Newtown babe ruth baseball Coach’s Instructional Guide



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NEWTOWN bABE rUTH Baseball

Newtown, CT

Coach’s Instructional Guide



Newtown babe ruth baseball

Coach’s Instructional Guide

 Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball

P.O. Box 133

Newtown, CT 06470

Phone 203.448.0896 • Fax 203.304.1393

Table of Contents



1.

Why do we need a Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Instructional Guide? 4

The Instruction 4

Instruction Guide Format 4

What is Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball’s Coaching Philosophy? 5

Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Philosophy 5

There Are Certain Things All Newtown Baseball Players Should Do 6

Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Decorum 6

Practice 7

Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Practices 7

Sample Newtown High School Baseball Practice 8

Sample Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Practice Plan 10

Throwing 11

Newtown Babe Ruth Throwing Truths 11

Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Throwing Drills 12

Throwing Games 13

14


Fielding/Infield 15

Newtown Babe Ruth Fielding/Infield 16

Newtown Babe Ruth Fielding/Infield (Situations) 16

Fielding/Outfield 17

Newtown Babe Ruth Outfield Play 17

Pitching 19

Newtown Babe Ruth Pitching Mechanics 19

Hitting 23

Newtown Babe Ruth Hitting Mechanics 24

Newtown Babe Ruth Psychological Aspects of Hitting 24

Newtown Babe Ruth Characteristics of a Good Hitter 25

Newtown Babe Ruth Hitting Drills 26

Base-running 27

Newtown Babe Ruth Base-Running 28

Common Youth Coach’s Mistakes 32

(Adopted from John T. Reed’s baseball Website) 32




Introduction

1

Why do we need a Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Instructional Guide?



"Never try to be better than someone else. Learn from others, and try to be the best you can be. Success is the by-product of that preparation."
John Wooden


the goal of all coaches at Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball is to provide a fun learning experience for all of our children. Although we have a common ultimate goal, we have very different levels of expertise when it comes to baseball and teaching. The rationale for this guide is two-fold; first to address the need to close this gap of expertise and secondly, to create a common vernacular for coaches and players that will support in the development in each ball player.

This instructional guide is not intended to abolish the autonomy of our coaches, but rather, to work as a foundation for a larger volume of knowledge in which all coaches will contribute to establish a unique Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball experience. This is a living document that invites the Newtown Baseball community to share in the construction of a collective library of Newtown Babe Ruth baseball truths and drills using universal language.


The Instruction


The information in this instructional guide is a compilation of baseball knowledge from various sources. The guide has focused on universal truths in baseball with a concentration on establishing common language used in Newtown. To compose this guide without the advisement of our own high school coach, Matt Memoli, would be counter-productive. Coach Memoli has assisted in the process and has approved this document which not only bridges the gap between our youth programs and the high school but also prepares our ballplayers for the next levels whether it means playing in high school or not.


Instruction Guide Format


The instructional guide is in a step by step format which allows the coach to follow a simple procedure in teaching hitting, pitching, fielding, throwing, and catching, as well as, decorum and practice planning. In some cases, there are simply lists. There also is a short explanation for each item. It is extremely difficult to take a body of information as baseball instruction and condense it into ten simple steps but this is what has been done. The goal of this instruction book is to create a guide that will be used and a larger piece of work defeats this objective.

Included in each section of the instruction is a thread or overarching idea that connects the steps together. These threads make up the fabric of the essential tools that all baseball players need.


Philosophy

2

What is Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball’s Coaching Philosophy?



"This is the last pure place where Americans dream. This is the last great arena, the last green arena, where everybody can learn lessons of life." — Bart Giamatti

in 2010, Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball demonstrated its commitment to positive coaching by hosting a seminar for coaches by the Positive Coaches Alliance. Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball has adapted these concepts into their coaching philosophy. Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball believes these are universal truths when coaching young players.

Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Philosophy


Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball believes that coaches are the most important tool in the instruction of baseball skills and, more importantly, life lessons and positive character traits. The Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball coach does this by modeling and teaching players to honor the game of baseball. The NBR coach educates the players to respect the ROOTS of the game which include the rules, opponents, officials, teammates, and self (Positive Coaching Alliance).

The NBR coach believes in redefining the winner in terms of mastery of baseball, and not just winning on the scoreboard. Including in this definition of winner is effort, learning and bouncing back from mistakes.

NBR coaches use encouragement and positive reinforcement as the primary methods of motivation and promote communication between coach and players. NBR coaches understand that players learn differently at different speeds with different desires.

The NBR coach focuses on teaching baseball while having fun.


Decorum

3

There Are Certain Things All Newtown Baseball Players Should Do



"'It's not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” — Grantland Rice

Newtown High School Head Coach Matt Memoli has certain rules that his players must follow. These rules are similar to most high school and college coaches. It is what Newtown Babe Ruth calls decorum. There is a way to play the game. There is a manner in how a player conducts himself on the field. It is the coach’s job to teach these standards. Newtown Babe Ruth understands that in some cases we are coaching five and six year old children. Expectations grow with the age but it is never too early to start teaching these practices.

Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Decorum


Thread- “Respect the Game”

  1. Tuck in your uniform shirt.

  2. Keep your hat on straight (unless you are catching).

  3. Run in and out to your position.

  4. Warm-up catch should be in outfield (foul-line extended)

  5. Play catch with a purpose.

  6. Only players and coaches in dugout.

  7. No eating in the dugout.

  8. Do not throw equipment.

  9. Never “show up” an umpire, opponents, or teammates.

  10. Run every ball out hard.


Practice

4

Practice



"My message to coaches of young players is that by having shorter practices and doing more things at one time, you keep the attention of the kids!” — Cal Ripken Sr.

There are six steps in the process of learning for a baseball player. The coach must be aware of these six stages when teaching a new baseball skill. Repetition is the key to learning. This is why they are called drills. Players will learn at different speeds and at different levels. It may take years before a player actually feels the proper way to do something. Here are the following steps to adhere to:

  • Hear it- Players need to hear what, how, and why you are doing what you are doing. Use appropriate language in different ways to say the same thing.

  • See it- Demonstrate the skill/drill you are teaching. Use pictures/ baseball cards/videos as examples.

  • Understand it- Encourage players to ask questions. Ask them to repeat to you the information given to confirm they understand.

  • Do it- Players must perform the skill in drills, warm-ups, practice and games.

  • Believe it- Players need to believe what they are doing. If it doesn’t make sense to them, then they should not and will not do it. Coaches need to help with making the player believe in the skill. This is done by educating. Avoid, “Because I said so!”

  • Feel it- The final piece is feeling it. This is when the light goes on for the player. It is a culmination of hearing, seeing, doing, and believing that gives the player the indescribable moment of combining body and mind.



Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Practices


Thread- Preparation

  1. Make a list of teaching points and drills before season

  2. Practices should be no more than two hours.

  3. Organize your practice with lesson plans.

  4. Stretch and warm-up arm properly.

  5. Have routines.

  6. Use stations when possible.

  7. Keep instruction simple; keep players moving.

  8. Don’t forget base-running; its one third of the game.

  9. Practices are for coaches; games are for players.

  10. Be creative and have fun!






Sample Newtown High School Baseball Practice




  • Dynamic Warm-up and stretch




  • Play catch the correct way. (Throwers step out with the same foot as the arm you throw with, step over with the opposing foot and throw. Receivers, catch the ball in the middle of the body




  • Everyone partners up, shuffle back and forth from third base to second base giving underhand tosses with each other. Keep the fingers down, palms up. First use gloves and one ball, then gloves and 2 balls, then no gloves and two balls tossed simultaneously.




  • With the same partner get 20 feet apart and have a competition to see who can throw the ball fastest back and forth ten times. Emphasize using two hands, having quick hands, but under control.




  • Infielders at shortstop and second base groundballs hit to short, turn two with second baseman, second baseman come across the base throw to first baseman. After roughly 5-7 min switch. Groundballs to second baseman, turn two with shortstop, shortstop throw to first




  • Outfielders, line drill- Each player has a ball in one straight line. First person up throws ball to coach, coach throws ball over player’s right shoulder. Player works on first step, drop step turn and run.(Emphasize clearing your hips and running.) Coach then switches to the left shoulder, player should drop step with left foot, turn and run.




  • Infielders then go to their positions for groundballs. First get the out at first, groundballs right at, glove side, backhand side, and slow rollers. Then work on the double play, 5-4-3, 6-4-3, 4-6-3, 3-6-3




  • Team Defense: Everyone at their spots, hit balls on the ground in the outfield gaps, work on covering the correct bases, using the cut-off man and using double cuts.




  • Batting practice.



Sample Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Practice Plan


Date: April 16th Time: 6:00pm-7:30pm Place: Hawley #1

Pre-practice meeting: Go over team rules and expectations

6:00-6:15 Warm-up (Stretch arms and throw in outfield foul line extended)

  1. One knee

  2. Standing

  3. Step and throw

6:15-6:30 Base-running

  1. Home to first

  2. Base hit to left, center and right

  3. Overthrow to first

6:30-7:00 Hitting

  1. Group 1-Hitting

  1. Player 1 running bases

  2. Player 2 on tee

  3. Player 3 loosening on deck

  4. Player 4 at plate hitting

  1. 2 strike hitting (3 pitches)

  2. Outside pitch (3 pitches)

  3. Man on third less than two outs (3 pitches)

  1. Group 2- Infield

    1. Taking grounders from coach in between pitches

    2. Fielding live off the live pitching

  2. Group 3-Outfield

    1. Playing live balls off bat

    2. Backing up every play

7:00-7:25 Team Defense

  1. Cut-offs

  2. Piggy back relays

  3. Full infield

7:25-7:30 Base-running

  1. 2 strikes, 2 outs scoring from second


Post practice meeting: What did you learn today? Game Saturday. Emphasize having fun, playing hard and being a good sport.

Throwing

5

Throwing

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
John F. Kennedy


One of the most unnatural things a baseball athlete must do is throw a baseball. Yes, throwing itself may be natural but proper throwing is not. Think about the locations of the elbow and hand when throwing properly; it is one of the most deviant positions from the body’s innate posture. Because of this, Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball believes in a strict and thorough regiment in the development of throwing skills for its players.

The thread of throwing is direction. Every throw in baseball has a purpose but a defensive play can quickly breakdown if there is no direction in the throw. Mechanics and the practice of these mechanics is the best way to eliminate breakdowns in throwing.



