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

Ryan Armstrong | Mar 1, 2015 7:00:00 AM

The "Inside" Pickoff Move to Second Base

With a runner on second base it is essential to hold the runner close. Holding runners close will serve to decrease the chances of the opposition scoring on a single from second and also serve to give your outfielders a chance to throw them out at the plate if they do indeed attempt to score. If we hold the runner effectively it will decrease the distance they can reach on both primary and secondary lead offs thus making it less likely they score. Holding runners at second can also decrease a runner's jump making it harder for them to steal third base. If they reach do third base, especially with less than two outs, it is much easier for them to eventually score.

At the high school and college/pro levels, runners are coached to be aggressive and to put pressure on the defense. Pitchers must be able to combat aggressive runners by developing the ability to hold them close to the base they are at. This is skill is essential at higher levels as runs are harder to come by, but don't wait until you are there to develop it - get ahead of the game and work on it. One of the most essential moves you can develop to help you in this regard is the "Inside" pickoff move (or simply the "Inside move") to second base. Here is a brief video demonstration and explanation of it:

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Topics: pitching, pitching tips, pitching instruction, pitching skills, pitching advice, pick off moves, controlling the running game, inside move

Ryan Armstrong | Feb 20, 2015 10:05:21 AM

How Pitchers Can Vary Their Looks On the Mound

In the second part of this series on Controlling the Running Game, we talk about varying looks. Varying looks can be thought of as varying your timing to the plate with runners on base, not necessarily how many times you look at a runner, although that can be considered an element as well.

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Topics: pitching, pitching tips, pitching instruction, pitching skills, pitching advice, holding runners, Defense, pitcher's defense, controlling the running game, varying looks

Ryan Armstrong | Feb 12, 2015 6:00:00 AM

The Jump Pivot Pickoff Move to First Base

As players get older and play at higher and higher levels of baseball, keeping runners out of scoring position is even more crucial than at younger ages. This is true because as players get older they typically make less errors and pitchers throw more strikes, thus reducing the number of runs scored. Scoring is at a premium and thus preventing extra bases is as well. One way pitchers can help themselves and their time is by developing an effective pickoff move to first.

Right handed pitchers here in the Greater Toronto Area - and likely just about anywhere they play baseball - typically come equipped with the basic step off the rubber method. This is where the pitcher disengages the rubber with their back foot and throws to first. This is a great move to learn as one's first move as it is relatively safe and simple and every once in a while just might catch a sleepy baserunner off guard. The problem however is at higher levels this move is just not that effective anymore. As the back foot comes off the rubber it provides baserunners with too much time to recognize the pick off. In some cases  pitchers might even step off and not throw as the runner is already back to the bag. This completely defeats the purpose of the pick off, which is to hold the runner close, decreasing their jump and chances of reaching scoring position.

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Topics: pitching instruction, pitching advice, Defense, pickoffs, pick off moves, pitcher's defense, controlling the running game

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

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