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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.

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How to Overcome the Fear of Being Hit by the Ball

It can be especially intimidating for a young player to bat against an inexperienced pitcher knowing that if they get hit by the baseball, it will hurt. And this is just one fear. There is also the fear of failure, which is common in sports, especially for something as difficult as hitting a round ball with a round bat, squarely. Even the best hitters in baseball fail seven out of ten times.

It is no surprise that young ballplayers are nervous when batting in a baseball game (it may help lessen the fear a little if they’re distracted over their excitement about getting a new baseball bat). It can be a very frustrating time for the parents also to see their child bat, when the child is too nervous to swing the bat.

Following are some helpful tips that will help these nervous players overcome their fears and, at the same time, help parents and coaches deal with kids who are too nervous to perform well.

How to Help Young Players Get Over the Fear of Getting Hit

1. Instruct players how to correctly get out of the way of a ball coming at them. The correct technique will ensure the player avoids being hit by the ball or gets hit by the ball in an area of the body where a serious injury should not occur. Check with a hitting coach on the correct way, if unsure.

2. Explain to them that the pain (when hit by ball) will go away after a minute or two and that you know they are tough enough to overcome it. (If this doesn’t work, cry with them and that may take there focus off their pain.) Just kidding, but may be worth a try.

3. Also explain that being struck by the ball is part of the game and good players will shake it off and “get them the next time.” Coaches may have to be good salesmen at times.

4. Using a softer ball for batting practice can be helpful before moving up to a hard ball. Less fear of being hurt by the ball can give player confidence.

5. Encourage good at-bats and good swings as opposed to only hits.

6. Encourage players to remember their good at-bats and forget about the bad ones.

7. Coaches and parents should be patient with players who are very nervous and give them time to deal with their fears. Yelling and getting frustrated with with the player will usually make the situation worse.

8. Trying to keep players “in the moment” is a goal of the coach. Having players focus on where the ball is and not where the ball might go is important. Of course, this is easier said than done after a player has been hit a few times by a pitched ball. A good technique in batting practice is to ask the batter where he expects the next ball to be pitched? The batter’s response should be “right down the middle.”

9. Explain players that nervousness is common and necessary to being a good player, but they can concentrate through their nerves to perform.

10. Tell the players how good they will feel when they do overcome their nerves and play up to their capabilities.
11. If all else fails, parents may want to miss a game and see if the player performs better. Parental pressure, real or imagined, is a strong source of fear-of-failure.

12. Finally, grilling a player immediately after a game as to what they did and didn’t do in the game is usually counter-productive for erasing pressure and game nervousness. Parents might want to keep the talk after games about the team effort and only talk about their own performance when the player brings it up. Saving useful advice for a later time, like after dinner, is good.

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How to Pick the Right Baseball Bat

Baseball truly is America’s past-time. It’s a fantastic sport (I’m a little biased, but still). It teaches children to play as a team and leave individual statistics behind, gives great hand to eye coordination skills and keeps them in good physical condition.

But no matter what all the psychiatrists and family book writers say, it is much more fun to win than to lose, and it is way more fun to hit the ball well than to strike out or hit short hoppers every time you get to bat.

Importance of Selecting a Bat

Selecting the right baseball bat is a rather tedious process, as it involves the use of many different bats to get to the one that is best for you. (To all my Harry Potter fans: Choosing a baseball bat is similar to selecting a wand.) You must be prepared to do some research beforehand so you know what to look for. You may even want to consult some bat reviews, something like this site (that specific page is for a type of gymnastics equipment, but you get the idea).

Factors to Consider When Picking Your Bat

Composition

A baseball bat that is made of aluminum, wood or composite metal each have different characteristics and feels to them. One model may feel better to swing with, but when hitting the ball, you may find that it hurts, or does not get as much distance as it should. But, before finding which material you want your bat to be made of, you need to determine the length and weight of the bat.

Length

Picking a baseball bat starts with finding the right weight and length for your swing. A general rule of bat manufacture is that a bat weighs one ounce for every inch in length, and most bats are 30 to 35 inches long. There are shorter bats for the younger children, and at that age, composition does not really matter, just go with the bat that your child likes the best when hitting a ball. For older players in leagues, over 10 years of age with a few year’s experience in league play, then finding the best bat for their swing is more important.

Finding the best baseball bat for yourself may be a measure of going out to the batting cages and trying each of the three types of bats, and finding which one feels better when hitting a hard thrown ball. Once you know your preferred composition — say maple wood — you can try the different lengths, to see which length gives you best coverage of the home plate. Your next step is to find the weight that suits you best.

