to steal second base. A left handed pitcher who does not have a good pick off move to first base is an abnormality, created either by poor coaching or an extraordinary delivery issue which can not be modified or risk negative affects to the entire pitching mechanics.

Unfortunately, for pitchers anyway, most hurlers are right handed, which poses an entirely different set of cat and mouse games between the pitcher and the runner attempting to steal second base. The lefty has a natural advantage, but with a little training and a strong mental game, a right handed pitcher can be just as effective holding runners close to first base as his counterpart.

Timing affects every aspect of baseball. You time your swing when hitting, time your leap when trying to catch a line drive over your head, you time your throw while completing a double play. Disrupt or somehow otherwise throw the timing off and the chances of successfully accomplishing your goal diminished.

Destroying a runner's timing is the first and easiest thing a pitcher can do in order to discourage a runner from stealing, but he must be conscious of what he's trying to accomplish. Pitchers have a tendency, especially if they're throwing well, to establish a pattern in their delivery. When they're in a groove, they want the catcher to get the ball back to them and they quickly go to their pitching position to throw again. There's no thinking, no caution, just get the signal and throw. Runners easily pick up on this routine and can gauge their leadoff and jump, based on the pitcher's pattern of actions.

When a hitter gets on base, and of course they will, the pitcher must make a quick mental adjustment in his delivery. It's important to note here, there's a fine line between being aware of the runner, and being consumed with the runner. The pitcher can not lose track of what he's attempting to do with the batter in an effort to keep the runner from stealing.

Should he make this mistake, he'll either walk the batter, now there's two runners on base, or serve up a fat Home Run pitch. Neither scenario is good.

After receiving the catcher's signal and coming to a set stretch pitching position, the pitcher simply holds the ball a varying amount of time before throwing to the plate. Although that sounds quite simple, it is extremely effective in "taking the legs" away from the runner.

Another method is, from the stretch position, hold the ball, then step backwards off the rubber with your right foot and break your hands apart. By doing this the pitcher can throw to first, fake a throw, pretty well do anything he wants, which forces the runner to retreat back to first base.

As a last resort, or first if it's a planned pick off play, a pitcher can throw over to first, forcing the runner back to the base.

The key to keeping runners close to first base is variance of pitching mechanics which will tend to destroy the runner's timing and limit their lead should they attempt to steal.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on running baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

Article Source: