Youth Baseball Advice — How To Run A Great Practice

Apr 15, 2019 by Nick Rotola CEO of American Baseball Camps in  baseball camps Uncategorized Youth Baseball Advice

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.

The Warmup

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).

Play Catch

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.

*Water break*

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.



*Water break*

Drill Circuit

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)
  • Pickoffs
  • 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.




American Baseball Camps — 5 Ways to Encourage in a Game of Failure

Apr 18, 2019

5 Ways To Encourage In A Game Of Failure

 

#1 Build Self-Esteem

In D1 Baseball we learn about the importance of self-talk and how it can translate into better success on the field. This is something I wish I would have known when I was growing up in youth sports. Self talk is so important — Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake.

It is important in self-esteem building to not compare yourself to others in baseball! So many of the complaints we hear from baseball parents have something to do with some other player on their team and “special treatment.” Jealousy and comparisons with teammates are not healthy thought to be going through a youth baseball players’ head. Parents don’t compare your kid to others on the team.



 #2 The Power of the Bribe

A great way to encourage in youth baseball is with the good old-fashioned bribe. Coaches and parents, pick up a pack of helmet stickers at a local sporting goods store for around $5-10. With these stickers you can interchange hits or home runs with numbers on the back of his helmet. This way you can encourage his success while incentivizing him to be successful.

#3 Positive Reinforcement > Negative Reinforcement

In an already negative game (especially when you get older) extra negativity should be avoided. We already talked about negative thoughts and comparisons with teammates. But there are other areas where positivism and encouragement can overcome negativity. Smiles are better than stern looks when a child looks at you during a game. Smiles are so powerful. They always tend to make others smile. Rather than getting on to your kid when he messes up in baseball try phrases like: “so what” or “get em next time.”



After all, it is just a game. A game that is much more fun when you are encouraged along the way!

#4 Seek Encouraging Instruction

There are two types of coaches out there, the one that encourages, and the one that screams at kids because he’s stuck in 1997 when he played. Seek out those coaches that are knowledgeable enough to know that kids play the best when they have high self-esteem and believe in themselves. Find coaches that cultivate that kind of mindset at the baseball field.

#5 Sign up for a Fun Baseball Camp

The best and most encouraging baseball summer camps in the country are American Baseball Camps. D1 instruction from the D1 Players with an emphasis on encouragement: Phoenix AZ | Wichita KS | Kansas City MO| Tulsa OK

 

– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player

Shop Upcoming Youth Baseball Camps (Ages 6-12)

American Baseball Camps Home Page

 




American Baseball Camps — 5 Healthy Habits For Young Ballplayers

Apr 15, 2019

5 Healthy Habits For Young Ballplayers

#1 Eat Healthy

According to a Children’s Lifestyle study at the University of Chicago, children perform better mentally when they get the appropriate nutrition. Young players and parents of young ballplayers don’t realize how important mental performance is in baseball. Food can be fuel for a young ballplayer. I didn’t start eating healthy until my Junior year of college at the D1 level and I will tell you that it was my best year. You don’t get tired as easily, and your brain is sharp when you are putting the right things in your body. Baseball is more mental than you think, eating healthy could give your kid an edge over the competition.

“Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical” – Yogi Berra

#2 Learn From Mistakes

I know that the new thing is participation trophies and everyone is a winner, but I think that kind of mindset can hurt a young ballplayer. Mistakes and failure can be very productive if a kid can learn from them! The kids that were able to learn from their mistakes were the ones that were the most successful growing up. Even at the D1 level this can set a player apart. Why make the same mistake twice? Why keep swinging at curveballs in the dirt when it is the only place the pitcher is throwing his curveball. Mental adjustments and being able to learn from mistakes can set a young player apart.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”



#3 Get Enough Sleep

According to The Sleep Foundation kids aged 5-12 need 9-11 hours of sleep per night. Sleep has many implications in athletics. Players that get the appropriate amount of sleep are more sharp, they have quicker reflexes, and they have greater stamina. This could set your young ballplayer apart in that final inning when the rest of the team is yawning up a storm.

 

#4 Exercise Daily — The Fun Kind

Exercise doesn’t have to be lifting weights! Young ballplayers that exercise daily can set themselves apart. Remember, the average kid aged 5-12 spends 6.5 hours a day looking at their phone, this cuts into the natural athletic development that occurs when a kid exercises. Want your kid to be the most athletic one on his little league team? Here are some fun things that build muscle & athleticism — Racquetball, tennis, basketball, jump rope, wall-ball, relay races with friends, swimming, boxing, sit-ups, push-ups, grippers, ladders, box jumps.

 

#5 Baseball Isn’t Everything

One of the most healthy habits to develop as a young baseball player is to realize that baseball isn’t everything. 70% of ballplayers are out of the sport by 13 because of the pressure. Something my D1 coach always used to say is: “pressure is something that you put on yourself.” Your young ballplayer has a choice whether he cries or not everytime he strikes out. One of the best ways to avoid that kind of feeling when you fail in baseball is just to consciously realize that baseball isn’t everything. The popular marketing term of “no days off” can be a toxic mindset. There is way too much failure in this game to rely on it and spend everyday thinking about it.

“Baseball is beautiful and perfect in every way — but it’s not everything.” – American Baseball Camps

 

The best baseball summer camps in the country are American Baseball Camps: Phoenix AZ | Wichita KS | Kansas City MO| Tulsa OK

– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player

Shop Upcoming Youth Baseball Camps (Ages 6-12)

American Baseball Camps Home Page




American Baseball Camps

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!

 

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