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Building A Strong Team Dynamic

Feb 20, 2020

Coaches, I want you to take a minute and think back to your time as a player. What do you remember?

Do you remember what happened on your 310th career at-bat? Or your fourth high school at-bat result?

The answer to most of these questions is ‘no’. We tend to remember the teams that made us smile, the teammates that played the game the right way, the big pressure moments, and lastly, we share stories about those that dominated our league or those who made it to the next level.

None of our memories are combative, or are regretted opportunities, but rather the times this game was fun.

That’s what teams today miss. As coaches, one of the most dynamic pieces to a successful team is understanding that more than anything, we are playing a game.

Teaching kids to accept failure is extremely difficult, but by creating an atmosphere where your team works hard to be as efficient as possible, with the understanding of

‘MISTAKES ARE GOING TO HAPPEN’ it will better help the players control their emotions, and lead to more success as a group.

 

A team dynamic is important in the foundation of every team, so effectively distinguishing the main objectives of the team

(I.E. team goals, team objectives, etc.)

WHILE ALSO teaching the mental and emotional aspects that come with this game, can lead to a team bonding in more ways than just baseball.

Relate all lessons learned while playing this game to the bigger picture. Teach the kids that these lessons carry more weight than they may know now, as they will face these same feelings and emotions in the real world.

Those are going to resonate with the players, making them see the bigger picture and understand that the dynamics of the team is bigger than j

ust a “baseball only” mindset.

This will lead to players bonding together, and with the coaches on a deeper level leading to more success as a team moving forward.

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Tricks of The Trade: Standing Out During the Recruiting Process

Feb 10, 2020

Parents, as your athletes get older and begin separating themselves from their competition, are you aware of the opportunities that they truly have at the next level?

There are roughly 2,000 collegiate teams in the United States looking to fill rosters with the players that best fit and buy into their program’s traditions and beliefs on the baseball field.

Now, do not get overwhelmed, I understand that a lot of coaches talk about the percentage of players that make it to that level, (roughly 6.4% of senior athletes in High School make it to the collegiate level, according to the NCAA ), but do not let that discourage your athlete from giving it their all to play beyond their High School years.

With the new technological advancements in the game of baseball and the use of recruitment based camps and tournaments, there are new and much more accessible ways of getting a head start in the recruiting process.

New social media accounts, and online websites such as FieldLevel, Hudl, Prep Links, and so on, give coaches the ability to watch your player from the convenience and comfort of their current surroundings making recruitment far more elaborate and extensive than ever before.

By creating an online profile describing your athlete; height, weight, class of graduation, and current statistics, it gives coaches a better opportunity to find you earlier, as well as keep tabs on you throughout your high school and summer seasons.

Giving coaches video on performance, or fundamental-based video analysis, along with updated statistics allows coaches to track tendencies as well as get a better wholesome picture of a player as an athlete. With so many technological advances, I believe there is a better opportunity for a true evaluation of a player, for a longer and overall better understanding of a person’s full potential on the field.

Keeping your online profiles updated, as well as accurate, gives you that much more of a head start in the recruiting process.

Along with the advancements in technology, there has been an increase in recruitment based camps and tournaments that have become extremely detrimental in getting the appropriate exposure to recruits.

Through area-based scouting camps, there has been a tremendous increase in collegiate coaching turn-outs, and in turn the number of players that successfully get an opportunity to play college baseball has significantly gone up.

Getting involved in camps, or teams that partake in recruitment based activities gives your athlete an extreme edge over the majority of their competition.

Teaching your child to play with coaches watching, teaches them to slow the game down as well as teaches them the appropriate way to react and play the game of baseball.

Normalizing the pressure leads to both a confidence boost for the athlete, as well as experience at the most competitive level that most children do not get. What you are looking for is an edge, something that makes you stand out from the rest, and in a sport full of failures, the experience is the best thing for understanding and crafting your overall skills.

Outside of the diamond is where the impact is tremendous, teaching athletes at a young age how to correctly communicate and effectively converse with scouts, impact recruitment as much, if not more than the skills you attribute to the field.

