Baseball - Softball Knowledge

Infield Bucket Drill March 01 2019, 0 Comments

Bucket Drill

by Randy Huff
(Darien, CT)

Coach sits on a bucket behind pitchers mound (Honey Hole). He will roll slow rollers to either SS or 2nd base.


The drill is designed to have the middle infielders roll a double play, with each player doing a little hop after they throw the ball to first base, signifying a runner sliding into them.

The coach gets to watch how the play unfolds, like watching how the fielders field the ball, flip or throw to 2nd base and watching the small hop after the ball is released.

The coach can have a lot of fun with the drill by putting the middle infielders on a stop watch to see who can do it the fastest, kids love the drill.

Then move bucket and coach by home plate and have players go to 3rd base. Have a coach on 3rd base as a runner.

Roll ball to the players at 3rd base, make sure they look the runner back before firing ball to 1st base. Then make sure 1st baseman catches ball for out and pops off base to look at home for the play.

If the player forgets to look coach back, have coach score from 3rd. This is all explained with less than 2 outs of course.


Work Alone on the Wall July 06 2018, 0 Comments

When no one around, improve by yourself, one man drills

Coaches that are Loud and Bullying February 26 2016, 0 Comments

Parents you need to kind of look at your kids coaches. A lot of coaches are just loud and still have the best of intentions for your players/children. Never allow volume to be equated with bullying,  volume usually has little to do with it what you really need to know is what he says to the players and how he treats them then we may be looking at bullying.

This article could help anybody that reads it understand what is  meant when bullying is talked about.

Bullying is a growing epidemic in sports. As sports parents, it's critical for you to be prepared to protect your young athletes. If you think this issue won't ever come up in your kids' sports careers, think again. Bully coaches are the number one topic parents write us about at Kids' Sports Psychology.

Have your kids ever had a coach who yelled at, insulted or intimidated them? It's possible they have, but were too embarrassed to tell you. It's important for you to be on the lookout for bully coaches and to take immediate action if you suspect your young athletes are being bullied.

Bully coaches target all kinds of young athletes. They can set their sights on kids who are overweight, small, or who lack confidence, for instance. These coaches also target gifted athletes because they believe their approach will "toughen up" their athletes.

It's important to keep in mind that most volunteer coaches are not trained. Many of them use teaching techniques that their coaches used with them. Some of them don't understand they're acting like bullies. Many coaches will change their behavior if you approach them in an appropriate manner. We've received letters of confession from coaches who say that once they understood how much their words and actions hurt their athletes, they changed their style.


Whether a coach's bullying is intentional or unintentional, your job as sports parents is the same. If your athletes are teased, excluded or otherwise treated badly by coaches, you need to take steps to help keep their confidence intact, stay focused under adversity, and remain in sports.

The bottom line, for you as parents: Be on the lookout for bully coaches and arm yourself with the information you need to take action.


Myth and Recruiting December 29 2015, 0 Comments

Recruiting Myth

 If you are good enough, college coaches will find you

This is an age-old adage that is often heard throughout the recruiting process and is both out-dated and incorrect. These words are often spoken by an older coach who wishes to dismiss any thoughts by the student-athlete or parent that they should market themselves to institutions by sending out their information. The fact is that this statement is true if you are one of the top 100 players in the country, have already received a great deal of accolades by your sophomore year, and most likely already have several scholarship offers in hand. This is simply not true for most college baseball prospects outside of the top 100. The only way they will know about you for sure is if you send them your profile and express your interest in them.  Recruiting is now a global process and despite your skills or success in high school, it is extremely easy to be overlooked by college coaches who have thousands of athletes to scout and hundreds of potential venue’s to scout them at. College coaches don’t read your local town paper and they probably don’t attend your games and only the top 1% of high school athletes are truly discovered.  Your performance on the field or court will go a long way toward determining whether or not you get a scholarship offer. You need to be getting results that place you near the top of your competition if you want to get noticed.  However, there are other factors which will determine whether or not you get an offer including; grades, character, work ethic, coach-ability, etc.  Market yourself with truth, determination, follow up, and stay after it.

