Saturday, March 30, 2013

Becoming A Great Catcher


In order to transform from a Good Catcher to a Great Catcher, a player must have the internal fire inside to drive him to practice 8+ hours a day, day after day. He must have the realization that he'll never know it all and he'll never stop learning. With that in mind, let's look at some catcher skill drills.

The prerequisite for these drills is the ability, or the coaches' ability to development practical usage of racquetball skills, because the use of that little blue ball and small racquet will be one of your greatest teaching tools.

(1.) The ball is relatively soft reducing chances of player injury...

(2.) The velocity of the ball can be regulated from slow to extremely fast...

(3.) The ball reaches heights unattainable by throwing or tossing.

In order for a Catcher to develop Soft Hands, which are critical for holding onto foul tips and quick ball transfer for throwing, it's best to begin at the beginning... with the Bare Hands.

For this Bare Handed catching drill, the Catcher will assume his position behind the plate, preferably wearing his mask, but using no catcher mitt, while the Coach positions himself @ 30' to 40' in front of the catcher, in line between the plate and pitching rubber.

The Coach then hits line drives, simulating pitches, to the catcher who will catch them bare handed, using one or two hands and a hitting glove if desired. For real time action, have the catcher assume his normal receiving position, throwing hand behind his back or tucked into his shoe, then catch the ball with 2 hands.

The Coach can vary speeds as he desires, starting slow and working up to very fast. (It's a good idea to perform this drill inside or with the aid of a backstop, as Coaches have a tendency to skyrocket a ball every now and then.)

The second variation of this drill, which uses the identical tools, is the foul pop up drill.

(1.) It's important the catcher be in his catching stance in order to become accustomed to coming out of it backwards...

(2.) The catcher must use his face mask as he must learn to remove and discard it properly.

The catcher, assumes his position, the coach while standing to the side and slightly forward of the plate, within the line of sight of the catcher, will hit pop flies straight up into the air.

The catcher will have to locate the fly ball, orientate himself correctly in order to make the catch, which is bare handed, then discard his mask in the proper direction.

By using the racquet ball the coach can hit much higher fly balls than attempting to throw them. I'd also recommend using all of my catchers while performing this drill to curb fatigue.

There's always something to learn, a skill to refine, if there wasn't there wouldn't be catching coaches for major league catchers. They'd already know everything there was to learn.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player and member of "Baseball Coaches of America" shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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Monday, March 25, 2013

33 Cues to a Great Hitter


1. Hold the bat so loosely if the wind blows it should move your bat.

2. How you do you jump? You bend your knees, which is how you get athletic. Hitters need to be athletic to hit, so they need to bend their knees.

3. How does a boxer throw a punch? He loads back and punches. He does not punch without loading, because momentum equals force created. Hitters must load to be successful.

4. Get all your energy flowing in a straight line.

5. Take the effort out.

6. Take a slow, long breath before stepping into the box. The muscles need oxygen to function properly.

7. Focus on the task at hand, which is getting your best look at each pitch.

8. Focus on each pitch independently of each other. The best hitters eliminate the past and the future to focus in on the present.

9. You are good enough; don't play for anyone else but yourself, because it is not your job as a hitter to please everyone.

10. See the ball, and be easy.

11. Loose muscles are quick twitch muscles.

12. Drive the back knee to the pitcher.

13. Be aggressive with the lower half, loose with the upper half.

14. Have flex in the back knee when the stride foot lands.

15. The knob must be pointing towards the back foot when the stride foot lands.

16. Develop a plan for seeing the ball (ex.-early: whole body, one windup starts move to bill of hat, late: shift eyes to release point).

17. Tension causes poor decisions and loss of seeing the ball well.

18. Eliminate tension by visualizing what you want to happen.

19. Eliminate tension by taking long, slow deep breaths, which allows your muscles to breathe.
20. Good hitters get jammed, bad hitters are always early.

21. Great players love hit by pitches and walks, because they know they are helping the team, on base percentage is huge.

