The Baseball Zone Blog

Kevin Hussey | May 20, 2015 10:27:27 AM

Common Issues With Young Baseball Players & What To Do As a Coach

There are many different technical issues that young baseball players have when starting out but some seem to be a lot more common than others. Here are a few problems that are consistent with most kids and what you can do as a coach and/or parent to help steer them in the right direction.

Throwing

Every person that’s ever thrown a ball has their own technique that is slightly different in some way than everybody else’s. However, even though everyone throws differently, many still have the same problems. The most common problem that I see with kids throwing the baseball is the direction their body is going in when they throw. What typically happens is players will direct their momentum towards their glove side, instead of having it all going towards their target. This can happen for many reasons but typically it has to do with their glove getting away from their body during the throw and pulling them away from their target instead of towards it. Once your glove starts moving away from your body as you throw, it’s likely that your momentum will follow in the same direction. The consequences for your momentum being directed in other places than your target are typically a loss of velocity as well as accuracy. So make sure that your youn baseball players are directing momentum towards their target whether it be a catcher or a teammate in the field.

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Topics: hitting instruction, baseball coaching, pitching instruction, fielding instruction, baseball skills, fundamentals, throwing skills, fielding skills, baseball fundamentals, pitching skills, fielding issues, throwing issues, throwing instruction, pitching issues, technical issues, hitting stride issues

Mike McCarthy | Feb 5, 2015 6:00:00 AM

4 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Private Baseball Instructor

As baseball players, we can all probably use some one-on-one time with a coach now and again. But baseball teams are large and there are many positions--it can be difficult to get personal attention during practice. As a result, there are times when it may be worthwhile to look for a private baseball instructor, whether just for a few sessions or for the long term. But if you're interested in hiring someone for private lessons, how do you choose? 

Here are 4 factors you should take into consideration when you're looking for an instructor:

1.  Experience

This doesn't just mean experience as an instructor, it also means experience in the particular area in which you're looking to improve. Are you an infielder or outfielder? Pitcher or catcher? Are you going through a bit of a hitting slump generally or having a hard time with a particular pitch? 

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Topics: hitting instruction, baseball instruction, baseball coaching, pitching instruction, fielding instruction, coach player relationship, private lessons

Rick Johnston | Jun 5, 2014 9:59:31 AM

Ground Ball Pursuit...Just How Fast Should An Infielder Move?

Good infielders usually spend an inordinate amount of time working on the fundamentals of how to field a ground ball as far as their physical mechanics, footwork, glove action and making the throw. However, what is often left out is the need to work on developing the feel for how an infielder really needs to approach a ground ball. In other words, just how fast or slow should an infielder approach a ground ball. This is one of the biggest fundamental areas that often gets left out or falls by the way side when working the art of fielding ground balls

Anytime a ground ball is hit, it is generally imperative each infielder moves toward the ball at a controlled rate of speed. This type of movement or momentum achieved by the infielder helps to cut down distance of the play and also assists in the elimination of fielding balls on the bad or middle hop. The middle hop is the tweener, the hop that must be avoided at all costs. The best infielders in the game always seem to get the good hop, they have the uncanny or instinctive ability (or seemingly so - the truth is it is developed via 1000's of reps) to flow with the hop and actually find a way to control the speed of the ball with their movement and make the play seem effortless.

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Topics: infielding, infielding tips, fielding instruction, fielding skills, infielding errors, fielding drills, infielding drills, infield play, short hops, ground ball pursuit, fielding hops, bad hops

Rick Johnston | Jun 18, 2013 9:33:00 AM

12 General Mental Tips for Better Infield Play

Where is YOUR mind in between pitches???

Baseball is without question very much a game of thoughts and has been referred by some as a “thinking man’s game”. Unlike other sports like hockey, basketball or soccer as examples, there is a tremendous amount of downtime in a baseball game. During these downtimes or rest phases of each game, the minds of each player, coach or manager will constantly be shifting and swaying with each pitch, each out and each complete inning played. Players try and out-think other players; pitchers and catchers try to out think hitters; and coaches and managers try to out think opposing coaches and managers. Sometimes, however, infielders (and outfielders) do too much thinking and fail to hone in on simple, yet general mental aspects of infield play...or sometimes let their minds wander to never never land.

The following is a short list of 12 mental considerations for more consistent infield play.

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Topics: baseball instruction, baseball coaching, defence, infielding, infielding tips, team Defence, mental performance, fielding instruction, baseball skills, defensive baseball, infield play

Rick Johnston | May 28, 2013 7:02:00 AM

Practicing the Double Play - How? How Often? How Important Is It?

The Double Play…a different look

The formation of any good team defense is up the middle. The foundation of that defense is usually centered around the combination and teamwork of the middle infielders. When working in harmony together, they will form the backbone of the team defense. That being said, their ability to turn and complete a double play at a key or pivotal moment in a game can possibly signify the difference between a win or a loss in the standings. But how often does this occur? And how much of your valuable practice time should be dedicated to the mastery of turning the double play?

When discussion of double play does come about, it should not come about as a primary defensive skill that needs to be worked on more than simply taking routine balls. I am not saying the double play should not be a part of any team's main daily defensive work - what I am saying is that, as important as the double play is to teams at pivotal points of games, take this as food for thought. In 2012, only 3 MLB teams turned more than 1 double play per game. Just think about that - only 3 teams turned at least 1 double play per game. Wow…who would have thought? Well, then think about it this way, 27 MLB teams turned less than 1 double play per game. 2 of those teams turned just over half a double play per game. It is safe to say that MLB teams, loaded with the best middle infielders in the world, who play on the best fields in the world, on average only turn 1 double play per game. Now, ask yourself this question…how much time should be spent on working on the skill development of double plays? Has it changed yet?

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Topics: baseball instruction, baseball coaching, infielding, infielding tips, fielding instruction, double play

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