Every Newtown baseball team should warm-up and play catch the same way. All Newtown players should commit to memory the terms and actions taught by coaches. Whether it is an outfielder hitting a cutoff, a catcher throwing to second, or an infielder making a routine play, throwing properly will determine the success of a team defensively. Why then do coaches make the mistake of letting players warm-up on their own without supervision? Why do coaches and players use throwing as a time to fraternize with their friends instead of focusing on the fundamentals? Warming up during practice or before a game should be taken seriously. This is an opportunity for coaches to instruct and ensure that proper fundamentals of this “unnatural” skill are being performed. This being said, there are also ways to make throwing fun during practice while motivating players to concentrate on direction and targets. Below are the throwing truths Newtown Babe Ruth believes that should be established through throwing routines. It is followed by some fun games for practice.







Newtown Babe Ruth Throwing Truths


Thread- Direction

  1. Grip: Grab the seams loosely. Fingers are on top of ball; ball is in fingers.

  2. Wrist should be cocked.

  3. Direction: “Elbow, shoulder, shoulder, elbow.”

  4. Elbow above shoulder; ball outside elbow (facing away from you).

  5. Front shoulder to target.

  6. Feet: a) step to target b) hop to target c) pivot to target

  7. Arm action: Outfield Cub’s “C”, infielder Red’s “C”.

  8. Square pivot foot.

  9. Rotation-fingers 12-6

  10. Follow through: Back leg makes “V’.



Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball Throwing Drills


  1. One knee- Throwing knee on ground. Opposite foot pointed at target. Strong stance. Elbow, shoulder- shoulder, elbow. Throw with chest over knee on follow through. Receiver has hands up resembling a window and moves feet to receive ball in middle of body.

  2. Cement- Standing facing target, player rotates upper body with same mechanics as “one knee” drill and throws to target. Follow through. Receiver has hands up resembling a window and moves feet to receive ball in middle of body.

  3. Step and throw- Same mechanics adding lower half of body. Step towards target with middle of instep of throwing foot, shoulder and elbow all pointed to target. Follow through with back leg making a “V”. Receiver has hands up resembling a window and moves feet to receive ball in middle of body.

  4. Long Toss- Use to stretch out shoulder and arm. Use all of body and exaggerate follow through.

  5. Throwing ball up in the air to your self- Player needs to be mechanically strong to do it right.

  6. Relay Lines- Players line up 40 feet apart in a line stretching across outfield. Three lines of four. Practice throwing to cut off while receiving and turning and throwing. Ball goes down the line and back. Receiver has hands up resembling a window and moves feet to receive ball in middle of body.

  7. Quick hands- Players will throw ball back and forth as quick as possible while keeping good mechanics.

  8. Outfield Throws- One player tosses ball high in the air to himself. He gets under the ball and crow hops throwing ball to his partner. Receiver practices tags. Partner repeats back and throws back to original thrower.

  9. Infield Throws- One player puts ball on ground and simulates a ground ball. He picks up ball, shuffles and throws ball to his partner. Receiver practices stretching. Partner repeats and throws back to original thrower.

  10. Around the horn- Have players get to an infield position. Starting with catcher, he will throw to third who will throw to second baseman. The second baseman will throw it to the shortstop who will throw to first baseman. The first baseman will throw to the catcher and the process will repeat itself over and over. Have players jump in at their position until everyone has a few throws each.

Throwing Games



Play 21
Twenty-one is a game that is played by baseball players of all ages. It promotes focus, concentration and proper mechanics while placing players in a situation in which there is at least some pressure to perform in a more competitive setting. Once your players are warmed up, have them stand anywhere from 60 to 100 feet apart. Ask them to play catch, but have them compete against their partners. Any throw that arrives at a player’s head level scores two points for the player throwing the ball, while throws that arrive at chest level are worth a single point. The first player to 21 wins. See who wins the head-to-head competitions and which player is the first on the team to get to 21.

Quick Hands/Quick Feet
Ask your players to stand between 60 and 90 feet apart, depending on their age and the distance between bases for their age group. You should have two lines of players playing catch, so make sure that all of the balls are held by players who are in the same line. At your command to start, the players in one line shuffle their feet and throw using as quick of a release as possible to the other line. Players in the other line catch the ball with two hands out in front of the body, funnel the ball to the center of the body, turn to shuffle their feet and make a quick throw back to the player in the other line. Throw for 30 seconds. Any pair that misses a ball or makes a bad throw sits immediately. The other players should count how many successful throws and catches they complete in the allotted time. The pair that records the most successful throws and catches in 30 seconds wins. Establish a team record and see if it can be broken every practice.

Around the Horn
Another game that promotes quick feet and a quick release as well as accuracy is a game that we play with the teams during the Cal Ripken World Series skills contest called Around the Horn. Place players at each base and home plate. The player at home starts with a foot on home plate and a ball in his or her glove. This is a timed contest. Start the clock when the first throw is released. The player at home shuffles and makes a quick throw to first. The player at first must catch the ball and tag the base before shuffling and making a quick throw to second. The ball continues in this manner until it comes all the way around to home plate. Once the player who started the series of throws receives the ball at home, he or she throws back to third and the ball goes back around the horn in the opposite direction. If players are pulled off the bag they must go back and touch the base before throwing to the next base. Place an extra ball near each base so that if there is an errant throw the player on the base can go and pick up the extra ball before running back to touch the base and making the throw to the next base. Players do not chase bad throws. The team with the fastest time wins. Again, have your team establish a record time and try to beat it every time you play this game.

Bunt-Run-Throw Game
This game is great because it allows your pitchers to work on fielding bunts and throwing to batters at the same time that your hitters get to practice bunting and base running and your defense works on throwing and catching under pressure. The pitcher delivers the ball and the batter lays down a sacrifice bunt. The pitcher fields the ball, with the initial throw going to first base. Once the ball is bunted, the batter runs all the way around the bases, making proper turns, no matter what happens in the field. The first baseman catches the first throw and throws to the catcher at home. The catcher throws to the second baseman, who is covering second and then throws the ball to third after receiving it. Once the third baseman receives the ball, he or she throws it to first, where the first baseman relays it to the shortstop covering second. At this point the runner should be rounding third, and if everything has gone well defensively there should be a close play at the plate if the shortstop can make a strong and accurate throw to the catcher. Players should come off of their bases to receive errant throws (they do not have to go back and tag the base), and they must chase down any ball that gets away and complete the drill no matter what.












From Bill Ripken’s, Throwing and Catching: Making it Fun

Infield


6

Fielding/Infield

One way to break up any kind of tension is good deep breathing.
Byron Nelson



Fielding ground balls depend on good mechanics and proper breathing. When we stop breathing, we allow our body to tighten which results in errors. Coaches need to constantly remind infielders to keep breathing to avoid tension. Infielders must work on all aspects of infield play including force plays, double-plays, cut-offs, pop ups, relay throws, backing up, slow rollers, and game situations. This is very difficult for coaches to incorporate all of these skills during practice. Coaches should attempt to teach these things once in practice and reinforce during games. Good mechanics in fielding should be the focus during practice. Newtown baseball uses the Five T’s to emphasize good mechanics in fielding ground balls. The Five T’s should be taught from ages 5 through 18.

Teaching Five T’s (Fundamentals):

  1. Triangle - glove to foot/foot to foot/foot to glove

  2. Top hand-soft hands funnel to body

  3. Top of the hat-head down so that top of the hat is shown to batter (coach hitting or rolling grounders).

  4. Turn-Elbow to shoulder/shoulder to elbow with power position/feet towards target

  5. Throw-Elbow above shoulder/ball outside elbow.


Newtown Babe Ruth Fielding/Infield


Thread- Breathing

  1. One-two step and hop to ready position.

  2. Balls to left…first step is drop step left

  3. Balls to right …first step is drop step right

  4. It is okay to back up on certain balls and field to the side (tough hops).

  5. Break down position

    1. Five T’s

    2. Bend legs (crap on ball)

    3. Field off fielding side foot

    4. Most players break down too early or too late. When left foot hits ground, infielder must breakdown and field ball (right handed thrower).

6. Keep glove open (no flipping).

7. Field ball out in front of body with soft hands.

8. Try to field ball at the top of the hop.

9. When you feel tension in arm…backhand!

10. Point shoulder to target and step to target.

Newtown Babe Ruth Fielding/Infield (Situations)


  1. Hard hit smashes/drop hands open mouth.

  2. Only bare hand when ball is stopped.

  3. Pro move-Field outside fielding foot, throw off throwing foot, ball will tail.

  4. Back hand…picking apples.

  5. Never break down until you have ball under control.

  6. Bunt situations-take the out- make the easy play.

  7. Break down plays-bounce the ball.

  8. Duck in after every pitch.

  9. Cut-off position is deep. Keep runner at first.

  10. Back-up or cover base on every play.


Outfield

7

Fielding/Outfield

“”Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.— Bob Packwood

playing outfield is one of the most underrated skills in youth baseball today. Players often feel like they are being “punished” by going to the outfield because of the lack of action. The passion and fun is missing. If you observe games at older ages you can see the result. Players simply do not have the knowledge and skills that are needed to become successful. What is worse, coaches often do not spend time working on these skills or teach the knowledge. How can anyone expect passion from players in this situation? Newtown Babe Ruth prides itself on teaching the necessary understanding and wisdom to our outfielders. The key to playing outfield is experience. The outfield must see as many balls off a LIVE bat as possible. Balls do different things off fungo bats than they do off pitched balls. Baseballs have different spins depending on righty or lefties and what outfield position you are playing. There are many baseball situations that the player and coach must know before the play happens. This all comes from experience. The coach should try to build as much experience in practice to accommodate this need.