22. Great hitters make their living off hitting fastballs.

23. Eliminate offspeed pitches unless you have 2 strikes.

24. If a pitcher proves he can throw offspeed for a strike, then live by the motto, "if it's high let it fly, if it's low let it go."

25. Figure out the umpires strike zone in the first 20 pitches of the game and adjust our approach.
26. Look for pitches you can drive early in the count.

27. With 2 strikes shorten your swing and put the ball in play.

28. Stay on balance throughout entire swing, ensures a good jump to 1b.

29. Goal should be to hit the ball on the barrel everytime; if a pitch won't allow you to do that, take it.
30. Learn about the pitcher and umpire from paying attention to teammates at-bats.

31. Handle adversity well, realizing baseball isn't fair (but better than losing a job), but you move on to focus on the next play.

32. The pressure is on the pitcher with the bases loaded; be patient and don't try to do too much.
33. Great hitters are constantly working on their craft.

USE the cues to keep things simple for your hitters, and you will notice the improvement. A certain cue can have a profound effect on a hitters swing.

Coach it up,
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

33 Cues to a Great Baserunner


1.You must be on balance when you finish your swing. This allows you to run your best time from home to 1st.

2. After hitting the ball and not being sure if the ball will get through the infield you should peek on the 3rd of 4th step to see if you should take a turn around 1st or run straight through the bag.

3. Never expect a single, always expect to take the extra base. In youth baseball you must run hard around 1st to even have a chance to take the extra base.

4. Always be aware of the pitcher when he has the ball in his hand. You must take a lead with your eyes on the pitcher.

5. Always run through 1st base. After running full speed through the base break down in an athletic position and look to the right for an overthrow.

6. In youth baseball always be aware of the opposing team when on base. You never know when you have an opportunity to take advantage of them not paying attention.

7. Have the mentality of a thief while on base. You must look to take anything they give you.

8. Anticipating the pitch thrown in the dirt, looking to advance to the next base. It is very hard for a youth baseball catcher to block the ball in front of him, stand up, pick the ball up, and make a great throw.

9. Understands the pitchers pickoff move and looks for differences between when he goes to the plate and when he picks.

10. Understands that if the pitcher slides steps he should not steal.

11. Knows that a headfirst slide in youth baseball allows you to get there slightly quicker, but doesn't allow you to get up as fast in case of an overthrow, and is much more dangerous.

12. Knows that a feet first slide allows you to get up faster in case of an overthrow.

13. Knows that you should not make the 1st or 3rd out a 3rd base.

14. After rounding first and thinking about going to third the baserunner should look at his third base coach.

15. Constantly reminding himself how many outs there, and what he should do in each situation.

16. Knows to try to tag in youth baseball with 0 outs, and try to get off the base as far as possible with 1 out.

17. Understands that with 2 strikes and 2 outs to be moving on a swing.

18. Knows to freeze on infield line drives with less than 2 outs.

19. While on 2nd base in youth baseball he must hold if the ball is hit in front of him (3B or 6 hole), and advance when hit behind him.

20. Understands that if he is in a rundown he must stay in it as long as possible to allow the back baserunner to advance.

21. Pick up the coach for the sign as soon as he returns to the base.

22. At 3B takes a lead in foul territory and returns in fair territory.

23. Sees a bunt down before advancing to the next base.

24. Runs hard on the bases at all times.

25. Must peek in to home on a hit and run to see where the ball is hit in youth baseball.

26. Knows how to use a popup slide to recover quickly and advance to the next base.

27. Never slide headfirst into home plate.

28. Aware of the 1st to 3rd move while on 1st base.

29. Knows outfielders arms and when to be aggressive and when not to.

30. Understands pickoff moves to 2B and how to get back to the base.

31. Knows what a walking lead is and how to use it to steal in youth baseball.

32. Understand how to get deeper on a lead at 2B with 2 outs to get a better angle to score on a single

33. Must tag on any ball hit in the air while on 3B with less than 2 outs

Any player or team can have a huge advantage over the opposition by running the bases intelligently and aggressively.

Baserunning must be worked on and emphasized, because it can be the edge that wins your team the game!

