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The Baseball Coaching Digest features a daily article on Coaching Baseball. Articles cover all aspects of coaching from baseball strategy to practice organization. Other topics included are: baseball hitting drills, baseball pitching drills, coaching youth baseball, and baseball strength training.


Today's Post:

Baseball Coaching Digest - Baseball Rules - Can You Name 5 Common Kinds of Baseball Interference?

By Nick Dixon

Can You Name the 5 Most Common Kinds of Baseball Interference?
If you coach, play or watch baseball, you should be familiar with the term "baseball interference". Baseball interference is described as any infraction or action by a person that illegally alters the course of baseball play. The five types of interference are covered by the rules and different rules are applied in each type of interference. The 5 kinds of interference can be committed either by an offensive player, a player off the bench, a catcher, an umpire, and a spectator. This article describes and explains the 5 most common kinds of interference called by umpires.

The 5 most frequently kinds of baseball interference that occur are:

Offensive Physical Interference

Offensive interference is when an offensive player causes a defensive player to misplay a hit ball. The offensive player physically interferes with the defensive player that is in the act of attempting to field a ball. This contact allows a base runner to advance or makes it more difficult for the player to get an out. This is the most commonly called kind of interference. When offensive interference is committed, the ball immediately becomes dead. If a batter or a base runner the commits the interference that player is called out. All runners must return to the bases they occupied at the time of the interference.

If offensive interference is committed by a runner with the intent of preventing a double play, both, the batter and the runner committing the interference will be called out.

Offensive Verbal Interference

Did you know that interference can be called on a player in the dugout? A player can commit what is called "Verbal Interference" from the dugout. Verbal interference may also be called on an offensive player. Calling out "foul" on a fair ball or "mine" on a fly ball, to confuse or hinder a defensive play is offensive verbal interference.

Umpire interference

Umpire interference is when a umpire interferes with a catcher attempting to make a throw. If the umpire`s action does not prevent the catcher from making the play, the play stands. If the action by the umpire causes a runner to be safe, the ball is dead and all runners must return to their time of throw bases. Umpire interference also occurs an umpire is struck by a fair batted ball before it touches or passes near an infielder other than the pitcher. The ball is dead, the batter is awarded first base, and all other runners advance only if forced.

Catcher interference

When a catcher physically hinders the swing of a batter, Catcher interference is called. Catcher interference is most commonly called when the bat touches the catching mitt during a swing. This most frequently occurs when a runner is attempting to steal and the catcher is too anxious to catch the ball. When catcher interference occurs, play continues, and after continuous playing action ceases, the umpire will call time. The batter is awarded first base, any runner attempting to steal is awarded that base, and all other runners advance only if forced. The catcher is charged with an error.

Spectator interference

Spectator interference most frequently occurs when a spectator in the first row of seats reaches onto the field to attempt to grab a fair or foul fly ball. Spectator interference occurs when If the umpire judges that the fielder could have caught the ball over the field. The ball becomes dead, and the umpire will award any bases or charge any outs that, in his judgment, would have occurred without the interference.

I hope that you found this article to be informative. I really appreciate you taking the time to read it. Have a great day, Nick.

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Nick Dixon is the President and founder of Nedco Sports, a sports training company established in 1999. Dixon is also an active and full time high school baseball coach with over 25 years experience. Coach Dixon is better known as the inventor of the BatAction Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Derek Jeter Hurricane Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Target Trainer, the SKLZ Derek Jeter ZipnHit Pro, and the SKLZ Strikeback Trainer. Dixon is also a contributing writer for BaseballCoachingDigest, the Youth Baseball Digest, the Baseball Parent Guide, the Baseball 2Day Coaches Journal, and Blog4Coaches.

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How to Use the Batting Cage For Better Hitting

How to Use the Batting Cage For Better Hitting
By Jack D. Elliott

Your baseball hitting can be improved by using batting cages and batting practice to develop your timing. One thing to keep in mind while hitting in BP or the cage is to know when you are getting in good hitting. This is important b/c hitting the ball hard is only a starting place for good hitting. One way to improve your hitting is to focus on hitting line drives and hitting the ball on the ground. Over time, this will result in a higher hitting average because there is less of a chance for the ball getting caught in the air.

A technique to help adjust your swing in the batting cages is to score your rounds at BP and batting cage sessions. This is very easy to do as you just need someone to do the scoring while you hit. This can even be done by yourself in your head with a little practice. Here, are a few tips on how to do the scoring:

1. Hit using a three point system. 3 points are given for line drives, 2 points for grounders or low line drives, and 1 point for fly balls.

2. Make three scoring zones. You will need to make some arbitrary zones whether in the BP or the batting cage. The goal should be to make them about even and each zone should be about 6 yards in length. For example, the grounders or low hitting zone would be a horizontal range from the ground to 6 yards up. Line drives would be in the next zone (6 to 12 yards up) and fly balls would be any the final zone for everything 12 yards high up to 18 yards in the air. Anything over this height should not be scored.

3. Use Landmarks at Batting Cages For Zones. If you are hitting in the cages, use any landmarks that exist to help make the zones. For example, you could say the top of the pitching machine begins the middle zone. Bottom line: don't get too caught up in the exactness of the zones. Instead, use the landmarks as a guideline and being scoring your rounds.

4. Score each session. Habitually, score and record each session. This will give you a target to shoot at for your next round and encourage you to out-do your last performance. By making each session a competition, you will get more out of it as you try to get a higher score each time.

5. Scoring Rounds By Yourself. If keeping up with the scoring in your head gets to be too challenging during your hitting. One trick you can do is simply the scoring. By only scoring how many times you hit the ball in the middle range, you can get a pretty good measurement to test your hitting. Once you get your score, you would use this in much the same way as other scoring, you would try to top it on your next round. The focus during all these sessions would be to develop consistency in hitting this middle zone.

Be sure to let your team and coach know about this strategy. If adopted by your team, the whole team could benefit by using it in there regular BP. The scores of each session could even be posted in the locker room to add a little competition and more interesting into your team's batting practice sessions. Just think with a little time your team could be getting more hits and runs by using one simple technique.

Jack Elliott, is a former player and fan of the game. To read more tips and techniques like the ones in this article, please click here: or Baseball Hitting Tips.

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Nov. 2, 2009
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Hitting a Baseball - Using the Gaps

By Nate Barnett

How do you tell if a hitter is creating the correct energy and movement at bat? One simple way (there are obviously more technical ways) is to observe where most of the balls are traveling while hitting a baseball. If a hitter is directing balls into the gaps (regardless if they are ground balls or fly balls) he's on the right track. On the flip side, if a lot of balls are being sliced down the opposite field line or hooked to the pull side, some mechanical alterations are necessary. Two common causes are found here:

1. The most common root cause of hooking or slicing while hitting a baseball is improper control of the front side of the body. A good baseball swing begins with the movement of the back part of the body (specifically the back knee and hip). During this brief period of time the front side of the body (basically all joints on the front side) need to remain relatively unmoved. The purpose of this is so that the back side of the body moves towards the play. If the front side moves at the same time as the back side of the body, momentum is being taken away from the pitch. It is then more difficult for the athlete to keep his bat moving through the zone. Instead, the bat cuts across the zone and creates a lot of side spin on the baseball as well.