Youth Coaching Myths (maybe) December 01 2015, 0 Comments

Tip No.1: Don't Bunt With Two Strikes

This is a tough one when it fails. We have all seen it in youth baseball when the third baseman plays in close anticipating a bunt.

When the strike count gets to two, the coach will yell to the third baseman something like this: "Two strikes on the hitter. Move back so you are even with the base."

When the fielder moves back, depending on the ability of the batter, I love to give him another chance to bunt, given that the defense and opposing coach are sure the batter will not bunt. I have been successful with this and at other times it has failed.

One warning, if you try this. When your batter does fail, you will hear from all the "General Managers" in the bleachers.

More: 4 Biggest Mistakes Baseball Teams Make in Practice
Tip No.2: Catch Everything With Two Hands

I know most coaches and parents will hold me to task on this one. When my players are moving laterally reaching for a fly ball, I just want them to catch the ball any way possible.

I don't want my players thinking they have to catch everything with two hands if some catches are easier one-handed. If the shortstop is sprinting for a pop-up behind the third baseman, and has to reach for it, a one-handed catch works best.

When catching a pop-up hit right to a player, with little or no running, a two-handed catch works best. But too many coaches and parents overemphasize catching everything with two hands. Coaches need to have youth players practice catching balls with one and two hands.
Tip No.3: Don't Make the First or Third Out at Third Base

Tim McCarver won't invite me over to dinner on this one. I send my runner to third most of the time not worrying about how many outs we have.

I have my teams run the bases aggressively. We get thrown out at third and home more than other teams. But we also win more games than we lose.

More: Drill of the Week: Baseball Catching Drill for Kids

In youth baseball, every game has its share of wild pitches and passed balls. From my many years coaching third base I know that we have a great chance getting the runner home on a wild pitch or passed ball.

I hate ending the inning with a player who doesn't score from third base when some aggressive baserunning would have landed him on third and he would have scored.

Tip No.4: Bigger Baseball Gloves are Better

I was guilty of this when my oldest son played Little League. Every year I wanted to get him a bigger glove figuring the larger the glove, the better chance of the ball landing in the pocket. I was 100 percent wrong on this.

I remember going to Yankee Stadium with a close friend who had an "in" on everything and knew a lot of people. We had front row seats and before the game one of the Yankee infielders came over to say hello to my friend.

As they were talking, I could not keep my eyes off the player's glove and was amazed at how small the glove was. It just about outlined his hand.

I then learned that "glove control" is key for fielders. So, smaller rather than bigger gloves are better, especially for infielders, except the first baseman.

More: 5 Ways to Get Noticed at a Sports Camp
Tip No.5: Bat Your Best Hitter Third or Fourth

Years ago I remember in a few All-Star games, Willie Mays batted leadoff. I know the theory is that you get a couple of batters on base and the big guns will drive them in. I don't agree with this all the time.

I found that in youth baseball sometimes there is a large disparity with the talent of the players. Many times teams have one or two excellent players.

In youth baseball I prefer to bat my best hitter first or second. I cannot tell you how many times my team was down by a couple of runs in the last inning with the bottom of my batting order up.

If my best player batted third or fourth, I'd be doing everything I could to get him up but many times games ended up with my best hitter on deck. Now I like to bat my best player first or second. (I know you might think I'm sacrificing some runs but I love the idea of him getting an extra at bat a game.)

Like everything in coaching your talent at the moment will determine your move as the manager or coach. The term "thinking outside the box" has been overused in many instances.

But when coaching, you do want to think outside the box if it will give your players and team an advantage to succeed. Unpopular decisions may be the best decisions at the time you make them.

