Basketball Skills: 6 Tips For Improving Your Passes by James Druman

Basketball Skills: 6 Tips For Improving Your Passes – a free article by James Druman

Source: Basketball Skills: 6 Tips For Improving Your Passes by James Druman

Perhaps the most underestimated basketball skill, especially in young basketball leagues, is knowing how to pass. It is essential to keep the ball moving and to capitalize on teamwork if you want to be a winning player on a winning team, so passing is something every coach and serious player should focus on. Here are some simple tips for improving your passing skills.

1. Keep Your Distance

It is important to keep the right amount of spacing between yourself and receiving players when making your passes. If you pass from too far away, it is possible an opposing player can step in and steal the ball without even having to fight for it.

If you are too close, it is difficult to get the speed and accuracy needed for precision. About twelve to fifteen feet is a good distance for a pass.

2. Don’t Aim at the Receiver

It is common for younger players to throw the ball directly at the receiving player, but it is much more effective to anticipate movement and throw the ball so it is “waiting” as the receiver moves forward. This type of anticipation, of course, requires teamwork, and it is something the entire team should work on together.

3. Dribble Into the Defense

If a defending player is closing in on you as you go to make a pass, dribble and move toward them as you pass. While this seems counterintuitive, it is easier for them to watch your body and anticipate your moves from further away. If you dribble towards them, they are forced to react, throwing off their attention.

4. Eliminate Obvious Signals

A lot of players give away their intent to pass by craning their neck to set sight on the receiving player. You need to learn to look everywhere and use your peripheral vision. A proper pass is made with a lot of wrist, which allows for that quick unexpected snap. Do not wind your arms back or step forward to pass either�these are all obvious movements to an attentive player.

5. Don’t Pass “Around” Defending Players

Many new players try to overcompensate and throw the ball over the opposing player’s head or well around them, but this type of pass is much too weak, making it easy to anticipate or even snatch out of the air. Keep your passes quick and sure, darting the ball underneath an armpit or just over the shoulder, depending on the player’s own movements. Use fakes to your advantage to get their limbs where you want them.

6. Keep Moving

Never stand still after making a pass�you should keep on moving even after the ball is gone and snatched up. Always end a good pass by following through as if going for a rebound, simulating a dribble around another player, or faking a shot. This will keep other players confused while at the same time allowing you to be ready for whatever happens next and remain an asset to the game.

Don’t take passing skills for granted. They are an essential part of any solid game, and proper basketball training will give them their due.

Basketball Success: The Basics Of Solid Defense by James Druman

Basketball Success: The Basics Of Solid Defense – a free article by James Druman

Source: Basketball Success: The Basics Of Solid Defense by James Druman

While those successful goals are the most telling indicator when you are winning a basketball game, any true champion knows that a good team’s success often lies in their defense. Your ability to prevent rebounds and limit turnover is an invaluable asset in any game and a team without defensive tactics will never be the best. Let’s look at some of the basics you should work on to be a great defending player.

The first thing any player should learn when it comes to defense is perfecting their stance. The solid stance begins by maintaining just over a shoulder-width distance between your two feet and resting on the balls of your feet. If someone pushes on you, you should not sway or move at all�your balance should be solid and evenly distributed.

Keep you knees bent, arms out, elbows bent, and palms up. Keep your head up as well, and direct your attention towards the level of the opposing player’s stomach, as this is a great center for reading and anticipating movement. While the heads, eyes, shoulders, or limbs can often be used to distract you or fake you out, the midsection rarely lies.

Your head should not move too much when in this stance�learn how to look out of the corners of your eyes for what is going on. Peripheral vision is a valuable asset for a solid basketball player.

Develop a good defensive slide, moving your feet sideways with quick short steps while staying in stance. Common mistakes players make is moving up out of their defensive position during a slide, leaning in the direction of slides, or crossing their feet�all moves that put you off balance and leave you unprepared.

When you are on the ball, your obvious goal is to keep it from traveling any further. Defense specifics will vary from team to team, depending on coaching, but your main goal is to stop it.