2. Another cause of hooked or sliced balls is how the hands enter and pass through the strike zone. The path any hitter needs to take with the hands is a direct and straight path into the hitting zone. Unfortunately, the problem of a weak front side (described in #1) tends to drag the hands away from the body. The end result is hands that progress through the zone in a sweeping fashion. This type of problem only increases the likelihood that side spin will occur while hitting a baseball.

Nate Barnett is owner of
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Baseball Coaching - 10 Tips For Improving the Quality of Your Baseball Practice Time

Baseball Coaching - 10 Tips For Improving the Quality of Your Baseball Practice Time

In this article Coach Dixon discusses the value of Time and how it relates to coaching baseball. He discusses Baseball Coaching Time in two contexts; Time is seconds, minutes and hours and Time is also knowing that there is a time and place for everything. Baseball coaches must know the value of time spent doing team activities. Baseball coaches must know that doing the wrong thing at the wrong time will cause team and parent problems that can be a "pain" to deal with.

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The 10 "Must Do's" Of Coaching Baseball And Softball

I have compiled my list of the "MUST DO'S", that I feel every coach must coach by! These reflect the duties and responsibilities accepted when one becomes a coach. Here are my "MUST DO'S":

1. I MUST..."Always remember that I am a role model, on and off the field, for all players and kids. I must remember that everything I do is observed. Everything I say is heard.

2. I MUST..."Always remember that something I say or something I do not say can have an profound positive and negative affect on a player. I am a coach because I care! I care about the game. I care about my players. I must act like I want to be there! My player will observe and emulate my attitude. My attitude must show my dedication, excitement, and enthusiasm!

3. I MUST..."Constantly remember that the safety and well-being of my players is my responsibility and the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", is never truer than when it applies to sports accidents. Youth coaches should apply a team rule that that at practice no player should swing a bat, unless the coach has given them permission to do so.

4. I MUST..."Be fair to every player. I will treat every player equally with the same respect. I will always be honest with my players. I will be mindful that praise is a great motivator. I will at times use constructive criticism but I will always maintain a balance between correction and praise. I will speak "one-on-one" with every player, every day. This may be something as simple as the question, "Jon, how is your day going?".

5. I MUST..."Demand and receive respect from every player at all times. Disrespect will not be tolerated. I will remember discipline is a vital part of the game. Team and self-discipline is something I must teach and reinforce. Kids expect and love discipline. Many players do not get enough discipline at home."

6. I MUST..."Dress and look the part of a coach. I will keep a clean and neat appearance at all team practices and games."

7. I MUST..."Remember that to be a good coach, I must first be a good teacher. It is my responsibility to teach the fundamentals, rules and skills of the game. I will structure and organize every practice and pre-game ritual so that my players will know what to do, will know what to expect, will be focused and stay busy." I must remember "idle" time is "trouble" time when one is dealing with kids. I will always be the first to arrive and the last to leave all games, practices, meetings, and all other team events!"

8. I MUST..."Coach the details during the game to help my players learn and perform to their highest level". I will work hard at all times during practice and games. I will instill in my players the value of hard work and preparation.

9. I MUST..."Remember that character development and self-confidence are what youth sports is all about. Kids do not have to play. They play because they want to have fun! I must have fun, know how to laugh, and enjoy every minute along with my kids!"

10. I MUST..."Remember, that "WINNING is NOT EVERYTHING" but "EXPECTING to WIN" is. I must instill hope and confidence as I prepare my team for each game!

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Nick Dixon is the President and founder of Nedco Sports, the "Hit2win Company". Dixon is also an active and full time high school baseball coach with over 25 years experience. Dixon is widely recognized as an expert in the area of baseball training, practice and skill development. Coach Dixon is better known as the inventor of several of baseball and softball's most popular training products such as the Original BatAction Hitting Machine, SKLZ Derek Jeter Hurricane Hitting Machine,

Batting Cage Hitting Drill Tips and Coaching Points

Here are several drills and tips that I feel help you get the most benefits out of hitting in the cage:

Front Toss - The pitcher is sitting and throwing from behind a safe "L" screen. The batter is going to work inner third or outer third. The batter will get 8 tosses. This is a great drill because it provides for more repetition, location mastery, and help develop great mechanics. Coaching Points:
  • The pitcher should go through as pre-toss motion that simulates a pitchers wind-up. The batter is to use this motion to load and "trigger". The pitcher should obeserbve the batter and not toss it if the batter does not "go to the proper load" body position.
  • The pitcher will often get the ball up and hold it at the toss or release point or fake a toss. This makes the hitter stay loaded and back. This teaches the hitter to not guess or lunge.
  • The toss should be a wrist flick of the ball at a distance no more than 12 feet. The batter should pull or turn on the 8 inner third tosses and take the 8 outer third tosses to the opposite field.

"Bounce" Breaking or Off-Speed Batting Cage Drill - The batting practice pitcher simply bounces the ball in fron of the batter so that it bounces across the plate as a strike. The batter must stay back and drive the ball to the opposite field. The pitcher only does this every 3rd or 5th pitch. It is done just enough to keep the batter "honest" and prevent the batter from guessing or jumping at the ball. The act of keeping the hands and weight back is one aspect of becoming a great hitter.

Coaching Point: Make it a rule that balls do not get hit into the top of the batting cage. I will sometimes make batters do pushups or squat thrust if they hit a ball into the top of the cage. "Line-drives" make the world go round" so make sure that your batters are striving on every swing to hit a line-drive into one of the two sides or the end of the batting cage net.

I hope this tips are useful. Good luck til next time, Nick

Coaching Baseball Batters - 3 Common Baseball Swing Mistakes and Corrections

By Nick Dixon

Coaching youth and high school baseball batters requires a watchful eye and close attention to detail. Baseball coaches must identify and correct any flaw in batting hitting mechanics. Players should not be allowed to practice their swing over and over without correcting their mistakes. Good baseball coaches are always on the constant lookout for any bad habits that a young player may develop. Here I discuss three of the most common hitting mechanical flaws and my approach to correcting each. Here are three common mistakes I often see at my baseball camps and when I observe youth games and youth practices.

1) BARRING THE FRONT ARM - The batter locks or stiffens the front arm as the swing begins. Many young batters will have assumed the correct stance and launch positions but have a tendency to tighten up as the swing begins. The barring of the front arm causes the swing to loop and to be too long. The batter has great difficulty taking the bat to the ball and making contact unless the ball is thrown exactly on the swing plane. The proper swing has a "short stroke" or path to the ball. The best way to correct barring of the front arm is to make sure that the batter keeps the front arm elbow bent or at an "L" position prior and during the swing.

2) STEPPING OUT OR PULLING OFF PITCHES - I often see this with young kids in our summer camp program. They always step out or their front side often flies open before the ball arrives. This batter has great difficulty making contact. Until this flaw is corrected, the batter will only become frustrated and embarrassed. To keep the front shoulder in the proper "closed" position, teach the batter to keep the front shoulder closed and directed at the second baseman for right-handed batters and toward the shortstop for left-handed batters. The stepping out is a more difficult flaw to fix. Having the batter pick the front heel off the ground and stepping just slightly toward the plate may help. I frown on putting obstructions behind the front foot to keep it from moving backward, although many coaches do this to stop this bad habit. I often use the "step in and hit: drill with a hit trainer, Bat Action Machine or batting tee. The batter assumes a position back away from the ball target that requires the batter to step toward the ball in order to make contact. If the batter does not step toward or into the ball, the batter will not be able to hit the ball.

3) UPPER CUT SWING - The upper cut swing may be caused by two things that are quickly identified Dropping the hands and back leg collapse can both cause the batter to swing upward. Make sure that the batter keeps the hands at the top of the strike zone and does not drop the hands or dip the back side shoulder during the swing. The back leg should be keep "tall or straight" to prevent back side dipping which can also cause an upper-cut swing. Two great drills that we use to stop this is the "Zone Circle" tee or soft-toss drill. We make a circle the side of our batting cage by inter-weaving a white or yellow rope in the net. The batter must hit or drive the ball off the tee or from a soft-toss into the circle. The batter must have a level swing and keep the front side in to be able to hit the zone.

COACHING POINT: Make sure that the batter is not over striding. This too can cause a batter to pop up. The batter must concentrate visually on the top half or middle of the ball to make good contact.

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Check out the BatAction Hitting Machine baseball pitching simulator. This high speed training machine is 100% Guaranteed to raise Batting Averages and has a full year warranty.

Today's Post:

Does It Help, Does It Hurt? A Look At Training For Baseball And Common Shoulder Injuries

By Ethan Bowlin

Is your training increasing or decreasing your risk of injury? Our goal is to function at the highest level possible while reducing the risk of injury. Baseball is a sport that involves strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, and mobility to name a few. What I have been seeing with baseball players from little league, early adolescence into their adult lives is the widely accepted notion that to become a better athlete you have to train for form, not so much function. What is the difference?

Form is what can be termed bodybuilding, building the body with focus on big muscles or prime movers of the body. The chest, shoulders, abdominals, arms and quads, also known as mirror muscles, what we can see in the mirror, are most commonly developed using machines and free weights. Bench press, crunches, biceps curls and knee extensions are the exercises of choice. What is wrong with that, you may say? I thought that to be involved in athletics, I have to become stronger and condition the body for that sport? Yes and no. Let me explain, let’s look at function.
Function is what is useful, how the body is utilized throughout different planes of movement for a desired action. Baseball for example, involves throwing, hitting and running and must deal with forces that cause rotation, forces that distract a joint during acceleration, and forces that must be decelerated, stabilized and transferred to produce the desired action. So you ask, I thought that building my muscles stronger would accomplish that? When we focus on form or bodybuilding only, you are creating an unbalanced environment.

Let’s take look at one of the most problematic issues regarding baseball players, shoulder injuries. When an athlete throws a baseball, force is generated from the lower body and transferred through the core into the upper body through the shoulder, elbow and wrist providing the “speed” of the baseball. However, the force does not stop there. Once the ball is released, that force does not disappear, it must be decelerated back through the wrist, elbow, shoulder, upper body, core and lower body. Simply stated, what you speed up, you must slow down.

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, however, what we gain in mobility we sacrifice stability. Picture the shoulder as a ball sitting on a plate, very mobile but not very stable. For the shoulder, or any joint for that matter, must be stable before moving. Stability of the shoulder is heavily reliant on the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff muscles originate from the shoulder blade and its goal is to keep the ball centered on the plate so the big muscles can produce the accelerating, decelerating and rotational forces while throwing. Muscles surrounding the shoulder blade that provide stability for the shoulder joint include the lower trapezius, serratus anterior and rhomboid muscles. All these muscles not only provide support for the shoulder but also are crucial in holding your posture.

Weakness in these muscles and focusing on strength training for the chest, arms and abdominals will create an imbalance between the front and back of the shoulder girdle (upper body) possibly creating a rounded upper back, forward head appearance (slouching). This imbalance places the upper back muscles in a lengthened position, which will create greater stress on the rotator cuff during deceleration phase (follow through) of throwing and altered throwing mechanics. Many times it can manifest as soreness and pain in the shoulder, down into the upper arm, elbow and forearm. So how do I avoid this? Build your body like building a house. You wouldn’t start with the roof and windows before having a solid foundation. Then don’t just jump into strength training, start with a strong stable foundation and proper alignment before packing on the muscle!

First use a foam roller to loosen tight muscles and stretch the muscles around your shoulder for optimal range of motion (For more information the foam roller, look at Relieve Pain with Foam). Stretching the muscles in the front (chest, shoulders, and internal rotators) and strengthening the muscles in the back (lower trapezius, rhomboids, and external rotators) will help to balance your shoulder girdle. Next, because we transfer force from the lower body to the upper body while throwing and vice versa we target core stability and strength. The core involves more than just your abdominals and low back; it includes the deep muscles along your spine down through your pelvis and hips. Most people think of core exercises as movements such as crunches, twists and back extensions to name a few, however that is only one part of it. Core exercises can be split into stabilizing and movement exercises. When we attempt to develop core strength without core stability, we are forcing our bodies to rely on the prime movers, such as the chest, abdominals and shoulders to do the stabilizing. We must be stable before we can move; otherwise energy is wasted while throwing, running and hitting, all baseball movements. For a small range of exercises with a variety of uses from improving posture to sport specific exercises for throwing go to Does It Help Does It Hurt on the fuel page at

Ethan Bowlin is a fitness professional and co-founder of Performance 4 Life. Ethan coaches baseball and specializes in rehabilitation and strength and conditioning and can be reached at
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BaseballCoachesDigest -

Baseball Pitcher Warm-Up and Stretching

by: Mike Schim

Pitching a baseball game begins long before you even step onto the pitching mound. It is important to prepare both physically and mentally for pitching in a game. Below are some mental and physical steps you can do to prepare for pitching on the day of the big baseball game.

When you wake up in the morning, begin mentally visualizing your pitching experience. Start imagining how your pitching will be that day. While taking your morning shower, think about how you want your pitching strategy to be. Do you want to throw many fastballs? Do you want to vary your pitching a lot in the game? Do you want to try and strike every batter out? Or would you want to pitch each batter in such a way as to try to get them to ground out to the infielders on the first pitch? All of this mental preparation can help visualize how you want to win.

