Youth Baseball Coaching Clinic Official Blog

Welcome to the official blog of the Youth Baseball Coaching Clinic. Our blog features free youth baseball articles and daily posts on every aspect of coaching youth baseball including youth baseball practice organization, youth baseball practice drills for youth baseball, youth baseball coaching tips and baseball strategy for coaching kids. Make sure to save this site to your favorites. You will want to visit our site regularly because we update daily. Good Luck to You and Your Team!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Zone Hitting - Working the Pitch Count

Baseball Hitting - Learning to Work the Pitch Count

By Guest Author: Fred Bonds

Undisciplined hitting has two major pitfalls. First, the batter is not swinging at pitches that are located where he hits most effectively, resulting in weak grounders or fly balls and easy outs. Second, a team of undisciplined hitters will never (and I mean NEVER!) press the opposing pitcher to the point of breakdown. Bottom line is that the pitcher will always maintain control of the ballgame as long as he can count on hitters swinging at his pitch and not theirs.

There are many ways to have a good at bat (let's call it a QAB or quality at bat) from this point on. QAB's come from good clean hits. The pitcher throws the all, you hit it hard, it finds a hole and you're on base. That's the most obvious QAB. The less obvious ones come from forcing the pitcher to throw you your pitch or taking him deep into the count before getting a walk or making an out. Both should be rewarded by teammates for reasons I will explain later.

Let's start by defining a QAB. This is a concept you must learn, understand, and apply every at bat from this point on. A quality at bat is any at bat you have that results in either you getting on base via a hit or walk, or you forcing the pitcher to throw more than four pitchers. Why four? Because if I, as a pitcher, can get you out in 4 pitches and I can do it again for each of your teammates, then my pitch count is 12 pitches per inning, 108 for the game. That's not too bad for a pitcher. Also, it means that you, as a hitter, are only getting 12-16 pitches (if that) per game to hit. Later in the game, you'll not have seen enough pitches to get your timing down and get comfortable. Have you ever wondered why a pitcher, who is cruising along in a game with no real problems but is going to full count with nearly every batter, suddenly gets rocked even though he is doing well? The batters got comfortable with him. They saw enough pitches to figure out how to hit him effectively. That's why closers are so effective even if they throw only one type of pitch.

By forcing the pitcher to throw more pitches, you get to see him longer, and see all of his pitches. Also, you wear him down. So instead of 4 pitches, it now takes 7 pitches to get you and the rest of your team out. Assuming no one gets on base, the pitcher ends up throwing 21 pitches per inning or 147 per game. That is a very high pitch count for anyone, especially high school or collegiate pitchers.

Let's assume that most pitchers have an effectiveness ceiling of 80 pitches. You face a pitcher and get on base in 5 pitches. The next hitter flies out in 6. The number 3 hitter hits a ground ball through in 4 pitches. The cleanup hitter is out in 7. The last batter of the inning fights back from 1-2 only to ground out in 7 pitches. No runs score, but your team has made the pitcher throw 29 pitches in one inning. At that pace, the pitcher should lose his effectiveness in the third inning. If your team continues to wear him down, you will have created a window of opportunity to break the game wide open somewhere in the third or fourth inning.

How do you have a QAB? The answer depends on the situation present when you enter the batters box. For now, let's discuss your first at bat, no runners on, and no outs. You should have a good idea of where your "happy spot" is in the strike zone. A "happy spot" is your power zone. Normally, it is mid-thigh to belt high on the inner half of the plate. Where ever it is, this is the spot that you want to hit the ball for power and solid contact. When you are at the plate, you are looking for a fastball in that specific location. You will not swing at any pitch outside that zone even if it is a strike. Also, you will not swing at any off speed pitch. You will keep looking for a pitch in this zone until you have one strike on you.

With one strike, the zone you are hitting in expands slightly. Now you are looking fastball (or hanging off-speed) across the heart of the plate. Height-wise look just above knees to hip high. You must make a mental note to stay closed as you expand your zone. The odds of getting pitched outside increase dramatically when you have one or more strikes on you. Also, your mind-set should be to hit the ball up the middle. You should not swing at pitches outside of the zone or at off-speed pitches that are not mistakes. You will hit this zone until you have two strikes.