There are many ways to satisfy the goal. Often, what we want to do is direct opposing players off of the court and towards the out of bounds area if possible, once they are stuck in a corner, you and other players can try to keep them there until a 5 second call.

At all times, focus on restricting them from moving forward to their goal, but don’t put so much energy into this that you forget to just stay on them at all times. After all, covering and staying on the player is more crucial than limiting court penetration.

Learn to use an opposing player’s disadvantages against them. Players will often drive to one side or the other, in favor of their stronger hand (right or left), but you can keep them on their toes by forcing them to play their weaker side. Learn to change your position to keep them going where they do not want to go.

Properly staying on an offensive player is all about confusing them and restricting their movement while going with their movement when it is inevitable. It is a balance.

Another crucial element of defense is knowing when you lost your player and compensating for that. Learn to signal or alert other players on your team when this happens, and then run back to your opponent as fast as possible to resume your defensive position. Never give up and stop when they get away.

There is a lot more to proper defense than this, but these are some good points to keep in mind. Never forget that a good offense will never be good enough to win alone�they may win a lot of games between two mediocre teams, but when it comes to the wins that count, they will always come up short.

Basketball Skill Development: Use These Five Tips To Solidify Your Shots by James Druman

Basketball Skill Development: Use These Five Tips To Solidify Your Shots – a free article by James Druman

Source: Basketball Skill Development: Use These Five Tips To Solidify Your Shots by James Druman

While a proper basketball skill set will take a lot more than just shooting into account, like proper defense and the essential skill of passing, no player can deny that they would like the ability to sink more baskets. And nothing is more concrete than adding more points to the scoreboard. So even though game should be versatile, every player will spend plenty of time working on their shooting.

Here are some simple tips for improving your shots and sinking more baskets.

1. Set Up By Getting Open

While this seems obvious when you’re not dribbling down the court, the action in a game makes things a little more complex. A lot of shots are tossed on a sudden whim, as if grabbing a spontaneous opportunity, but these are most often the shots that brick or completely miss the basket.

Anticipating and setting up a shot is much more likely to end in a goal, so try to plan things out even while doing all you can to not telegraph that plan.

2. Use Your Teammates

Never be a ball-hog and just take a shot because you want to claim it. Not only does this create more missed shots but it damage’s team morale.

Keep an eye on where all teammates are before taking your shot, and if someone is open for an easier basket than you, throw the ball to them instead. Knowing when not too shoot is just as valuable, and if you miss, you will be very sorry that you did not make the right decision.

3. Precision Focus

Once you’ve moved into shooting position, drown out everything else and keep your eye directly on the target all the way through the shot, keeping your attention specifically on the rim. All other obstacles and distractions should be zoned out. Always follow through to get the most out of your motions and hold focus until the last possible second.

4. Work on Passing

Passing really is part of shooting as what often starts as a shot will end up turning into a pass, and most of the same smaller skills and movements that lead to a good pass also add up to a good pass. And I cannot stress enough how important it is to capitalize on a pass that makes more sense than being a ball-hog.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

While it should go without saying, your shots should be practiced over and over and over and over again. Even once you feel you’ve mastered it in practice, you will often find your skills don’t hold up in a game. The only way to defeat this is to keep practicing until you’ve developed enough confidence to stay consistent under pressure. It’s all in your mind.

Check out some sensibly-price adjustable basketball hoops and consider getting one set up at home so you can practice in your free time. This is the type of dedication it takes to become a star shooter.

2 Ways to Know If You Are on the College Coaches Shortlist

2 Ways to Know If You Are on the College Coaches Shortlist
By []Steve Karp

If you ask a coach how they manage to keep all the loose ends tied up, they will invariably say their projects are list driven. They make lists to keep track of practice schedules, game schedules, injury reports, meetings with players, meetings with other coaches, meetings with school officials, newspaper press releases, social media releases, etc. and, most importantly, high school players who are legitimate prospects.

