Friday, September 30, 2011

Living With Failure

By Jim Bain

For the sake of it's not important, I'll not identify the MLB relief pitcher, except to say he's one of the best in the league, who blew a 6 run lead in the 7th inning.

I must admit I was upset to witness, actually I didn't witness it because I turned the channel, the home team have a sure winner snatched away from them. It was devastating for the team and myself, who had been celebrating the end of a horrific 3 game losing streak which had cost them first place.

At times, when I sulk, revelations seem to appear, which puzzle me and on which I'm forced to ponder the meaning. While sitting on the patio and staring up at the stars, wondering why lady luck had so frowned on my team, I experienced one such thought.

If I felt this terrible, and I was a nobody, just another fan, how must the relief pitcher feel? He had let his team mates down, had made a mockery of a manager's decision to use him instead of another pitcher and did it all on national television where millions could watch.

What was he to say to the starting pitcher, who had pitched his guts out for 6 hard innings, or the mate whose home runs were wasted and the player injured giving 110% striving for the win?

How do players live with that sort of failure? An interesting question for which I had to retreat to the memories of my youth, to the days of eternal optimism and willingness to listen to those wiser than myself.

I recollected a particular game which I had attempted to win Worse Player of the Month honors, which left me angry, embarrassed and just plain miserable. I was annoyed, and a little fearful, when the coach came up to me where I was sitting on a parking lot curb.

"Failure breeds Success," he simply said, then walked away. It took me awhile to understand what his words meant, but they have helped me in my life every since. Let me explain.

If you're not failing at something which is new or difficult, you're either not trying or the task is not difficult after all. Learning to hit a round baseball, traveling 95 mph and jumping, with a round bat, with @ .7 seconds to decide whether to swing... well, it breeds a lot of failure.

However, with each hit, the failure decreases ever so slightly as if a one for one swap, until the logistics of mathematics begins enforcing its will. At that point we hit, hopefully, an acceptable failure rate, which ironically becomes an unusually high rate of success, such as a.400 batting average.

Players should never become comfortable with failure, but they need to realize it's a fact of life and will happen. Instead of wrestling with the feeling of failure, embrace the feeling of perseverance, which says I will not fail next time.

That attitude will have you eagerly anticipating the next challenge, a chance to succeed, instead of dreading it, fearing failure. I guess that's what keeps a relief pitcher going after blowing a lead.

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:

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Unique Baseball Drills

By Jim Bain

While observing an advanced skill level team practice have you ever noticed a metal folding chair setting somewhere around the dugout, bull pen or other area adjacent to the practice field? If you have, you've probably either noticed it, but it didn't register or raise any questions in your mind, or you just figured it was for a coach to sit and take a break.

Did it ever occur to you that you were looking at a very important training tool? You heard me right... a baseball training aid which is utilized for rather unique and skill specific training.

We teach hitting mechanics in a systematic building block process which includes, but is not limited to the legs, core, hips, shoulders, wrists and starting mechanisms. Sometimes a player will develop a problem, or bad habit, with one or more of these elements which must be corrected.

The use of the metal folding chair, or a similar chair devise, as a coaching tool begins here. For instance:

1. If a player develops a bad habit of opening his hips too soon while swinging, he will either hit an excessive amount of foul balls to his left, if a right handed hitter, or to his right if a left handed hitter, or pull off the ball, which shortens his bat length and prevents him from being able to reach a pitch on the outside of the plate.

In order to correct this problem, it is imperative you remove the legs and hips as part of the swinging process. By having the player sit in the chair, with his ankles wrapped around the front legs, you accomplish this goal. The coach will soft toss a ball to the player and the player will swing, attempting to hit the ball solidly, but will only be able to utilize his core, shoulders and arms.

Repetitive use of this drill will retard the impulse of opening the hips too soon, as the muscle memory of the core will over ride, yet work in conjunction with the hips and legs, resulting in a quick bat and power generated from the entire body.