Newtown Babe Ruth Outfield Play


Thread- Recognition

  1. Keep ground balls in front of you. Empty bases, down on one knee; man on base, field like an infielder.

  2. Field ground ball on big hop or short hop.

  3. Never back peddle. Drop step and run.

  4. Run to fly ball with glove close to body.

  5. Route to baseball is angle; circle if you can get around.

  6. Catch fly ball on glove side (above head is a myth).

  7. Catch fly ball with one hand (two hands is a myth).

  8. When possible, have body moving toward infield when catching fly ball.

  9. Freeze for one second on line drives.

  10. Second person calling for ball owns it. Call ball at highest point.

Outfield Must Know



  1. Every hitter wants a double.

  2. Every man on first wants to go to third.

  3. Every man on second wants to score.

  4. Every man on third wants to score.

  5. Every ground ball will go through the infielder’s legs.

  6. I will be set up waiting for a ball whenever possible.

  7. I will hit the cutoff on extra base hit.

  8. I must be moving in before the ball leaves the infield.

  9. Every base must be backed up or covered.

  10. Play the gaps over the foul.


Pitching

8

Pitching

"Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing." — Warren Spahn

Balance is the key to pitching. A pitcher needs physical balance to give his arm a chance to get to the power position. A pitcher needs mental balance to keep his composure on the mound in tough situations. Finally, a pitcher needs balance in their pitch selection. As Warren Spahn said, pitching is upsetting timing of the hitter. He does this with balance in his pitches. There are three majors skills in pitching a baseball; location, speed and movement. If a pitcher has two out of the three then he is a good pitcher. If he has three, he is a superstar. It is very rare, even in the major leagues, to obtain all three. This is why young pitchers need to concentrate on location and movement. These skills can be learned by good mechanics, practice, and concentration. Too much time is spent on arguing over whether a child should throw a curve ball or not. The answer is simple…no. Until a pitcher, at any age, can consistent throw a two-seam and four-seam fastball and a change-up where ever they want at any time in the count, then they should not throw a breaking ball.

Newtown Babe Ruth Pitching Mechanics


Thread-Balance
Bill Thurston served as the Head Baseball Coach of Amherst College for forty-four years before his retirement in 2009. Coach Thurston’s teams won over eight hundred games under his leadership. Coach Thurston was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1997 and is a recipient of the Dr. James R. Andrews Award for research and contributions in Sports Medicine and is a pitching consultant for the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. Coach Thurston is a former pitching coach for Team USA and is the author of countless books and articles on pitching biomechanics. The following excerpt is from Bill Thurston’s book, An Instructional Manual for Pitchers and Pitching Coaches and has been adopted by Newtown Babe Ruth:

Pitching is a very individualized skill. Few pitchers’ motions are exactly alike. A pitcher's motion will depend on size, strength, height and leverage, co-ordination, flexibility and balance. Therefore, when coaching pitchers, it is necessary to coach within a pitchers own style, abilities, physical potential and limitations. If a pitcher is successful, let him use his natural delivery unless:



  1. His mechanics are likely to cause arm injuries.

  2. His motion causes inconsistent control and performance.

  3. His throwing techniques limit his pitching potential.

After studying many professional and college pitchers on slow motion film, we have learned that while not all successful pitchers throw exactly the same way, most good pitchers use many of the same arm actions through the critical phase of throwing - i.e., from the hand break through the deceleration phase.

We do believe that:



  1. Proper balance,

  2. Good body and arm alignment,

  3. Proper weight transfer,

  4. and a long arc of deceleration of the pitching arm, are very important to all pitchers.

The following breakdown of the pitching motion is meant to be a guide for a coach who is instructing the beginning pitcher, or is attempting to make adjustments with a pitcher who is experiencing problems with his motion.

Basic Pitching Mechanics from the Wind-up Position



  1. Preliminary Stance - The pitcher should have good balance, be relaxed and squared off to the plate. The pivot foot spikes should be in front of the rubber and open slightly. The pitching hand and wrist are held deep in the glove to hide the ball from the batter and coaches.

  2. The Pump - A pitcher can use an overhand pump or a compact, chest high pump. If a pitcher has balance problems, we prefer the compact wind-up.

  3. The Rocker Step should be a soft, short step back at about a 45 angle. The head should stay over the center of the body.

  4. The Pivot Foot is pivoted to a parallel position off the front edge of
    the rubber. A RHP usually pitches from the right half of the rubber. LHP from the left half.

  5. Leg Lift - The knee should be lifted up, not kicked or swung up which puts many pitchers out of balance. Let the free foot hang down. Rotate the hips closed to at least a 90°angle. Keep the posting leg fairly straight and firm to maintain balance so the body does not fall forward too quickly. A pitcher may lift his knee up to the chest area but he should be able to stay in a good balanced position.

  6. Hand Break - The hands should break apart between the letters and the belt near the midline and fairly close to the body. The throwing hand goes down, back, then up in a continuous motion. Keep the fingers on top of the ball.

  7. Lead-arm action - Good lead arm action can really help a pitcher with his rhythm, alignment and deception. The glove should be thrown toward the plate and the elbow or glove leads forward, and then whips back down and outside the lead leg helping trunk rotation and trunk flexion.

  8. The Stride - The body should just drift forward. A pitcher should not push off the rubber until the stride foot has landed stabilizing the body. The stride should be nearly in a straight line from the ball of the pivot foot to the ball of the free foot in line to the plate. The leg drive is more with the back knee rather than the pivot foot.

  9. The length of the stride is usually close to the pitcher's body height.

  10. Try to land on the ball of the foot (or flat footed). Do not land on the heel which causes the stride leg to stiffen.

  11. Hip (trunk) rotation - Once the lead leg is firmly planted stabilizing the body, the hips now rotate up against the lead leg squaring the hips and shoulders off to the plate.

  12. Acceleration Phase - The hand comes out of the cocked position and turns facing the plate as the hips and shoulders rotate open. The elbow should be approximately shoulder height and the wrist laid back in a loaded position. The hand fires forward coming outside of the elbow. The trunk goes from extension to flexion.

