Can you have too much bat speed?

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Question:

My son just went through the worst possible winter of his playing career. He had worked very hard this past off season to develop some serious “pop” in his bat. We measured his bat velocity while doing some heavy duty overload/underload training. His bat speed really increased and I could really see the pop.
The problem is that it is just in batting practice. In games he wasn’t making contact. When he did, it was a rocket. The first thing that I saw was that he was pulling off theball. The next thing was a loop in the swing. After that I saw the early rolling of the hands and then too much weight passing through center onto his front side. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer:

It sounds like your son has improved his bat speed and therefore his power. Now, he expects to hit the ball out of the ball park. That may be the problem – he feels he should be hitting the ball out of the park. He is probably over swinging and his effort level is too high.

He must get back to thinking “hard contact” and “line drives”. An excessive effort level leads to many break downs – head movement, front side pulling off, rolling top hand, etc. Get him back to basics so that his goal is consistent hard contact and line drives. Look for good balance, correct head position throughout the swing, and a short hand path to the ball.

Eat Right As An Athlete

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A baseball/softball player’s diet is a very important part of his training program. Poor nutritional habits can prevent a pitcher from reaching his full potential on the mound.

There are three parts to a complete baseball pitcher’s training program: workouts, nutrition, and rest. Each of these components has equal importance. A pitcher cannot train at maximum intensity if he is not properly fueled or properly rested.

Proper nutrition is essential for competing at the highest level and performing at the highest level. Sure you’ve heard stories of great baseball players like Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle who paid little attention to their health and wellness while playing. The fact is, had they maintained a proper diet and trained correctly they would have been even better.

In today’s competative atmosphere an athlete needs to maintain a healthy edge which means eating right. Baseball is a combination of balance, agility, and concentration with bursts of physical activity. For power, speed, and good reaction time, what and when one eats can improve or worsen performance. If we add in the length of games, weather conditions, and long season, the player who is best nourished will be the one who finishes strong, and healthy!

The nutrition goals for baseball are designed to optimize performance. Food choices, adequate fluid intake, frequency of meals, and timing of meals to activity can provide the edge in practice, games, and recovery. Many athletes are interested in losing body fat, or adding mass, but every player can benefit from a boost in energy, being optimally hydrated, and having the fuel for mental concentration and physical activity.

Every baseball player should make it a point to do the following daily:

Consume plenty of fluids

Determine fluid loss during practices and games by weighing before exercise begins and again after exercise has finished. This gives a good estimate of how much fluid is lost during physical activity, and lets you know how much fluid you need to replace! Monitor urine output. See your pee. The goal is light in color and a large volume, especially in the first void of the day. Drink enough fluid. The guidelines are as follows: Weight ( pounds) x 0.67 = number of ounces of fluid required daily

Recommended fluid intake

Drink 2 cups of fluid 2 hours before a game or practice.

Drink 6-8 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes during games or practices.

Drink 24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during practices or games.

Best fluids for pitchers?

BEFORE: Water or sports drink.

DURING: Water, sports drink.

AFTER: Sports drink, water.

Worst fluids for pitchers?

Juices may cause stomach upset during exercise.

Carbonated beverages can cause bloating, and can cause fullness before fluid needs are met.

Caffeine-containing beverages may have a slight diuretic, or fluid-losing effect.

Alcohol can affect reaction time and is also a diuretic, causing valuable fluid loss. In addition, alcohol after exercise, before the body is optimally refueled will delay the body’s recovery from activity and may decrease performance!

Fueling strategies

Eat something within 1 hour of waking up to jumpstart your body. Good choices are: Bagel with peanut butter, bowl of cereal, eggs and toast, waffles with syrup and fruit, a vegetable omelet.

Try to eat a meal or snack every 3-4 hours to give your body an energy boost. Make it a point to eat something within 15 minutes after the end of a practice or game. Good choices are: Sports drink, granola and cereal bars, trail mix of cereal, pretzels, nuts, dried fruit, pretzels and orange juice, banana, bagel.

Meal-time food choices

The body uses carbohydrate as the primary fuel source for baseball, so each meal and snack should include carbohydrate-containing foods such as: rice, pasta, bread, bagels, cereal, crackers, tortillas, fruits, veggies, sports drinks, corn, potatoes.

