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Choosing the best stride

 

Having the correct stride is very similar to getting your hands back. Both are necessary movements to starting your swing. If not done correctly, you may find yourself not being able to handle certain pitches.
A common debate for many teachers of hitting has been about what to do with the lead leg when beginning to transfer your weight. Should you have a leg kick, toe tap, simple stride, post stride, or a leg lift that simply comes up then down?  Like every other mechanical attribute, a hitters front leg movement depends on the type of hitter he is and what he is capable of. Each style has their benefits and their handicaps.

Leg kick

An example of an effective leg kick would be Hanley Ramirez. His power comes from shifting his weight s
lightly back thus allowing his lead leg to lift. As his weight shifts back to his center of gravity he has cultivated momentum which will allow his hands to be pulled through the zone while using his core for torque. This movement creates UNBELIEVABLE power but the problem is that most hitters heads will move too much during the stride thus disabling the hitters optic nerve to receive the information (pitch) accurately enough to make the correct adjustments and react accordingly. The more
the head moves the less you see. So if you have a leg kick, your head moves back but after the weight shift it has to come back to where it was in the beginning stance or a few inches forward. A little head movement won’t hurt, but a lot will. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger hitters because their legs haven’t developed enough for the necessary leg strength and balance.

Toe tap

A toe tap is all about rhythm. Chipper Jones is probably the best at this style. It allows you to get some weight going back before you stride while you keep your feet close enough to the ground so that you can avoid getting your foot down too late. Personally I think this is a good style. I did this early in my college career and also ended with a style like this. This also allows your head to stay still while you attempt to pick up the pitch early enough. There really isn’t anything negative I can think of about this approach.

Simple stride

This style is probably the most basic movement that majority of hitters have done. Not much emphasis is being put on getting your weight back, but is a style that is good for getting your foot down in time with without post- striding. A simple stride is basically the movement of your foot in your stance striding straight to a flex stance without a leg kick or toe-tap. A  Couple of players that do this well are Evan Longoria and Dustin Pedroia.

Post stride

This is a stride that you see more often in college and minor league ball. These players are finally seeing high velocity on a day to day basis so are having to make adjustments by getting the front foot down before the ball is even released. This is a very effective style as long as hitters remind themselves to keep their weight back and or not to Over stride. Some hitters tend to drift forward as they post stride thus robbing them of their power and ability to stay back on off speed. There aren’t a lot of big leaguers that do this but its not because it isn’t effective but because these guys are so athletic and experienced that they have made adjustment to big league fastballs. Juan Pierre, B.j Upton, Curtis Granderson have made hitting look easy when they do this.

Leg lift

The final style is leg lift. Its a simple lift of the leg and it lands back in the same spot. Watch A-rod or Derek Jeter. They both do his very well. This is a style I recommend for younger players along with the post stride. The style promotes keeping the head still while still generating some movement back before weight transfer.
Regardless of your preference in stride, a proper leg lift ALWAYS keeps the hitters weight inside his back leg thus keeping his center of gravity. The stride is always short. I can’t think of many hitters whose stride is long. Some hitters may start their leg lifts to late thus getting the foot down too late. This will disrupt timing, so read Getting front foot down in time:) Remember, the stride is the most important movement in your pre-swing so keep things comfortable and simple, but don’t be afraid to experiment. You never know what you will discover. There is a “True Player” inside all of us waiting to be discovered.

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6 Reasons Why He Should Not Play Tournament Baseball

 


During the past 10 years or so tournament style baseball, or more popularly known as travel baseball, has quickly become a main stay in the culture of little league baseball.  Nowadays it is not unheard of  for a 12-year-old child to play over 80 games in a year. This has already and will continue to bring about negative influences and setbacks that could have been avoided.

Consistently playing a game where the “results” are emphasized as the main focus is a devaluing of sports development and an undermining of what is most natural and pure about baseball.

One positive that travel ball has to offer is playing experience. I have to admit that it is priceless but it can be acquired in other ways which I will go over soon. In the big scheme of things, a young player who is consistently competing in tournament style baseball, will experience positive benefits. These however, will undoubtedly be outweighed by the compounding negatives over the course of the young player’s baseball career while playing in travel baseball:

1. Doesn’t learn about the “Process” of the game

The majority of little league tournaments last no longer than a couple of days and mostly over the course of a weekend. Games are scheduled so that each team will have at least a chance to play each other once; given that the tournament is designed as a double header.

During the course of a league season, a player experiences the process of teamwork, makes adjustments throughout the week, and develops a relationship with the coach who’s sole intention is the welfare of each player.

In league baseball, a player will more than likely learn to value quality practice rather than the results of a game.

2. Coaches place very little importance on a kid’s development

It is no surprise that the majority of coaches in this culture of baseball have lost a lot of insight on what is most important. I don’t care how organized the tournaments are, how talented the kids are, or how experienced the coach is. When it comes to organizations dealing with the youth, that’s precisely what it should be about, the kids!

I have seen many times where coaches have put great expectations on their players often with very little vital feedback. Yes, even in the MLB. Since the tournaments are so short, the value is placed on tangible results such as making it to playoff rounds.