2. On the defensive side of the coin, the chair is utilized for drills which increases hand speed and fielding ability. Obviously the legs are an integral part of fielding just as they are with hitting, but there are times the legs will get a fielder where he wants to go, to the ball, in time, but a bad hop occurs which tests the fielder's ability to quickly adapt with his hands and glove.

The player will sit in the chair slightly bent over in a semi-fielding position. The coach will position himself about 10 foot away, facing the player and throw tennis or rubber balls at him in various ways.

The reason tennis or rubber are used instead of a regular baseball is they bounce better, can be made to bounce and skid erratically and for safety as the player is restricted in his movement.

The fast paced drill requires the fielder to react quickly with only his glove and upper body, which replicates the identical situation presented by a bad hop. Repetitive use of this drill will increase the players' hand speed and agility.

So next time you're at a practice field, don't just look...actually see what's going on. There's no telling what you might learn.

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

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Best Way to Stop Your Fear of Being Hit by a Pitch

By Thomas E Wilson

For some young baseball players one of the leading troubles to overcome in baseball is the fear of being hit by a pitch while batting. This fear is the reason behind many technical problems at the plate, the most significant being "stepping in the bucket" where you step away from the plate as you swing. It is basically impossible to be a good hitter if you're afraid of the ball. As former Boston Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski stated, "If you're afraid of being hit, you might as well not bother going up to the plate at all. You can't hit the ball if you're afraid it will hit you." While this may be a big fear to overcome, with a little hard work and effort it can be done.

The very first thing you should do for you to overcome your fear of being hit by a pitch would be to realize why you are scared of it. You're likely scared of being hit by a pitch because you don't want to be harmed or in pain. Well, if you master how to avoid getting injured when a pitch is coming at you, you will most certainly be less scared of the ball hitting you. If you are going to get hit by a pitch, the ideal spot to get hit is on the back or side of your body. So rather than bailing out and exposing the front of your body you should turn towards the backstop in a clockwise direction (if you are right-handed) so that your back is what gets hit. If you get hit in the back or side you will not be in as much pain as you would be in if you got hit in other places.

Now that you realize what to do if a pitch is coming at you, you should repair your confidence in acknowledging that if the pitch does hit you, it's not going to hurt significantly because it will hit your back or side. A terrific drill to perform will be to have somebody kneel ten feet from the hitter and throw rolled up socks for the player to swing at (only if they're strikes). Once in a while throw a rolled up sock at the batter and have him turn away from the pitch the proper way rather than step away from the pitch.

As soon as the player gets the hang of it using socks, progress to tennis balls, and after that soft tee-balls. As soon as the hitter feels safe knowing it does not hurt very much when the ball hits his back and he is not stepping in the bucket even with soft tee-balls, start using normal baseballs. Throw some batting practice as you would normally, but throw a couple of pitches directly at him. If he uses the right technique of turning away from the pitch, he'll soon recognize that it doesn't hurt very much to get hit in the back or side even using a normal baseball. His overall confidence while hitting will improve and he will have the ability to hit the ball better than ever as he will be striding towards the pitch instead of away from it.

It is really depressing that a lot of young baseball players with a lot of potential never succeed and often quit playing just because they're afraid of being hit by a pitch. We all have fears and it's important, whether we are referring to baseball or life in general, to conquer those fears. By working hard and digging deep, you'll be able to get over this fear with no problems and get back to your baseball workouts and doing your best at the game.

In addition, if you are interested in improving your game, check out to find more helpful information as well as baseball workouts and training programs for sale that will take your game to the next level!

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Throw a Strike in Baseball

By Jim Bain

How difficult can it be to throw a strike in baseball? I mean, we're not talking painting the corner with a slider or bending an arching curve ball, we're simply throwing a simple fastball for a strike. Let's establish, then examine the facts involved in throwing strikes.

