The Baseball Zone Blog

Kevin Hussey | Nov 19, 2014 1:24:03 PM

4 Opponent Tendencies That Catchers Can Look For

Being a catcher is a difficult task for any young baseball player. It’s important to be able to learn from your surroundings and pick up on certain subtleties that your opponent may accidently show you. Learning the different ways an opponent can give you information is crucial for any catcher trying to gain an edge on an opponent. Catcher is the only position that can see the whole field and can adjust the game accordingly with the information that’s been given.

Here are 4 areas to be aware of in a game:

1 - Reading Coaching Tendencies

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Topics: baserunning, lead offs, catching, catching skills, catching fundamentals, coaching signs, opponent tendencies

Rick Johnston | May 1, 2014 12:26:44 PM

Baserunning: 3 Steps To Follow For Low Line Drives

Whether playing defence or running the bases, reading lines drives may be the most difficult skills to master and develop. You hear it all the time and you see it all the time: People talk about how poorly players are at reading the ball flight on the line drive, and worse, what to do when a line drive is hit. 

Line drives (LDs) come in two forms: the low line drive and the high line drive. Today, I am going to talk about low line drives and how baserunners should best read and react to them with 3 simple steps.

The low line drive is the LD that most baserunners have the most difficulty reading. It is the LD that when hit is no more than the height of a basketball net. It is the LD that generally any infielder can make a play on within his normal vertical jumping ability, with his glove on. So now think about that…that would mean the average infielder (MLB height and vertical jumping ability) is able to leap upwards, with his glove on about 10 feet. These types of linedrives, when hit and caught, will cause more baserunners to get doubled off than any other. However, if any baseunner were to adhere to three simple principle rules when reading line drives, the risk of getting doubled off at any base is greatly reduced.

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Topics: baserunning

Rick Boutilier | Apr 23, 2014 12:52:48 PM

Why the 60 Yard Dash Test for Baseball Players is Too Long.

I wanted to talk about the 60 yard dash test and question why it has become the standard baseball speed test for players of all ages - everyone wants to know what your 60 is, right? 

I am a strength and conditioning coach for the Ontario Terriers travel baseball team here in Mississauga, Ontario, and our players have just finished their off-season indoor training which included baseball speed training and testing. Our last session was a testing day, which included a 10 and 30 yard dash. We don't do the 60 because we just do not have the space in our facility to accommodate such a run. But it got me thinking about "why do the kids need to run 60 yards?" Football players attending combines only run a 40 yard dash and a football player would be more likely to run 40-60 yards in a straight line during a game than a baseball player would (visualize a receiver running a fly down the side line for a 60 yard bomb pass form the quarterback). Baseball is different. Let's see how different it is and what a better approach might be for standardized numbers.

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Topics: baserunning, speed training, baseball speed, baseball testing, 60 yard dash

Rick Johnston | Feb 14, 2014 6:15:00 AM

6 Steps to Owning First Base as a Baserunner

Baserunning, as most know it, is a skill that is usually left to the end of practice to work on. And often the work done in baserunning is more as a conditioner to complete the practice rather than as s stimulator to actually learn how to run the bases. 

Since more baserunners get to first base more than any other base, it would only seam prudent that each baserunner work on taking more responsibility for their actions once they get to first base, ensuring they are prepared to take advantage of any opportunity to move up a base, two bases or to score. 

Think for a moment…look back up to the first paragraph, and ask yourself "what does that paragraph actually say?" It is very straightforward, in that, the practice of the practice of baserunning usually occurs at the end of practice. The end of practice! The end! Well by the end of practice most kids not only are physically tired, they are also mentally tired. So, if the practice of the practice of baserunning, whether low impact or for conditioning (which I think is a waste of time), is fashioned at the end of practice, what really are the players getting out of it? Most likely not much! What should you then do?

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Topics: baserunning, lead offs, baseball practice, baseball skills, practice organization, baseball warm up

Rick Johnston | Nov 19, 2013 8:17:00 AM

Baserunning - Establishing the Primary Lead at 3rd Base

In establishing the primary lead at third base, the baserunner should almost follow and mirror image the technical elements he would otherwise do at first base, with the exception of the final athletic position. Since the baserunner is only 90 feet from scoring, the movement into the primary lead should be quite conservative, using slow, controlled movements, ensuring never to get picked off. There is really no reason for a baserunner to be in a hurry to establish his primary lead off. Instead, the baserunner should just simply learn to relax, staying fairly upright, while observing the pitcher, as he steps out the primary lead off. Because the baserunner is never held at the base, there is no need to be bent over, like the final position at first base, but instead, much more erect and relaxed. The primary lead off should be established as the pitcher is observing his signs from the catcher.

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Topics: baserunning, baseball instruction, lead offs

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