The Baseball Zone Blog

Kevin Hussey | Jun 18, 2015 6:30:00 AM

3 Tips for Young Catchers on Throwing to Second Base

Throwing the ball as a catcher takes a very unique skill set to be successful. Catchers need to have athleticism, arm strength, and great accuracy to be able to throw successfully. Without these skills, it’s very difficult to consistently throw runners out. Here are some tips that will help young catchers with their time to second.

Moving Forward

A problem that most kids have is that they have a tendency to step out towards their glove side with their initial step. This technique can have a negative effect on two things - accuracy and arm strength. When you start allowing your momentum to move in directions other than the direction you’re trying to throw, you’re displacing the momentum needed to throw the runner out. Your first step should be with your throwing side foot and straight towards second base.

Transfer

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Topics: baseball skills, throwing skills, defensive baseball, catching, throwing power, catching skills, catching fundamentals, catching tips, throwing issues, ball transfer skills, throwing accuracy

Rick Johnston | Feb 22, 2015 3:00:52 PM

6 Key Factors Affecting Your Baseball Team Defense

Some baseball team defenses will be fairly standard and universally accepted in how they are deployed. Yes, there could be slight variations or deviations to each defense based on abilities or lack of abilities of defensive players. For example, if one player is more fleet a foot than another, or one has better arm strength or one player lacks lateral movement, then having a contingent plan in the deployment is always acceptable.

However, when deploying a particular defense, such as an aggressive bunt defence or a particular first and third play, an array of variables must be considered before entertaining the defensive scheme for your team. Situations always vary from game to game and indeed, from inning to inning, hitter to hitter and frankly pitch to pitch or count to count. Consider this then, there are numerous ways a defensive situation can change, but largely it will be based on the following influencing factors.

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Topics: baseball strategy, bunt defense, defensive baseball, baseball team defense, team defense, Defense

Rick Johnston | Jan 26, 2015 6:00:00 AM

The Significance of Good Catchers to Baseball Team Defense

Next to the pitcher, the second most significant player on the field is - you guessed it - the catcher. This is not to say that every defensive player is not important. However, it is simple - without a guy behind the plate that can catch, the game is very difficult to play and have success as a team.

In an earlier blog pertaining to catching, I spoke of the lack of ability of catchers to simply catch the baseball and that there was a great de-emphasis on this discipline; or that the receiving of a pitched ball was an area that has fallen secondary to that of trying to throw runners out stealing.

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Topics: defence, team Defence, defensive baseball, catching, catching skills, catching fundamentals, baseball team defense, team defense, Defense

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 | Nov 4, 2013 12:06:00 PM

19 Pet Peeves of Baseball Coaches - Pitcher Edition

Pitchers.

Everyone wants them and everyone needs them. The game is designed just for you guys. You have good pitching, you have a chance to win; without it, it will undoubtedly be a long season. Even with good pitching, most pitchers are creatures of habit and some of these habits are actually pet peeves that drive baseball coaches off the deep end. Here are 19 of them: 

1. Poor pre-game routine and bullpen...ok, this is not a blanket statement to all pitchers, but, boy oh boy, the lack of preparation, warm up, throwing and bullpen presence is sometimes just flat out awful. It starts with a uneventful warm up, followed by playing poor catch, very little long toss, then a bullpen that lacks conviction and intent. Hey pitchers, it’s your start, make the most of it. Prepare like you are going to go 9 innings. Don’t assume you can just show up and pitch. 

2. Too many pitches in their repertoire...that’s right guys, you all have five pitches, I know. So really you are a jack of all trades and a master of none. What is that going to get you? I would ask this then; if you have five pitches (and maybe five different arm angles) how many of those pitches do you "own"? Geez, even big league pitchers don’t own 3 pitches let alone 5. Hey pitchers, learn to own two pitches and show a third. I will bet 5 pitch pitchers rent, lease and borrow every outing, hoping that they can sneak by with this. Owning pitches will get you more in the long term because all 5 can’t be that good!

3. Complete game in the bullpen...

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Topics: baseball pregame, pitching, PFP's, baseball pet peeves, defensive baseball, pregame observation, bullpens, mound presence

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