 Marty Schupak

Arm Strength Drills October 16 2015, 0 Comments

Whether you're throwing out base runners from the confines of Fenway Park or turning a 6-4-3 double play on a local Little League field, throwing is one of the most important, and physically demanding, aspects of baseball
Just as major leaguers can get a dead arm during spring training, younger players also risk injury as they begin throwing regimens in the spring. The Seven Ball Drill below is a great way to increase arm strength and prepare players for the various throws they will make during the season.
Note: Perform the drill's seven separate steps in sequence to ensure proper arm development.


Baseball Arm Strength Drill
    Stand shoulder- width apart, with throwing arm placed upwards at a 90- degree angle. While holding elbow with glove, throw ball to partner using just the wrist.
    Sit with legs spread and arm in same position as exercise above. This time use the area from the elbow up to throw ball to partner.

    Remain sitting and throw ball by rotating hips and turning upper torso. (Focusing on follow- through is not necessary.) Use the glove arm or elbow to direct throw.
    Go to one knee. Throw ball by rotating hips and turning upper torso, as in above exercise. This time emphasize follow- through across the raised knee.
    Stand with glove arm closest to partner, and feet shoulder- width apart. Repeat the above steps, concentrating on follow- through. This time throw without moving your feet.
    Use all the steps above, this time add a crow hop and throw ball to partner. (Crow Hop: A technique in which you hop forward on your front foot during the wind up of your throw.)
    Long toss is the last step. Stand approximately 10 feet apart and toss the ball to partner as quickly as you can for one minute. You can even keep track of the number of catches to turn this into a competition. Emphasize a quick release and concentrate on the ball entering and leaving the glove. Note: For infielders, you can turn this last step into a quick toss by reducing the distance.
By following the steps above, players will find it easier to make all the necessary throws in a game, as well as keep their arm healthy throughout an entire season. A good goal to have, no matter the league, when opening day rolls around.


Catching Drills Flyballs September 21 2015, 0 Comments

Baseball Fly Ball Exercise

A dynamic drill used for both infielders and outfielders to work on their jumps and reactions while accelerating to fly balls. The fielder starts from the pre-pitch position. He then uses a quick drop step to open his hips. This creates a direct line toward the ball. A line is formed with 3-4 players. The coach will stand approximately 10 feet in front of players with a ball in his hand. The first player faces the coach and on a command, breaks on the run at a 45 degree angle while looking back at the coach. The coach will then throw a ball slightly ahead of the player which leads to a running catch. After the play, the player returns to the end of the line. The next player in line repeats the drill. This drill can be done to the left, to the right, and straight over the head.

Key Teaching Points

Drop step

The first move for an infielder reacting to a fly ball is a quick drop step. This helps create a direct line to the ball. When the ball is hit directly over your head, it is best to drop step to your glove side, which gives you a little longer reach when catching a ball.

Acceleration

Have the player make his first 2-3 steps as quickly as possible and accelerate to the ball. Remind players to run on the balls of their feet.  Pre-Pitch Set Up: Both infielders and outfielders always begin each drill from the proper pre-pitch set up. This means a good athletic position, knees flexed, hands in front of chest, and eyes on the ball.

Motivating a Young Team August 07 2015, 0 Comments


We are a new team and not all that good, how do I create a positive atmosphere and keep the players motivated and enjoying the game as they play.

The biggest deal here is that you don't worry and you make a huge deal out of the score not being important. What is important is each accomplishment is what you celebrate and just like hitting the ball and running or picking it up and throwing. Your letter indicates that your worrying about motivation, when in truth just playing to be all the motivation they need not sure hundred percent what you mean by motivation. But little kids like that normally just love to play, let them play in different positions and set goals that you know they're going to accomplish. Just like this past Sunday we had three goals---  for six out of the 12 players to hit the ball, to make one out in the field, and scored one run and we were able to do that because of the way the league is built  - inning consists of three outs, seven runs, or batting through the order when we change. We know that were going to accomplish almost every one of these and this week we will have a little different set of goals, but that's what were you tell them are going to try to do and have fun. Then after the game we will make comment immediately away from the parents. So is just you and the coaches and the players talking to each other about what you got accomplished today and how much fun it was.  Make no mistake about it all you're doing is creating organized play with this age group you're not creating baseball players you're creating social skills, fun, and organizational aspects that they will need to work with. But winning and losing is the last thing that needs to be even brought up.  

