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Monday, September 26, 2011

Baseball Coaching Digest - Base Running Basics

Baseball Coaching Digest - Base Running Basics
By guest author: Nick Dixon

There are certain base running rules that every base runner should learn. Here is each base and basic rules that players should know about each.

First Base

1.Sneak a peek when running to first. If the ball does not get by the infielders run through the bag. Make sure that you foot lands on the front half of the bag.
2.When you cross the bag, always look to your right to see if the throw got by the first base man.
3.If the ball gets into the outfield, do a "fish hook" move to get a flatter path to second base.
4.Get your signs from the 3rd base coach with both heels on the bag.
5.Make sure to take you lead using the proper steps and shuffle footwork.
6.Remember it is your job to get a good jump or start. The job of the coach is not to start you but to rather stop you.
7.Should a deep fly ball be hit to the left field, go away from the bag as long as you can read the numbers on the back of the jersey of the left fielder. When he stops and turns to field the ball, you should stop and read what happens of the play. If he sets up for the catcher, you should retreat to first base with a full sprint.

Second Base

1.When advancing toward second base, always pick up the 3rd base coach visually about ½ of the way to second base.
2.If there are less than two outs, take your lead in the line or base path directly between the bags.
3.If there are two outs, get a deeper lead, to give your self a flatter angle to turn at third base should you have to score.

Third Base

1.Always take your lead in foul territory with no part of you body extending into fair territory. This is prevent an out being called if a ball is hit down the line and you can are hit by it.
2.Make sure to take your walking lead with timing that has your right foot landing when the ball gets to the plate. Do not get caught flat footed. When the ball hits the mitt, you either score on the play or retreat to the bag immediately.
3.When you return to third base, always return to the inside corner of the bag. If the third base man has his glove out, go in high, and block the block from home plate. This may deflect a throw from the catcher.

I hope this article was beneficial and useful to you. Visit the Baseball Coaching Digest Blog and the Youth Baseball Coaching Clinic Blog for daily post and articles on every aspect of coaching baseball.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baseball Tips - Catchers - Just Let 'Er Rip!

Baseball Tips - Catchers - Just Let 'Er Rip!
By guest author: Chico Reese

Did you ever get to a game and as you're watching the players warm up you notice that the catcher seems to have a pretty good gun? He's snapping throws off to other players and throwing ropes in long toss. He just looks good.

Then the game starts. Well, inevitably, a guy with half descent speed gets on first and gets the steal sign and takes off on a following pitch. The catcher pops out of his crouch and throws an absolute rocket towards second base. However, it's too high and sails into centerfield.

The next thing you hear is the coach yapping away with things like:

•"Hey! Get it down! No one can do anything with that throw!"
•"Hey! Follow through!"
•"Hey! Throw down, not up!"
•"Hey! Get it down! I'd rather have it in the dirt instead of out there!"

All of the above is true, for the most part. If you've ever caught, you've probably heard good advice during a game and many times heard bizarre things that leaves you shaking your head. This is very true if you have a coach that doesn't know that much about catching and has never caught before either.

Later in the game, another guy gets on and steals. The catcher pops out of his crouch and fires off a...well, not a rocket, but a medium fast, arcing throw towards second.


It got there, but there was nothing on it. It didn't, however, end up in centerfield did it? But, how good is that throw anyway? And that's how the rest of his throws go. The catcher has been reduced from a kid throwing rockets before the game to a catcher who is taken a great deal of velocity off his throw and is now "aiming" his throws. It looks like he's throwing darts at times.

Here are a few baseball tips for you catchers, especially the young ones. Also, coaches should be thinking about these also.

First, catching is an explosive position. There are no big wind ups, long strides, and so on. Watch the pros. When someone steals the catcher fires up and just puts everything into a short, fast motion. The mask is usually flopping all over the place and the chest guard is flopping around. It has to be this way. That's how momentum is built up and released.

What can stop this explosiveness and produce crappy arcing throws?


Fear of what?


•There is a fear of failure.
•There is a fear of looking bad or stupid.
•There is a fear of getting yelled at during the game by a coach.

If you are a catcher and you have a fear of throwing , you better fix it and get over it because when the time comes, you "gotta let 'er rip"! Don't worry about overthrowing because of your velocity. Always, always, always throw hard!

What you need to do is focus on your footwork and your release and try not to aim or "throw darts", which will kill your velocity. You need to understand correct throwing mechanics and footwork. Learn them. Find someone knowledgeable who can teach you these things. The best thing is to get your hands on catching videos and DVDs showing proper throwing techniques. These are produced by college coaches and pros who know what they're talking about. You only need one or two. Watch them and then watch some major league games on TV and you'll see that the pros are doing exactly what you've watched on your tapes and DVDs.

So, learn and practice...over and over. You can never practice footwork too much. Once your footwork is correct and your release is correct you won't worry about overthrowing. Your velocity will still be there, probably better now. And as a catcher there are times when you do overthrow. Big deal! But, you have to feel what you just did, feel that your feet were too fast or too slow or feel that you were too far in front too fast, and so on. This comes only with knowledge and practice. Don't blame yourself for throwing too hard!

Overthrowing second base has nothing to do with throwing hard. You must know that as a young catcher. As a coach you should always encourage hard throws. Don't yell about the overthrow...make the catcher think about his feet and delivery. Go over it after the inning is over. If you've trained the catcher with proper footwork and delivery he should be able to tell you what went wrong with that throw. And it should never be, "I threw it too hard."

So keep your catchers throwing hard. You can prevent full potential by yelling about overthrowing. Remember, you overthrow second base by having bad mechanics for that particular throw, not throwing hard. That's as silly as telling a traffic cop that the reason you drifted through the stop sign was because you were going too slow.

On rare occasions, excessive thinking or fear of throwing can lead to the most devastating throwing "afflictions" you can ever witness or go through. This is the Steve Blass Disease or Sasser Syndrome. Sasser was a catcher for the Dodgers. There are other names for this but the most notable case in recent years was young pitcher Rick Ankiel of the St. Louis Cardinals.

So catchers and coaches, consider the baseball tips above for a little bit. Learn proper footwork and delivery and practice it over and over and over. Then you'll be very confident and not afraid to "just let 'er rip!" when you know someone just got the steal sign and is taking off on the very next pitch.

Chico Reese has been closely involved in youth baseball, softball and High School Baseball over the last twelve years and enjoys working with young catchers.

For excellent Catching instruction, drills, training and other valuable baseball tips, consider the following sources:

Catcher Instruction, Training and Tips To Make You A Better Catcher

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rediscovering the Magic of Youth Baseball

Rediscovering the Magic of Youth Baseball
By guest author: Dave Rosene

I have seen significant changes how youth baseball has been 'taught' in the U.S. since the 1960's, and the changes haven't been positive. I didn't say coached because coaching refers to strategy and competition, and the concentration of youth baseball must be on skill development, rules understanding, and team play. We need teaching coaches for that, because today's players show deficiencies in these areas more than previous generations. When people of my era started playing baseball, it was the most popular sport in America and engrained in our culture. There were many different forms that helped improve individual skills: fast pitch, whiffle ball, ledge, penner, or just throwing popups to yourself, and we didn't need parents to organize these activities. We called our friends who would call their friends, we threw off walls or our house steps, and we had games with whoever was around and made up our own rules. We became better players by thinking or playing baseball every day. Plus we learned the game by watching baseball on television or going to major league games if we were lucky enough to get tickets.

Most youth American players today lack the knowledge and experience that we had because they have more options to take up their free time and they therefore have varied interests. By not spending more time practicing, playing, or watching baseball, they are lagging behind kids from other countries in skill development and general baseball knowledge. Why do Latin American players dominate professional baseball? In most cases playing baseball is the only sport available to kids there to participate in, and by playing constantly they progress quickly.

Can we and should we go back in time to help our youth rediscover the magic of baseball? How can we, as teachers and coaches, make the game relevant and necessary for players who get distracted and sidetracked easily. We have to show kids what made us love baseball, and pass along that love. That's the challenge we want to take on. In future articles we will discuss how to effectively teach and coach our youth athletes to maximize their talents while identifying the negative methods to avoid that I've seen too much of in the past 30 years.

DNA Sports specializes in personalized baseball and softball skill programs, college recruiting education and preparation, and coaching clinics. Learn more:

Dave Rosene - Co-Founder, DNA Sports

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Dustin Pedroia Baseball Training Tips

Dustin Pedroia Baseball Training Tips
Uploaded by StackBaseball Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox, provides a baseball training how to, addresing the importance of hard work and the difference between high school and college training. Pedroia: ""I went to Arizona State, and in the fall there, when we weren't playing, it was always, get as strong as you can as fast as you can for the season. I try to take that into professional baseball as well. That's why I train at ABI and get ready for the season, because I feel like it's the best fit for me, and makes me become the better athlete that I can be. I trained in high school too, but it got more advanced when I got to college. I think in high school, you just go in there and any time you can, you just go in there and lift weights any time you can, but once you get to college they have people that prepare you and they have strength coaches where in high school it was just our baseball coach telling us what to do and to lift weights. I think once you get to college, you'll understand that there is a program that you need to be on.""

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Check out these coaching articles at the Softball Coaching Digest:
Articles from the Youth Softball Coaching Clinic Blog
Articles from the Coaching Fastpitch Softball Pitchers Blog
Articles from the Coaching Fastpitch Softball Hitters Blog
Articles from the Tips for Fastpitch Softball Coaches Blog
The Fastpitch Softball Training Equipment Blog