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Friday, July 26, 2013

Hitting Mechanics - 400 Swings Per Hour

Baseball Hitting Mechanics - More baseball Practice Swings

By Guest Author: Brian Schreder

I recently posted the details about hitting fundamentals (stance, loading, bat speed generation, swing, follow through) and the feedback was pretty consistent. "Great description, but where are the drills to perfect the swing!" Truth be told, the drills we do can be found all over the web. The secret sauce is not in some special new drill, but in organizing the hitting practice to maximize the fundamentally correct swings to develop proper muscle memory.

Before I put together the 60 minutes of drills, let me reiterate that perfect practice makes perfect play. If the players are not swinging with correct fundamentals all they are doing is reinforcing bad muscle memory. Bad muscle memory means there will be "holes" in the swing, which translates into offensive outs and player frustration. Perfect practice creates good muscle memory that means more hard hit balls.

What we do is set up six different hitting stations around the field and divide the team into six groups (try to keep only two players per group). To get 400 swings in 60 minutes using six stations for one hour allocates 10 minutes per station. The pitching machine station can only provide about 40 swings in the allotted time. This leaves us with 360 swings for 5 stations; therefore, you must average 72 perfect swings per station per player.

Here are some example stations:

1. Overload / Underload practice swings: 5 sets of 10 overload and 10 underload = 100 swings focused on bat speed. Practice swings without a ball develops a good fundamental swing with good balance.

2. Pitch location tee work: 2 sets of 10 inside, 10 middle, and 10 outside = 60 swings focused on hitting location and driving the ball to all fields. Working off a tee adds the element of hitting the ball without ball movement so the batter can focus on another element, in this case driving the ball to all fields. By removing the ball movement a batter can develop good balance and contact point location to be able to hit to all fields.

3. Semicircle soft toss: coach soft tosses 10 balls from the front, 10 from the side, 10 from behind, 10 from the side, and 10 from the front = 50 swings focused on hitting the center of the ball. Coach soft toss adds the element of a slow moving ball with the batter focusing on hitting the center of the ball at the contact point for line drives into the outfield.

4. One handed tee work: 3 sets of 10 front hand only and 10 back hand only = 60 swings focused on hand movement through the hitting zone. The front hand guides the bat through the hitting zone while the back hand provides the power to the swing. This drill isolates the hand movement through the hitting zone.

5. Wiffle ball short toss: 3 sets of 10 inside, 10 middle, and 10 outside = 90 swings focused on putting the whole swing together but with the ball moving at a slower speed than during the game. At a short distance, the coach can locate the pitch at different positions within the strike zone to provide additional batting practice for hitting to all fields.

6. Batting practice off a machine: 40 swings focused on timing the swing. By mixing up machine balls from different manufactures, the ball movement and speed are slightly varied to simulate different pitcher's ball movement. It is very difficult to teach hitting mechanics off a machine, but can be very effective with batter timing.

There is nothing special about this set of stations other than you can get a lot of swings very quickly and isolate the individual hitting mechanics. We will use different station drills throughout the season to provide variety and work on specific skills.

What I want to encourage is that you, as a coach, think about how to maximize the number of swings per practice by sub-dividing the players into smaller groups and use multiple hitting stations. What drills do you know that fall into these broad categories? Okay, switch them in for variety. ( provides insights for parents, coaches, and young athletes around the world. Youth-Athlete also provides tournament listings (, suggestions to parents and coaches that enable a successful season, more on hitting mechanics (, and a community for open questions.

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=========================== - The Ultimate Baseball Training Store - Free Hitting Drills & Tips - The best batting tee in baseball

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baseball and Hitting - 4 Reasons to Be Using the Fence Drill

By Baseball Coaching Digest Guest Author: Bill Bathe

There are many drills used for baseball that will help you when you are trying to improve your offensive production. However, there is one drill that I particularly like and has the most overall effect on your swing. And that is the fence drill.

Here are 4 reasons why you should be utilizing the fence drill and why it is so important.

•Promotes balance. Probably the most important aspect in any sport is the proper utilization of your balance. Never is this more illustrated then when using the fence drill. If you are not doing well on your balance, you will not be able to perform this drill very well. You need to keep your balance and it all starts with the right setup and the right balance. Rule number one, get your balance.

•Promotes an inside out swing. What do we mean when we say inside out? It simply signifies a path that your hands take when attacking the ball. It is the same approach that you see in golf. If you think about it, the shortest path to the ball is a direct path that is obtained by the often used phrase "inside out swing". It isn't rocket science and it is used in all sports. If we look at the first two reasons, we start with balance and move on to the inside out swing.

•Teaches proper swing plane. Again, what do we mean by this? I am sure you have heard the term "swing plane" in golf. Well, it is the same thing in baseball. When you are utilizing proper balance and proper inside out approach, you are developing your correct swing plane. This is all fundamentals and it begins with the balance and progresses to eventually you developing your proper swing plane to the ball. This is the swing that you want to repeat and work on over and over again. Use video taping to review your swing and have your coach watch you as you perform the fence drill to make sure that you are executing it properly. Remember, you want to do it right. It is not important how many times you do it, but it is important that you are doing the drill correctly so you can build on your development.

•It builds confidence. I know what you are thinking and are wondering how a fence drill can build confidence. When you are doing your drills correctly you are going to see improvement in your swing. This translates into better performance on the field which translate into building confidence. It is definitely a confidence booster.

Baseball's fence drill appears to be a simple and unimportant drill when it comes to your swing. Don't be fooled, it is a powerful drill that will greatly improve your swing by allowing you to build the fundamentals of balance and an inside out swing path. This will lead to a better performance for you on the field.

Bill Bathe - former major league ballplayer who played for the Oakland A's and S.F. Giants and played in the 1989 world series. To learn more about the baseball fence drill, visit Baseball Fence Drill Also, to learn more about improving your swing using a fungo, visit Baseball Fungo Drill

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Five Maverick Baseball Batting Drills Revealed

As I sit back and think about my playing days, I can't help but think I didn't question enough people about their methods of training. I took for granted that my high school coach, or the local hitting instructor had a legitimate theory on how to develop me as a hitter. Now as coach, I look back on the hundreds of camps and the dozens of instructors I had and can't help but think that I wasted a good majority of my time. Unfortunately, baseball has become oversaturated with "new" drills. If you are not careful, you will train your players in circles instead of helping them make any real progress. This is precisely why I have put together the top 5 baseball batting drills that your players can start using today, and begin to see some real results.

Unfortunately, the baseball community is obsessed with statistics. In fact, almost every major league coach has a book of statistics in the dugout with a numerical story about each player. Over the years this sort of analysis paralysis has trickled down to even the youngest players and that is all they focus on. As a result, this has made coaching baseball even at the youngest level very difficult because players become resistant to change. Players, and people in general, always feel they know what is best for them and when you factor in the idea of getting a hit or playing time, you can rest assured you are going to have help them see improvement immediately in order to bridge any real gaps during training. If you don't, you will hear phrases like, "It feels uncomfortable", or "That doesn't feel right I am going to do it my way."

That sort of reaction isn't anything you should take personally because players hate change. It's nothing unique to players, people hate change too because it forces them outside of their comfort zone to experience something different. Usually players are emotional that they aren't doing well and it is a loosing battle all the way around. Therefore, instead of trying to change players, I like to challenge players with drills, so they have to change. At heart, everyone loves a challenge and will do their best to complete the challenge if put in front of them. Therefore, why not design drills that challenge players to make their swing better. The top 5 drills do exactly that! I use a batting training technique I call "Swing over train" or "swing exaggeration". It involves step specific drills that leave players no option but to adjust their swing to perform the drill.

Unorthodox baseball batting drill number 1, the Samurai Drill. To my knowledge, I am only one in America that does this drill with players. I say this because not only have I never seen it, but no matter who I talk to I hear, "I have never seen that before!" This drill was inspired by a group of players I call "weight loaders". These players have trouble separating their hands and front leg from their body during load portion of the swing. So here is what I came up with. Players should start with their feet together and their hands extended in front of their body out towards the pitcher; sort of like Ichiro or Ryan Howard. Then we break down the swing into two sections, the load, and then swing. When you tell your player to load, you want his hands to draw across is body back to the hitting position and you want his front leg to extend out towards the pitcher. Note, his body should remain stable and 99% of his weight should be on his back foot. Once the player has performed the load correctly, he may swing. This batting drill is done to help players understand how to disconnect their hands and front leg during load portion of the swing. If you are looking for why this is important, I want refer you to my article on the load.