With two strikes, the zone is wide open, extending at least 2 in. on the corners and a ball width up and down the zone. Make note of what the ump is calling and adjust your zone accordingly. Your swing shortens slightly as you look to put the ball in play or foul it off. You are now looking for the ball away and will keep your front hip closed as you approach the ball. You are looking to hit opposite field as a majority of pitches will be thrown to the outer half of the plate with two strikes. You will react to the inside pitch.

Now with this mind-set, the pitcher must throw a minimum of 3 pitches to get you out or get a walk. So, a minimum of 3 pitches to get you out or 4 to walk you. You have that many pitches to find one that is in your hitting zone to hit for power. Expect to go at least 5 pitches as we can expect the pitcher to waste a pitch or miss the zone. It is very likely one of those five pitches will be the money pitch for you. Be ready. The big difference between amateur and professional hitters is that pros can hit the pitch when they get it a majority of the time.

With runners on, your zone will change depending upon where you want to hit the ball, but for the most part, those three zone situations will suffice. Also, should you face a pitcher who is throwing strikes and a lot of them; you will need to match his aggressiveness. Still looking for your pitch, your zone should expand larger after the 1st strike to incorporate the zone the pitcher is hitting. If he's not missing much, you have to step it up a notch and match him. Sure, you are not going to drive up the pitch count (unless you hit him a lot and keep him out there) but you will see pitches you can hit so go get them.

Working the count is extremely important when hitting against a pitcher you haven't seen before. A team effort is required to gain info on what the pitcher has in way of velocity, location, and pitch types. Done properly, batters can swing the advantage to their side of the plate while possibly increasing their batting averages. Will this work every time? Probably not, but it will make you a better hitter and increase the odds of your team winning.

Variations of this approach can be made by moving your initial zone to wherever you want to hit the ball. If I know I can hit the outside pitch away with power, I may want to go after the first fastball I see on the outer half of the plate (very likely the first pitch). It's up to you. The important part of all of this is to learn discipline at the plate and not go up there hacking at anything that moves. Have a plan and stick to it unless the conditions make you change.

Ultimately, QAB's will help raise your batting average, RBI count, and on-base percentage. In order to be effective, however, you must learn to recognize pitches as well as developing a short quick stroke to the ball. Putting it all together is what it's all about!

Fred Bonds is the Director of Research for Area51Sports, an innovative new wood baseball bat company, He was director of the Central Michigan Sports Center, director of the BPR Nationals Baseball HS Prospect team, and a former associate scout for the Cincinnati Reds and Global Scouting Bureau. Be sure to visit the Area51Sports website and get on the email list for the latest advances in hitting, coaching, and great discounts on the hottest baseball bats in the game. For more info on wood baseball bats or to contact Fred, go to

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Coaching Little League: Setting Expectations for Players and Parents

By Guest Author: Rob Merlino

Obviously, as a coach, I can't play the game. My job is to put each kid in a position to succeed so the team will have success. The following is a handout I give to each kid and parent at the beginning of each season:

Little league is a competitive league. We have umpires, we keep stats, we keep score, publish scores and standings on the web and hand out trophies to the winner of the World Series. The goal of the Team is to win. The goal of each boy is to do his very best to help the Team win. Remember these three things:

Safety: Nobody swings a bat or throws a ball without checking to be sure that everyone around them will be safe;

Fun: We are here to have FUN. If anyone is not having fun, let the Coach know and he will work to remedy that;

Winning: "Winning" is an Attitude. If you are Safe, having Fun, and have a Winning Attitude, the Score will take care of itself!"

We will be putting an emphasis on pitching and would like to get as many kids on the mound as possible. You must demonstrate the ability to throw from the mound to the plate with consistency to get into a game. For the first few games kids will pitch one inning. Then they'll pitch one and "earn" the next inning. Over the course of the season, pitching ability will become evident and the kids who can really shut the other team down will get 3 or possibly more innings in an outing- it will depend on the game situation. We will throw in a few "pitching potpourri" nights where we'll revert to the one inning philosophy for all or part of the game. This becomes necessary when we have games that are bunched close together. We will use the walk rule: walk 3 in a row and you come out, walk 4 in an inning and you come out. This doesn't mean you won't get another chance-it just means you can't help the team that particular day with your pitching. Getting the boys to understand the importance of the team will be an underlying theme in everything we try to do.

