NBA

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a men’s professional basketball league in North America, composed of 30 teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada). It is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, and is widely considered to be the premier men’s professional basketball league in the world.

1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Michael Jordan vs. Dominique Wilkins

The league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946, as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). It changed its name to the National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949, after merging with the competing National Basketball League (NBL). The NBA’s regular season runs from October to April, with each team playing 82 games. Its playoffs extend into June. NBA players are the world’s best paid athletes by average annual salary per player.

The NBA is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by FIBA (also known as the International Basketball Federation) as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The league’s several international as well as individual team offices are directed out of its head offices in Midtown Manhattan, while its NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Read more)

Standings

Any predictions on the final four this year? I’m rooting for my Alma Mater – MD Terps – Ranked #7. AP College Basketball Poll Week 16 Rankings

  1. Baylor
  2. Gonzaga
  3. Kansas
  4. San Diego State
  5. Dayton
  6. Duke
  7. Maryland

Click here

Ravens fall apart

What a dissappointment!!!

However there is a learning OPPORTUNITY…

Never get too “over confident”.

Interception early in 1st quarter, 4th down conversions and penalties destroyed the Ravens offense.

They beat themselves.

Tennessee had more gusto and enthusiasm.

Discipline. Focus. Running game prevailed.

Being from Baltimore and originally a Colts fan, it’s hard not to predict that the Ravens are definitely going to win the National Championship this year.

Their quarterback has so many weapons including his amazing ability to run the football.

Lamar Demeatrice Jackson Jr. is an American football quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. He played college football at Louisville where he won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and was unanimously selected as an All-American as a sophomore in 2016. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamar_Jackson?wprov=sfla1

Super Bowl LIV 2020 will be at 6:30 PM on
Sunday, February 2.

The NFL has decided on the locations of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls.

The vote took place at the NFL owners meetings in Charlotte on Tuesday.

Atlanta will host Super Bowl LIII in 2019, while South Florida (Miami) will get the event in 2020 and Los Angeles will host in 2021.

https://www.nbcsports.com/washington/ravens/nfl-announces-locations-2019-2020-and-2021-super-bowls

Super Bowl 35 was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Baltimore Ravens and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion New York Giants to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2000 season.

Super Bowl XXXV

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Bowl_XXXV?wprov=sfla1

Indoor Training Facilities

If you are like most teams, finding an indoor facility can be challenging. Here is a list of facilities in the local area:

The Cages Baseball Training Center

Address: 1201 Pauls Lane Joppa, MD 21085
Website: Click here
Phone: 443-504-2345 | 443-619-5236
Email: rmdbaseball@yahoo.com

In the Net

Address: 798 Airport Road Palmyra, PA 17078
Website: Click here
Phone: 717-838-8706 | 888-408-9119
Email: sue@inthenet.com

Extra Innings

Address: 7904 Rossville Boulevard Baltimore, MD 21236
Website: Click here
Phone: 410-665-6789
Email: info@extrainnings-baltimorenorth.com

Maryland Sportsplex

Address: 5200 Glen Arm Road Glen Arm, MD 21057
Website: Click here
Phone: 410-510-7418
Email: mdsplx@marylandsportsplex.com

Coppermine Fieldhouse

Address: 4 Hamill Road Baltimore, MD 21210
Website: Click here
Phone: 410-337-7781
Email: info@copperminefieldhouse.com

PerformFit Sports Experience

Address: 10880 Railroad Avenue Cockeysville, MD 21030
Website: Click here
Phone: 410-785-2600

Elite Prospects Athletic Complex

Address: 10900 Gilroy Road, Unit L Hunt Valley MD, 21031
Website: Click here
Phone: 410-329-1400  |  410-808-7779
Email: jimmy.parisiEPAC@gmail.com

Harford Sports Performance Center

Address: 121 Industry Lane Forest Hill, MD 21050
Website
: Click here
Phone: 410-420-8442
Email: harfordsports@gmail.com

Professional Baseball Training

Address: 6541 Baltimore National Pike Catonsville, MD 21228
Website: Click here
Phone: 443-250-5712

Bases Training Facility

Curtis Business Center 713 E. Ordnance Road, Suite 319 Baltimore, MD 21226
Website: Click here

Biggest indoor facility in the midwest

Elite – Wyoming, MI
Website: Click here

Bat Guidelines


2020 – Fourteen and Under

My son Blake turns thirteen at the end of the year and he has spent the past couple of years in 12U Leagues getting comfortable with drop 10 USSSA and USA bats. He is only 4’10” and 100 lbs.

