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Coach Andy's Hitting E-zine, #49 - Coaching Baseball
March 14, 2008
I'm now coaching baseball for a little league team
It's been 6 years since I've been coaching baseball or softball for an individual team. I've spent most of my time giving private lessons, doing clinics, and devoting time to you my readers in the hopes of helping kids and adults be better hitters in baseball, fastpitch softball, and slo-pitch.
I have coached many, many teams in the past 35 years, high school, travel, little league, girls' fastpitch, adult slo-pitch and so I think I have a perspective on how you and your kids would get better.
I think as a coach you have to know your strengths and weaknesses. I know one of my weaknesses is taking on teams too young for me to see my coaching pay off on game day. You know what I'm talking about if you are asking yourself "Didn't we just go over that in practice? What were they thinking?"
That's why I told my son I wouldn't coach his team until he turned 11 or 12. Well guess what he reminded of this year when he turned 11? :)
If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always gotThe above quote is credited to W. L. Bateman who may or may not know anything about coaching baseball or softball, but it does apply to how you coach practices and how you approach getting better as a player and a team.
What I've found over the years is that most coaches make practices so boring that kids quit, not because the game isn't great but because it doesn't hold their interest and they can't get better quick enough to get to those next levels where it seems to be that the better kids are having all the fun, all-stars, high school team, etc.
So you can imagine, I don't do things the normal way.
Here's the typical practice - Coach pitches to one batter, there may be a kid warming up to be the next batter, players in their fielding positions, one catcher (maybe), extra kids are scattered through the outfield, most all of the kids standing around waiting for that one ball to come to them, then maybe practice throwing it to first or to 2nd base. This takes an hour to 1 1/2 hours with each kid getting 10 - 20 swings, each fielder getting 5 - 6 balls during that time. Then they gather everyone else up and work on their infield and outfield practice hitting to each one one-at-a-time waiting until the play is completed, while the other 9 - 12 stand around and watch that play (maybe they use some kids as runners, which is better than not having extra kids involved).
Let's see how we might improve on that.
Our practices take a little heads up on the part of the players because we'll get 2 - 3 balls going at the same time, but I guarantee you no one is getting bored and we get in 2 - 3 times the number of fielding chances for each player in the same amount of time.
Here's how we do it: 1) While we're working infield drills we have an extra coach, parent or kid either hit or throw fly balls to the kids in the outfield. Easton has a sling shot device that is in the sporting goods stores for $30 that even any untrained parent can used to loft the ball up for fly ball drills. 2) We hit the typical grounder to 3rd who throws it to 1st, but instead of watching the ball all the way from the bat, to 3rd, to 1st, back to home, we hit a 2nd ball about as the first baseman is receiving the ball and ready to throw home, then the first baseball has to release their throw and start looking for the next throw. 3) When the outfielders are getting their practice on hits to them and throws to 2nd, we have a parent, coach or kid roll or hit grounders to the 1st and 3rd basemen. (and when the throws are to home or 3rd, we're working out the other kids) 4) You can also warm up a pitcher and catcher off to the side.
For hitting, what a God send the Retractoball has been for us. We have 5 or 6 of them and train the kids how to toss it to one another so that we can get each kid about 30 swings apiece in 10 - 20 minutes vs. the 10 - 20 swings in 1 1/2 hours the old way.
For more information about the Retract-O-Ball - http://www.theinternethittingcoach.com/retractoball.html
Another great tool I use for a stand alone batting station is the personal pitcher. It's portable, runs for 2 hours on a battery charge, and pitches golfball whiffles at any speed you need and even throws curves if your kids will be seeing those. You can google the personal pitcher and if you buy from someone else please use the code "TIHC" (or tell them you heard about it from The Internet Hitting Coach) or I have a page with my best recommendation and at a special price - http://www.theInternetHittingCoach.com/personal-pitcher.html
Other Coaching Baseball TipsBack to why do things we've always done, I took a page out of football practices - "Hell Week" and Swimming practices (or at least in our area) - early morning practices and combined them for 5 days in a row having practice (the week before opening day) from 6:45 a.m. to 7:30 (with all the techniques mentioned above to get in lots of practice hitting, fielding and throwing).
We finished on Friday with a Tee-ball game for the kids rotating teams of 3 giving them each two at bats each round and got in 2 times around the 4 teams in that time (it can be done if you train them to hustle and outline positions in advance for them to go to. They hadn't played tee-ball in 5 years but had a blast, but certainly got everyone fielding on their toes and worked lots of situations for defensive work.
My Best Coaching Baseball TipI actually do this all on one practice a week, because I firmly believe if you truly want to be better as a player, you need to get private one on one batting, pitching, and/or position training from a really good coach who knows how to draw the most out of the kids and motivates them to practice on their own each day (or at least 5 - 6 days a week). Team practices are for just that - team - practice and if that's all your kids are getting then they are getting what they've always gotten and will get only as good as the other kids that are doing the same thing.
So I encourage them to get this training on their own, as I would encourage you to get (or continue getting).
Fortunately my kids have access to such a resource, but what do you do if you don't?
You've got to seek it out. Go to the high schools, colleges, batting cages and ask around.
Also, it is for these reasons I'm trying to get together with some videographers to put together video lessons and put them available on the internet for less than I'd charge for individual lessons.
If you're interested in private lessons from me and are in or near Ventura, CA at any time, please call me - 805-642-5827 or I'd love to have you hit reply to this e-mail right now and tell me a few thoughts you have on how I might be able to help you with these video lessons ideas or anything else (maybe if for no other reason than to let me know you read the newsletter all the way to the end).
Again, if you have any questions or comments you can write to me via e-mail.
To see other hitting tips in past newsletters, go to the past issues of my hitting newsletter page.
Welcome to you who are new to my hitting e-zine.
Thanks for reading and talk to you next time.
6801 Dove St. Ventura, CA 93003
Coach Andy Collins has been helping players achieve their goals in softball and baseball for over 30 years. He's an advisor to national teams and can help you be a better hitter. He offers free information on his website www.theInternetHittingCoach.com and through free e-mail hitting lessons and has just introduced a new hitting video discussing and demonstrating how to hit great with either the rotational or linear hitting methods. http://www.theinternethittingcoach.com/hitting-video.html
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