We'd like to do as much scrimmaging at practice as possible and I am working on a pre- season scrimmage or two. We'll also devote time to all the skills through a variety of drills and exercises. Infield and outfield defense can only be improved upon by getting a lot of reps and we will get as many as humanly possible. The boys will have baseball homework: they must play catch for 10 to 15 minutes every day until the start of the season. Good arms come from thousands of hours of throwing, SO GET STARTED. On game days, at least one of us will be at the field an hour prior to game time. I do infield before every game. Come early for extra practice.

Base-running and Batting:

Base-running: Little League allows you to steal a base once the pitched ball crosses the plate. You can continue to steal bases as long as the ball is live. The ball remains live until the pitcher has the ball in his glove AND his feet are on the mound. Team base-runners will EXPLODE off the base as EACH pitch crosses the plate and will decide to continue to the next base or return to the starting base from about two strides out. The runner will SLIDE into any base where there is the possibility of a play. AAA rules state that if you do not slide into a base where there is a play, the umpire will call you OUT for creating an unsafe condition - (possibly colliding with the defensive baseman). The Team will become expert at sliding and stealing bases! Therefore, you must always wear long pants. Sliding pants (worn under your long pants) are a very good idea. Your outer long pants will get dirty and torn. Expect to get dirty at every practice and game.

Batting: We will emphasize Pitch Selection, Batting Discipline, Bunting, and drawing Walks. The purpose of an At-Bat is to get On-Base. You cannot score from the Dugout!

Pitch Selection and Batting Discipline: We will learn the difference between a Pitcher's Pitch and Batter's Pitch. A Pitcher's Pitch is outside of or along the edges of the Strike-Zone. A pitcher is trying to strike you out. A pitcher will try to get you to swing at a (lousy) pitch that is either too high (pop-up into an out), too low (ground out into an out), or too far inside or outside (foul off for a Strike). We will not swing at Pitcher's Pitches unless you already have two strikes. If you have two strikes, you will learn to Foul-off Pitcher's Pitches until a Batter's Pitch comes along. A Batter's Pitch is a pitch pretty much down the middle that you can readily put into play to get on base and/or advance a runner.

Bunting and drawing Walks: Hitting a Home-Run is glamorous and exciting. You may think that bunting or drawing a Walk is not so glamorous and exciting. However, the 2005 AAA Giants got into the playoffs because the smallest kid on the team drew a walk to get on base, and then ended up stealing home to win the final regular season game with two outs at the bottom of the 6th inning. The AAA Giants then went on to win the 2005 AAA World Series.You will often hear Coach say: "If you bunt or draw a Walk to First, you can Steal Home on the NEXT Pitch, and you better be Home on the Third Pitch!"

Team Rules and Expectations

1. All league rules will be followed, NO EXCEPTIONS. We will go over the League rules in person.

2. All kids will play each game, sometimes they'll play 3 innings, sometimes more. Kids who are at games and practices consistently, do their homework and work on their skills will have the best opportunity to play more.

3. If your kid can't be at a game or practice, please let the coaches know ahead of time. Please review the practice and game schedules and alert us of conflicts as far in advance as possible. If something comes up last minute, please call

4. Uniforms are for games only. Wear comfortable baseball clothes to practice. NO SHORTS! You will not be allowed to practice in your uniform, you will not be allowed to play in a game without one. Uniforms will require a $25 deposit this year. You can keep the hat and socks.

5. Players are expected to remain in the dugout during games unless enlisted to shag fly balls or coach a base. If a player must leave the dugout, they must ask the coach first.

