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How to Make the Team in High School Baseball

Making your high school baseball team is not always easy. In Little League Baseball and other various social leagues, you are pretty much guaranteed to make the team and get a little bit of playing time. In high school baseball, you have to be able to make the team based on your skill level and determination. There are a number of things that you can do to increase your odds of making the team.

1. Always Hustle

The first and most important tip to getting on your team is to out-hustle the other players. The one thing that you have total control of regardless of your skill level is your determination and hustle.

The baseball player that gives maximum effort will stand out to coaches and other players alike. This could be the difference if you are on the fringe and competing with some others that are similar in skills. If you out-hustle them, then you will get the open position.

2. Learn the Basics

High school baseball is very much about being excellent in the basics. Fielding the ball cleanly, making solid contact at the plate and running the bases properly are all very important. If you are solid in the basics, then you are likely to make most high school baseball teams. If you are deficient in any of these areas, you should spend a great deal of time working out the kinks. These are vital to being a solid high school ball player.

3. Win the Mental Game

Do all of the mental things right. For example, you should always be backing up throws in the field. If you are a catcher, you should back up the throw to first when runners are not on base. If you are a pitcher, then you need to back up the throws from the outfield. Mentally knowing what you are supposed to do in game time situations will impress your high school baseball coaches, and likely nail you down a spot on the team.

Wrapping Up: How to Make the Team

The biggest key to making your high school baseball team is hustle. Certainly knowing the game and having skills are important as well. You have to be able to go on the field and perform. Still, if you are not a player that gives one hundred percent every time you step out there, then you are risking being cut and not making the team. Give it your best effort, study the game and execute the basics and you should be just fine.

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5 Baseball Tips to Improve Contact Hitting

At virtually every level of baseball, making contact at the plate is the primary goal of any hitter. When a hitter steps up to the plate, the object is to put the ball in play. The art of doing so is called contact hitting.

If you are able to consistently contact the baseball, then your batting average and offensive statistics will eventually reflect that. Here are five tips to help you make better contact with the baseball more often.

Tip #1

Keeping your head in is the number one way to increase contact with the baseball. The natural reflex when a baseball is flying towards the plate is to turn away from the pitch. This is to protect your head and face and it is completely natural. Unfortunately, this natural reflex makes it nearly impossible to hit a baseball consistently. Instead, you have to resist the urge to turn away and keep your head and eyes on the baseball all the way through. In theory you should be able to watch the baseball make contact with your bat.

Tip #2

Occasionally it benefits a hitter who is having trouble making contact to choke up on the bat. This means to hold the bat a little farther away from the end. This increases your bat speed thereby increasing the odds that you will make contact with the ball.

Tip #3

The vast majority of great hitters watch at least one pitch per at bat. Many of them watch even more than that depending upon the count. If you’re struggling with contact, make up your mind that you will watch the first pitch and visualize your swing. If the first pitch is a ball, then you will watch another. Continue this until you have at least one strike against you. This will help you to stay ahead in the count and get better pitches to swing at.

Tip #4

Practice striding through the baseball. If you ever watch a Major league baseball hitter, the vast majority of them step into and through the baseball. Many people that have difficulty making contact with the baseball can attribute it to the fact that they step out with their lead foot. Learning to stride towards the pitcher as opposed to opening up will help you to make better contact with the baseball.

Tip #5

The single most important thing that you can do to increase your contact is to practice. While simple and obvious, you would be amazed at the number of hitters who ignore this simple truth. Time in the batter’s box and in the batting cages will increase your contact exponentially. However much time you put into practicing you will get back as points on your batting average. Get out there and swing that bat!

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The Ripkin Legacy

The name “Ripkin” is synonymous with homegrown talent in Baltimore, Maryland. Cal Ripken, Sr. worked his way through Baltimore Minor Leagues to play for the Orioles.

He taught his two sons, Bill and Cal, Jr. to play great baseball too. Soon both of them had risen through the ranks of the minor leagues to play baseball along side each other. It was baseball first.. Three members of the same family working for the same team (Ripken Sr. was a team manager). Eventually, Ripken Sr. would become to old for the game. Not long after, Billy retired too. But Cal Ripken, Jr. hung in there and not only played into his 40’s, but played pretty darn good.

Cal Jr.’s ability to stick to it paid of in many ways. By the end of his baseball career, Ripken had played over 2,600 games of baseball consecutively. Remarkably, he played them at the shortstop position, which after pitcher and arguably first baseman, is the most physically demanding position to play. Only a 10 minute walk from Babe Ruth’s childhood home, Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball’s “Ironman” for his seemingly super-human marathon abilities. He has over 2,600 games and over 3,000 hits, and he didn’t need steroids to do that, just a strong will and an iron determination.He’s a true sports hero anyone could look up to.

No, he never had a 70 homerun season. Yet there must have been a some reason he was invited to the All-star games 19 times. It was his consistency. He wasn’t the guy who always hit the grand-slams (though he did have a few of his own), he was the guy who was always on base making a grand-slam out of an ordinary home run. By no means was he a poor batter, though. He averaged .276 and had over 3,000 career hits and over 450 homeruns.

