This week, there were excellent tips on hitting, fielding, pitching and, although it has nothing to do with improving your softball or baseball skills, an interesting piece on what being a bat boy in the major leagues is like. Here are the top 10 from the past week of baseball and softball articles, videos and podcasts ...
Kids & Curveballs - Should kids throw curveballs? At what age? Will throwing curveballs at a young age increase the likelihood of an arm injury? Why do some kids who throw curves seem to get injured at a higher rate? These questions and more are answered during the Eric Cressey podcast with Christian Wonders. Most important, Christian explains how he goes about teaching young pitchers to throw curves and at what age, discussing various drills and practices he teaches before ever letting a youngster throw one in a live game.
Getting Perfectly Loaded - There are lots of different stances hitters use but the one thing that all great hitters have in common is being perfectly loaded before attacking a pitch. Matt Antonelli explains what a good loaded position is, what many hitters do wrong and some tips for getting in the perfectly loaded position.
How the Count Influences Strike Zone Locations - Last week, Dan Blewett went into great detail about what pitches hitters should be swinging at, based on the count. Although he discusses that briefly in this video, the majority of it is what locations that pitchers should be throwing to at various counts.
Want to be a Major League Bat Boy? It's a Lot more Work Than You Think! - Sure, hanging out with the players and being right there on the field every game sounds great and is a reason why so many kids would love to be the bat by for their home team. A bat boy does a whole lot more than what you see on the field and is probably far more work than many kids would ever want to do. Learn a whole lot of things you probably never knew about the role of a bat boy in John LaLoggia's article, "The real life of an MLB bat boy".
How to Hit More Hard Liners - Although the current trend in hitting instruction seems to be all about hitting home runs, as Dan Blewett explained in the video, above, the most precious commodity in baseball is outs. Every at bat you make that does not result in an out is one more runner and potential run for your team. In this video, Coach Justin shows you how to hit more line drives, which often turn into extra base hits and sometimes even homers.
Fielding Grounders - Butt Up or Butt Down? - We've all seen coaches that tell players to keep their butt down when fielding grounders. Matt Antonelli explains why this is the exact opposite of what you should be doing and why you need to have a butt up approach to ground balls.
Interview with Adam Ottavino - It's always interesting, listening to interviews with players who made it to the big leagues, finding out about their journeys. In this Eric Cressey interview, New York Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino talks about his curveball, why his ERA actually got better in the big leagues, his approach with hitters, the lessons he learned while sitting out during Tommy John surgery, what he does to distinguish his slider from his cutter and more.
Hitting 101 - I love it when people put out a back to basics article or video on pretty much anything baseball. It's so easy to gradually pick up bad habits and lose the core of your swing. Returning to the basics almost always is the cure for busting a slump. In this video, Lucas Cook takes you through his six steps of an ideal swing - stance, load, heel, hips, knob and barrel. Put all six of those together, and you'll have much more consistent results.
Upper Body Training for Barrel Turn - Getting the barrel of the ball turned on time and on the correct plane is the key to solid contact. In his "Turn Behind the Turn" drill, Chas Pippitt shows you a simple way of keeping your upper body in the proper position for optimum barrel turn.
Always Missing the Big Plays - Coaching young players can be very rewarding. Getting thanks from them and their parents after all of their hard work pays off is certainly rewarding enough. Even better, is seeing their progress in a real game. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Often, players seem to choke when their instructors show up to watch them in a live game. Ken Krause laments that in his article, "Seems Like I Never Get to See the Good Stuff".