3.Coaching skills are poor

Another sad aspect of tournament ball is the lack of effective coaching. This isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault. You can give me nine players that have above average athletic ability and I’ll run the table against local teams. I’m sure my coaching decisions would be less polished as well.

Basically you could give my roommate(who has never played baseball), the Yankee’s lineup card, and I’m sure we could win a few games…right?

4. They forget to have fun

When I was younger, playing baseball was such a significant activity for me that I wanted to do it everyday. There wasn’t an adult conducting my decisions between the lines. I played for fun, and that was the key to my development.

I truly feel that a major part of my athletic development (hand-coordination, stamina, strength) came from playing stick ball every day over the course of a summer. The games were unorganized but very competitive!

5. Injuries increase

This is probably the most disappointing point concerning the negative aspects of tournament ball.

Injuries are sky high and it has a lot to do with the lack of moderation by tournament officials.

If a player pitches pitches a large amount of innings in a particular tournament and then pitches in another tournament, they are unaware of specific pitch counts of players and, in some situations, they don’t care.

Yea there are rules but are these rules really followed consistently? I’ve heard of many loop-holes and other malpractices which contradict the very existence of any tournament regulations in the first place.

When playing in a league, you know you’ll have some form of structure. Monitoring players (mostly pitch counts to avoid injuries which are already difficult enough to avoid in the first pace) will be much more effective.

The structure of league style baseball is catered to help players stay healthy.

6. Coaches don’t have the best intentions.

I have heard of parents who have gotten calls from coaches to have their kid fly over to play in a weekend tournament.

Does this coach really have the kid’s future in mind?

No, he just wants to win and is willing to do it with anyone who is “talented” enough to contribute. In a league, you will more than likely find a coach with commitment. This is every baseball parent’s dream.

I can’t deny the few benefits that competing against elite players in a weekend tournament provides but being a weekend warrior (a freelance/mercenary baseball player who plays for the teams with the best reputation) can only benefit a young player for so long before those pros begin to be outweighed by the cons.


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My mother and me

While Growing up, my mother had the tenacity or should I say the audacity to remind me every day of how special I was. How compared to my teammates and class mates, I was much different and because of this I was destined to accomplish great things in baseball.

So from an early age I believed this to be true and can admit that it was the catalyst for my ability to have made it as far as I did. Consequently as I grew older I realized that the luxury of having a mother who was willing to invest her self into my development, was a huge responsibility on my part.

For one, I had to develop and cultivate an awareness about the type of person I was becoming. What influences I had, needed to be positive ones, so that I could better implement the life lessons that my mother conveyed. This experience was at many times tumultuous, but the reward for mastering the values taught, I can say I’m still benefiting from to this day.

For me baseball was the medium for my participation in personal development. It has given me a lot to be grateful for, and it”s this that inspires me to share with you all the benefits of sacrificing everything you have for something larger than yourself.

What ever passion or hobby you think of.

I’m assuming it”s baseball. Whether for your career or your child’s. When I think of all the challenges that a career in baseball has had for me I”m constantly reminded of an interesting quote from my high school days.

“Baseball gives you every chance to suceed. Then turns around and puts every ounce of pressure on you to prove you don’t have what it takes. It never lifts off the pressure and never takes away the opportunity”

-joe garagiola

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Getting recruited and a baseball scholarship

As you have probably figured out, with this being the age of information, there have become more and more ways to bring exposure to athletes. We can now use the internet to showcase skills of a player from half way around the world. But nothing beats an evaluation in person, which is why participating in showcases, and professional tryouts to develop a reputation among local professional scouts and other baseball institutions is very important.

There is a saying that if a particular player is good enough, or has the talent to play at the next level he will eventually be found, so there really isn’t much you need to do on your end to get signed or a scholarship.

WRONG

Assuming that you’re not a first round draft pick or player that’s heavily being scouted, you will have to take a certain amount of responsibility. For both parents and players.

It really does depend on what baseball institution you are apart of as well. It’s a simple fact that some schools and areas get scouted more heavily than other. It’s important as parent and baseball players to be aware of this.

It’s not uncommon for a very talented player to go under the radar. He may not of gotten the exposure required to play professionally or at a big school.

And though getting a baseball scholarship or signing a professional contract isnt an exact science3, there is a formula. It goes as follows.

Become familiar with the local colleges in the surrounding areas.
Have a general idea of expenses to attend college with or with a scholarship
Send letter of introduction to both JR colleges and four year colleges
Ask your coach to send letters on your behalf
Send fall, spring, and summer league schedules to local colleges and scouts
Play summer baseball( The extra at bats are priceless and bring large amounts of exposure)
Attend as many pro open tryouts as well as showcases( if you can afford it attend a winter break one as well)
Apply for other scholarships and grants that can be found here
Take act/sat
Register for the NCAA Clearing house( very very very important!!!!!!)

This may seem like a lot to do just to play a game, and it is. But believe me its worth it!!! The opportunity to play baseball for a college team along with an education, and or playing professionally is simply an invaluable experience. Just be aware that there are plenty of things you can do to make this happen so be pro-active!