Coach it up,
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Monday, March 18, 2013

The Prepubescent Delusion Rule: Let Them Have Fun! (repost)

Usually each spring I repost this article that  I wrote back in the spring of 2008 when I started this blog.   I hope over the years the posts here have helped you be a better youth baseball coach or parent....

We’re all guilty of it. That moment when your prepubescent child makes a fabulous defensive play or hits a clutch ground rule double (just like Jeter) and the thought enters your mind… “Hey, Maybe This Kid Has Something”.

It’s so easy to be lead down this path. We’re parents. We want our kids to be happy, smart, successful, handsome, athletic, etc, etc. So when our 10 year shortstop dives and makes the defensive grab of the game we can’t help but have proud parental thoughts.

Now most of us keep these parental thoughts to ourselves which IMHO is the correct thing to do. However, some of us might elbow the dad next to us and say something like “WOW! Did you see that play. When he was 7 I knew the kid had something”. This is the parent that needs to WAKE UP!!...QUICKLY!

A friend of mine who coaches one of the best high school teams in our state gave me the greatest advice I could have ever received when I first started coaching my sons… He said “Any parent or coach who thinks they know what a kid is capable of before he or she goes through puberty is completely delusional”. I have used this as guiding words since I first heard them. When I watch the 11 year hold who can hardly reach 1st from 3rd base I say to myself… “wait until puberty”. When I see the small 10 year old who can hardly swing the -13 bat I say to myself… “wait until puberty”. Conversely when I witness the 12 year old who overpowers his peers with his 50’ fast ball I say to myself… well you know the mantra by now.

A few years back I decided to manage my son’s 9 year old travel team. It was a great group of kids. We won our share of games and actually managed to finish 2nd in a pretty large local tournament. The kids had a great time and learn a lot about the game…. anyway I digress… I remember while we were warming up the kids prior to our first game that season a dad I had asked to coach said to me in all sincerity “Coach, These are the boys we’ll be watching play high school baseball someday”. Luckily this was after my high school coach friend had enlightened me about the prepubescent delusion rule. I remember thinking “We have no idea what genetic cards have been dealt to these kids.” However, I simply replied “time will tell”.

Now it’s 5 years later and only 7 of the 12 are still playing baseball at 14 years old. Lacrosse stole away 3 of the kids and 2 others sadly decided not to play baseball. Of the 7 remaining, only 3 were fortunate enough to make the 8th grade baseball team. This is a real life example of why coaches and parents cannot and should not try to determine the athletic future of a 9 year old kid.

Now take the 10 year old all-star player, pitcher, shortstop, powerhitter, speedster. He’s 4 inches taller than his peers, knocking the ball out of the park every three games. This kid is destined to be a high school/college star right? Not necessarily. How about after his teammates go through puberty and catch up or even pass him in size, strength and coordination? This happens… all the time.

So.. what’s the lesson? While there are some attributes a child may show at a young age which might lend themselves to a particular sport.. all bets are off until the kid goes through puberty. Parents and Coaches who understand and adopt this philosophy will be more comfortable with providing a loose and fun baseball environment for their young player.

Coach Bob

Friday, March 15, 2013

Baseball Psychology - 5 Things To Improve Your Mental Approach


In the game of baseball, you need to understand the psychology that is involved in order to take your game to the next level. Here are 5 things that will assist you and help prepare you to rise above the competition.

Pre-game routine- have you ever wondered how to prepare for a baseball game besides just taking batting practice and infield? If you really want to take it to the next level, you need to have a pre-game routine. It all starts hours before you even show up to the ballpark. When I played in the major leagues, my routine started at home after getting up for the day. And as the day progressed, I slowly started to slip into my mental preparation or pre-game routine. The closer it got to going to the ballpark, the more I concentrated and visualized who I would be facing. You should have an idea of what you are going to be dealing with and you slowly prepare for it as the day goes on.

Understanding the opposition- This goes along with the pre-game routine. As you are concentrating more and more, you are focusing on the opposition. Are they throwing a hard throwing pitcher that day? Or is the pitcher someone who likes to throw a lot of off-speed pitches?
This means you need to be focusing on taking the ball the other way. This would start in your pre-game routine of visualizing, then carry onto the field when you start taking batting practice. Understanding the opponent will help you immensely in your preparation.