6. Parents and siblings are not to be in the dugout. NO EXCEPTIONS.

7. All trash must be cleared from the dugout. You bring it in, you carry it out. Spectators please keep the field clean.

8. No batting or bats in hand unless you are at bat or on deck. Safety is important!
a. We will not swing a bat near any other people;
b. We will not throw the ball if there are any people behind either player in case of a missed catch.

9. ¾ walk rule in effect at all times-3 walks in a row or 4 walks in an inning and the pitcher will be replaced.

10. ALWAYS be respectful of teammates, opposing players, coaches and officials. Disrespectful behavior by players or parents will not be tolerated. Umpires are Human. If there is ever a disputed call:

-Players will talk to the Coach;

-Coach will talk to the Umpire.

11. Wear a cup!

12. Show up at the field ready to play ball!

13. PARENTS PLEASE keep the on field commentary to the "attaboy" variety. Conflicting instructions from a coach and parent in a game situation undermines the team. Say it with me "ATTABOY_______"

14. WE ARE A TEAM, I EXPECT EACH KID TO BE PERFECT. ("Perfect" means you always try your hardest-if you can look your teammates in the eye and know in your heart you did the best you could, then you're PERFECT)

That handout has evolved over the years and will most likely be revised for this year's team. I believe setting the expectations from day 1 of practice so everyone knows exactly how the season will progress. In the past, I have handed this out at the parent's meeting before the first practice. This year I am posting it on a team Blog before the parent's meeting and telling everyone that nobody plays or practices until I get a reply comment stating they read it with their kid!

When we practice, we have 6-8 stations that cover different skill areas. We have 2 kids at each station for about 5 minutes and we rotate until each pair of kids has run through each station. I always keep my kids moving so they don't have time to get bored. I like to have as many pitchers as possible so each kid feels he's contributing to the success of the team. Bunting is also huge on my teams and the kids who aren't the best hitters will bunt a lot. This gives them the opportunity to get on base and be involved in the games.

Another Hot Dog Truck [] special article. Stop by sometime....

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Monday, August 5, 2013

This video shows some great drills for catchers. There are drills for developing good hands, good feet, throwing power and efficiency. Overall I think these are great drills. There are a couple of points that I could see improved, but I liked this collection and drills and wanted to share it with you and the thousands of other readers I have. Thanks for dropping it and visiting my blog. Have a great day! Nick

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Baseball Instruction - The Not So Secret Bunt Defense

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Coaching Youth Baseball - Setting Your Bunt Defense

By Guest Author: Nate Barnett

Sacrifice bunts are not supposed to be a secret. But somewhere in the entanglement of some (not all) baseball instruction, the sacrifice bunt became as top secret as the development of the Atomic Bomb. Well... not quite, but you get the idea. What evidence do I have for this you say?

1. Batters that square around to bunt as the pitcher releases the ball.

2. Runners who get picked off first because they are trying to get a good jump.

3. Improper butting location on the field because of panic to get the bat in the zone.

There is a good start.

I'm saying sacrifice bunting is no secret. In fact, I used to coach a team who had a tough time picking up signs from our third base coach. So we changed the sign to an audible. It was, "Hey, Johnny, bunt the ball!" We got a few strange looks here and there but it got the job done. Some great high level baseball instruction, huh.

So if the offense knows it is bunting and the defense knows the offense is bunting, where does the offensive bunt the ball?

Scenario #1: Runner on first base only. No outs (don't bunt with one out please)

The batter squares around to bunt as the pitcher gets into the set position. Now everyone in the park knows. Ah, time to relax, the rabbit is out of the hat! The batter bunts (strikes only please!) the ball to the first base side of the diamond.


Because the first baseman will be holding the runner and will not charge unless it's bunted hard. If he does charge this means that the second baseman needs to be moving quickly to get to first base. The third baseman will be coming in when the hitter squares around. Bunting the ball to the third base side is not recommended.

Scenario #2: Runners on first and second base. No outs (don't bunt with one out please)

The batter squares around to bunt again as the pitcher gets into the set position. The batter bunts (strikes only) the ball to the third base side of the diamond.


Because the third baseman will be staying close to the bag in the event there is a play there. The first baseman will be charging as soon as the batter squares to bunt. Bunting the ball down the first base side is not recommended.