Batting Drill #2 the Oar Drill. Before you right this drill off as something just for the younger kids, I want to let you know I have done this with 18-year-old kids. Older doesn't necessarily mean better, it just means older. In this drill we remove the bat and replace it with a small four foot oar. Then we take the oar and place it behind the player's back, flat side open as a hitting surface. As coach you soft toss tennis balls and the player has no option but to turn his back foot in order to have the flat side of the oar hit the ball. My father did this drill with our little league team and it is still the best drill for helping young players how to use their hips to hit the baseball.

Top 5 Baseball Batting Drill Number Three: Top Hand Drill. Out of all the drills I put my players through, this is the drill they struggle with the most. This is partly because using the hands is the most highly misunderstood step of the swing, but because players simply do not understand what it means to drive their hands to the inside part of the baseball. For this drill, have your player grip the bat with both hands. Then, have him open his top hand so just his palm is touching the bat. After that, he should place the back of his top hand on the other side of the handle. Finally, flip the hand over so the palm of his hand is on the opposite side of the handle and his thumb is pointing down. Note: Never grip the bat with your top hand. The goal is to push the handle of the bat through the zone with your top hand as you swing. For those of you out there who think you will not be able to generate any power, I have seen my players hit doubles off the wall in batting practice to all fields. The key is to extend your top hand to the field of play you want to hit the baseball. Goal: Understand what it feels like to drive your hands hard to the baseball.

Batting Drill #4 the Carrier Drill: Young players have trouble conceptualizing "staying long through the hitting zone" and gaining extension. However, if you make their concepts come to life, now you have something to work with. For this drill you are going to need two batting tees lined up at that same height about 17" apart. Then you are going to place a ball on each batting tee. The idea is to hit both baseballs with one swing. I relate this concept to landing a plane on an aircraft carrier. Once baseball is at the begging, and one baseball is at the end. In order to hit the both baseballs, you must land the bat on the aircraft carrier and keep it flat through the zone.

Batting Drill #5 the Reverse Bucket Drill. I have been called unorthodox plenty of times in my life, and this drill is no different. Understanding how to finish high and through the zone is a learned skill, not a natural reaction. Must young kids are caught up in rotating around their body to generate as much power as they can instead of finishing forward after contact. Here is how we change that. For this drill you are going to need a bucket or chair. Then you tell your player to put is back leg up on the bucket or chair. From there, the player loads and swing. If the player is off balance or finishes around his body, the bucket or chair will fall over. However, if they work through the ball everything will stay in place and they will finish high through the baseball. As a note, players use more of their upper body to swing during this drill.

If you take these batting drills into your next batting training session you will be amazed at the adjustments you player will make in just a few short rounds. These drills challenge players to become better and force them away from their old tired swing. As you break their comfort barrier, they become more open and receptive to your feedback and you are able to gain real, sustainable progress, that will help them have success on the diamond for years to come!

Get more effective batting lessons from our blog! When you want to improve your baseball batting skills, you can get the complete information you need today!

by Robert Wicks Source:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What Is A Fielding Slump?

What Is A Fielding Slump?

By Guest Author Jim Bain

Everyone has heard of, and all of us sometime or another experienced, a hitting slump, but very little is ever discussed about a fielding slump. What exactly is a fielding slump? Good question.

Simply defined as best I can, " a fielding slump is the result of a simple physical error which creates a mental and emotional fear of the hit baseball." Say what? It's a phenomenal event which some players are more prone to experience than others depending on their attitude and mental make-up.

Sometimes when a player, especially a player who demands perfection from themselves, makes a simple fielding error such as the ball going between his legs or a wild throw, a mental roadblock is immediately thrown up creating a fear of repeating the error.

