Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to Coach Youth Pitchers


The subject of coaching youth pitchers is an important one. Pitchers should learn proper mechanics. Young pitchers' arms are still growing and are susceptible to injury, both now and in the future. Young pitchers will need to limit the amount of pitches they throw. They should also refrain from throwing curve balls. Of course, some will teach younger pitchers a curve ball, so you will need to teach your pitchers how to be competitive with them. You do this by teaching them how to change speeds and how to locate their pitches.
One of the most important things for a pitcher to learn is proper mechanics. Pitching is extremely hard on a pitcher's arm and shoulder. Proper mechanics limits the wear and tear to a certain extent. Good pitching form starts with good footwork. The pitching foot (the same side as the pitching arm) should be parallel to the rubber, with the outside of the foot up against it. This gives a good surface to push off of. This leg push generates much of the power for a pitcher. Once they push with their leg, they should lead with their chest. When their other foot hits the ground, the arm should finish the throwing motion, complete with a follow through.
It is recommended that a pitcher that is 16 years old or younger limit their pitches to 90 in a day. For a less experienced pitcher, I would recommend even fewer pitches. If a pitcher is laboring and is not able to pitch with proper mechanics, it is time to put another pitcher in. Another use for pitch counts is making sure the pitcher has enough rest between appearances. For each 20 pitches that a pitcher throws in a day, that pitcher should have one full day of rest before pitching again.
Now that they are pitching properly and they have a pitch count to help protect their arms, it is time to learn some pitches. The fastball and the change-up are the first pitches that should be learned. These need to be mastered before moving on to other pitches. For pitchers under 16 years old, throwing curve balls is discouraged. Curve balls are very hard on the arms. Even if there is not an apparent injury, by the time they are pitching in high school, they can develop a loss in velocity. Later in life, shoulder and elbow problems can start to appear. In this writer's opinion, it is just better to not throw curve balls at a young age.
A young pitcher can be very effective without a curve ball. Even with just a fastball, if the pitcher can move the ball around the plate and up and down, they will have success. Then once you start mixing it up with a change-up the batter has a lot to think about. Is the ball going to be inside or outside? Is it going to be high or low? Is it going to be fast or slow? That is all on top of figuring out if it is a strike and whether or not to swing! That is a lot for a young hitter to go up against.
A young pitcher needs to start with the fundamentals of good mechanics. Then make sure to put reasonable limits on their pitch count. Teach them a fastball or two and a change-up. Forget about the curve ball for now, that can be learned later. For now, teach them how to command their fastball and change-up. They will be successful as long as they change speed and location. Then, when a pitcher is older (at least 16) and has good command of the fastball and change-up, a curve ball can be added.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7541366

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Problem Solving In Baseball


There are many scientific and highly detailed methods of problem solving available in book form in a brick and mortar library or on the internet. I've examined some of these systems and must admit I've walked away with a stress headache.
I understand there are very complicated and mysterious problems which exist in our world, but I think sometimes we definitely over-think and over-analyze matters, especially in the world of baseball.
I was disappointed the other day when I saw a coach, who I thought was playing on his tablet (I think that's what it was) while ball practice was going on, and boldly, although delicately, confronted him about it.
I quickly discovered I was the fool, as he was plotting numbers and symbols and whatever else intellects perform on these devises, in order to simulate various scenarios and different players for the computer to tell him which player is best suited for what position.
I'm not going to compound my ignorance by trying to forward the explanation he offered, except to say I didn't understand any of it. I walked off asking myself "what happened to good old fashion trial and error" experimenting. Actually seeing how much ground a player can cover by hitting a baseball at him.
I realize the age of information swept by me before I noticed, but looking for the complicated answer, whether on a computer or a spread sheet, should be the last thing a baseball coach should do.
I'll give you an example. In the early days of space exploration NASA quickly realized an ink pen would not function in the zero gravity atmosphere astronauts were working in. Frustrated and unable to solve this severe problem NASA hired Anderson Consulting to find an solution.
Anderson Consulting was paid $12 million dollars and took 10 years to offer the solution and it was a great solution. They developed an ink pen which not only wrote in a zero gravity atmosphere, but wrote under water, functioned in temperatures -32 to 300 degree Celsius, and would write on any substance including crystal or glass. They had indeed developed the supreme ink pen, which for only 12 million dollars solved NASA's problem of how to write in space.
Know what the Russians did to solve their problem of being able to write in a zero gravity environment? They used a Pencil.
Now I'm not mocking NASA nor praising the Russians, but what I am trying to demonstrate is sometimes the old, tried and true methods are better than trying to re-invent the wheel.
Instead of feeding information into a computer, open your eyes and use your brain and instinct. If a kid throws 90 mph there's a pretty good chance he just may make a good pitcher, or right fielder, or he may not. But you don't need a computer to tell you where you should start.
To all coaches, experienced or not, rely on your knowledge of the game, the instinct and gut feelings you developed as a player. Computers are fine and I know about the movie and writings about using numbers to play the game, but one thing a computer can not factor into the equation is the Heart. How much heart does the kid have? Being willing to run into the outfield fence at full speed tells me a whole lot more than the outfielder's arm span.
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: http://www.learn-youth-baseball-coaching.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7549460