Protein and fat-containing foods are not used as much by the body during practices or games, so they don’t have to be used in large quantities. In addition, pre-game or practice meals should be lower in fat, since high fat foods stay in the stomach longer and may cause an upset stomach. Some high-protein foods are: beef, pork, lamb, veal, fish, shellfish, milk, cheese, eggs, poultry, yogurt, nut butters, nuts, dried beans, soy, tofu.

Before games, try to limit the use of the following foods, which are higher in fat and may not sit well in the stomach.

Late-night food choices

Since many baseball games end late, and the stomach is crying out for food, here are some ideas that won’t keep you up all night, but still help you to refuel: grilled chicken sandwich, roast beef sandwich, turkey sub, ham sub, cereal, pancakes and waffles, eggs and toast, fruit smoothies, cheese pizza.

Nutrition should be part of your play book. Eat at regular intervals to keep your body energized all day long. Being well hydrated boosts performance and decreases the risk of injury. Make sure that every eating episode has a mix of foods with an emphasis on grains, fruits and vegetables. Try to wait until exercise is done to eat higher fat food. And remember, eating well translates to a quick mind and a strong, fast, lean and healthy body.

Eat well to play well. Work on it.

 

By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

Follow Your Favorite Team on Twitter Part 1

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baseball 

In 1977, MLB Hall of Famer Bob Lemon said, “I don’t care how long you’ve been around; you’ll never see it all.” This is one of the many beauties of the game of baseball. There is no telling what we will see this season. In preparation for the upcoming MLB games, we wanted to take this chance to share some of the best follows on Twitter for each of your teams. Following your team’s Twitter account and a few of the beat writers allows you to stay up to the minute on games and players all over the majors. Although Lemon is right and we can’t see it all, we can at least have better insight through the marvel of Twitter.

Check the blog next week for Twitter handles in the National League!

 

Team-by-Team Information – American League

 

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles @Orioles
Dan Connolly @danconnollysun (Baltimore Sun Orioles/national baseball writer.)
Eduardo A. Encina @EddieInTheYard (The Baltimore Sun’s Baltimore Orioles beat writer.)
Chicago White Sox

Chicago White Sox @whitesox
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales (White Sox’s beat writer for the Chicago Tribune.)
Daryl Van Schouwen @CST_soxvan (White Sox beat writer for the Chicago Sun-Times.)

 

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland Indians @Indians
Paul Hoynes @hoynsie (Cleveland Indians Beat Writer for The Plain Dealer.)
Tom Withers @twithersAP (AP Sports Writer covering Cleveland Browns, Indians, Cavaliers, whatever else might be breaking.)

 

Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers @tigers
Tom Gage @Tom_Gage (Longtime baseball beat writer for the Detroit News.)
Chris Lott @Chris_Iott (Detroit Tigers beat writer for http://MLive.com.)

 

Houston Astros

Houston Astros @astros
Brian McTaggart @brianmctaggart (Astros beat writer since 2004 (since 2009 for http://MLB.com.)
Brian T. Smith @ChronAstros (Houston Astros beat writer for the Houston Chronicle.)
Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals @Royals
Bob Dutton @Royals_Report (Royals beat writer for The Kansas City Star.)
Joel Goldberg @goldbergkc (Royals Live host on Fox Sports Kansas City.)
Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels @Angels
Mike DiGiovanna @MikeDiGiovanna (Los Angeles Angels beat writer for Los Angeles Times.)
Eric Denton LAAI @LAANGELSINSIDER (LA Angels coverage from the locker room to the press-box and everywhere in between.)
Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins @Twins
Mike Berardino @MikeBerardino (Minnesota Twins beat writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press.)
AJ Mansour @AjKFAN (Lead Writer for KFAN.com & KFAN 100.3FM. Covering Minnesota Vikings, Twins, Wolves, Wild & Golden Gopher Athletics.)

 

New York Yankees

New York Yankees @Yankees
YANKEES 24/7 @yankeenews (All New York Yankees news, 24/7.)
YES Network @YESNetwork (Home of the 27-time World Series champion New York Yankees and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.)
Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics @Athletics
Kevin Mendez @kjmendez3 (Staff Writer at SwinginAs.com and a Journalism Major at the SRJC.)
Alan @cuppingmaster (Oakland A’s/SJ Sharks fan in LA. Writer/mod at Athletics Nation. 90% baseball tweets.)
Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners @Mariners
Ryan Divish @RyanDivish (Seattle Mariners beat writer the Tacoma News Tribune.)
710 ESPN Seattle @710ESPNSeattle (710 ESPN Seattle is the radio home of the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners & Washington State Cougars.)
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays @RaysBaseball
Marc Topkin @TBTimes_Rays (Marc Topkin has covered the Rays for the Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times) and tampabay.com since, well, forever.)
Joe Smith @TBTimesRays2 (Joe Smith has covered the Tampa Bay Rays since 2008.)
Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers @Rangers
TR Sullivan @Sullivan_Ranger (Baseball writer who graduated from the University of San Francisco and covers the Texas Rangers for MLB.com.)
Joakim Soria @joakimsoria (Official Twitter of the Texas Rangers.)
Toronto Blue Jays

Blue Jays-Official @BlueJays
Brendan Kennedy @BKennedyStar (Toronto Star sports reporter, covering baseball and the Blue Jays.)

Oh yea… and don’t forget to follow us as well. @swingawaysports

See the Ball!

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Question:

My son struggled at the 16 year old JV level this season. The bottom line is he just doesn’t pick up the ball consistently. The zone he has the most problem with is that first zone, leaving the pitcher’s hand to the first 10-12 feet. He fights off a lot of pitches because they get on top of him, sees it too late. He can’t ever attack it out in front of the plate. When he sees it early and likes it, he most of the time jumps at it and gets out on his front foot, either topping the ball or getting under it. I have Harvey’s Vision Training, have used it a bit, he’s into his Legion Ball now for the summer and I want to help him NOW ! That’s where you come in, Dave. It’s not as easy as saying “See it coming out of the pitcher’s hand”. What now !!????

Answer:

The first action that needs to take place is that when his stride foot comes down, the hands have to go back. This will get him into a good position of power and allow him to see the ball. It sounds like he usually starts too late, and gets beat on balls, or he starts too early and all his weight comes forward. I would rather him start too early then too late, if he starts too late he will get beat on balls every time.

However, he can start as early as he wants if he gets into the position of power. Once he is in the position of power, don’t have him thinkn about seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, have him only think about seeing the ball. If a hitter thinks about seeing the ball out of the hand he might follow the hand instead of the ball. Have him start early, and only think about seeing the ball. Good luck with the season.

3 Keys to Hitting Success

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Once you do have your hitting fundamentally correct, to set yourself above your competition, not merely resting on your laurels and thinking that your current success will be enough, you need to concentrate on these three keys to success:

Work ethic
What is your work ethic like? Are you the first to come and the last to leave? If you are not doing more than your coach asks, it’s not enough.

Ability to make adjustments
Don’t wait 2 weeks to make an adjustment. Adjustments should be made game to game – at bat to at bat-pitch to pitch. I used Jordan’s at bats as an example. Learn to make the adjustments necessary to get you past your present difficulties. Believe me, the difficulties will come. The sooner you make the adjustment the shorter the duration and severity of the difficulty.

Not being afraid to fail
Sorry but I have to jump to another sport to illustrate this point. Tiger Woods will possibly go down in history as the greatest golfer ever. What did he do after he had so much success including winning the Masters at his young age, something no one had ever done before? He changed his swing. His critics thought he was crazy. Having had so much success, why would he change? We frequently hear the saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” I disagree. Just because it’s not broken, doesn’t mean you can’t make it better. Tiger obviously agrees. He wasn’t afraid to change – to make himself better. He wasn’t afraid to fail. The results speak for themselves. You will only improve when change takes place. You’ve heard me say this before, you either will get better or worse, you won’t stay the same.

Taking Your BP into the Game

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Question:

My 11 year old son hits much better in the more competitive AAU than in LL. In AAU, he really drives the ball. Line drive extra base hits. His mechanics are good. quick hands, uses legs, stays down on the ball. In LL, he doesn’t use his legs, swings at bad pitches, doesn’t drive the ball. I know its a mental thing. He says he is tense. I think its a holdover from last year. His first year in LL majors, he did not hit well then either. (partly because he got hit on the elbow.) He works really hard, takes extra BP. But this is primarily mental. How can I help him overcome this psychological barrier.

Answer:

It’s true when people say that this game is more mental then physical. You talked about him taking extra batting practice, which is very good, however how muck time is he spending creating good mental habits. As much time as he spends in the cage he should spend visualising himself having success. Let him go over mentally all the success he has had in his AAU league. Have him go up to the plate with nothing on his mind except him knowing that he going to have success in that at bat. With this attitude he will always dominate.

Learn How to Keep It Simple at the Plate

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At a major baseball convention,  a sports psychologist in attendance unknowingly paid HEAD GAMES a great compliment.  His critical comment to the company selling the book was, “yeah, I’ve read it, but  It’s written on an eighth grade level.”   Au contraire!  I’m thinking that if an eight year old can read it, understand it and attain baseball excellence, then it must be written on maybe a third grade level?  In order to scale the pinnacle of performance potentiality, simplicity is an absolute necessity.  If  you’ve just got to have a complicated methodology that doesn’t work,  then HEAD GAMES is not your answer.  E-mail me and I’ll give you the name of the other guy’s book which sold a total of one at the convention compared to many written on “the eight grade level.”  If you want something simple to use that works and works immediately from youth leagues through the major leagues, then make HEAD GAMES yours and maximum potential for success can be realized.  I talked with a major league pitcher this week that I worked with toward the end of last season.  His subsequent success was close to perfect after struggling all season.  Now, he can’t wait for the season to begin.  Barring injury, this WILL be his best season ever, and he’s had some really good ones.  His comment on the book:  “I have never liked to read, but I love THIS book.  I don’t want to put it down.  The techniques are so easy to use.”  To insure success, one must mentally embrace a simple approach that allows consistent play “in the zone.”

The HEAD GAMES methodology is exceedingly simple and fun to use.  This simplicity is an absolute requirement if an athlete aspires to attain the “seventh heaven” of Baseball Excellence.  If there are those who desire or have tried complex theories, which are doomed to failure, I recommend that they  get on board with hundreds of athletes who have discovered the awesome power of HEAD GAMES.  Accolades, testimonials & endorsements continue to pour in from across the world.  The success of HEAD GAMES has been and continues to be unprecedented and unparalleled. Ladies & Gentlemen, start your powerful “mental engines” by choosing the holistic philosophy of HEAD GAMES, and begin to enjoy life and success on and off the field.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -Walter Herbison - He consulted with Mississippi State Baseball from 1988-1992, the Atlanta Braves in 1990, LSU in 1991 and 2000, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs organizations and many other amateur and professional teams. Nationally, he has consulted with many players individually — from youth leagues to Major Leagues.

The Proper Stance

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As you look around the baseball and softball world, you will see all types of different stances.  From Little League to the Major Leagues the stances will vary.  As a young player it is good to initially experiment with different types of stances. I’ve heard Ted Williams says that he would see a new player come into the league and like something this player was doing with his stance and he would try it.  He always went back to what he was comfortable with buy he wasn’t afraid to try something new.

You shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, but at the same time you should not be changing your stance everyday.  Find a stance that is comfortable and workable and stick with it.  When something is no longer working for you, make and adjustment!

Learning How to Scout Effectively

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The last time I went to a high school baseball game I saw 5-6 men in the stands behind home-plate. They were armed with radar guns, charts, and stop watches. You couldn’t miss them -scouts. These are the guys parents dream and players long to have show up for their games.

The scouts you see at high school games are more than likely either area scouts, part-time scouts, or associate scouts. Every Major League Organization employs 20-40 full time area scouts. Depending on the organization an area scout may have as many as 8 states to cover. The area scout sees a prospect approximately 10-15 times over a 4 year span. Their primary responsibility is to find and report on prospects. A scouting report on individual hitting prospects includes some of the following:

•    Running speed
•    Hitting for average
•    Power potential
•    Hands – Defense
•    Throwing arm
•    Proper hitting mechanics
•    Ability to make adjustments
•    Mental make-up
•    How much money the player should sign for
•    Ability to make consistent contact

These tools are graded not only for their present ability but also for their future potential. Most organizations grade on a major league scale. For example a present hitting ability for a high school player might be a 3. This could equate to a .230 Major League Hitter at present time. However this same scout may project this same hitter’s future potential as a 6, which could be a .300 Major League Hitter. The 3 is a below average major league hitter, a 6 is an above aver-age major league hitter. This scale goes up to 8 for the superstar. Very few are rated as such because this is so hard to project.

A five tool player is one that ranks above average in every area listed (1-5). Keep in mind that the Major Leagues are filled with players with less than 5 tools, you really only need 1 great tool to get to the major leagues, or 2-3 average tools to be a good Major League Player.

Despite the fact of that this country is loaded with scouts looking for talent, there seems to be some talent that is always missed. Look at the list below to see who was almost missed.

•    Mike Piazza 61st round
•    Bobby Bonilla undrafted
•    Darryl Kile 30th round
•    Frank White undrafted
•    Don Mattingly 19th round
•    Tom Candiotti undrafted
•    Nolan Ryan 10th round
•    Ryne Sandberg 17th round
•    Jose Canseco 15th round
•    Dave Parker 14th round

It’s important to take note that no matter how elaborate a scouting system is, someone may be missed for one reason or another. As Bob Didier stated in his interview with us, the one thing that no scout has ever been able to do is to cut someone open and look at the size of his heart and his determination. These are 2 of the main ingredients that it takes to succeed with just marginal talent. However there are only a few willing to pay the price.

Under the area scouts are the part time scouts as well as the associate scouts. Part time scouts are basically more eyes for the area scout. Part time scouts draw either a small salary or travel expenses. Although their pay is minimal, they can be a valuable tool for an area scout covering a large territory. The part time scout usually scouts the area where he lives. If he is impressed with a player, he will tip off the area scout with the player’s profile.

Associate scouts do not get any compensation for their work. They basically work to try to get their foot in the door of a Major League Organization, they are better known as “bird dogs.” Bird dogs submit reports to the part time scout who in turn reports to the area scout. Associates may be coaches from different schools but occasionally one might be an older, retired gentleman with years of baseball experience.

You never know who may be in the stands, so always play hard and give 100%. Scouts will be initially drawn to you by talent but it is how you play the game and how you present yourself that will catch their eye. Let me give you a for instance. It is late in the game, nobody out, runner on 2nd base. Perhaps the game is tied.

You, as a hitter have a decision to make. Should you swing for a base hit and make either the headlines or an out? Or do you try to get the runner over to 3rd with less than 2 outs? Most scouts would take notice if you drove the ball to right field to get the runner over as opposed to pulling the ball, even if you got a base hit and scored the winning run.

The first scenario shows a selfish player – the other shows a team player. I tell my hitters to make sure they get the runner over. If they hit a line drive to right field, they may not only get the runner over, they may possibly get the runner in. These are the things that show scouts that you know how to play the game.

This segment has covered the associate scout, part-time scout and the area scout. In future issues we will advance on the scouting hierarchy and cover the regional scout, national cross checkers, and the scouting director. Your goal is to have the scouting director show up at your game to watch you!

Better Bat Contact

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THE EYES CAN DELIVER!!  This season, a Double A player called for help.  After one telephone consulting session with him,  he increased his batting average from .180 to about .250 in a short time, but had reached a plateau.  According to him, he was missing too many pitches that he felt he should be hitting.  My analysis was that his eyes were not always under control while swinging.   The next game this player went 2-4, with a double, a triple, an r.b.i. and a run scored against a pitcher with a 1.59 e.r.a.  The team had only five total hits.

What did I tell him?  The eyes must be relaxed and focused only on the ball.  If the eyes are not in control, then the body does not know exactly where the bat is supposed to be swung.   The body can do a great job with proper guidance from the eyes.  HEAD GAMES techniques are simple to use and the success stories are astounding.  Choose to maximize your performance!