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SportNut

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  1. SportNut

    Coaching A Ball Next Year

    This is a good question and many parent / coaches struggle with it, including myself when my kids were at that age (6 to 12 yr olds). I think it is important to realize that the parent / coaches child will develop more in a season than probably any other player on the team. Why? Because they are always the first one to the field, the last one to leave, and are at every practice. Therefore, they will get more bp reps and more fielding reps in practices than any other player. Their skill improvement will just naturally happen throughout the season because of the amount of time they are at the field. I think it is important for every youth coach to realize is that only one or two on any under-12 team will play high school baseball. Kids just drop the sport for some other activity or naturally leave because they cannot master the necessary baseball skills. The challenge is: you don't know who the 1 or 2 kids will be because their interest change quickly and they physically mature at different ages. Small kids at 8 can become powerfull hitters at 15. Weak arm, poor mechanic throwers can catch the baseball bug and put the time in to develop their arm strength and mechanics. My advice would be to make it fun for all players and focus on the fundamentals. Hopefully, you will be one of the rare and lucky coaches that will have 3 players from your team playing varisty high school baseball. Interestly, I did a lot of what Coach Larry recommends. I have two 120 min mandatory practices and one 120 min "optional" practice per week. In each practice we worked on both fielding and hitting. Occasionally, during the second half of the season, I would run a 6-on-6 scrimmage where I divided up the team and parents helped play field positions. I found this was a nice break from the practice routine. After the first 3 or 4 practice at the begining of the season, I would ask the parents to come over to the team huddle and I would give my play time speech. My playtime rules were: if your son/daughter comes prepared to practice (ie., brings their glove) and give me 110% effort then he will play at least half the game. I would then ask every parent if they understood what was required to "earn" playtime and if they would support my playtime rule. I would watch to make sure every parent agreed. If not, I would have an offline discussion with them to address any of their concerns. I stuck by this rule. If a player was disruptive or lazy, the first time I would quietly tell him his attitutude could effect his play time. The second practice he was disruptive, I would call the parents, explain the situation, and invite them to participate in the next several practice as a volunteer. This way they saw the situation first hand, had an opportunity to address it with their child, and, if neccessary, completely understood why their child was getting reduced play time. My batting line changed a little every game, but it was put together this way: - top couple of batters were the fastest runners with high on base percentage - middle of the line up was the power hitters - bottom of the order was filled in with the rest of the players I would identify one or two infield positions that each player could play and I would practice them in that position. Every player practiced in the outfield. This fielding rotation happened every practice. During the game, I would rotate every position every 1 and 2 innings, except pitcher and catcher. If a pitcher was throwing strikes then we let him pitch a little longer. For catcher, I could never find more than two kids who could block the ball on any team so I would let them stay in that spot for a few extra innings. During the game, every player would play at least one inning in the infield and one inning in the outfield. In the first and third or fourth game of the season, my child was the first one to sit out (I told my son this was going to happen so he was prepared). I did this to reinforce my playtime commitment to the parents. What I found was that parents stopped counting player innings when I did this and I stopped having to deal with the "behind the scenes snide comments" that can destory the team chemistry. Hope this helps Brian http://baseball.youth-athlete.org
  2. SportNut

    Batting Cage

    I used http://cagesplus.com/ I live in the NorthEast so I take mine down in November and set it up every April. It will take about 1hr to set up using two adults. The owner recommends using EMT (electrical metal tubing) which is light weight. Use EMT. Initally, I was concerned with using light weight tubing because I thought it wouldn't last, fall when a ball hit it, or tip over in high winds. After six years of use, none of these concerns have ever happened. Truth be told, using a heavier metal like galvanized steel makes the cage too heavy to be portable (galvanized steel works great for cages that you cement into the ground). I also purchased a Bata-2 pitching machine from him. Six years ago, he had the best prices on this machine that I could find. My twins were 10yr olds at the time and I debated whether I wanted a 1 wheel or 2 wheel machine. Choosing the 2 wheel machine was a great decision because, now that they are playing high school ball, legion, and tournament ball, the machine can throw fast balls, off-speed / knuckle balls, and curve balls. What I do is pitch a couple rounds of fastballs for warm-up swings, a special type of pitch that they need to work on like curve, and then back to fast balls to rebuild their confidence at the end. Several parents thought I was nuts buying a backyard cage and pitching machine when my kids were so young (10 yr olds), but six years later they still hit in the cage 3 to 4 times per week from April to November. As you can guess, they are pretty tough outs at the plate. More importantly, they have developed confidence in themselves, not just in baseball, but in their whole life as they have learned that regular and consistent practice can lead to success. Best Wishes Brian http://baseball.youth-athlete.org
  3. SportNut

    Youth Baseball Bats

    I would agree with sportbunch. Buy a cheap bat and use the extra money to buy baseballs so you could then take your son to the local park and pitch to him. My experience from coaching youth baseball and softball for almost 20 season now, the best hitters are not determine by the type of bat they take to the plate but by the amount pitches a parent threw to the child outside of practice. Good luck with your season. Brian http://baseball.youth-athlete.org
  4. SportNut

    Big Barrell Or Not?...composite Or Aluminum?

    Actually, for young baseball players (less than 13 yrs of age), you want to stay with the 2 1/4" barrel for two reasons: 1. Most, if not all, leagues have rules regulating the barrel size. Up to 12 yrs, the barrel size is 2 1/4", no drop limitations. For 13 and 14yr olds, typically a Sr League or transition bat is used which is the big barrel (2 5/8") with a drop of 5 or 7. For high school players, the rules require a drop of 3 or less, big barrel bats are allowed. Please check your league rules, but I would expect for an 8 yr old the barrel is required to be 2 1/4". Drop is the difference between bat length and bat weight. Say the bat is 30" and weighs 20oz, then the drop is 10 2. Probably more important than 1) is that a big barrel bat "end loads" the bat weight. This means that the distribution of weight of the bat is toward the hitting end of the bat (away from the handle). With more weight distributed at the hitting end, the bat requires more core strength to generate bat speed and stronger arm muscles to bring the hand directly to the ball. If the player doesn't have the proper strength, they will cast their hands that will lead to improper swinging mechanics. When a player casts, their hands make a big loop during the swing instead of going directly to the ball. If this isn't clear, please look at http://blog.youth-athlete.org/page/Hitting-Mechanics.aspx for a description of the proper hitting mechanics. To determine the correct weight and length for your son, I would suggest going to a batting cage and have him try a few of the bats available. When he is in the cage, watch that his hands go directly to the ball (it doesn't matter if he hits the ball or not, that comes with practice). Try again with slightly heavier or longer bat. Keep doing this until he finds a length / weight combination he likes and he maintains the proper form. Hope this helps Brian http://baseball.youth-athlete.org
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