Mental preparation, putting it all together. You woke up today and you know that you are facing a hard throwing opponent. You are focusing your attention on what you need to do to be successful against him. You start visualizing being short to the ball (short swing) and you start visualizing how you are going to practice before the game. You see yourself being a little quicker to the ball and shorter to the ball. In other words, you are mentally preparing for the game the right way!

Visualization- one of the key elements to baseball psychology and success. I cannot say enough about visualizing your success. Have you ever seen yourself being successful at something? How did it feel? Have you ever heard of someone describing a big hit they had? You will often hear them say it was like they already saw it happening as it was happening. This is visualization. You see yourself hitting someone in a key situation before it happens and you are instilling success! Learn to visualize. All the great players use visualization to see the end result.

Understand the "whys". What I mean is you need to comprehend what is happening when you are playing. I will give you an example. You take a swing at a pitch that was right down the middle and you foul it straight back to the backstop. The crowd is yelling load at the mighty swing. You are excited and you think to yourself that I just missed that pitch. You know what? Here is the difference between a 350 hitter and a 250 hitter. The 350 hitter will understand the why. The great hitters after just fouling off the pitch, will step out of the batters box and figure out why they missed it and make the correction right on the spot. They will visualize themselves hitting that same pitch again only not missing it this time. They will take a practice swing with the right mindset this time, step back in the batters box and absolutely rip the next pitch if they throw it again. Did you see the difference and what happened? They understand the whys involved. And so can you.

These are five good examples of how you can improve your game immensely and take it to the next level. Baseball psychology plays a big role in your development on the field but is one the least things addressed. If you apply these five examples you will undoubtedly improve your game and prepare yourself for success.
Bill Bathe - former major league ballplayer who played for the Oakland A's and S.F. Giants and played in the 1989 world series. To learn more about baseball psychology, visit Baseball Psychology or to learn more about the mental approach, visit The Mental Approach
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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Baseball Coach for Kids: 5 Smart Tips That Will Help You Get the Best Out of Them


One of the major demands of parenthood is responsibility. When you bring a life into the world, it is your responsibility to sustain and nurture that life, from an infant to a teen. Do not forget to give yourself a pat on the back when the child reaches adulthood. During the course of our parenting life, there are many deals that are thrown in our direction. One of them might just be playing coach to a bunch of baseball crazy children. It does not really matter if you have never played the game. But it does help if you know what doing and get to become the cool coach. Looking forward to coaching baseball to kids? Here are 5 smart tips that will help you get the best out of them.

Never Show Up in a Shirt and Tie

Never turn up in a shirt and tie. What this implies, is that you would rather be somewhere else and not really 100% committed to the cause. Shirts and ties belong to work. When it is time to play with the kids, turn up in jeans, a t-shirt and a baseball cap. Come down to their level and be part of the gang or you will never get the best out of them.

Make it Fun

You are not gunning for the World Series. So it is really about bonding and having fun with the kids. Ask for suggestions about what name should be given to the team and any ideas they might have about the mascot. Let them work together and realize the importance of group activity and team building. When your coaching skills resemble a military drill, kids tune off and would rather be found doing something else. Expect most of the kids to defect.

Forget the Mumbo Jumbo

Teach them the basics of baseball in a way they would enjoy and understand. Use everyday things to explain how to play baseball. Kids learn faster in between the giggles and the laughs. And will easily pick tips and strategies, if you use things they are familiar with. Do not use gaudy grammar or weighty words. Make it look to serious and its school all over again, maybe even worse.

Do Not Embarrass Publicly

Children do not have thick skin. So despite things not going as planned, never verbally bash a child in public or in private for that matter. If a child has an attitude problem or is not exactly playing his position, call him aside and tell him what he's doing wrong or how a change in approach can make everything much better for the team and everyone else.

