Monthly Archives: February 2014

Throw & Catch

Throwing and catching a baseball. It is about the most fundamental baseball skill there is. It is also probably one of the most ignored. It is one of my baseball coaching, check that, it’s one of my biggest, most grating-on-my-last-nerve, plain coaching any sport, pet peeves.

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Baseball is generally broken down into three major parts: Pitching, Fielding, and Batting. In case you didn’t notice, throwing and catching a baseball comprise two of those three major parts.

Pitching is throwing to a catcher, right? And fielding on defense is catching baseballs and throwing baseballs. Like I said, skills that encompasses 66.66% of the game.  In my opinion, being able to throw and catch a baseball are the most vital skills you can possess as a team, or as an individual.

Poor catching and throwing often means poor baseball skill, which often translates to poor quality of team. As a player, take pride in how your throw and catch a baseball. As a coach, take pride in how each player of your team throws and catches a baseball.

Nothing puts a burr in my backside faster than watching a baseball team warm up before a game and seeing the ball hit the grass more than it hits gloves. Nothing is more embarrassing as a coach, than to watch your team running around the outfield chasing baseballs in some sort of demented circus routine. I’ve pulled teams off the field in pregame and pre-practice before due to playing chase, instead of catch.

Learn to throw and learn to catch. Find help if you need it.

For the coaches, hold the line and be firm and consistent from day one. Demand that your team throws and catches a baseball appropriate to their level. The simplest, single thing you can do to make your baseball team more successful is to improve throwing and catching a baseball.

Here is my basic coaching and teaching plan:

Daily Throwing
Focus on every throw and catch.
Consistency – Hit your partner in the torso with every throw.
Mechanics:

  • 4 seam grip
  • Throwing Arm -Elbow above shoulder, wrist outside of elbow,  hand with ball pointing back.
  • Lead Arm – Shoulder and elbow pointing at target.
  • Front Foot – Slightly open with outside stepping to target

Throwing (5-6 throws from each distance)

  • 30 feet apart
  • 60 feet apart
  • 90 feet apart
  • 120 feet apart (Long Toss = Builds arm strength)
  • Sprint to 30 feet for 5 quick throws

Catching

  • Keep it simple with a soft glove to the ball. Go and get it.
  • Where you glove goes, your off hand follows.

Take pride in your throwing and catching skills. Work on it every day. Focus and concentrate when you play catch. Talk, joke, or have all the fun you want, but remember the focus needs to stay on throwing and catching the ball.

Never forget this: If you can effectively throw and catch a baseball, you will be competitive in every game.

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Cultivate Hope

Hope. It’s big. It’s one of those things that make us human, one of those things that drive us. Hope helps us get out of bed every day to face our challenges.

As a coach, the most important thing I can do for the kids in the program is to cultivate hope. I want to sow an environment with an expectation and a desire for a certain thing to happen, a goal to obtain, i.e. HOPE. Show up every day, to every practice, every meeting, every game dealing hope. Make this hope permeate everything we do as a team and as a program.

And this is not just important for coaches to deal in hope. It’s even more important for:

  • Teachers
  • Writers
  • Political leaders
  • Manager
  • Supervisors
  • CEO’s

Anybody who leads people needs to radiate hope. It doesn’t matter if you deal with one person or one hundred people, cultivate hope. It doesn’t even matter if you are just dealing with your own self, be hopeful.

I’ve seen hopeless. I’ve seen the hopelessness settle into a long losing streak or miserable season. I’ve seen the dull, lifeless eyes of hopelessness standing on a mid-afternoon street corner passing a bottle. The hopelessness which exists in poverty, substance abuse, mental abuse, and physical abuse.

The black cloud of hopelessness works to settle over our world on a daily basis. Hopelessness with the sole purpose to suck the life and energy from us. It is up to us as leaders to wage war on hopelessness by cultivating hope in everything we do.

Everyone, especially young people, need someone to believe they can do whatever task stands in front of them. They need hopeful eyes to help them see the person they can be. They need a ray of hope to help them fight the black clouds which follow them waiting for an open space to inhabit.

Hope is cheap.
Hope is infectious.
Hope is a super power.
Sow it, cultivate it, and spread it.

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Gladly Eat Crow

Dear Sports Parent,

Your kid will not turn pro. Your kid will be very fortunate to even get an opportunity to play in college.

The numbers do not lie.

  • Baseball: 11.6% of college players play professionally, 0.6% of high school players do.
  • Football: 1.7% of college players play professionally, 0.08% of high school players do.
  • Men’s basketball: 1.2% of college players play professionally, 0.03% of high school players do.

…And for women, the numbers are just as bad, or even worse.

  • Women’s basketball: 0.9% of college players play professionally, 0.03% of high school players do.

(Numbers from Business Insider. They note these numbers may be a little low since they include only professional opportunities in the United State, but as they say, “But either way, the chances are really, really small.)

I will gladly eat crow if your particular child overcomes the statistics. I will gladly celebrate a kid who has the drive and tenacity, perseverance and discipline, to do what it takes all day, every day to make the above scenarios come true.

Who wouldn’t want to see it?

No matter, follow this advice on being a sports parent Coach Paul Lane put into our team handbook for the football parents. He is a wise man.

  • Be your child’s biggest fan.
  • They don’t need you as a personal trainer.
  • They don’t need you as a personal coach.
  • They don’t need you as their agent.
  • They  need you to be their biggest fan.

Support.

Lift.

Drive.

Feed.

Care.

Do these things because they are your kid and they need your support. It needs to be all about them, not about you.

Show them the joy of playing sports.

Share with them the joy of sports.

Show them an appreciation for hard work.

Show them you appreciate their team work.

This parent/child relationship is the most important (and most undervalued) relationship in sports.

Be your kid’s biggest fan. Please.

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