Monday, February 28, 2011

Build Arm Strength By Throwing Through Your Partner

By Perry Cunningham

During my collegiate and professional pitching career, I was always looking for the miracle formula that would allow me to increase my velocity and help me continue to progress.

As a coach, I seem to always be asked by players, "How do I throw harder?"

Sorry to ruin everyone's hopes and dreams, but there is no magic bullet. There is no easy way around things. There are two ways to build arm strength - develop good mechanics understanding how to use your body to your advantage and throw through your partner.

Almost every coach at one point or another has made the comment to "hit your partner in the chest." But my advice is a little different - throw the baseball through your partner's chest.

Let's say your partner is 75 feet away and you are trying to hit him in the chest. If he would miss the ball completely, how far would the ball travel in the air? I would guess somewhere in the area of 80 feet.

You are again 75 feet away and are now trying to throw the ball through your partner's chest. Again, if he would miss it, the baseball may travel approximately 100 feet or more.

Think of it this way. Your partner is standing away from you with both hands above his head. If you hit him in the chest, the ball will probably glance off his chest. But you are trying to throw it so hard that he falls down and is gasping for air after being hit by your toss.

Why is this a better way? There are three main reasons.

Because you are trying to throw farther, you throw the ball harder. Throwing harder while playing catch develops the arm strength you need in the game.

You are keeping a consistent release point. Your release point is where the baseball leaves your hand. I would bet that when you try to throw the ball to your partner, you throw it twenty feet off the ground. You judge how far you need to throw the baseball and the flight of the baseball isn't in a straight line. But in a game, you try to keep every throw - from the outfield, on the infield, on the mound or behind the plate - on a straight line because that is the shortest distance to throw. A consistent release point will help your accuracy on the field.

For any player that lives in a colder climate, you don't have the ability to throw outdoors during a portion of the year and may not have the luxury of having a large indoor facility to train. So if your only option is an indoor basketball or tennis court, you may only have 100 feet to throw. But it takes more that100 feet to develop arm strength. So, if you throw through your partner and not to your partner, you can still get your necessary practice.

It is a simple suggestion, but one that isn't often taught and is easy to incorporate at practice or in the backyard. It will lead to more arm strength and better accuracy, which lead to a more confident player. With confidence come success.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

More MLB2K10 My Player George Bambino

Another episode of MLB2K10 My Player. I find this fun to watch.

How Much Baseball Is Too Much?

By Perry Cunningham

was recently asked this question by a concerned parent who was worried that their son's love the game could eventually consume him. The main fear was obviously long-term health. But there were others - becoming burned out and not experiencing and developing at other sports were also discussed.

How much is too much?

I'm all for physical activity. I think that kids should be kids and spend as much time playing outdoors as possible. I urge caution in playing too much, but raise a red flag when it comes to pitching.

Before getting into specifics, see if you can answer this question.

Every August, the baseball community focuses on Williamsport for the Little League World Series (I was there for the first time this past summer and if you have never attended, do whatever you can to experience it). There is always the kid who throws hard, has a nasty curveball and slider and dominates every team he pitches against.

How many of those kids are pitching in the Major League Baseball? I understand that this is somewhat of a stretch to compare what a kid does at 12 to where he is in life at 27, but doesn't it make you wonder?

Talent is talent. In hockey and basketball, it is not out of the question for scouts and college coaches to be buzzing around kids when they are in middle school. Yet in baseball, it seems that many of these same players with 75 MPH fastballs and unhittable curveballs never make it to the top of their profession.

If you are fortunate to live in a warm part of the world, where baseball can be played year-round, I'm jealous. But does that make it right for a 12-year old to play baseball for 12 months?

My advice was simple. Play baseball all you want. Hit and play the field 12 months out of the year IF that is what your child wants. I understand that as a parent, you have an obligation to tell your child no if the action is something you deem to be unhealthy or unnecessary.

But I also think that kids can be doing a lot worse. Baseball - or any organized activity - can provide structure, social skills and a sense of belonging. You know your kids better than anyone. Are they genuinely enthusiastic about going to practice and games? Do they enjoy camps, lessons and DVDs?
Or do they agree to play because they don't want to disappoint you or feel that they will let you down? Are you pushing your child to play and be the best player because that is what you want? (You probably weren't anticipating such deep questions when you began.)