And that's it. No top secret baseball instruction, baseball drills, or decoy signs. It's straight up. If the bunter executes a proper bunt, the sacrifice will be a success.

Nate Barnett helps improve the mental game of baseball in athletes. Learn how to help your game by improving your pitching mechanics
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Coaching Little League Baseball - A Guide to Keeping Young Players Focused

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Coaching Youth Baseball - How to Keep Youth Baseball Players Focused

By Guest Author: Jack Perconte

Keeping young players focused is a challenge in any sport but can be especially challenging in baseball because of the amount of time players stand around. There is not constant action or as much physical exertion in baseball as there are in other sports. Because of the amount of time in between pitches and the amount of pitches that are not put in play, it is easy for players' minds to wander. Coaching little league is a constant process of reminding young players to "keep their heads in the game." This is easier said than done, of course. Some young players have great sports instincts and are very focused and others are not mentally in the game at all. Most little league players are somewhere in between, where their focus comes and goes.

This is the reason why coaching little league baseball can be more challenging than coaching any other youth sport. Because of the lack of good little league coaching, many of the good athletes gravitate to other sports after playing little league baseball. It is a shame when good athletes choose another sport because coaches do not know positive coaching practices that will help young players stay focused. Following are good positive coaching practices that will help players remain focused during games.

First though, good coaches run fast moving practices with lots of attention given to each player and to the fundamentals of the game. Good little league coaches do not miss opportunities to teach game strategy during practice, as well as in games.

For keeping hitters focused, coaches should:

1. Never teach mechanics during a game at-bat.
2. Simply remind hitters to "see' the ball.
3. Teach the mentality to expect every pitch to be their pitch unless they see otherwise - with this in mind little league coaches should use a take sign sparingly, if at all.
4. Remind hitters they can only control one thing when hitting - talking good swings at good pitches.
5. Never get upset when players are aggressive and swing at bad pitches, just remind them to learn from that the next time.

For keeping fielders focused, coaches should:

1. Teach little league players how to get into ready position as the ball is being pitched.
2. Teach players to think two things before each pitch: what am I going to do with the ball if it is hit to me and what am I going to do if the ball is hit somewhere else. Of course, practice time is where players are taught the responsibilities at the various positions.
3. Teach pitchers to get in a quick rhythm, this will keep fielders on their toes and not allow minds to wander in between pitches.
4. Get in the habit of asking players, "Who wants the ball hit to them?" This mentality is slightly different than expecting the ball to be hit to them. I want players to want the ball hit to them.
5. Practice communication methods so players can remain aggressive, but safe, when going for batted balls.

For keeping pitchers focused, coaches should:

1. Explain to pitchers the importance of working quickly. After receiving the ball from catcher and taking a deep breath, pitchers should pitch the next ball. (Have pitchers watch Chicago White Sox pitcher, Mark Buerhle, to get the idea.)
2. Teach pitchers to focus on the glove and not the batter.
3. Teach pitchers what poise is about - the ability to stay in the moment and only worry about the things they can control - the next pitch.
4. Remind pitchers that they are a fielder after releasing the ball. Good fielding pitchers can help win games.
For keeping base runners focused, coaches should:

1. Remind players to be attentive to the scoreboard at all times - the score of the game, the count on the hitter and, most important, the number of outs in the inning.
2. Allow base runners to make their own decisions during games. This will force them to focus on the situation more, knowing they cannot rely on the coach to make decisions for them.
3. Work-on game-situation base running, rounding and leadoff technique as often as possible in practice.

Finally, it is always a good idea for coaches, before and after practices, to give players in-game scenarios and ask players what they would do in those situations. Players will begin to draw up the scenarios in their heads and will be more focused and prepared for those situations when they happen in games. This type visualization-challenge process is a good first step for players to focus their mind on baseball even when away from practice.

Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball playing lessons, books and advice can be found at and at
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top 10 Ways Baseball Coaches Ruin Their Players

By Guest Author: Jake Bryan

Coaches are always looking for new ways to help their players become better, when the fact is that often times they're ignoring the ways they're actually ruining their players. Below are ten ways that Baseball Brains has seen coaches ruin players.

