The Baseball Zone Blog

Kevin Hussey | Apr 29, 2015 2:01:42 PM

Quick Tips for Catchers on Preventing Injury and Blocking Pitches

Physically speaking, the most difficult part of being a catcher is blocking pitches. Blocking pitches can be mentally and physically draining but also very difficult to do well. It’s important to understand how to block a pitch and how to protect yourself. Here are some examples of how to accomplish each.

Preventing Injury

When blocking pitches, there is always a risk of injury. Catchers' equipment is there to protect the important parts of your body like your head, chest and knees. But there are a couple parts of your body that are important that equipment does not protect - your throwing hand and neck. Since these body parts are not protected, your job is to protect them yourself. There are two ways we can protect our throwing hand when blocking a pitch. One way is to hide it behind your glove; the other is to leave it behind you. Ideally, when you block a pitch you should have your bare hand behind your glove because it’s safe and it gives you the best opportunity to block the pitch. When protecting your neck, it’s important to tuck your chin into your body, allowing your mask to cover the area. These two techniques will decrease the risk of injury when blocking a pitch.

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Topics: catching, catching skills, catching fundamentals, catching tips

Kevin Hussey | Apr 15, 2015 11:00:04 AM

3 Ideas for Coaching Youth Baseball Players

When developing younger baseball players, there are different techniques that can help you with different aspects of the game. Here are three tips that may help you with a youth baseball player's development: 

1 - Practicing different positions  

Most competitive young baseball players will have a primary position that they will stay at throughout a whole season or even their career because it’s what they’re best at (comfort for them) and what gives their team the best chance of winning (comfort for the coach). However, just because a player plays one position doesn’t mean they can’t and shouldn't practice others. It also doesn't mean it will be their best position later on after they have finished with their growth spurt. When they practice different positions they get the opportunity use their bodies in different ways. The value of this is their body gets put in different situations which can allow them to develop different techniques - good for both long term athletic development as well as simply being more versatile. For example, if you have an outfielder, they will typically throw the ball with a long arm because of the importance of a strong throw rather than a quick release. If an outfielder spends some time practicing middle infield play however, they will have the opportunity to develop skills involving a quick release which may come in handy in some outfield situations...or if they have to play a game in the infield...or if someday a coach wants to see what they look like in the infield. In general, it would be a good idea for every player, regardless of primary position, to practice middle infield play because of the consistent opportunity to use their athleticism and put their body in different positions.   

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Topics: baseball coaching, long term development, coaching, Arm slot, Long term athletic development

Courtney Plewes | Mar 18, 2015 6:25:35 PM

8 Reasons for an In-Season Baseball Strength & Conditioning Program

Spring training camps are in full swing, which means baseball season is right around the corner! But don't be too hasty to ditch the gym in place for the field. In-season baseball strength and conditioning is an often over-looked and neglected aspect of a player's in-season routine. BIG MISTAKE!!!! Here are 8 reasons why you should make strength and conditioning a priority this in-season:

1. Reduce Your Chance of Injury

The baseball season is long and hard on the body.  Baseball is also, primarily, a one-sided activity (hitting and throwing). This repetitive motion on an athlete’s dominant side can lead to disaster if they are not prepared for the season or do not maintain their strength, mobility, and function throughout the season.  A properly designed in-season baseball training program can take a proactive approach to avoiding common injuries and breakdowns throughout a playing season.

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Topics: in-season strength training, baseball strength training, strength training for baseball, baseball functional training, off-season strength training, baseball speed, injury prevention, mobility, sports performance, myofacial release, flexibility

Ryan Armstrong | Mar 1, 2015 7:00:00 AM

The "Inside" Pickoff Move to Second Base

With a runner on second base it is essential to hold the runner close. Holding runners close will serve to decrease the chances of the opposition scoring on a single from second and also serve to give your outfielders a chance to throw them out at the plate if they do indeed attempt to score. If we hold the runner effectively it will decrease the distance they can reach on both primary and secondary lead offs thus making it less likely they score. Holding runners at second can also decrease a runner's jump making it harder for them to steal third base. If they reach do third base, especially with less than two outs, it is much easier for them to eventually score.

At the high school and college/pro levels, runners are coached to be aggressive and to put pressure on the defense. Pitchers must be able to combat aggressive runners by developing the ability to hold them close to the base they are at. This is skill is essential at higher levels as runs are harder to come by, but don't wait until you are there to develop it - get ahead of the game and work on it. One of the most essential moves you can develop to help you in this regard is the "Inside" pickoff move (or simply the "Inside move") to second base. Here is a brief video demonstration and explanation of it:

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Topics: pitching, pitching tips, pitching instruction, pitching skills, pitching advice, pick off moves, controlling the running game, inside move

Kevin Hussey | Feb 26, 2015 6:00:00 AM

4 Basic Approaches to Building a Batting Lineup

One of the more frequent requests we get for blog ideas is how to go about building a batting lineup. This is an interesting request as while there are many standard philosophies to building a lineup, there have also been a number of computer-generated simulations that have produced the same conclusion - that the make up of lineups has little to no effect on wins over the course of a season. 

So having preambled with that, let's say that it does matter and matter a lot. So now what? When building your lineup, there are many different approaches to what is the best method. Every team is made up of different players and different situations which mean there are no right answers, there are only different perspectives. Here are 4 approaches you can take when filling out your own batting lineup:

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Topics: baseball coaching, batting order, coaching, batting lineup

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