As a high school athlete and a prospective college athlete, 3 keys to getting recruited are:

� #1 – get on a college coach’s prospect list,

� #2 – pass through the obstacles in the recruiting funnel to get on the coach’s shortlist

� #3 – understand if and where you are on the coaches’ shortlist

Athletes and their families often believe that getting invitations to clinics, camps and showcases are true indicators of an athlete’s worth; this is usually not the case. However, getting on a coach’s shortlist will more often than not, get an athlete recruited.

There are 2 good indicators to determine if an athlete is on the coaches’ shortlist and on their way to being recruited and being offered a roster spot and a college scholarship.

1. Has the coach put anything in writing to the athlete? It doesn’t necessarily need to be a National Letter of Intent or a formal document. An email outlining the coaches’ intentions are a non-binding good start.

2. Does the athlete have the coach’s cell phone number and have access to the coach 24/7 or is the athlete’s contact directed through the athletic secretary, the recruiter for their part of the country, the generic team email box, the athletic department’s voicemail, etc.?

These two indicators are excellent ways to determine if an athlete is a serious candidate for an available roster spot. Getting on a coach’s shortlist, or many coaches’ shortlist, is a numbers game. The more coaches who know about an athlete and their ability, the more shortlists the athletes are on.

The problem arises when athletes, and especially their parents, think that every communication from a coach is tantamount to a full ride scholarship offer. They think communication from a dozen or more coaches will lead to a dozen or more offers. By the time they realize this is not the case, offers have been made to and accepted by other athletes. For verification, talk to the parents and athletes who have graduated from high school and are no longer playing competitive ball; but wanted the opportunity.

College coaches don’t always recruit the best athletes; they recruit the best athletes they know. Coaches recruited athletes who understood the recruiting process, got on the coaches’ shortlist and understood what to do next. These athletes used their time effectively and efficiently, and ultimately achieved their goal.

Remember, you only have one chance to be recruited, don’t waste it.

Since 1986, College Prospects of America has helped thousands of high school athletes achieve their goal of playing sports in college and used athletics to enroll in better schools academically and receive more favorable financial aid packages. For more information visit us at or contact us directly at []

Article Source: [] 2 Ways to Know If You Are on the College Coaches Shortlist

Youth Baseball And Lessons of Life

Youth Baseball And Lessons of Life
By []Marty Schupak

About five years ago I was coaching my Little League team in a game that we were winning and yelled out some encouragement during an inning when the other team was rallying. My catcher called “time out” went to the mound to talk to the pitcher. Before I knew it, the whole infield was on the pitcher’s mound. I just observed and saw all six of my players conversing and nodding their heads. This went far longer than you would expect. Especially considering the ages of the kids. I was amazed at how well they were communicating with each other. I remember thinking to myself that this is what youth sports is all about. Watching the kids grow right in front of our eyes. So I decided to write down what I think are some important life lessons kids can learn from baseball. And remember for every coach or team this will vary.

1) Communication

One of my biggest pet peeves in the world today is the lack of or just not knowing how to communicate with each other. A famous actor once said that 90% of life is just showing up. The older I get this has become truer every year. I’d add to it that 90% of life is just showing up and communicating with others. How many times have we seen people not communicating properly? It can be a real estate or any business transaction. It can also be a between two countries. Most times the lack of communication will bring negative results. On the baseball field good communication will bring about good results. And coaches and parents should not be concerned about the young age of the players. We coaches have to teach our players how to communicate properly on the baseball field. Whether it is an infield fly, acknowledging a bunt sign from a coach, proper communication on the baseball field will carry on to every day living.

2) Following Rules

Our society is full of rules and laws. Sometimes I think there are too many but this is the world in which we live in. I have also observed that has somehow we have gotten away from structure. We can be flexible in the way we do things but I have found in sports the best results happen when rules are put in place and players are conditioned to follow them and play and practice in a structured manner. In pro sports, you’ll find the best athletes like organization, leadership and rules. Coaches can impose rules in a diplomatic yet stern way. Rules of the game also have to be respected and followed and sports does this. Teaching young athletes to respect rules will be a sound foundation when they out into the real world.

