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What I Know And Remember About Baseball - Seasons

The shift from 1974 to 2007 has been dramatic. Baseball once relegated to the dreams and comforts of summer is now a year round ambition for a surprising large number of players. Not only for paid players but for the amateurs as well.

Way back when, well if you were born after 1985, pre Baseball season followed the winter sports of basketball and in some areas soccer. As each Team Sports season has gotten longer in all age groups, with the exception of High School Sports, ...

baseball softball,hit,run,score,base running,conditioning

The shift from 1974 to 2007 has been dramatic. Baseball once relegated to the dreams and comforts of summer is now a year round ambition for a surprising large number of players. Not only for paid players but for the amateurs as well.

Way back when, well if you were born after 1985, pre Baseball season followed the winter sports of basketball and in some areas soccer. As each Team Sports season has gotten longer in all age groups, with the exception of High School Sports, the down time and need for pre season conditioning has diminished.

Many training exercises in other sports cross over. Running, Sprint Training and over all Conditioning are several of the cross over items. Some movements are directly related to baseball while others a good for general athletic mobility. Man Team sports predominately have the athlete in a upright athletic position. Back straight, knees bent, weight forward on the toes.

Fielding, butt down hands out, and batting are the most notable baseball specific activity. Time should be set aside every couple of weeks to reacquaint the muscles with those movements. Simple stationary fielding drills in the back yard are excellent. They are quick, fun and involve family.

Thirty perfect swings with the bat, nothing to hit or strike, is also excellent and unique to baseball. During any season players should enlist the 6 second swing on a regular basis. Adapted from Tai Chi, players take a deliberately slow and controlled perfect swings.

From the step and continuing with a complete follow through, encourage your player to close their eyes and visualize a perfect swing at a perfect pitch. Relaxed and in balance from a comfortable starting position take an exhale breath and close your eyes. Visualize a pitch being released and going in slow motion, take the perfect stride in slow motion. Rotate the hips and load the core. Hands to the ball, roll trailing hand over leading hand, striking the ball, while close to the body and complete with the follow through.

This entire process should occur over a period of about 6 seconds, a true eternity when compared to live action. As a reader are probably wondering what Tai Chi has to do with batting.

A quick check on Chinese history will reveal centuries worth of expert swordsmen. The stroke of the sword is not so dissimilar to that of a bat swing. Each needs balance, power and targeting. As a comparative youngster to the human experience, baseball can learn a great deal from the activities of swordsmen that have been perfected and examined over hundreds of years and thousands instructors.

Simple drills not only provided muscle memory for doing them correctly, but when the parents are involved on such an individual and intimate setting, it makes up for time lost to the shows their Kids watch on Nick and other teen and pre teen targeting programming.

Parents compete with several media over the attention of their children. In 1974, competition was with the radio, shortly thereafter, MTV. Today, kids are bombarded from the moment they wake up until they fall asleep with sounds and noise from all sorts of things vying for their attention and spending dollars. Television, Radio, Public places at large and the internet.

As a Parent, the most important thing you can give to your child is yourself.

What better opportunity than to separate your and your child from all the noise and participate together in a single activity. This is where baseball memories start. These memories are held closest to the heart.

So, once or twice a month, regardless of the season or the weather, take time with your child to practice a little baseball. Keep things simple, keep them brief and try a few yourself.

Much of baseball is situational. If this happens then I do that. Learning correct technique is best learned when you teach. Let your child teach you a little. Reinforcement of proper technique is quick and deep. Strengthening the connection between you and your child.

It is amazing what you each will learn together.

Copyright 2007 may be reprinted in whole with all links

 

What I Know And Remember About Baseball - Soft Hands

All too often baseball players perfect the art of collecting the ball in the pocket of their gloves. This is particularly true for the younger players that are still in the learning curve of using two hands for all catches. An expertly broken in glove will assist in the catching of the ball. Yet relying on the glove to perform all the functions of the catch is just too risky.

The addition of the second hand will help in the control of the baseballs energy but even then a m...

baseball,soft,hands,practice,glove

All too often baseball players perfect the art of collecting the ball in the pocket of their gloves. This is particularly true for the younger players that are still in the learning curve of using two hands for all catches. An expertly broken in glove will assist in the catching of the ball. Yet relying on the glove to perform all the functions of the catch is just too risky.

The addition of the second hand will help in the control of the baseballs energy but even then a missed alignment can cause the path of the baseball to take just enough geometry to find its way out of the glove. Again, the scramble for control is on.

With predictable proper control during the catch, the rhythm of taking the baseball from the glove and completing the throw action is guaranteed a higher level of success. Repeating a series of events developed through practices and drills is what delivers the baseball from the player who caught the ball to the player who needs to receiver the following throw.

Soft hands allow the baseball player fielding the ball to transfer the energy of the ball into the players arms. The action is similar to that of a shock absorber found in automobiles and motorcycles. Starting fast and out front with the initial contact, then retreating the hands quickly to dissipate the energy put into the baseball from being struck by the baseball bat.

To impart this motion to beginning and younger players, simply toss a ball in the air and let them catch it bare handed. Done correctly, the player will reach for the ball then withdraw their hands to their chest as they grasp it. This an easy catch and the ball will not bounce out of their hands nor will there be any sting.

Once the mechanics of the previous drill are taken to heart, it is time to move onto using the same technique in a fielding drill. Knees bent, bottom down, hands out, the players receive the ball with the same arm action as the over head drill but with grounders provided by the coach. Glove hand takes the line of the ball, off hand covers the ball in the glove, arms retreat quickly to dissipate the energy of the ball.

A key element in the proper use of the soft hands is the position of the baseball glove prior to receiving the baseball. Correct fielding places the glove in a vertical position with heal of the glove at the top and the web on the bottom.

When the glove is less than perpendicular to the path of the ball, any mishap is the fielding process can cause the ball to bounce away and behind the player. Recovery from these events are difficult as the player must turn their back on the field of play and operate under a sense of urgency.

With the glove at a right angle to the path of the ball, mistakes will cause the ball to bounce in front of the player, still within their vision and still playable.

Practice gloves (also known as training mitts, gloves and pancakes) are an excellent tool for both coaches and players. As they have no pocket, two hands are mandatory to field any baseball. An excellent way to reinforce the use of two hands in all catches. These mitts can also be used for drill with pop fly balls with limited height. It is a great policy for coaches to utilize drills that mandate two hands whenever possible.

For the coach training mitts offer the visual cue of the proper hand position and arm action. If the coach can see a full circle outline of the mitt during the drill, then the player is holding the mitt at a right angle as they should. Any oblique circle is a sure sign that the mitt is being held on an angle where the coach can make instant position correction. Balls controlled by the players indicate that they are using soft hands. When the ball bounces away from the mitt then the player is instantly notified of their mistake.

Soft hands is the process of using two hands to catch and control the ball by allowing the hands to retreat quickly as the ball is grasped, as the energy is dissipated, the ball can no longer bounce out of the glove and the player will gain control of the baseball faster and allow them to complete their motion in practiced, predictable way.

 

What I Know And Remember About Baseball - Successful Hitting

There are numerous hitting methods and styles that exist for baseball. They all claim the same thing: that they are the best; who’s right and who’s wrong? They all “can” work depending on the ability of the individual.

Individual style from how you lace your cleats to the position of your hat and the 400 or so moving parts in between all add up to one result – smacking a round ball with a round bat in the sweet spot of both while getting down the baseline as fast as possib...

baseball softball,hit,run,score,success,coaching,training

There are numerous hitting methods and styles that exist for baseball. They all claim the same thing: that they are the best; who’s right and who’s wrong? They all “can” work depending on the ability of the individual.

Individual style from how you lace your cleats to the position of your hat and the 400 or so moving parts in between all add up to one result – smacking a round ball with a round bat in the sweet spot of both while getting down the baseline as fast as possible.

Different approaches, stances and swing, wrist speed etc. See what works and doesn’t work for you. The consensus is that there are 7 common traits shared among great hitters, no matter what hitting method is used.

1. Comfort – What is there or worry about?

Relax, the guy 45 or more feet away is gonna throw a ball at you. You have seen it before, you will see it again. So what if you take one for the team, stay in there and drive it right back at the person who threw it at you. The batter is really in control of the outcome. How many times have you seen players hit the ball when its over their head, way inside or even bouncing off the plate. Calm down, you can put the bat on the ball whenever YOU decide.

2. Confidence – Don’t let your mind strike you out before you begin.

If you are convinced you can hit the ball, what’s to stop you? Believe in yourself and let it happen. Be mindful of the count, when you are ahead, look for the good ones, when behind, smack it! If you leave it up to the Umpire to see it the way you do, chances are you’ll be walking back to the dug out. You have tons of time at the batting cages and practice, you can HIT IT!

3. See the Ball

Watch the pitcher, does he release the ball from over his head, off to the side, under hand? The key is the ball is in his hand and the release point will be within fractions of an each on each pitch. So, if it always starts in the same place, how does it get all over? Simple, its variation in the motions it takes to get to the release point. But get over all that, when you see where it starts, you can determine where its going and your bat will follow your eyes instructions.

4. The Twitch

Your reaction to the ball being released is the twitch, the quicker your twitch, the longer you can watch the ball. If your twitch is slower, start it sooner. I have seen batters wait for half the distance before they start their swing, I have seen others begin their step as soon as the pitcher leaves their balance point.

5. Core Power

It really begins with the feet, then torso then hands. But you need to have all three work in rhythm. Power is transferred form the feet to the torso which multiplies the power by expanding the circle and creating speed, which is then transferred into the hands. If any part over-powers the following, you loose the build up of momentum. Work on getting all three to work together.

6. Swing -

Keep it short and sweet! You are closer to the plate than you think, so keep the hands inside and let the bat do the work. Step, turn the hips while keeping your hands back, power is loaded and transferred through the core, whamo.. let it all out at once! DO NOT BE TIMID ABOUT SWINGING AT THE BALL! Swing, Swing, Swing! Remember #2, believe in yourself, you can hit anything! And it does not matter how well it is driven each time, the point of the matter is putting the bat on the ball ::: PERIOD::::

7. Balance – You can’t hit well from the ground

There cannot be enough said about balance. It allows you to see the ball, transfer power to the ball and get out of the box. The quickest way to learn is hitting soft toss from a teeter board, if you can do it there, there is no question you can do it from the dirt. Learn to swing through the ball with the bat, not your whole body. If your body follows your arms you are taking away from the power sent up from your legs. Bring the bat around and keep your feet.

So what does it all add up to?

You will hit the ball the way your body, skill and ability sees best for you to assemble your 400 or so moving parts. Work on the elements of hitting on their own. And remember, batting practice is just that, batting practice! Plan your practice accordingly, some time on each of the pieces, then more time putting it all together. Don’t try to do both at the same time, it’s a sure recipe for frustration. To commit good habits to muscle memory, do your conditioning first, get the muscles nice and tired; this is the moment you must make every effort to do motions correctly. If your lazy about the particulars when you are tired, it will come out at the game. You want to train yourself and your body to react quickly and correctly. Only perfect practice can make perfect (to quote from Cal Ripken Sr.)

Mitchell Dowdy

Copyright 2007 may be reprinted in whole with links




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