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tips To Becoming A Solid Catcher Behind The Plate


Over the years I have personally taught and watched 1000's of baseball catchers execute catching drills and it never ceases to amaze me the grit and toughness these players demonstrate on a daily basis, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
I've seen catchers who have a rifle for an arm and a rocket launcher for a bat, all the tools for making the team, who were told to pack their bags. Why? Simply stated... they couldn't handle a pitching staff. Here's a few tips on becoming a solid and valuable catcher behind the plate.
Building Trust, whether in a two pitcher or seventeen pitcher staff, is the single most important issue a catcher must master. Normally, just being on the same team, All-Star teams for example, is enough to build camaraderie between players, but a catcher, by nature of the position, has to be more than a team mate, he has to be a Trusted partner.
There's only one way to gain that Respect and Trust from your pitchers, it must be earned by performance, such as:
(1.) The catcher must sacrifice himself not letting any pitch get by him, although the pitcher may seem intent on bouncing every other ball off your shins or trying to hit the back stop with high throws;
(2.) The catcher must establish his reputation of always doing his homework which allows him to call the right pitch against any hitter's weakness;
(3.) The catcher demonstrates the ability to throw the runner, the pitcher just walked on 4 pitches, out at second trying to steal or behind him at first base if he wanders a bit too far off base.
This trust and confidence building comes through shared experiences and history together, and can not be rushed, but by being ahead of the game you can quicken the process, which is imperative. You can't wait till mid season to develop a relationship with your pitching staff, it'll be too late, for you and the team.
Simply put... Building your skills is a never ending process.
You can not expect your pitching staff to respect and trust you if you don't respect and trust your own skills, and there's a huge difference between arrogance and confidence. Arrogance has to proclaim itself... Confidence Silently excels by performing.
Unfortunately there's no magical pill or spell, the only method to build confidence is hard practice. Practice to the point you can't go on, then practice some more. Two Tips to help:
(1.) Always be available and eager for bullpen work. There is no better place to learn your trade and the individual abilities of your pitching staff than by catching them while in the bullpen. You learn the pitcher, he learns you and familiarity is built. Familiarity breeds trust, which breeds confidence.
The more reps you take as a catcher the better you become with the catcher's mitt, the better you learn to shift your weight to the ball without having to think, the more the protective equipment becomes a second skin.
(2.) If there are no pitchers to catch, or if it's an off day, go to the batting cage and catch the pitching machines. So they're called batting cages, does that mean you can only hit the balls, you can't catch them as well.
Always wear your entire compliment of protective gear, not only for safety but to acquire the feeling of the equipment being natural and unrestrictive. I may keep repeating that, but a catcher uncomfortable in his equipment can not perform. Period.
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: http://www.learn-youth-baseball-coaching.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7563559

Sunday, April 21, 2013

How To Be A Good Coach


My email box is crammed every morning with mail from all sorts of sports forums, which I scan, then normally quickly delete, but every now and then a topic catches my eye.
One such topic which caught my attention this morning was the question posed of "How to be a good coach," and I found some of the comments to be quite interesting, while others left me scratching my head.
Comments such as;
" The coach must have passion for the athletes... "
" The coach should never stop trying to learn... "
" A coach should be pro-active... "
" The coach should leave no stone unturned in training... "
I suppose I agree with these comments, assuming what I think they meant is in fact what they were trying to convey. I'm not a real good "read-between- the-lines" person, so allow me the opportunity to boldly state some of the qualities I believe it takes to be a good coach.
1. I'm not reluctant at all to say a passion for the game, whatever the game may be, is a first prerequisite. Coaching, which I prefer to equate to Teaching, is an extremely difficult and time consuming job. Without a burning passion to give others the opportunity to learn the skills you were taught, the excitement of doing something new and different will quickly extinguish and you'll just be going through the motions at best.
2. A coach must exemplify skill, courage and high moral character. Young players must see their coach physically demonstrate how a skill is performed, not just talk it to death. Players are people and people are visual. They must see the coach suck it up on a bad call against his team without throwing a temper tantrum or instantly running to the aid of an opposition's injured player showing compassion.
3. A coach must be able to communicate with his players without consciously trying. Coaching 9 year old kids and 16 year old ones is a totally different game when it comes to communication. You can tell a 16 year old pitcher to never throw a strike on an 0-2 count, but a 9 year old is consumed with throwing strikes, don't confuse the issue. A good coach automatically adapts to the level of his team, maintaining a slightly higher status which clearly defines player and coach.
4. Fairness is a most important element. Professional athletes have varying degrees of abilities, obviously your players will be no different. It's important all players play and all players sit, which is the corner stone of building a team.
It's the coach's job to figure out how to rotate his players and still maintain a reasonable chance of winning.
5. Honesty, which may surprise you as even being included, is important. I knew a traveling team coach who convinced a player to abandon his original team and join his although he knew he'd never play the kid, but he weakened his opponent by stealing the player.
Although I was not the offended coach, I must embarrassingly admit this is the only team I ever, in thousands of games, ran the score up on. Guess grown men can act childish too.
Obviously there are many other factors which go into the equation of making a good coach, but if I had to reduce it to one simple statement...
"Passionately talk the talk and walk the walk," as you are a role model for America's future.
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: http://www.learn-youth-baseball-coaching.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7596439

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is Character Caught Or Taught?


Is a bad person the result of a bad environment or bad genes (heredity)? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Classic "catch 22" questions, which so-called educated people have debated for eons without reaching a consensus.
Why would any of this be of a concern to a youth baseball or any other coach for that matter? Simply put... a coach's job requires much more than teaching the physical skills required to play the game, as it must also include teaching the fortitude and character required to play the game.
If you tell your parents you are going to work on improving their youngsters physical fitness, you'll be applauded as a visionary and well educated coach.
Tell your parents you're going to work on improving their kid's character and they'll either want to fight, taking it as a negative comment on their parenting skills, or will scream bloody murder you're some kind of nut case.
Although the repercussions of declaring our intentions is reason enough to not declare them, in reality you can not teach character in a few simple drills or exercises. It's a long term process which hopefully will come naturally to the coach, but if not, the coach must not only make a conscious effort to display good character, but work on improving his own attitude.
I'm one of those "down the middle of the road" guys, as I believe character is caught and taught. I'd venture to say 99.9% of my past players had good character when they showed up for the first day of practice, but they also had good physical skills.
There was never a question the entire season would be spent on improving their physical skills, why exclude everything else? Players don't learn physical skills or strategy through osmosis, they must be exposed or taught it through demonstration. Why would we expect learning character or morals any different?
There's no better time to think about how you, as the coach, will address the issue of character building of your players. I'm not a fool and realize planning practices, scheduling games, fund raising and a 100 other things will take precedent over a conscious effort to think about character building. Simply mentally note you will address it when the situation dictates and go on about your business, the brain has filed it for instant recall.
So what are some examples of character building? Believe it or not, that's not always an easy or immediate question to answer.
You have a player who can not hide his disgust when something goes wrong on the field. First instinct may be to consider the kid a spoiled brat and sore loser who needs a healthy helping of discipline. However, upon closer evaluation you see the player encourages and consoles team mates who mess up. It's only his mistakes which result in the tantrums.
Lack of character is not this player's problem. A misguided intense feeling of not wanting to ever let his team mates down by not being a 100% perfect is his issue. The coach's job is to convey to the player nobody is perfect nor are they suppose to be as that's how we learn. Redirecting the enthusiasm and drive for excellence in a positive form will serve this player well his entire life.
Every team at one time or the other endures a good butt kicking by an opponent, and although it happens to everyone it's still not enjoyable when it happens. This is when it's important for the coach to acknowledge the other team was better, but only on that day. The coach should take some degree of responsibility for not properly preparing the team, which makes him part of the team, not a leader outside the circle. He too shares in the defeat and will be part of the "never say die" work ethic which will lead to improvement, both physically and mentally.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating a coach take the responsibility of a parent. What I am advocating is the awareness a coach must have in supplementing a parent's goal of building good character in our youth.
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: http://www.learn-youth-baseball-coaching.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7603724

Friday, April 5, 2013

Youth Baseball Mental Training


The game of baseball cannot begin without the action of one position.

In basketball there is a lot of focus on the point guard. In football there is a lot of focus on the quarterback.

These are important positions, but there is no position that is more important than a pitcher in baseball.

There is so much responsibility that involves a pitcher. From throwing different pitches, knowing the various hitters, fielding their position, pickoff moves, to controlling the running game, to dealing with adversity, mental focus, and dealing with fatigue, a pitcher has a lot to deal with.

If one of these important parts of pitching is missing, you do not have a complete pitcher. Missing one of these components negatively affects all of the other components.

Most pitchers are not advanced to be good in all of these areas, however, when you realize what areas a pitcher is weak in you can begin to attack it and improve.

The mental game in pitching is so important, oftentimes more important than the physical part.
Andy Pettitte, great guy who I hung out with in the Dominican

You must teach your pitchers to think one pitch at a time. It is very easy to think about the past or future, and this inhibits your ability to be best the possible in the present
Cues such as get to the top of the baseball, or take a deep breath and focus on executing the pitch, create movement at release are great for creating the right type of focus.

Attempting to throw harder in times of struggle or getting mad at infielders or the umpire are typical things that make a pitchers struggle even worse.

Teach your pitchers how to coach themselves and watch them develop right under your eyes.
P.S. One pitch at a time, one pitch at a time. Oftentimes a mound visit is very effective in calming a pitcher down. Tell him to step off the mound and focus on dominating the things he can control.

What can he control?

1. His focus
2. Executing each pitch
3. Attacking the strike zone
4. Taking deep breaths
5. His body language
Things he can't control?
1. Where the ball is hit
2. What the umpire calls
3. If his fielders catch the ball
4. The mound conditions
5. Bad luck

Get your pitchers to focus on the controllables and they will deal with failure and adverse conditions much better.

Coach it up,
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