Using the “Bat Sizing Chart” it recommends 30 inch length.

However, he has been having a lot of success using a 31″ 21 lb. (-10) so moving to the heavier bats is going to be a big adjustment.

To use the bat size chart below, all you have to do is follow these simple steps: * Move the top slider on the chart to the player’s height range * Move the bottom slider on the chart to the player’s weight range Click here

I’ve reached out to my network and most coaches replied, “it depends on the league”. Also, it was pointed out that the “increased bat weight is offset in significant part by the increased distance from the pitching rubber to home plate. The 12U game at an advanced level can be more challenging than the 13U due to the infield dimensions.”

From the Desk of Matt Tyner, Head Baseball Coach, Towson Tigers

“Age 13 is big field time. The transition is the great equalizer. It’s the separation mechanism that makes young players play a different sport. Very seldom does a young player dominate on the big field, Bbcor bats etc. if there is one that does, he’s easily identified. Take it in stride. Speed is the key.”

Convoluted Needs of 13U Players

Getting the right bats for a 13u player is far more complicated than any other age. Not only do a variety of bat standards apply depending on context, but BBCOR bats are looming in the near future for players who hope to continue playing in high school.

Nearly all 14u travel ball tournaments require players to swing BBCOR bats. So let’s say you turn 13 in April of 2018. Starting August 1, 2018, you’ll be using a BBCOR bat in travel ball games. Some 13u players are required to start using BBCOR earlier than that as part of a middle school baseball program or if playing on a 14u team.

It is much, much easier for players to swing a light bat than a heavy bat. At the younger ages, many players have poor hitting mechanics, and the quickest fix for that is to switch to a bat that is so light that it can be used to good effect in spite of poor mechanics and/or lack of strength.

Some kids who never develop good swing mechanics continue to use a light bat until they are forced to switch to BBCOR at the age of 14. I see some players on my son’s 13u and 14u PONY division swinging drop 10 bats. Switching to BBCOR (combined with better pitching) from a drop 10 bat is so drastic that typically, mechanics change for the worse and hitting results plummet. The switch to BBCOR contributes to some players deciding to quit the game.

The local coaches with whom I’ve discussed BBCOR have all said that it’s very helpful to practice with increased weight for many months before BBCOR bats are required. So it might look something like this:

January through May of 13u year: Use a drop 8 bat for games, drop 5 off the tee. Even better if a player is big/strong enough to start with such heavy bats at an earlier age, but many players won’t be big enough until they’re 13.
June and July: Use a drop 5 bat for games, BBCOR off a tee
August: Begin using BBCOR always as a 14u.
Also helpful is to regularly do calisthenics such as pushups, pullups, crunches, planks, and squats.

It’s very important to maintain good mechanics when switching to a heavier bat. It can be helpful to practice with the heavier bat off a tee, being careful to focus on good mechanics, rather than just at batting practice and games where the player will focus more on hand eye coordination than mechanics. Read more

BBCOR (Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution) is something you’ve probably heard a lot about; it’s the standard currently governing adult baseball bats used in High School and Collegiate play. Rather than measuring the ratio of the ball exit speed to pitch and bat speeds, BBCOR measures the trampoline effect of the bat.

-3 is BBCOR. That’s high school and college. USSSA is what we used this year. They should allow USA also.

I think 14U is usually BBCOR. 13U leagues are sometimes BBCOR.

14U & Below: You may use either a 2 5/8″ or 2 3/4″ barrel diameter with a maximum allowed length of 36 inches. Your bat must feature either the USSSA 1.15 BPF certification or the BBCOR .50 certification.