The regulation pitching distance for High School players and older, is 60' 6" and if the pitcher is 5' 11" or taller, after his stride he is @ 55' away from home plate. From that mere distance, he must throw the baseball inside a 17", width of home plate, by 3' to 4' high, depending on the batters size, box.

Those measurements appear to be a very large target to hit from a relatively close distance, not a particularly difficult task to accomplish. If we stopped our investigation at this point we'd most likely have to conclude, throwing a strike in baseball is easy.

However, there is one unanswered question which cast doubt on our conclusion. Why is it, at particular times, a major league baseball pitcher who is paid millions of dollars a year to throw strikes, absolutely can not throw two strikes in a row?

Obviously they have the ability and history of being quite capable of throwing consistent strikes, but if they fail, how can we expect our youngsters to succeed, and what happens when this inability to control their throws occurs.

In my opinion, the first thing a young pitcher needs to learn and continue to improve, is concentration or focus on what he's attempting to do. I believe sometimes, even though they are professionals, major league pitchers lose focus and that is what negatively effects their control.

So how do we retain or learn to focus while pitching? Let's examine the steps in which we can accomplish this.

We take a deep breath, exhaling we totally shut the activities, noise and actions going on around us, out of our mind. Don't mistake this for ignoring the circumstances of the situation you're in. You still must be aware if there are base runners on, strike and ball count, number of outs and who you're pitching to. I'm referring to the buzz of traffic, the voice of a particularly annoying fan or the crying of a baby, these are the distractions we shut out in order to remove clutter and chaos from our mind. Our main purpose at this point, is to regain a calming order in which to begin our refocusing.

As we stand on the pitching rubber, and after receiving the signals, we peer into the catcher's mitt and imagine a quarter being pasted to the pocket of the catcher's mitt. We don't want our thrown ball to hit the mitt, rather we want to hit that quarter.

After establishing our image of that quarter we want to hit, we visually, through imagery, change that quarter to a dime. We have regained focus by visualizing a quarter inside the catcher's mitt, then narrowed our focus to a laser beam by reducing the target to a dime. Visualize the baseball hitting that dime.

Once you begin your wind-up never remove your eyes from that dime. Continue this refocusing on every pitch until you regain your natural pitching motion and pattern, settling back into a normal pitching routine.

As an additional tip, if need be call time out and talk to your catcher and tell him what you want to do. Some catchers will offer a target, then bring it down as they shift weight, then re-establish it. That may be fine if you're not struggling, but until you regain your composure and focus you'll require a steady established target on which to concentrate.

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:

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finding Inexpensive Catchers Gear Sets Online

By Dorothy Gathany

While this article talks about baseball equipment in general, buying catchers equipment can be even more daunting for a first time player parent. A safe bet for catchers gear sets is either Mizuno catchers gear or Easton catchers gear. Both are rated high in safety and quality. They both have good youth catchers mitts as well.

Finding softball or baseball equipment for any little league player in the household is surely an interesting yet frustrating experience. Selecting the right baseball mitt or softball glove often makes a key change with just how well ones ball player fields his or her position. Considering a suitable length and weight of the baseball or softball bat is really a difference maker in their capability to hit the softball. Last of all, accessories like hitting gloves, equipment backpags or spikes can really help your player fit in with his / her teammates and feel like an authentic player.

Yet, it's amazing how little time and attention many parents give these aspects when they are going to be investing numerous hours driving their own young players to practice sitting at ball games. Here is some instruction advice. In segment 1 of this three section post, I will discuss searching for baseball mitts A general opinion to start with regarding internet based shopping. Considering baseball gloves and bats should be personal selections for your ballplayer, you ought to check out sports stores to test softtball or baseball gloves or swing bats. But bear in mind, when you know what you would like, get it on line and help save the 15-25% off list that internet retailers offer. (In most cases with no cost shipping) This can save you large sums over time, particularly when finding replacement equipment batting gloves, sliding shorts or other sorts of sofball & baseball equipment.