Man of the People

Do not set your sights on the kids alone. Also try to parley with their parents. Encourage them to come and watch their children play baseball. Be friendly with the kids. But you can play boss with the parents, by knowing when their kids are coming for practice or when they will be going home. If there are any issues, meet in person, never talk over the phone. It could compound whatever situations that might arise.
As a former baseball players & coach, some of my other hobbies include creating websites on the sports. One of my newest websites is this website dedicated to the best bbcor baseball bats available. Come take a look!
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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Parents, Cherish Every Baseball Moment

I knew this time would come but I didn't expect it to arrive so quickly. My son is coming to the end of his high school baseball career.   There are basically 35 scrimmages and games left.  He's likely to go on to play club baseball in college but you never know and if he does I'm not sure I will be able to travel to see him play.

Coaching him and watching him play over the past decade has been an honor and pleasure.  I can tell you this. I'm going to cherish every pitch of every inning remaining. He's dedicated himself to the game over the years and has become an excellent player. He loves the game and understands it better than I could have ever hoped. I'm very proud of him.

He's learned many things that will translate off the field as well. His sense of fair play is rivaled by no one. His work ethic is one to be admired. His love and respect for his fellow players an coaches is greater than I could have hoped for.

I'm thankful to those who helped him along the why. Those that have shown him both what to do and not to do. My only wish is that I could have slowed down time somehow.   But we know that's impossible.

So to those parents who have kids playing at the youth level my advice to you is to cherish every moment.  Realize that before you know it you'll be watching the last season.  And remember that the important things are sometimes different then they seem while they're young.   If the game can help a kid grow into a young adult with a positive attitude/frame of mind, then the game has accompished it's goal.. and you've accomplished your goal as a parent.

Coach Bob

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Teaching Baseball Instinct and Running


In order to teach baseball running instincts and skills, one must learn the skills and mental strategies which create these instinctive reactions, themselves.

Every baseball team, especially a youth baseball team, has a certain amount of raw natural skill levels built into the players. Some teams I coached had an abundance of power hitters, others strong defensive players, some over powering pitching, but one thing in common all the teams had was Baseball Instinct when running the bases.

I'm sure it happened, but for the life of me I do not remember one single player of mine being thrown out attempting to advance an additional base, not including a straight out steal attempt, due to the base running skills they were taught.

There are far too many variables to discuss in one article, but let's exam a few of the basic elements of developing good instincts on the base paths.

1. Reaction must be immediate, as any hesitation, no matter how slight, will jeopardize your chance of success.

(A) Players on first base were taught to immediately take off for second base the instant they saw the pitched baseball hit the ground. It didn't matter if it was a 55' curveball, hitting 5' in front of the plate, or a ball that hits home plate.

Ninety nine percent (99%) of the time if a catcher does not cleanly receive a pitch he will not be able to locate, properly grip and get into a good throwing position to throw a runner out at second base, especially if the runner has average or above average speed.

2. Runners on second base are taught to crow hop the second they see the ball hit the ground, which is different from immediately running to third base, but still puts their body into motion. There's nothing worse in running than being caught flat footed.

(A) Should the ball skirt to the catcher's right, towards first base, regardless of the distance, the runner is to immediately take off for third base. The catcher's momentum is carrying him away from third base, which means he must stop and reverse momentum once he grips the ball, plus every step he takes chasing the ball is increasing his distance he must throw.

(B) Balls which skirt to the left or out in front of the plate, unless more than 3 or 4 feet, most likely are too close to advance on, although that is subject to the runner's speed, lead off and reaction time. This is where the runner must be aware of his own skills, as the coach doesn't have time to help.
3. Immediately attempt to score from 3rd base the instant you see the catcher's back. Assuming the backstop is not 4 feet away or has a wooden board across it which creates a ricochet back to the catcher, should the catcher be required to turn his back to the plate in order to retrieve the baseball, chances are excellent for success.

I know certain baseball people would possibly argue everything I have explained by questioning what if this happens or this, but what if the world ended today?

I guarantee you implementing these base running instinct skills will result in your runners being safe, while advancing on a wild pitch or muffed ball, 99% of the time. That's an average I can live with.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player and member of "Baseball Coaches of America" shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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