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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Baseball Swing - A Couple Fallacies

By Nate Barnett

Do you know why you teach what you teach to your hitters? If I stopped you right now and asked you to tell me a couple advantages of any part of what you're teaching, could you do it? If not, it's time to kick into gear your learning habit and pick up some instructional strategies.

I've picked a couple parts of the baseball swing mechanics I hear taught repeatedly that are incorrect. Don't worry, I'll follow my own advise and explain why. Don't just take my word for it, however, ask around. Get other perspectives. But most of all, build your baseball swing knowledge base. Baseball instruction is a funny thing. You can find information and hitting "experts" everywhere. However, please for your own sake make sure that you are qualifying your sources of information first before you accept it. If you don't, you'll end up spending a lot of money, and changing your philosophy often.

Two Mechanical Fallacies:

1. Keeping your back elbow up is NECESSARY for a proper baseball swing.

I hear this advice mostly in Little League or in some of the younger age leagues. There is no physical advantage or benefit for a hitter to keep his back elbow up (often sometime much above the back shoulder). I'm not quite sure where the idea originated, but I do know it spreads like wildfire. It's like the cure all for a poor baseball swing. When it doubt, it must be the back elbow! And you can be sure you'll sometimes hear from the dugout or the stands, "Keep your back elbow up, Johnny!"

Keeping the back elbow up for younger hitters is often a source of a slow and long swing. When the bat head travels into the zone, the elbow of the top arm on the bat is down and relaxed close to the hitters body (if done correctly). Because of that, it makes little sense for a younger hitter to move his back elbow from a stiff position in the stance to a relax and collapsed position in mid-swing. Extra parts moving during a baseball swing mean less consistency. As a hitter gets older, his preference may be of a back elbow that is raised some. At this point (assuming he understands swing mechanics) he can make the adjustments as necessary.

2. Rolling your wrists as your bat comes through the zone is a must to create bat speed.

I have to bite my tongue (quite hard actually) when I ever hear this advice being offered for baseball instruction. While the back elbow up philosophy can be dismissed somewhat as a youth baseball strategy that does relatively minimal damage, this wrists rolling business can not be ignored in order to create a fundamentally sound baseball swing.

What "Wrist Rollers" can't do:

A. Hit an inside fastball to the pull side (right field as a lefty and left field as a righty).

B. Hit an outside fastball with any consistency to the opposite field (left field as a lefty and right field as a righty).

C. Hit line drives with back spin consistently (you know the kind that get over an outfielders head in a hurry for a double).

Here is why I can make those statements so confidently. In order to roll the wrists through a baseball swing, your arms must be straight at the elbows on contact with the baseball to do so. Youth hitters can get away with this because the velocity of the pitch is not overpowering yet. Add another 10-15 mph to the pitch and those inside pitches cannot be hit (or if they do, it stings) because the bat will be slow to sweep into the hitting zone. Outside pitches will also be difficult because the barrel of the bat will only cover the outer portion of the plate a fraction of the time necessary.

So what to do?

Teach your athletes when hitting a baseball to have their palm facing up on their top hand as they come in contact with the baseball. As the hands stay close to the body through the swing, the hitter will extend his arms after contact is made with the pitch. This proper extension is extremely important for good bat speed and plate coverage.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball designed to improve the mental game of baseball in athletes. Learn how to help your game by improving the skill of mental baseball

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Baseball Drills - The Value of Learning Multiple Positions - Owned & Operated by Coaches

By Nate Barnett

It seems to me that when the topic of trying a new position is brought up to many young athletes, they cringe in disgust. Playing multiple positions well is out of the question in their minds. They have their one or two positions and that's it, period. If you work with some athletes of that mindset, the following might be worth sharing.

During our pick-up games when I was growing up, we played as many positions as we could in the field. When it came time for our coaches to work on defensive baseball drills in practice there were always multiple players who could play different positions in the field. Because of that willingness to try a new spot, the perceived value of each of those multi-position athletes continued to rise with each new position learned.

Here are a few observations I've picked up:

1. Right-handed players have a greater ability to work into new positions as compared to lefties.

2. There are more baseball players playing the game in America now that there ever has been.

3. There are more international players entering the Major Leagues today than there ever has been. Assuming the points above are accepted, and assuming most serious athletes want to play high school baseball or above (college and then professionally) here are the responses that must be taken into consideration by any athlete.

Since there are more right-handed athletes in the game than lefties, there is naturally more competition defensively at every position. Because of this increased competition, the percentage chance of an athlete being able to move on to the next level decreases dramatically if he only understands how to play one position well.

The population in America as well as the value placed on athletics has continued to rise in the past couple decades. There are countless reasons for this, none of which will be discussed at this point. I will just assume you will buy into this statement at face value. Therefore, by simply taking raw numbers, there is more competition for the same positions at the upper levels of the game.

Finally, it is no secret that there are more players from the international community being selected for professional baseball teams in the United States. Because of this, the sheer number of athletes competing for roughly the same amount of positions has increased. This effectively places lower value on an athlete who only understands how to play one position very well.

What amount of time and importance should be placed on learning multiple positions well? It should be a focus and concentration of all defensive baseball drills, workouts, and practices. The advice I give is to get good at multiple positions in the event that an amazing athlete comes along who plays your spot.

You'll want another spot to fall back to or you'll fade away from the game.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball designed to improve the mental game of baseball in athletes. Learn how to help your game by improving the skill of mental baseball

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Monday, March 29, 2010

How Would You Like to Run a Fun, Effective Youth Baseball Practice?

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How Would You Like to Run a Fun, Effective Youth Baseball Practice?
By Chip Lemin

Practices in any sport can be boring and unproductive if not planned out ahead of time. Having a clip board with your practice itinerary written out is just a good solid idea.You can keep track of your time slots for certain drills,and keeping these on file, you will know what you have covered.