Let's get back to pitching. I do not endorse pitching competitively for 12 months out of the year. If professional pitchers (who are also fully grown, physically developed adults) know the importance of taking time off and resting your arm, shouldn't the same principle apply to children and teens?

My recommendation is that everyone, regardless of age, should take a total of three months off in a calendar year, preferably consecutively.

When I have this conversation, inevitably two more questions come up - won't my child lose his arm strength and what will happen to the mechanics he worked so hard to develop?

Your body needs time off. Muscles, tendons and ligaments that are subject to overuse become fatigued. The chances of injury increase. What sounds better - taking three months off to rest or taking six months off because of a sprained ligament? The rest is needed and will lead to a sense of rejuvenation.

The answer to question number two is that you do not need to throw to practice pitching mechanics. In fact, you are probably better off not to throw because you can practice longer and more often. Find a big mirror and, without a ball, concentrate on developing solid pitching mechanics.

I grew up in Ohio, not exactly known for its baseball weather for half the year. If I lived in another part of the country, my guess is that I would have played baseball year round. But I also think that there is something to be said for not having the opportunity.

Baseball was all I thought about between October and March. Not being able to play undoubtedly made me appreciate the game when the weather allowed. I didn't grow tired of the game, become burned out or become complacent in my development.

In the end, my recommendation is from my experience. As a professional pitcher, I took off from October through December and never had any serious arm problems. But you know your children better than anyone. You can read their body language and know when they are truly having fun. I'm confident you will make the best decision for them.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to Stop a Pitch in the Dirt

By Jim Bain

The role of being a good catcher can, at best, be physically and emotionally challenging. A catcher is expected to be a good hitter with power, base stealer, at younger ages, an Einstein when calling a game and all done with a smile on behind that hot mask.

There are many catchers who can adequately accomplish the tasks mentioned, but few catchers really ever reach the pinnacle of earning a pitcher's complete and unfaltering trust, when fielding a ball thrown in the dirt. Earn that and you'll become a permanent fixture behind the plate.

As players grow older the cat and mouse game between pitcher and hitter intensifies as both begin to master new skills. From a pitcher's perspective, he's taught, or should be, to attempt to make hitters swing at pitches outside the strike zone, a pitcher's pitch as it is known.

A perfect example of this type of pitching is throwing breaking balls low, mostly in the dirt, when the hitter has a 2 strike count on him. This perfect pitching strategy is totally dependent on One issue, Can the catcher block the ball and keep it from getting past him. That's what were going to learn.

A catcher, by nature of the position, usually has an infallible "Scrapper" mentality. He must draw on this mentality to make himself a virtual back stop, a brick wall which nothing penetrates or gets around. He uses his mitt to catch the baseball, he uses his mitt and entire body to block the baseball. We've established the mental and emotional qualifications of a good catcher, let's exam how we physically accomplish the task.

Drill One: Ball in the dirt in front of the plate.
The catcher Does Not wait to see if the ball takes a nice bounce in which he can catch it with the mitt. He immediately drops from the squat position to his knees. He places his mitt on the ground in front of his crotch blocking any ball from skirting between his knees and under the glove. He should lean slightly forward, creating a C-curve with his body, which in the event the ball bounces hitting him in the chest protector it will bounce straight back out in front of him where he can easily retrieve it and throw the runner out.

Drill 2: Ball in the dirt to the catcher's right.
Never swipe a back hand with the mitt at a ball to your right. This is not about luck, it's about the proper method to stop the ball. Number one you probably won't stop the ball with a swipe and if you did make contact you'd probably slap it out of your reach allowing runners to advance.

From the squat position, you must leap frog your entire body to the right side of the plate to where you're facing the ball. As you leap frog you land on your knees, glove on the ground in front of your crotch, slightly leaning forward.

This exact method is used in reverse for a ball to the left side of the plate.

Learn to automatically perform these actions for a ball in the dirt and you'll quickly become a super-hero to your pitching staff.

