Hey Coach, this game is hard

I really like Baseball Dudes. They post some really cool images and messages on their Facebook page.

Too many times, I have seen coaches scream and yell while expecting excellence from their team of 10-year olds. You are a teacher, not a dictator.

Baseball is hard. Take your time and help your players understand the game.

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Don’t Be Wasteful

In these days of pitch counts and innings limits, why in the world would you waste a pitch with an 0-2 count? Why give the hitter something for free? Most likely, your “waste” pitch will be so far out of the strike zone that nobody will even consider swinging at it.

Throw the ball 2-3 inches off the black and put the hitter away. Make them chase the ball and hit it anywhere on the bat other than the barrel. If you show the umpire you can consistently hit the catcher’s mitt, you will get called strikes on that pitch just off the plate.

If you don’t believe me, perhaps Greg Maddux will convince you not to be wasteful? Hat tip to the Baseball Dudes Facebook page.

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Greg Maddux

Pop-Fly Priority

A pop fly should be an easy play.  Any kid playing travel ball should be able to catch a routine popup.  However, the plays often create a circus in the field because players are not prepared.  A team that is prepared and communicates well should not have a problem.

  • CF has priority over corner outfielders (LF, RF)
  • Outfielders have priority over infielders
  • SS has priority over everyone in the infield
  • Middle infielders (2B, SS) have priority over corner infielders (1B, 3B)
  • Corner infielders (1B, 3B) have priority over P and C

Handling Mistakes

Every player and every team will face adversity.  How that adversity is dealt with separates the successful from the unsuccessful teams.  Successful teams stay mentally tough and execute a plan to handle mistakes during games.

  1. Reset – We acknowledge that a mistake has been made.  It happened and there is nothing that can change it.
  2. Refocus – Successful players have a “next play” mentality.  We need to get mentally and physically focused for the next play.
  3. Reflect – The mistake can be revisited, but only in a positive manner.  What can we do differently?  What can we do to prevent it from happening again?

Keys to Success

There is no excuse for a lack of hustle on the baseball field.  Always remember that if you don’t run to your position, somebody else will.

  • run on and off the field
  • hit a ball in play (no matter where or how hard)
  • hit a foul ball (let the umpire make the call)
  • receive a base on balls
  • get hit by a pitch
  • strike out
  • field a ball (hit to or nearby)
  • back up teammates
  • run the bases

Awareness is an essential characteristic to a successful player.  You should be aware of the situation at all times.

  • number of outs
  • runners on base
  • the count
  • the score
  • how the opposing pitcher is doing
  • where the batter tends to hit the ball
  • where you should back up
  • what you should do with the ball
  • who hits next
  • who has the ball

Mental toughness is the key to dealing with adversity, whether it be within your own team or opponent.  Teams that keep their composure will have the most success.

  • get hurt (not injured)
  • team or you succeed
  • team or you fail
  • team has the lead
  • team is behind
  • there are distractions
  • you are in the spotlight
  • you are at the plate
  • you are in the field

Batting Tee

The batting tee is the most important piece of equipment a hitter can utilize. Some travel ball players think using a tee is just for little kids. This could not be further from the truth. Major League players use tees everyday to maintain their strengths and work on improving parts of their swing.

There are many different types of batting tees.  My favorite is the Tanner Tee.  I am not affiliated with the company in any way.  I just love the product.  There are cheaper options but you usually get what you pay for. If you are serious about hitting and working on your swing, get yourself a solid tee. It might cost you some money up front but you will come out ahead in the long run.

Why is a batting tee such a valuable tool?

  • You are in complete control. You decide where the ball is placed and when to swing.
  • You can isolate parts of your swing and work on specifics.
  • You don’t need anyone else to get some tee work in.