  13. Trunk Flexion - The trunk explodes forward with the chin coming over the lead knee. The tilt of the trunk will depend somewhat on the height of the throwing hand. The higher the release point, the more the trunk will be tilted to the side.

  14. Release Point - The fingers are behind and on top of the ball. The wrist fires forward and the hand and arm start to pronate. Body flexes over a braced front leg.

  15. Deceleration Phase - It is very important to get a good long smooth arc of deceleration. This is the time when the forces on the posterior shoulder muscles are at their peak. The shoulder muscles are trying to slow down and control the throwing arm.

  16. Follow-Through - (of the body) - The throwing shoulder should come over the lead leg with the hand and arm going down outside the leg. A pitcher can use a jump step to square off and control the body. The glove should be brought back in front to protect himself and field his position.

To save energy and maintain the visual perception of the plate, the pitcher should just backup on the mound when receiving the return throw from the catcher.

II. ARM ACTION



  1. Hand Break - The hands should break apart between the letters and the belt near the mid-line of the body. Break down with the fingers on top of the ball.

  2. The Arm Path - The arm path should go down, back, and up in a continuous free and relaxed motion. The more the hand can stay in alignment with the shoulders the better. On the way up, the elbow flexes early allowing the hand to get into a high cocked position quickly and efficiently.

  3. The Cocking Position - The maximum cocking phase takes place when the stride foot lands. Most pitchers will have a cocking position higher than the head with the ball and hand facing the shortstop position (for a RHP). The fingers are still on top of the ball.

  4. Acceleration Phase - As the trunk rotates and squares off to the plate, the forces of the body and arm work together and the arm fires forward to the release point.

  5. Deceleration Phase - As soon as the ball is released, the hand and arm will naturally pronate and the arm starts to decelerate. Since this is a time of great stress in the shoulder, there should be a long smooth continuous arc of deceleration and a transfer of forces on to the major muscle groups of the trunk and legs.


Hitting

9

Hitting

The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.” — Bruce Lee



Ted Williams, arguably the greatest hitter who ever lived, once said that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in any sport. You hit a round ball with a round bat and need to hit it square He went on to say that baseball is the only sport where if you fail 70 percent of the time then you are considered great hitter. Newtown Babe Ruth understands the difficulty of hitting a baseball but teaches its players a different perspective. Hitting a baseball is the easiest thing to do in any sport because where else can you fail 70 percent of the time and be considered great! The thread in hitting is a tension free swing. Tension is what kills a swing.

Many coaches are aware that tension destroys a swing but still use terms such as, “kill the ball”, “crush it”, “rip it”, or “Relax!!!”. All coaches have overused the word relaxed. It is used so much that it means nothing to the player. Newtown Babe Ruth coaches must use many different terms and drills to teach what being “relaxed” means.

Coaches must also address the fear of getting hit by a pitch. It is a legitimate fear and does not end in childhood. The first thing a coach should do is teach players the proper way to get out of the way of the ball. This is simply turning your back to the pitcher while bringing your bat straight to the ground. This does three things; protects the face, protects the hands and avoids foul balls off the bat. If the player does get hit, it will be in the fatty part of the body and the risk of serious injury is eliminated.

There is a mechanical piece to hitting which must be addressed. There are certain truths that all good hitters adhere to when swinging. The hitting truths are broken up to three categories; hitting mechanics, psychological aspects of hitting and characteristics of a good hitter. All three will be taught at different levels depending on the player.








Newtown Babe Ruth Hitting Mechanics


Thread-Tension Free Swing

  1. Base: Align feet-parallel to each other.

  2. Base: Athletic stance-balls of your feet .

  3. Relaxed-What does that mean? No tension (Relaxed but ready).

  4. Elbow outside body with no tension (not up!).

  5. Grip: Hold bat in fingers-align knuckles/ Bat must get to launch position.

  6. Eyes: Both eyes should see pitcher.

  7. Head: Shoulder to shoulder through swing.

  8. Weight shift: “middle-back-middle”- never forward.

  9. Swing path: Down to ball/extend with top hand palm to sky.

  10. Follow through: High, long, slow follow through/ Drive the back knee (instead of squish the bug).



Newtown Babe Ruth Psychological Aspects of Hitting


  1. Attitude comes first-then relaxation and concentration.

  2. Hitters should become discouraged easily (94 % of all players in the major leagues in 2010 did not bat .300).

  3. Before hitters step in to hit have them look at something that relaxes them (green grass, the sky, something on your uniform, another person, your shoes, bat label, the plate, etc…).

  4. Hitters should learn early what pitch they like, look for it up until two strikes, attack it but should not over swing.

  5. Contact in batting is the key to hitting; it keeps you in the right frame of mind. Strikeouts erode self-assurance.

  6. Against hard throwers, wait until the last moment, hit to the opposite field, and do not try to get out in front too far.

  7. Hitters cannot guide the ball. Go to the plate to hit the ball solid not to get a hit. They put undue pressure on themselves if they have to get a hit.

  8. Hitters should always feel they can control the plate, knowing the pitcher must eventually come in there to you.

  9. Hit the ball not the pitcher. He is simply the holder of the ball. He has no face, only an arm and a pitching inventory that you have figured out by observing.