During the day, conserve your energy and keep thinking about how you are going to pitch the best game ever. Your positive attitude will help you win. All of the positive thoughts will get you very excited about pitching in the game.

When you are getting dressed for the game, keep a clear head and positive attitude. If you pitching coach gave you advice on pitching strategy, repeat key concepts in your head. Consider the strategies for each batter. If you did research on the other team's players, remind yourself of which batters to pitch fastballs to, and which batters to throw curveballs to. You don't need to quiz yourself, but simply review the concepts in your head.

Before going into the pitching bullpen, gently jog around the field. Get the blood flowing. Gently stretch, and then jog a little more. It's important to loosen up your arms and your legs. Your entire body is needed for baseball pitching, so be sure to warm-up your entire body.

Once you've returned to the bullpen, go to a grassy spot away from other players and gently stretch your arms and arm joints. Focus on your shoulders, forearms, wrists, and elbow.

After stretching for about 5 or 10 minutes, find a teammate to have a simple catch with. Stand about 20 feet apart and simply throw the ball to each other. There's no need to throw any pitches at this point. Just throw the ball. Catching and throwing the ball will actually help you stretch some more before you even throw a single pitch. After a minute or two, extend the distance to about 50 feet apart. After a few more minutes of having a casual game of catch with your teammate, you should start casually going through the pitching motion. Use your legs in throwing the ball. Do a casual wind-up and lift your leg a little bit in the pitch.

Now that you've warmed up, you can start your pitching activities. Have a teammate, preferably a catcher; assume the catching position while you throw some practice pitches. Start with a very slow pitch and practice the pitching motions. Don't worry about speed. Pay attention to your pitching mechanics. The web site has books and videos that discuss the mechanics of baseball pitching. Besides reading and watching videos, you can also watch other pitchers and study how they pitch the ball.

Once you've thrown about 15 simple pitches while focusing on the delivery, start to warm-up your pitching aim. Focus on inside and outside pitching corners. Practice your aim with each of your pitches. Throw a fastball, curve, change-up, slider, and other pitches.

Ask your warm-up catcher and another teammate to go to home plate and practice with you while you stand on the pitcher's mound. Your practice catcher should assume the catching position, and your other teammate should stand in the batters box with a baseball bat in hand. The practice batter should not hit your practice pitches, but simply stand in the hitting stance and occasionally swing very lightly at the pitches. All of this will help you visually prepare for real game pitching.

If you have not already done so, go see your pitching coach and say hello. Ask any questions that you may have. If you don't have any questions, review with your pitching coach any pitching strategies for the game.

Before you enter the game, be sure to go to the bullpen and throw some more warm-up pitches. Also, throw just a few pitches at full speed. Don't throw too many, but throw maybe 3 or 4 full speed pitches.

If you are not the starting pitcher, be sure to keep your body warm and loose. And remember to keep warm and loose in-between innings even when you are the active pitcher.

And of course, enjoy your pitching experience! After all, that's why you play have fun!

About The Author

Mike Schim has been a baseball fan for nearly 30 years. As a child he enjoyed playing catch with very old, well worn baseball gloves. He now plays ball with friends and teaches his family and kids how to play ball. You can read more of his articles at and he also writes for Mike hopes that his passion for writing about baseball will help everyone more thoroughly enjoy the game.

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Three Tips to Help Baseball Players Overcome Anxiety and Fear During Competition
By Mike Posey

Athletes become nervous during competition, it's a natural pat of the learning curve. The best performers learn how to relax and deal with their anxiety. What are some of the common fears players deal with during competition? The fear of losing, the fear of letting the team down, the fear of disappointing a coach or dad/mom are just a few common examples. Mixed in with this is the fear of the unknown, such as a pitcher that throws hard or the fear of injury.

My oldest son played eight years of professional baseball in the minor leagues. He was a 6'5 left -handed pitcher and growing up he had good arm strength. But he also was tall, awkward, and lacked good body control at a young age. This lack of body control caused him to struggle with controlling his pitches. Due to his wildness in youth leagues some kids were afraid to bat off him, but at the same time he was afraid of hitting a batter or even causing injury to one of his peers. One opposing coach asked him politely to not "throw so hard", but that only caused him more fear. Until he began to trust his mechanics and develop some confidence, those fears kept him from reaching his potential. Fortunately for him, he matured in his early days of high school and was able to experience success.

How can young players overcome their fear and anxieties? Here are three tips that can help.

  • Self Talk - Players can use self talk to help regain concentration and change their focus from fears to the goal at the time. For example, simple phrases like "I want the ball" or "this batter is mine" can be repeated to themselves (when no one is listening) and will help the player focus on the task at hand and drive out negative thoughts. It's amazing how well this works.
  • Mental Imagery - Players need to have a good image of themselves accomplishing the task at hand. This can be accomplished off the field using several techniques. First, by watching video of themselves to develop a mental image of what they look like during the activity. Second, watch video of others that are doing it right and try to emulate them. Third, playing mental images of themselves completing the task successfully, such as hitting the game winning home run (or hit) or striking out the side to win the game. This can be done by the player when laying in bed at night and playing a mental movie screen on the ceiling above the bed. In the imaginary movie the player is always successful. Also, a good imagery technique is for the coach to show short video clips of championship games where the game winning hit is celebrated or the players rush the field after winning the championship.
  • Hustle and Encouragement - When players loose their confidence they stop hustling and lose energy. This lack of energy (or negative energy) is contagious with other team members Players must practice hustling at all times and encouraging others, even when things are not going well for themselves. Amazingly, this positive energy will translate into confidence and results.

Mike Posey "CP"
Expert Baseball Tips
Baseball tips from a championship coach's perspective and experience, offering creative insights into helping others learn the game of baseball.

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4 Baseball Pitching Drills For Little League Players
By Nick Dixon

Teaching, training and developing young baseball pitchers takes a lot of time, patience, and practice repetition. Many young pitchers need to practice pitching skills daily. To keep the interest level high, it is best to use a variety of drills on alternate days to prevent boredom. Here are 4 baseball pitching drills that can be used to train youth and beginner pitchers.

Drill #1 - Up & Out Foot Drill Objective - To help pitchers perfect the proper back leg action. The purpose of this drill is to stop foot drag and prevent over striding.

Equipment Needed - A brick, block or wood or other suitable object. The object will be placed at a location just in front of the pivot foot of the pitcher. The pitcher will be working out of the stretch. The pitcher should be reminded to roll and pick his back foot up so that it clears the object.

Procedure - The pitcher throws using his normal motion and delivery. If the pitcher fails to clear the object, then his back foot is "dragging" or he is over striding. Young pitchers should be coached to step out of the "hold" and up and over the block.

Drill #2 - Dot Spot Drill Objective - The purpose of this drill is to build confidence, to teach young pitchers to hit their spots and to teach young pitchers to have great control.

Equipment Needed - Good balls, Catching equipment, and glove.

Procedure - The catcher has 4 dots on his gear. The 4 dots or spots are different colors or they each have a number on them. The dots are taped to each knee on the shin guards and one to the left shoulder and right shoulder. The catcher or coach calls a color or a number. The pitcher must hit the dot called. The pitcher has 6 pitches to hit all 4 of the dots. All dots should be called in different orders each time. If the pitcher fails to hit 4 dots correctly, the pitcher must do 10 push ups. Two pitchers can compete to see which finishes first. The dots may be placed lower on the catcher to stress keeping the ball low or down in the zone.

Drill #3 Long Toss - Power Building Drill - Pitchers should long toss several times a week to build strength and endurance. The two players should warm-up as usual and then move back a few steps after each 4 throws. Pitchers should be able to increase their strength and extend their distances within weeks. Pitchers of all ages should work out to a distance at least 3 times their normal pitching distance. Some coaches allow players to "crow hop" at the farthest distances. That is up to you.

Drill #4 - Front Side Drill Objective - This drill is used to teach and reinforce the proper front shoulder action during delivery.

The drill is performed as the pitcher kneels on the pivot-leg knee. The pitcher will begin the drill with the throwing arm in the "T -position" and the stride foot aimed at the plate. The pitcher begins the throwing motion by pulling and tucking his front arm and glove. At the same time he is bringing his throwing arm and shoulder around and toward the plate. The drill should be performed many times to give the pitcher the feel of proper mechanics and front shoulder movement. The front elbow should be used as the guide for the front side. The glove should be extended out and tucked as the pitcher rolls his lead shoulder and pulls it in. This deceptive move is used to distract and deceive batters. The drill should be finished with the throwing arm in proper finish position outside the stride leg knee.

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Baseball Coaching Tips - Some Are Simply Not True
By Larry Cicchiello

Here is a list of 7 baseball coaching tips or beliefs that are overused and are either wrong or have become obsolete:

Come on Johnny, get your elbow up. The reference is to the height of the back elbow when hitting. You will very often hear this hollered to a young player by a coach, manager or one of his parents. Some raise their back elbow up by their back ear. This is NOT a comfortable position for most hitters. It's much more efficient to have the back elbow just below shoulder height. If a hitter wants to make an adjustment up or down, only then should the back elbow be raised or lowered.

If you're going to get beat, get beat on your best pitch. Let's say that a pitcher's best pitch is the fastball and the batter is a very good fastball hitter. Let's say that the pitcher's second best pitch is a good curve ball and that batter has had trouble with his curve ball in the past. It would make no sense for that pitcher to get beat on his best pitch, the fast ball, with the game on the line.

Don't look at the ball, just run. All good base runners DO look at the ball. This is not to say that if you hit a grounder to the infield you should be looking at the grounder while running to first base. On the other hand, there are many, many times where you should be looking at the ball. Good base runners very seldom need a coach to guide them while running. They watch the ball, the fielder and watch the play unfold. The infamous quote of, "don't look at the ball, just run," should be changed to, "don't just run, look at the ball."

Come on Jimmy, level swing. Many young players hear this hollered out so often that as soon as they start their swing, they try to make sure it's level. This is one of the worst baseball coaching tips they will ever hear. The proper baseball swing is not level at all. A baseball hitter will not be successful if he starts his swing on a level plane. If a hitter levels out his swing at the very beginning, he can be virtually guaranteed he will be late on every fastball because he is not being "short to the ball." The swing starts out going downward with the back of the bottom hand facing the pitcher and not facing the sky. Only at the point where you are making contact should the swing be level, with one palm facing up and the other palm facing down. Being a fraction of a second late when swinging the bat is an eternity!

Catch the ball with two hands. This is often hollered out to a younger player who is catching a popup or a fly ball.Baseball gloves have come a long way in the last few decades.They are much bigger and better.Putting your bare hand next to your glove hand when catching popups or fly balls will be more trouble than it's worth.It can easily interfere with your catching the ball with these very good, modernized gloves.

Touch the bases with your right foot when running. The concern used to be that if a runner touches a base with their left foot, they may trip over the base with their right foot. That is obsolete now.It makes no sense whatsoever to "stutter step" and lose precious time when running around the bases.

The perfect count to put on the hit and run is 2-0 or 3-1. This started several decades ago is very played out.To have a batter be forced to swing at a 2-0 pitch that would be a ball and make the count 3-0 is senseless.The same holds true on the 3-1 count. To have a batter be forced to swing at a 3-1 pitch that would be ball 4 is a scary strategy.

In 95% or more of all cases, good baseball coaching tips of fifty years ago are still good today. There are a few things however, that have evolved.

Larry Cicchiello is the author of the very informative book "Excellent Baseball Coaching: 30 Seconds Away." He is unique in that his site offers visitors several FREE TIPS that are straight from his book. Baseball tips on hitting, baseball pitching tips, baseball fielding tips, baseball base running tips, baseball coaching drills and more. Your baseball "help desk" will be open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year and very user friendly. Larry invites you to check out his FREE TIPS. You will be FULLY EQUIPPED as a manager, coach, player at any level or a parent who wants to help their child improve or overcome any baseball struggles.

You can visit his website at

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Quit Wasting Your Time With Side Flips - A Better Baseball Drill Option
By Jack Perconte

One of the most common baseball hitting drills is the side-flip drill. This drill involves a coach kneeling off to the opposite side of hitters and flipping balls into the hitting zone for players to practice their hitting. The more I worked with hitters over the past 20 years the less value I saw with this side-flip drill. It does promote players watching the ball and may help hand eye coordination, but does not promote a better baseball swing. Because balls are flipped from the side, balls are flipped slowly and often with a loop on it, so hitters can get away with having long, looping swings. Also, coaches of young players tend to flip balls in the same spot, in the batters' swing path so they are virtually hitting the ball for the player. There are better alternatives that promote an improved baseball swing. Obviously, a better alternative is having a coach flip balls straight at the hitter from the front like in a game and behind a screen, but this is not always possible.

Another great alternative I propose is that coaches get in the habit of using the dropped-ball drill. This is performed by a coach who stands to the side of the hitter and drops balls into the hitting zone after the player takes their stride. Coaches have the option of dropping the ball immediately or after a slight delay. Of course, coaches should not allow their hand to fall into the swing area nor stand to close to the batter so there is no chance of the coach being hit by the ball or bat. This dropped-ball drill promotes good hand eye coordination and most importantly a fundamental, compact swing. Players who have incorrect fundamentals and long swings will have trouble hitting the ball with any consistency. This drill also helps teach players how to keep their weight and hands back which is also crucial to developing good swing fundamentals. Additionally, this drill is more challenging than the side-flip drill and helps players develop bat quickness, which is another key to good hitting.