All bats must be stamped BBCOR. Wood bats allowed. 19u: To be considered a wood bat, a bat must be made of a single piece of wood. All other bats such as bamboo or two piece must meet the BBCOR standards and have the BBCOR stamp

Adult baseball bats must have a -3 length to weight ratio and 2” barrel. In high school and collegiate sanctioned leagues, bats must be 31″-34″ long to be legal.

BEST BASEBALL BATS FOR HIGH SCHOOL
  • Easton Beast (X Speed BBCOR)-High School/College (-3 Drop)
  • Marucci MCBC7 (Cat7 BBCOR)
  • Louisville Slugger Omaha (517 BBCOR -3)
  • Rawlings Velo (Hybrid Balanced BBCOR) High School /College.
  • Louisville Slugger Solo (617 BBCOR-3)

Read more

Additional References

2019 – Twelve and Under

In 2018, many league requirements forced players to purchase new, and expensive, bats that complied with the USA Bat Policy (i.e. bats stamped with the “USA Baseball” logo). However, this year they have reversed course so now the “old” USSSA bats will once again be permitted for league play along with USA Bats.

Bats come down to personal preference, so if your player is happy with a USA bat, he can continue to use it. However, most kids prefer the older, big barrel (2 5/8″) USSSA bats as they have more pop which results in the ball travelling farther when hit. Right now, you can find tons of quality used bats USSSA bats on e-Bay at a fraction of their original cost and most are lightly used and come with new grips, making them feel like new bats. Another option would be to search local, used sporting goods retailers but that takes more leg work than shopping on-line. Please note that while 2 5/8″ barrels are approved, 2 3/4″ barrels are not approved for HCTB play; however, some tournaments may permits the use of those bats.

Be sure to check your individual league website for updates and information on bat restrictions.

2019 Bat Rules

Age Group Bats
8U-10U USSSA BPF 1.15 2 ¼” Barrel or USA Bat (No barrel restrictions)
11U-12U USSSA BPF 1.15 2 ¼” or 2 5/8” Barrel or USA Bat (No barrel restrictions)
13U USSSA BPF 1.15 2 ¼” or 2 5/8” Barrel, USA Bat (No barrel restrictions), or BBCOR
14U-19U BBCOR Only
Some of the best USSSA Baseball Bats
  • DeMarini CF Zen -10 Senior League Baseball Bat (WTDXCBZ-18)
  • Easton Ghost X -10 Senior League Baseball Bat (SL18GX10)
  • Marucci Hex Alloy 2 -10 Senior League Baseball Bat (MSBHA2X10)
  • Louisville Slugger Solo 618 -10 Senior League Baseball Bat (WTLSLS618X10)
  • COMBAT MAXUM -10 Senior League Baseball Bat (SL8MX210)

Effective January 1st, 2018

USA Baseball is introducing a NEW standard. Traditionally, rules were always based on age groups. For example, 12U players are allowed to use baseball bats up to thirty-three (33) inches in length and less than two and one-quarter (2¼) inches in diameter. Now the new rule requires that bat barrels up to 2 5/8 inch barrel diameter are REQUIRED to carry the new USABat stamp.

USSSA has had a stated 1.15 BPF Small Barrel (2¼” barrels) and Big Barrel (2⅝” and 2¾” barrel bats) baseball bat performance standard in its rule book for 6 years for its sanctioned programs up to and including its 14U program. Read more

Traditionally, there has long been some confusion on the specific weight/length ratio limits, as well as the composition differences between wood, metal (aluminium), composite and BBCOR. When you move up to 13U they can use thirty-four (34) inch bats, and composite is allowed if BBCOR barrel is no larger than 2 5/8. Read more | Bat Standards | Announcement

Youth Baseball Bats that feature a 2 1/4 inch barrel diameter and are often lighter, with a length to weight ratio between -8 and -13. Youth bats are sometimes referred to as small barrel bats or Little League baseball bats, and are used by players that play in leagues that mandate a bat with a 2 1/4 inch barrel. Most will be Little League approved bats and should also be legal in one or more of the following associations: Babe Ruth, Dixie, Pony, AABC, or USSSA. If you’re in search of youth baseball bat sales, check out our Closeout Youth Bats or Youth Bat Packs page for discount bats and great deals! Read more


The new USA Baseball bat standard (USABat), which will apply to bats that are classified below the NCAA and NFHS level of play, will be implemented on January 1, 2018, allowing the bat manufacturers sufficient time to bring these bats to the marketplace.

Similar to the NCAA and NFHS BBCOR standard, which helped to eliminate discrepancies with different length bats and thus provide a more direct measure of bat performance, the new USA Baseball bat standard will allow youth baseball organizations in the United States to reach their goal of establishing a wood-like standard, a standard that will provide for the long-term integrity of the game.

There will be no immediate change to youth baseball organizations’ bat rules. All bats, currently accepted for the respective leagues, remain permissible through December 31, 2017. Each participating national member organization will incorporate the new standard into their rules for the 2018 season and will begin, with this announcement, to inform their membership of the USABat standard.

Frequently Asked Questions about the USABat standard:

Which national member organizations are implementing this new standard?
To date, the following organizations are participating (in alphabetical order): American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball and PONY Baseball.

Why the change to a wood-like standard?
USA Baseball’s national member organizations believe that a wood-like performance standard will best provide for the long-term integrity of the game. The new standard will not have a drop-weight limit, so young players can use bats made with light-weight materials.

Why not just use wood bats?
Wood is a scarce resource. The new bats will be designed to perform much like wood, where its performance will be limited to the highest performing wood.

How is the USABat standard different from the BBCOR standard used by the NCAA and NFHS?
Both the USA Baseball and NCAA bat performance tests are based on the coefficient of restitution from a bat-ball impact. The scale of results is different, however, since they use different test balls and test speeds. The testing difference is necessary to address the various levels of play in the respective age groups.

Why is USA Baseball involved?
The national member organizations asked USA Baseball as the national governing body to take the lead in this process to establish a new standard. Many other national governing bodies set and enforce standards for the equipment in their respective sports. To that end, USA Baseball established a Bat Study Committee of leading scientists and conducted theoretical modeling, field testing and lab testing. The committee shared its findings with the national member organizations, who then endorsed the new USABat standard.

Why wait until 2018?
The implementation date of 2018 will allow bat manufacturers sufficient time to conduct the appropriate research, design, testing, manufacturing and shipping needed to get new bats into retail outlets. This date also allows the participating national member organizations adequate time to educate their memberships of the USABat standard.

Is my current bat good for league play?
Yes. Current league-approved bats can be used through December 31, 2017.

Is safety the reason for the change?
No. Youth baseball continues to be one of the safest of all sports for youth participants.

How will I know which bat to buy?
All new bats that bear the USABat licensing mark will be permissible for play in the leagues and tournaments of the participating youth baseball organizations.

When can I buy the new bat?
It is the intention of the bat manufacturers to make the new bats available in the fall of 2017, in sufficient time for the 2018 season. Read more


Other bat retailers I recommend include:

Cooperstown

Watch my summer slide show – Click here

2019 RPBL Rangers ranked 35/104 after 6 game seeding round. Season ended early on Wednesday, August 21.

Opening Ceremony

Wyatt hits Grand Slam (team’s first home run) in Game 4 which was a major turning point.

Blake on the mound in Game 7 – Elimination round

Visit Ted Winstead’s amazing photo gallery – Click here



Two powerful hitters, two dominant starters and two lights-out relievers.  Six Hall of Fame legends, all a part of the Class of 2019 at the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The game’s newest immortals take their bow July 19-22.  More than 50 Hall of Famers are scheduled to be in Cooperstown to honor the Class of 2019 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum – Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith Induction on July 21, 2019. Read more


I am sincerely grateful to simply be here in Cooperstown to watch my son Blake play in these tournaments. I hope he has fun and will remember this forever!  Visit Dream Park and All-Star Village.

When Blake and I first arrived we went straight to the museum and took a picture of #10 Chipper Jones. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. Click here

2019 Results: LTRC Comets seeded 19 out of 50 and made it to “Sweet 16”. Click here

2018 Results: Harrison Hurricanes Click here Bergen County Hawks (NJ) Click here LI Sharks Sharks Click here

My week in review – Click here. Some interesting trivia below: We finished preliminary seeding week 79/104 with a record of 1 and 5 averaging 10.83 runs allowed per game.

Base Running

What do you do when you hit the ball? How do you get a hit? Read “Lost Art of Bunting“. Even after a 3rd dropped strike with nobody on 1st base and less than 2 outs. Fortunately, I live near Al Bumbry and have spoken to him multiple times in person. Read more

Earlier this year during “Winter Spring Training” Al gave my son Blake a lesson on taking a lead off of 1st base. It was almost identical to Coach Justin above.

Rickey Henderson

He is my all time favorite!!! When I went up to Cooperstown last year I was in tears watching Rickey interview and how he played the game. Read more

Rickey Henderson was the fastest, most aggressive base runner I have ever watched play baseball. His stats and success speak for themselves. Notice he has 1,406 lifetime stolen bases, appeared in 2 World Series games and 10 All-Star games.

If there was ever the PERFECT Lead-Off hitter, it was definitely Rickey Henderson

THE LEADOFF: Your leadoff should be one of your team’s best hitters and fastest players. The goal of any good leadoff hitter is to get on base, however they can. Your on-base percentage leader should fit well in the leadoff spot, if you’re keeping track of that stat. Remember, whether they hit the ball for contact or they walk, they’ve got to get on base. Speed is a plus for this position. Don’t look for power in the leadoff—save power hitters for later when there are more baserunners positioned. If your kids are competing for this spot, remind them that the leadoff hitter usually only leads once.

Below are some other interesting links:

Wally Backman

Reference Our Bench Coach on the 12U RPBL Rangers A Travel Team told me about Wally. Watch his YouTube video of getting a lead on 1st Base

Help me, Help you

Some of my favorite players include Hank Aaron, Aaron Judge, Rickey Henderson and Babe Ruth.

Batting Lineup

THE LEADOFF: Your leadoff should be one of your team’s best hitters and fastest players. The goal of any good leadoff hitter is to get on base, however they can. Your on-base percentage leader should fit well in the leadoff spot, if you’re keeping track of that stat. Remember, whether they hit the ball for contact or they walk, they’ve got to get on base.
Speed is a plus for this position. Don’t look for power in the leadoff—save power hitters for later when there are more baserunners positioned. If your kids are competing for this spot, remind them that the leadoff hitter usually only leads once.

2 SPOT: The 2-spot player is on-deck at the start of the game and should be a fundamentally sound hitter. You must rely on them to make contact with the ball. The goal of the second hitter is to advance your leadoff player, as well as make it on-base themselves. Players who frequently strike out will kill momentum in this position.

3 HOLE: Just as before, the 3 hole should be one of your team’s best hitters. This can be someone who has a great batting average and doesn’t lack power.
This position should be filled by a good all-around hitter who really gets the concept of batting against another player. You want the 3 hole to move players around, or drive in the first runs of the game. If you look at your stats and see a player with a comparatively high batting average, a couple doubles and several RBIs on the season, try batting them third.

CLEANUP: One of the most admired spots in the batting lineup, the cleanup position is typically your most powerful hitter. In youth baseball, that doesn’t just mean the player that has a lot of homeruns. The cleanup player hits the ball hard. Hard hits typically get through the infield and sometimes can get to an outfield gap or even past an unskilled outfielder. When this player steps to the plate, the infielders take a step back.

5 POSITION: Sometimes the cleanup hitter doesn’t quite clear the bases—and that’s what the 5-spot is for. Like the cleanup position, the player batting fifth should have higher than average batting power. This player should not strike out as much as feast-or-famine cleanup hitter, but should still be able to crank out a few doubles or hard-hit singles. When you examine your stat sheet, look for players who are hitting more than singles and are in the bottom half of all strikeouts (or who have a lower-than-average strikeout to at-bat ratio). Throughout the year, you’ll want to switch up your fourth and fifth positions. This will challenge your players and give you a better idea of who fits best in which role.

SPOTS 6 & 7: Unless you’re one lucky youth baseball coach, this is where you’ll probably reach a challenge in your lineup. The 6 and 7 spots are important in your lineup, even if they don’t perform as well at the plate. A batting average of .200 or .225 can wreak havoc on the other team. Hope for singles from these players, or try putting a good bunter in this role. If you’ve got players who are about equal in hitting ability, speed should be the deciding factor.

BATTING 8: At the youth level, the 8 spot is ideal for developing hitters. In many cases, the 8 position is for a player who is the worst fundamental hitter on your team and strikes out the most. Remember, every team has a player who has not yet caught onto hitting.

9 PLAYER: This less-than-desirable spot is often reserved for the weakest hitter on the team—but we think the nine guy is worth extra consideration.
At the youth level, you should make it a habit to shuffle your 7 to 9-spot hitters, so you do not consistently send a negative message to any one player. The 9 spot should not go to your player who strikes out the most, but someone who you’ve seen scatter singles throughout the season. This player could jumpstart a middle inning for the top of the order.

BATTING THROUGH YOUR LINEUP
In many youth baseball organizations, your team must bat through the lineup. That is to say, if you have 12 kids on a team, all 12 must bat before you start at the top of the order. In these cases, we suggest you follow the above guidelines for positions 1 to 7 then rotate players 8 to 12, keeping them even on at-bats when the season closes.
Remember, your job as coach is to ensure your roster is having fun, developing skills and gaining confidence. Playing a less competitive team? Consider changing up your lineup to challenge your team and give everyone an opportunity. They may surprise you—and themselves.

Well Coached Players: “The best situation for all of us is for you to plan on handing these kids over to me and the assistant coaches when you drop them off, and plan on them being mine for the 2 or so hours that we have scheduled for a game, or the time that we have scheduled for the practice.  I would like for these boys to have some responsibility for having their own water, not needing you to keep running to the concession stand, or having parents behind the dugout asking their son if they are thirsty, or hungry…

Players on the bench will not be messing around. I will constantly be talking with them about situations and what they would be doing if they were in a specific position, or if they were the batter.”  ~Mike Matheny.  Often I find myself saying to my 10 year old son, “Help me, Help you” similar to scene from Jerry Maguire played by Tom Cruise. However, be careful showing this to young women because clip ends with Cuba Gooding parading around locker room in the nude (Caution: R rated).

Nevertheless, whether you are a sports agent or a parent coach, the responsibility and sacrifice can be daunting at times, to say the least.


Hustle

Baserunning is a fundamental of the game that incorporates many facets that players can work on no matter what their running speed. Coaches of young players often do not work with their teams on this part of the game. Running the bases is an art. If coaches teach baserunning correctly, they will increase the ability of their players to steal bases and take extra bases. Fast base runners force fielders to throw to another base because the runner got there quicker than the fielder expected. In the field, faster players are able to get to and catch more balls. Before working on baserunning, coaches need to teach young players how to run properly and have them run every day to get faster. Speed and agility training is an important part of helping young players develop their athleticism. After a young player has developed his athleticism, all the facets of baserunning become a lot easier. Most of the time players cannot develop athleticism by playing baseball. This should be a priority when it comes to helping young players run the bases better.

To work on running and running the bases, your warm-ups in practice and before games need to be organized around running. Running needs to become a habit for young players. You can begin and end practices with fun running drills and games. Keep in mind that you always want to end practices with a competitive and fun activity because the last thing they do is what they remember. You want them remembering that practice was fun so that they learn faster.

Coaches should talk to track coaches to learn the proper running techniques so that they can help their players run better. Track coaches can teach the techniques and drills that allow players to perfect their running.

