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  • Coaching Cliches, Incomplete Instruction and Bad Advice
    These are phrases we've heard and continue to hear on Little League and even high school fields. They may be remarks made with good intentions but could hinder a young baseball career and some could even threaten the health of a young arm. In this age of information it is curious for a coach to say those things and yet, we continue to hear them. Baseball Excellence is devoted to teaching sound fundamentals and providing advanced instruction that will fine tune your game and take it to the next level.
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  • Need For the Right Kind of Coaching
    Bob Watson, former GM of the Yankees, was once asked what he thought was wrong with baseball. He said the two things most wrong with baseball today was the strong emphasis on winning versus the emphasis on development of stong players at the youth level and the lack of good coaching at the youth level. We agree with that thought. Many, not all, Little League coaches are so caught up in the win at all costs philosophy that no thought is given to the development and health of the kids.
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  • How To Be A Good Situational Hitter and Other Offensive Tips and Strategies
    A team that can execute sound, intelligent situational hitting will be a successful team. They move runners into scoring position and drive them in. To be a good situational hitting team the coach has to develop the proper mindset with his players. There is little room for "me, me" selfish players. Hitters must often give themselves up for the chance to score a run.
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  • The Winning Hitter
    To be successful, a hitter must always be aggressive in his approach. (Coaches should help instill this in all their hitters.)
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  • BETWEEN INNINGS WARM-UP
    OK your team has just taken the field for their defensive half of the inning. How do they use that time? (From the August 2000 Baseball Excellence Monthly Newsletter)
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  • CELEBRATION AS A CLICHÉ
    Let’s put this article under the heading of Dugout Demeanor. It’s another one of those ‘little things’ that I feel add up to success on and off the baseball field.
    [Read More]
  • STRATEGIES TO AVOID THE ‘BIG INNING’
    There is an axiom in youth baseball that every team seems to experience 1 bad inning on defense in most games. It is an inning where the defense seems to fall apart, the pitcher can’t seem to get the ball over the plate, or he gets hit very hard. Things seem to deteriorate. You went into this “bad” inning with a lead and you come out way behind with a demoralized bunch of kids.
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  • GAMES ARE WON AT PRACTICE
    GAMES ARE WON AT PRACTICE There is very little magic a baseball coach has at his disposal during a game; no special plays, no tricks and no assured influences. No special pre-game pep talks will influence the outcome of a game.
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  • COACHING PRINCIPLES
    Let's look at, and review, some of the things that will make you more productive and valuable coaches who have development of the kids foremost in mind.
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  • PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR PITCHER
    The pitching coach should observe his pitcher carefully during the course of a game. Since the game is played one pitch at a time the coach should observe every pitch he throws.
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  • LIFE SKILLS
    Accountability, Adaptability, Adjustment, Assertiveness, Character, Courage, Competitiveness, Confidence, Composure, Dignity, Determination, Ethics, Endurance, Goal Setting, Honor, Humility, Humor, Integrity, Loyalty, Leadership, Obedience, Passion, Patience, Resolve, Self discipline, Self control, Sportsmanship, Time management skills, Teamwork, Strength (mental & physical).
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  • WHAT EVERY COACH SHOULD ASK ABOUT HIS CATCHER
    Catching is such a difficult position and is so important that a teams’ catcher must possess certain attributes of leadership and mental toughness. The question is simple but the answer is involved. Can I trust the game to him? If the answer to that is yes then you have a good starting catcher. You have something.
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  • COACHING CUES- (The Power of Words)
    Effective communication is essential for a coach. It is important for him to have a set of vivid, consistent verbal cues that reinforce in the player’s mind the correct physical and mental methods and techniques.

    These little phrases should be short and concise. They should give the player a clear mental picture that he can remember and call on when needed.
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  • A THIRD BASE COACHES BOX TIP
    Here is a youth baseball scene we can all identify with. I have made this mistake, as I’m sure many of you have. Runner on third and the ball gets past the catcher. Your base runner waits for your call and you scream “GO, GO!” The runner tears off for home and is … “TAGGED OUT” by an eyelash. The folks in the bleachers moan and groan and we silently blame the umpire or the slow-footed runner...
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  • THE POWER OF A ROUTINE
    In the past we have talked about how important a routine is for athletes and baseball players in particular. The nature of the game of baseball does not lend itself to the extremes of emotion. A more steadfast approach is justified. Approach baseball the same way, every day and every game. An established routine helps players stand up to the rigors of the summer grind of 50 plus games.
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  • CATCHER’S PRE-PITCH GLOVE ACTION by Rob McDonald
    I have always considered the “Meat and Potatoes” of catching to be the three main skills; receiving, blocking, and throwing. These three skills are the foundation of a good catcher. Receiving is an underestimated skill that often separates a great catcher from an average catcher (ask any pitcher)...
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  • HOW TO HOLD A TRYOUT
    “A Little traveling music, Ray.” Earlier in the year I wrote an article that was mildly critical of traveling teams, competitive teams or whatever you want to call them.
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  • PITCHERS-BACK UP BASES
    Teach your pitchers to back up a base on all plays. There is no play in baseball where players should be standing around after a base hit. You have to reinforce this because sometimes a pitcher will hang his head when he gives up a hit and he won’t hustle to the spot where he should be. (This is part of a pitcher’s mental toughness training.)
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  • THE COACH IS RESPONSIBLE
    You've Got To Be Carefully Taught 1949 Rodgers & Hammerstein

    You've got to be taught to hate and fear, You've got to be taught from year to year.

    It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear. You've got to be carefully taught!

    You've got to be taught to be afraid Of people whose eyes are oddly made Or people whose skin is a different shade You've got to be carefully taught!

    You've got to be taught before it's too late, Before you are six or seven or eight To hate all the people your relatives hate.

    You've got to be carefully taught! You've got to be carefully taught!
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  • WHAT IS MENTAL TOUGHNESS?
    To be successful in the long run baseball players must demonstrate the admirable trait of mental toughness. What does that mean? Toughness conjures up the image of a young athlete putting on his “game face” and clenching his teeth, grinding his bat into sawdust; trying to “win one for the Gipper.”
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  • CRITIQUING A GAME
    Let’s talk baseball. The game is over and we want our team to stay on track and continually improve so we, as coaches are going to talk about what we did right and what we did wrong. It doesn’t matter if we won or lost, we should examine every game; not as fans but as coaches. What do we discuss; Rickey’s error, Tommy’s strike out? Those are merely results. Let’s dig deeper.
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  • HOLDING BASE RUNNERS ON
    We have done short articles on various ways to keep runners close to bases but we have never put them all in one article or discussed this topic in depth. OK, first we need a philosophy. A base runner gets on. Are we going to worry and fret and lose concentration? Are we going to throw over every other pitch? Are we going to concentrate on picking him off or are we going to concentrate on getting the next hitter out?
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  • MORE ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS
    A baseball team and individual players need a certain amount of mental toughness to perform at a high level. What is mental toughness? It is the ability to face adverse conditions and still be able to compete. It is emotional self discipline. (Yes, young kids can learn it if the coach will not give in to them.) It is the ability for a player and a team to focus and concentrate on every pitch. That requires control, endurance and a certain inner toughness.
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  • WATCH THE BALL WHILE YOU RUN THE BASES
    Too few youth coaches teach this. In fact, many youth coaches teach the exact opposite. We watch a lot of 12U games and hear more than our share of well intended, but bad advice.
    • "Don't watch the ball while you run"
    • "Let the coaches be your eyes",
    • "Don’t go until the coach says go" (which sounds a lot like "no" to a kid with a helmet on, by the way).
    These are the wrong things to tell your base runners. None of these phrases are spoken by knowledgeable coaches. We understand their reasoning. Many beginning players, if left on their own, will "wander" or run their team out of a big inning or ball game. We also know that some 12U players don't have the maturity or mental discipline to make base running decisions on their own. Our thought to you is when do you think they are going to learn this? The answer from most youth parents is "high school". The answer from most high school coaches is “youth ball".
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  • CATCHER THROWS TO THIRD BASE
    Excluding the RH batter, the catcher’s throw to 3B is the simplest of the catcher’s throws. The catcher is in a position where his directional (left) side is already turned toward 3B as opposed to having to turn all the way around to throw to 1B. This is also one of the most under-taught catcher’s skills yet one that routinely comes into play. However, if the catcher does not know, or has not mastered the mechanics of throwing to 3B, the percentage of bad throws is high. The actual throw is easy, but getting to the proper throwing position can be tricky.
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  • TOO MANY BREAKING PITCHES
    For those of you who frequent the Discussion Group on our web site you know that questions about specialty pitches abound. So many players want to know how to throw a curve ball, a slider, a splitter, a knuckle ball, or a cutter. We don’t teach specialty pitches to young pitchers. It is difficult enough for them to learn two types of fastballs and a change up.
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  • RUNDOWNS
    This infield defensive skill may not occur in every game but it happens enough so that your team should become extremely proficient at it. We feel that the mind-set is important. Your defense should take on the attitude that they will get the out every time a base runner is caught in a rundown situation. The offense has made a mistake and you will record an out every time; no mistakes...
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  • OPPOSITE FIELD HITTING
    We mention opposite field hitting often at Baseball Excellence. It’s because hitting the baseball hard to the opposite field is so important. To be a complete hitter, players must learn to be proficient at this skill. From the day pitchers throw their first pitch they are taught the skill of throwing a fastball knee high on the outside corner. Why? It’s the furthest strike from the hitter’s vision. It is the most difficult pitch for him to hit solidly and drive. This is where they get you out. This is the pitch that is swung at and missed or popped up or grounded to the shortstop. This is Double Play Central. So if pitchers learn this skill why don’t we see more coaches drilling their hitters to defeat this tactic? Maybe they do. But they must do it in secret. We don’t see a lot of opposite field hitting drills going on at batting practices. Opposite field hitting should be drilled everyday. It is not a weakness. It is a strength…