A slight variation to this drill can also be helpful to "shorten" players' swings. Coaches can set a batting tee slightly behind hitters at about hip high to make hitters come over the tee before hitting the dropped ball. This will definitely promote a quick, compact swing that is a goal of all hitters.

It is important to note that this drill can cause frustration as contact may be difficult at first. Usually, hitters will begin to make contact which is a great sign of improvement and a challenge most players meet.

Finally, the one positive use for the side-flip drill that was useful for developing hitters was performing the side flips with fakes. Coaches would go to flip the ball but had the option of hanging on to ball or releasing it. This method of the drill would help teach batters to stay back and remain in hitting position, but still react quickly when the ball was released. This method of the drill promoted positive results involving good hitting fundamentals.

Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball hitting lessons advice can be found at Jack is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his parenting blog can be found at


Youth Baseball Practice & Coaching-Making The Best Use Of Your Practice Time

Making The Most Of Your Youth Baseball PracticeIf you ever have the opportunity to watch a professional sports team practice, the one aspect that jumps out at you, other than the abundance of talent, is the degree to which every single minute is utilized in an efficient manner. Different groups rotate around drills for set amounts of time governed by a clock and timed buzzer. You can do somewhat the same thing with your youth baseball practice. Here is a good basic formula for an hour and 45 minute practice:

In the first 10 minutes have players each find a teammate to warm up with by throwing and catching with each other. If a player does not have a partner, an assistant coach should throw and catch with the player.

In the next 5 minutes you should have your team meeting and discuss what you will be doing in the practice and cover details for an upcoming game.

In then next 1 hour divide the team up as follows: Have your 3 starting pitchers and starting catcher in the pitching & catching group, have half of the remaining players in an infield practice group, and have the remaining players in an outfield practice group.

Have one of the pitchers throwing to the catcher (in full catcher's gear) while the other two pitchers throw to each other. Have all the pitchers switch off after ten pitches to the catcher so all pitchers have a chance to throw to the catcher. Have a coach watch the pitching form of each pitcher.

Have the infield group cover all the infield positions with extra players going to the outfield. A coach should bat balls to all areas of the field. Have extra players assume the roles of base runners. Rotate the infield positions after every few hits.

Have your outfield group spread out in a wide semi-circle in pairs of two with each two players about 8 feet from each other. A coach or assistant bats or throws balls to each pair. The player closest to the ball calls it and the other plays backup. Stress the need for good backup! Only 2 outfielders should be involved with each throw but you can keep the hits/throws going as quick as possible. It is nice to have an extra helper to the coach to gather balls as they are returned.

After 30 minutes, have the infield and outfield groups switch. On every other practice have the pitchers & catcher mix in with the infield/outfield groups.

Devote the last 30 minutes to batting practice. Use a variety of batting drills and make sure every player gets a lot of practice.

Michael Sakowski works full time and volunteers as an assistant coach for his son's youth league baseball team. He also has researched effective youth baseball methods and has published a website, Youth Baseball Basics that provides helpful information to first time baseball players and first time baseball parents.

Extraordinary Baseball Strength - The Gospel When it Comes Down to the Best Workout For Baseball!

Strength and conditioning for baseball is a must if you want to be competitive in today's game. When it comes down to getting the best workout routine for baseball players I have to exert my professional opinion by telling you about the single arm kettlebell swing. As you may know by now the kettlebell is an ancient strength and conditioning device that has been used by the world's greatest athletes for over three centuries. This ancient strength and conditioning device brings a style of training with it that is dynamic in nature and translates better than anything over to any athletic sport, especially baseball.

The base strength endurance lift that is performed with the kettlebell is known as the double arm kettlebell swing, but for this article I am going to address the single arm swing. It doesn't matter if you are looking for a baseball pitching workout, rotator cuff exercise, or just a generic workout routine for your baseball performance the single arm swing satisfies them all! To perform the single arm swing you must first understand the proper technique which is performed with the double arm version known as the hip snap. The hip snap is a movement that is done by you fluently and constantly flexing and extending at both your hips and knees in order to create the necessary momentum to swing the kettlebell up to chest level.

With the single arm swing you first want to properly set your grip before beginning the exercise. With the bell on the ground simply grab the handle towards the inner half of the bell depending on which hand you want to start with. Next, make sure that when you grip the handle to rotate your knuckles so that they point to the sphere of the kettlebell. This is known as a hooking grip and allows you to firmly hold the bell with the hook of the palm of your hand and not exhaust your grip by using your fingers. From here pick the bell up and begin the hip snap. As the bell elevates to chest height make sure that your palm is pointing down and as it descends to between your legs allow your forearm to rotate to a thumbs down position. Continue this natural rotation back and forth with each swing. You will quickly realize how much of a major league baseball workout this drill is once you start.

Take the time to endure the learning curve with kettlebell training my friend. This will no doubt take your strength and conditioning workouts to the next level. Remember that anyone can train hard, but only champions train smart!

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Last post: Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009
Great Baseball Hitting Drills For Keeping The Head Closed
By Joe Brockhoff

It is very easy to get into the habit of pulling off the ball. This is especially true for power hitters. Have you ever seen a power hitter hit a home run and thereafter, he can't couch the ball? What happened? The home run took him out of himself. So as he pivots, he is also pivoting his head.

First of all, hitters should never take a 100% stroke. Doing this invites pulling off the ball. For efficiency, the stroke should be no more than 95%, saving 5% for command. As coaches, we sometimes go too far in the other direction by telling them to "just meet the ball." And now they start to aim the bat, which is not good either.

Hitting is a controlled explosion. Continue to be aggressive, with a 95% stroke. So what do we advise? The hitter is pulling off because he's rotating his complete body when he hits. He must focus on his head rotating in the opposite direction to the hips. As the hips rotate to the pitcher, the head should rotate to the ball.

Here are three baseball hitting drills for this:


Place a pile-on or glove across from the hitter just outside the batter's box in front of home plate (45% angle). After the hitter makes contact, he looks into the pile-on area. This keeps the head inside.

DRILL #2 (with pitching machine or live pitcher)

Hitter assumes his stance, with no bat. To simulate holding a bat, his top hand grabs the thumb of his bottom hand. Coach stands in back of the hitter and holds his head on both sides . The hitter takes batless strokes at the pitched ball, while coach restricts the head to keep it on the ball as it enters the hit zone.

DRILL #3 (Full Take)

The hitter will coil, stride, and read the pitch to the catcher. This keeps the head independent and disciplines it to stay with the ball. Note: This head discipline should carry over to his regular hitting, in the "full take", a pitch that is an obvious ball.

Coaching Points. The hitter should not go to the point where his head is pushing against the back shoulder. This locks up the back shoulder and restricts his extension. The head swivels. It should never tilt while reading the pitch. This causes the body to tilt also and the eyes to look on a vertical plane. Eyes must stay basically horizontal for best vision and body control.

