Why should baseball players make adjustments?
Let’s start with a story, because stories help people remember things.
Let’s take Jose Bautista for example, he’s not the only one that made a crucial adjustment, but lets just use him as our example.
#3 Jose Bautista’s career changing adjustment
This picture was taken during Joey Batts’ infamous home run and bat flip in game 5 of the ALDS. Now let’s talk about his journey and the adjustments that got him to where he is now.
Between 2004 & 2009 Jose Bautista was traded and moved around and never hit more than 16 home runs in a season. He was never a special player.
When Jose Bautista went from dud to stud hitting 54 home runs when the next highest in the league was 40. He followed this up the next year by hitting 43 in 2011.
So what was the switch? What did he do to as the New York times put it “start putting up Babe Ruth numbers circa 1927.”
His adjustment was to start his swing earlier and easier. He made a conscious decision to relax more and start his leg kick earlier. He was starting so late that in order for him to be on time he had to be quick. Starting earlier and easier helped him to relax his hands and pick up off speed pitches better. Being quick and late with your swing makes you tend to tense up and struggle picking up off-speed.
He had heard coaches tell him this adjustment lots of times during his career but he said it wants until he actually practically made changes and watched video that he was able to make the change.
#2 Hall-of-Fame advice
Check out this video of three great hitters talking hitting and the importance of adjustments in baseball:
#3 A bad plan/approach will always be a bad plan/approach
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That is kind of how hitting without adjustments can be. If you are a young player, and you don’t make adjustments to your approach or swing, you just may drive yourself nuts in this game.
It’s not fair to yourself in a game dictated by numbers to not give yourself the best chance for success every time you step up to the plate. There is no reason to just keep going to the plate with the same plan that has been giving you frustrating results.
Your ability to make adjustments can make or break you in this game. And you’ll have a lot more fun playing this beautiful game if you can do it.
– Author Anonymous (The NCAA doesn’t allow me to disclose which historic baseball program I play for)
Blog posts provided by American Baseball Camps – the first camp with primary instruction from active D1 players. ABC’s mission is to make baseball fun again! They do this by providing the most fun baseball camp in America where they encourage players to have fun and help them to play their best. Summer fun camps are coed, and for kids ages 12 and under. They feature slip n’ slide wiffle ball, pitching dunk tanks, and many many more fun baseball games and drills.
“You don’t need a ticket to see some of the best baseball in the world, you just need to drive one of the players to the game.”
The quote is true, youth baseball is an extraordinary part of the year for tens of millions of families across the US. So much excitement and fun and togetherness. Youth baseball is an excuse for families to rally behind each other: picking each other up in the lows and celebrating in the highs.
It’s all fun and grand right? Kids are active and they have fun and play with their friends and spent tons of quality time with their family right? Not really.
We could go on for days on how things have changed, but to highlight a few:
- Kids are looking at their screens 7+ hours a day according to a study (causing anxiety rates in children to reach an all-time high according to this study)
- Childhood obesity has risen to 18.5% according to this study
- Families spend an average of 37 minutes of quality time together each day according to this article.
So the athletic environment as a whole is unattractive, yet youth baseball attendance is growing. Why? Could parents be onto something? Maybe its the perfect medicine for a kid growing up in today’s tech-obsessed, unhealthy, and family-distant America.
In this article, we dig into this subject a little deeper.
Youth Baseball As A Cure: Less Screen Time More Quality Time
According to Pew Research in their study, less than 20% of American homes contain a stay at home parent. This means that 90% of US Parents are only getting to see their children after work (don’t all sigh in relief at once). That’s not to say that working parents are the problem, it just makes the time parents are getting with their children a bit more important. As quantity goes down, quality should go up right? It’s not.
“When you’re with your kids you really need to be good about putting your phone down or your tablet down and talking to them and being engaged because they pick up on exactly what you’re doing,”
An article by the NY Post takes it a step further as it analyzes true quality time American families spend each day and concludes that its fallen to 37 minutes per day. Yikes!
Where’s the quality time going? How do we fix it?
I want to pitch a solution that worked for my family, is working for hundreds of baseball parents we currently work with at American Baseball Camps, and that is Youth Baseball
Whether you are driving to tournaments and staying at hotels, or taking your kid to practice and hanging out, baseball provides a bunch of great quality moments together (unwedged by tech)!