Keep your practices to 90 minutes when possible. I realize that early pre season practices will likely go over due to weather wiping out some valuable time early on.

Break up the practices with a couple of water breaks, so that you add some instruction as a group.Water breaks are not free-for-alls, they are for listening. Go over what you have been doing so far,and what you going to do next.


Practices can be broken up into different stations.A station is a group of players and 1 or 2 coaches.The term station refers to whatever skill is being worked on at that "station".

Typically you will divide your players and coaches up to best suit the drills you are doing.For example, take 3 catchers and run a blocking drill for 15 minutes.Then take your catchers to home plate and along with 3 middle infielders,conduct a throwing and tagging station.You can also work on back ups at 2nd base,along with pitch out drills for catchers . GET PARENTS INVOLVED!

Obviously you will need help to run these stations. That is why in the parental letter at tryouts or sign ups, you must be clear in asking for help. The parents or relatives do not have to have coaching experience,although it is helpful.

This one good way to get parents to see how much work you put in to the team.Please make it clear who your assistant coaches are right away. NAME them in your letter if possible.Just because someone helps with practice doesn't mean they are now on the staff.

I know some of this seems obvious,but believe me,it must be spelled out to avoid confusion.You will be training the parents as well on how to help with the drills,and they just might work with the player at home also.


My nightmare practice scenario is this.A coach is trying to throw batting practice to 1 batter at a time.The coach can't get it over the plate.There is no on deck batter to quickly help pick up balls at the backstop.The rest of the players and coaches are standing in the field looking very bored.

This is a very common practice,and 1 reason that kids don't like baseball practice. It's too boring. Well I'm here to help you take charge of your team with an energizing practice.

Use your creativity and come up with some different stations.Or just use some old stand byes. Hitting stations,throwing stations,catching stations,fielding stations,or pitching stations.

Rotate your coaches and volunteers to different stations each practice to give them another station to learn. Keep track of which person worked what station so you can them experience at all of stations.



What is stressed at each hitting station is a good balanced stance, starting the swing with your bottom hand,along with a strong hip rotation,and balanced high finish or follow through.

We like to use a drill called the Towel Drill. It is simply placing a folded towel under the back elbow of each hitter.Each hitter then gets several balls soft tossed to them one at a time.Each hitter is then trained to rotate the torso to hit the ball without the towel falling out from under their elbow.They quickly catch on after a couple practices.This is a good drill and inexpensive.

Another drill is balanced beam drill.Using a 60 inch 4x4 flat on the ground,have the players hit a ball off of a tee or soft toss to them to see whether their swing is balanced.It will also show you if they are stepping out of the batters box.

I use soft toss all season long.Try a purchase a hitting net to set up wherever you go during the season.Using soft toss you can look at the player's swings to see whether they are swinging correctly. All of the other hitting stations work a different part of the swing.Soft toss is where you can see the progress of the stations.


Baseball skills are learned with repetition.We must guard against boredom however by keeping station times to 15 minutes. Have players hustle from station to station. While others run the stations, the manager can go from station to station and observe players while heaping praise on them.Stop at a station and interject if needed.

Take a water break after all players have cycled through stations, and go over the fundamentals of the drills again.Also preview what they are going to do next,and praise their efforts on previous drills.Have a coach actually demonstrate the drills coming and what expect.Take questions from players if needed, but don't get off topic.90 minutes goes by fast.

Be sure to praise players who are doing drills correctly for their skill level.Remember not all players have the same skill levels, but all players need consistent praise and encouragement.

90 minute practices do not include 15 minute prepractice meeting and warm up time. Please have parents bring kids 15 minutes early, or if you are really on the ball, just schedule practice time 15 minutes earlier.


Parents will not get players to games and practice early if they see coaches and manager getting there late.Set an example right away!

My son had a coach who would always be there when we arrived and we were usually 30 min early for practice and 1 hour early for the game.We only arrived before him twice,and that was because we left even earlier than normal.There were no issues on that team about latecomers.

Getting to games early also helps to get good dugout sides if they are not marked.You can look at field conditions during uncertain weather.You can do some work on fields if needed or permitted.If it was a difficult place to find, you can communicate that to others by phone so they aren't late.It shows other team that you mean business,it may give you a slight psychological edge.


Practice is set for 12 noon

1150 or earlier - you arrive to get make sure everything is set, bases,pitching rubber,equipment, etc...

1145- players arrive hopefully, put them in parallel lines 20-35 ft. apart depending on age group. Have begin warming up using proper mechanics. Any overthrows are to be picked and run back into the line. This prevents more overthrows from further away.

12 noon Call practice to order. Go over what stations are being set up and which adults are running them.Divide players up as equally as possible,splitting up buddies,and or siblings.

If this is 1st practice using stations,please demo for kids what you want at each station.

Station 1 A drill called Fly

Players line up single file, coach throws a football pass type throw over the shoulder of player on the run to make the catch.Run the ball back to the coach on the outside of the line so there are no collisions between players. do this for 10 min.

Station 2 Fly ball drill with tennis balls

Using a tennis racket, hit fly balls to a single file line of players, one at time. Players must use 2 hands with tennis balls or they will have hard time catching them. do this for 10 min.

Station 3 5gal bucket drill

Set up a 5gal bucket at home plate or anywhere else you want.Put players in a single file line, throw them a grounder or fly ball, using proper throwing techniques, attempt to throw baseball into the bucket. Put bucket at least 100' away depending on age group of course. Do this for 10 min.

Station 4 Cut off man drill

Have the players rotate as cut off man,throw or hit ball past the outfielder,have them chase,then pick up ball,using good throwing form, hit the cut off man.Rotate after each throw. 10 min.


Have a water break,go over how drills went.Kid around with players a little and be very positive. Highlight all the good things you saw first, then maybe touch on what needs work. Above all,stay positive,and fun.


Divide into 2 groups 1 at 3rd,another at 1st. Single file lines Have players field some grounders and pop ups, throwing to coaches or catchers 15-20ft up each baseline. 10 min.