  10. Don’t allow a pitcher to change a hitter’s style, wait, and stay back.


Newtown Babe Ruth Characteristics of a Good Hitter


  1. Doesn’t over swing; Swing should not be careful or careless but carefree.

  2. Maintains their balance; Stays in stance.

  3. Hits to all fields; the most vulnerable defense is a spread defense.

  4. Has a short swing; short to the ball, long through the ball.

  5. Keeps an even attitude; the only way to handle a game that will control you more than you will control it.

  6. Stays focused and positive.

  7. Sees the ball quicker, stays with it longer; practice relaxation and concentration.

  8. Supports a small “hit” zone until two strikes.

  9. Knows where the pitch will end up in the hit/strike zone; the essence of hitting, no one actually sees the ball hit the bat.

  10. Combines hits with walks, does not strike out often; knows when a walk or swing is most helpful.


Newtown Babe Ruth Hitting Drills


  1. Pull, Drive, Wait- Hitter will say “pull” on inside pitch, “drive” on pitch down the middle and “wait” on outside pitch in order to think about where to hit the ball. The ball will tell you where to hit the ball.

  2. Open Hand Drill- Hitter will hit baseball with top hand open as it lays across the bat. This is to demonstrate that you do not need to hold bat tight and also that the top hand can ruin the swing if you roll you hands at contact.

  3. Throw the Bat Drill- Hitters will take turns throwing bat after swing at home plate. It is a contest to see who can throw the bat the farthest while keeping it in fair territory. ONLY do this at fields that have a safe area for coaches and players to stand behind backstop.

  4. Ball-Hit Drill- Coach will say “ball” as he pitches baseball and hitter will say “hit” when contact is made. Both will do this in a monotone voice in order to demonstrate no tension.

  5. Humming Drill- Hitter will hum while hitting. You cannot get tense and hum at the same time.

  6. Double tee/Chair/Cone Drill- Put a double tee with taller tee in back of plate (or a chair or large cone) and have the hitter hit a short tossed ball. In order to avoid hitting the object, the hitter must take the proper swing path.

  7. Fence (Wall) Drill- Again, to work on swing path, hitters will stand facing three to five feet away from a wall or fence in their batting stance. They will swing trying to avoid hitting the wall.

  8. Close your Eyes” Drill- Hitters will close their eyes after making contact and try to “feel” their long, high, slow follow through.

  9. Exaggerate Step- Hitters will exaggerate lift in front foot to “feel” middle, back, middle weight shift (step to balance). They will then get extremely wide and again, without stepping, “feel” for the middle, back, middle weight shift.

  10. Soft Toss- Soft toss can include hitting two colored balls, numbered balls, whiffle golf balls. Soft toss can be used to work on a certain location pitch and/or weight shift.


Base-running

10

Base-running

Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.”

J.R Rowling (author of Harry Potter)



The key to base-running is nerve. To have nerve is to not hesitate; it is an instinctual ability to not be afraid of getting thrown out or make a mistake. It is very hard to teach nerve. Great base-runners are usually born with it. The secret is identifying these players on your team. What a coach can teach is to be aggressive. Coaches and players often confuse aggressiveness with carelessness. A careless coach or player will ignore the situation, the runner’s abilities and the opposing team. Like a successful trader in the stock market, a good base-runner will take intelligent risks at the appropriate time.

Many youth teams do not spend enough time teaching base-running. This is unfortunate because base-running is one third of the game. Young players especially need the time in practice because they do not have the experience and or knowledge of running the bases. Practices should start with at least ten minutes of base-running instruction and end the same way. There are over twenty things a player needs to know from home to first. There are over twenty situations from first to second. It is the same for going second to third and third to home. Make a list at the beginning of the year of all the things that you need to cover. Instead of having the players run around the bases aimlessly to get in shape, use base-running situation drills to get in shape while teaching. Many coaches also incorporate base-running into their batting practice which is suggested, however, be careful to space out your pitching so that runners can find the ball to avoid injury.

Getting thrown out trying to steal second is the same as getting picked off of first; it is an out. A runner should never get picked off when not stealing. However, if a runner has the steal sign and does not have the nerve to try to get a good jump he will get thrown out at second. Too many coaches chastise a young player for getting picked off when he has the steal sign. Conversely, it was “a good try” if he hesitates and is thrown out at second. Bottom line-getting caught stealing is an out. Be aggressive.



Newtown Babe Ruth Base-Running


Thread- Nerve

  1. Always know the situation (outs, score, inning, etc…).

  2. It takes no talent to hustle.

  3. Swing, lean, look…it is okay to look at the ball when you run.

  4. Never make first or last out at third; make third standing up.

  5. Always find the ball when you reach a base.

  6. Get back to the base after a pitch; don’t “hang” around.

  7. Two strikes, two outs, read the batter’s hands.

  8. There is no excuse for missing a sign.

  9. Run through the bag at first; learn when to take a turn (question mark).

  10. Never lounge at first base; when crossing first, use choppy steps and look for ball (look to the right).


Catching

11

Catching


Energy and persistence conquer all things. “

Benjamin Franklin



Catching is a skill position. It requires many different abilities and is demanding physically on the body. A catcher must have a great attitude about his position. As the great Bill Dickey once said, “A catcher must want to catch. He must make up his mind that it isn't the terrible job it is painted, and that he isn't going to say every day, ‘Why, oh why, with so many other positions in baseball, did I take up this one?’". It is hard to find young players who gravitate towards being a catcher. Newtown Babe Ruth believes it is important to expose players to this vital role. The catcher is a leader on the field and the key is energy. The catcher needs energy not only to give good targets, block balls and throw runners out but also to direct fielders, motivate his pitcher and call games. A catcher is often referred to as another coach on the field and it is never too young to start teaching this to our players.

