The Baseball Zone Blog

Kevin Hussey | Jun 3, 2015 2:57:54 PM

3 Fundamental Baseball Plays That Are Often Taken For Granted

Throughout the years in baseball, teams have practiced many different aspects of the game. Most practices consist of the three main components of baseball; hitting, defense, and pitching. Although baseball is based around those three aspects, there are a lot of little things in baseball that get overlooked in practice but need to be worked on if one is to expect them to be committed flawlessly in a competitive situation. Every coach should have a rule that you cannot put a kid in a situation they haven’t practiced. Here are three of those situations that get overlooked in practice but will get used in games, often making situations worse off than they could have been.

Pitch Out

A pitchout is a technique that seems like it should be easy, but it needs to be practiced. Pitchers often have issues throwing this pitch where it needs to be. The location of this pitch is so important because every inch the pitch is off is an extra inch the catcher has to make up for in their release. This needs to be practiced by the catcher as well because it’s different than a typical throw to second base. The catcher needs to worry about getting their body over in time, but also worry about not leaving the catcher's box before the ball is released.

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Topics: hitting, baseball communication, pitching, baseball practice, baseball fundamentals, catching, catching fundamentals, practicing under pressure, infield communication, baseball team defense, team defense, pick off moves, team practice, pitch out, intentional walk

Rick Johnston | Apr 14, 2014 6:03:00 PM

26 Points for Excellent Verbal Infield Communication

What does the verbal communication mean in the infield?

Throughout the history of baseball, both verbal and nonverbal signs have been delivered as a form of communication to and from players, coaches and managers from the same team as a way to disguise or hide various types of strategy and intentions. When communication comes from a coach or manager it is usually done in the form of nonverbal signs or a sequence of signs to a hitter, baserunner or the defense. This type of language or form of communication is the most obvious form of interaction that the average fan is able to see when watching on TV. It certainly does not mean the transmission of the sign will be known to the fan, let alone the 

opposition, but it is a well known practice to most who watch the game. This nonverbal system is primary approach that is used most, similar to one learning sign language or reading lips.

There is, however, a very standard form of verbal communication that is used in the infield by each infielder when situations apply in games (and failing to do so is my top pet peeve of infielders). The following is a look at some of the primary verbal cues infielders need to communicate when the communication is necessary.

First Baseman:

1.     Remind the second baseman to talk on ground balls in the 3-4 hole. If the second baseman can make the verbal call immediately, “ball, ball, ball” the first baseman can release back to the base.

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Topics: infielding, infielding tips, team Defence, baseball communication, bunt defense, defensive baseball, infield play, infield communication

Rick Johnston | Feb 13, 2014 8:27:00 AM

Baseball Coaching Philosophy - It Is Not Just the X's and O's

In all sports, most people think of a particular coach’s philosophy as the style by which they like their teams to play the game. No matter the sport, each coach typically does have his way of thinking how the game should be played. A football coach may be a high tempo, run and gun, hurry up offensive guy who then finds players that fit the role. A hockey coach might believe more in defense first and deploy a defensive, neutral zone trap and establish this as the type of player he would like on his squad. A baseball coach might believe in big ball, sitting back, waiting for two bloops and a bomb, a la the days of Earl Weaver and the Baltimore Orioles. Absolutely, these are and will always be a part of any coach’s philosophy, but, there is far more than just coaching the X’s and O”s of whatever the discipline is.

Every SUCCESSFUL coach, regardless of what sport they are coaching, has a fundamental, rudimentary approach to the game that most will abide by. Each one of these successful coaches' philosophies involves components that go beyond the realm of these X’s and O’s, and are highly supported by attitude, beliefs, viewpoints and values. These are defining areas of significance, and in most situations, define who they are as coaches and how they impact people, players and staff around them. The philosophy is so impactful, that not only can it define from who they are as coaches, to how hard they work to get to the top, to something as simple as how they handle a player (maybe the best player on team) being late for practice.  The success of the team is generally based on the philosophy instilled. Failure of good teams is not based on talent, it is usually failure based of philosophy. Talented teams, in all sports, have been wasted because of the lack of good, sound coaching philosophy. A coach needs to know what he is going to do before he does it.

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Topics: baseball strategy, baseball psychology, baseball parents, baseball coaching, baseball communication, baseball philosophy, baseball leadership

Rick Johnston | Nov 26, 2013 11:56:00 AM

Baseball Practice - 6 Critical Concepts That Count

Practice…practice…practice. I think it was said over 20 times by a former NBA All Star in a press conference with respect to him not going to a team practice. At that time, this particular player was arguably the best at his position and maybe the best player in the NBA. He was being questioned on his desire to work at the game and work with his teammates and coaching staff to get better. In other words, lead by example, show some leadership, but instead it became apparent, he wanted no part of this. The myth developed that he didn't care about practice, however he claimed that he only missed one of them all year and agreed with its importance. But the damage was done - "practice" became a bit of a mocking point for a little while afterward, when the opposite could not be more true. Yes, competition will be the best setting to bring out the best (and worst) in your skills, but a well run practice setting is an unparalleled environment for development that all too often gets squandered.

In this blog I want to briefly key on some critical concepts that can help with the flow, tempo, organization and philosophy of how a good baseball practice operates:  

  1. Organization - A good baseball practice begins with the writing out what the coach needs to try get accomplished. This however has to be modified pending a few critical pieces of the puzzle: number of

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Topics: baseball coaching, baseball communication, baseball drills, baseball practice, practice organization, baseball warm up

Rick Johnston | Oct 7, 2013 4:16:00 PM

21 Baseball Pet Peeves of Coaches - Outfielder Edition

Don’t worry outfielders, I have not forgotten you!

As previously tapped into, I have blogged on Pet Peeves about coaches, players in general and most recently, infielders. It is time to move on to the players that patrol the outfield; the players that have to cover the most range; the players that people often disregard; the players for many reasons that get left out in practice as far as their development goes.

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Topics: baseball coaching, team Defence, baseball communication, baseball pregame, baseball practice, baseball fundamentals, throwing errors, baseball pet peeves, Outfielding

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