3) Dealing With Pressure

I have seen many parents who don’t want their kids to be exposed any degree of pressure what so ever. They will purposely make any excuse so their kids can bypass the most pressured situation. I think this is a mistake. An example I’ll give is that most youth baseball leagues do not have real parity. Most coaches and parents will always try to get the advantage when picking teams. They think nothing of having a loaded team and think it is better to go 20-0, winning each game 10-0 and win the league championship. Is this making their kids better ball players and preparing them for adult life? Wouldn’t it serve young people better if they are asked to perform sometimes under some pressure and a little duress. Wouldn’t leagues be better if teams played in their share of one and two run games and extra innings? When they are adults won’t they have to perform under pressure whether it is a presentation to their superiors or maybe emergency surgery. As a parent and coach I never wanted my kids to always take the easy road.

4) Overcoming Mistakes

Everyday most human beings are bound to make a mistake here and there. People in the medical profession can very rarely afford to make mistakes. In sports mistakes are always happening. A bad pitch, a holding call on a 3rd and 1 play, a missed foul shot. If you follow sports you are bound to recognize that one of the things that separate the best athletes is that they are able to bounce back from mistakes. Part of our job as youth baseball coaches is to instill upon our kids that if you make a mistake, forget about it and go on to the next pitch. The worse thing an athlete can do is carry one bad at bat to his next at bat. Imagine the best trial lawyer in world losing a case and quitting law? Great lawyers will evaluate where and what they did wrong and over come these challenges the next time. Youth baseball should do the same thing. A player who strikes out his first three times at bat may be in a position to win the game with a hit in the last inning. Sports teaches this to kids and we have to reaffirm this over and over again. You can overcome your mistakes.

5) Respect For People

In major league baseball there are brush back pitches, hard slides and other rough parts of the game. For the most part though players still respect the game. We have to convey to young baseball players to respect the game also. This includes teammates, parents, umpires etc. We have all seen the 12th best player get up in a situation where the team needs a hit. It is our job to get his teammates behind him and cheer him on. And isn’t it the most satisfying thing when a player of lesser talent gets an important hit or makes a play in the field. Once we teach players to respect the game of baseball they will also carry this over to respect not just themselves but to respect others in society.

Baseball teaches many things and we have to keep everything in perspective. But we also need to challenge these young players in different parts of the game so that they will also become better citizens in the world.

Marty Schupak received his Master’s Degree in Physical Education from Arizona State University. He has been coaching youth sports for 25 years. He has produced 24 instructional videos including and written 8 books including:

The 59 Minute Baseball Practice, T-Ball Skills & Drills,

Winning Baseball Strategies, Pitching Drills & Techniques,

Hitting Drills & Techniques, Baserunning & Bunting Drills,

Drills & Techniques for Catchers, Fielding Drills & Techniques, Infield Team Play & Strategies, and 44 Baseball Mistakes & Corrections

He is President of the Youth Sports Club


Article Source: [] Youth Baseball And Lessons of Life

Athletes Who Were Working As Day Laborers When They Signed Their First Contracts

Athletes Who Were Working As Day Laborers When They Signed Their First Contracts

Athletes Who Were Working As Day Laborers When They Signed Their First Contracts
By Doug Poe

Many icons of our society passed away during 2015, including a number of famous athletes. Pro basketball players Moses Malone, Daryl Dawkins, and Dolph Schayes were among the Hall of Famers, in addition to the beloved Meadowlark Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Major League Baseball lost Hall of Famers Yogi Berra of the Yankees and Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, and the National Football League also lost some of its esteemed family in 2015. Among the deceased last year were running back Mel Farr and quarterback Ken Stabler, whose nickname was “The Snake.”

Also lost was one of the most well-recognized kickers of the 1970s, Garo Yepremian of the Miami Dolphins. In spite of being a fantastic kicker on Super Bowl champion teams, Yepremian is probably better remember for a misplay in the 1972 AFC-NFC championship matchup against the Washington Redskins.

The Dolphins led 14-0 when coach Don Shula sent Yepremian to attempt a field goal that would put Miami up by another three points. After the kick was blocked, Yepremian picked up the ball and attempted to pass it. As the ball slipped from his hand, Garo batted the ball before it hit the ground. Unfortunately, it landed in the arms of Washington defensive back Mike Bass, who returned it all the way to the end zone for a Redskins touchdown.