The catching truths are segmented into receiving, throwing and blocking. Individual time should be spent to expose young catchers to these skills.

Newtown Babe Ruth Catching-Receiving

Thread-Energy

Enthusiastic target at all times!

Framing


  1. Frame only pitches that are close to being strikes.

  2. Do not hold ball too long and show up umpire.

  3. Pitches:

  1. Inside pitch to RHH-thumb to the sky.

  2. Outside pitch to RHH-thumb to the ground.

  3. High pitch-close glove and show umpire top of mitt.

  4. Low pitch-hold in front (umpires are taught not to call low pitch if they can see the ball).

  1. Catch “around the ball”-Pull to middle slightly.

  2. Use entire arm, not just wrist to frame.

Relaxed Stance

  1. Use when bases are empty and less than two strikes.

  2. Stance-shoulder width apart with weight on insteps.

  3. Low but comfortable.

  4. Relaxed receiving arm with good firm target.

  5. Throwing hand behind shoe or back.

Ready Stance

  1. Use when there are men on base or two strikes.

  2. Ready to black and/or throw.

  3. Feet are slightly staggered but upper body still square to pitcher.

  4. Weight on the balls of feet-butt slightly raised.

  5. Throwing hand behind mitt.

Newtown Babe Ruth Catching-Throwing

Upper Body



  1. Catch ball deep.

  2. Break under chin.

  3. Turn glove hard to hand.

  4. Arm straight to throwing position.

  5. Elbow-shoulder-shoulder-elbow.

Lower Body

  1. Gain ground before catching ball.

  2. Footwork: Jab step and throw.

  3. Footwork: Jump pivot (Replace feet).

  4. Footwork: Jab step and jump pivot.

  5. Stay low-Do not stand up!

*Keep helmet/mask on when throwing.

Newtown Babe Ruth Catching-Blocking



  1. Chin down.

  2. Curl upper-body while rounding shoulders.

  3. Bend at the waist.

  4. Fill hole between legs with glove.

  5. Gain ground-clear feet.

  6. Lead right leg and swing body or

  7. Lead left leg and swing body (whatever is more comfortable).

  8. Straight ball-legs to the ground immediately.

  9. Angle body back towards field.

  10. Curve balls will bounce in opposite direction.



Common Youth Coach’s Mistakes

(Adopted from John T. Reed’s baseball Website)


  • Wasting practice time on activities where one player gets an occasional repetition while the rest of the team stands around in small groups chatting.

  • Failing to give catchers enough reps of throwing to second base.

  • Failing to practice sliding at every practice and pre-game warm-up for the first two-thirds of the season.

  • Failing to hold a parent meeting at which you explain your policies on position assignments, batting order, playing time, and so forth.

  • Deciding who can pitch by bull pen performance or personality or appearance, rather than game performance.

  • Trying to control runners at all times rather than letting them make their own, faster, and often better decisions.

  • Ignorance of the many dangers in baseball and the easy ways to prevent injuries. For example, never encourage a youth player to “take one for the team.” About three or four youth players are killed every year when they are hit by normal pitches traveling 40 to 50 miles per hour. They suffer fatal ventricular fibrillation (heart muscle contracts improperly). Baseball is also the main cause of eye injuries among children. Would you believe 35,000 youth-baseball eye injuries a year!?

  • Failure to practice one-throw, double-force plays and runners-who-did-not-tag-up double plays.

  • Giving prestigious positions out on the basis of nepotism rather than ability and team need.

  • Encouraging batters to swing at pitchers’ pitches on the first two strikes.

  • Not changing your approach to batting when a batter gets two strikes. Just saying “Ya gotta protect,” is not enough.

  • Failing to emphasize base-running, which is by far the most coachable aspect of baseball.

  • Drafting a team according to tryout performance rather than last year’s score books.

  • Tolerating lateness, absenteeism, back talk, and other misbehavior at the teenage level.

  • Trying to teach too much to tee ball players.

  • Failure to teach players where to go when the ball is not hit to them and failure to insist that they go there. Pitchers and outfielders, especially, tend to go “off duty” whenever a ball is hit somewhere other than to them.

  • Coaching as if you were preparing your players for the Major Leagues. 73% of kids quit youth sports by age 13. Only about one kid per youth team will ever play high-school baseball. You will coach one future Major Leaguer about every 641 seasons.

  • Firing players up before or during a game. That’s football, not baseball.

  • Failure to recognize the many differences between TV baseball and youth baseball in terms of fielding percentages, walk percentages, field conditions, equipment, and so forth. If you ever do “around-the-horn,” you do not understand the fielding percentage difference between youth teams and higher level teams.

  • Letting batters use bats that are much too heavy.

  • Hitting fungoes to left and right fielders. Game hits to those fields curve outward; fungoes do not.

  • Being too timid about base-running. Letting timid runners remain timid.

  • Tolerating ill-fitting catcher’s equipment and batting helmets.

  • Letting pitchers pitch from on top of the rubber. They are supposed to stand in front of it.

  • Letting catchers take off their helmet to throw to a base to stop a steal.



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