Archive for Coaching Tips and Drills
YOUTH BASEBALL THROWING CONCEPTS
- Use a four-seam grip whenever throwing to a teammate on defense.
- Grip the ball lightly in the fingers, not in the palm, as if holding an egg.
- Grip the ball with two fingers, laying the index and middle fingers next to the “horseshoe and across the seams.
- Younger players with smaller hands can use three fingers.
- Space the index and middle fingers slightly apart to minimize “drag” on the ball.
- Place the thumb under the ball; the thumb should not “creep” up alongside the ball.
- Remove the ball from the glove and take it down, out, and up to a position pointing away from the target. (This is a small circular motion.)
- Shift weight to back foot as arm goes back away from target.
- Keep hand (fingers) on top of the ball, shifting behind the ball as the arm comes forward.
- Keep elbow above the shoulder, forming an “L” as the ball is released.
- Point the front shoulder at the target.
- Step toward the target, transferring weight to front foot.
- Release ball as arm comes forward.
- Continue moving toward target after ball is released.
Introduction to Throwing Fundamentals
Throwing the baseball is another key fundamental skill needed to successfully playing the game of baseball. The game requires players to make long and accurate throws from a variety of positions around the field and those that do it well have a big advantage.
Teams that have all their players capable of making the required throws have a huge advantage over those that struggle in this fundamental skill. Coaches should spend part of every practice teaching fundamental throwing skills to their players and encourage them to throw outside of practice for 15-20 minutes a day.
Players spending 15-20 minutes a day will notice a tremendous amount of improvement in arm strength and accuracy within a few months. Encourage it and discuss the need with your players and parents of those players. It will make all the difference in the world for your team.
Coaches will tell you when they show up to a field to watch a game the players with strong arms stand out immediately. Regardless of the age group strong arms stand out so why not focus on that skill. It will help you tremendously as you continue to higher levels of the game. Professional scouts attending games or practices will immediately notice the strong arms and you can guarantee their attention for the rest of the workout or game.
I’ve heard players say… “I’m not as strong or big as the next player so I can’t throw as hard”. That’s completely wrong….
As a coach at the youth level for over 20 years I can tell you smaller players can out throw bigger athletes if they develop better fundamentals and build arm strength. The biggest, strongest player doesn’t have a leg up on a smaller player because of size alone. Fundamentals make all the difference in the world.
BASEBALL DRILL – “Balance Point”
BEHIND THE DRILL: Balance plays a key role in a pitcher’s accuracy and how effective he can be. When a pitcher completes the leg lift it’s important for him to remain balanced before pressing the foot and entering the stride..
SKILL LEVEL: All Levels
DRILL TYPE: Throwing/Pitching
PURPOSE: This drill is designed to help a pitcher develop good balance during the leg lift.
EQUIPMENT: Nothing specifically required
PLAYERS: Any number of players
TIME: 10 minutes
- Either use the pitching rubber or drop down pitchers mound. You could also line the players up on a foul line.
- Have your players set up from the stretch.
- On coaches command the player is to begin his “leg lift”.
- The knee should go straight up and once raised the toes should be pointing downward toward the ground.
- The pitcher should make what is called the power-turn by rotating slightly away from the target as the knee comes up.
- Have them hold that position for 10 seconds.
- Then press the foot back down to starting position.
- Repeat this for 15-20 repetitions.
KEY COACHING POINTS:
- This is about developing balance so work the drill very slowly.
- If you have players that cannot hold the position for 10 seconds you will need to have a coach or parent hold them up in the correct position.
- This is about developing muscle memory in the players. It requires a lot of repetitions.
- Most young players will not point the toes toward the ground so make sure you move their toes to the correct position so they can feel it.
- You also must make sure they are completing the power turn by rotating slightly away from the target. This is crucial for developing good velocity when the player moves toward the plate with the ball.
Stance / Setup
Keeping things simple is the best thing you can do for amateur pitchers and is the main reason why I encourage them to work from the stretch instead of the wind-up. Balance is always a problem for young pitchers and the wind-up will only make it more difficult to achieve proper balance before the move toward home plate.
Key reasons to have players work from the stretch:
- It’s easy for coaches to teach to young pitchers.
- It’s easy for players to learn.
- It’s less likely to lead to flaws in the delivery.
- Pitchers will be more effective with velocity and control, especially younger players.
- Developing good balance is easy to obtain.
Knee Raise / Balance Point:
The knee raise will start the delivery and is accomplished by raising the front leg straight up to the belt or mid section. The player should be balanced and slightly turned away from the hitter. The hitter should be able to see the pocket from the lead leg on the back of the pitchers pants. The hitter should not be able to see the entire number on his back and if he does the pitcher is making too much of a turn.
During the break the pitcher makes his move toward home plate. The pitcher presses the front foot down as the ball is separated out of the glove and into throwing position.
Landing / Arm Swing
After the pitcher makes his break he will glide/stride into his landing position which is the moment the lead foot plants on the ground.
Extension and Finish
Extending the throwing arm down across the body will ensure there is no deceleration as the pitch is released. It’s very important the pitcher not decelerate prematurely as that will kill the effectiveness he has, especially against a good, well disciplined hitting team.
Note about mechanics: There are countless examples of pitcher’s that deviate from the sound fundamentals presented above. You need to make sure you are not just changing everything a pitcher does if he has been doing it for a while.
What you need to ensure is that he is not binding up at some point during the pitching motion. Is he sore after throwing? Does he have good control and velocity? Based on those answers you can design a plan to improve the results. If you can honestly say he has good control, velocity and not binding up then you should most likely leave them alone. Pitchers at high levels do have mechanical flaws in their delivery so if the pitcher is effective you might just consider leaving it alone; however question whether this flaw will become a problem at higher levels. If you don’t know, get other professional opinions as it’s best to correct these things early on.
If you do decide to make some changes then make sure you are doing one thing at a time. Take it slow and work out the changes over an extended period of time. The slower you progress this the more likely you will effective change the delivery.
Youth Baseball Insider feels the foundation above is the best way to teach pitching to young ball players through the high school level. Start them out early with solid fundamentals and you will create great pitchers that can be highly effective. Hopefully it will also keep injuries to a minimum.
A word about what pitches to teach young players
I teach young players to throw the fast ball along with a good change-up. I feel the risk of injury on young arms is too great to risk throwing anything other than a change-up as a breaking pitch.
The problem is not the breaking pitch itself. It’s how it’s taught or how it’s actually executed by the pitcher that causes the injury risk. You could be the best teacher in the world and know exactly how a curve ball should be thrown but your young pitcher may not be able to execute it properly thus exposing himself to serious injury.
It’s not worth it for young pitchers so I would encourage all coaches to teach your pitchers sound mechanics that will help with velocity and control. Then teach them a regular change-up or the circle change. This combination if handled correctly will make the pitcher very difficult to hit while limiting the risk of injury greatly.
Pitching is very critical to the success of a team as good pitching will usually beat good hitting. Getting prepared is just as important for pitchers as it is for hitters and it’s this training that will drill proper mechanics not to mention it plays a key roll in getting the arm ready for competitive level play and to avoid possible injury.
At the younger age group there are always players that can throw the ball hard enough and accurate enough to get outs regardless of mechanics; but as they get older mechanics take over as the competitions ability levels off. The players with good fundamental pitching mechanics take over and those that don’t have the foundation or at best left behind or worse yet they get injured.
I want to say right now, you as a coach or parent can do a lot of harm to young players if you push them to pitch without proper mechanics. I would even recommend you not just take my word for it either. Get some good advice from a good pitching coaching in your community. There really is no room for error here. Poor mechanics will usually lead to a pitcher being hurt and sometimes very seriously. This is not like breaking an arm or leg that will usually heal just fine. Poor pitching mechanics can lead to very serious elbow and shoulder problems that could disable a player. It’s just not worth it so please commit right now to learn correct fundamental pitching mechanics and drill it into your players or child.
Good mechanics help ensure the pitcher can maximize his velocity and control while reducing the chance of serious injury. I’m providing you with my high level mechanics that I teach young players but this chapter is designed as an overview so I don’t have the time to go into the specific mechanics required to develop a good delivery. Do your research or feel free to email me with any questions you have. My email can be found in the front of this chapter or my website at www.youthbaseballinsider.com.
Last word of advice I have for you is that it’s very important to keep things simple when you are developing a delivery for young players. This will give them the best chance to throw with good velocity and be very consistent with their pitching.
We break down pitching mechanics into 5 phases:
Phase 1: Stance / Setup
Phase 2: Knee Raise / Balance Point
Phase 3: Break
Phase 4: Landing / Power Position
Phase 5: Extension / Follow-Through
A word about the pitching section: There is a lot of information here and I suggest you simply walk yourself or a player through the fundamentals of a good delivery. Break it down in a slow point by point fashion. This will help you understand what you should be doing. You can also email us should you have a question about a particular point and we will be happy to explain it to you.
Continued in our next post…
Coach Little League Baseball
So you coach little league baseball and don’t know where to start. We would like to invite you to review the entire site of Youth Baseball Insider as we feel we have something to offer coaches and parents of every level. We don’t claim to be the best at anything but do feel the information we provide can and will help you teach the game of baseball. It has helped us field competitive teams over the years and it’s developed my young son into a fine player.
I would like to recommend you visit our hitting series to begin with as it will provide you a solid foundation for you to teach your player’s or child. You can view the series here on Hitting Fundamentals for Everyone.
The hitting series will walk you through 8 parts of the hitting process and if you take your time with it I’m convinced you will develop good solid hitters. It will take work and practice but it will be worth it.
If you get a chance take a look at our top 20 fielding fundamentals. You can find some of them here on Fielding Fundamentals for Everyone.
We have used these tips in our own teams and the fielding improvement is outstanding. It’s not a complete list but it will give you a great foundation. In addition you can search our fielding archive for a number of drills to help develop good fundamental baseball players.
You still sure you want to coach little league baseball? I’m sure you do and the Youth Baseball Insider hopes we have provide you a little inspiration as well as the skill needed to be successful.
Good luck with your team or child.
Develop players and have them love the game.
Here is one of the best baseball tips I can give you. Enjoy.
Week after week I watch kids playing baseball and see some of the same swing faults. Some are no big deal and will be corrected with age but the one thing I see the most is that kids are what we call very long to the ball. This basically means they have a long swing that takes the bat out away from the body when they swing. This usually causes a very slow swing and kids really don’t hit the ball with any authority.
Here is a quick tip to help change this.
Have your players or child take a batting stance next to a fence just like they were hitting a baseball. Pretend the pitcher is down the fence line and set your player up like that. They should be standing about 3 feet away at first. Have them swing the bat and see if they hit the fence. If they do then the bat is coming away from the body which is a long swing. To correct this explain to them the importance of swinging without hitting the fence. You will need to repeat this over and over until they can swing without touching the fence with the bat. Once you have done that move them in a little closer and see if they can repeat it.
If you practice this enough times you will force your players or child to go straight to the ball which is the most powerful way to hit.
Work on stopping the long slow swing.
Good luck and until next time may all your baseball dreams come true.