1. Use Negative Directives

This is one of the worst things a coach can do, luckily it's also one of the easiest to fix if a coach makes a dedicated effort to do so. This refers to a coach telling a player "Don't swing at the high pitch!" Another example would be "Whatever you do, just don't throw it down the middle." These are negative directives, and they should be avoided at all costs. Always remember to tell a player what you DO WANT him to do, not what you DON'T WANT him to do. When you tell him not to strike out, the thing that sticks in his head, every single time, are the words strike out. It introduces failure and diminishes the players confidence.

"Don't swing at a high pitch" becomes "Swing only at pitches that are in the strike zone". This simple change makes the directive to the player much more affirmative and positive, much more like what we're looking for. "Don't throw it down the middle of the plate" becomes "Focus on working the edges of the plate". Simple changes that will make a huge difference in the mind of your athletes. It's more positive, it sounds like success, it breeds a greater confidence, and it will result in what you want far more often than what you don't.

2. Change Their Swing

Many coaches just simply cannot resist the temptation to teach a whole team an entirely new way to swing the bat. Every hitter needs to hit the same way, and the coach has the perfect way. This is a very complex issue as hitting is a very complex mechanic, however this approach to coaching hitting is almost always wrong. Hitting should not be over coached no matter the age level of the players. Of course very young players need to learn how to swing effectively, and players throughout baseball need drills and reminders of the small fundamentals of good hitting. However, coaching a swing to the team as a whole and demanding conformity to a new style is wrong, and will often have terrible results.

It takes thousands of swings to change a swing from a player's natural form and mechanics to some "perfect" form. That's just a fact. Numerous studies have shown that it takes at least three thousand repetitions to break a physical habit. Even if a coach had time in a season to force thousands of swings from each hitter on his team, the whole season would be lost to an ever changing swing in search of a new style which was never fully achieved. Two batters rarely look identical to each other, and this is a good thing.

This doesn't mean that hitting mechanics and fundamentals can't be coached, it simply means that one size fits all hitting systems never work. They result in season long inconsistency, frequent slumps, a drop in confidence, and often times a player will end up worse at hitting than before he received the coaching. There simply isn't enough time in a traditional amateur season to change a team's swing, stick to the mental approach to hitting and largely allow the players' natural swing to remain.

3. Try To Change Mechanics During a Game

This happens all the time, and it'll ruin a player in the game. Most of the time this occurs with pitchers. A coach will notice that the pitcher isn't striding fully and he'll go to the mound to tell him to stride better. This is a dangerous practice. First of all, if a pitcher's mechanics have gone away from him, it almost always means he's fatigued and should probably come out of the game. The second thing this does, is it gets him out of his "focus zone" and causes him to focus on some specific physical action. He'll go into the next pitches thinking "stride more fully", and the result will be lackluster performance in most other mechanics while he strives to achieve the one he's concentrating on. It'll also cause his mind to be on his legs rather than his job. As coaches, this isn't even close to what we want the pitcher to be thinking about. It'll lower his confidence, cause the other mechanics of the motion to break down, and take his focus off of the hitter and the job he needs to do to get him out.

This goes for all players on the field, and hitters also. The important thing for a player to do during the game, is focus on the moment and perform the best he can in that moment. Know the situation, know his role, do everything he can right then and there to help the team win. A pitcher needs to be thinking "What's the best pitch to throw here" far more than "Stride further". One will help the team win and the other will ruin your player. Keep coaching the mental side of baseball during the game, if the players are performing their duties incorrectly, such as not striding far enough out, work on it in practice where it belongs.

4. Don't Respect Them

Coach's believe sometimes that respect should be given to them by their players unconditionally. This never happens in real life, and it doesn't happen on the baseball field. Respect is earned, and the best way to earn respect from your players is to show some for them. Understand they will make mistakes, reward them for hard work, give them opportunities to win and succeed in practice.

