Fastball Reaction Time: Must See Link

I was searching the net, looking for different times related to baseball and softball activities.  I was investigating things like running and throwing times. I came across this really cool site with an interactive activity that simulates reaction time to a major league fastball. It is very simple,  but I wasted atleast 10 minutes of my life before my wife made me stop. Check it out.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/baseball/reactiontime.html

Pre-Game Infield/Outfield Routine

In an earlier post,  I described the importance of a good, intense, well-rounded pre-game routine. In that post, I alluded to our routine.  That link is listed here:

https://coach5150.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/polish-pre-game-ideas-on-how-to-design-a-great-pre-game-routine/

Below you will see a 14 step pre-game routine that we use.  It can be modified hundreds of ways to fit your needs.  In order to run it correctly, you will need two coaches hitting fungoes.  If you don’t have an assistant coach, I would recommend a very reliable reserve player or team manager.  The goal of this routine is to allow as many players as possible to get as many quality touches of the baseball in a short amount of time. 

The first few times your team will go through a routine like this one it will take 20 -25 minutes.  That may seem long but, with familiarity, that time will be reduced down to 12-15 minutes.  Every player will get a variety of game-like plays to practice.  This routine can also be used in an extended version at practices. 

 

 

I’m sure that others have similar routines. If you have some variations or some suggestions how to make this better, please leave a comment.

Indoor Batting Cage Practice: Our Set-up Chart

Station #1:  Cage Sequence #1: 3-2-7-1 (track 3, 2 sacs, 7 cuts, 1 H&R)
Station #2:  Cage Sequence #2: 2-7-1 (2 sacs, 7 cuts, 1 H&R)
Station #3:  Cage Sequence #3: 2-8-1-1 (2 sacs, 8 cuts, 1 H&R, 1 Squeeze)
Station #4:  Cage Sequence #4: 2-6-1-1-1 (track 2, 6 cuts, 1 sac, 1 H&R, 1 Squeeze)
Station #5:  Cage Sequence #5: 1-NO ROCKS IN THE AIR!!!

                                                Drill List

1.        Vision Soft toss (No side or standing feeders)

2.        Launch & Drop (up the middle to opposite field)

3.        Battle with the paddle

4.        Battle with the paddle top hand

5.        Lite-Flite Bunt

6.        Launch

7.        Dot Drill

8.        Vision Tee

9.        High Tee

10.     Tee Walk-ups

11.     Hitting discs

12.     Front Toss Whiffle Balls

What you see above is basically the chart that is used during the season when we are stuck inside due to weather.  Our cage area has space limitations.  Therefore, we have to be creative utilizing the space that we have. This chart serves as a portion of a practice plan. It will be posted.  The players are placed into their hitting groups.  They should be able to look at the chart, understand where they should be, and what they are to do once they get there. It usually takes 2-3 three times for the players to totally understand the process, but when they get used to it, it’ll be like clockwork.

Here’s how the chart is used.  The top of the chart is a map that displays the numbered cage station areas. It also shows the direction in which the players are to rotate.  The table in the middle of the chart has Stations 1-5 listed.  The coach is to write in drills for each station from the drill list at the bottom. Then, the coach is to circle a cage sequence to be followed once any given hitting group rotates into the machine area of the cage. The whole team rotates when the group on the machine is done. There is no reason for any one on the team to be standing around. 

Everyone has a place to be and a purpose once they get there.  By planning ahead of time there is less wasted time and more time for the coaches to float around and work with hitters.  This is typically used in 45-60 minute session.  We try to get everyone to each station twice.  Each player should get between 100-125 cuts.  If a player gets less than that, it’s on them for not working hard enough.

Basic Bunt Coverage #4: Runner at 1st

Situation: Runner at 1st, less than 2 outs

Description of responsibilities by position:

C: The catcher must first check for any short bunts in front of the plate. In which case, C fields the bunt and 3B retreats to cover third base. Ultimately, we want the C and 3B to switch responsibilities.  The point of this coverage is to bait the runner and third base coach into thinking that third base has been abandonded.  An easy out or run-down could occur which may lead to a double play after the initial out at first base is made.

1B: The first baseman is responsible for fielding a bunt on the right side of the infield beyond the range of the catcher. The first baseman must charge hard as soon as the hitter shows bunt.

2B: The second baseman rotates to cover 1st base. This player may cheat towards first base in an obvious bunt scenario.

SS: The shortstop rotates to cover second base for a possible force play.

3B: The third baseman is responsible for fielding a bunt on the left side of the infield beyond the range of the catcher. The third baseman must charge hard as soon as the hitter shows bunt. If another player fields the bunt, the third baseman must retreat back to cover third base.

P: The pitcher is responsible for fielding any bunt in front of home plate out of the range of the catcher. 

RF: Comes in to back up any throw to first base.

CF: Comes in to back up any throw to second base.

LF: Comes in to back up any throw to second base.

Bunt Coverage #3: Suicide Squeeze Play

Situation: This coverage is a defense for a suicide squeeze play.

C: The catcher’s first priority is covering home plate. The only bunt that the catcher should field is one in which the ball stops so close to home plate that it can be fielded with very little movement. Otherwise, as with other bunt coverages, the catcher’s job is to direct traffic after another fielder gets the ball.

1B: The first baseman is responsible for fielding a bunt on the right side of the infield beyond the range of the catcher. The first baseman must charge hard as soon as the hitter shows bunt.

2B: The second baseman rotates to cover 1st base.

SS: The shortstop rotates to cover third base.

3B: The third baseman is responsible for fielding a bunt on the left side of the infield. The third baseman must charge hard as soon as the hitter shows bunt.

P: The pitcher is  responsible for fielding a bunt directly in front of home plate. Since the catcher is most likely staying home, the pitcher must cover ground that would normally be covered by the catcher.

RF: Comes in to back up any throw to first base.

CF: Comes in to cover second base.

LF: Comes in to back up any throw to third base.

Team Hitting Drill: The Octopus

“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.”

-H. Jackson Brown Jr. 

The first time I saw this drill, or something similar to it, was in Dixon, IL. My friend Dan Crawford was using it as part of his team’s pre-game routine.  Whiffle balls were flying in every direction. Players were placed all over left field. Jokingly, I said, “Dan, it looks like a octupus exploded out there. What’s going on?” He told me it was a drill.  I liked it so much, that night I scribbled something similar to it on paper.

Equipment needed:

  • 1 bucket
  • 4 dozen whiffle balls
  • 4 bats

Purpose: The purpose of this drill is to get each of your players 24 purposeful swings with in less than 8 minutes. It makes a great pre-game hitting routine. I especially like it on the road.  It also makes a good practice drill when time or space is limited for hitting.  Lastly, it’s a good indoor drill when a cage is not available.

Set up & Grouping: Take your team and divide them into three or four equal groups. I recommend no more than 5 in a group.  4 in each group is just about perfect. Place the bucket of whiffle balls in the center and one group on each side of the bucket. Each group needs a hitter, pitcher, and shaggers.  The hitters are nearest the bucket.  The pitchers are throwing towards the hitters standing by the bucket.

After a hitter gets 6 cuts, he or she rotates to become the pitcher of  his group. The pitcher rotates to shagger. A shagger comes to the bucket and becomes a hitter.  Make one of the groups “the lead group”. When all of the hitters in the lead group have hit, that group yells “ROTATE” and all of the groups rotate clockwise.  It should take a little less than 2 minutes for a group of 4 to hit at each station. Each station has a purpose. See below:

  • Station #1: Pulling inside strikes
  • Station #2: hitting up the middle
  • Station #3: hitting outside strikes
  • Station #4: I like to use this one as a wildcard station in order to mix it up.  You can make it a bunting station, top hand drill, 2 strike hitting, etc. Most often, I like to use a paddle drill.

Hints:

  • The first time you run the drill, it will take a bit longer than 8 minutes due to explanation. It will get to be more fluid each time the drill is run.
  • For younger players, eliminate the rotation. As the coach, call out a new hitting purpose every 2-3 minutes.
  • Monitor your pitchers. Make sure that they are throwing the balls hard enough and trying to hit locations.
  • Monitor your hitters make sure that they are swinging at strikes. Much to often, when the whiffle balls come out, hitter start swinging at everything.
  • Emphasize no pop-ups.
  • Make sure your hitters are not getting to close to one another. Safety first 🙂

BOOSTERS, NOT ROOSTERS: Parental Support During Games

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”

-Herm Albright

 foghorn-3Parents can work with you or against you.  Do not forget when you play at home they’re there, and when you go on the road they follow.  I’m not knocking fan support, because I adore it.  Although, I am knocking fan detriment.  I want as many parents at our games as possible.  I want them to come to our games and enjoy seeing their young man or young lady represent his school and town to the best of his or her ability.  I also want them to support the other players on the team and the program as a whole.  No one needs a college of coaches in the stands that criticize players, coaches, and officials. Talk about bush league, that’s the worst.

            At the beginning of a season I host a parent meeting.  I require players to have someone to represent them at this meeting.  A mom or dad may not be able to attend in some cases. So I tell my player to get an alternate, like a sibling or a grandparent.  I’ve never had a parent meeting last longer than a half an hour.  The discussion topics are the team rules for players, the schedule, travel procedure for road contests, and parent expectations.  That’s right, parent expectations. I expect them to be part of the team.  My rules for them are:

1)   Be positive at home.

2)   Don’t address officials.

3)   Be a booster, not a rooster.

            Be positive at home.  Parents need to cultivate the team concept at home when their son or daughter is not around me.  If his or her child comes home after striking out 3 times, he/she doesn’t need someone talking down to them.  Nobody feels worse than the player. As well, maybe someone’s child didn’t play that day.  Of course, that kid feels bad about it. I’d be disappointed in a player of mine that didn’t. A parent that tears down the coach or another player to give their son some false pride isn’t sending a very good message.  Parents at home need to encourage their boys when times are good and bad.  Encouraging their children to work harder at practice and be more involved in off-season activities is the best thing a parent can do. 

            Don’t address officials.  If something needs to be said to an umpire, I will say it.  I have only seen rude and obnoxious comments from the stands work to the advantage of the other team.  You think the strike zone was tight before, just wait.  Umpires are human. There is no instant replay.  We must live with their calls.  99% of them are trying their hardest to be impartial.  If an umpire is hustling and calling the game consistently for both teams, no one can complain.  I feel there are good and bad times for a coach to talk to the umpire about calls.  There are no good times for parents to do so. 

            Be a booster, not a rooster.  I make mistakes. We all do. Hopefully, we learn from them.   No coach needs some know-it-all former little league coach critiquing his every move. Those type of parents are like pussy cats waiting to pounce on a mouse.  They view the game with negative glasses.  And like a rooster at 5 AM, begin cackling their head off with some foolish coaching advice.  No one in the crowd is impressed.  In fact most of the other parents separate themselves from that type of fan.  These roosters always like to crow at the worst possible time. For example, during a regional game, after a lead-off double, I had a player wander too far off 2nd base on a ball hit in front of him and get caught in rundown.  Prior to the miscue, I said all of the right things to him to remind him of the situation, and of course he acknowledged me. We all know the teenage mind is one of mystery, and he did the wrong thing.  In the rooster’s head, I’m sure he was elated.  He began to ruffle his feathers, stick out his chest, and crow sarcastically, “Nice goin’ coach, way to teach base-running.”  He was right. It was a poor base running play.  I was sure excited that he pointed it out and so was the player and his parents, I’m sure.  We went on to get 5 hits, 2 stolen bases, and score 3 runs that inning.  He shouted no compliments for our team. We went on to win the game 5-1 an advance to the regional championship.  The rooster had magically turned into a hen. Encourage your parents to disagree with you in private.  Shouting disapproval during a game helps no one.rooster

            A parent meeting is really an attempt to preempt any miscommunications between the parents and the coach.  Your expectations for your players are made clear on an in person basis.  A coach that hosts a parent meeting will find that he has a more positive relationship with the parents than the coach that neglects to do so.  The parents will be more likely to give you help when you need it.  As well, they will support you on disciplinary issues with players, because the rules were explained clearly ahead of time.