Another unlikely story concerning Yepremian is where he was working when he signed his first pro football contract. He was working in his basement tie shop in 1970 when the Dolphins discovered him, an unlikely place of employment for a future NFL star.

A handful of other famous athletes had been working as day laborers when they signed on to play at or near the professional level. Most prominent is probably NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird, who went on to win several championships with the Boston Celtics after having been working for a sanitation department when Indiana State University signed him.

Kurt Warner, Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League

The future NFL quarterback was employed at Hy-Vee Grocery store stocking shelves for $5.50 an hour in Cedar Falls, when the Los Angeles Rams signed him.

Jim Morris, Tampa Bay Rays

The physical education teacher in Big Lake, Texas tried out for the Rays in 1999, and his rise to the Majors has since been documented in the film, “The Rookie.”

Otis Sistrunk, Norfolk Neptunes

While working at a Milwaukee meat packing plant in 1969, Sistrunk was signed by the Oakland Raiders in 1969 and went in the win the American Football League championship.

Henry Finkel, Dayton University

After dropping out if college the future Celtic center was working as a sandblaster at a shipyard in 1962 in Union City, New Jersey, where the University of Dayton signed him to play Division I basketball.

Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves

Eventually becoming a catcher-outfielder in the Major Leagues, Gattis was employed as a janitor in the Dallas area.

Article Source:

Proper Baseball Bats for Youth

Proper Baseball Bats For Youth

Proper Baseball Bats For Youth
By Christopher Douglas Donohue

Batting is an extremely important, and some say the most difficult, element of baseball. Along with strong hand-eye coordination and strength that is gained through age and body mass, having the right tool for the job is something you must keep in mind when figuring out how to make the most of your turn at bat.

Baseball bats come in a variety of sizes, materials and weights. As your baseball player grows in age and size it’s important to change their bat to optimize their batting successes. In order for a child to be comfortable hitting the ball they must be comfortable with their bat. One bat will not work for an entire baseball team; it’s actually a very personal piece of sporting equipment.

Bat Length

One of the first things you can do to match your child up with the correct bat is to measure your child’s height. For this purpose, make sure your child is wearing his/her baseball shoes. Children who measure between 3-feet and 3-feet, 4-inches tall should probably be using a 26-inch bat. If your child is taller than 3-feet, 5-inches start with the 26-inch bat and add an inch in size for every four-to-five inches your child has in height.

Once you’ve got a good idea of where to start with bat length, stand the bat next to your child to see where it measures up against your child’s body. If the bat is too long it may be too heavy and awkward for your child to be comfortable with. With the top end of the bat on the floor next to your standing child, the knob area at the other end of the bat should be hitting your child right at their hip. If the knob area is hitting at your child’s waist the bat is too long and you may want to go back down a few inches.

You can also size a youth bat according to your child’s weight. This is not as effective as sizing for their height, but if you have an exceptionally tall and thin child who may not have the strength for a longer bat, this is a good way to have a secondary option. Children under 60 pounds will typically benefit from a 26- to 29-inch bat. Children weighing between 70 and 90 pounds can start with a 28-inch bat going up to a 32-inch bat if they are also over 5-feet in height.

It’s probably a good idea to measure your child’s bat range both with height and weight and see if they have a common thread where you know you are getting the correct bat for them undoubtedly. And while these are terrific starting points, the ultimate factor will be having your child actually swing the bat and get a good feel if they are comfortable handling the bat before you commit to it.

Bat Material

Most baseball leagues and starter teams use aluminum bats. Professionals and very specific leagues use wood bats; otherwise you probably can’t go wrong with aluminum. If you’re looking for non-wood bats here are some choices:

• Alloy – made completely with aircraft-grade alloys

• Composite – made of composite fibers

• Half and Half – handle is made of composite and barrel made with aluminum, alloy or hybrid

• Hybrid – made of two different materials, such as alloy and carbon

Composite bats are different from alloy in that their hits sound more like a wood bat, and once they are broken in they are able to surpass the ability of standard alloy bats. The break-in period before a composite bat reaches its optimal performance is such that a player should hit roughly 200-300 real leather baseballs while rotating the barrel of the bat so that the barrel’s surface gets broken in. These are more expensive bats, but after getting broken in, they will be worth the extra price.