The most asked question by coaches at the next level is, “What is he like as a person? What are his grades like? Is he coachable?”.

Thus, learning how to properly communicate with coaches is extremely important, so getting them used to these types of conversations at a younger age, gives them a head start come their junior and senior year when they start talking with coaches more frequently.

The best thing you can do is get exposure for your athlete, actually, in my opinion, there is no such thing as too much exposure, thus I would suggest going above and beyond if this truly is what your child wants to do.

Alongside recruitment camps, come competitive Select baseball. These are normally summer and winter teams that are separate from the high-school team. These teams can be extremely beneficial in getting recruited and playing at the highest level.

Find your athlete a team that partakes in recruitment based activities. Whether that being camps, or playing in tournaments that are sponsored by, or represented by college teams. These events give players direct contact and exposure to Collegiate coaches, as well as gives them a more personable experience when meeting and talking with these coaches.

By normalizing the conversations between your athlete and collegiate coaches, as well as exposing coaches to your athletes in person, it creates more opportunity for your athlete as a whole.

Remember, college baseball is a passion, but finding a home away from home is also important in finding the perfect fit for each athlete.

Using the new technological resources, as well as exposing your kids to the highest caliber of competition and pressure from playing in front of recruiters, it will best set them up for success to get seen and talked to.

Putting yourself in front of those that you are trying to impress is the best way of getting picked up and brought aboard a collegiate team, and if you successfully use the newly available resources it will increase the likelihood of being talked too, as well as finding your athletes dream school to settle down and pursue the rest of their lives.

 

 

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Dear Baseball Parents: 3 Step Guide To A Great Car Ride Home

Feb 06, 2020

A 3 Step Guide To A Great Car Ride Home

Parents, do you ever feel as if you are stuck on what to say to your child after a long day on the field? Now, normally on the good days, where your child has a few hits and played well the conversation might seem easy.

A quick, “Good Game”, or “Wow, way to play today!” In hopes that your son or daughter will take over the conversation with how they felt, or the play-by-play from their perspective of being on the field.

Well with all good things, comes the bad, and in those times, do you feel as if you freeze up?

Or do you feel as if the awkward silence has weight within the room, and you are finding any way to make it less stressful?

Being a college athlete, I have endured countless car rides home, some of them being my parents and I interrupting each other in excitement over the unbelievable plays made in the game and some of them being dead silent.

 Though there were the bad days where no one knew what to say, not even me, those were the days that helped shaped me into the player and man I am today. 

Parents, here are some helpful hints and insight into the ways to effectively communicate through the good and bad days your child will go through when playing this game.

 

Hint #1: BE SUPPORTIVE 

No matter what kind of day your child is having, be there. Tell them how the game personally made you feel like a supporting figure, but then after, LISTEN.

For several years in my life, I believe I felt like I held my true opinions internally on the game until I was alone and could express myself. This was not healthy, as I was bottling up my emotions, rather than expressing them.

Parents, please, let your children who are passionate about their sport(s) express themselves, they need to get the emotions out and in the open in order to best cope and move forward.

Just like us adults, when we hold things in, rather than expressing them it negatively impacts our emotional aura.

Children experience this as well when playing sports, so rather than sitting in the car in silence, even if it was a tough day at the field, make sure you show support and engage in getting your children to express how they are feeling after each game, proving your true support, as well as helping them move forward.

When children see you care for their feelings, and you give them the opportunity to express themselves, it shows them how much you truly care, and are there for them as a true support system in their life both as an athlete, and an individual in this world.

 Hint #2: Communicate WITH your Child, Rather than TO Him 

Being an athlete you put a tremendous amount of pressure on yourself to succeed. In the game of baseball, you see as each player goes through an emotional rollercoaster throughout each game based on the different outcomes and circumstances that come within a baseball game.

Being that athletes apply so much pressure to themselves when we are faced with failure, on numerous accounts our first reaction is to be upset with ourselves for not being successful.

What this does over time is break us down, and then what we need most after is for the people we love most to adapt with us and feel as we do base on the outcomes of the current game.

Take this, for example, your son/daughter has the game of his life, goes 4-4 with a walk-off home run, the success and emotions he will feel this day will normally be much different than the day he happens to go 0-4 with 2 strike-outs.

