Baseball Coaching Questions & Answers

School and Playing Choices June 08 2018, 0 Comments


I would also like to inquire on what team he should be trying out for next year. He has
excelled well in middle school baseball, and his
coaches advise him to start off at Junior Varsity and then play at the varsity level for the next 3 years.Is it a good idea to skip freshman for J.V. and play for 3 years on varsity, even though he has the capabilities and determination? Whats your advice?
thanks for the help, I would really appreciate it.
The common denominator here is that no matter what level he plays or any age he has  to play, I have seen good players skip a level and then have to sit on the bench at the level they are trying to play because they were too good for the level below but they were quite good enough for the level they are suiting up for.  This would be true in any sport. I personally would rather have a kid play at a lower level and be a player and get a lot of time than to be a level up (which kids find prestigious sometimes) but not get a near enough time. My answer keep him at the level he can start at.

I would add one more thing here, as a teacher and a coach for 34 years I find parents put too much value on a players performance in the athletic arena and not enough in the academics. Don't get me wrong I spent thousands of dollars of my kids athletic career and they got college scholarships but that's where it stopped as will happen with almost every single kid. With the exception of very rare individuals we should be going to school for its educational benefits and playing sports, not the other way around going to play sports and try to get education just because it's there. As good as your boy is the odds of him doing anything more than getting help with his education are rare, in fact it's my belief that if he has enough talent to make a living playing sports, then they will find him no matter what.

Thank you for your interest and hope we can help you sometime. And these are my thoughts and comments is nothing written in stone you and I are just having a conversation, mine just comes from a different perspective.

Coach Arnald Swift.

Catching the Ball March 07 2018, 0 Comments

My son is 5-1/2 and will be playing t-ball this spring.
I am wanting to practice playing throw and catch with him.
What is the best way to teach  him how to catch with his glove.
It seems hard for him to manipulate his glove... that is to get it to open and close, and the coordination of catching it with the glove.   Maybe I'm expecting too much at this young age?  Should I just encourage him to throw to me, and let me toss it back?

    John MacKinnon, Santa Maria, CA and Michelle
Thank you for the question it is a good one and most parents/coaches don't even think about it.
There are a couple of things that you need to remember when catching a ball.  The first and foremost is that your fingers must be pointed toward the ground if the ball is below your waist, and your fingers must be pointed up to the sky if the ball is above your waist.  This has to happen and you will find very quickly that he wants to have his fingers pointed downward all the time regardless of how high or where the ball is.
What I recommended what I do with real young kids learning to: play catch, roll the ball to them, throw underhand flies ( not very high just a little bit over their head) with a tennis ball.  Then believe it or not the most important thing of all is to take the glove away from them. It is a very interesting phenomenon without the glove he will automatically have his fingers and hands in the right position.  Please play catch with him without the glove for at least three or four weeks straight.  I consider playing catch with him putting the ball on the ground, straight at him and up in the air.
After you've done this for awhile and he is catching the ball with his fingers in the correct position even if he drops the ball a lot don't worry.  Now get him a small cheap glove at Wal-Mart or someplace, one of the biggest mistakes we make is a glove is too big and too stiff and when he starts learning he needs  just a small limber glove.
Thank you for your question and I certainly hope you and your boy have fun being out in the yard and learning to catch the ball because it's great time together and certainly an important baseball skill.  But you're also creating a good athletic skill as well as the time spent.  Please do not get too frustrated with him as this is not an easy hand eye coordination skill to learn but it will come.  Don't forget take the glove away from you learn to catch with your hands.
Best of luck
Coach Arnald Swift

Warm-Up Exercises Before Game Or Practice January 04 2018, 0 Comments

how do we get the boys ready to play or practice. Frame of mind, Before, drills, attitude, organization,

Old Enough to Throw Breaking Pitches November 12 2017, 1 Comment

George writes and asks:

    I was  wondering how old I should be before I start throwing breaking balls.


I personal feeling on this are held by most good coach's that have seen a lot of kids pitch.
We would like to see you hold off until puberty, so that bone growth and muscle development are starting to be there.
This is not to say there are not things any kid pitching can't do to be effective.  The first and foremost is to change the grip.  EX: 1 finger-1 seam fastball, 2 seam fastball, 4 seam fastball, most important change up using 3 fingers, 4 fingers all with the same arm action as that of a fast ball.
And as I have mentioned before learn to pitch to spots and situations.  To be a pitcher we have to be able to throw strike's if we can't do that then you can't pitch no matter what type pitch or how hard you throw.
Coach Arnald Swift


Would like too know you opinion on this answer/subject.

When to Start Breaking Pitchs October 21 2017, 0 Comments

George & Lucy (ask)

I was  wondering how old I should be before I start throwing breaking balls.George
I personal feeling on this are held by most good coach's that have seen a lot of kids pitch.