Jim Bain - Former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth. Visit his exciting info packed website:

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

MLB2K10 My Player Can Help Kids Learn The Game

During the duldrums of winter baseball helps keep us sane. One great way to keep in touch with the game and help kids learn is to play MLB2K10 on Xbox 360. There is a great game called My Player that allows you to create a player who plays any position. Your player starts out in the minor leagues in which ever franchise you chose. He has to make his way through the minors, building up his skill level to someday play with the big club. The player is in real game situations which can be a great way to help your child learn the metal aspects of the game. I found a clip on Youtube of a My Player who just started his career. I plan on following how he does and thought you might like to as well. Here is George Bambino's first episode... click this link to view it on Youtube in HD:

I will probably post a few more videos here but you can subscribe to BambinoBlog's youtube channel if you'd like to follow the series.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tips On How To Find Baseball Bats For Sale

By Rileys R

If a child has aspirations of being a professional baseball player in the future, parents encourage them to follow their dreams. Why not? It's America's Favorite Pastime and any parent would be proud if their kid did fulfill his dreams. However, a rising dilemma is buying your children an ideal beginner bat. If you're on a tight budget, there are baseball bats for sale from both select baseball specialty stores and online sports houses.

The length and diameter of baseball bats should be proportionate to the child's age and size. Since most kids get their motivation revving up from age 7-10, you need to know what bat is suitable for their age. There are certain things which parents should take into consideration before practicing baseball. There will be constant offers online of baseball bats for sale. They are priced as low as $15-$150 and depending on what material the bats are made of. Try to stay away from metal bats for the mean time, and stick with wooden bats. Its diameter should be the standard 2 1/4 inches so your kids can practice his swing the right way.

Once you've picked your material and you're aware of the standard measurements for a child's bat, it's crucial to look at stores. Oftentimes, shops offer baseball bats for sale only for a limited time. Take that opportunity to take your child with you and probably give them a swing. Baseball bats shouldn't compromise quality despite a cheaper price.

There will be pros and cons if you decide to buy a custom-made bat for your child. The price of course will be higher compared to regular bats found in sports houses. You need to select the type of wood the bat will be made of. Try to check in with the manufacturer what the best wood is for your kid's needs. It will also take a longer time before your kid can start using it. Custom-made bats can take up to three weeks before they can deliver the bats to you.

Whether it is custom-made or baseball bats for sale, skills should still be given far more emphasis. Pitch for your kid as often as you can to practice his swinging and batting skills. Who knows, it might be the first bat that you bought your child which will inspire him to be the next superstar in baseball. By knowing this information about bats, you can now choose to buy one that fits your budget and needs.

Rileys has been writing online for several years. Check out his latest interest on baseball bats for sale. He has created a website as a dedicated resource for the best product deals for baseball batting cages, visit for more information.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Catchy Tips In Buying Youth Baseball Gloves

By Rileys R

It is during childhood that kids start discovering their skills through sports. As parents we should be ever supportive of their needs in developing their athletic talents. A lot of young boys prefer baseball over other sports. An increasing number of these young enthusiasts are leaning towards the catcher position. In this case, choosing the best youth baseball gloves available for his age is crucial in his success their success in playing the game.

Youth baseball gloves are usually made of leather. For beginners, look for gloves which have adjustable Velcro straps in the wrist area. This will enable them to choose how tight they prefer the gloves should be around their hands. It should be neither too heavy nor too restricting to allow optimal use of their catching skills. Cheaper gloves are made of PVC and are priced at $10. Don't go stingy when buying your kids first baseball gloves. It's going to help him with his skills in baseball. He might just be the next Mickey Mantle of the country.

Choose a glove with a range starting from 9 inches. This is the standard youth gloves size. Take note that it's better to buy your kid an age-appropriate glove. It's going to be hard for your kids to learn the basic principles of catching if they are not trained with the right gloves or mitts. If your kid prefers a mitt over baseball gloves, find a mitt which actually covers the entire palm and wrist area. It should be well-padded to decrease the discomfort when catching fastballs.