As your child gets older and joins a league, it is good to research what requirements their specific league has. Most leagues to have specific bat requirements and restrictions, so before you spend the money make sure you know kinds of bats to be looking for.

By Christopher Douglas Donohue


Article Source:

Choosing a Baseball Glove

Choosing A Baseball Glove

Choosing A Baseball Glove
By Christopher Douglas Donohue

Choosing a baseball glove can be a daunting task. The glove must not only fit well, but also be functional for the position it is going to be used for. Before purchasing a glove, the player must know what position they will be playing, as different gloves are suited to different positions.

In deciding between a right-handed or left-handed glove, players keep their dominant hand free so they can throw the baseball, therefore the non-dominant hand will be the one wearing the glove.

Sizing the glove

Measuring your hand size is a good start to figuring out what glove is right for you. Use a measuring tape and measure from the tip of your middle finger to the base of your palm. Youth gloves typically measure between 8 and 11 inches, and adult sizes range from 12 to 14 inches.

Measuring for the fitting of a glove involves beginning at the top of the index finger of the glove and measuring down the finger along the inside of the pocket and then out to the heel of the glove. Most gloves have stamped their pre-measured size on the inside of the pocket. Standard sizes range from 9-inches to 13-inches.

Beginners and kids should take advantage of using a smaller glove that offers more safety and additional control. Youth gloves are constructed with shorter, more narrow finger stalls and a tighter wrist closure. Youth gloves by position are offered in the following sizes:

• T-Ball: 9-10″

• Infield: 10-11.75″

• Pitcher: 11.5-12.25″

• Outfield: 11.5-12.25″

Adult gloves are regulated so that pitchers, infield and outfield players are not allowed to use a glove bigger than 12.75″. The standards for those positions are listed below.

• Infield: 11.25-12″

• Pitcher: 11.75-12.25″

• Outfield: 12.5-12.75″

Women’s leagues include fast pitch and slow pitch games. Women’s gloves are specially designed for smaller fingers and offer larger pockets to better catch a bigger ball, or softball. These gloves are still sized by position.

• T-ball: 9-10″

• Youth Infield: 10-11.5″

• Youth Pitcher: 11.5-12″

• Youth Outfield: 11.5-12″

• Women’s Infield: 11.5-12.5″

• Women’s Pitcher: 12-12.5″

• Women’s Outfield: 13-14″

And finally, men’s slow pitch gloves are designed with a larger pocket for the bigger ball, and are also longer than a regular baseball glove. The standard sizes are listed below.

• Infield: 12-12.5″

• Pitcher 12-12.5″

• Outfield: 13-14″


Once you’ve found the proper size glove for your hand, there are still more features to think about. Quality, feel and durability are all factors that are affected by the material the glove is made from. A cheaper material such as synthetic leather is fine for a youth player who will likely grow out of their glove in a year or two. However, an adult player may choose to invest in a more expensive, higher quality glove made from real leather, and will probably last a very long time.


Gloves have different appearances and features by position as well. Catchers use a fingerless mitt that has heavy padding and a claw-like shape to help catch the pitches without getting hurt. Pitchers use gloves that often have closed webbing to help hide their grip on the ball. First basemen have long and wide gloves specifically geared toward scooping balls up from the ground. There is also a shallower pocket to allow the ball to be retrieved more quickly. Infielders use a five-fingered glove with open webbing that allows the ball to scooped up while letting the dirt fall through when fielding balls. Outfielders have deeper pockets to catch fly balls.

Although the type of glove is largely dictated by hand size and field position, there is still a component left up to personal preference. It’s a good idea to try on several gloves that will fit your hand and are good for your position, but are made of different materials. If at all possible, try catching a few balls with the gloves at the sporting goods store so you can see how it handles. See which one feels the best and fits within your budget, and enjoy your glove for the length of your relationship together.