Put players into regular positions or close to it.Bring in 2-3 players to hit. Machine or coach pitch.Give each player 7 swings, then rotate to next batter. Each player hits 2 times, then goes out and shags balls. After hitting for 2nd time,call in another player. Always have 1-2 players ready to hit,and have everyone ready to hustle in and pick up balls between hitters.


Call team together, go over things,and announce next practice or game time.Thank everyone for being prompt,especially the parents.


There are many other ways to run a practice, I have given you a basic format that you can modify anyway you see fit.Just don't fall into a rut of doing the same things over and over. Variety is the spice of life and same is true for baseball.

Sometimes you will have entire practices on fielding or hitting. Schedule as many practices as the team's families will tolerate before the season starts.Once the season starts, have team arrive 1 hour before game time for some hitting and fielding workouts.


Practice will make your team better.Well run productive practices will do even more. When you run challenging varied workouts players will develop their skills quicker. Always encourage working hard on their games.Most important is be positive,and be fun.

Chip Lemin has been a promoter of youth baseball since they started using aluminum bats. That's a long time. I have witnessed many good people get into coaching without solid coaching skills and it is not fun for them or the kids.Today's newer coaches are also being shortchanged on sportsmanship, like there is none. Visit my site to sign up for a insightful, informational, free coaching e-course at

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Baseball Hitting - The Movement of the Head is Critical

Article Title:
Baseball Hitting - The Movement of the Head is Critical

By Larry Cicchiello

It is very important to make sure your head is turned and facing the pitcher to ensure that you get a good view of the pitch that will soon follow. Your head should be totally relaxed and pretend that you are simply watching TV. Make sure both the front shoulder and arm are out of the way.

A good point of focus is the pitcher's cap because it's approximately the same height as where the pitch will be released from. The advantage is that your eyes will not have to refocus on the baseball and will be focused already.

What you do when the pitch is released is very important for being a successful baseball hitter. If your head remains turned toward the pitcher at the point of contact, you will be seeing the ball out of the corners of your eyes and this must be avoided. It will not work.

If your head is facing half way between the pitcher and the point of contact, you will see the ball a little better.

If you turn your head directly toward the point of contact, you will get the best possible look at the baseball and this is what you must do. It's a medical fact that you can not see an object as well when looking at it out of the corners of your eyes.

If it's a medical fact, imagine the importance when trying to see a baseball that takes less than a second to get to the catcher's mitt, may have movement on it and you have to decide if it's a ball or a strike! And all this happens in less than one second so you need to see the baseball as clearly as possible.

When it comes to baseball hitting, it is an absolute that you must turn your head if you want to achieve success.

Larry is the president of Larwenty Online Enterprises Inc. and also the author of "Excellent Baseball Coaching: 30 Seconds Away." If you are a baseball player or are involved in baseball coaching at any level of play or a parent who wants to help your child improve, you will be fully equipped! His baseball website offers several FREE baseball tips from his very informative and very fairly priced eBooks.

Larry's baseball website is

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Youth Baseball Practices Don't Have To Be Long To Be Good

Youth Baseball Practices Don't Have To Be Long To Be Good
By Marty Schupak

Back in the late 70's an old college professor of mine was fond of saying, "Don't confuse activity with accomplishment." Jump forward about eight years and imagine me observing a coach running practice for his Little League team. At the start of practice most of the 10, 11, and 12 year olds are very enthusiastic. As the practice progresses I notice only two forms of activity taking place. One has the head coach throwing batting practice, with each hitter getting 10 to 15 swings while each pitcher takes a turn throwing to the assistant coach as the others stand and watch. I, too, stand and watch and I don't know who is more bored-the players or me.
When I saw a member of the board of directors, I commented on how poorly I thought the practice had been run. The board member responded, "If you think you can do a better job, then volunteer to coach." (Me and my big mouth!) But I did just that. And my first practice, though planned differently, ended up being two tedious hours of batting practice and pitchers throwing on the sidelines. Exactly what I had been so critical of myself! After that first practice I told my wife that there must be a better way. Even though I had a master's degree in Phys. Ed from Arizona State University, baseball was the major sport I was least knowledgeable about.

So, I decided to research alternative practice methods. I observed a variety of teams during practice ranging from seven year olds to college level players. I noticed that the best practices were not necessarily the longest and that the most organized coaches wasted little time. On most of the drills every player was involved. It was amazing the way some coaches integrated fun and learning and how creative some of the drills and games were. I began to use some of these techniques with my team. After a little trial and error I was actually able to run a more effective practice in half the time.

To run a practice like this does take preparation, mostly at the beginning of the season. But coaches need not look at this as a chore. It can be as much fun for you as it is for the players.
The youth baseball coach, whether it's Babe Ruth League, Little League, or local Park and Recreation Dept., should make a list of drills at the beginning of the year that they are interested in trying. The idea is to be creative. When my oldest son was eight, I began a practice with a simple relay race, consisting of two lines of six players each. To put a baseball theme into the race, I had each player wear their glove and hold two baseballs in it. The learning benefit of this relay race was to teach kids the importance of squeezing the glove. Another year I was teaching players how to bunt. When the team took batting practice, I put one cone 10 feet directly in front of home plate and another cone 10 feet to the left of the plate. Each player gets two bunts before his regular swings. For each bunt that goes between the cones, the player earns two extra swings. This motivated the players to focus when they bunted. And, it worked!

If a coach plans five to seven drills of ten to twelve minutes in length for each practice, the players will be more attentive and less bored. Don't worry about players not liking certain drills. About a third through the season they will let you know which ones to weed out.

The youth baseball season is unlike any other season. Fathers sneak out of work early, families rarely eat dinner before 8:30 at night and the laundry room is active day and night. As parents and coaches, we should make practices more interesting and fun because during a typical youth baseball season, players spend as much or more time practicing than in actual games.
Be creative and have a great baseball season!

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Baseball Bats - What's the Best Wood?

Baseball Bats - What's the Best Wood?

By David Biddle

Over the past decade, maple baseball bats have become very popular with pros and amateurs alike -- especially after Barry Bonds set all his records using now famous Sam Bats composed exclusively of maple. The theory is that maple is harder than ash and it doesn't flex and bend as much during the energy transfer to the ball the way ash does. In fact, discerning fans can hear the difference between balls hit with ash and maple. Maple has more of a dull popping sound. Ash has that classic CRACK sound that old-school fans revere.

But is maple better? It depends on whom you ask. According to officials with Louisville Slugger, the bats they make for Derek Jeter are all ash, while the bats they make for Alex Rodriguez are maple. Louisville Slugger says that the breakdown between the two woods in Major League Baseball is actually about 50:50.

For those who believe in maple, the idea is that it's stronger and will therefore flex less and last longer. Ash proponents indicate that they think the flex and bend property of ash is actually beneficial to the hitter (this is also why strong hands are so important for hitters).

Maple is typically more expensive than ash. Some of this has to do with supply and demand, but some also simply has to do with the need to subject maple to more stringent drying processes so as to reduce moisture content. Raw maple lumber for bat makers will usually cost about 15-25% more than ash. Obviously, these costs are passed on to the customer.

Bats are also made out of other hard woods. Birch is gaining some popularity, as are hickory and oak now that drying kilns have become more advanced. Bamboo bats are also popular -- especially in Southeast Asia. These bats are actually laminated strips of bamboo held together by a sophisticated adhesive technique. Many baseball junkies believe that birch and bamboo are actually a sort of middle ground between maple and ash. And some people swear by hickory (which is the wood Babe Ruth's bats were made of).

Hybrid bats combining wood with metal, plastic, or bamboo are now being used by amateur players to help them make the switch from metal to wood.

In the end, it's probably fair to say that each player is going to have to decide what type of bat he or she wants to use. Some young players will buy the exact same model bat from a bat maker in both maple and ash, then experiment. Others say they like to use ash in the summer and maple during colder months. Whatever the choice, maybe one of the more fun things about wood bats is that they keep hitters thinking and tinkering with the main tool of their trade.

David Biddle has coached youth baseball for more than 15 years. Of the 33 teams he has skippered, eight have won league championships (from 9U to 14U). He also brought two teams to Philadelphia's city championships (sadly, never to win). Mr. Biddle has taught hitting to more than six hundred young players since 1992. He writes the blog "Hitting with Wood," and published an essay called "Pondering Baseball's Purity" in The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2007.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

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Coaching Baseball Pitchers - Absolute Best Drill You Can Use to Improve Control and Build Confidence

Training Bats - Albert Pujols

Coaching Baseball Pitchers - Absolute Best Drill You Can Use to Improve Control and Build Confidence

By Nick Dixon

Learning to control every pitch and to be able to "hit spots" is a required skill for pitching success at all levels including Little League, High School, College and MLB baseball. There is no better baseball pitching drill for improving a pitcher's control and building a pitcher's confidence than the "Japanese Pitching Drill". I do not know where the name came from. I saw this drill used back in the late 80's at a college summer baseball camp and the coaches called it the "Japanese Drill". When I asked the coaches why they called the drill, the "Japanese Drill", they respond that the drill was called that because it was originated in the country of Japan. I know that if you use this drill regularly, it will definitely build pitching control and confidence.

"Japanese" Pitching Drill

The drill involves a pitcher throwing strikes at varying distances as shown in the diagram below. The catcher is "c" and each spot the pitcher throws from is marked with an "x". The distances shown are for high school and college pitchers. You can reduce the distances between spots and reduce the number of spots for younger players.

C.............. X................X................X..................X................X................X.................X

----------- 10'----------20'---------30'-----------40'---------50'----------60'----------70' (Distances)

The plate and catcher are set at a stationary location and they are never moved. The pitcher will move forward or back from "spot to spot" after throwing a set number of pitches at each location. Normally the spots are marked with cones or plastic round markers. The pitcher should begin throwing at a distance about 1/4 of his normal pitching distance. At the close spots the pitcher will throw at 1/2 speed. You should have 6-8 distance markers with the first being at the starting point and the longest being 1 and ½ times the normal pitching distance. The markers should be in a straight line with the plate. The object of the drill is to develop control by throwing pitches from spots will gradually moving away from and toward the plate. The pitcher is required to throw 3 strikes from each marker before moving to the next. The catcher serves as the umpire.

It is good to have the pitcher throw from each spot going backward and then throw from each spot coming forward. If your pitchers are young, you may want to make then throw just 1 or 2 strikes from each spot. Pitchers gain great confidence when they see that they can throw strikes from a distance farther than their regular pitching distance. They learn to concentrate on the target and throw to the mitt. You will be very pleased from the results you see in the control of your pitchers. Another variation of this drill is to have 2 pitchers competing against each other in a timed drill. The winner is the pitcher that starts at the front, goes to the back, and returns to the front, first. The pitchers must throw 3 strikes at each spot before advancing to the next spot. This is a great drill to teach pitchers to throw strikes under pressure. When more than one pitcher and catcher are involved, make sure that your catchers are far enough apart to prevent a wild pitch from hitting another catcher. It is also a good idea for catchers to wear full gear when participating in this drill.

When two pitchers compete in this drill they learn to work fast, concentrate, and execute a perfect pitch. Make sure your pitchers are in condition for this drill. They will find that throwing strikes from longer distance requires great mechanics and builds arm strength. Make sure your players stretch and warm-up first.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

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Connection - The Engine That Drives the Baseball Swing

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Connection - The Engine That Drives the Baseball Swing
By Dana Maggs

One of the most difficult aspects of learning the rotational swing is developing and understanding what almost all instructors term as staying "Connected". 10 years ago hanging around the baseball and softball fields this term was a virtual unknown among most coaches and instructors.

So, what is connection? Why do I need to stay connected coach? As children we grow up and our intuition tells us that when we pick something up be it a fly swatter, a yard stick, or even a little toy hammer like dads and we swing it, we take our hands to the object we are hitting. This is natural instinct for all young humans. Even if it is the coffee table we just left a mark on and Mom and Dad don't have a happy look on their face. Learning connection is counter intuitive to what all of us have learned as children.

In the world of the rotational swing connection is the engine that drives the ball hard. You will hear all kinds of debates on the internet web blogs and sites on linear and rotational hitting methods. Even among those rotational purest there is debate about which method is best. None of those purest ever debates about connection. It is probably the single thing that they all realize has to happen in the rotational swing.

So how does connection work and how do I know if I am connected in my swing? As the hitter sets up in their stance lets assume that they are in a good athletic position and that they have the bat in position ready to take a swing. They are tilted forward in their stance knees slightly bent. Bat is positioned at a 45 degree angel in their hands or across the ear hole of the helmet. In short cutting the helmet in half if your viewing them from their back arm side. Or the catchers view of the hitter.

Depending on where you're at as an instructor with that particular hitter, they might take a stride, or they might not take a stride. One of the first things I do to a new student that comes to me is stopping the stride for a period of time. I do this to help them develop better rotation methods for the swing. Most students who come to me suffer from what a good friend of mine terms "Rotational deficit". If you take the stride away and teach them how to rotate first then you will see immediate results in quickness and power to the ball. This, in my opinion, not only applies to Rotational hitting but Linear hitting as well. Having taught and used both methods I feel pretty comfortable in that statement.

Now I have a hitter that has good hitting posture and decent rotational skills but is disconnected going to the ball. Disconnection takes on many forms in the rotational swing. I will touch on those a little further down in this article. For now I will state that Disconnection is leak that breaks the rotational engine. It bleeds off power.

As the hitter initiates the swing to the ball they are focused on the first point where they are going to see the ball. I have heard many a coach state watch the hip. That view being the first point of getting a good clear look at the ball. As they initiate the swing they go to toe touch. This creates linear movement towards the ball. At the same time the hands are moving back towards the catcher.

(I am talking about an advanced student in this example) At foot plant the back hip fires (As I teach it) against a firm front side flexed leg. The knob of the bat then initiates the movement of the bat as the hips and the bodies' core start to rotate. The core of the body is now driving the swing. This is THE engine of the rotational swing. As the back arm starts coming around with the rotation the arm starts moving around into the slot. The arm needs to be away from the body and the hand and forearm are stacked on top of each other. If viewed from front with a tee in front of the hitter, the rear arm would be parallel to the tee. This would be as another hitting instructor who is a good friend of mine describes it. When the bat gets parallel to the ground during the swing this is the Bat Lag position.

At this point in the swing the knob of the bat should be directly perpendicular to the axis of the hitters spine. If I stopped the swing right there and took a pencil and placed in on the knob of the bat pointing towards the hitter it should be in line with the belly button. This defines a CONNECTED swing. The arms are not moving but are just holding on to the bat letting the core rotation drive the swing into contact. The other key here is holding that position as LONG as possible during the rotational portion of the swing into contact. The barrel and weight of the bat force the wrist to un-cock creating a whipping effect through the hitting zone into contact with the ball. The engine of rotation combined with the batter being connected and the wrist un-cocking is how the best hitters in the world drive the ball hard in today's game.

Disconnection - The Engine Breakers

There are many things that can occur during the course of the swing that will cause a batter to disconnect or break the box as some instructors call it. The "Box" being the front arm angle that maintains a "Set" position with the bat over the shoulder. When viewed from the front of the hitter it would appear as if they have a box formed with their arm and the bat.

They are:

Taking the hands to the ball.
Dropping the back elbow to the inside (Close to the body) as a first move creating Bat Drag.
Dropping the hands then going to the ball.
The bat not being parallel to the shoulders at contact with the ball (Created by all the above)
Casting the hands.
Throwing the front shoulder open too soon.

I hope this article has given you a better idea of what the term connection means in the context of the rotational swing. I strongly suggest you see a qualified hitting instructor to help you become better connected with your swing so that you too can learn to drive the ball hard to all parts of the field. That is what connection is all about in the rotational swing.

This picture shows an example of a connected swing. Arms are in the power L position and are driven by the core rotation. The bat at contact is on a slightly upward swing plane.

Dana Maggs
Baseball Hitting and Pitching Instructor

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Speed in Baseball - Is the 60 Yard Dash Still Important?

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Speed in Baseball - Is the 60 Yard Dash Still Important?
By Thurman Hendrix

As many know by now, the average body size of Major League Baseball players has greatly increased since around the mid 1990's. Players began to hit more home runs than in the past and coaches stopped calling as many steal attempts in fear of running into outs. Go back and look at the stolen base leaders through the years. In 1982, Rickey Henderson stole 130 bases. Nowadays, anything over 40 is considered a huge year. However, speed is still a big factor in the recruiting process and ultimately may be what gets you a roster spot, a scholarship, or a higher draft pick and signing bonus!

The ability to run is considered one of the five tools that scouts look for when recruiting players. The others are the ability to hit for average, power, throwing-arm strength, and defense. It used to be that speed alone could earn you a roster spot on a major league team. Other than a few rare exceptions, this is no longer the case. Currently in the eyes of many professional scouts, running speed is probably the least important of the five tools. In the past you may have heard a scout say, "Wow, this guy can run. Can he hit at least a little?" Meaning that speed alone could have gotten someone to the big leagues. Any hitting ability would be icing on the cake. Now, you are more likely to hear "Wow, this guy can run, but can he hit?" Meaning, it's great that the player can run, but they wouldn't get called up unless they were a major league hitter. This is, however, starting to change as the league is beginning to clean itself up. Home run totals are down the past few years and major league organizations are starting to put greater emphasis back into speed.

