Tag Archives: baseball

Keep Training In-Season to Improve

Training often takes a back seat once the season begins.  This is a huge mistake and a quick way to lose any gains you made in your off-season program.  Not only should you lift to maintain, you should be looking to improve as the season goes on.  However, soreness is never a good thing during the season.  Eric Cressey just wrote a great post on some great lifts to use in-season to limit soreness.  These lifts limit eccentric stress which is more likely to cause soreness.  One note is to make sure these exercises are included in your off-season training as the season is not a time to add new exercises as that also is a recipe for soreness. 

http://www.ericcressey.com/5-great-in-season-lower-body-strength-exercises

Obstacles to Change

Whether it is a change in approach, routine, work ethic, or even a complete overhaul of one’s swing; change is often needed when moving up levels from high school to college or college to pro or even to improve perfromance within the level.  No one likes to change, but it is quite important in the development process.  There are many obstacles to improving through making a change.  Here are just a few to look out for.

1. FEAR OF FAILURE: No one likes looking stupid.  Changing an approach or a swing can be difficult and a player will often get worse before they get better.  Sometimes, it is important to fail in order to eventually succeed.  Failure can teach us how to succeed.  Everyone fails.  It is important that we learn from our failures and are able to adjust.  Never be afraid of looking stupid when trying something new.  When you are afraid of looking silly, often what happens is you only give half the effort in making the change in which case you will look worse.  This leads us to an important obstacle in change.

2. NO COMMITMENT:  You have to commit to change.  You can’t do it half way.  Struggle now to succeed later.  It is easy to say things didn’t work out and revert to old habits.  That is the way to never improve.  If you decide you are going to make a change, commit to it and improvements will come.  There is a phrase that practice makes perfect that has switched to perfect practice makes perfect.  I think consistent commited practice reinforces fundamentals.  No one is perfect.  That will not happen, but if you consistently commit to practicing quality fundamentals, that is what will happen when the games start.  This approach of commiting is just as important for coaches as players.  If a coach believes in his methods and does not commit to teaching them to his athletes, they will not happen. 

3. Obsession with Results: Everyone wants instant success and results.   Focus on the process and not the results.  If you are commited to your task and are consistent your process for achieving that task, results will take care of themselves.  Results can be deceiving as small sample sizes do not often tell someone how their change is working.  Make consistent progress and focus on the process and the results will eventually come.  This is very hard for someone that had achieved great success before change and now is struggling.  If the reason for change was warranted, trust the process.  Look at Tiger Woods.  He is the greatest golfer ever and he overhauls his swing every few years because he is not content on staying the same.  He wants to get better. 

Big changes are not always necessary, but if one wants to improve, there is always something that can be tweaked.  The same swing that produced at the high school level might not work at the college level and so on.  The idea is not to change for the sake of change, but to be open to change when it is necessary.

Better Feet, Better Throws

While receiving is the most important part of being a catcher, most catchers want to throw better.  It is understandable as throwing out runners is probably the most exciting part of catching and best way of getting noticed.  While improving arm strength will help with throws, improving footwork is the easiest, fastest, and best way to improve throws.  Here are a few strategies to improve footwork which will improve the accuracy, power, and quickness of throws.

1. Mirror drill-Using a mirror, get into stance for runners on and go through footwork for throwing to each base.  If at home, use tape on the floor for feedback or at field draw lines in the dirt.  Make sure to also practice a high transfer.  The mirror is great because of the immediate feedback, but this drill can be done anywhere and anytime you have a minute.  There are no excuses for not doing this drill as it takes no time, needs no partner, and puts zero strain on your arm.

2. Get Stronger- Best way to get quicker feet is to strengthen your legs.  Throwing from a squat is an explosive move and weak legs don’t do explosive well.

3.  Take Between Inning Throws Seriously-  This is the most frustrating one for me as a coach.  Catchers often mess around with this throw.  Whether the are showing off throwing from the knees or taking their time and not going through the proper footwork, this drives me crazy for a few reasons.

A) Scouts are watching- When I scout games, my stopwatch is out every inning to get      your time. You might not get a chance in the game.  This is your chance, use it. You can say you throw 1.9, but you have to prove it.  The only stopwatch I trust is my own.

B) The Opponent is watching- The best way to shut down a running game is for the opposition not to run. As an opposing coach, my stopwatch is also out every inning.  If you show me a good time, it is less likely that we will run. I know some could say you want to fool them.  I disagree.  I want the opposition to know I will throw them out.  I take it personally when teams try to steal on me.  The best catchers don’t throw out many because no one tries.  This can really help a pitching staff as it is one less thing they have to worry about.

C) Get Better- This is the most important reason.  This is a chance to improve that many catchers are ignoring.  Catchers cry about not getting enough practice time. USE THE TIME YOU HAVE.  I understand that seasons get long and arms get tender, but going through proper footwork at full speed does not put strain on  your arm.  If your arm is sore, go through the footwork at full speed, but make an easy throw or full speed footwork with no throw and a jog to the mound.

Throwing is the fun part of catching, but it is only fun when successfully throwing people out.  The best way to improve it is with better footwork.  Footwork is easy to work on and can dramatically improve throwing with a little focus and consistent work.  Please comment if you like or dislike what I have to say.  You might have a point I failed to make. Let me know what you think.  Share with others if you think this post can help them.

 

3 Strategies to Improve Receiving

Catchers are always worried about improving their arm and throwing runners out. While these things are important, the one thing catchers need to work on more than anything is the simple act of catching. Catching should not be taken for granted. It should be worked on everyday. It is probably the easiest thing to work on with just a little focus. Here are three things that can be done at every practice.

1. Compete– Every practice or game should be a competition with the goal of having zero balls hit the ground. All catchers should have the goal of catching everything their way. Anytime a catchable ball hits the ground is a point. The goal is to have no points. This can be competitive and should be an ongoing game anytime the catcher is on the field. This means in the dugout, before practice, or after practice counts as well. A catcher should never drop a ball.

2. Pre-practice throwing-Throw with other catchers and work on catching and sticking. Pre-practice throwing is not just to warm up your arm. Anytime a ball is thrown your way, stick it. Far too often pre-practice throwing turns into talk of tehh day and knuckleball contests. This is the focused catchers’ chance to improve. Use it.

3. Bullpens– This is probably the most important chance a catcher has to improve his receiving. A bullpen is not just for the pitcher, but this is how catchers’ treat it. A bullpen is just a game with no hitter. What better way for a catcher to improve his receiving skills. He can work on setting up, his stance, quiet body, sticking pitches, framing, and blocking pitches in the dirt. The best part of the bullpen is everything happens at random just like the game. Every pitch isn’t in the dirt like drills on blocking. Every pitch doesn’t’ hit it’s spot. This is also a time a catcher that isn’t playing much can build rapport with the pitching staff and pitching coach so they have confidence in him when his chance arises.

Catchers are often forgotten at baseball practices just used to shag balls from infielders and catching bullpens. But using these strategies can help the catcher improve his receiving even when he is not getting the drill time he needs.