Where he really shined, however was on the field. As a shortstop, Cal would regularly leave the ground to stop a line drive from slicing into center-left field. His dedication to the sport showed in the way he played with precision. By the end of almost every year, Cal had the lowest number of errors for the season.

His leadership is sure to be missed around the clubhouse. Now the big bat in the dug-out is Sammy Sosa’s. But not long after the team owner brought him into Baltimore, Sosa was making the 1hour trip into D.C. to testify about steroid use to the Senate. Whether he did or did not use steroids isn’t the point. It’s just certainly a lot harder to call yourself an O’s fan these days. Hopefully, Cal will follow the footsteps of fellow Oriole and Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, and come back as a coach, manager, owner. They’ll give him whatever position he wants because they know like everyone else does, that the Ironman’s leadership is sorely missed.

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Top 3 Baseball Pitching Tips

A formidable pitcher can play a major role in catapulting his baseball team’s success. While home runs are said to win the games, pitching is what drives a team to win major series.

Becoming a good pitcher is a matter of learning control, having precision and understanding the fundamentals. Below, you’ll read our top 3 baseball pitching tips.

Tip #1: Don’t Worry About The Swing

Professional pitchers realize that their job is to choose a target and hit it with the intended velocity. If the batter swings and connects, that’s not the pitcher’s problem. So, don’t worry about the aftermath of your pitches. Choose your targets and focus on hitting them.

Tip #2: Speed It Up

If your movements on the mound are slow, it’ll hurt your pitch’s velocity. Quicken your stride. Beginning pitchers often fail to understand that most of the ball’s velocity builds during the lunge. When your front foot makes contact with the mound, the velocity of the ball is already largely determined. So push off hard, with vicious intent, and speed up your stride. Your pitch’s velocity with increase in step.

Tip #3: Think Positive

Don’t laugh. If you ask a pro, he’ll tell you that your thoughts on the mound play a huge part in determining how effective you are. Confidence in baseball (as well as all performance-based activities) is huge. Hitters will try to intimidate you. Don’t let them. When each hitter approaches the mound, you should already be thinking about how you’re going to dominate him.

Becoming a great baseball pitcher takes both experience and an appreciation for the mechanics of pitching. Think about some of the great pitchers you see at the MLB and watch their mental focus.

So go out and buy cheap MLB tickets and get out to a ball game. It’s inspiring.

Bottom line: Focus on your targets, speed up your movements and win the mental game. Your pitches will follow your lead.

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How to Coach Little League Baseball

When you coach baseball at the lower levels — I’m talking Little League here — don’t get too fancy. Remember these are young children and you have to keep them moving and engaged. You don’t want kids standing around and being bored, or sitting down and picking blades of grass.

Some Practice Ideas

Let’s say you have 12 kids on your team. Divide them up into three groups of four players. The first group goes to third base and stands in a line. You stand at home and hit the first kid a ground ball. He has to throw it to first. You hit the second kid a ground ball. He has to throw it to first. The point of this exercise is simple. You want the kids to practice getting a ground ball and throwing it to first as much as they can. Hit them ground ball after ground ball after ground ball. You can have a parent or older kid playing first base. After the kids have taken at least 15 ground balls, move the parent to second base. Now the kids have to take at least 15 more ground balls and throw them to second.

Meanwhile, the second group of kids is going to practice hitting. Take them to a corner of the outfield and have a parent throw them wiffle golf balls. Not a regular size ball, but wiffle golf balls. You can pick them up at any sporting goods store. Each kid gets five swings a piece. Then the next kid takes five swings. You do this as long as possible. The wiffle golf balls are much smaller than a regular baseball and they force the player to focus on the ball and swing through it.

The third group of kids goes to the outfield. Three kids stand in line and one kid stands by you. The player by you represents the cut-off man, which they have to hit with the ball chest high. Do not hit the ball with a bat. Have the kids stand about 20 yards away and throw them a pop-up. They have to catch it, position themselves properly and throw it to the cut-off man. Do not throw the pop-up right at the player – throw it to the side of in front of him or her. Make them move for it. This exercise is all about tracking the ball, catching the ball and throwing it to the cut-off man. Do as many reps as you can. Then line all four kids up and throw a ball over each kid’s head – much like a football pass. This makes the player turn and catch the ball over his shoulder. Do not overthrow the ball, just toss it high enough over the kid’s head, so he has to turn, track it and catch it.

Have the kids change stations – ground ball, fly ball and hitting stations when you think it is time. Note that each station is designed to give each player as many reps as possible in catching ground balls and fly balls, while making a good throw to the base or to the cutoff man. The hitting area with the golf wiffle balls is again, designed to give each kid as many reps as possible in tracking a small ball and swinging through it. At this age, little league age, it is all about getting as much fielding and hitting in as possible and that is what these stations will accomplish.

A good drill to end practice with is to pair off the players and make them stand about 15 yards apart. Then the first play throws the second player a ball that bounces in front of him. This is “short hop” practice” and gives the players numerous reps in handling bad hops. The short hops should not be thrown hard. This is just to improve the glove work of each player.

To give you an idea of the sorts of things you can try, here’s a brief video of some practice drills:

There you have it. A short practice where no player is standing around and they get as much practice as they can in handling groundballs, fly balls, throwing and hitting.