It may sound as if I'm saying speed is not that important. That is not the case at all! While it is true that speed is less important at the major league level, it does still play a huge factor in the high school and college game. This is especially true among teams that play in large, open ballparks and do not hit a lot of home runs. Also, even though professionally it is not as valued as it once was, speed is still a huge factor in your overall draft status and it can even make you appear to be a better hitter by boosting your batting average from beating out infield singles or bunts.

Scouts come across thousands of players and have the tough job of trying to predict who will succeed at the next level. Speed will obviously be the deciding factor when choosing between two players that have equal ability when comparing their other tools. During the recruiting process, speed gets you noticed. If you have ever been to a showcase, one of the first things they will look at is your 60 yard dash time. The purpose of this is to immediately weed some players out. If your 60 time is not where it needs to be for your position, they may have already crossed you off of their "watch" list.

I like to say that when assessing your five tools, each can be classified as a liability, average, or a tool. In terms of speed, a liability would mean that you are so slow for your position that scouts may not even look at what else you can do. Unless you are a super-freak hitter you are probably not getting to the next level. Average speed would mean that you are just fast enough to play at the next level, but it is not really going to impress either. Having speed as a tool means that you run better (sometimes exceptionally better) than most other players at your position. It is not the only thing looked at in scouting, but it is definitely a huge bargaining chip in your favor. Think of it as a credential on a resume. A doctorate degree looks better than a master's degree, a master's degree looks better than a bachelor's degree, which looks better than a GED, which looks better than no degree at all. Obviously, if interviewing for an upper level position, the job recruiter will first look at the person with the doctorate because he has the most credentials. The same holds true in the world of baseball recruiting. In essence, you are interviewing for an upper level position. The more credentials and tools on your resume, the more likely you will be looked at.

To learn how to improve your 60 yard dash and baseball specific speed visit:

Thurman Hendrix is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and specializes in training athletes. As a former pro baseball player he will help you increase speed in a very short amount of time.

This article may be published on your web sites or other electronic publications assuming it is used in its entirety. The resource box, copyright info, and all references must also be included and all hyperlinks must be HTML clickable.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Nation's Winningest High School Baseball Coach Reveals Secrets to Baseball Success

Nation's Winningest High School Baseball Coach Reveals Secrets to Baseball Success
By Rick Cabral

Coach "Guy" Anderson, head coach of the Cordova High School baseball team (suburb of Sacramento, Calif.), calls himself "old school." In 40-plus years he has coached the varsity team to 840 victories, the most wins of any high school coach currently in the nation. Anderson believes his "old school" methods have played a role in the development of the young men who won those games for Cordova High on the ball field.

One of those players is Jerry Manuel, manager of the New York Mets, who was a first round pick in 1972. Another is Geoff Jenkins, who won a World Series ring with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008. Each can attest to Anderson's winning ways. In all, 24 of Anderson's players have been drafted by major league teams, and many more have gone on to play at the college level.

As with most established coaches, Anderson has developed a routine of conditioning and practicing that leads to team victories. His players begin each practice with a series of stretching exercises, then running. When they conclude their running the team participates in a Cordova High tradition of each player running to the center field fence and touching the 360 foot sign.

But it takes more than conditioning and tradition to field a winning club these days. It starts with players who have what Anderson terms "God-given ability," and he admits to seeing fewer players with that kind of skill these days. For instance, this year just 12 students made the Cordova High varsity. In the glory years of the 1980s and '90s, when Anderson's teams won three Sac-San Joaquin Section baseball titles, he often carried up to 22 players on his squad and turned away many more. Today, an intra-squad game is out of the question.

Anderson says one reason for the lack of talented players is that fewer kids play catch with fathers, an outgrowth of single-parent families. Moreover, there are a greater number of distractions-from mobile phone video games to club sports such as rugby and lacrosse, that didn't exist in California in prior decades. Consequently, when they come out for the team now, Anderson says, some players have to be taught even the most fundamental baseball skills.

But if mostly average players is what a coach ends up with, then the kind of program Anderson has developed over the years is crucial to success.

Following warm ups, the team then begins regular throwing. The players begin by taking a knee and throwing a short distance. Once they're limber, they begin throwing in earnest, eventually extending out their throws to 110 feet, and then shortening the throws. Next, they do a tossing drill Coach Anderson calls "quick fire," that requires hand-eye coordination and quick foot movements. Then the players go to their individual defensive positions.

Anderson says he got the idea for these types of drills from "Bud" Wilkinson, who led University of Oklahoma football teams to national championships in 1950, 1955 and 1956, and amassed a 47-game win streak, an NCAA Division 1 record that stands today. Wilkinson was known as an ultra-organized coach, who broke down practices in 10-minute concentrated segments; not a minute wasted and purpose driven. Adopting that concept has garnered Anderson election to the prestigious National High School Hall of Fame and the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and Easton Sports voted him "Master Coach" in 2003.

Asked what one thing he would do different in his coaching career, Anderson offers that he would show more "compassion" while still adhering to his standards. He also advises young coaches to develop a written agreement, spelling out the coach's rules or expectations and requiring both players and their parents to sign off.

This type of attention to detail, and love of the game, helps to build a winning program. It doesn't hurt to have the consistency of a head coach with 40+ consecutive years, either.

"(Baseball) is a special game to me," Anderson says proudly. And Guy Anderson will surely go down as a "special" coach.

Rick Cabral is a Sacramento baseball historian. To listen to his interview with Cordova High School Coach "Guy" Anderson visit and navigate to Teams > High School.

To learn more about Cordova High baseball, visit

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Major League Hitting Drills has Jugs pitching machines and training systems.
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Article Title: Major League Hitting Drills
By Jack Perconte

Major league hitters have very advanced swing fundamentals, which explain how they made it to the major leagues. However, it is important to note that fundamentals are fundamentals. The drills that are designed for little league players are the same drills that major league players perform. There are numerous baseball hitting drills with the best drills being the ones that address the particular hitter's needs. Every hitter, from the major league player to the little league player, has a weak part of their swing. When this weakness is known, hitting drills can be geared towards addressing those areas. Working on correct fundamentals is a continual process for major league players as it is for youth ballplayers.