What we tend not to realize is the significance of what they were truly feeling in those moments. Rather than saying “Today was just a tough day”, or “You tried your best”, try encouraging them by asking what they were feeling that specific day. Or, ask them what they felt did not work one day, compared to the day they were successful.

Questions that make the athlete reflect on their current states within the game will positively lead to them reflecting, and working towards better execution in the future.

Allowing your children to learn from their mistakes is a normal want for most parents, so applying the same core values to the sport they love, will show them you are there for them, rather than just there to watch.

Work with your child on coming to resolve or a solution to work for come the next time he/she touches the diamond.

Referring to the emotional side of baseball, rather than just the physical demand that comes with playing this sport will give your child insight into the larger aspect of this game.

That being, that the majority of true-life lessons you learn can be easily implemented to the game of baseball, thus making them realize in the end that we truly are still just ‘playing a game’.

Paying attention to how your child is feeling within, and effectively getting he/her to communicate it with you will lead to healthier coping remedies come the next time they feel this way, either after another game or after a life event.

Communication is key, and doing so with your child, rather than directing comments at him will better lead to fluent and healthy conversation in the car ride home from both good and bad performances.

Adjust your topics, to the things your athlete has been feeling or is expressing with you, in order to give off the most effective and efficient communication to your child.

Being an athlete is not easy, but having a support system, and someone to turn to effectively communicate when you need too is detrimental in the overall success of any athlete and person in this world.

 Hint #3: Explain the Bigger Picture 

 Being an athlete myself, it took me a long time to see the relevance, and the overall outcomes you learn from playing the game of baseball.

There are countless life lessons I am going to take away from this game, that I never truly realized at a young age.

These lessons are something I believe children need to learn to not only see but also act upon starting at a much younger age.

Learning when to be effectively aggressive, as well as learning to control your breathing in order to better control yourself in each situation is something I wish I would have understood earlier, and it is something I believe parents can show and explain to their kids based on what each child felt and expresses to you after a game.

 These moments that we as baseball players express as, “Oh I just missed that, next time I have to be ready just a little sooner” or, “Man, I didn’t expect that base-runner to do that, next time I will learn and expect them to attempt to score on the same opportunity”.

These sayings, the little things that lead to us making adjustments are things adults do every day. Whether that be, planning to leave for work a few minutes earlier on a Monday, due to traffic being a little worse than normal, or you have to accommodate to an unexpected meeting within the workplace.

These adjustments on our toes, and learning to work with them rather than making excuses to be defeated by them are things your children will one day face.

So, simply explain that to them, use their examples to better them for the world outside the white-lines, as well as within them, this way come other challenges they face, or competition that arises within their life, they will be better prepared to work to become successful.

As much as we who endure in this game love it, there is more to life and we ALL know that. But, as a child I remember thinking there was nothing more important than finding a way to win a game, the thing is that mentality should go hand-in-hand with the mentality we as athletes have outside the field as well.

As parents, make sure you express the fact that there is more to life and that these things your athlete is experiencing are things that will come up over and over again within their life, and it takes the ability of continuously making adjustments in order to best accommodate to each situation we face.

This game comes with so many highs, and lows. So many emotions and feelings that are hard to explain in words at times.

But athletes need a support system, one that is there to communicate with you and help you understand the emotions you are feeling. The life lessons and experiences that come with the game are ones that need to be remembered, and if effectively communicated and reviewed, can be detrimental in further success in life.

The car ride home from games has never been an easy task, yet I hope these hints make it a bit more impactful and beneficial for the family as a whole.

 

How To Steal 2nd Base In Baseball Youth Baseball Advice

How To Steal 2nd Base in Baseball – A 10 Step Guide!

Nov 21, 2019

The Major League game is moving toward home runs, but the youth, high school, and the college game is still centered around small ball. This how-to guide is to help you as a player steal bases, and its to help parents teach their kids the proper way to steal bases. Hint: It’s more mental than you think!

 

#1 Have Confidence in Stealing Bases

Your chance of stealing bases goes way up if you have confidence in what you are doing. There is nothing worse (I’ve been there), than second-guessing yourself when trying to steal bases.

So, if you are a player wanting to steal more bases, or a parent wanting to help their kid, start with having confidence as soon as you reach 1st or 2nd base and think about taking the next bag!

 

#2 Get a Base-Stealing Lead

You should never tip that you are trying to steal a base by getting a larger than normal lead, so, if you want to get a good lead to steal – you need to do it every time you take a lead.

Length – Your base stealing lead should be 10-12 feet at first base, and 14-16 feet at second base for HS and College. (Youth Coaches, please adjust accordingly, I’m a Minor Leaguer so I teach what I know).

Again, if you want to steal bases, there should be no difference between your normal lead and your base-stealing lead, so take a big league all the time if you want to steal bases.



 

#3 Think The Right Thoughts

So, you’ve got a big lead, now what? When you aren’t planning on stealing you should be staring at the pitcher and thinking – back. 

You don’t want your weight to be shifted heavily, that should be centered – just think back. When you are planning on stealing, your thoughts should be different for a righty vs. a lefty pitcher.

 

Thoughts For Stealing 2nd Off A Righty

If the pitcher is right-handed you need to have a soft focus at his feet. If his right foot moves, you have to dive back into the base because he’s picking off. 

If his left foot moves – you go – I know, simple!

 

Thoughts For Stealing 2nd Off A Lefty

Go first move. If the pitcher is a lefty you need to go first move. It’s a debate, I know, but I’ve played for 22 years now and I’ve never met a base stealer that didn’t go 1st move most of the time (first move means you go as soon as he lifts his right leg).

You need to have a soft focus at his entire lower half. If his left foot steps back, dive back into the base. When you aren’t stealing and he lifts his right foot you take a hard step back. I’m going to call this a jab step, it’s a hard step back toward first base with your left leg.

When he sees you do this a couple of times as soon as he lifts his right leg, he’ll forget about picking off. I like to even jab back with my left foot when I do steal, I just do it before he lifts his leg altogether.

Remember Pavlov’s Dog? You train a lefty pitcher 2 or 3 times that you jab hard back toward 1st base every time he lifts his right leg, he won’t think you’re doing much base-stealing at all. Then, when you’re ready, you jab early and go when he lifts his leg.

This makes it the same jump you just got off the righty, maybe even a little better because lefties don’t usually slide step.



 

#4 Properly Position Your Feet

Your left foot should be even with the bag, some like to angle it towards second, but I think that makes you too slow getting back to the base on a pick-off.

Your right foot is a big deal when you steal. The best method I’ve learned is to line your right toes up with the middle of your left foot, this opens your hips a little toward second.

Once your hips are positioned, position your foot. Your right foot should be pointing 45 degrees toward 2nd base. 

This opening up method should be used if you’re running a 60 as well for you older players.

 

#5 U.C.L.A.

This is a beautiful timing tactic first formed at UCLA, hence the name. They led D1 the year they developed this, in steals.

How it works is most pitchers come set for 1-4 seconds before they go home. 

We want to know if it’s 1 second, if its 2, or if its 4, on average.

So, when the pitcher comes set, you start your timer: U – C – L – A. Say it in a way where each letter takes about a second. If he’s going on L every time, that’s his tendency, if he goes on C, then you know that too. This helps with timing and anticipation, and with leaning into the steal.

 

#6 Lean Into The Steal

This is an extremely subtle tactic which helps a ton. We talked about your mindset and how we want your weight to be centered so you aren’t suspicious and so you can get back.

An advanced tactic, is to time the pitcher using the U.C.L.A. method above, and then when he is about to go based on his tendancies, start a subtle lean toward 2nd base. This little momentum could save you .2 seconds which could be the difference between out and safe.

 

#7 Take A Big Crossover Step

The first step in stealing a base is crucial. The good news is, you don’t have to run 100-meter sprints to practice it, you only need to sprint about 5 steps to practice your first step.

It starts with your arms, pull your right arm down hard and bring your left knee and arm forward as fast as you can. Your first step should be fast and should gain a lot of ground.