A few things need to be taught to help with all facets of baserunning. First is the ability to move quickly from one spot to another. This art is used in baseball and in many other sports. It begins with the hip turn, pushing off one foot and going. This turn will help runners and fielders. In this technique, players turn their hips as quickly as possible, keep the feet low to the ground, and turn on the angle that they need to run. The hip turn helps them move their feet faster. As they turn their hips and their feet touch the ground, they push off with the back foot. This turn can be practiced in warm-up drills, as we explain in the following drills. Read more


To be a well-rounded baseball player, you must develop and practice your base running skills. As my Guide To Base Running Strategy states, because rounding the bags happens almost every play, it is critical to allot time each practice to base running.

To be a talented base runner, you must first recognize when the defense makes a mistake, then be able to capitalize on the opportunity. Develop your team’s base running skills with the following four drills. Each base running drill can be practiced individually, in small groups, or as a team—to incorporate a unified base running mentality.

Base Running Drills

Ground Ball Reads: Anytime a player can eliminate the need for a sacrifice bunt to preserve an out, it’s a huge advantage for the offense. Consider the benefit for your team if you habitually advanced from first base to third through a series of steals.
The Drill: The drill begins with a runner at first, taking a conservative lead. The coach feeds himself the ball and hits it toward centerfield. When the coach feeds himself the ball—the toss serves as the pitch—the runner takes a secondary lead. Once the ball is hit, the runner reacts to the ball by sprinting to second base, while keeping his eye on the ball and the fielder. Before arriving at second base, the runner should have already made a decision on whether to advance to third. As a rule of thumb, continue to third base if you reach second before the outfielder has the ball. Keep in mind: it’s far easier to slam on the brakes than turn on the jets. If the fielder has the ball, simply round the bag and watch the throw, ready to take advantage of a throwing error.

Dirtball Reads: When a pitcher throws a ball in the dirt, take advantage of the opportunity by stealing an extra base. If a ball skips away from the catcher, runners must take advantage of the situation by advancing. The trouble lies with in-between balls, those that stray out of the batter’s box but not out of the dirt circle. This is where a little anticipation comes in handy. Know the count, the situation, where the other runners are and what they may be thinking. If it’s a breaking ball count (0-2, 1-2, even 1-1), expect a ball in the dirt and take an extra step toward the next base. This drill should be performed with a loaded infield and any number of runner combinations. The runners should start at any base in the infield. The coach short hops the ball to home plate, so the catcher, forced to block the ball, allows the runners time to read the situation and quickly decide whether to advance to the next base. The coach should keep the runners honest by mixing in strikes.

Tennis Ball Drop: Obviously, there is no better way to improve your stealing skills than to face a pitcher practicing his pickoff moves. However, this opportunity isn’t always available. When a pitcher isn’t available, use the Tennis Ball Drop drill to improve your reaction time. With a player on the pitcher’s mound holding a tennis ball, the runner takes a lead off first base. The player releases the tennis ball, triggering the runner’s break for second base. Whether the runner runs the full distance to second base, the first ten feet, or halfway, it doesn’t matter, since the first few steps are most important. The player on the mound should vary his release time to eliminate any chance for the runner to time up the pitch.

Resistance Steal Breaks: When it comes to stealing, your first step is your most important. This drill can be done with a tennis ball, a live pitcher or verbal signals. The runner starts by taking a normal lead off first base. Instead of balancing his weight on both feet equally, the runner should exaggerate his lean toward second base by placing more weight on his right foot. A partner standing to the right of the runner place his hands on the runner’s forward leaning (right ) shoulder. The runner should feel somewhat unbalanced. Once in this position, the partner lets go, then pushes the runner forward, propelling him into a sprint. This forces the runner to run fast enough to keep his balance.  This drill makes the runner explode out of the gate toward second base. Again, the distance you run can vary between the first ten feet to the entire distance. Just make sure to concentrate on a good start. Read more


Excellence: Baseball is an island of activity amidst a sea of statistics.  Baseball is also the only place in life where a sacrifice is really appreciated. “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”