When I played major league baseball, the off season was the time where I was more concerned with getting in great shape by gaining quickness and strength. I was not as concerned with timing the ball as much as in season. With this in mind, preseason was spent performing drills on the batting tee and with soft toss drills. The important body parts that major league baseball players want to get in shape are their hands and core muscles, including the stomach and hips. With this in mind here are a few major league hitting drills that ballplayers practice to get their hands and hips in shape.

1. One arm drill - hitters will take swings using only one arm with a lighter bat or by choking up on their regular bat. This drill will force them to use the muscles in their fingers, hands, wrists and forearms so that they develop the strength and quickness necessary to hit major league pitching. It will also help them develop the correct swing fundamentals of each hand separately. It is recommended that players take more swings in this manner with their weaker arm.

2. Another popular major league hitting drill is the self-flip drill. With this drill, players will begin by holding the bat with their lead arm only and flip a ball up in the air with their rear hand. The ball should be flipped no higher than eye level and in the hitting zone, at which time the hitter grabs the bat with both hands and hits the ball. This drill develops quick, strong hands and requires a good fundamental swing to hit line drives.

3. Fast hips can be developed with the quick swing drill. Players will swing five times in a row forward and backward as fast as they can. Players should be sure to finish their swing to the middle of their back before they reverse the bat as fast as they can. This drill can also be done with a partner who flips five balls in a row to the hitter, releasing each ball when hitter returns to hitting position. This drill will also help overall balance, which is another key ingredient to a good baseball swing. (See following drill)

4. Balance beam drill - players stand on a balance beam and take swings at game speed, with the goal of completing the swing while staying on the beam. An example of this drill and of making a usable balance beam can be found in my book, "The Making of a Hitter."

As the season begins, major league baseball players tend to work on timing and vision drills. This is mostly done with correct batting practice habits with flip drills from the coach or regular pitched balls from a batting practice coach. Good hitters will always try to hit the ball where it is pitched in the strike zone and try to watch the ball hit the bat at contact. They will not swing at pitches outside the strike zone. Following are a few more major league hitting drills that also help hitters:

5. Back knee pickup drill - hitters swing and pick up their back knee, allowing it to rotate towards the pitcher with the swing. This drill develops hitters' front side and weight transfer as they will have to keep their front shoulder going towards the ball as their weight transfers. Both of these are necessary for good contact and power.

6. No stride drill - hitters take their regular swing without the initial stride. Many hitters get in trouble when they jump at the ball. This major league hitting drill will allow them to stay back and rotate instead of lunging at the ball. Doing this drill after the previous drill is a good idea.

It is important to note that using a batting tee for taking productive swings is a must for all serious ballplayers. The batting tee is an important device for major league hitting drills as well as for young baseball players. Coaches and hitters should consult instructional manuals or a good hitting coach so they know how to use a batting tee for the best results. All hitting drills can be done on a batting tee and will help groove a perfect baseball swing. Hitting balls solidly and on the line is always the hitter's goal, whether hitting in a game or with hitting drills.

Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball hitting lessons advice can be found at Jack is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his parenting blog can be found at

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Baseball Coaching Digest - the Top 10 Worst Youth Baseball Coaching Excuses of All Time

Baseball Coaching Digest - the Top 10 Worst Youth Baseball Coaching Excuses of All Time
By: Nick Dixon

If you coach baseball, you are going to hear your share of excuses from other coaches. If you are like me and most coaches, you absolutely hate to hear anyone make an excuse for bad behavior or poor performance. But, it really make me furious when I hear a coach make an excuse. Coaches are in the job of teaching kids to be accountable and responsible. They should never try to justify a mistake or poor team performance by making an excuse.

Most coaches refuse to make excuses. They understand that behavior and actions have consequences. However, there is that small percentage of coaches that are always ready with a reason or excuse for poor team performance.

The Baseball 2Day Coaching Journal surveyed baseball coaches. One of the questions was "What was the worst excuse you ever heard from a coach?"

Here are the top 10 worst coaches excuses of all time:

#10..."I forgot how many outs there were. The umpire should have told me"

#9...."They are only kids... they don not know any better. They are not a very smart bunch."

#8...."You should give up your practice time because I scheduled a game on this field without consulting the field schedule because I helped found this league."

#7...."I Can not get my short stop to come to practice. He has not practiced in 2 weeks." (shortstop started the game and made several crucial errors)

#6...."That kid is not coachable. He knows it all at the age of 12." (When talking of a kid)

#5...."I was too busy talking to my wife to watch that play." (coach missed a great defensive play by his third baseman)

#4...."I was riding around town and I did not know what time it was." (assistant coach missed a scheduled practice)

#3...."I thought the game was canceled because of the rain." (Assistant coach arrived late for the game because he assumed that the game was rained out - it rained at his home, but not at the field.)

#2(tie)...."We do not play good in early games" (youth coach after losing a Saturday morning game)

#2(tie)...."We do not play good in late games" (youth coach after losing a Saturday late night game)

#1(tie)...."I was talking on my cell phone."(Coach of the batting team did not get into the third base coaching box until his team had two outs in the inning)

#1(tie)...."I was texting my wife" (Coach failed to shake hands with the opposing coaches after the game.)

I know that you feel like I do. I feel that many of these guys are wasting their time attempting to coach youth baseball. If their excuses are true indications of their level of commitment and dedication, they need do what is best for the team and resign.