Former Tulane Hall of Fame Baseball Coach, Joe Brockhoff, fully explains his baseball hitting drills with the Super 8 Hitting System, completely demonstrated with videos and hitting drills to help you hit with more power and raise your batting average.These techniques are fully explained in our baseball hitting instruction web site for the "Super 8 Hitting System", including batting aids and a series of baseball hitting videos, which demonstrates many baseball hitting drills.

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Last Post: Monday, Oct. 12, 2009
By Nick Dixon

The coaching of baseball pitchers does not require a degree in "pitchingtology". There is no such degree to my knowledge. I just made that up. My point here is that coaching baseball pitching is not rocket science. However, having a basic knowledge of the terms and mechanics is a must. Having a commitment to be attentive to details in instruction and and to have frequent quality practice sessions is a good start toward becoming a coach of a successful pitcher at any level.

Here are the 5 basics elements of pitching success:

1. Beginning with the basics and keeping it simple

Let we first say that one of the basic rules on our high school team is that if you make our team, you are going to pitch. Every player participates in pitching workouts until it is determined that player simply can not help us on the mound. Over the years about 75% of our players pitch at least 10 innings during the season. With that said, I want you to know that my philosophy is to keep the terminology simple, the technique simple, and to make the process of pitching as easy as possible to master.

2. Balance is Key

The first thing we want out kids to understand is the importance of balance. Pitchers must learn to achieve and maintain balance from the start to the finish of their delivery. This is done by learning to keep the weight evenly distributed on the balls of the feet. Nothing happens on the heels. Keep head and body movement to a minimum. The head should stay still. This allows the head to stay over the ball of the pivot foot and over the body core or center. Special attention should be directed at eliminating any tendency to lean back, lunge forward, or to arch the back.

3. Knee Lift and Proper Stride Leg Motion

The lifting action of the stride leg should be smooth, straight up, and to a point of perfect balance. Make sure that the leg is not swung. The stride foot should go downward and then out. Many you pitchers want to lead with their hip and this cause major problems. Make sure that the leg action is down and out in smooth path. The stride foot should land on the ball of the foot. The stride should be in a direction with at least part of the foot landing on a straight line toward the catcher. Some pitchers will land more closed and some will land more open. The main point to remember here is consistency. A pitcher must land in the same spot time after time. If the landing spot is all over the place, control problems will be evident.

4. Elbow Dynamics

Much has been written and many studies have been made on the dynamics of the pitching process. To keep it simple, we want the following to occur. When the front foot lands both elbows should be up and even with each other on a direct line. The glove and ball may be above or below the elbow, but both elbows serve to reverse mirror each other. If the front elbow is tucked when the front foot lands, then a problem is evident. Both elbows should be extended away from the body in perfect opposite directions from the body to form a perfect straight line.

5. Late Break of the Hips

What I mean by this term is that we want the weight out and onto the front foot before the hip and trunk rotation occur. This late rotation generates velocity. Early rotation causes the pitcher to throw with all arm and will cause arm problems.

COACHING POINT: Make sure that the pitcher finishes low with the throwing arm finishing outside the stride knee. Many young players want to lock the front leg thus pole vaunting or lifting their body up and over the front foot. The stride leg should bend slightly.

As mentioned before, make sure that the stride foot is not heeling- out or landing on the heel. This is a flaw that causes jar and control problems. Also make sure that pitchers set up on the pitching rubber in the correct location. We want right-handed pitchers on the right of the rubber and left-handed pitchers on the left. This makes the ball more difficult to pick-up by the batter because of the increase in angle. It gives the pitcher more plate to work with.

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The Baseball Swing - Rotational Hitting Explained
By Nate Barnett

It seems like baseball instruction in the area of hitting mechanics is splitting into two different camps. Rotational hitting vs. Linear hitting. If you're new to the baseball world, or are just unfamiliar with the new exciting terminology, let me offer some explanation.

Rotational Hitting

The purpose of the baseball swing is to transfer the most energy into the baseball as possible. In order to get the most energy created, there are specific parts of the body that need to move at the correct time in order for this energy to occur.

A rotational approach offers that the energy used in creating a powerful baseball swing stems from the back side of the body, and more specifically the lower half of the back side. The controlled chain reaction that happens when the back side is moved at precisely the correct time toward the pitch is quite powerful. On the flip side, incorrect timing of the back knee and hip will produce a sluggish bat.

A rotational approach to hitting uses the follow steps to a good baseball swing:

1. A good weight shift to the back leg from the stance position as a hitter is preparing to hit. Make sure that this weight shift is not purely horizontal in motion, since this will create an imbalance.

2. The next step is the trigger. This is the most important movement that separates a rotational hitter from a linear hitter. The triggering process should begin with the back knee turning and moving towards the pitcher (as apposed to simply spinning in place). The back hip will quickly follow the back knee in the rotation process. Lastly, the hands will begin to enter into the hitting zone. It's important that the hands do not begin the swing since the power is stemming from the back knee and hip. Early hand movement would negate any effort to use energy from the back side of the hitter's body.

3. As the bat enters the zone, one will begin to see signs that a rotational approach has been utilized. The common tell tale signs are the balance points. The easiest to explain in writing is that upon contact with the pitch there will be vertical alignment with the inside shoulder joint, the back hip, and the back knee joint. This alignment shows that balance is retained and no weight has shifted forward onto the front foot (more of a linear style).

As an aside, rotational hitting is used by most major colleges and a vast majority of Major League hitters. It provide balance and power to the baseball swing.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball designed to improve the mental game of baseball in athletes. Learn how to help your game by improving the skill of mental baseball


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Youth Baseball Coaching Practice Schedules and Fields
By John Nowly

Practice is defined as doing or repeating a pattern, or polishing a skill. What we are trying to do is polish the skill. Practice is the tires that make the vehicle go. Practice is the oil that makes the machine run. You will be shaping young minds on your new endeavor. Some of the youngsters you get might be stepping onto the field for the first time in their lives. It is quite possible you will get kids who do not have any ability to make contact with a baseball or have any idea how to judge a fly ball. As a coach, it is important that you provide an informative environment to learn a new skill and develop an effective program for developing that skill.

The informative environment is something we will be covering in lesson seven with baseball drills. Developing these skills happens in the running and planning of practices. In today’s high tech, instant satisfaction, high-energy world, everyone is always in a hurry. I suggest setting up a consistent practice schedule. You will find it can be extremely beneficial for everyone involved. Chances are when the season starts you will not have your game times yet but you will have an idea of which nights you will be playing.