This of course is silly, but if you've ever experienced this you know what I'm talking about. This fear may begin slowly but quickly escalates to the point the player almost prays that the ball is not hit to him. Guess what, the ball seems to always find you.

A quick sideline example. As a youth I had a very strong throwing arm and was always positioned at third base. In a particularly important game, I remember it as if it were yesterday, I overthrew the first baseman and allowed the winning run to score. From that point forward I could never make a strong throw to first, but aimed the ball instead.

The mental or emotional block was so immediate and strong that I had to be switched to second base. Notice my fielding wasn't affected, it was as good as ever, but I couldn't stop aiming, or short arming the ball. I know the pain of a fielding slump.

I couldn't correct my problem, but through the years of minor league baseball and coaching I've learned a few tricks which can help you or your player to overcome the slump.

Mental Fix:

The first thing which must be addressed is the mental aspect, as the physical aspect is normally not the issue, although it can be. 1. Stopping and reflecting on your past accomplishments. There was a time when you wanted every ball hit to you as you were confident you could handle any situation. Try and recall some of the great plays you made. This is not being arrogant, you're thinking to yourself, plus it's a fact you made these plays.

2. If you stop and think about it, the brain must tell the body what to do in order to field the ball. Go back to basics and mentally review every aspect of catching the ball, from staying down to watching the ball into the glove.

3. After reestablishing the basics, use visualization to actually see every step of you performing the basics. Visualization is a powerful tool and seeing yourself properly fielding one ground ball after another has an immense impact on your physic and muscle memory.

Physical Fix:

Sometimes it doesn't matter the culprit resulting in a fielding slump is mental, the mind will still blame it on the body and this is not abnormal.

1. After performing the mental fixes from above, it's time to institute the physical fixes. Again, go back to the basics! Field slowly hit ground balls, hundreds of them if that's what it takes. Your intent is to re-grain the mental and muscle memory, and it helps you read the ball, something you never know enough about.

2. Begin fielding harder hit balls. It is imperative you don't only field the grounders, but aggressively attack them. Don't let the ball play you, which is a major by-product of a fielding slump.

3. Finish the fix by fielding harder hit balls away from you which forces you to get your feet and body into the correct fielding position. This will conclude your re-training and restore your confidence.

Remember this... for any lingering doubts, the total end to your fielding slump is identical to the one hard hit ball which ends a hitting slump, one great play away.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player and member of "Baseball Coaches of America" shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

Be sure to check out his 2 books on Amazon, "The Pitch" and "Season of Pain". Great reading about baseball.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Baseball Coaching Digest: The Albert Pujols Hitting Drill

*These hitting drills are not intended to create the "perfect" swing. They are merely intended for the player who is unaware of BASIC hitting mechanics and would like to practice some drills on his/her own. Most of the players these videos were created for have little/no baseball experience and need "triggers" to understand the very basics of the baseball swing.*

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Can Baseball Poise Be Taught?

Can Baseball Poise Be Taught?

By Jim Bain

You'll sometimes hear fans, bear in mind these are mostly relatives of the players, at amateur baseball games comment on the composure, determination, toughness or mental attitude of a player.

What they are attempting to describe, and everyone has their own mental conception, is the Poise a player maintains during a critical game moment. The question is... can Poise be taught?

To make sure we're all on more or less the same page, I'll define Poise as the ability to keep one's nerves and emotions in check when confronted with a game changing situation, while maintaining 100% ability.

This poise issue pertains to all players, all positions and all situations, such as a batter who represents the last hope to drive in the tying run or the game is lost, but because the pitcher encounters the situation more often than any other player, coaches will tend to use them as their example. They want a pitcher with poise.

Let's look at some of the various tell tale signs of a pitcher having poise.

1. He is not arrogant, but is confident he has the ability to pitch out of any situation. He never wants to be pulled from the game.

2. He realistically assesses the situation, it's not a time for denial, and formulates a plan of action to deal with the situation. If he walked the bases loaded he must take responsibility for his control, not blame the lousy umpire.

3. He will do whatever it takes to compose himself and stick to the plan. In a critical situation, if you have a pitcher who reacts to a called ball then waits impatiently for the return throw from the catcher, he is about to or has, lost his poise.