Let's touch upon baseball or softball glove choices. First, pricing; Mitts range from $40-50 for beginning ballplayers to several hundred dollars for high school and college baseball players. Youth ballplayers - Don't buy the toy mitts you can get in shops such as toy stores or discount department stores. Those tiny mitts can be lousy for catching the baseball, don't ever soften up as legitimate baseball gloves do and are also too small to help the youngster grab even a marginally errant throw. I cringed whenever I watched a young youngster (5-8 years of age) bring one of those to my 1st practice. It suggested that the parents knew nothing about the game, didn't make time to have a look at just a few basics or were too cheap to make a modest investment in a glove that might last 3-4 years if they bought the correct baseball glove. 2nd, sizing; Make sure that when the young softball or baseball player wiggles their fingers in the mitt, the fingertips in the mitt move.

In the event their smaller fingers don't move the glove fingertips, the glove is just too big. 3rd, expend extra on the glove as the young player shows the eagerness and competence with the sport. High-end Rawlings gloves, the Wilson A2000 (baseball) or Nokona mitts (softball) when broken in and conditioned correctly will often last for years and can help ones young player do better. Lastly, if the ballplayer desires a first basemens mitt or perhaps a catcher's mitt, hold back until they are at the least 10 then pick a quality mitt. Bear in mind, unless your ballplayer requires a left handed baseball or softball mitt for 1st base, right handed first basemens gloves may be a gamble as often lefty pitchers play at 1st whenever they aren't pitching. The opposite holds true for catchers mitts, there are not lots of left handed catchers and for that reason investing in a left handed catchers mitt may be a waste of cash. In my up coming installment, Let me discuss bat options.

Dorothy Gathany
You can find catchers gear and catchers equipment online here

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why Composite Youth Baseball Bats Outperform Aluminum Youth Baseball Bats

By Todd Hester

The three main differences that make a composite bat outperform an aluminum or wood bat have to deal with trampoline effect, swing weight, and vibration.

Trampoline effect has to do with what happens to the bat and ball when they collide. Manufacturers can vary the stiffness of the barrel of a composite bat which can increase or decrease the speed the ball comes off the barrel when hit. Making the barrel softer decreases energy loss and in turn increases the speed the ball is hit. An easy way of looking at this is whether the ball gives or the bat gives when contact between the two is made. The ball is what gives when hit by a hard surface like aluminum or wood. The ball giving instead of the bat reduces the energy created by the pitcher and batter and slows down the speed in which the ball leaves the bat. A composite bat can be made stiff at the handle yet softer at the barrel. This softer barrel enables the wall of the bat to give instead of the ball which helps maintain the energy created by the pitcher and batter.

Swing weight is a term used to describe how heavy a bat feels when you swing it instead of the weight the bat actually is sitting still. Manufacturers can lessen swing weight when dealing with composite by making the center of gravity closer to the handle. This increases bat speed which in turn increases the speed the ball comes off the bat. A simple way to compare this is to swing any bat by the handle and then turn it around and swing it by the barrel. This is a little extreme but you can see how moving more of the weight closer to where you hold the bat makes the bat much lighter to swing.

Anyone who has ever used an aluminum bat and missed hitting the ball on the sweet spot of the bat knows how much it can sting your hands. This is caused by the vibrations in the bat. Composite bats have a lower bending stiffness which lessens vibrations in a bat which in turn reduces this stinging effect. Also, composite bats have a greater damping rate which has to do with how long the bat vibrates after contact. Composite bats are considered more forgiving by players when they miss hit a ball because they do not feel the sting in their hands.

The future of composite bats is up in the air right now due to the concern of the safety of the pitcher and infielders. The fact that the ball comes off the bat at a greater speed than a wood or aluminum bat reduces the reaction time the pitcher and infielders have to get a glove on the ball. On December 30th, 2010 Little League officials announced a complete moratorium on all composite bats until they could be tested to see how fast the ball comes off the bat. This came at a horrible time considering lots of little boys got new expensive composite bats for Christmas. Since then a few composite bats have been tested and approved for Little League use. I suggest visiting Little League's official web site or asking the commissioner of the league your child plans to play in before purchasing an expensive composite bat.