One of the advantages of deciding your practice schedule as soon as possible is so you can get the fields locked up. At the beginning of the year before the games start, you will want to get in as much practice as possible. Typically, practices can be for 2 to 6 weeks before your first games are scheduled. I would suggest that you would want to practice at least 1 and a half to 2 hours per session. Any longer than that, depending on the age of the kids, you risk losing their attention. After a week or two of practice, you will get a feel for how long you can practice before the learning curve takes a belly flop into home plate. This is something you need to be in tune with as a coach in order to maximize your time while you have their full attention.

What you want to do is set a practice time that is the same every single non-game day. In the beginning of the year, you should not have problems getting in all your practices. Once the games start, fields and peoples schedules get full. Make sure to print your practice schedule out on a piece of paper and give to the kids. Start with a Monday thru Friday practice schedule. This gives everyone his or her weekends open for now. A start time that is after work is recommended as this time works best for all involved. It gives time for the kids to get their homework done, stay after school as necessary, and gives the parents time to get home from work. Setting practice at 5 to 6:30, 5:30 to 7 or 6 to 7:30 seem to be the best times for parents. It gives them time to get the kids from daycare, and drive your future All Star shortstop to baseball practice. It will also give the parents time to be involved, sit, and watch their child practice. Another benefit is that this time will be consistent with game times after the season starts. Consistency is easier on everybody as it is one less thing to remember. Practice is everyday at the same time.

When the games start, the practice schedule will change. Say your games are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Practice will then be every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Alternatively, if you play Wednesdays and Fridays, practice is every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Do you notice anything about the above schedule? I will give you a hint. I do not do windows on weekends. Ideally, your league does not schedule games on Saturday. This can vary from city to city and having a Saturday morning game is still quite popular. If that is the case, you might be playing a Thursday, Saturday schedule. Schedule your practices then for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. My philosophy of practice schedules is that weekends are off days for family. Many people work all week and the weekend should be time for the family to be able to get together and go out of town or spend quality time together.™ offers free educational courses in an easy to follow format in various subjects. To view a free online course covering the subject of this article, please visit

Teaching Baseball Mental Techniques
By Robert Bulka

Physical Vs Mental Skills

Ask any baseball fan what it takes to succeed as a baseball player and they usually talk about bat speed, arm strength, foot speed and power. You very rarely ever hear them mention the mental skills required to excel in the game. The important mental techniques include focus, concentration, confidence and composure. That is why it is important to start teaching baseball mental techniques early in a player's development.

Why is having the mental tools so important to making it in the game? All you have to do is look at the minor league farm clubs to see that the vast majority of players there have the physical skills needed to make it to the next level but don't have the cognitive skills to take them there.

How do you go about teaching baseball mental techniques?

There are some tips for developing the mental skills needed to make it to that elite level: teach visualization, use the 10 second rule and overcoming failure.

  1. Visualization Since baseball is a game of adversity and failure is ever present, using visualization techniques help to clear the mind of negative thoughts, avoid distractions and provides a mental road map for the task at hand. Visualization is a very good baseball mental technique.
  2. 10 Second Rule Many young bright baseball stars lack the maturity to control their emotions and it takes them off their game. The 10 second rule is designed to help control the reactive emotional outburst of dissatisfaction. The tip is to count to 10 before you react or speak after a tense situation. This is a great tip when teaching baseball mental techniques.
  3. Overcoming Failure As I stated before, baseball is a game of constant failure. If you get a hit thirty percent of the time you are considered an above average hitter. If you're a pitcher you are constantly dealing with walks, hits, home runs, past balls and errors committed by your teammates.


Teaching baseball mental techniques is an absolute necessity if you want to make it to the big leagues.

Robert Bulka is a former college baseball pitcher and current coach in the New York Metropolitan area. For more great tips for teaching kids how to play baseball go to

Baseball Instruction's 7 Essential Mental Skills
By Robert Bulka

There are many different methodologies for teaching baseball instruction. When most folks talk about baseball instruction they talking about three things: fielding, hitting and throwing. I often wondered why there isn't more importance put on teaching the mental aspects of baseball as well. What I've come to realize it that mental skills are learned, but it is an implied knowledge, meaning it's found it to be so important that I added my "7 Essential Mental Skills" to my baseball instruction program. Here they are:

  1. How To Keep Your Cool
  2. How To Use Visualization
  3. Confidence and Positive Thinking
  4. How to Eliminate Negative Thoughts
  5. Stay Focused - No Distractions
  6. How o Overcome Intimidation
  7. How To Prepare in pressure situations (like a sacrifice bunt)

1. How To Keep Your Cool
One of the most important things you can teach your baseball players is how to act, both on and off the field. Another hot topic is arguing with an umpire, coach or another player. Arguing can result in immediate expulsion of the game and possibly the league.

To help players deal with frustration I teach the "10 second rule". This simply means they count to ten before talking. This is to let the rage pass. Believe it or not I have seen it work pretty well.

2. How To Use Visualizaion
Visualization is simply seeing things in your "mind's" eye before they happen. Let's say the hitter has a bunt sign. He can step out of the batter's box and visualize himself successfully executing the sacrifice bunt. Now, when he steps back in the box he has a mental picture, or a blueprint so to speak, to help him execute the strategy. This is a very effective tool.

3. Confidence and Positive Thinking
Positive Thinking and confidence are an essential part of baseball instruction. Think about the game in general, think about how many times you fail. I mean a .300 batting average is great but realistically it's being successful only 30% of the time. Think about how many outs we make, and the errors, and the mental lapses in judgements, etc. etc. There is negative and failure all around.

To promote positive thinking I use stories of incredible baseball comebacks of the past so the kids can see it's possible to comeback from a deficit and win. To boost morale and confidence players are encouraged to root and cheer for each other. It can makes all the difference hearing it from your peers.

4. How To Eliminate Negative Thoughts
Using the confidence building and positive thinking techniques also help to eliminate those negative thoughts. You can help visualize the release of negative thoughts by breathing in deep and exhaling. At the same time visualize that negatively exiting with your breath.

5. Stay Focused - No Distractions
This is so difficult to do, especially for kids. Here is a a great fielding drill that helps them focus and avoid distractions. It uses competition as it's catalyst.

With glove in hand, have four to eight players make a semi-circle around you. Yo will need a baseball glove and two balls. Now throw random ground balls and try to keep at least one of the balls active at all times. Any player who misses the ball or doesn't throw the ball directly back to you sits down and is waits for the next game. Last player left is champ.

6. How to Overcome Intimidation
Sometimes games are won before they even begin. This is because a team's appearance can intimidate a team so much that psyche themselves into thinking they have no chance. Before each game, pump your players up with accolades to boost their confidence. Another technique you can use is to huddle and give a real good pep talk.

7. How To Prepare In Pressure Situations (like a sacrifice bunt)
The use of the skills discussed above, combined, will help them prepare in pressure situations.

Robert Bulka is a former college baseball pitcher and current coach in the New York Metropolitan area. He has penned 2 books on Baseball Scorekeeping and he manages three baseball related sites.

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