By Christopher Douglas Donohue

Article Source:

Five More Things Youth Baseball Coaches Should Practice But Don’t

Five More Things Youth Baseball Coaches Should Practice But Don’t

Five More Things Youth Baseball Coaches Should Practice But Don’t
By Marty Schupak

In my first Baseball Chronicles book, one of my most popular articles in terms of feedback was “Four Things Coaches Should Practice But Don’t.”

The four things I mentioned were: Pitchers not practicing fielding from the mound, catching a foul ball near a fence, players not sliding and practicing fielding wild pitches or passed balls. Reading some of the feedback I got, many of the readers were a little misconstrued about my point. There must be hundreds of things we coaches should practice, but don’t. I just picked four of them that I see coming up year after year. So keeping with the spirit of practicing rather than just telling your players, here are five more things that come up over and over again that most coaches do not practice or go over.

1) Calling timeout. About once every couple of years I witness a runner sliding into second and he either gets up without calling time out or calls time out and it is not acknowledged it by the umpire. A smart infielder will put his glove with the ball in it on the baserunner as he gets up from his slide. And he gets called out when he slips off the base if only for a moment or assumes he has time. We have to teach our young players that calling time out in organized sports is a lot different than calling a timeout in one’s own backyard. Coaches should practice having their players slide into a base, then call “time out” with the coach playing umpire. The coach should purposely not acknowledge the time out right away keeping the baserunner on the ground. Each and every player should go through this at least once.

It is the same situation when the batter asks for time. Coaches should also practice this teaching players not to step out of the batter’s box until the umpire gives them time.

2) Rundowns with too many throws. I’m obsessed with this. We practice rundowns almost once a week. Many youth baseball coaches teach to run the runner back to the base they came from. I take the pro-active approach that rundowns are a gift to the defensive team and you have to come away with the out. The ideal number of throws is none. And after that, I teach my players that the ball should not be thrown more than once. I use the term “sprint mode” and teach my players once you get the runner into this sprint mode, it is hard for him to stop and change directions and that is when we take our one and only throw. This has to be practiced.

3) Baserunners Stopping At First. We see it all the time. A player will hit a slow grounder and run to first base only to stop right at the base like the base is a wall thus slowing himself up being called out when if he ran through the base he would have beaten it out for a base hit. We tell our team to run through first base but how many of us take time to practice this? This is one of the easiest things to do and when you practice this, it will stick in the player’s head. Set up a cone ten feet past first base and have your team get in one line. On the “go” command they run one at a time and sprint past the base up to the cone. Simple but it works and must be practiced even with your best baserunners.

4) Covering 1st On Grounder To Right Side. Another one of my obsessions. Ever see a youth baseball game when the ball is hit to the right side of the infield and the pitcher stays frozen on the mound? This can have a manager get gray during the course of the day. We practice this giving each pitcher a chance from the mound. He simulates a pitch and I will throw a grounder between the first and second baseman. The pitcher has to run off the mound to cover first. A key here is to make sure the pitcher hits the first base line about 6-10 feet before the base then turn it up toward the base. Whoever fields the baseball must lead the first baseman with the baseball. This should be practiced with a baserunner simulating game conditions.

5) Bunting at high pitches. Every player who plays for me in our league knows that we bunt a lot. Each and every player must become proficient bunters during the course of the season. We even practice bunting with two strikes a strategy most baseball purists will frown upon. We are always changing our bunt signs to make sure the opponents are not picking it up. Even with all this practicing, it drives me nuts when a player is given the bunt sign and on the next pitch, it is above his shoulders and he offers at it anyway. So now the batter is putting himself in the hole with one strike on a ball outside of the strike zone and the other team knows we are bunting. Coaches must tell these young ball players that when they are given the bunt sign, it does not mean they have to bunt at all costs. We want them to bunt at balls in the strike zone. This must be told to the players and practiced. We practice bunting a lot in batting practice and whichever coach is throwing, I tell them to throw balls out of the strike zone. So we are practicing having my players recognize buntable balls and pulling their bats back if the ball is out of the strike zone. Coaches need to practice this.