The price range for gloves range from $10 to $60. Since your child's going to wear it for lots of times during practice it's best to purchase one with the best leather quality. Do not compromise your child's safety. Some cheap baseball gloves do not have strong webbing reinforcements which might lead to hand fractures and injuries. Buy a reasonably priced glove which snugly fits your child's hand. Test the glove before buying them. Test how durable and flexible it is by subjecting it to different movements.

Lastly, let your child take his pick. He already might have a good idea of how youth baseball gloves should feel when worn. Your child's preference in texture, fit, and comfort will be his gauge on what would be the perfect baseball glove for his needs. When buying baseball gloves for your child, it is also good to bring him or her with you, so that you can choose which pair is best.

Rileys has been writing online for several years. Check out his latest interest on youth baseball gloves. He has created a website as a dedicated resource for the best product deals for baseball batting cages, visit for more information

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

How To Bunt

By Jim Bain
I won't say a player can make a living or impress the girls without hitting towering home runs, but a good bunter, at the proper time, can be as valuable as gold, and the older you become, the more valuable.

Unfortunately, some coaches don't believe in taking the appropriate amount of time to teach the skills of bunting, and yes, it is a skill. It's understandable up to a point, as there's plenty enough to learn, trying to hit the ball, much alone learn a controlled bunt.

However, the conception bunting is not an important aspect of the game is totally wrong. Not only is bunting an important play at all levels, perhaps more so the older the players become, but it can be a great aid in helping a youngster become a better hitter.

Sometimes it's an easier path to explain and eliminate what not to do before tackling the how to do elements.

When a player squares around to bunt he must be careful to not be standing on home plate, because if he's making contact with the plate when he bunts the ball, he'll be declared out.

When the hitter squares to bunt and slides his hand up the barrel of the bat, he must not wrap his fingers around the bat exposing his fingers to danger, as I shouldn't have to explain the painful consequences of fingers smashed between the ball and the bat.

The hitter should not stab or lunge at the ball with the bat. The ball should hit the bat which is being gently held absorbing the impact resulting in the ball going fair, but a limited distance. Stabbing or lunging at the ball will only result in a missed strike or a ball hit much farther than intended.

Never, unless it's a suicide bunt, try to bunt a high pitch. High pitches are extremely difficult to bunt towards the ground, as the ball has a tendency to pop up into the air which normally results in an easy put out.

The sacrifice bunt is used to give up an out, the hitter, in order to advance a base runner to scoring position, whether it be to second base or third base.

The worse thing a hitter can do when faced with this situation is trying to be cute and disguise his intention to bunt by swinging his bat wildly around, as all this does is throw off the bunter's timing and ruins his mechanics.

As the pitcher comes set in his stretch position the hitter should square his body, directly facing the pitcher. As he does this he should lower his bat from the hitting position, slide his right hand (right handed hitter) up the back of the bat's barrel, stopping @ at the trademark.

The bat should be held and guided with the batter's left hand that's in a slightly choked location. The barrel of the bat should be cradled from behind with the thumb and knuckles of the first two fingers.

The left hand allows the bunter to angle the bat to make the ball go towards the third base side or the first base side. Pull the handle in toward your body, directs the ball down the third base line. Push the handle away from you, the ball will be bunted down the first base line.

The cradle hand helps absorb the impact of the ball striking the bat deadening the bounce off the bat and limiting how far it goes.

This is extremely important. You must have the bat out ahead of the plate in fair territory. Failure to do this will almost always result in bunting a foul ball.

Jim Bain - Former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth. Visit his exciting info packed website:

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Pitcher's Guide to the Top Pitches in Baseball

By Dustin Peek

There are a variety of pitches in the game of baseball. The number and types of pitches in a pitcher's arsenal can contribute significantly to the performance on the mound. Each pitch is unique and can be used in combination with other pitches to dominate opposing batters. Use the below guide to get a basic understanding of the most popular pitches in the game of baseball.


1. Four-seam fastball - The four-seam fastball is the most common fastball. The four-seam fastball typically has little side-to-side movement and it maximizes a pitcher's velocity. To throw a four-seam fastball, the pitcher grips the ball with his index and middle fingers with the seams perpendicular to his fingers.

2. Two-seam fastball - The two-seam fastball is slightly less popular than the four-seam fastball but is still a very common pitch. The two-seam fastball is slower than a four-seam fastball and it has a slight downward movement. To throw a two-seam fastball, the pitcher grips the ball with his index and middle fingers on the ball where the seams are closest together.

3. Cut fastball (cutter) - This pitch is used when a pitcher wishes to have slightly more movement than a two-seam fastball. The cutter has a small break just before reaching home plate which often can result in a ground ball if the hitter does make contact. To throw this pitch, the pitcher grips the ball similar to a two-seam fastball but applies slight pressure with his middle finger during release.

4. Split-finger fastball (splitter) - The splitter is a fastball that is thrown to maximize fastball movement. When thrown, this pitch appears to be a normal fastball to the batter. However, as this pitch approaches the plate, it has big and sudden downward movement. To throw this pitch, the pitcher grips the ball with his index and middle fingers on either side of the ball thereby "splitting" them. The ball is thrown with a lot of force, but because of the grip, the velocity is slower than a two or four-seam fastball.


1. Circle-change - The circle change is the most common type of changeup. This pitch has movement from left to right with a right-handed pitcher. To throw this pitch, the pitcher grips the ball with his middle, ring, and pinky fingers, and makes a "circle" with his index finger and thumb on the side of the ball. This pitch is thrown with the same arm motion as a fastball, but by taking the index finger off the ball, the velocity is reduced significantly.

2. Knuckleball - The knuckleball is a pitch that is really in a category of its own, but I place it in the change-up category because it has relatively low velocity compared to fastballs. This pitch has very little or no spin and creates a "probing" effect for the hitter. To throw this pitch, grip the ball with the tips of your fingers and the use the tip of your thumb for balance. The idea is to throw a pitch with as little spin as possible to get a true knuckleball "flutter."

Breaking Pitches

1. Curveball - The curveball is one of the first breaking pitches learned by many pitchers. This pitch has a big downward movement and is typically one of the slowest breaking pitches. To throw a curve ball, a pitcher grips the ball with his middle finger on one of the long seams and his thumb on the opposite side of the ball creating a C-shape. The pitcher then releases the pitch in such a way to create significant forward rotation as the ball approaches the plate.

2. Slider - The slider is a breaking pitch that has more velocity than a curveball. The movement is both lateral and downward. It is similar to a cut fastball although the velocity is slower and it has a stronger break. To throw a slider, the pitcher grips the ball like a cut fastball. However, when throwing the ball, more pressure is exerted on the ball with the middle finger to create more spin and more movement.

3. Forkball - The forkball is a breaking pitch very similar to a split-finger fastball. It is gripped like a splitter, but the ball is jammed even deeper between the index and middle fingers. This results in a slower pitch with much more downward "tumbling" movement. To throw this pitch, the pitcher must snap his wrist downward upon release.

There are many varieties of pitches that are not listed here, but the ones listed above are the most common. Using a combination of these pitches can interrupt a batter's balance and rhythm and increase the effectiveness of any pitcher.

Dustin Peek is a former player with a life-long love for the game of baseball. He enjoys helping players of all ages learn the skills necessary to be succesful on the diamond. Do you want to learn more about the top pitches in baseball? Find this and much, much more at:

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Hitting - Teaching the Correct Stride

By Andy Pohl

The stride might be the most over taught aspect of the baseball swing. Simply speaking, the stride is the movement of the front leg before contact. Personally, I don't care how a hitter strides, as long as they stride to balance. Some hitters, like Juan Gonzales, kick up their front leg as if they were pitching. Other hitters, such as Chipper Jones and Sammy Sosa, bring their front foot back and forward quickly as if they were tapping the ground. Other hitters, such as Jeff Bagwell, do not stride at all-they just pick their front foot slightly off the ground and put it back in the same spot. Whatever is comfortable with the hitter works for me, as long as certain rules apply. In addition, regardless of how a one strides, all successful hitters stride to a balanced position. The phrase "stride to balance" is often used to further describe this aspect of the swing.

