While rain and baseball never go hand in hand – there actually are some benefits to the wintery, wet conditions. When it rains, unless you play in a dome, baseball, specifically in the Bay Area, comes to a stop….or does it?
Now that the role is reversed and I’m no longer the player yearning for extra BP (batting practice) or on the field ground balls, I understand the importance of gym days. It forces us coaches to push a pause on the fast life of the season and gives time to the important components of the game that can go untaught or better neglected…
Some quick and easy things to remember of those rainy gym days:
-Get your players in the weight room (They don’t need to pump large amounts. Let’s encourage them to use lower weight and higher reps – encouraging a good warm up routine with stretch bands, abdominal work to accompany them during the season).
-Great time to go over signs and defensive schemes (bunt D, pick offs)
-Don’t be afraid to go back to the fundamentals with everything emphasizing foot work and proper approach to fielding ground balls & fly balls.
Remember – small work is just as important as live BP and game situations…enhance what you say in the gym out on the field.
Click on the link above to check on the concept of getting the back side through the zone. Notice that many of the hitters are actually using their lower half to torque the rest of the body (hands) through…this keeps our motion on a linear path towards the baseball.
Yes, many of these hitters are power hitters, hence, the homework derby – however – guys like Cano and Ortiz are actually good hitters as well.
Yesterday was the last day of the Berkeley Fall Ball clinics. While it’s going to be nice to have some time off – working with them 3 times a week was pretty fun. There’s a couple of players out there…we will see if they put in the necessary work to make something out of their talents…(we have all seen players year after year with talent – but it takes much more).
We decided that we would run our last day as a scout/mock try out day. We kept their times, and discussed with them the mindset of scouts or anyone else assessing you, and what we as players need to be ready for.
After they stretched out – we split them into 3 teams: 1 team ran the 60 yard dash, the second team ran home to first (both times we recorded and they had about 5 minutes to run it as many times as they could/wanted) and our last group soft tossed. Each group had 5-10 minutes and then they rotated so that all players had equal time at each station.
After that round we put them all together and had them do a long infield/outfield where they threw to every base a couple of times. This is always a time that’s rather boring but if in a game you don’t get a ball your way – it’s the only time a coach/scout/whoever can see your arm (let it all go!).
After infield/outfield we put them back in the 3 teams and had them scrimmage for about 40 minutes. Each batter started with a 1-1 count and each team got 4 outs.
As practice was going on each coach took the time to let them know how their mental approach should be at each station. When a group came from soft toss – they needed to take every opportunity to get loose. Some camps won’t look out for the player’s health and they must learn early to get yourself ready to give %100. No excuses – control what you can. Same goes for players who ran to first then had to run a 60. Good thing is that they’re loose but they may be fatigued — how quickly can you bring your heart rate down…
Our hopes were by getting a glimpse of what it’s like, come spring/late winter, they will be ready for try outs (they’ll know what to expect!).
I co-run baseball fall ball clinics for local high schools. It lasts for about a 12 wks and the purpose is to receive baseball instruction and repitition during the off-season. The players have games on the weekends and spend 3 days during the week working with us.
Yesterday the agenda was at 6-7pm (optional defensive work) and at 7-8pm (optional hitting)…Tuesdays and Thursdays are the preferred days that all players come. Getting to my story – yesterday for optional fielding only one students showed up. I was fairly surprised – these kids need work! I was happy that the one player was actually a first baseman – freshman, large frame but very “raw.” Who knows where he’ll end up in 4 years but as of now, he’s truly a freshman (a big freshman).
Yesterday we worked on footwork while turning two – playing behind the runner. Many young players make all infield play two fold – first they field the ball flat footed then make a jump turn to exchange and throw. At this point there has to be a transition where they are making this play in one motion…speeding up their side of it giving the middle infielder a chance to make a play. The key for young first baseman is the round the ball and plant your left foot slightly in from of the right as you are fielding so that your body is in position to make that turn and throw (with momentum towards your target)…His ability to mimick increased – I think it says something about his ethic that he put in the work. I asked him about his classes and grades…he has a 4.0 and is taking Algebra Trig already — I think he’s got the right mind frame. Whether or not that transitions to success in baseball, his work ethic is off to a good start.
Oh Yeah….at 7pm — 11 players showed up to hit. If you can’t play in the field – you won’t be hitting. High school DH’s don’t last long.
Working with these freshman players is pretty fun but it’s also petty challenging. Besides the obvious, many aren’t very good, many are physically just 9th graders. All the developmental stuff you know either will work in their favor or they’ll be finding another sport to play.
What I hate is that fact that some players just aren’t “there” yet – but who knows what they might be in a couple of years…how can you buy time as a coach?
Holding tryouts and determining your team is a tall order. There are the obvious no-doubters who make the squad but what about the player who is fundamentally sound yet they may not be ready for the big field yet?
What I look for when I’m assessing talent is their make up. How well do they present themselves off of initial contact? From their hat down to their shoes. Then I look at how they throw and catch (can they do those basics with a purpose?). More important than their results is their approach – both defensively and offensively. Are they shifting from pitch to pitch, player to player. Are they thinking about pitch sequence or situational hitting if need be.
Now I know that these are just 9th graders…but now is when the game becomes real. Technically they can compete with 18yr olds and they have to be able to hang. For you players out there, learn the game — observations, questions, and experience will tell/teach you a lot. Trust what you see and feel is instinctual. From a coach and educators perspective, we can always live with players making aggressive errors – shows us they’re confident and decisive. But there’s little tolerance for uncertainty and fear to mess up.
I’m happy Ron Wash is going back! He deserves it and his team is hitting like crazy! I wouldn’t really want to play them right now…they’re hot. Oh yeah, and why couldn’t the A’s hire him again?
Anyway, now it’s time to watch who they’re going to play – I’ll say the Cards…their poise is pretty special.