Not so Obvious Baseball Tips – Teaching the Game
- Updated: June 23, 2011
Since retiring from major league baseball many years ago, I have studied and taught the game to many. I wish I had a few extra bucks for every time I thought to myself, “If I only knew then what I know now.” The good news is that what I know now, I pass on to young ballplayers so they avoid some of the mistakes I made or at least learn to avoid those mistakes sooner than I did. Following are some tips in the area of hitting, fielding, and pitching that were not so obvious to me back in the day, for whatever reason, but that help ballplayers perform better. They may seem obvious, but even major league ballplayers fall into some of these traps from time to time.
- The best swing in the world is useless without 100% concentration on the ball. As many hitting slumps are caused by not seeing the ball well as by incorrect hitting mechanics, at least at the higher levels of baseball.
- It is always better to hit the ball on the sweet spot then to miss it, hit the ball off the handle or off the end of the bat. Bat control is crucial so hitters should not be averse to choking up on the bat, cutting down on their swing and attempting to hit the ball to the opposite field, especially with two strikes.
- Getting a good pitch to hit is better than having the perfect swing, although good hitting mechanics are always necessary.
- A greater focus on the target after fielding the ball is key because as many errors occur on throws than on fielding balls. Along those lines, treating warm-up throws between innings as if they were game throws is good physical and mental practice for ballplayers.
- Charging the ball, when in doubt, is great fielding advice. Lying back on balls leads to “letting the ball play you” or hurried and inaccurate throws.
- “Taking the bat to the field with you,” is a very common practice for ballplayers of all ages. This statement usually gets a puzzled look from kids but is necessary advice to learn. Hitting is such a huge part of the mental focus for ballplayers that they often are thinking of their last or next at-bat when in the field, leading to defensive miscues.
- 1. Throwing to the target is the correct mental focus for pitchers. Pitchers of all levels get in the habit of pitching to batters instead of throwing to the target. Pitchers should not allow the batter to minimize their focus on the catcher’s glove.
- 2. Maintaining focus on the things they can control is necessary. It is very common for pitchers to get upset when fielding misplays occur leading to less focus to the following hitters. Learning to stay focused on the things they can control leads to better pitching results, and ultimately, more focused fielders.
- 3. Believing that throwing the ball hard is what pitching is all about often leads to a disappointed pitcher. Speed is good, but just as important is location, movement, and change of speeds.
Finally, good coaches take nothing for granted and constantly, or occasionally, remind players of these, depending on the experience level of the player. The sooner in their careers that players learn these baseball tips, the better baseball experience they have.