Todd has been coaching Little League Baseball for several years. During his coaching career he has witnessed several players using the wrong size baseball bat. For this reason he has put together a site that will teach you everything you need to know to turn an average player into a Great Baseball Player which includes bat size charts to insure you buy the right size baseball bat for your Little League player. He has a new website telling all about the different types of youth baseball bats at

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Common Sense Coaching, Four Things Little League Teams Should Practice, But Don't!

By Marty Schupak

It is amazing how Little League baseball teams and beyond do not practice some fundamental aspects of the game. From my standpoint, the reason I practice certain things other coaches may not is because I've been burned by other teams and have lost games and championships because of it. In my 21 years coaching youth baseball, the list of things that should be practiced is long but some situations come up over and over again. Here are four of them:

1) Pitchers not practicing fielding. This issue is incredible to me, though it took a few years before I began having my pitchers practice fielding. When youth baseball teams practice fielding, usually it will include every position but the pitcher. Youth baseball coaches need to put pitchers on the mound in practice and include them in fielding drills. Coaches also need to rotate the pitchers. Have the pitcher to go through his pitching motion without the ball. The coach then throws or hits a baseball to him. And not just right at him. Hit the balls to the left, center and right of him. Then put one or more runners on base and declare how many outs there are and continue hitting to him and let him decide which base to throw to. Try also having the coach hit ground balls to the pitcher on the mound and instead of trying to catch it clean, he has to knock it down, establish himself and then field the ball. The drills work and also get pitchers familiar with game situations.

2) Catching a foul ball near a fence. I swear I'm the only one in my league who takes this serious. Probably because I've seen more catchable foul balls hit the ground than any team in my league. The scenario usually starts with a pop fly just foul of first base. The ball moves deeper into foul territory. The first baseman looks like he has a beat on the ball as he gets closer to the fence or dugout. He then looks like he is hesitating the further he moves into foul territory. Then "plop"! The ball falls right near his feet about 12-24 inches from the fence. Of course we all know the consequences of giving away outs in youth baseball. This stuff kills me. So how can we coaches rectify this? At least once a year usually before the season I do the "Fence Drill" with my team. I first start on the first base side having the players line up behind each other about 6 feet from the fence in foul territory parallel to first base. I'm located around home plate. I throw pop ups as close to the fence as I can and instruct my players to track the ball. As they do this they should come right near the fence and either with their glove hand if they are a rightie or free hand for lefties, put their arm out feeling for the fence then proceed to track and catch the ball from there. This is getting them used to feeling for structures while keeping their eye on the ball. It makes them more comfortable and helps limit the fear of getting hurt. I then move the line closer to fair territory eventually moving the line where every player is a first baseman and has to hustle to feel for the fence first then catch the ball. I then move the line to the third base side of the infield. Is this drill fool proof? Absolutely not! But I did notice a few more catches over the course of a season if we practiced this drill!

3) Players not sliding at every base. This is tough one. I've seen major leaguers not slide and cost their team runs. The Yankees-Oakland A's 2001 American League Championship series comes to mind when Derek Jeter made that great backhand flip to home and Jeremy Giambi didn't slide and cost his team a run and possibly the game and series. You can preach and preach for players to slide but they will continue to forget to slide. As youth coaches, we have to remember that these are 10, 11 and 12 year old kids and their retention is different than say a high school player. But this is also something that you can practice instead of just telling the player when it comes up in a regular game. I want my players to slide on a force play even if they know they will be thrown out. To me having a reputation even on the youth level that my team slides might become a potential distraction for the opposition and the fielders might bobble a throw to them at the base. When we practicing sliding, I take my team in the outfield grass and have my players remove their cleats. I have a diamond set up with throw down bases. We go through a few scenarios rotating players having them slide in the grass and this process helps. We reinforce for them to slide during the game from the coaching box. Again, not fool proof, but very effective.