This week Baseball Parents all across the US are hitting Starbucks drive-throughs at 7 AM and running yellow lights all the way to the ballfield to make a Round Robbin Tournament Game and there is nothing wrong with that.
You are making memories. You are all (parents too) putting your amazingly entertaining phones away and making memories as a family.
So, your quality time is improving, and the fact that you are actually getting up and doing something is limiting screentime as well.
This is backed by the data as Research Gate’s new study concludes at physical activity makes it easier for kids to follow screen limitations.
“What we discovered: Children’s odds of exceeding screen-time limits decreased as the number of physical activity sessions increased.”
So we know youth baseball limits screentime, it provides equal or better entertainment, and increases quality time, what else?
Youth Baseball As A Cure: Mental Development
As we all know from the workforce, it’s tough to do anything without a great team. Forming a team, finding the right teammates, and contributing to the group, are all important factors.
As ballplayers begin to develop in youth baseball they start to develop traits that will make them successful in life. Here are our favorite two:
1. Youth Baseball helps you function well with a team
Every baseball player has the choice to elevate his teammates or not. It really doesn’t have a negative side effect, encouraging your teammates and helping them to become better always has a place in baseball.
Good teammates are the ones that learn to not throw their stuff because it’s not all about them. They choose to focus on the success of the team rather than their own success. They are coachable, friendly, easy to be around, and hardworking.
Any coach worth his weight will be teaching his youth ballplayers these traits, and its pretty cool when kids are encouraged by someone that’s not their parent.
2. Youth Baseball helps with handling adversity.
It’s such a broken record but I guess I’ll say it, baseball is a game of failure. Hitters that hit safely 3 or 4 times out of 10 in youth baseball are considered successful. So what about the other 6-7 times? Disappointment!
Baseball is really good about teaching kids to deal with it and good coaches are good about teaching kids to stay even keel throughout a ballgame. Don’t believe in the even keel thing as a parent or coach? Just watch every single baseball manager and how he treats his ballplayers during the game.
Youth Baseball As A Cure: Physical Development
Youth baseball, like many youth sports, is better played when your body feels better.
Don’t believe us? Just watch any MLB player when he’s giving advice to younger kids, its always one of the first things they say to focus on.
Here are a few quick things kids can learn about physical health if they are playing the game the right way.
- Getting good sleep before a game helps you play better.
- Eating healthy meals & drinking lots of water makes you feel better when you play.
At the family level, baseball can also be used as a way to teach healthy food & hydration habits. Being aware of your body and what kinds of foods make you feel better and play better in a baseball game is a great introductory way to understand nutrition as you tackle (a hopefully health conscious) life as an adult.
Hey, it sure beats “if you eat all your food I’ll let you stay up late, or watch more YouTube!
Youth Baseball As A Cure: Longer Attention Span Reduced Anxiety
We touched on it earlier but here are the hard numbers regarding anxiety levels among children 6-17:
2003 – 5.4%
*iPhone is Invented*
2007 – 8%
*Tablet is Invented*
(Source: Center for Disease Control & Prevention)
So how does baseball solve this problem anyway? It doesn’t fully, but it moves kids in the right direction.
If you’ve ever heard the negative connotation “baseball is boring” you may understand where we are going with this.
To be successful in the game of baseball, you have to be “in the moment” (as leading mental conditioning coach Brian Cain states). You have to be present, focused, and attentive to what you are doing every time you play.
Leading attention span experts like George Orwos have stated that when you are forced to practice focusing for long periods of time you will get better at focusing for long periods of time.
In short, being able to stand in the field for 15-minute innings is equivalent from an attention span standpoint to reading for 15 minutes. Pretty cool right!?
When we do something like read a book for 15 minutes or stand in the outfield for 15 minutes, or brain is in something called a “latent state.” If you don’t know about the importance of the latent state for our brains I’d recommend Netflix’s documentary entitled Tech Addict by Buzzfeed.
To sum up the latent state, it’s like giving your brain some time to breathe. Its good for our brain and it helps us to deal with things when our brain gets time to charge. If you want to test it, tell your kid something frustrating after 2 hours of watching YouTube Videos vs. right after an hour and a half baseball practice. I bet he deals with it better after a mostly “rested brain” and more physical activity releasing positive endorphins into his/her bloodstream.
In conclusion, is baseball a cure to many of the things attacking today’s youth? We believe so.
Blog written by Nick Rotola. Nick holds a Masters in Business Administration and is a Minor League Ballplayer with the Cleburne Railroaders. Nick owns and operates American Baseball Camps, a baseball camps company with baseball camps around the US.
Click the map to see if we have a youth baseball camp near you
How To Run A Great Practice
On our trek across the country with American Baseball Camps we have learned that many kids aren’t getting any better at their practices. Smart baseball parents are seeking out teams that run legitimate practices where their kid can actually get better, and I don’t blame them.
One of the worst practice stories we heard was in Tahlequah Oklahoma. A dad told me that at his kid’s practices the coach would put everyone in a group in the outfield and hit fly-balls and whoever catches it, catches it. This is similar to a game we used to play as kids called “500” but it certainly isn’t an entire practice!
This how-to guide on running a great practice is based on 20 years of good baseball experience, extensive research, and being a veteran player at one of the top D1 Baseball Programs in the country.
About ten years ago sports scientists realized that there is a more efficient way to warm-up than to just static stretch and count to ten. It is recommended to run kids through a “dynamic warmup” before practice and that “static stretch,” that you may be familiar with, after practice.
Here’s a quick example of a good dynamic warmup, it works best in two lines starting on the outfield foul line:
- jog 45 feet, jog back
- shuffle 45 feet, shuffle back
- karaoke 45 feet, karaoke back
- high knees 45 feet, high knees back
- butt kicks 45 feet, butt kicks back
- walking quad stretch 45 feet, walking quad stretch back
- leg swings 45 feet, leg swings back
- skipping leg swings 45 feet, skipping leg swings back
- lunges, side lunges 45 feet, jog back
- sprint 45 feet, sprint back
Upper Body Stretch:
- small arm circles forward, big arm circles forward
- small arm circles backwards, big arm circles backwards
- shoulder stretch across
- tricep stretch
- arm swings high to behind you (bicep stretch)
- rotator cuff stretch on the ground (lay on your throwing arm side put arm at 90 degree angle and push hand down towards the ground).
When they play catch remind them to take it seriously. You cannot win in baseball if you can’t play catch. Teach them the catch game to keep them locked in. If you hit them in the chest 3 points, hit them in the face 2 points, hit them in the arms or legs 1 point. Front elbow should be up and pointing towards where you want to throw it when you are playing catch.
On Field BP with the Rest of The Teams Taking Live Reps
BP on the field is a great way to see the results of your batting practice. It also gives the fielders a chance to take live reps off the bat if you do it right. Split your team into 4 groups of 3 (lets say you have 12 for the example). When 1 group hits, the other 9 players are in the field taking live reps off their teammates hitting, or fungos from a coach. Coaches stand adjacent to home plate. The coach on the 3rd base side hits fungos to the first baseman and the shortstop. The coach on the 1st base side hits fungos to the 3rd baseman and 2nd baseman. You need to wait and hit them in between pitches so that kids don’t have to field the fungo and the live grounder at the same time. Mix in some fly balls for the outfielders if they aren’t getting much action live off the bat.
Don’t have the whole team running one drill at one time, try to have coaches running simultaneous drills and just have the players rotate. It’s important to be efficient with your practice time. Below we have listed some drills to choose from that we like that we think could make young players a lot better:
- Rundown drill with a baserunner
- Pitcher fielding practice
- Double plays
- Short hops drill for infielders
- Quarterback drill (over the shoulder catches)
- 4 corners drill
- Around the bucket drill (for infielders to take the right path to the ball)
- Blocking drill
- Bare handed ground balls
- Bare handed receiving practice (catchers)
- Up the middle drill
- Soft toss
- Bunt defense
- Throwing to second (catcher and middle infielders)
- ESPN top ten drill
- Double cuts drill
- Robbing home runs drill
A good practice is all about getting the player a lot of good reps in a short amount of time. Players will get burnt out if they are out there all day so try to keep a practice around an hour and a half to two hours.
Make everything a game – I was doing a hitting lesson with a kid and was telling him to try to hit the back net of the cage and drive the ball up the middle. He kept pulling everything, he didn’t hit the back net once. Then when I created a game where hitting the L-Screen was 1 point and the back net was 2 points – he took off. Next thing I knew he was saying “I’m gonna get to 20”. Kids respond well to games and challenges, so try to use those to your advantage. If anything they just promote focus and induce competition.
Treat them like studs and they’ll start acting like it – My career took off when I found a coach that treated me like I was better than I really was. You’d be surprised, treat a player like he’s better than he’s playing and he’ll rise to the occasion
Encourage & support – This generation can’t be coached the same way that you were coached growing up. The drill sergeant makes them run till they puke stuff just isn’t needed. These kids are smart and if you treat them with respect, they’ll treat you with it in return. Every player isn’t created equal — you have to coach to your team. Know your players and coach them accordingly.
– Blog was written by a group of older D1 Baseball Players that have chosen to remain anonymous for NCAA reasons.
Two Quick Tips For Baseball Parents
So you want your kid to be a great baseball player?
Here are 2 quick tips that can help you become a better baseball parent while nudging him in the right direction! Why trust us? We’re division 1 baseball players that have been playing the game for close to 20 years and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, when it comes to baseball parents. And trust us when we say this, we’ve seen some brutal baseball parents.
So what do the best baseball parents do?
#1 Try to remain composed during the game
Dad’s – You are not Joe Maddon sitting on the steps of the dugout with your color coated lineup card and tendency chart but you can certainly remain composed like him. There is a reason the higher up you go in baseball the more composed the coaches/managers are. It’s simply because the data is there to prove that a more relaxed baseball player is a better baseball player study.
Mom’s – Try to keep calm (even though its baseball season). I don’t know what it is about mom’s but they get more fired up about bad calls and bad coaching than anyone on the whole field. Don’t be that mom that’s loud an obnoxious, instead, try to be knowledgeable, laid back, and supportive. My mom helped me out of some of the worst slumps in my life and its because she always let me come to her first. I think if you smother/bombard him, he wont be vulnerable with you. That’s why being laid back if your a baseball mom is the way to go.
#2 Have a little feel
A couple of definitions before we start:
- *Sav – short for “savvy” and means that you’re aware of your surroundings, and that you know a lot about the game.
- *Feel – almost exactly like sav. someone that has no feel is someone that isn’t aware of their surroundings, doesn’t realize the situation they are in, or hasn’t been around the game long enough to in any way know what’s going on.
- An example of someone with no sav and no feel would be like Smalls from The Sandlot when he doesn’t know who Babe Ruth is.
- Salty Vet – An older person who has a lot of feel and/or sav.
Every baseball player will get to that age where he starts to develop some feel for how baseball functions should go on. If you are still going to want to encourage and help your kid when he gets to that age, you are going to have to know your stuff as well! Baseball is a game of endless situations, and the more you watch intently the more you can learn about the game. D1 coaches tell their players to watch baseball on tv because it makes you a better baseball player, and it teaches you feel and sav. For a parent, the goal is to become a salty vet that knows the game and is respected, rather than the laughing stock of the bleachers.
Below we’ve mapped out a few guidelines:
Parents with no feel:
- Yell at the umpire at every close strike call
- Second guess the head coach, and try to talk to him about playing time
- Scream and yell at their kids like a crazy old ice cream truck salesman
- Make everything about them and not about their kid
Parents with feel:
- Under-promise and over-deliver with stuff like gear and dinner/ice cream after (depending on age).
- Dress athletic and are up to date on what they wear.
- Never ever ever talk to the head coach about playing time, it can only hurt.
- Make things look effortless like social media, baseball gear knowledge, or overall knowledge of the game.
In baseball parenting you can either be the windshield or the bug. Don’t be the embarrassing, loud, overbearing, no feel bug. Be the windshield.
– Authors Anonymous 1 and 2 (for NCAA reasons we are not able to disclose the D1 Programs we play for)
*Both authors are pro prospects
Camps can be the highlight of your child’s summer! Great camps create memories that stick with a child for a lifetime! Enough with all the media. Encourage your kid to put the phone down, and get outside and make memories that he’ll never forget!
– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player