Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Mental Game Of Baseball - Making The Decision To Hit


What does the Green Beret, an elite trained branch of the United States Special Forces, and members of the World Register of Intellectual Elite, the greatest scientists on earth, have in common? They both strongly proclaim the "mind" is the most powerful tool on earth.

I'm rather lazy and since the smartest and toughest men in the world agree the mind is the ultimate weapon, I see no need to try and reinvent the wheel. So let's take a look at how the most powerful weapon in the world, can be used to help us improve our skills on how to hit a baseball.

The initial issue to address is our belief we can accomplish the task of hitting, our self confidence if you will. This begins with visualization, the ability for the mind to see the actual physical accomplishment of hitting the ball. This may at one time been considered hocus pocus, but it has been scientifically proven visualization of a particular task solidifies two distinct issues....

1. It convinces the mind, body and subconscious that it is totally capable of achieving the desired goal.

2. It initiates muscle memory, which is required to walk the mind and muscle through the sequence of tasks which will result in accomplishment.
Bottom line is we train ourselves to have self-confidence in our talents.
Another, and possibly the second most important mental issue, is approaching the task of hitting as an "Offensive Attack," meaning we have full intention of swinging at every pitch. We know of course, that will not be the case, as a hundred other factors enter into the equation of to swing or not to swing, but it's essential to never go to the batters box hoping for a walk.

There's a coaching philosophy, which I whole heartily agree with, which states "It's easier to stop a swing, than start one." We all have seen major league baseball players attempt to stop their swing, a check swing, where the base umpire calls him out as a swinging strike. This vision, which will be caught on television at least once every game, would tend to render my philosophy as incorrect or at least suspect.

However, how many times a game do you see a batter punched out on a called third strike? There will be the argument the hitter was fooled, or he was looking for a fastball and got a curveball, but the fact remains when you have a 2 strike count, you become a defensive hitter ready to swing at any pitch which may be considered a strike. The hitter wasn't ready to swing, or else he would have, even if it resulted in a feeble attempt.

It's probably impossible to accurately classify how many "called" 3 strikes occur during a game by not being prepare to swing, but giving way to a 50-50 split, there are far more strike outs from not swinging than attempting a check swing.

Visualize you successfully swinging and making solid contact with the ball, then go to the batters box with the intention of swinging at every pitch. Obviously there is much more involved in the mental game of hitting, but this will give you 2 basic starting blocks on which to build.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Four Factors to Consider When Selecting a Baseball Bat


Baseball is not only America's Pastime but has become a sport played in all continents. With the emergence of the World Baseball Classic which puts the very best players from countries around the globe on the same field competing against each other, baseball is growing on the global stage. While professionals have unmeasurable resources at hand to determine what works best for them, often times parent with players starting out in little league struggle to get good information on what works best for them due to either not knowing or realizing what to look for or getting bad direction from a well-meaning coach.

To be the best at any age, players need to select the proper baseball bat to ensure their maximum potential is reached. There are specific factors to consider when choosing a bat:

Barrel Size

  • The measurement of the diameter around the thickest part of the bat.
  • Typically, the longer the barrel, the larger the "sweet spot" on the barrel is for making more solid contact.
  • Generally, the smaller barrel diameter bats lightens the weight of the bat and provide more swing speed.
  • Barrel size regulations will vary by league.


  • Longer bats with big barrells are heavier than smaller bats. Younger players should be careful not to select too heavy of a bat. Generally for players under the age of 14, a 32 inch bat should be the maximum.

  • Be careful of "fungo bats" which are designed for coaches to hit fly balls to players during practice. These bats are very long with skinny barrells


  • Grip on the handle is important for maintaining control of the bat while it is being swung and handled in the batters box
  • Grip also helps to absorb shock and vibration when the ball is hit off the handle or the end of the barrel of the bat.
  • The grip is usually made out of rubber, leather, foam or synthetic covering and is used on the handle of the bat.
  • Rubber grips tend to absorb more of the shock and vibration when the ball hits of the handle or the end of the barrel.

Selecting the Correct Bat Weight

Usually players at the college and professional level will select the lightest bat at the given length they are using. This is done to allow for better generation of bat speed which is critical to hitting the ball with authority. Selecting the correct bat weight depends on a players size and strength and comfortability in using a bat at a certin weight and length.
Brice G. Harrison operates the website reviews baseball bats, pitching machines and provides online coaching.
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

How to Know Good From Bad Baseball Instruction


It can be difficult to sort good information from bad information when it comes to baseball instruction. That is the battle everyone faces. But i have a few markers that may make it easier to sort through all of the information that is out there.

I was recently asked about how to know good from bad baseball instruction. I thought it was a good question and decided to share my thoughts on the issue.

1. Level of experience. First, I believe that it helps if someone has experienced professional level baseball. I believe this is the purest form of baseball. The players are too good for trickery and gimmicky plays, unlike high school and college baseball. Since the competition is so evenly matched the players that separate themselves from the pack, have to learn how to play the game mentally by getting any edge they can. The players are so much better that the little things count so much more. Studying and knowing the game helps for quick instinctive plays in the field. But that leads me up to my second marker.

2. Approach to Learning. Second, I believe that some of your best players are not the best coaches. Some players were just born to be all star's. They separate themselves on pure talent and often times don't need to learn the things that most players need to learn. They haven't spent the time really studying the game. If you look at some of the best big league managers, most were not the best players in their era, but they grinded and they really watched and studied the game.

3. Catchers. Catchers need to know almost every facet of baseball (pitching, hitting, strategy, etc.) since they are in the middle of every play. From their defensive position they can see all, and they are constantly learning. For this reason many catchers can make really good managers and coaches.

4. Flexibility and Insightfulness. Baseball is a unique game where there is not always one way to do something. I believe that it is important for a coach to be flexible in certain areas that are unique to the player but also have enough knowledge to identify the things every good player must do. For example my little league coach would always tell me and others to keep my back elbow up. Why? There is no reason. There are good hitters who hit with their elbow up and some with their elbow down. It is more important to understand how you are getting to the contact point and what every player does at contact, rather than if your elbow is up or down before the ball is even pitched.
It may be of some concern if a coach is trying to mold all hitters, pitchers, etc. to all do things the same way. Everyone is a little different and some of your best coaches work with each player to use what they do best and make that work, rather than molding them into the only way the coach knows.
Doug Bernier, founder of, had his Major League debut with the Colorado Rockies in 2008. Currently, Doug has resigned with the New York Yankees. He will attend training with the Major League club and is expected to break with the triple A team for the regular season.
Visit where professional baseball players offer quality, FREE baseball instruction articles and video, guides for baseball products, an insider blog, baseball lessons, and more.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Youth Baseball Parent-Player Meeting


This meeting may be the first opportunity for you to meet the parents and players who are anxious to learn what your knowledge base is, your coaching experience, and what style you use. Stating your objectives for the team and what it is you want to accomplish will put the parents and players at ease.
From my experience based upon youth feedback, youth baseball players want to experience success and have fun. As the coach you need to keep in that in mind, and so do the parents. But keep in mind that the reality is some parents view winning at all costs is the only thing that matters is their little superstar.

Explaining your coaching philosophy, rules for playing time, will it be equal playing time or based on performance, this will most likely depend on the age level you're coaching, and player positions, how will you determine who plays where.

Parental involvement is sometimes glossed over. Since most kids state fun as their main priority, a close second is to be engaged with their parents. I stress the need with running practices, pre-game warm ups, and base coaches. Kids see this as an opportunity spend quality time with their parent. It is important that parents view it the same way.

You may want to comment for the benefit of the parents unwilling to participate on the field their assistance will be needed in other areas. In youth athletics there are numerous opportunities for parents to get involved by volunteering to coordinate any fund raising events, securing hotel rooms if your team is traveling out of town, will there be money that needs to be collected, what about the concession stand, so helping the team run smoothly is not limited to just the field.

Don't over look the communication. Email is a great way for the Coach to disseminate information quickly, and for parents and players to keep the coach informed. As the coach you should informed the parents they can discuss anything with you, except playing time or positions. I have found this will eliminate the majority of your headaches if you state it like that.

Player expectation's also needs to be expressed. Part of the learning process is how to take responsibility for themselves. Each player needs to be accountable for himself.

Baseball players need to think on their feet, react, adapt, overcome, by letting them know they, not their mother are responsible for insuring all their equipment is ready to go, is a great way to start teaching accountability. They further need to know there are consequences to not being accountable or improper behavior

Remember your job is to be the teacher, and at times a mentor. I would suggest that you start a list of items that need to be addressed at your parent/player meeting and add to it throughout the year as things come up. This will help you in future years to avoid any pit falls along the way.
Tom, learn more great tips on running your own youth baseball team and useful training tips also check out to get the high quality baseball glove for the next season.
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Baseball Goals for Coaches


Now that I have retired from the active ranks of baseball coaching, I can express my opinions without appearing smug or confrontational, or whatever other emotion I may provoke from others' toes I may or may not inadvertently step on.

You may question my credentials and why I think it gives me the right to offer my opinion. Simply put, over 45 years of coaching, playing, dealing with players of all ages and their parents' personalities and inner demons which they feel must be vented at someone, which is usually the coach.

Youth Baseball coaches, for the most part, are the salt of the earth. They are not paid a dime and always end up taking a large chunk of change out of their own pocket for treats, equipment, tournament fees, loss of overtime income at work because they had a ball game that night, and a dozen other normal expenses.

They devote every spare moment of their time throughout the season to the Team and live and die with the win and loss column, not for their own ego, but for the kids and their pride and sense of accomplishment. My hat is off to every baseball coach out there, winner or loser, because in my opinion they're all winners.

The very first issue a Rookie coach must resolve is "What kind of coach am I going to be?" I must admit I cringe when I hear a coach say "As long as the kids have fun." That's a cop out and a mask to hide the coach's inability to teach the game of baseball.

1. Winning is fun. I'm not talking the type of coaching attitude which create raging monsters who scream at kids for losing or making a mistake, but I do think coaches have an obligation to teach kids they can be successful through hard work, which is not only a baseball value but a life enriching value players will carry with them their entire lives.

Coaches are instilled with the responsibility of teaching kids how to achieve goals in life through hard work, persistence, high morals and teamwork. Your chances of winning the lottery are much greater than the chance any ball player you coach reaching the Major Leagues. However, with the grace of God, all of your players will reach adulthood and you will have an input into what kind of adult they become.

2. A coach must either know the game of baseball, or be willing to surround themselves with people who do. Most people, unlike you, don't have the guts it takes to raise their hand and say "I'll be responsible for this team." However, there are many who will volunteer their time and skills as long as they have that inner peace they're not obligated to be at practice or a league meeting.

A coach must be willing to capitalize on these situations and take whatever help they can, when they can, from people more knowledgeable than themselves. Why would a coach do this? Why share the glory with someone who is rarely there to help with the work? Because you have a responsibility to teach the kids, by whatever means necessary, how to properly play baseball.

These are but two goals of a baseball coach, but they are the very foundation from which a good coach becomes a great coach. He must realize there is a fine line between being obsessed with winning, and the goal of teaching kids winning is the ultimate goal of hard work and effort.
A coach must consider he's not only teaching, or not teaching, the game to the kids for this season, but instead for the players' entire future. A marginal player, who loses a year of learning required baseball skills, may Never catch up to their peers.

It's a heavy yoke for a coach to carry, but anything worth achieving is worth the risk, and I can't think of anything more worthwhile than helping kids develop into fine adults.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

What Are The First Base Coach's Duties?


When it comes to name recognition, especially in the MLB, the manager, pitching and the third base coach are the headline grabbers. If it weren't for the television camera panning to the runner at first base who's expected to steal, people would probably forget there is a first base coach. However, there is a first base coach and his duties are important.

1. He is a cheerleader, keeping the runner on first and the batter focused. I could have substituted "mental alertness specialist" or "personnel awareness specialist" or any other important sounding title for "cheerleader," but in essence he helps maintain focus of the players on the field. No small task coaching 7 year olds.

2. The coach plays an important role in relaying signals, indicating plays the manager has called from the bench to the players or other coaches. Most people assume the third base coach is responsible for receiving and giving the signals to players, and in most cases this is accurate. However, a wily manager may use the first base coach to relay his signal to the third base coach, or act as a decoy, flashing signs which are meaningless.

3. The first base coach serves as a traffic cop directing the actions of the hitter. As the hitter, especially a younger player, who is now a runner charging towards first base, will lose sight of the baseball. The player is taught, instead of searching for the ball's location, which slows the runner, he is to look at his coach, who is in his direct line of sight, for instructions.

The coach must know where the ball is located, will it be fielded and if it is, by who and what is the arm strength of that player. This must be relayed to the runner a.s.a.p. in order for him to know whether to run through the base, attempt to advance to second base or round the base waiting to see how the defense handles the ball.

4. It's not uncommon for a MLB first base coach to have been a prolific base stealer, as knowing the split second to initiate your move against the pitcher is, in itself an art form.

He has the sole responsible in advising the runner on how to take his initial lead, then secondary lead, then either exploding towards second base or quickly retreating back to first base on a pick off attempt. This entire identical coaching scenario plays out in the MLB same as little league.

5. He is constantly verbally coaching with a runner on first base.

"Be careful not to get doubled up on a line drive,"...
"There's 2 outs... you run on anything,"...
"Watch the bunt."
These are but a few of the constant reminders being told the runner, forever coaching, teaching and talking. The first base coach has more responsibilities than these listed, but this should give you the foundation to realize being the first base coach is a very important job.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Organizing Youth Baseball Practice


For the coach youth baseball practice actually begins before you get to the field. You need to plan out what you want to work on and what drills you will use to accomplish your objective. It is advisable to utilize parents and volunteers to help you. If possible you want to be the facilitator who walks around insuring everyone is doing what they need to do.

Youth baseball teams typically are assigned a practice field on certain days for a given time period, so depending on your teams needs and areas they need to work on will determine what your practice plan will consist of. Make sure to write it down and stick to the time allotted.

It is advisable to have the players warm up as a group. I ask two players to volunteer to be the captains for the day. They will lead the stretching and warm up. Once that is done we will move into our throwing routine. The warm up, stretching and throwing routine is consistent before every practice and game. The player's become familiar with it and develops a routine they are comfortable with.

After warming up the following would an example of a normal practice.

  • Rundown - Half the players will be on 1st base the other half on 2nd, and a runner in the middle, the runners run with their gloves so as to keep the drill moving. The goal is to keep the drill moving and teach one throw and get the runner out.

  • Cutoff & Relay - Break your team into groups, if you have 12 players use three groups of four players. Make sure the players are moving their feet to the ball with their glove side to the target. I use the phrase, step-catch-throw to emphasize quick release of the ball. This is a good opportunity to make a competition between the teams and adds fun to practice as well.

  • Individual skills - keeping the same groups as cutoff & relay one group will go to shortstop, another group to second base and a final group to center field. The infield works on ground balls, the outfield works on fly balls. You could have one of the infield groups working on charging slower grounders while the other group fields and makes a strong throw to 1st.

  • Group skills - This is where you may work on 1st & 3rd defense, bunt defense, turning double plays, pop fly's, pitchers fielding practice.

  • Hitting - Like the above we will utilize groups. Most youth baseball fields don't have a cage so to perform live hitting a coach(s) will need to throw on the field.

I have found that putting a screen on home plate and the hitters close to the back stop not only prevents lots of foul balls from leaving the field, but I can have two coaches throwing to two hitters simultaneously. This allows the other two players in the group to be working on the side with soft toss and/or tee drills.

I have one group shagging in the outfield, and one group fielding ground balls hit by helpers in the infield.

Another option you could do is have one group throwing a bullpen during this time.

This method of taking BP makes hitting practice efficient and productive, and the kids aren't bored.
I finish practice with a base running drill. It may be step-by-step instruction or it may be a drill they like and have done before.

This type practice will typically last two hours. It encompasses a lot of instruction and repetitions. I look at practice as my time and games as the players time to show the world what they have learned.
The biggest thing for the coach is too organized. Save your practice plan as you may want to use it or a similar version later in the season.
Tom has been coaching youth baseball for the past 20 years. is a site designed to offer quality baseball gloves. Tom's blog is dedicated to offer coaching idea's for the volunteer baseball coach.
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

How to Coach Youth Catchers


From what I've witnessed through my years of coaching, is in the initial years of baseball, the catcher is chosen because he's the scrappiest player on the team, or by him volunteering.

For all practical purposes, at that age, those are as good a measuring stick as any other, because there are no other developed skills on which to base a decision, except desire. Catching is probably the most skill difficult, physically strenuous and mental demanding position on the field, therefore get it out of mind if you think you can train another Molina in a year or two.

Coaching a youth catcher Must be limited to the very basic skills required to be a catcher without getting injured. We'll begin with the protective equipment.

1. Sizing a catcher's protective equipment. Unfortunately catching equipment is somewhat expensive, even at the younger ages and sizes, but that's the nature of the beast. If you're very lucky the "Wanna be catcher" will have his own equipment, or the league provided gear will fit.

A. Beginning with the skull cap or helmet, insure it fits adequately snug as you can't have it moving around on the player's head through normal action. This is not only very annoying for the player, but a recipe for disaster because it's not properly protecting the head for which it's designed.

B. The Face Mask, which is adjustable, must be tightly strapped to the helmet or skull cap, insuring it doesn't slide around on its own obstructing the player's vision. Be sure the protective bars of the mask are not in the line of sight of the player, either move the mask up or down or acquire a different type of mask.

C. The chest protector comes in many different styles, designs and material and as with most things in life, the more expensive the better quality. Your task as a coach is to insure the chest protector is properly fitted and is in good shape with no broken straps or missing padding.

D. Shin guards, similar to chest protectors come in many different styles. Insure the shin guards properly fit, bends in joints where they're suppose to, no broken straps or missing ringlets, and be sure to teach the proper method of putting the guards on, hooks to the outside of the legs to avoid them from hooking to one another.

2. Now that your player is reasonably protected gear wise, let's teach him how to catch safely.

A. Catchers should always be taught to squat on their haunches when catching, as some youngsters will drop to their knees, exposing their thighs to injury, when they become fatigued. The coach must monitor and correct this as bad habits quickly develop, but are hard to correct.

B. A catcher must be taught to always protect his bare hand. Two distinct methods of teaching this are, always hold the bare hand Behind the catcher's mitt, or tuck their thumb into their shoe while creating a fist. Either method will keep the bare hand (throwing hand) out of immediate danger.

C. Teach the proper distance a catcher should maintain between he and the batter and the tendency to stand up or raise while too close or when the batter may be swinging, either in play or practice.
Teaching a player wanting to be a catcher, the basic safety principles of catching is the coach's first job. Besides wanting our players injury free, one bad experience could wreck a potentially great catcher's career behind he plate, either physically, but more than likely mentally.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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Monday, April 2, 2012

Training in the Off Season

It is easy to keep fit and active during the summer months, but how are we supposed to keep that level of activity during the winter months when there are a few feet of snow on the ground and freezing rain predicted for the morning? Here are a few tip to help you keep advancing and refining your skills during the winter months.

Find a local, indoor batting cage business. Even if you have your own baseball pitching machines, you can’t exactly use them in your living room. Indoor batting cages are a great option all year round, but they are even better in the winter when open air batting cages are out of commission.

Look for a treadmill on craigslist. You may be able to find an amazing deal on a lightly used treadmill that was bought as a part of a failed new year’s resolution. I have seen some very expensive models for almost nothing and some good models for free. That’s a lot cheaper than a gym membership and keeps one more car off the roads.

Add some yoga to your week. Yoga alone is amazing for improving and maintaining athleticism. It is also great for the joints that take a real beating during the season. For many, the off season is a time for resting the joints and letting them recover, but that’s actually worse than keeping them moving and increasing the flexibility of the ligaments muscles and tendons. Have you ever had the feeling that your joints are stiff on that first day of practice? You can prevent that and improve your game considerably with just a little yoga. One of the nice things about yoga is that it doesn’t require any expensive materials or equipment. Yoga mats are cheap. This along with the craigslist treadmill saves you more money to save up for a new bat you have had your eye on. Maybe you’ll be able to save enough by one of those nice baseball pitching machines and the materials to build your own batting cage.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why There Is No 'I' In Team

In my opinion, although a being catchy phrase, "Why there is no I in team" is one of the most overused and possibly most misunderstood phrase of today's culture, especially in the world of sports.

We see it everywhere, posted at the work place, plastered on signs hung from overhead steel girders inside the conglomerate stores, sports facilities and etc; apparently anywhere someone or some organization deems a "Team" atmosphere will be valuable.

In order to develop a "Team" atmosphere, we must first decide what we consider a "Team" to be, and although at first glance this may appear to be a moronic question, is it?

One such definition may be " a person belonging to a group or team, who performs whatever action, physical or mental, which enhances the chances of the team achieving its goal, regardless of the effects on the individual."

Possibly a perfect definition, as I'm sure everyone has heard an excited fan yell " Take one for the team," from the stands. Intentionally taking an 90 mph fastball in the ribs in order to reach base in a 0-0 late inning game, would be considered self sacrifice in the name of "Team."

However, depending on your point of argument, "communism" can also fit nicely into this definition. Every individual gives up all identity and personal goals, in order to benefit the group or team, and sacrifices to make the team successful regardless of personal consequences.

Suddenly we have a dilemma of explaining what actually constitutes a "Team" much alone explain why there is or isn't an I in it.

I don't mean to be argumentative or confrontational, blame it on my coaching style, but I always stressed to my players... Think. Know why you're doing something, like turning right instead of left on the line drive, or else you'll never master it, because you're really not sure what you're attempting to master.

I, for one, do not agree with the term "there is no I in team," but rather believe "there is an i in TEAM." The team is comprised of a number of little i's who come together to pool their resources, talents, characters, desires and focused energy to achieve a common goal.

An individual pitcher, must train and practice for hours upon hours in order to achieve maximum control over his curveball. His effort may be enhanced by the coaching staff demonstrating and constantly tweaking his grip, arm motion or delivery and the bullpen catcher may spend hours catching pitching practice, in order the make the teammate a better pitcher, for the benefit of the team.

However, without the drive and persistence of the individual pitcher, the little i enduring hours of frustration, fatigue and soreness, there would be no improvement in the pitching staff and ultimately the team.

Where the I has no place in team is after the pitcher has succeeded in obtaining maximum performance of the curveball, could care less about it contributing to the team.

One such example would be the pitcher throwing an excellent curveball, which the batter luckily makes contact with, hitting a weak squib ground ball to the second baseman, who instead of turning it into an easy out, let's the ball go through his legs. The pitcher becomes totally irate at the fielder for the error, making no attempt to mask his anger, and any subsequent hit or run after the error would be considered the second baseman's fault. That is an I and is totally unacceptable.

The little i takes a deep breath, tells his fielder to shake it off and focuses on getting the next batter out, thus "picking up his teammate."

You may not agree with my position and that is perfectly fine, in fact it's great. What I urge coaches to do is analyze everything you teach your players. Don't become one of the herd mentality and go along with the program because it's the current popular thing to do. Your players depend on you to lead them in the right direction. Good luck accomplishing that.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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