Weight

There are different weights available for bats, aside from the general rule of one ounce per inch of bat length. You can buy a +3, a -2, or other variations on weights. A plus three, 32 inch bat would weigh 35 ounces, 32 ounces for the 1-to-1 ratio, and 3 extra ounces for the +3. You find your best weight by swinging for home runs in the batting cages, or at practice. Use the bat that you produce best with until you find that “perfect” baseball bat.

Note: If your child is beginning little league, we definitely recommend starting with an aluminum bat. This is pretty much standard nowadays from little league up through college, unless your child’s team plays in a wood-bat league/tournament.

Where to Buy a Baseball Bat

Sporting Goods Store

If you are not in a league or belong to a baseball team, and are simply looking for a baseball bat for yourself or your child, one place you can go to buy a bat is a sporting goods store. Some stores even have hitting cages out back, and you can try the different makes, models, lengths and weights of bats.

The potential downside to sporting goods stores is they can sometimes have a limited selection, depending on the store. If you’d like a wider selection, with more options, colors, styles, lengths and weights, then you can find great bats online at sites like Amazon.

Online

While buying a baseball bat online means you can’t test out the bat before purchase, if you already have an idea of the bat you’re looking for, buying the bat online can be your best option in terms of pricing and convenience. Many online stores — again like Amazon — have great return policies, so you can exchange the bat for a different one if for whatever reason you discovered the bat wasn’t for you.

My Top Baseball Bat Pick

To give you guys an idea of what to look for, I selected my current favorite bat — the Rawlings Raptor (check it out on Amazon).

Rawlings Raptor baseball bat

This is a very high quality bat at an affordable price. Not only does it have a great feel, but your child will love the stylish coloring. I highly recommend it.

Once you decide on and buy the best baseball bat for you (or your child), get out there and start practicing!

Swing batter batter, swing.

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How to Hold and Swing a Bat in Youth Baseball

Note: An article contributed by little league coach Henry Stevens. A special thanks to him for this great technical advice on swinging.

I love coaching and managing little league baseball. The only thing I loved more was when I played. I was always a good hitter. I had quick wrists, a discerning eye and good hand to eye coordination.

One of the most important things to me in hitting was to get a bat that “fit” you. There are important differences to the player; the length and weight of a bat will make a big difference. The length of the bat will be determined by the height of the little leaguer. The weight in ounces will be proportionate to the size of the bat. An example would be a 29″ long bat with a weight of 17 ounces. The grip will also need to feel comfortable.

Once you have the bat picked out, you have to develop how you will face the pitcher. What will your “stance” be like? That means how far back in the batter’s box will you stay. It also means how close to home plate will you stand. Other factors such as having an open stance(facing the pitcher with the back leg close to home plate) or a closed stance( head looking over your front shoulder and your front leg close to home plate) will be decided. Either way, you want some bend to your knees and your weight towards your toes. Then we get to the grip, or how to hold the bat.

Little league baseball hitter

You do not want to hold the bat too tight. That creates a tense, clinched, tight hold on the handle. Put your bottom hand approximately one inch above the bottom knob of the bat. Put your other hand directly on top of your bottom hand, and keep the knuckles of both hands lined up even. Next is to hold the bat firm, not squeezing it too tight, in the palm area of both hands. Do not bury the bat deep in your palms, but at the bottom part of your fingers, where they meet your palm.

Your front arm should make a 90 degree angle, bent at the elbow (similar to the letter, “L” lying on its back) and held about 6 inches away from your chest. The back arm should also form a letter “L”, with the elbow facing down. The hands should be at shoulder height and the barrel of the bat forming a 45 degree angle over your back shoulder. That is essentially the way that the bat is held.

Hitting is 30% grip, 20% stance and 50% recognition. By recognition, I refer to knowing in an instant what type pitch is being thrown and then timing your swing. You follow the ball all the way in with your eyes, keep your head still, step forward towards the pitcher’s mound, turn your back hip and back leg inward and extend the arms through the ball and snap the wrist just as the bat meets the ball.

It is a difficult task to do all of this with consistency. That is why the best hitter’s in baseball are successful 35 or 36% of the time,(a .350 or .360 batting average). At the time of this writing, the batting average leaders are Ichiro Suzuki in the AL @ .364 and Hanley Rameriz in the NL @ .340. Baseball , especially the art of hitting, are not as easy as it looks.