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. Coach 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 also a contributing writer for BaseballCoachingDigest, the Youth Baseball Digest, the Baseball Parent Guide, the Baseball 2Day Coaches Journal, and Blog4Coaches.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Baseball Drills - Offensive Pressure Creates Opportunities

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Article Title:
Baseball Drills - Offensive Pressure Creates Opportunities
By Nate Barnett

One of the best ways to force long innings (when you are on offense of course) and to win more games is to put added pressure on the defense. There are multiple ways of doing this, a couple of which are outlined here. Understanding the concerns of a defense and exploiting those concerns are valuable techniques any good coach will insert into his baseball drills.

Pressure Cooker #1 - Run Like the Wind:

Don't skip this part because you, your son, or the team you coach has little speed. You don't need any to understand this concept. The more offensive movement is created on the base paths, the more potential there is for defensive mistakes. Create movement the following ways:

A. Bigger lead offs. Most youth baseball players don't get a proper lead off at any base. Because of this, the defense doesn't feel the perceived threat of the runner. How long is a good lead? A runner should be able to rotate and dive (body fully extended) back to the bag in time if he is watching the right movements from the pitcher. Getting aggressive leads will do two things. First, it will force the pitcher to split concentration between the runner and the hitter. This will help out the hitter as pitch location may improve with the lack of focus from the pitcher. Secondly, the more throws drawn by the runner at first base (primarily) can results in potential overthrows as well as an increased opportunity to utilize a stolen base or a hit and run play.

B. Take aggressive turns on the bases. I frequently see many younger players after hitting a baseball, jog down to first base and take a small turn around first. This puts zero pressure on the defense. The first goal on any hit to the outfield is to reach second base. The mentality that every hit is a double will help runners become more aggressive. Obviously I'm not advocating running bases wildly, I'm simply promoting adding some extra heat on the defense to provoke some mistakes.

Pressure Cooker #2 - Have a Pitch Plan

It's quite common to watch hitters all the way through high school swing at pitches quite out of the zone. Most of the time this is caused from a lack of a game plan, or improper teaching during baseball drills. Each hitter should have a specific pitch plan based upon his hitting strengths. Every hitter has a special pitch, or one that is more favorable to hit than others. This needs to be the focus early in the count. No other pitches should be offered at early in the count other than the favorite pitch. The only thing that would change this scenario would be if a coach called some sort of offensive play.

A more selective approach to hitting will put pressure on defensive two different ways:

A. More pitches will be thrown by pitchers which will (hopefully) force a pitching change earlier in the game. Since more relievers in youth baseball are not as good as starters, this is a plus for the offense.

B. Getting better pitches to hit will create more baseballs in play. The more balls hit hard there are, the greater chance there is for a mistake by the defense.

Finally, there is no secret that perceived pressure causes more mistakes. If an offense can manufacture pressure and remain confident in doing so, they will enjoy watching an error filled defense play more timid and give games away.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball designed to improve the mental game of baseball in athletes. Learn how to help your game by improving the skill of mental baseball

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Tips For a Great Batting Practice

Batting Practice Training Bats

Article Title: Tips For a Great Batting Practice
By Mike Posey

Batting practice is an important ingredient to every practice, but it can also be a time waster. Many players at a young age accomplish little during an ineffective BP session. Here are a few tips to help every coach run a quick paced, exciting, BP session.

Batting Practices that Rock!

Stay in Small Groups. Divide your team into groups of 4 or 5. One group can hit BP, one can be in the field shagging balls, and one group can be with another coach in the batting cages working on tee drills or toss drills.
Good Batting Practice Pitchers Throw Strikes. A good BP pitcher must throw a lot of strikes and keep the pace moving. We also use a hack-attack pitching machine twice a week to supplement our pitching. Use coaches to throw BP when possible and let the players throw in scrimmages.
Take Quick Short Rounds Hit in quick short rounds of no more than eight (8) swings. Keep the hitters moving in and out. Usually hit 3-5 rounds.
Have a Goal for Each Round Each round must have a purpose. First round can be to the opposite field, second round can be hit and run, third round can be moving runners over from second, etc.
Use a Lightning Round at the End. Lightning rounds can be fun as the last round. The concept of a lightning round is every hitter gets one pitch, if he hits a line drive then he gets a second pitch. Every line drive will result in another chance. If they miss, then the next player jumps in. Keep them moving in and out.
Use a Roll On Batting Tunnel A portable roll on tunnel will help BP move much faster. Every league should invest in a good roll on to use every day at practice.
Hustle make sure everyone is busy and hustles when changing groups. Group in the field can rotate to the cages, the cage group rotates to the field BP, and the BP hitters go to the field. Use a stop watch or field timer if needed (you can even use an air horn when its time to change groups, train them to hustle)
Running the Bases If you have enough players for a fourth group, then add a base running group. If not, you can have groups of four or five, with two base runners while the others hit. But plan to practice base running at times during BP.
Take Ground Balls If possible, have fielders rotate into short and second. A coach (or volunteer) can hit fungo ground balls in between BP pitches.
Situational Hitting Some BP sessions can include a round of situational hitting. The coach calls out the situation for the hitter to execute (if you have runners on base, put them in a situation). For example, runners on third with no outs. (hit a ground ball in the infield or outfield fly ball) Runner at second base with no outs (hit behind the runner to move him up to third base)

Batting practice should be fun. Keep them moving and throw strikes.

Mike Posey "CP"
Expert Baseball Tips
Baseball tips from a championship coach's perspective and experience, offering creative insights into helping others learn the game of baseball.

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The Categories they have are: BatAction Hitting Machines, Hurricane Hitting Machines, Batting Cages, Pitching Machines, Jugs Equipment, Game and Practice Baseballs, Protective Practice Screens and Nets, Portable Pitching Mounds, Baseball DVDs & Books, Clearance Items on Sales, NEDCO Bataction Replacement Parts, Baseball Training Equipment, Youth Baseball Training Equipment, Training Bats, Pitching & Throwing Trainers, Defensive Trainers, SKLZ Hurricane Replacement Parts and Much Much More! Visit today!