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  • ONE-HAND CHARGING PLAYS
    We teach two charging plays to our players. One is “gloved” and the other is “bare handed”. Both are “one handed” plays that add an extra dimension to a fielder and a team. Both are considered “do or die” plays, in that the fielder could not get the runner out at 1b if he waits on the ball. He must charge it and throw on the run to help his team. Both plays can be taught to youth players.
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  • THE BATTING GRIP
    A proper batting grip is essential. Its purpose is to control the bat while allowing the hitter to generate maximum bat speed with minimum effort. Much has been said about the lining up of the “knocking” or middle knuckles of the hands. We don’t think it’s enough to just tell a kid to line up his middle knuckles without explaining why. This can be uncomfortable for young players due to their small hands and may need reinforcing. Nevertheless, it should be taught from day one…
    [Read More]
  • PITCHERS-BACK UP BASES
    Teach your pitchers to back up a base on all plays. There is no play in baseball where players should be standing around after a base hit. You have to reinforce this because sometimes a pitcher will hang his head when he gives up a hit and he won’t hustle to the spot where he should be. (This is part of a pitcher’s mental toughness training.)
    [Read More]
  • TECHNIQUES FOR COACHING SUCCESS
    Why do some teams seem to perform well under pressure while others fall apart? What sets successful teams above the rest? Beside developing and teaching his players there are some skills the winning coach must acquire.
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  • DUGOUT AND ON-DECK BATTERS' SKILLS
    Dugout and on deck batter’s skills are mental skills that are very important if a player is going to reach his potential and advance. At the high school level and beyond the competition is fierce. Players that once enjoyed a size and strength advantage, due to a fall birthday, usually lose it during post puberty years of the 9th and 10th grade. At this level the smart (coachable) player can often outperform a more talented but less attentive player. We believe that coaches should begin teaching the “intangibles” at 9-10 or beginning in the first year of kids pitch baseball.
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  • Delayed Steal
    The delayed steal is a play intended to catch the defense off guard and advance a slower runner to second base. (Although fast runners can make this play that much more successful.) It is also used against teams with great catchers, pitchers with good pick off moves and/or middle infielders who lose concentration and don’t ‘pinch in’ on every throw from the catcher to the pitcher. The idea is to take advantage of defensive lapses by the middle infielders and the catcher. This tactic can also be effective if the catcher has a habit of dropping to his knees after he receives the ball…
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  • TRACKING FLY BALLS
    Good outfield play is essential for a winning team. A team should develop the mentality that every ball hit in the air is going to be caught. At the youth and occasionally high school levels good outfield play is often sporadic because of the lack of teaching, repetitions, and motivation.
    [Read More]
  • HOW TO DERAIL A YOUNG PITCHER’S POTENTIAL CAREER
    At ASMI (American Sports Medicine Institute) Orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and biomechanists all work together to study how to prevent injuries in pitchers. They are one of the few institutions that do research on youth baseball players and pitchers. They fix a lot of shoulder and elbow injuries but they devote a lot of time, effort and money in researching how to prevent those injuries. To me, it shows a lot about the character of the man who heads the institute, Dr. James Andrews. He could just sit back and do all those surgeries on all those arms. But he cares. He has seen the looks on many young faces when they realize their pitching days are over. And he feels many of those injuries could have been prevented. We are going to explore situations that lead to injuries here…
    [Read More]
  • SLIDING INTO BASES
    Sliding is a skill that is not always correctly taught and at the youth level is often given little more than lip service. The good teams however, do teach this skill. It is not a natural action and requires good technique and practice.
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  • STRENGTH AND RESISTANCE TRAINING FOR THE PREADOLESCENT ATHLETE
    The off-season is the time to look back to see how we can improve and it’s time to look forward to see how we can make our sons and players better athletes. For those who play other sports, well and good. Anything that makes players more athletic will be beneficial. As kids get older they will be able to more intelligently choose their sport.
    [Read More]
  • WINNING MENTAL ATTITUDES
    At all levels of baseball, team and individual attitude play an important role in achieving excellence. A sound demeanor, temperament and approach to the game spell success.
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