Coach Swifts answer

We would like to see you hold off until puberty, so that bone growth and muscle development are starting to be there.
This is not to say there are not things any kid pitching can't do to be effective.  The first and foremost is to change the grip.  EX: 1 finger-1 seam fastball, 2 seam fastball, 4 seam fastball, most important change up using 3 fingers, 4 fingers all with the same arm action as that of a fast ball.
And as I have mentioned before learn to pitch to spots and situations.  To be a pitcher we have to be able to throw strike's if we can't do that then you can't pitch no matter what type pitch or how hard you throw.
Coach Arnald Swift

Tryouts and what to look for August 16 2017, 1 Comment

Parents, as your boy or girl gets better and  progresses into the sport of baseball and/or softball they're going to be faced with tryouts. Where a coach or set of coaches trying to determine  if he or she  can play on their team regardless of whether it's elite travel or just regular league many times were faced with the try out. If the tryouts are well-run you should be able to see comparisons between your player and the other players and how they can hit, run, throw, field, and at times how well they understand the game through situations.

 All tryouts try to create measurable's so that they can validate  their choices  both to themselves and the parents. Many times parents don't see, in fact most always, their child/player in the same light as the coaches that are doing the evaluation. By measurable's we  mean something that the player can do that we can physically and mathematically major. 

Typically these are: running speed  how fast over  the distance from home plate to second base,  arm speed how fast does he throw the ball from the pitcher's mound and from the shortstop position to first base -- this is measured with radar almost always. On the batting aspects New technology  is allowing  for a measurable on the bat speed, bat angle, exit speed of the ball off the bat all these things are done  using a machine or a batting T so that little or no difference between one boy/girl to the other.. Something we always try to avoid is the human element in a tryout,

you should note as a parent or try out administrator  that there needs to be opinion place for somebody that knows the game and knows  athletes to be able to comment on  athletic ability, quickness, correctness of throwing motion, correctness of hitting technique,,  awareness of the  situations  when placed into the field  or at the bat and a situation is simulated.

But that human element does enter into when we  determine  if the player has a good attitude, hustle, pays attention, will be a good team player and  that the parents and the player understood what they're trying out for  and most the time with the costs going to be both in time and in money.

All these are things that you as a parent and as a coach trying out need to consider, this article is a long ways from inclusive but I would hope it gives you some thoughts of what you're going to  be faced with or what you have to do in tryouts.

Coach Arnald Swift

Practice and Baserunning June 18 2017, 0 Comments

Baseball tip Some Coaches Notes On Baserunning

I wish I knew why so little time is spent on baserunning in practice.
Maybe there’s just so much to do coaches are less comfortable with their knowledge, and as I said, I don’t know.
But what if it were true that you could actually steal a few extra victories in a season? Would you feel it was important enough to rethink it? I hope, yes. But where would you start...and how would you implement it?
Some quick thoughts:
Decide how much time you would dedicate, then DO IT. Now they can get better, quicker and it becomes a habit for the entire team.,Explain to the team about a new weapon they will be using:  baserunning! Let players know that all players can help, not just Johnny Fast-Guy. Be prepared for your 2nd practice drills to go 20-30% better than the 1st! Be prepared to get excited (as will your players) as this happens.
Make it a part of your practice routine. You’ll even come up with more ideas that I PROMISE you’ll “get” as your interest peaks!.

Thoughts on each base:
2nd Base
Second base is called scoring position for a reason.
It takes one hit to score most runners from here...and has the added bonus of eliminating the force or double play and pressures the defense and your opposing coaches further.

 3rd Base
There are 9 different ways to score from 3rd base! Can you name them?
Wow! You just have to attack this base and get yourself there. It puts so much pressure on opposing coaches, pitchers, catchers and infielders that you could steal an extra game or three over the course of a season!

Unhappy Parent May 01 2017, 0 Comments

This is a little bit out of my normality of posting but had a situation that I thought would be worthwhile talking about. It's one is old as coaching and is always going to come up there is no true solution. However I do believe there's one question that we can ask and press the person complaining  for their answer.

I help coach my son's team and is a 10 under team, kind of an ordinary team the place in a recreational league in our town but we try to do the best we can and make the boys better because we do know what shape the ball is in of got some legitimate background in coaching and baseball. Which is a nice way to say we pretty much know what were doing.

After a game last week the one parent  that doesn't want to coach but doesn't like the way were doing came to us and said he just had to get off his chest. What he had to talk about was that he thinks the coaches lost that game. (Not sure how we gave up the 10 hits, five errors in eight runs while only scoring two runs  but it was Coaches fault).  then of course after he talked a little bit the real truth came out that he was upset that his boy who happens to be left-handed and not that fast had to play right field sum as well as first base. Now most the time he plays first base but in this particular game he pitched and played right field and didn't play first base. He immediately compared it to my sons boy, and the other coaches boy who play  second in short and that's the only position they played..  You

his statement was at the end of all this complaining that he was grooming his boy to be a first baseman and that we were doing a misjustices to his boy by not playing him at first base all the time where he wants him to play as that's going to be  his position and that's what were grooming there's that word again him for.

