The Baseball Zone Blog

Kevin Hussey | May 12, 2015 8:16:46 AM

How to Handle Your Catchers in Practice Without a Dedicated Coach

Some teams do not have the luxury of having a coach at baseball practice for every position. Often times what happens is the coaches will be with the pitchers, infielders and outfielders, while the catchers are stuck catching balls for the infielders. If this is the case, you need to teach the catchers how they can coach themselves.

When catchers practice their skills, they shouldn’t practice anything for more than 10 minutes unless they‘re learning a new skill. The best way for a catcher to practice individual skills is 5-10 minutes at a time. Catchers can work on receiving, blocking and throwing, all for 5-10 minutes a practice. All of these skills can be practiced without the assistance of a coach. All that is needed is two or more catchers to work with each other.

Here are some drills that can be practiced every day:

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Topics: baseball practice, catching, practice organization, catching drills, catching skills, catching tips, team practice

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 27, 2013 2:00:00 PM

Is Your Batting Practice Senseless?

What a great question! And yes there are numerous occasions during a season when some batting practice is as senseless as a golfer showing up to their tee time to play “show and go” golf!

Let’s now review one of these typical occasions when batting practice is senseless where you can instead put in place a system that will permit a much better utilization of time.

The scenario is your team has 30 minutes to hit and you need to get all the hitters through BP. Assume your team consists of 13-15 players and at least 12 need to hit prior to the game. So what happens...it is simple, each hitter gets a chance to swing the bat 6-8 times, maybe mix in a couple of bunts (to gauge the speed of the pitch and lay down a few sac bunts) and then BP is done. Now they go out and shag. 30 minutes later, BP has been completed and each hitter swung the bat 6-8 times! Wow, what have these hitters really accomplished in this timeframe? If you said not much, you are correct!

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Topics: hitting tips, hitting preparation, baseball practice, practice organization, batting practice, pregame drills, team practice

Rick Johnston | Nov 26, 2013 11:56:00 AM

Baseball Practice - 6 Critical Concepts That Count

Practice…practice…practice. I think it was said over 20 times by a former NBA All Star in a press conference with respect to him not going to a team practice. At that time, this particular player was arguably the best at his position and maybe the best player in the NBA. He was being questioned on his desire to work at the game and work with his teammates and coaching staff to get better. In other words, lead by example, show some leadership, but instead it became apparent, he wanted no part of this. The myth developed that he didn't care about practice, however he claimed that he only missed one of them all year and agreed with its importance. But the damage was done - "practice" became a bit of a mocking point for a little while afterward, when the opposite could not be more true. Yes, competition will be the best setting to bring out the best (and worst) in your skills, but a well run practice setting is an unparalleled environment for development that all too often gets squandered.

In this blog I want to briefly key on some critical concepts that can help with the flow, tempo, organization and philosophy of how a good baseball practice operates:  

  1. Organization - A good baseball practice begins with the writing out what the coach needs to try get accomplished. This however has to be modified pending a few critical pieces of the puzzle: number of

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Topics: baseball coaching, baseball communication, baseball drills, baseball practice, practice organization, baseball warm up

Rick Johnston | Jul 3, 2013 10:22:00 PM

20 Common Pitfalls You Need to Avoid as a Baseball Coach

Everyone that has ever had a chance to coach baseball has undoubtedly realized that you can’t please everyone. It also seems that these people you can’t please also seem to know more about the game than you do - maybe it is true sometimes, but it can't ALWAYS be that way. However this is one of the realities that any coach will have to come to terms with as they don the uniform. 

A coach can do himself a lot of good in the eyes of many if he is able to avoid certain coaching pitfalls throughout the season...and stay out of the crosshairs of the know-it-alls. These pitfalls are part of coaching and unfortunately sometimes are not so apparent to see - something like missing the forest for the trees kind of thing. And best of all is that avoiding them should help result in a more fulfilling and fun experience for the players that we are serving.

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Topics: baseball coaching, team Defence, baseball communication, baseball practice, fielding drills, pitching rotation, batting order, practice organization

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