The Offical Blog of the Baseball Coaching Digest

The Baseball Coaching Digest's blog is your online source to free baseball articles, free baseball drills, and free baseball tips. Our daily posts can help your plan baseball practice, improve your baseball drills, and help make your baseball workouts run smoother. Our daily post and archives provide your with hundreds of recommended baseball coaching posts. Make sure to bookmark this site for future visits. Have a great day and good luck to your team!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Derek Jeter Hurricane Baseball Hitting Machine, as seen on TV, is one of the most popular baseball training aids on the market today.

The Derek Jeter Hurricane Baseball Hitting Machine, as seen on TV, is one of the most popular baseball training aids on the market today. With adjustable height and speed settings the Hurricane Baseball Batting Trainer can be used by baseball and softball batters of all ages and skill levels.

The high speed moving ball makes batting practice much more fun and productive.

If you are looking for the "Edge" to give your player or team a "definite advantage" over the competition, you can stop looking! You have found it, the Derek Jeter Hurricane Baseball Hitting Machine by ProPerformance Sports! 100% Guaranteed to improve skill, batspeed, hitting confidence!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Baseball Drills - Infield Crispness is Key by Nate Barnett

A crisp infield during a game is inspiring and motivating for all on the team. It's also uninspiring for the other team if they don't match the same level of snap, zip, and crispness. A team of infielders who posses this skills developed through intentional baseball drills will set the tempo of a game.

On the flip side, a sluggish and sloppy infield will not create confidence for the rest of the team and should be avoided like the plague. Here are two ways to develop the all important crispness factor for infielders.

1. Physical crispness is displayed first by hustle on and off the field. A team, and especially an infield, that is quite intentional about how they take to the field demands respect. It shows focus, excitement, and most of all a no-nonsense approach to kicking the others teams' butt. But this skill must be taught from day one of workouts. A coach that pays little attention to this detail and then attempt to put it in place mid-season will struggle to do so. During baseball drills in practice infielders must hard to positions, and if the goal is not achieved, everyone comes on back to the dugout and tries again. The picture gets across quickly. The good news is, few teams do this, therefore a good team will stand out immediately.

2. Another display of physical hustle comes in the form of throwing the ball around the infield after a strikeout. If your team is in the habit of throwing the ball around the infield (and they should be) after an opposing hitter strikes out, be snappy about it. Infielders should reduce the distance from each other by a good five steps. Movements should emulate the type of quickness one would exhibit in performing a double play. I can't emphasize enough the importance of making this part clean and free of error. Nothing like a speedy and precise throw around after a strikeout to keep defensive spirits high.

3. The last skills takes a bit more time and focus to master. It requires more mental focus rather than previous two which required physical focus and preparation. A team that communicates with the pitcher and each other is like a symphony filled with harmony. Baseball shouldn't be played silently, but on the other hand, shouldn't be played with nonsensical sounds of "hey batter bater, swing!" This is not communication, but instead (to keep with the music theme of this paragraph) sounds like a struggling young violinist annoying his parents in the living room! Infielders should remind the pitcher of where he needs to be on bunt defense, when there are runners on base for potential pick offs, etc. Infielders should communicate with each other on positioning with runners on base, cutoffs, etc.

Like I said earlier, this must be practiced consistently during all baseball drills. Communication must be a natural part of the play of the team, and not forced.

A baseball team that can master the above three goals will project an image of confidence and focus. It's far worth the time and effort during baseball instruction to work on these skills.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball and is based out of Washington State. His expertise is in the area of hitting, pitching, and mental training. Coach Barnett's passion is working with youth in helping expand their vision for their baseball future. After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued his coaching and motivational training career. His instructional blog is located at
His new FREE ebook, Toxic Baseball: Are you polluting your game? can be found on the main BMI Baseball website.
Hitting 101, an ebook on complete hitting mechanics will be released by June 1st, 2008. Features include numerous illustrations, video clips, and a special offer to discuss your hitting questions over live on the phone strategy sessions. - The internet's largest and most complete coaching store.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Does It Help, Does It Hurt? A Look At Training For Baseball And Common Shoulder Injuries By Ethan Bowlin

Is your training increasing or decreasing your risk of injury? Our goal is to function at the highest level possible while reducing the risk of injury. Baseball is a sport that involves strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, and mobility to name a few. What I have been seeing with baseball players from little league, early adolescence into their adult lives is the widely accepted notion that to become a better athlete you have to train for form, not so much function. What is the difference?