4) Practicing fielding a wild pitch or passed ball with at least one player on third base. In youth baseball usually not a game goes by without a wild pitch or a passed ball. When there is a base runner on third base, he has a better than 50% chance of scoring if he has just average speed. Let's break this down from the defensive end. The pitcher pitches and the ball gets by the catcher. The pitcher recognizes this and rushes home to protect against the runner on third from scoring. His head is going back and forth between the baserunner coming from third and the catcher getting ready to make the toss. Many times the toss from the catcher is off target or the pitcher swoops down to tag the runner without the ball. Very few coaches practice this other than to yell out to the pitcher, "Cover home if the ball gets by the catcher" when the situation comes up in a game. To practice this, set up the positions with a baserunner at third. Plant a ball behind the catcher without him seeing it. Have the pitcher do his wind up without the ball and when the coach yells "go" the baserunner breaks for home and the catcher locates the ball while the pitcher comes to cover home. Here we are setting up a practical situation and the catcher is practicing his toss and the pitcher is getting used to the baserunner coming at him while trying to secure the toss and tag him. Coaches should rotate both pitchers and catchers during this drill.

These are only four situations out of many that need to be practiced. In youth baseball we coaches tend to try and teach during the game. Practices are the place to teach and games are the place to reinforce what we conveyed to the players. With this formula they become familiar with the situation and give your team the competitive edge on the field.

Marty Schupak has coached youth baseball for 21 years and is the video creator of "The 59 Minute Baseball Practice", "Backyard Baseball Drills", "Winning Baseball Strategies", "Hitting Drills & Techniques", "Pitching Drills & Techniques", "Baserunning & Bunting Drills" and author of the popular book, "Youth Baseball Drills". 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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Friday, September 2, 2011

T-Ball / Coach Pitch - How to Choose a Glove (Ages 4-6)

By Larry Callicoat

You've signed your Little League player up for T-ball/coach pitch and now he needs a glove. Starting a new sport can be a drain on the wallet, especially if you're not sure if your son will enjoy playing baseball. You do not need to spend a lot of money on a glove in order to get a good quality one that can be used throughout the T-ball and coach pitch seasons. You just need to know how to pick out a good glove.

1. Size does matter. Contrary to popular belief, bigger is not always better for the beginner player. Beginning players need a smaller glove so that they can hone the skill of catching and fielding a baseball. Look for a youth glove that is 9 1/2" to 10 3/4". At this age, players do not need an 11" glove or a specialized glove (one made for 1st baseman, infielder, outfielder, etc.). They need an all purpose glove for T-ball and or coach pitch. Don't worry about playing certain positions at this point, T-ball is geared towards teaching fundamentals and making baseball FUN so that they want to come back next season.

2. Construction and Material. Most youth gloves are constructed with a leather palm and synthetic material for the outer shell. This allows for a lighter glove and one that easier to close. Look for a glove that is mostly leather and leather laces. If taken care of properly, a mostly leather glove can be used season to season. You will also need to look for a glove that has a good rounded pocket and one that features "easy close" or "power close" technology. Because beginning players are still developing muscles, gloves with closing technology make it easier to squeeze the glove closed when a ball is caught.

Once you get your player's glove, have him try it on and practice catching balls with it before the season starts. Not only will this practice help him, it will also help break in the glove. Since most youth gloves are a combination of leather and synthetic material, it is not advisable to use a glove conditioner. The best way to loosen up youth glove is to USE IT!

Once your player completes T-ball/coach pitch and moves into the upper leagues, it may be time to get a new glove. Again, there are key elements to look for when choosing a glove for the intermediate player.

Coach Larry is a youth baseball coach, having coached t-ball through high school. Visit for more on hitting, pitching, coaching and baseball tips, techniques and inspiration.

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