There's tons of ways to show your players that you respect them. Another great thing that coaches can do is to do some of the conditioning drills with them. Get out there and run with them, let them see that you know that what they're doing is difficult and that you're willing to try some of it with them. Let them earn things in practice, and call them over now and then when nobody is watching and tell them thanks. It's amazing what a little "Thank you for the effort, you're a good ballplayer and I really appreciate and respect your attitude out here", can do. That literally can be the difference between a good and bad season for some players, never underestimate a compliment.

5. Don't listen To Them

This goes along with the one above, but it happens enough and it's important enough to warrant its' own number. Coaches believe often times that if they allow their players to have influence on the team or if they are allowed to make suggestions, then he loses his power over them. This couldn't be further from the truth. Now, we're not advocating turning a whole practice over to the players, although doing that a few times a year never hurt either. The goal here is to make the players feel like they have an investment and some influence in their own development.

It doesn't take a whole lot for a player to feel like he has some responsibility and ownership, just a couple simple things now and then. Ask the player what he thinks he should work on, what he thinks his weaknesses are, let him do the drills that he wants to do for a practice. Let the players decide what team drills they should do for an entire practice. Don't get this wrong, players need discipline and they need structure, but allowing input now and then is a great thing. It'll cause the players to feel like they have some skin in the game, some power in their play, and it'll make you seem more humble and, dare we say, respectable to them.

6. Give Them Unrealistic Goals

This list is about ways to ruin players and this will certainly do it. The fastest way to ruin a player is to destroy his confidence, and one of the best ways to do that is to cause him to repeatedly fail. Coaches often times won't even notice that this is happening, unfortunately this is true with a lot of the mental game which is why we put lists like this together in the first place. Since goals should be hard, they will sometimes be failed. This is not a bad thing in itself. The problem is that when they're too hard, they are failed too often.

Baseball Brains believes very strongly that goal setting is an extremely valuable tool and we advocate the use of goals throughout every practice during the entire season. However, they must be done correctly, and monitored closely. That second part is very important, they must be monitored constantly to make sure players are not becoming frustrated by losing or failing too many times in practice. Don't be afraid to modify goals if they aren't quite working out like you thought they would. Hard enough to make succeeding meaningful, but achievable enough so that failure doesn't become the norm.

7. Expect Them To Do Things You Haven't Taught Them How To Do

Never assume that a player knows how to do something if you haven't taught him how to do it. Now it goes without saying (but we'll say it anyway) that most of your players should know how to throw and catch and perform the basic skills of baseball. This is referring more to things like cutoff procedure from the outfield, double play turning at second base, hips closed mechanics for hitting to the opposite field, and things like that. Things which are not overly complicated, but things that not all players will always know, and this applies to almost all age groups.

There will almost always be players, even if it's only a few, which don't know how to do something that you think they should know how to do. If a coach berates or disciplines or becomes angry with a player for not doing something that has never been taught to them, that player will become resentful and frustrated. It's one thing to do something wrong when you know you did it wrong, it's a whole different ballgame to be punished for not being taught something. Again, this goes to the psychology (there's that word again) of the player. It isn't necessarily something the coach will see, but the drop in morale and the frustration toward the coach will be very real, and very detrimental to the player's performance. If you haven't showed them how to do it, don't expect them to do it right.

8. Be a Bad Sportsman

The job of a coach is to keep his players focused and intensely concentrated on the moment they are performing in. One of the greatest ways to destroy that and ruin your player, is to start yelling at umpires and displaying a bad attitude toward the other team. Sometimes in MLB a manager will get thrown out for the sole purpose of firing up his team and increasing their passion for the game. Needless to say, some things don't translate from MLB to lower levels of baseball, and this is one of them. It should be a constant reminder that you're giving your players to be good sportsmen, to respect the game and thus respect the other players, coaches and umpires. Bad calls, bad attitudes on the other team, opposing coach's who are behaving badly, these are all distractions which can take away from your players' focus on their job. Your job to is to remove as many distractions as possible, not become one.