 

#8 Peak-In On Your Third Step

On the third step of stealing the base you need to peak in to see if the batter hits the ball. 

If he misses on a swing, or doesn’t swing, you keep going. 

If he hits the ball on the ground, you keep going.

If he hits the ball on a line, you keep going (not enough time to get back anyway).

If he hits the ball in the air, you freeze, assess whether it can be caught, and get back if it can.

If he hits a base hit, you round the base and pick up the 3rd base coach.

 

#9 Slide Head First

This one is an opinion that certainly has pros and cons. I’ve just been thrown out too many times sliding feet first to ever do it again. Here are the pros and cons for you to decide yourself.

 

Pros

  • It’s proven to be faster (Sports Science – look it up)
  • It’s easier to avoid a tag
  • You get more safe calls on average (umpire perception)

Cons

  • You can hurt your finger sliding in if your fingers are pointed toward the base (see #10)
  • It can be a bit scary for younger kids to get used to
  • If you’re on turf, and it’s really wet, you can easily slide way past the base.



 

#10 Slide With Fingers To Sky And Stay On The Bag

As mentioned in cons above on sliding head first, you can break your fingers if they are pointing straight forward and you slide into a bag. 

This is why it’s important to practice at a young age to slide head first with palms up/fingers up.

At our baseball camps we practice this with a slip n’ slide into a pool, pretty fun way of learning to slide correctly.

Once you’ve slid into the base, and you were safe because you followed all of our steps, you need to stay on the bag.

Smart middle infielders will keep the tag on you for a long time in case you come off the bag for a split second. If you need to shake some dirt off or tie your shoe, call time before you do it.

 

 

We hope you liked our blog helping baseball players and parents on the complexity of stealing 2nd base. We believe that this is the most helpful information you can digest concerning stealing 2nd base in baseball. If you thought this blog was helpful, check out others, or if you’d like to check out our camps – click on your state in the map below!




Nick Rotola
Camp Instructor

A College Players’ View Of The Mental Game Of Baseball

Nov 07, 2019

 

“BASEBALL IS 90% MENTAL AND THE REST IS PHYSICAL!” – Yogi Berra

 

These wise words from the great Yogi Berra are trying to explain that the game we all know and love is mainly mental. Yes, you play the game with your body as in swinging the bat and throwing the ball. Meanwhile, the mental aspect is that you have to make the right decisions each and every play.

Baseball is a game of unconsciousness, this is the reason so much effort is accounted for within the little things. If you focus on the little things, you will find that making the unconscious decision is much easier.

In Baseball, being confident is very important. Confidence stretches further than being competitive, you have to believe that you are the best player on the field day in and day out.

As a pitcher or hitter, you must have self-confidence in order to fail less, and succeed more.

Another key part to the mental game of baseball is Imagery.

This usually means visualization, but if you use Sensory Imagery, your visualization skills will become more
powerful.



A good simple equation for this is

I x V = R (Imagery times Visualization equals reality).

This equation is basically saying that if you take a memory or vivid image and relive it, you will get real results.

For example hitting your first home run or throwing a no hitter, if you relive these memories and apply that feeling to what you are doing, you will become more successful.

Another good mental note to take and use in baseball is being aggressive.

Coaches may sometimes say “close the door”, “bury them”, this means go out there and don’t actually bury them 6 feet underground, but end the game pitch and hit with aggression so there is no chance of them coming back and winning the game.




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American Baseball Camps Reviews

Sep 13, 2019

American Baseball Camps Receives a 99% Satisfaction Rating

 

American Baseball Camps (Founded in 2016) issues random surveys to randomly selected parents after camps in 2017 & 2018 and finds that 99% of parents found their camp extremely rewarding for their ballplayers’ ages 6-12.

 

American Baseball Camps Featured Review

 

“Dear American Baseball Camps, you saved my kid’s baseball career!! He’s an 8 year old ballplayer who comes from a baseball family and he just grew tired of the game. When I asked him why he didn’t want to play anymore, he said that its no longer fun (he would rather play Fortnite!). Anyways, it was sad for our family because we’re a family of ballplayers and the game means a lot to my wife, brothers, father, and I. Long story short, when I saw a video of your camp I thought, let’s give it one more try.

My boy came with a frown on his face, expecting American Baseball Camps to be a huge let down. Boy was he wrong! The next morning I woke up at 7:30AM to find him fully dress in his American Baseball Camps shirt and hat eating breakfast, he couldn’t wait to get to camp!! After camp he asked me to play catch in the back yard and we even set up slip n’ slide wiffle ball to play on Sundays.

When I asked if he wanted to play fall-ball he said yes and was very excited. Whatever it is thats causing kids to want to quit baseball whether its the pressure, or its not fun anymore, or video games just seem more interesting, just give American Baseball Camps a shot. Their whole purpose is to make baseball fun again, and to make kids better ballplayers by helping them fall in love, or deeper in love with the game. Thank you American Baseball Camps, you made my kid’s summer, and you made my year!” – Dalton B.

 

American Baseball Camps 2019 Reviews (Just Some Of Our Favorite)

 

“Hey American Baseball Camps, my name is Susan Combs and my son Cruze Combs attended your KC Baseball Camp this week. I wanted to let you know that he had a really great time, and we really appreciate you coming through KC!! He’s already asking to go back next year!” – Susan C.

“American Baseball Camps, if you haven’t been yet, your ballplayer is missing out!” – Amanda S.

“We were excited to attend an American Baseball Camps camp because we had been referred by my cousin and boy were we impressed. They helped my boy more in one week than his coaches could help him in a life time! (Don’t show his coach this)! – Gina F.

“This is our (I think) fourth year of attending American Baseball Camps and they just keep improving the dang thing.” – Sally P.

“I was excited for my boy to attend camp because after he attended last year he took off at the plate. This year, he’s 11, and he just absolutely loved it. Made great friends at camp and memories that’ll last a lifetime.” – Coach Kevin O.

“American Baseball Camps transformed my kid’s game in a way I couldn’t have dreamed. I wish they came to my city more than once per summer, I’d send him every time!” – Paul D.

“One of the best things I get from parents is how impressed they are with the improvements their kid makes over the 4 days. What I tell them is that in the course of a season you may only have 20-40 hours of practice. Out of those 30 hours, your kid may only get 15-20 quality hours of work, the coaches just aren’t big time college and pro coaches, they are coaches of 6-12 year olds. Any ways, what I tell parents is that our camp which is about 26 hours is about as much baseball repitition as your kid gets in an entire spring/summer of practices. Its no wonder he improves that wild amount, we just get to work and work them, and we make it so fun, they don’t even realize they are working so hard!” – Coach Rob R. (One Of Our Camp Directors)

 

American Baseball Camps 2018 Reviews (A Select Few)

 

“Finally found a good baseball camp that’s all day with early drop off! If you can’t drop your kid off, you can’t go to work… Thank you American Baseball Camps!” – Grace S.

“What a great experience for my boy! Memories made that will last a lifetime!” – Aubrey L.

“Drove my kids 2 1/2 hours for this camp and I’d do it again!” – Katie T.

“Great camp! My boys learned a lot and they had a great time! Thank you American Baseball Camps, we will be back!” – Kaycee D.

“Can’t say enough good things about American Baseball Camps. Great coaching and SO much fun.” – Sarah S.

“As a Baseball Coach that knows enough to get by, its nice to send my boy to a camp where he can get the cutting edge instruction, and receive coaching from someone other than his dad. Great value of a camp, we will be back. Ps. My boy Buddy caught smoking fire at the plate after camp! Thank you American Baseball Camps” – Coach Kevin O.

“The highlight of Zeke’s summer! Can’t wait for the next one!” – Susannah S.

“Would definitely recommend! My son begged to go back again… Even though it was his third straight year of American Baseball Camps! These guys are doing it right.” – Lindsay S.

“Much more personal instruction than the College Camps! We appreciate it and will definitely come again. Thanks!” – Amanda S.

 

Want To Try American Baseball Camps? Select A State To Find A Camp Near You!

 

Camps Still On For Late Summer! While Stuck At Home Check Out Our At-Home Baseball Development Guide!