First of all, hitters must not over stride, or stride out too far. This results in an unbalanced position that prevents the hitter from making a powerful move towards the ball. Secondly, hitters must stride with their front foot at or very close to a 45 degree angle. A wide open foot while striding prematurely releases the hips, thus decreasing the hitter's power and plate coverage. A closed front foot locks up the hips, thus preventing the hitter's ability to create maximum rotation. Striding with the front foot close to a 45 degree angle enables the hitter to maintain both their posture and balance throughout the swing while correctly laying the foundation for a proper hip rotation. Finally, and most importantly, hitters must not move forward when striding. Moving forward during the stride, otherwise known as a 'dive move', causes the hitter to lose all balance and power.

Ultimately, when the hitter strides, the head should remain over the rear knee. During the stride, there is only slight linear motion forward, and after the front heel drops to the ground, the linear aspect of the swing is over. There is no more movement forward. The dropping of the front heel acts as an anchor that stops the hitter's momentum from going forward. After the hitter's front heel is firmly planted on the ground, the hitter moves rotationally to the baseball.

By keeping the weight on the backside and minimizing forward linear motion during the stride, the hitter is able to keep his upper body still, mainly his head. This allows the hitter to see the pitch better, which in turn, increases his ability to make consistent contact. While it is hard enough to hit any moving object, it is much harder to hit that moving object when you are moving too. Keeping the head still enables the hitter to see the plane of the pitch more accurately. Remember, hitting is sight oriented. No matter how good one's mechanics are, nobody, not even Ted Williams, could hit blindfolded.

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:

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Top 5 Tips for Bunting a Baseball

By Dustin Peek

Bunting is an absolutely critical part of the game of baseball. It can be used in a number of different situations such as moving runners by sacrificing the hitter, bunting for a hit, or using squeeze plays to score a run. Proper technique is necessary for bunting in baseball, and every player should learn this skill at a young age. The below tips are the top five things that every player should know about bunting.

1. Know the Situation

Every situation calls for a different bunting approach, so you need to make note of the defense and what you are trying to accomplish. When evaluating the defense, you want to make note of the first and third basemen positions, the quickness and arm strength of the catcher, pitcher, and third and first basemen, and whether the pitcher is left or right handed. You also want to consider the goal of the current situation. For a bunt-for-a-hit, you want to delay showing bunt as long a possible to catch the defense off guard. For a suicide squeeze, you want to make sure that you absolutely make contact with the ball at all costs. Every situation has a slightly different approach.

2. Hold the Bat Correctly

The bat should be held with the lower hand at the bottom of the bat near the knob. You should slide the top hand just over half way down the bat and grip it between your thumb and curled index finger. The fingers of the top hand should always be behind the bat to prevent them from being hit by the ball. The bat should be kept as level as possible as a tilted bat can often result in a pop-up.

3. Use Your Legs

After you have squared around to bunt, you want to use your legs to move your body and the bat vertically up or down to make contact with the ball. If you use your arms instead, the tendency is to tilt the barrel of the bat up or down which can easily result in a pop up.

4. Only Bunt Strikes

For many players, bunting is something that is rarely attempted during games. When players finally do get the bunt sign, they often get so involved in the process of bunting that they can forget that they still have the option to pull the bat back if the pitch is not a strike. This can result in poorly bunted balls or complete misses. With regard to evaluating balls and strikes, bunting should be no different than other at-bats, and hitters should keep this in mind.

5. Use Your Hands as a Cushion

When contact is made with the ball, you want the ball to roll slowly down one of the baselines. If the ball is bunted with too much force, it can give the defense a chance to make a play. To prevent bunting a ball with too much force, you want to "give" a little with your hands upon contact. Some people call this "catching the ball with the bat." It can take some of the speed off the ball and prevent the defense from making a play.

Use these tips in any bunting situation to increase your chances of success. If they are understood and practiced, it can drastically improve your game.

Dustin Peek is a former player with a life-long love for the game of baseball. He enjoys helping players of all ages learn the skills necessary to be succesful on the diamond. Do you want to learn more about bunting in baseball? Find this and much, much more at:

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