Form is what can be termed bodybuilding, building the body with focus on big muscles or prime movers of the body. The chest, shoulders, abdominals, arms and quads, also known as mirror muscles, what we can see in the mirror, are most commonly developed using machines and free weights. Bench press, crunches, biceps curls and knee extensions are the exercises of choice. What is wrong with that, you may say? I thought that to be involved in athletics, I have to become stronger and condition the body for that sport? Yes and no. Let me explain, let’s look at function.

Function is what is useful, how the body is utilized throughout different planes of movement for a desired action. Baseball for example, involves throwing, hitting and running and must deal with forces that cause rotation, forces that distract a joint during acceleration, and forces that must be decelerated, stabilized and transferred to produce the desired action. So you ask, I thought that building my muscles stronger would accomplish that? When we focus on form or bodybuilding only, you are creating an unbalanced environment.

Let’s take look at one of the most problematic issues regarding baseball players, shoulder injuries. When an athlete throws a baseball, force is generated from the lower body and transferred through the core into the upper body through the shoulder, elbow and wrist providing the “speed” of the baseball. However, the force does not stop there. Once the ball is released, that force does not disappear, it must be decelerated back through the wrist, elbow, shoulder, upper body, core and lower body. Simply stated, what you speed up, you must slow down.

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, however, what we gain in mobility we sacrifice stability. Picture the shoulder as a ball sitting on a plate, very mobile but not very stable. For the shoulder, or any joint for that matter, must be stable before moving. Stability of the shoulder is heavily reliant on the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff muscles originate from the shoulder blade and its goal is to keep the ball centered on the plate so the big muscles can produce the accelerating, decelerating and rotational forces while throwing. Muscles surrounding the shoulder blade that provide stability for the shoulder joint include the lower trapezius, serratus anterior and rhomboid muscles. All these muscles not only provide support for the shoulder but also are crucial in holding your posture.

Weakness in these muscles and focusing on strength training for the chest, arms and abdominals will create an imbalance between the front and back of the shoulder girdle (upper body) possibly creating a rounded upper back, forward head appearance (slouching). This imbalance places the upper back muscles in a lengthened position, which will create greater stress on the rotator cuff during deceleration phase (follow through) of throwing and altered throwing mechanics. Many times it can manifest as soreness and pain in the shoulder, down into the upper arm, elbow and forearm. So how do I avoid this? Build your body like building a house. You wouldn’t start with the roof and windows before having a solid foundation. Then don’t just jump into strength training, start with a strong stable foundation and proper alignment before packing on the muscle!

First use a foam roller to loosen tight muscles and stretch the muscles around your shoulder for optimal range of motion (For more information the foam roller, look at Relieve Pain with Foam). Stretching the muscles in the front (chest, shoulders, and internal rotators) and strengthening the muscles in the back (lower trapezius, rhomboids, and external rotators) will help to balance your shoulder girdle. Next, because we transfer force from the lower body to the upper body while throwing and vice versa we target core stability and strength. The core involves more than just your abdominals and low back; it includes the deep muscles along your spine down through your pelvis and hips. Most people think of core exercises as movements such as crunches, twists and back extensions to name a few, however that is only one part of it. Core exercises can be split into stabilizing and movement exercises. When we attempt to develop core strength without core stability, we are forcing our bodies to rely on the prime movers, such as the chest, abdominals and shoulders to do the stabilizing. We must be stable before we can move; otherwise energy is wasted while throwing, running and hitting, all baseball movements. For a small range of exercises with a variety of uses from improving posture to sport specific exercises for throwing go to Does It Help Does It Hurt on the fuel page at

Ethan Bowlin is a fitness professional and co-founder of Performance 4 Life. Ethan coaches baseball and specializes in rehabilitation and strength and conditioning and can be reached at
Article Source:

Baseball Coaches Digest

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Run Towards Fear: A Prescription For Success by: Dr. Leif H. Smith

Fear, or negative anxiety, is the modern day bubonic plague, infecting millions upon millions of people. It spreads with viral effect, and leaves behind consequences of mediocrity and regret. This "plague" is partly due to societal influences (particularly in a post-9/11 era) and partly due to individual issues (the tendency to avoid confrontation of that which we fear).

However, whatever the cause, a vaccine is available, and it takes the form of moving towards that which we are most afraid of. Immediately.
Fear as an acronym stands for "False Evidence Appearing Real". This false evidence can take many forms, but the key is that it appears real. We perceive something to be scarier than it really is. One good example can be found in sports, when we fear losing (or failing). Think about it: Is there really anything to be scared of?

If you do in fact lose, what then will happen? Sure, it might be painful, but hasn’t everyone lost at one point or another in competition? Of course! So why fear losing if it happens to everyone?

Not only is fear of losing or failure a waste of time-it also puts you in a reactive, more passive mode of competing. Reactive, passive competitors are more likely to perform poorly in a competitive environment. So don’t waste your time fearing losing.

Instead, spend your time:
1. Identifying your biggest fears (in sport, in competition, in life). These are the fears that hold you back the most. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of injury, fear of risk taking.
What are the consequences of harboring some of these fears?
Fear of failure: you will never fully give all of yourself to competition if you are afraid of losing
Fear of success: you’re less likely to win, obviously, if you have mixed emotions about being able to deal with success (and the responsibilities that come with it)
Fear of injury: you’re more likely to be injured, as you will be more tentative
Fear of risk-taking: you’ll never risk, and therefore, never gain.

2. Setting about a plan to attack these "falsehoods". Without a plan, there is no prescription for removal of these fears.
Dr. Smith’s prescriptions:

For fear of failure: Go out and fail on a daily basis. Get used to it, because humans do fail, and you are human. Might as well learn to live with it.
For fear of success: Get straight in your mind that success is a great alternative to mediocrity. Really.
For fear of injury: Get back on the bull (so to speak) as soon as possible after being injured (but cleared to compete). The longer you wait, the greater your fear will be.
For fear of risk-taking: take risks, but on a large and frequent scale, and in every area of your life. Ask people out on dates. Ask for favors. Tell someone who is bugging you how you really feel. Ask a sport psychologist for assistance. (Just kidding, but not really!)

3. Moving towards instead of away from these fears. You will discover that the closer you move towards that which you fear, the less scary those fears are. Sort of like the first time you stood up to the school bully and realized that he or she was not so tough when confronted. You were perceiving based on "false evidence".

Moving towards fear in your daily life means doing that which you hate/detest/fear/loathe/don’t want to do, and doing that thing first, before all else. For me, that means going jogging at 7 am on these dark, winter mornings. For you it might mean something else. However, the key to beating back our irrational and disabling fears is to run, not walk, towards them at every chance. By doing so, you will prove to yourself how silly those fears are in the first place, as they provide no inherent value in your life. They merely hold you back from reaching your true potential.

Copyright (2003) Leif H. Smith, Psy.D. All rights reserved.
About The Author
Dr. Leif H. Smith is the president of Personal Best Consulting, a performance consulting firm located in Columbus, OH. He has worked with hundreds of athletes, coaches, teams, and executives to improve performance and increase on-the-job effectiveness. Copyright (2004) Leif H. Smith. All rights reserved.

Baseball Coaches Digest

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Be a Better Batter Through Repetition

By: Anthony Stai

All parents want their children to reach their full potential in anything that they do. If you have kids playing baseball or softball then you know that one of the most exciting and difficult aspects is hitting. And since you may only get 3 to 5 at-bats per game then you want to make sure that they count.

Whether your kids are playing baseball or softball, if they can hit the ball like they want then they will enjoy playing so much more. There's nothing worse than watching a player walk back to the dugout dejected and sad.So what can you do as a parent to instill confidence at the plate?

The best way to accomplish this is with repetition. Unless you are willing to pitch to your kids 200 balls a day then they won't get the kind of repetition that will improve their batting. Plus, unless you have Nolan Ryan accuracy, you won't be doing your kids any favors by having them swing at pitches outside the strike zone. And, you'll save your arm for throwing that football in the fall.

The best tool for repetition is a pitching machine. Pitching machines come in a variety of types and costs. Some have large wheels and run on gas motors and can feed up to 12 baseball sized balls. Some are just for baseball and others just for softball. These are usually expensive for a parent to purchase and are bulky and can't be self-operated safely by young batters.

The less expensive options are portable whiffle ball pitching machines. Most of these use the golf ball sized whiffle balls and run on rechargeable batteries so they can be used almost anywhere. Plus, they are just as effective for softball players as baseball players.

Many ask, "Why golf ball sized whiffle balls?" The small balls force the batter to concentrate more and to aim for a smaller target. When you can hit a small target consistently then a larger target will be even easier to hit. Plus the small balls are inexpensive and can still be thrown at high speeds.

The whiffle ball pitching machines are lightweight, some hold up to 100 whiffle balls, adjusts from 20 mph to 60 mph, pitch consistently, can pitch curve balls and sliders from both right hand and left hand pitchers.Best of all, the whiffle ball pitching machines are FUN!

Kids and adults of all ages have fun hitting from these machine and it truly has the ability to increase the confidence and ability of young and older batters in a matter of minutes.

About The Author-- Anthony Stai is a proud contributing author and writes articles on several sports related topics including baseball. To learn more about the Personal Pitcher and a unique opportunity to get a FREE Personal Pitcher visit Free Personal Pitcher Pitching Machine at for all the details and a personal review.

Baseball Coaches Digest - The Ultimate Online Baseball Store

Friday, October 3, 2008

Youth Baseball Drills - Bullet Proofing That Devilish First And Third Scenario

Youth Baseball Drills - Bullet Proofing That Devilish First And Third
Scenario By Nate Barnett

One of the trickiest defensive situations for younger teams is the runners on first and third situation. You know the scenario. The guy on first base leaves early, or walks off first base in the attempt to draw a throw from the pitcher and remain in a pickle just long enough for the runner on third base to score. It's annoying when it works while you're on defense, but absolutely brilliant where you're on offense.

I'll show you how your squad can bullet proof this scenario. Let me tell you however, that it must be implemented in your youth baseball drills often, else panic syndrome will always take over and wreck this important defensive play.

The best thing to remember in this scenario is that the defensive team is in control of the situation. The defense controls the pace, and ultimately if the runs scores. Because of this, there is no need to hurry through the play. Here is how the ideal scenario plays out for the defense.

1. Base runner leaves first base early attempting to draw a throw from the pitcher. Or, he begins to steal the base and the stops in the middle of the base path putting pressure on the catcher to do something. I'll address both situations.
2A. The base runner leaves early from first base before the pitch is delivered. The first baseman yells, "step off!" to the pitcher, who then steps off the rubber. He checks the runner on third base by looking at him and making sure his momentum is not going towards home plate. Then, he turns and immediately throws the ball to the second baseman who has come up into the base path from his position.
2B. The base runner steals second base except stops in between first and second base. The pitch is delivered and the catcher has the ball. He steps in front of the plate and turns his body quickly towards third base until the runner's momentum has stopped moving towards home plate. He then pivot and throws the ball directly to the second baseman who has come up into the base path from his position.
3. With the ball in hand and in a dart throwing position (never in the glove) the second baseman begins to WALK quickly towards first base (no running or jogging). One of two things will happen. The runner on first base will go back to the bag (first base), or the runner on third base will break towards home to draw a throw from the second baseman.
4. If the runner returns to first base, the second baseman immediately throws the ball to the pitcher who returns to the mound and prepares for the next pitch. If the runner on third breaks towards home, the third baseman yells, "runner!" The second baseman turns and throws the ball to home plate.

The worst thing that can happen during this play is for the defense to panic and forget that they are in control. If nerves can be kept, there is a very high percentage chance the play will end successfully.

About the Author

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball and is based out of Washington State. His expertise is in the area of hitting, pitching, and mental training. Coach Barnett's passion is working with youth in helping expand their vision for their baseball future. After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued his coaching and motivational training career. His instructional blog is located at

His new FREE ebook, Toxic Baseball: Are you polluting your game? can be found on the main BMI Baseball website.
Hitting 101, an ebook on complete hitting mechanics will be released by June 1st, 2008. Features include numerous illustrations, video clips, and a special offer to discuss your hitting questions over live on the phone strategy sessions.

Pitchers' injuries an `alarming epidemic'

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 JON SOLOMON News staff writer
For 151 pitches, Louisiana State pitcher Derik Olvey refused to give up the ball April 9. He realized LSU's game against Tennessee was on television, meaning his grandfather, dying of cancer in Alabama, might be watching.

"I really wasn't pitching for myself," said Olvey, a graduate of Pelham High School. "I told the coaches as long as I could throw the ball over the plate and they were comfortable with me out there, keep me in there."
Despite a history of elbow problems and having thrown 129 pitches the previous week, Olvey kept going in the 6-2 LSU win. He allowed five runs on six hits on 18 pitches in his next start, and then noticed his velocity drop 6 miles per hour between innings.

Eventually, Olvey felt like a knife was stabbing his pitching elbow, and he could not lob the ball 60 feet. Olvey has no regrets. His grandfather watched the 151-pitch game on tape before dying the next day.
But on May 12, Olvey had the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow restructured - commonly known as "Tommy John surgery" - and became another in the line of young pitchers having surgeries. Dr. James Andrews calls the trend "an alarming epidemic."

Between 2000 and 2004, Andrews, a renowned Birmingham surgeon, performed elbow operations on six times more high school pitchers and four times more college pitchers than from 1995 to'99. Elbow surgeries on pro pitchers only doubled.

"I open up these kids and they look like they have a 30-year-old pitching elbow, and they're 16 years old," Andrews said. "If we try to hide our head in the sand and not recognize these kids are getting hurt more, we're probably not doing our job."

At least 19 percent of pitchers on SEC rosters entering 2006 have had arm surgery, either before or during college, according to a survey of the league's 12 teams. That doesn't begin to count those who have missed extensive time with injuries and will need surgery in the future.

"That's way too high," Andrews said. "What the NCAA coaches should be worried about is with the escalating injuries in high school, all of a sudden, they're not going to have enough good, healthy pitchers to fill their slots."
At today's SEC Tournament will be Kentucky's Craig Snipp, who is three years removed from elbow surgery and among the ERA leaders in the SEC.
And Georgia's Mickey Westphal, who had shoulder surgery in 2004 and is 6-0 with a 4.76 ERA this season.

And Arkansas' Charley Boyce, who had a bone spur removed from his pitching elbow in 2005 and has an ERA two runs greater than his career 3.40 mark. And, most painfully, eight of South Carolina's 19 pitchers have had surgeries on their pitching arm.

"I know we've been extremely cautious over the years and we still get guys hurt," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "I probably would recruit them the same way if I did it again. Because you just don't know for sure.
The arm wasn't designed to throw a baseball."

Overused pitchers:

Pitchers and parents carry dreams of winning championships and securing pro contracts or college scholarships. But the kids are also carrying too heavy a workload at young ages, according to some doctors and coaches.

It's happening all over the game. Within the Atlanta Braves' organization, 29 of 119 pitchers (24 percent) have had arm surgery, according to data from the club's front office.

Improved recognition of injuries and the status of popular surgeons such as Andrews certainly factor into more surgeries, Andrews acknowledged. But he has found enough anecdotal evidence of surgery increases across the country to believe improved recognition rates can't be solely responsible.

A study by the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI), Andrews' Birmingham-based lab, found college-age pitchers who report throwing regularly with arm fatigue are 36 times more likely to have surgery than rested pitchers. College-age pitchers are also five times more likely to have surgery if they play more than eight months a year.

"Of the college pitchers who come for surgery, none of them looks like a clean break," said Dr. Glenn Fleisig, chairman of research at ASMI. "They all look like their tendon or ligament is frayed. You can tell that's from overuse, one throw after another."

Andrews said the high school pitchers he operates on average one week off (typically between Christmas and New Year's) during a 12-month period.
College coaches are becoming increasingly frustrated about inheriting damaged goods without knowing it. Kentucky coach John Cohen said the sport needs more than the NCAA maximum 11.7 scholarships to account for the rash of injuries.

"In order for us not to abuse arms, we have to have enough arms to go around so you don't have to pitch guys routinely," Cohen said.
Because of overuse, many college coaches say they now prefer pitchers who play multiple sports rather than those who throw a baseball year-round.

"They play too much," Georgia coach David Perno said. "... High school coaches overthrow them because they don't care about summer ball. Summer coaches overthrow them because they don't care about high school ball. It's a vicious cycle."

Bouncing back:

Thirty years ago, Tommy John surgery might have meant the end of a pitcher's career. A decade ago, the success rate was 60 percent. Today, there's an 85 percent chance of recovery.
Players roll the dice with those odds - too much so for Andrews' liking, even if it is good for business.

"Some of these young kids are jumping up and down when you finally tell them, `Yes, you've hurt your ligament and we'll reconstruct it,'" Andrews said. "Some are not even giving themselves time to get well with a minor injury. They want an operation because they hear Tommy John's operation will make them a better pitcher. That's a misconception."

The majority of Tommy John pitchers will get well and possibly return to form. But if they become better pitchers, doctors say, that's only because of rehabilitation, the natural maturation of the arm, and much-needed rest.
Perno recently concluded that recovering from shoulder surgeries is more difficult than rebounding from elbow procedures.

"The kids who had shoulder surgery have never regained the velocity, unlike Tommy John," Perno said.

Alabama pitcher Allen Ponder, who had a labrum, biceps tendon and rotator cuff repaired in 2004, can relate. Once a big-time recruit as Alabama's "Mr. Baseball" in 2002, Ponder didn't pitch this season due to recurring shoulder pain.

Starting at 14 years old, Ponder rotated from high school to travel league teams. He would pitch five-plus innings in seven-inning tournament games, and then sometimes work in relief the next day.
"I always felt great. I had no idea that what I was doing might have caused wear and tear. But I have no regrets. As a kid, you just want to play."
Olvey remembers his elbow injury escalated the summer before enrolling at Notre Dame, where he missed 47 games as a freshman before transferring to LSU. He essentially went 18 months without a break while adjusting to the rigorous conditioning program at Notre Dame as a freshman.

The high pitch counts this season "might have been the thing that finally said, `OK, I can't recover from it anymore," Olvey said.
Given what they know now, Ponder and Olvey said they wouldn't change how they were used, even though the result is a seat on the bench for this week's SEC Tournament.

Andrews worries many well-intended coaches and parents are not educated about the dangers. He worries a generation of young pitchers could be prevented from participating in recreational sports as adults, much less become the next Roger Clemens.

"At some point you have to figure out whether you want to be a star in the Little League World Series or in the real World Series," Andrews said.

"They don't necessarily match."
The article above is presented in its complete form as written by News staff writer JON SOLOMON of the Birmingham News. The article appeared in the the Wednesday, May 24, 2006 issue.