Both the coaches listened very patiently and really didn't respond,, really not all they just said thank you and will consider everything you said. Now as the coach of 50+ years that just helps a practice and doesn't have anything really to say about the lineup I only help with the skills.  I believe they handle it very well as he left Calm but I'm sure is not satisfied because there were no guarantees made  about how where his boy were going to play.

Now this is the real reason I write this any coach that listens to any parent, fan, and it's having a semi-rational discussion about what you're not doing should always ask them this final question-- WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE US DO AND WHAT KIDS SHOULD WE LEAVE OUT.  If he can't answer that what he would do, and how he would handle it  then the conversation really over.

I knew the winningest basketball coach in  college basketball, he coach for North Dakota State Don Meyers, and he was speaking at a clinic one time and said I will talk to anybody  about anything I want the best for my players except I will talk to anybody especially parents about playing time. My answer is always the same tell me what player you don't think should be playing, and I will get you his phone number so you can call his parents and discuss it with them. Granted it was a non-realistic answer but it certainly  brings forward very good point very clear that not getting enough time there has to be a player is getting too much time so who's decision should that be  --THE COACH'S.

That is my 2 cents and opinion.

Coach Arnald Swift

Play Only 1 Sport March 12 2017, 0 Comments

I've been reading a lot about travel baseball here recently and how much time and effort spent the dedicated to it. For my own personal experience my grandson has now devoted since December until probably September/October  to baseball. They been having practice  once or twice a week  since after Christmas and as of today March 12th 2015 they've only played one game both of those in a practice tournament.

now that you have the picture the question is is that good for him, as a coach 34 years at the high school level in a coach for well over 40 years I question it. Every study you read there has been much of it recently  indicates that players become better athletes, begun better people, and are just better off all the way around in their life if they have diversity. Now I'm not saying there's not a time to start to dedicate to single sport that time is not when you're young by my definition young means actually under 18, though I'm sure somebody will argue there but I believe were kidding ourselves if we think we can make players starting at  8 or 9 years old and do nothing but a single sport.  I would be willing to bet a lot of money that for every one athlete that goes on it becomes very good in that single sport they dedicated all their time to  there are probably close to 100 that quit or find another sport.

So I'm going to offer this piece of advice you know you're doing your right by your player when you do what the player asks, there's the keyword what the player asks not what you thinks good not what you thinks should be done but what the player wants to do. Now  don't get me wrong  once you start doing something  do it right, and even do a hard  but please don't make your player become dedicated to a single sport at a very early age  or even up to high school. The odds of them becoming a better person are enormous compared the odds of them becoming a professional player. Think about it you and your kids will be happier if they diversify and enjoy and have fun.

Coach Arnald Swift's--  69 years a dad 45 years umpire and 50 years as a coach

Prestige Versus Playing Mom question January 18 2017, 0 Comments


thank you for the question would be happy to come in on as I've been faced with this very problem with my two boys and, so the kids that I've coached over the 40 years. This is going to be my coaches/dad answer.

There is no doubt in my mind you play for the team that is not highly ranked in your description. It has zero value for player development, player enjoyment, player advancement to sit on the bench. If you're not playing you're getting behind in a 10% playing time, top team really is nothing is nothing but late inning appearances, games that don't mean anything, games that are already lost or one that he would be getting in.

The only value playing with the team is the social interaction, and the prestige with that similar very thin when you're not getting to do anything to contribute. The one thing I can't see is how good he is and why he's only a 10% player, if there's a reason that he can overcome to become one of the 90% players and that's what he needs to do but he's going to do it by playing6 not sitting on the bench.

Then finally let me say one thing is a coach and a the may sound a little harsh this is 13-year-old baseball there no scholarships, there's no real glory outside of what you give it to yourself, there's going to be at least five more years of trying to become a player. When it really counts is in the high school, or the 17 and up summer teams. But he'll never make those sitting on the bench. He needs to be playing. Now if a boy or girl is a player and they are playing and they should be moving up within their age brackets play the top competition that's available. But they have to be able to play and succeed.

Let me ask you a question when I was coaching basketball in a very small high school I was the JV coach.  We had a senior that was not very good in fact he was going to get cut as a player but he was a super kid is a person so we gave him the choice, a rare choice of high school, that as a senior he could play on the JV team and play not to set.  He chose to be the 13th man 12 man squad at the high school level instead of to play at the JV level. So in reality he didn't play at all and all the games that season he probably got on the floor maybe a total of five minutes. So my question is was he right or wrong. To me that's the same question you're asking here is better to sit or better to play. It's always better to play in my mind and in my advice.

Coach Arnald Swift
34 years of teaching, 40+ years of umpiring, 40 years of coaching at all levels from youth to D1, coached almost every sport there is one point of the other.