It's human nature to experience disappointment when a call, especially a close call or the pitcher honestly believes he threw a strike, goes against him. It's how you deal with the disappointment which dictates poise.

Same scenario, but when the pitcher receives the return throw, walks to the back of the mound rubbing up the ball, then returns to the pitching rubber, has maintained his poise. He took time for the negative feelings to dissipate, refocused and began anew.

4. Makes quality pitches when it's absolutely necessary. Instead of grooving a belt high fastball in an attempt to get a strike, he throws a breaking ball to an over-anxious hitter. He remains a pitcher... not a thrower.

There are many more actions which indicate a pitcher with poise, but again, can poise be taught?

The answer is as simple as looking at the soldiers in our military. Military training teaches you everything possible in order to perform your duty under duress. You are drilled and taught to perform complex functions without thought or hesitation, your training takes over.

However, no matter how intense or realistic the training is, the element of pure terror, which can only be invoked by actual combat, can not be simulated or experienced.

So without the actual fear, the training is worthless? Obviously, that's ridiculous. The reason I gave this example is you'll hear coaches say that without the actual feeling of game pressure, practicing poise is worthless. I say ridiculous.

Practice methods:

1. Literally set up critical situations for your pitcher to deal with during practice.
(a.) Bases loaded with 1 out;
(b.) Have runners on base;
(c.) Have a batter actually trying to hit the pitch.

2. Challenge the pitcher to throw 6 strikes in a row while you stand behind him watching. Suddenly 6 pitches will seem like 60 and your shear presence will create pressure to perform.

3. Set up situations where the pitcher is asked to Limit the Damage.
(a.) Bases loaded 1 out;
(b.) Have pitcher attempt to limit the number of runs scored before attaining 3 outs.

There's no doubt the element of actual game pressure adds significantly to a player's ability to remain poised. However, the coach's job is to train and teach the pitcher how to handle all sorts of pressure cooker situations, leaving the game pressure as the only addition to the pitcher's problems.

No matter how difficult, dealing with one issue vs. numerous is much more accomplishable.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player and member of "Baseball Coaches of America" shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

Be sure to check out his 2 books on Amazon, "The Pitch" and "Season of Pain". Great reading about baseball.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Youth Baseball Mental Training

By Miles A Noland

The game of baseball cannot begin without the action of one position. In basketball there is a lot of focus on the point guard. In football there is a lot of focus on the quarterback. These are important positions, but there is no position that is more important than a pitcher in baseball.

There is so much responsibility that involves a pitcher. From throwing different pitches, knowing the various hitters, fielding their position, pickoff moves, to controlling the running game, to dealing with adversity, mental focus, and dealing with fatigue, a pitcher has a lot to deal with.

If one of these important parts of pitching is missing, you do not have a complete pitcher. Missing one of these components negatively affects all of the other components. Most pitchers are not advanced to be good in all of these areas, however, when you realize what areas a pitcher is weak in you can begin to attack it and improve. The mental game in pitching is so important, oftentimes more important than the physical part.

Andy Pettitte, great guy who I hung out with in the Dominican

You must teach your pitchers to think one pitch at a time. It is very easy to think about the past or future, and this inhibits your ability to be best the possible in the present.

Cues such as get to the top of the baseball, or take a deep breath and focus on executing the pitch, create movement at release are great for creating the right type of focus.

Attempting to throw harder in times of struggle or getting mad at infielders or the umpire are typical things that make a pitchers struggle even worse. Teach your pitchers how to coach themselves and watch them develop right under your eyes.

P.S. One pitch at a time, one pitch at a time. Oftentimes a mound visit is very effective in calming a pitcher down. Tell him to step off the mound and focus on dominating the things he can control. What can he control?

1. His focus
2. Executing each pitch
3. Attacking the strike zone
4. Taking deep breaths
5. His body language
Things he can't control?

1. Where the ball is hit
2. What the umpire calls
3. If his fielders catch the ball
4. The mound conditions
5. Bad luck
Get your pitchers to focus on the controllables and they will deal with failure and adverse conditions much better.

Coach it up,

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