The very first year I coached we were eight year olds in a 10 under league we were 0-44, and the thing they remember to this very day is that we went to Pizza Hut and celebrated a rainout. but by the time they were 12 years old we were 2nd in the BABE RUTH WORLD SERIES for 12 and under.

Let me know what you think and hope that I've created some thought process.

Coach Arnald Swift

Helping the Young Player with Skills August 04 2015, 0 Comments

Below is a stock answer for concentration and pitch recognition along with being confident at the plate.
Try it and I believe that the player will start to hit and catch better.


For catching take way his glove and play catch with a foam ball or plastic ball then get a baseball and do the
drill I talk about below.  We have to get over any fear and use to the ball.  Believe it or not when they first
start the glove just gets in the way so eliminate it most of the time.

As simple as this sound get a piece of plywood, prop it up at and angle, have him or us throw the ball up the
board and then field it as it rolls back down.

The for fly balls or high throws, throw the ball onto a roof and catch it as it comes off, it is fun and teaches
throwing and eye hand coordination.  Use a rubber ball or tennis ball gives a safer aspect to it if you so
desire.
 
Coach Arnald Swift


Baseball/Softball by Yourself July 16 2015, 0 Comments


Hitting (Hitting off a Tee)

Favorite part of practice is batting practice, where they get to see how hard and far they can hit a baseball. The problem with batting practice is how kids handle it. A lot of kids see batting practice as a homerun derby with the ball perfectly placed each time (or waiting for a perfectly placed one) and swinging for the fences. When you hit off a Tee, your goals can be made more appropriate for trying to become a better hitter and can be made more realistic to game situations when done correctly. The goal of hitting the ball off the tee is to try and square up the ball as much as possible because almost all results will be the same anyways. Hitting off a tee allows you to forget about your surroundings and concentrating on increasing your strength and using proper technique. Placing the Tee in different locations that represent where an actual ball may be pitched to you - raise and lower the Tee, place it closer to you and further away - can help you learn what adjustments your body will need to make to square up on a ball based on the pitch location.

Ground balls (Using a Wall)

Taking ground balls seems like it would be at least a two person activity but it doesn’t need to be. If you’re in a position where you can only practice by yourself, try throwing yourself groundballs off the wall (among other ideas). You don’t need to have a hard ball to practice this. If you have any type of ball that bounces you can work on almost all the skills involved with picking up a ground ball. You can still learn to read different types of hops while regulating your speed to the ball allowing your body to be in a good fielding position. The best part of throwing a ball off the wall is you can adjust every throw to cater to your defensive needs. The only thing you can’t really simulate is being able to read a ball off the bat, but learning how to get your body in a good fielding position will ultimately help you with that as well.

Pop ups (Using a Tennis Racket)

This is a little easier with a partner, but catching pop ups generally requires a coach that’s capable of hitting pop flies to their target and this can be very difficult for inexperienced coaches and an inefficient use of time. It can make pop ups a lot easier if you try it with a tennis ball and racket. Using a tennis racket and hitting the ball up in the air is a great way to consistently hit pop ups at your target. Along with being able to hit them extremely high and accurate, the tennis ball will be influenced by the wind making it a challenge for the person receiving them. This drill works great for catchers pop ups.

All of these drills will help you practice your skills on your own and are just a few examples of many ways you can work on your own. When trying to become a better athlete, all of your most important work will get done on your own so don't wait for a team practice or a bunch of teammates to get together. Try and find different ways that you can become great at practicing baseball without relying on anyone else.

I'd love to hear about your favorite "solo" drills. Please feel free to share them in the comments below so others can benefit from them.

Kevin Hussey