9. Abandon You Own Methods

For a player in any sport to effectively learn and become good at a system, he first has to 'buy-in'. Once the player does this, he believes in it and he's willing to dedicate himself to it. Too many things go into getting a player to 'buy-in' to a system to discuss them all here, but one of the best ways to get players to believe in your approach and dedicate themselves to it, is to do those things yourself. Players will start out wanting to believe, wanting to believe that you're right and that they should follow you. However, they won't do it without skepticism. They'll watch you, and they'll gauge your conviction for it. Why should they be passionate and faithful if the guy teaching it doesn't even believe in it?

Coaches often do this without even realizing it. They'll preach things in practice and then panic when something isn't working in the game and change their approach. They'll receive attitude or resistance from a player or two and change how they coach. This is different that changing 'what' you coach, that's just fine most the time to evolve the areas of baseball that you cover throughout the season. However, if you change 'how' you coach and cave on your principles, the players will not give you anywhere near the dedication and effort you're looking for. Pick the right approach, be firm in your principles, be flexible if you're wrong, and fully dedicate yourself to your system. Your players will do the same.

10. React Emotionally

A lot of this list is related, and this one can be put in to a bunch of the categories above. What we'll talk briefly about here though, is coaches who react out of frustration and anger and issue bold proclamations. We've seen it in coaches in all sports, baseball perhaps the most. A player will talk back or do something the coach hates, and the coach's anger will boil up and you'll hear "That's it! You're on the bench for the rest of the tournament!". Then a game or two later the player is back in the lineup because the coach never meant that, he never wanted the player to sit out the last four games just for mouthing off a little.

Reacting emotionally can take many forms, but most of the time it causes the coach to say things that he doesn't mean, he won't live up to, and he wishes he could take back. The result is a coach that looks immature, spineless, reactionary, and unapproachable. Whenever a coach acts this way, he diminishes his players' confidence in him, and causes them to take his ultimatums and decrees much less seriously. Obviously these are not desired outcomes, unless your goal is to ruin your team.

Jake Bryan is a lead author in the Baseball Brains training system. There are numerous resources available at the website, including the full training manual for the system, drills, links and videos, and a Baseball Brains blog.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Youth Baseball Clinic - Baseball Tips on Hitting - The Most Common Hitting Problems at Any Level of Play!

Baseball Tips: Correcting the Most Common Hitting Problems at Any Level of Play!

By Guest Author: Larry Cicchiello

If you have what is referred to as a "quick hip," please forgive my bluntness but you will have no chance of being a successful baseball hitter. Only on an inside pitch, can you get away with opening the front hip a little bit early. A "quick hip" is when the front hip opens a fraction of a second early. It is a common hitting problem and a very serious one for many hitters at all levels of play. One of the most important baseball tips on hitting is to remember that the swing itself should force the front hip open. If the hip is a fraction of a second too quick, it forces your front side to open too early and this is a recipe for disaster for a baseball player at any level of play.

Three Major Problems Occur if You Have A Quick Hip:

1. You will not see the ball well. Your head will go along for the ride with your "quick hip" and you will be looking at the ball out of the corner of your eyes when the moment of truth arrives and you attempt to actually hit the ball.

2. Your power will be lost. You will be leaning toward third base if you are a right-handed hitter or toward first base if you are a left-handed hitter. That is not where the hitting is taking place. The hitting is taking place in front of you, not to the left or right of you.

3. Your plate coverage will be poor. The only pitch you'll be able to hit with any success at all is the inside pitch and low and away pitches will cause many baseball hitting problems for you.

I wonder how much young players who are struggling at the plate would improve considerably if they made this fairly simple adjustment at the plate.

Keeping the front hip and the entire front of your body closed is one of the most important baseball tips on hitting. How common is the baseball hitting problem of having a "quick hip"? You can check it out for yourself. When watching a game live in person or on TV at any level of play, observe the weaker hitters. (The ones who are batting .220, .230 or .240.) Keep an eye on their front hip. In almost all cases, it will be opening too early.

On the other side of the coin, you can also check out the better hitters. They will be keeping their front hip closed!

Larry is the successful author of several very user friendly eBooks and CD's covering 320 topics on playing or coaching excellent baseball. ANY player, coach or parent who wants to help their child will be fully equipped! Check out some FREE baseball tips on hitting and FREE baseball pitching tips at

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