The Baseball Zone Blog

Rick Johnston | Nov 1, 2013 3:41:00 PM

14 Mental Errors in Baseball That Get an Offence in Trouble

Many baseball coaches will say that the thinking or the understanding part of the game is the most vital to success for a player. This part of the game is sometimes called the mental pillar and is one of the primary pillars that support the structure of the athlete within the game of baseball (and any sport - these being mental, physical, technical and tactical).

In general terms, a baseball player will commit two types of errors, but one more than the other can have long term effects - mental and physical. Coaches have no problem for the most part accepting physical mistakes; players will clank ground balls, butcher fly balls and look like a bag of hammers searching for a tool box as a hitter. Players will have bad days, where physically all that happens. No problem, we are all human, all make mistakes. In baseball, it is the mental error that has harsh effects both short and long term on players and teams and will often manifest themselves as physical errors (i.e. what looks like a physical error was actually born a few seconds earlier as a mental one).

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Topics: hitting preparation, baseball strategy, baseball psychology, baseball coaching, mental performance, hit & run, suicide squeeze, baseball fundamentals, mental mistakes, physical mistakes

Rick Johnston | Sep 4, 2013 3:58:00 PM

5 Differences Between Stealing and the Hit and Run

We recently released our newest eBook titled "8 Baserunning Myths You Can Leave Off the Basepaths This Year" (you can download it here - you'll enjoy even if you don't agree). One reader had asked me to explain the difference between the steal versus the hit and run. I thought the question was excellent but more importantly a question that was not afraid to be asked. It is like coaching your players, no question is a dumb question.

In some of my previous blogs I have actually written on both of these offensive tactics in aspects of who to do them with, when to do them, why it is good or bad tactical judgement, what the general expected results will be, some of the factors that need to be observed and the overall thought processes behind the operation of each of these.

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Topics: baserunning, baseball strategy, base stealing, hit & run

Rick Johnston | Apr 2, 2013 7:30:00 AM

Situational Hitting | Moving the Runner Over

Here is the situation. Third inning, the lead off hitter just hit a double, the hitter coming to the plate is right handed, what happens next? Well, in many cases, automatically the employed offensive tactic is a sacrifice bunt. Why? Simple. It is the safest, most conservative method to move the baserunner up 90 feet and put him 90 feet away from scoring. Is that building and educating your players in the intricacies of offensive strategy? Yes, but at what cost? At the expense of trying to score a single run in the first third of the game?! Yes, this would be considered safe and a coach would never be second guessed. But, boy oh boy, are we developing our hitters to be masters of the sacrifice bunt? Surely, no high school or college player has ever been drafted for showing a scout his ability to bunt in the third inning! Let the kid swing...but teach and educate all hitters in the art, strategy and importance of hitting behind the baserunner and play for a big inning rather than a single run inning. If a scout were to see this it would certainly open some eyes. Just then how is it to be fashioned.

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Topics: hitting tips, hitting instruction, hitting, hit & run, situational hitting

Rick Johnston | May 18, 2011 8:00:00 PM

Defending the Hit and Run

Defending the Hit and Run:

Let’s walk through a successfully executed hit and run and see where the defence failed to understand what happened. Baserunner on first base, one out, the count favours a fastball. The baserunner breaks on the pitch, the hits a lazy ground ball through the vacated hole between first and second base, because the second baseman released to cover the base. The hit and run play worked to perfection, but it worked with the help of the middle infield. In other words, the middle infielders failed to do their job and thus got caught in no position to defend the hit and run.

Now, let’s look at how we can defend the hit and run and see where the defensive problems can arise. First, the defence must be able to determine the difference between a hit and run and a straight steal of second base and a hitter’s option to swing or take the pitch. In doing so, the defence must be conscious of the following:

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Topics: baserunning, baseball strategy, hitting, defence, hit & run

Rick Johnston | May 13, 2011 6:00:00 AM

The Top 10 "Pros" of Baseball's Hit and Run

As has been indicated in a previous post regarding the Hit and Run, it is a very high risk offensive tactic and as such there are many cons that can have a glaring effect on its outcome. Now let’s look at some of the pro's of the Hit and Run

  1. Helps the offensive team stay out of the double play with a baserunner moving on the pitch. 
  2. It has the potential to move a slower baserunner up one base and into scoring position.
  3. Has the potential to position two baserunners on base, with the lead baserunner only being 90 feet from scoring.
  4. A high payoff and best case scenario, the hitter hits ball to the gap, past the outfielders, the baserunner on first base scores and the hitter ends up on second base.
  5. In some cases, hitters that are not swinging well, or simply are in constant take mode, will now be forced to swing the bat, which could assist them in getting jump started and rejuvenated once again with the bat.
  6. It has the potential to jump start the offense and start a rally.

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Topics: hitting tips, baserunning, baseball strategy, hitting, hit & run, situational hitting

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