I mentioned in my first Baseball Chronicles that practices are the place to teach and games are the place to reinforce what is taught. I don’t know of any other formula that is the most effective to the majority of young baseball players. Even with practicing many of these mistakes that come up again and again we have to keep reminding ourselves that these players are still kids twelve years old and under.

Marty Schupak has coached youth sports for 25 years. He is the author of 6 baseball books as well as 12 baseball instructional videos. His eBook: Baseball Coaching: A Guide For the Youth coach & Parent is required reading by many leagues around the world. He is also creator of the: 59 Minute Baseball Practice

Article Source:

Do You Need Sports Psychology?

Do You Need Sports Psychology?

Do You Need Sports Psychology?
By Jim Bain

It’s not unusual, in fact it’s becoming the norm in the MLB and other professional sports, for players to consult and work with “mental performance coaches.” I feel I can speak for the majority of these athletes when I say 99% of them wishes they had known and worked on these mental skills much earlier in their careers.

So why did these supreme athletes ignore the benefits of mental performance enhancement, imagery and focus training, to name a few. I don’t believe they ignored it… they weren’t aware of it and that’s our fault not theirs.

Many coaches are mired in the rut of thinking mental performance training shouldn’t be considered until players are much older and only at very high skill levels of play.

I wonder how many young players were never able to reach their full potential due to mental performance issues? And for those who were able to attain higher levels of play in their sport, how many spent more agonizing times than were necessary battling performance issues which could have been alleviated through mental actions.

Even if the kid obviously doesn’t possess the skills to reach high level competition in the sport, the experience will help him in other aspects of his life.

So why would a parent paying big bucks for private lessons, a player putting in exhaustive hours of practice and a coach pouring over films and stats, ignore, or at least not put forth the effort to learn and understand the use and need of sports psychology?

I believe they just don’t know how to overcome a few mental obstacles of their own when dealing with sports psychology. For instance.

Misconception #1 “I don’t need it.”

When players are playing well, in the zone as it’s known, the idea of needing any help, especially mental help, is the farthest thing from their mind. However, if the player was more mature he’d know every player has their ups and downs, and if they could identify and harness the emotions and thoughts they are feeling while playing well, they could call on them for help when the time comes they’re not playing so well.

Misconception #2 “I’m not a freak or something.”

It’s quite unfortunate mental training has somehow become linked or synonymous with being “Mentally Weak,” such as being unable to endure tough times or control your emotions. We know this is a totally False assumption as many elite athletes, tremendously mentally strong, still use sports psychologists on a regular basis.

The issue should be viewed from a different perspective. Why do MLB players continuously work with a batting coach? Their game is not “weak or broken”. They work with a coach so they can continue to improve, and to maintain their competitive edge.

So be it with athletes who seek the services of sport psychologists, as they want to improve their mental skills.

Misconception #3 “I don’t get nervous- I’m mentally prepared at all times.”

There are athletes that actually don’t get nervous, but that’s no indication they are mentally prepared. They may suffer in other areas such as dwelling on mistakes, lack of focus, playing as well as they practiced, frustration issues, and being “prepared.”

So nerves aren’t an issue, big deal. Most players who say they are mentally prepared, if asked, could not list the steps they take before a game or any specific techniques they use. While an athlete may think he’s prepared, they often have no concrete plan to deal with both positive and negative events.

Misconception #4 “I already talk to my kid about thinking positively, why do I need someone else to do that?

Congratulation for realizing the importance of positive thinking, and it is imperative that parents are involved in helping formulate the techniques their kids are learning, however kids often tend to listen to other people before their parent. Sorry, but that’s the way of the world.

To sooth your feelings one must remember there is no single technique or modality that works well for all athletes, for all issues. Just as the field of medicine has various specialties to address various issues that patients present, sports psychology is similar. A professional has learned an array of interventions that can be customized to adapt to the wide variety of psychological issues athletes face at every level of the game.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player and member of “Baseball Coaches of America” shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

Be sure to check out his 2 books on Amazon, “The Pitch” and “Season of Pain”. Great reading about baseball.

Article Source: