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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Baseball Coaching Digest: 5 Solid Tips for Taking Your Team From Worst to First in Batting Stats

Baseball Coaching Digest: 5 Solid Tips for Taking Your Team From Worst to First in Batting Stats
By guest author: Nick Dixon

There are five things that I recommend baseball coaches do to improve a team's offensive numbers. These are changes that coaches must put into place if they are looking to take their team to a higher level in hitting statistics. This article explains those five things that I suggest that you make a part of your regular team routine.

Your team can become a better hitting team. I am 100% confident that you can be the reason that your team has a better hitting season this year than last season. The number one thing you must remember is the saying, "Stupidity is never more evident than when a coach has his team do the same thing over, and over and over, but expects different results". If you want your team to be better than they have ever been, you have got to plan, coach, instruct, teacher, work, and organize your practices better than you ever have.

Here are three things I recommend for helping a team become a better hitting team:

1. Change Your Attitude - Teams always emulate the attitude of the coach. If you expect the team to hit better and do all of the work and preparations to do so, then the players will expect better results. Make it known that "thing are changing around here". Make it known that you have a new system, a new approach, and a new commitment to getting the job done at the plate. Let the team know that "everything counts". Every practice swing must be performed, reviewed, assessed, and critiqued. Make it known that every fundamental will be given the attention necessary to make the team better. Sub-par practice will not be accepted. We will practice like we play and play like we practice, with a stated purpose and with total focus.

2. Sense of Urgency - Make sure that your team and staff know that improvement is a must. They must realize that last year's or season's numbers were bad for a reason. Those numbers are unacceptable and unexpected this year. And explain to them that the reason for those bad numbers last season was a lack of work, a lack of commitment, and a lack of performance. The players and staff must realize the importance of making improvements. When a coach becomes better at teaching a skill, the team just got better. When a player becomes more knowledgeable on a baseball task, the team just got better. All players and staff must know that they must be committed to doing more than normal to help the team improve. Players and staff should be willing to stay after practice, come in before practice, or find extra time, outside of team practices, to work and improve on fundamentals. A player must know that the team "chain" is no stronger than the "weakest link". If a player is weak at a particular skill, until that player improves, the team will not be as good as possible.

3. Repetition of Quality Swings - Practice repetition for the sake of practice repetition is useless. Swing the bat is useless if the swing is a bad practice swing of less than game speed or game quality. You team needs to have a commitment to numbers and quality if your team's hitting numbers are going to drastically improve. My "rule of thumb" is that I want every player in my program to take at least 300 practice swing a day. Those swings must be purpose driven with no tolerance for "playing around", "goofing off" or "less than perfect execution". I don't care how the swings are performed. They can be off a batting tee, a training machine, live-arm in the batting cage, or simply a soft-toss drill. The key is to take enough swings every day to allow the player's swing to become instinctive, smooth, and as powerful as possible. The more quality swing a player takes, the more confidence that player will have.

4. Improving Knowledge - To improve quality of play, improved knowledge must take place first. Player must know what a good swing looks like. They must know what makes a stance a good stance. They must know and be able to identify good and bad hitting mechanics and fundamentals. They must hear the correct words and terminology when it comes to instruction, teaching, and practice. A coach must do his homework when it comes to learning the fundamentals of playing and coaching the game. Read books, articles, and everything else that you can get your hands on. Visit the Baseball Coaching Digest, the Youth Baseball Digest or the Baseball Today Coaching Journal to access free drills, tips, and coaching articles. Watch videos on YouTube of batting drills and coaching tips.

5. Truth and Consequences - Never lie to your team. Tell them honestly when a drill is good and tell them when a drill is bad. Have a consequence for poor drill performance. I try to keep my drills and instruction periods short at no than 10 to 15 minutes. But, if a drill is done sloppy or poorly, I have told my team that I reserve the right to always to have the team do a drill over or do a "start over". I want my players to know that we have a commitment to quality not quantity.

I hope that you found this article to be informative and useful. You may read more articles like it at the Baseball Coaching Digest, Youth Baseball Digest, and the Baseball Parent Guide. Thanks for reading this article. I wish you and your team the best of luck in the coming season. Have a great day, Nick.

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Nick Dixon is the President and founder of Nedco Sports, a sports training company established in 1999. Dixon is also an active and full time high school baseball coach with over 25 years experience. Dixon coaches at Boaz High in Boaz Alabama. Dixon is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association and Alabama Baseball Coaches Association.

Dixon is better known as the inventor of the BatAction Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Derek Jeter Hurricane Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Target Trainer, the SKLZ Derek Jeter ZipnHit Pro, and the SKLZ Strikeback Trainer. Dixon is considered an expert in baseball training and skills development. Dixon also serves as an active consultant to baseball equipment companies and other sports product inventors.

Dixon is also a contributing writer for the Baseball Coaching Digest, the baseball Coaching Digest Blog, the Youth Baseball Digest, the Youth Baseball Digest Blog, the Baseball Parent Guide, the Baseball 2Day Coaches Journal, and Blog4Coaches.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Pro Baseball Tryouts - How Should I Prepare for Tryout Day?

Pro Baseball Tryouts - How Should I Prepare for Tryout Day?
By Lyle LaFountain

Attending a pro baseball tryout is a great way to get exposure from pro scouts so you can get on their radar. That way they can watch you during the season. While it is rare, sometimes players get signed right out of a pro tryout.

There are two basic types of tryouts- Open and Closed. Closed tryouts are by invitation only. Players are often sent a letter in the mail, called, or told in person where to be for their workout. Open Pro Baseball Tryouts are for everybody and you need to be prepared for a pretty long day.

First thing you will do at a pro baseball tryout is fill out a short form with your name, age, school, position, and sign a liability release. At a tryout you might run into some of your friends but be careful to pay specific attention to the directions given by the area pro scout. You want to be respectful and note any specific instructions that may be given.

Secondly, at a pro baseball tryout you want to have all the equipment that you will need. Be sure to bring your own spikes, glove, wooden bat, catching equipment, and even your own helmet. Come to the field dressed sharp and looking like a serious baseball player.

You will also want to be prepared for a long day at a pro baseball tryout. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before and eat a good-sized breakfast to start the day. Come to the field dressed and ready to work out. You can often have hundreds of players in attendance. So bring a light lunch to eat at the field and also bring plenty to drink. The field you will be at might not have any water fountains so you will definitely want to bring your own in order to stay hydrated.

Thirdly, make sure you arrive at the tryout on time or even a little early. Make sure before you begin the tryout that you get loose. Have a thorough warm-up and stretching session. For position players the first thing you will do is run the 60 yard dash. I would advise you to run a few sprints to get your legs loose before you let loose on your timed 60. Pitchers don't warm-up to soon but be ready for when it is time for you to show your skills on the mound. Some pitchers warm up and throw right when they get there. Then have to warm-up and throw again later. Then they have to pitch on the side and then they will finally be asked to pitch in a game. Make sure you wait to as close to the time for you to pitch for the scouts as possible before you warm-up. You don't want to be fatigued going to the mound and want to show off your best stuff.

At the pro baseball tryouts work hard and hustle. Make sure the scout knows that you are a ball player and that you love to play the game of baseball.

Lyle LaFountain is an expert author and former college baseball player at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. To receive "Why Some Players Make It and Others Don't" a free pro scouting report, visit his website Pro Baseball Tryouts. While you are there you can become a member and have access to a complete up to date list of professional baseball tryouts, including MLB tryouts, Minor Leagues Baseball Tryouts, and Independent League Tryouts.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baseball Pitching - Coaching Pitchers to Succeed by Starting With the Basics

Baseball Pitching - Coaching Pitchers to Succeed by Starting With the Basics
By guest author: Nick Dixon

The coaching of baseball pitchers does not require a degree in "pitchingtology". There is no such degree to my knowledge. I just made that up. My point here is that coaching baseball pitching is not rocket science. However, having a basic knowledge of the terms and mechanics is a must. Having a commitment to be attentive to details in instruction and and to have frequent quality practice sessions is a good start toward becoming a coach of a successful pitcher at any level.

Here are the 5 basics elements of pitching success:

1. Beginning with the basics and keeping it simple

Let we first say that one of the basic rules on our high school team is that if you make our team, you are going to pitch. Every player participates in pitching workouts until it is determined that player simply can not help us on the mound. Over the years about 75% of our players pitch at least 10 innings during the season. With that said, I want you to know that my philosophy is to keep the terminology simple, the technique simple, and to make the process of pitching as easy as possible to master.

2. Balance is Key

The first thing we want out kids to understand is the importance of balance. Pitchers must learn to achieve and maintain balance from the start to the finish of their delivery. This is done by learning to keep the weight evenly distributed on the balls of the feet. Nothing happens on the heels. Keep head and body movement to a minimum. The head should stay still. This allows the head to stay over the ball of the pivot foot and over the body core or center. Special attention should be directed at eliminating any tendency to lean back, lunge forward, or to arch the back.

3. Knee Lift and Proper Stride Leg Motion

The lifting action of the stride leg should be smooth, straight up, and to a point of perfect balance. Make sure that the leg is not swung. The stride foot should go downward and then out. Many you pitchers want to lead with their hip and this cause major problems. Make sure that the leg action is down and out in smooth path. The stride foot should land on the ball of the foot. The stride should be in a direction with at least part of the foot landing on a straight line toward the catcher. Some pitchers will land more closed and some will land more open. The main point to remember here is consistency. A pitcher must land in the same spot time after time. If the landing spot is all over the place, control problems will be evident.

4. Elbow Dynamics

Much has been written and many studies have been made on the dynamics of the pitching process. To keep it simple, we want the following to occur. When the front foot lands both elbows should be up and even with each other on a direct line. The glove and ball may be above or below the elbow, but both elbows serve to reverse mirror each other. If the front elbow is tucked when the front foot lands, then a problem is evident. Both elbows should be extended away from the body in perfect opposite directions from the body to form a perfect straight line.

5. Late Break of the Hips

What I mean by this term is that we want the weight out and onto the front foot before the hip and trunk rotation occur. This late rotation generates velocity. Early rotation causes the pitcher to throw with all arm and will cause arm problems.

COACHING POINT: Make sure that the pitcher finishes low with the throwing arm finishing outside the stride knee. Many young players want to lock the front leg thus pole vaunting or lifting their body up and over the front foot. The stride leg should bend slightly.

As mentioned before, make sure that the stride foot is not heeling- out or landing on the heel. This is a flaw that causes jar and control problems. Also make sure that pitchers set up on the pitching rubber in the correct location. We want right-handed pitchers on the right of the rubber and left-handed pitchers on the left. This makes the ball more difficult to pick-up by the batter because of the increase in angle. It gives the pitcher more plate to work with.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Beginner Baseball Training Tips For Coaches

Beginner Baseball Training Tips For Coaches
By guest author: Sameep Shah

A proper training and coaching is very important no matter what level of game you need to success at. Therefore you will first have to find a qualified baseball coach who can teach you some essential fundamentals of the sport. If you are looking for some serious training through a professional coach then it is advisable to find a good local instructor or purchase videos and books or even find a reputable baseball institute. If you cannot afford to join the schools then you can read the books about the game or get some good DVDs. You can even find plenty of free information on the internet to help you get going with the game.

As the old saying goes practice makes you perfect, therefore the biggest tip in training would be keep on practicing. You need to focus on just 1 or 2 areas of the game when you are a beginner in the game. You should also work on getting the basics done perfectly for baseball and should bare in mind that the more you practice the better you can be in the game. You can even move further to expand your capabilities to advanced baseball training. One of the best ways to master in the game is to participate in the game. Therefore get yourself playing the game as much as possible. Apart from baseball fundamentals there are also other fields that you should work on.

Strength training - One important thing is to maintain your flexibility and strength when playing baseball. This training will help you avoid injuries and enhance performance.

Mental toughness - You will also have to work on the mental aspects of the game as it is evenly important to be a successful player. This means that you should learn team spirit, to be positive, skill to handle failure and criticism with the right courage. Always make sure the game is fun to play for you as it will keep your courage lasting long and when something negative happens you just shake it off and you are back to the game.

Diet - The diet you intake also plays a crucial role in your baseball training. Apart from strength and exercise training it is also important that you eat healthy. You need to have a balanced diet that includes all the vital vitamins, minerals and proteins.

These are some basic and important fundamentals for beginners that will help you build up as a successful baseball player.

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