TBB Essential Drills Series #3 – Jen Schro Catching Army

 

Shoutout to my buddy Blake Paul for sharing this with me!  Here’s a cool quick clip from softball player Jen Schroeder showing an easy fundamental drill for catchers.  Emphasizing the importance of being strong in the stance, tracking the pitch, framing it, blocking it, etc., WITHOUT EVEN THROWING A SINGLE BALL, Jen is able to demonstrate how to teach and instill key elements of the position in a short period of time.

This example also goes to show how drills and activities need to be simplified to allow players to focus on consistent execution without having to memorize a complex set of instructions.

February 5 in Baseball History

No, not THAT Hammer…

February 5, 1934

“A day before Babe Ruth’s 39th birthday, future all-time home run leader Hammerin’ Hank Aaron is born in Mobile, Alabama. The slugger, who will finish his career hitting 755 home runs playing for the Braves and Brewers, will surpass the ‘Bambino’s’ all-time record of 714 home runs in 1974, after receiving much hate mail from people who did not want to see a black man break baseball’s hallowed mark.”

Happy Birthday, Hank!

February 4 in Baseball HIstory

February 4, 1861

“In front of a reported crowd of over 10,000 spectators, the champion Atlantics defeat the Charter Oak Club, 36-27 on a game played on frozen Litchfield Pond in South Brooklyn. The players, wearing ice skates, were permitted to glide pass the bases, which were painted on the frozen surface.”

Lucky Ty Cobb wasn’t involved or some of the players would have left with fewer limbs than when they started….

Holy cow, this was actually a thing!

Learn something new every day.

How to find a good baseball instructor or coach for your player

This is easy:

  1. Move in next door to a former player, preferably a major league baseball alum.
  2. Make sure he has exclusive access to an indoor training facility, and guaranteed field time at a local park when the weather is nice.
  3. Ask him to coach up your kid.
  4. Make sure he’ll do it for free.
  5. Make sure he’s available on-demand.
  6. Make sure he won’t yell at your kid or criticize him in any way.
  7. Make plans to spend the future millions that your child is sure to earn as a first-round draft pick.

Right?

I wish.

This topic of private baseball instruction is a big one in the game.  When to start, where to go, how much to pay, how often to go, and when to stop are all components that go in to the decision-making process here.

When to Start

I was 9 or 10 when I first went to camp, 12 when I first started taking specific lessons.  Surely that makes sense now.  Not even close.  Youth sports and baseball in particular are barely recognizable now to the game I played as a youngster.  The key factor in determining when to start looking for an instructor is less tied to a specific age as it is to specific needs in the player’s development. Often parents believe they can teach the game as well as they know it.  This is good so long as the child is receptive to the instruction, but if things get to a point where the player is simply not picking up the lessons, or when the aspects of the game become more complex with new age groups, it may be time to consider a private instructor.

Where to Look

Aside from Googling for instructors or baseball schools in your area, there are additional resources available.  Perhaps the best to use would be to ask around on your team or in your circle of friends to see if any one can recommend an instructor who works well with their child.  Additionally, attending different camps can allow you to see instructors and how they approach group sessions and instruction to gauge how they might work out for your player.

What to Look For

This is a tricky one, right?  Presumably you’re looking for someone who can provide objectively correct instruction, while also being able to develop a rapport with your player and personalizing their delivery to them.  This may sound pretty “new school”, but every player is different and communication in a one-on-one setting should be tailored to the individual.  If a coach can recognize this and tailor their communication to the personalities (and even moods) of different players, then you may have found a winner.  This is where you can “test drive” different coaches to see who knows what they’re talking about, and who your player responds well to.

Cost

Rates can be anywhere from $40-$50 for 30 minutes to over $100 for hour-long sessions.  Pay what you think makes sense.

What to Expect to Get Out of It

At minimum, warning track power and 10+ MPH on the fastball after 2 sessions.  AT MINIMUM!  Seriously, as with any skills that a person develops, the ability to execute the skill can differ between different scenarios.  A player may struggle to pick up a principle in a lesson, then execute perfectly on it in the final innings of a bracket championship game 3 days later.  And we’ve all seen the opposite be true as well.  The key here is patience and trust in the process.  If the coach is teaching the right concepts and the player is enjoying the instruction and learning from it, it’s sometimes a matter of time before the results come.

The Parent’s Role

If you’re paying for the instructor, you kind of have two choices:

  1. Reinforce his or her concepts in no-instructional scenarios
  2. Undercut the lessons by trying to impart contradictory principles on your child.

If you choose #2, just save your money and either find a new instructor or resume teaching the child yourself.


Personally I’m a proponent of private instruction so long as it makes sense for the player.  In my experience, it’s helped me learn the game better seeing it be taught by professionals, and also helped my communication in different scenarios.

February 3 in Baseball History

February 3, 1961

“Charlie Finley douses an old school bus bearing the sign ‘the Kansas City-to-New York shuttle’ with gasoline and sets it on fire in the left field parking lot of Municipal Stadium. As the vehicle becomes engulfed in flames, the new owner of the A’s tells reporters the stunt symbolizes the end of the team sending talented young players to the Yankees in exchange for major leaguers well past their prime, a practice deeply resented by the Kansas City fans.”

 

Another bananas story that would be much bigger today.  Maybe a Braves owner could set fire to an old airplane symbolizing the end of the home team shipping off every breathing ball player.

February 2 in Baseball History

February 2, 1876

“The National League is officially formed with franchises located in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Hartford, Louisville, New York, Philadelphia and St. Louis. The Hartford Dark Blues will play its second season in Brooklyn, being renamed the Hartfords, before the charter team is disbanded in 1877.”

Hrrmmmm.  Only the anniversary of the start of professional sports as they exist today. No biggie.

Can’t wait for some travel team to model a full-dye sublimated uniform set on the 1876 Hartford Dark Blues….

TBB Essential Drills Series #2 – How To Run Through First Base

 

Here we have TCU Baseball Coach Randy Mazey breaking down one of the elemental aspects of baserunning.  The first thing a runner has to worry about as they learn to play is busting it down the line to beat out a groundball.  This video provides great advice on that as well as some iconoclastic tips on how which way to turn when heading back to first.  Every coach needs to watch this because we’d avoid stupid arguments every weekend about tagging somebody out just because they turned in without making an attempt.

February 1 in Baseball History

February 1, 1976

“Mike Marshall is arrested by the East Lansing police for taking batting practice on the campus of Michigan State University. MSU officials had asked the Dodger reliever not to hit baseballs near the tennis courts, fearing for the students’ safety.”

Wait, WHAT!

That would break twitter, espn, and facebook all at once these days!  Bonkers!

Glad I never had to worry about that when I was younger….