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
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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.
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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:
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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: