Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sports Injuries In Kids

I posted an article on my fitness blog that is important to Baseball player, parents, and coaches take a look.

Playing The Outfield It's Not The End Of The World

Being left handed, athletic, and blessed with some speed I played a lot of outfield throughout my baseball career. I coach youth baseball now and everyone wants to play the infield. I hear things like the outfield isn't fun or nobody hits the ball to me. I am here to tell you that if you learn to play the outfield correctly it can be just as fun as the infield.

Lets take a look at the outfield position it is played by some of the best athletes in baseball today. Players like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Josh Hamilton, and Curtis Granderson just to name a few playing the outfield and do it well. Most little leauger's think that playing the infield is where all the action is and no one wants to play the outfield. But how many infielder can rob a homerun to save a game or make a diving catch in the gap and throw a runner out at second. What I am saying is that the outfield is just as important as the infield. Many Games can be won or lost by the way your outfielders play. More outfielders make Sportscenter highlights making diving catches or leaping up the fence to catch a would be homerun. So go play in the grass and follow these steps to make you a better outfielder.

1. Getting In To A Ready Position
2. Proper Footwork
3. Getting Behind The Baseball
4. Fielding The Baseball On The Outside Of Your Glove Foot
5. Getting The Baseball Back To The Cutoff Quickly

Getting In To A Ready Position

Being ready to catch a baseball makes everything easier. If you are ready to break either to your left, right, or straight back to catch the baseball then you have already made things easier on yourself. When the pitcher is starting his windup take two steps and a small hop landing on the balls of your feet, legs slightly greater then shoulder width apart in an athletic position as shown in the picture.


Proper Foot Work

After you are in the ready position you are able to break any direction for the baseball. The key here is the your first step is opening up fully to the baseball with the lead foot. That way you can run in a straighter line to the baseball. If you take a half set you create a bad angle to the baseball and have a longer run to get to the ball. Once you have taken the drop step you cross over with the trail foot to run to the spot of the baseball. No sideways running, sprint to the spot then catch the baseball.

Getting Behind The Baseball Once you have gotten to the spot now you want to be behind the baseball waiting for it to come down. Your right your thinking I can't get behind every baseball I run down and you are correct. But if you are there waiting on the baseball you want to be able to catch the ball and step in to your throw. Not Catch it and then take the steps to throw. Less time in the glove the better.
Fielding A Baseball On The Outside Of Your Glove Hand Foot We went over the proper mechanics for a fly ball. What if the ball is on the grown rolling toward you. You want to get behind the ball as well so you can field it. As you approach the ball you want to field it off of the outside of your glove and foot. That way if the ball hopes you can still make an adjustment to the ball and not be handcuffed by your body.
Getting The Ball Back To The Cutoff Quickly
Don't start arguing now I know everyone wants to throw out eh runner trying to score or advance to the next base. Or you hold the ball in the outfield to dare the runner to go. We have all been there and done that. If you want to be a good outfielder then if you work on getting the ball whether it was a fly ball or a groundball back to the cutoff as quick as you can then your team has a better chance of making the play. When throwing to a cutoff you want to throw a hard flat throw to the cutoff about head high if done properly the cutoff will let the ball go or cut it and throw a relay to where the play is being made.
If you think your an infielder and the coach puts you in the outfield don't make it the end of the world. As a Baseball player we should learn every position on the baseball field. So look at it as an opportunity to become the best outfielder on your team or in your league. Learning the basics at every position make the game come a lot easier. The best part is if you have the ability to play more than one position than you will have more of an opportunity to play more often. Whether is is the outfield, infield, pitcher, or Catcher. So like I said earlier go play in the grass.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Get Out And Watch

The smell of the grass, roar of the crowd, snap of the leather and the crack of the bat. These are the sounds of one of the grandest games ever created. Baseball is just around the corner MLB pitchers and Catchers report in two weeks. College Baseball starts in about 17 days. What stories are we going to see this year. We had Arizona win the world series and Stoney Brook making the world series as the Cinderella story. Getting out to watch some games is a good way to spend time with the family while teaching the fundamentals of the game. So get your popcorn, sunflower seeds, and favorite beverage and get out and watch some exciting baseball in 2013. I have added a list of the top 30 D1Baseball Teams picked by the NCBWA.
1 Arkansas Southeastern 46-22 3
2 North Carolina Atlantic Coast 46-16 15
3 LSU SEC 47-18 10
4 Vanderbilt SEC 35-28 27
5 UCLA Pacific-12 48-16 5
6 South Carolina SEC 49-20 2
7 Stanford Pac-12 41-18 12
8 Oregon Pac-12 46-19 11
9 NC State ACC 43-20 13
10 Oregon State Pac-12 40-20 22
11 Florida State ACC 50-17 4
12 Kentucky SEC 45-18 20
13 TCU Big 12 40-22 16
14 Arizona Pac-12 48-17 1
15 Florida SEC 47-20 6
16 Mississippi State SEC 40-24 30
17 Oklahoma Big 12 42-25 14
18 Rice Conference USA 41-19 18
19 Louisville Big East 41-22 28
20 San Diego West Coast 40-17 NR
21 Georgia Tech ACC 38-26 NR
22 Arizona State Pac-12 36-20 26
23 Cal State Fullerton Big West 36-21 25
24 Texas A&M SEC 43-18 19
25 Ole Miss SEC 37-26 NR
26 Texas Big 12 30-22 NR
27 Baylor Big 12 49-17 9
28 Clemson ACC 35-28 NR
29 Miami (Fla.) ACC 36-23 NR
30 Virginia ACC 39-19-1 24
31 Kent State Mid-American 47-20 7
32 Southern Miss C-USA 32-24 NR
33 UC Irvine Big West 31-25 NR
34 New Mexico Mountain West 37-24 NR
35 Coastal Carolina Big South 42-19 NR

Others receiving votes (listed alphabetically): Army (41-15), Bryant (33-21), Cal Poly (36-20), College of Charleston (38-22), Dallas Baptist (41-19), East Carolina (36-24-1), Florida Atlantic (32-22), FIU (31-26), Georgia (31-26), Gonzaga (34-22), Indiana State (41-19), Long Beach State (28-27), Mercer (38-21), Missouri State (40-22), New Mexico State (35-24), Notre Dame (31-27), Oklahoma State (32-25), Oral Roberts (38-25), Pepperdine (36-23), Purdue (45-14), Sam Houston State (40-22), San Francisco (29-30), South Carolina-Upstate (33-20), South Florida (38-22), Southeastern Louisiana (39-21), St. John’s (40-23), Stony Brook (52-15), Texas State (32-24), Texas Tech (29-26), Tulane (38-20), UCF (45-17), UNC Wilmington (39-23), UT Arlington (36-25), Utah Valley (47-12), Washington (30-25), Wichita State (35-25).
Dropped Out From Final 2012 Poll: Stony Brook (8), St. John’s (17), UCF (21), Purdue (23), Utah Valley (29).
By conference: SEC 9, ACC 7, Pac-12 6, Big 12 4, Big West 2, C-USA 2, Big East 1, Big South 1, MAC 1, MWC 1, WCC 1. com This list was copied from national college baseball writers association

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Lost Art

The bats are playing like wood. Homeruns are down. As a coach its time to bring back the scrappy, hit and run, bunt to advance the runner, and squeeze play.
These are terms that went away for a long time when everyone in the lineup was hitting a ball off the handle of the bat over the fence. Now that the bats have been changed the game is too. Coaches have to build a new team around speed, defense, and contact hitters. Don't get me wrong they still look for the homerun hitter but their not relying on that anymore.
As a player you need to work on bunting it has become a lost art. Two or three years ago having a number four hitter bunting a runner to second or squeeze bunting would sound ridiculous but teams are doing more and more of it.
 I have always liked the suicide squeeze play. It takes the right timing not to tip your hand. As the base runner you can't break to early. As the hitter you can't square to early and show the bunt. If done right is a very exciting play but can win you many close games.
How is it done? You want to be in your normal stance. Rotate at your hips to square up toward the pitcher. The barrel of bat should be above your fingers. To bunt the baseball in different locations bend your knees do not lower the baseball bat. Remember you are just trying to get the ball in play so the runner can score. Nice and soft catch the baseball with the bat. Practice the squeeze bunt and you could help your team win some games.
Everyone except the opposing pitcher digs the long ball but the squeeze bunt and bunting in general will win you some games. Set up some bunting stations at your next practice and your team will improve.

Baseball = Studying

As coaches we come in contact with many kids. At the field, in the stands, or in our schools. We preach about learning the game of baseball. You may ask if they caught the games on TV the night before. Or did you study your own hitting mechanics on the video you made for them. Sometimes we as coaches get caught up in coaching.
As kids we all wanted to make to the big leagues. You dream about playing for you favorite team. So you were always practicing at the field, in the backyard or even in the basement. When ask what you want to be when you grow up you always said I want to be a baseball player. As kids we get caught up in trying to make it big.

In both of these scenarios we are missing one important thing. As coaches we need not only to make our players better baseball players but we need to help them become better students in school. As students we need to not only practice the game of baseball but we need to form better study habits, read daily, and perform as hard in the classroom as on the field. I would never tell anyone that they can not be a major league baseball player but things happen and if you wasn't a good student then you will not have anything to fall back on.

Improving your study habits in school can also help with baseball. You will learn to concentrate more on different tasks, you will become better at time management, and you may even get in to college on an academic scholarship instead of an athletic scholarship or both and not have student loans.

As coaches we need to not only teach the game of baseball but we have to push our players to become better students and people. No matter what level you coach there is someone that looks up to you. You are the coach. You are the one with the guidance that the players are looking for or need. As players you have the responsibility to be good students as well as baseball players. So crack the books and get busy learning.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Arm Strength Is Critical

As a baseball player having a strong accurate arm is critical. It doesn't matter if you are a pitcher or a position player you need to build arm strength. There are some different ways to do this one is lifting weights and packing on lean muscle to gain arm strength. Which we will discuss in later posts. Another way is a long toss program. A such program can help you gain arm strength and condition your body to the stresses of throwing a baseball but that also come with some sessions of light throw to build up to that point. Also remember as baseball players before we pickup a ball or bat we need to warm up properly with dynamic stretches that get the blood flowing and muscles, joints, and tendons ready for baseball. I have a article that talks about a long toss program given to me by Larry Cicchiello called The Long Toss: A Pitcher Will Benefit Tremendously From Long Tossing!
It may help you decide if long toss is for you. The "long toss" is simply a throwing session where you start out fairly close to your throwing partner, then gradually increase the distance between the two of you. You finish the drill by then gradually decreasing the distance until you are back to the distance you originally started from.
Many very good authorities believe that the best way for a pitcher to build arm strength and increase the speed on the fastball is by making very good use of this fabulous drill. It is totally acceptable to take a couple of steps when long tossing.
You can approach it basically the same way as if you are trying to throw a runner out from the outfield. You don't want to be throwing fly balls when long tossing. A trajectory that goes a little bit up and down is okay but try to keep it as low as possible.
How To Properly Long Toss:
First, be advised that you may have to work yourself up to the distances listed below and be patient until you can comfortably work up to these distances. Adjust distances downward for younger pitchers. Be extremely cautious with both the distances and the number of throws. This is not a competition of any type between you and your throwing partner and do not overexert yourself!
You and your throwing partner should be sure to loosen up your arms before doing the drill.
Possible Distances When Long Tossing:
60 feet apart--6 throws 90 feet apart--8 throws 120 feet apart-10 throws 90 feet apart--8 throws 60 feet apart--6 throws
Remember not to overexert yourself and find distances and number of throws that are comfortable for you! I would not recommend long tossing on two consecutive days. If you have a somewhat serious session, I would take two days off before long tossing again.
During the season, I would recommend long tossing only occasionally. Some pitchers don't like to long toss at all during the season and love it in the off season.
It's going to come down to your personal preference as to how often you "long toss" and don't overdo it.
Long Toss In "OFF" Season:
In the off season, many pitchers use this drill every other day and gradually increase the repetitions to develop arm strength. Several outstanding professional pitchers have changed their off season throwing strategy and incorporated more "long toss" and less throwing from the mound. One M.L.B. pitcher actually gained 5 m.p.h. on his fast ball after increasing the amount of time spent on the drill and decreasing his throwing sessions from the mound. The drill has definitely grown in popularity the last several years.
Please remember this is not a competition between you and your throwing partner. Be very careful with the distances and the number of throws. We do the long toss to improve arm strength and not to get injured. If you are not long tossing, do yourself a huge favor and start immediately. Like we mentioned, some excellent baseball authorities believe it is simply the best was to build arm strength and gain velocity on the fast ball and some even go as far as saying it is the only way!
The benefits will be tremendous but remember to proceed with caution.
Larry Cicchiello is the successful author of “Excellent Baseball: 30 Seconds Away.” He unconditionally guarantees that ANY baseball player, coach or baseball parent who wants to help their child will be fully equipped! Some FREE tips at
In the following days we will be discussing workouts that will help your players gain strength for the upcoming season. I leave you with this "If you are going to play the game of baseball, play it as hard as you can every time you step on the field, in the weight room, or into the training facility and good things will happen."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hustle and Heart

I remember when I was little my baseball uniform was always dirty. I felt that if it wasn't I didn't try hard enough that day. You can teach many fascists of the game hitting, fielding, throwing, and base running but you can't teach hustle or heart. You either have it or you don't. Sure you can make your kids run on and off the field inning after inning. One of my coach would always say run to your position or some one else will.

You know the players that no matter where the ball is hit they are busting it down the line to try to leg out a base hit. Or taking the extra base on a line drive to the outfield. Outfielders who run as hard as they can to every hit diving or sacrificing there body to make a catch. Or the infielder who dives for a ball in the hole instead of letting it roll through without an attempt. You either have it or you don't

Here are a list of the top 30 hustle award nominees of 2012

The 30 individual team winners are as follows:
American League
Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones
Boston Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia
Chicago White Sox: Alex Rios
Cleveland Indians: Jason Kipnis
Detroit Tigers: Austin Jackson
Kansas City Royals: Jeff Francoeur
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Mike Trout
Minnesota Twins: Jamey Carroll
New York Yankees: Curtis Granderson
Oakland Athletics: Jonny Gomes
Seattle Mariners: Munenori Kawasaki
Tampa Bay Rays: Ben Zobrist
Texas Rangers: David Murphy
Toronto Blue Jays: Edwin Encarnacion

 National League
Arizona Diamondbacks: Willie Bloomquist
Atlanta Braves: Martin Prado
Chicago Cubs: Darwin Barney
Cincinnati Reds: Chris Heisey
Colorado Rockies: Michael Cuddyer
Houston Astros: Jose Altuve
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jerry Hairston
Miami Marlins: Jose Reyes
Milwaukee Brewers: Corey Hart
New York Mets: David Wright
Philadelphia Phillies: Carlos Ruiz
Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen
San Diego Padres: Nick Hundley
San Francisco Giants: Melky Cabrera
St. Louis Cardinals: David Freese
Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper
This was the list of the nominees for the 2012 heart and hustle award from the MLBAA.
Mike Trout was the overall winner of the award and probably well deserved. Hustle is something you have to do for yourself but it will turn the scouts head just as much as hitting homers and pitching 90 mph. I would rather have a team of players that give 100% every at bat or on every play then one superstar that dogs it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fielding a baseball

Fielding a baseball is very important in the game of baseball. If your team is slow on defense you may win some games but not many. Defense and pitching is key to a good winning team. As said throughout history and also in the clip by Brandon Phillips "Defense wins championships. In the clip Brandon will show a couple of drills you can do to get better.

Everyone like to take batting practice, or be the pitcher but if you work on being the best defensive player you can be. Practicing good fundamentals and footwork you will always have a spot on any baseball team. Practice makes you good. Commitment makes you better than the rest.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How It's Made- Baseballs

Making of a Baseball A baseball was is the most important part of the game. If you do not have one you can't play or practice They are not cheap to buy either but if you watch this video you will learn why. Each baseball is hand stitched with care. As kids we went to a game wanting to catch a foul ball or have one given to us and as my kids go to games they have the same feeling. I guess it is part of the game.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Self Control

Hey ump you watching the same game we are? Hey ump you are horrible! On the baseball field things can get out of hand. Umpires make a bad call and the coaches or players scream, kick dirt and throw stuff. The fans take suit and begin yelling and a game that was chugging along just ended up out of control. I recently started coaching a church based basketball program and we were talking able self control. We talked about how people without self control is like a city in the old testament that didn't have a protective wall around their city. Without that walk everything can be stolen, or destroyed in seconds. The same thing happens to us if we lose control. As coaches or players we work hard to protect our game. We practice for hours, watch film, and build up our presents on and off the field. All of which can be taken away with the loss of your self control. Yes all those umpires out there sometimes they do make mistakes but not as often as some of you coaches or players think. If you think an umpire or referee made a bad call it is easier on both if you calmly call timeout walk up to the umpire and discuss the call. It will show respect for the ump, it will help you with your self control, and you maybe able to get an edge in on the call instead of just yelling obscenities about the umps mother. In the end keeping your cool will help you gain respect from parents, umpires, management, and your players. Most may disagree but try it out next time take a deep breath and count to ten on your way to talk over a call and you may get to finish watching the game from the dugout instead of the shower with a changed call on your side.

The Wooden Bat

Wooden bats have been around from the start of baseball. Bats start out as a split of wood whether it is ash or maple. The split of wood is the turned into a billet. image When a wooden bat is made it is turned on a lathe, this allows the billet to spin at a high rate of speed. With the billet spinning the wood is cut, or sheared off the bat against the grain with different wood working tools. image Making a bat on a lathe creates small tears and rough edges in the grain of the wood. The Bat is then sanded to end the processes of producing a wooden baseball bat. Then the bat is cleaned and dipped into the coating of the bat. If you choose an ash bat you can add a process called boning before the coating process is done. This step can harden a bat to make it preform better and last longer. Boning the bat compresses the wood, lays down the rough edges, and smooths the exterior surface of the bat. image If this process is done correctly then the unfinished bat should look like it has a clear coat on it. You can bone a bat by using an old bone, a piece of porcelain, or a hard pipe. You can do this on your own or some of the bat companies are adding this to their process if you ask. The process of making a baseball bat is fun to learn about if you like baseball. I also think that a well constructed bat can get you along way in the game of baseball compared to aluminum counterpart. You can become an all around better hitter using a wood bat. A couple of companies I like are (BITTINGERWAR1 in promo code at checkout) image image