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

Cure for the Forgettful? : Positive Discipline

This is really a fun post. I’m a stickler for team rules and discipline, but I want to give credit to a coaching friend for this one.  After a varsity baseball practice our sophomores were taking the field and the coach, Mr. Ryan Pierce, found the glove of one of my players. My first reaction was to make that player run the next day, but Coach Pierce had a better remedy. 

“I’ve got the cure for this,” he said.

I thought, ‘I’ll see what he’s got in mind.’

The next day he showed up to practice with that glove, covered in the most interesting array of pre-pubescent stickers in the history of Nickelodeon.  When that player saw his glove, he laughed. His teammates laughed. The coaches laughed.  Coach Pierce turned a negative into a positive. Needless to say, that player has not forgotten his glove to this day.

I have since adopted this policy. Below are some recent victims….. I mean players that were in need of discipline.

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It’s become a family event at my house. As you will see, my 4 year old daughter really enjoys artistic expression on varsity gloves.

I guess the point is, to be disciplined, yet find ways to have fun with it.  There are ways to make your point with out blowing your stack.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that every so often, the bear needs to growl, but if the bear growls too often, it loses meaning.

BEFRIEND THE ENEMY

“Don’t tell your friends about your indigestion. “How are you” is a greeting, not a question.”

-Arthur Guiterman

            As the coach of the home team, it is your responsibility to be the first person that an arriving coach meets.  Thus, you want to leave that coach with a good first impression. It may not be the first time you’ve met that coach. It may be a great friend of yours. It may be the biggest jerk you know.  Despite any of the previously stated scenarios, you only have one chance to make a first impression for that day.

            The home coach should pick the proper time for this meeting.  Remember that the opposing coach is just as busy as you are on a game day.  He may have been on the road for up to 2 hours. His job is to get his troops prepared to play as soon as they come off the bus.  So, he’s ready to get busy.  The best time to greet the opposing coach is on his jaunt from the bus to his dugout. It is a short period of dead time for that coach.  His players will be spending the next 5-10 minutes doing all of the wonderful things that young players today need to do in order to be ready to loosen up. Here’s a brief list: putting on cleats, taking off earrings, covering tattoos, and turning off cell phones. There are others, but I might vomit as I continue to list them. 

            Let the visiting coach know your name and ask him his.  Here’s a little trick in case it is the first meeting for you and the visiting coach.  Look up the opposing coach’s name on the Internet.  Most schools have great websites that usually contain a list of their entire staff including coaches.   I like to know their names ahead of time. I like to send the opposing coaches a welcoming message, but also a one of preparedness. I like to think that the mental edge for the day belong to me.

Finally, offer up only information, such as location of restrooms, concession information, access to the athletic trainer, etc.  Don’t bore the other coach with mundane and trivial problems that you’re having with your players, parents, or other coaches. It’s not a therapy session, just an informational greeting.

DON’T PACK UP EARLY

 “Never do today what you can as well do tomorrow, because something may occur may occur to make to make you regret your premature action.”

-Aaron Burr

This one is part respect for your opponent and part superstition.  I guess the old saying about not counting your chickens comes to mind.  With only one inning left in the game, sometimes players get the bug to start packing up the equipment bags as though they are in some sort of hurry to leave.  Maybe they’ve got a hot date or something.  This is never a good idea whether a team is either winning or losing. 

In the lead, it is extremely disrespectful to your opponent to start packing up in anticipation of a victory.  And who wants to give the other team added motivation to come back and beat you? Not me.  When behind, a player that packs up gear is showing disrespect to his own team.  This type of player sends a “we suck, we can’t come back” message  to his teammates.  This should never be tolerated.  Hopefully, another player will see this poor display in action and convey the proper message to the not-so-sharp player.  Otherwise, it will be up to the coach to explain the situation.  I have found that a little extra cardiovascular activity will typically remedy this type of behavior.

Some people are more superstitious about baseball than others.  “Early gear packing” seems to be a big one.  I can remember coaches and players saying that this habit was taboo for years.  I suppose the fear is that some innocent bench player that is just trying to be tidy will upset the baseball gods.  In turn, the gods will strike that team down with horrible luck.  Though, we all know teams make their own luck.  Besides, there are no baseball gods.  Right?

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.