Sport Development Blog

 Blending the Old With the New
(7/19/2019)
 
 
   

Blending the Old With The New


FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster


The baseball industry is in a very interesting place right now. The lens through which players, coaches, and fans now see the game has probably changed more in the last five years than it had in the previous 50. 

In 2015, Major League Baseball integrated Statcast in all 30 if its ballparks, opening up a completely new way to analytically think about the game through this state-of-the art tracking system that collected baseball data was never previously recorded, let alone even thought about. As such, launch angle, exit velocity, and route efficiency were born.  And thanks to a few other devices, spin rate, pitch axis, and attack angle came to life soon thereafter.

These technologies have significantly changed the way many coaches coach, many players train, and in turn, the way many teams play.  Pitchers are throwing harder than ever, where the offensive approach of working counts to get into a team’s bullpen is a thing of the past. Hitters are elevating the ball at a rate that we’ve never seen before, while swinging and missing at a frequency that would drive a little league coach nuts. 

Some argue that Statcast has had a negative impact on the game with a focus on these new metrics rather than the game itself, but that view is short-sighted. For years, coaches have used radar guns and stopwatches as a means to evaluate players. Measurables are not new by any means; there are just far more of them now thanks to the technologies that have developed in recent years.  

Old school coaches often lament at the new technology and those who extensively employ it, sarcastically questioning how players ever managed to get better without every single part of a hitter’s swing or pitcher’s delivery being tracked like it is now. The new school regime of coaches often mock the time-tested coaches and their approach to development by discounting anything that has been done forever, foolishly asserting that the game has passed those others by.

There has never been a bigger disconnect within the game between the old and the new than there is now. But, just like with everything else in life, there needs to be balance.  Discarding something that is productive just because it is “old school” is just as naïve as implementing something new solely because it’s new. Experience can be one of the game’s best teachers. And today’s technologies and analytics can make that experience that much more valuable.

Two years ago at the ABCA National Convention in Dallas, Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch took to the stage and told the group of more than 6,000 baseball coaches in attendance, “if you still coach the same way you did five years ago, someone in your league has passed you by.” But that doesn’t mean you throw away everything you knew and everything you did a short time ago. It simply means you grow and continue to learn the game in an effort to get better.  That growth isn’t new school, and it isn’t old school. It’s the best of both schools. 


Darren Fenster is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the Manager of the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. A former player in the Kansas City Royals minor league system, Fenster joined the Red Sox organization in 2012 after filling various roles on the Rutgers University Baseball staff, where he was a two-time All-American for the Scarlet Knights. Fenster is also Founder and CEO of Coaching Your Kids, LLC, and can be found on Twitter @CoachYourKids.


 Baseball Myths
(7/17/2019)
 
 
   

Baseball Myths


Cuddyer's Corner
By Michael Cuddyer


Former Major Leaguer Michael Cuddyer draws upon his wealth of baseball experience to dispel a number of common baseball myths. To have your questions answered by Michael Cuddyer, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Michael Cuddyer is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development blog, and is a 15-year MLB veteran and two-time All-Star, spending his career playing for the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets. A member of the USA Baseball 18U National Team in 1996 and 1997, Cuddyer was then named the 1997 Virginia Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, and was a member of USA Today’s All-Star team. He was selected ninth overall in the 1997 MLB Amateur Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins.


 Decline Swings
(7/12/2019)
 
 
   

Decline Swings


Tech in Baseball
Presented with Diamond Kinetics


Skill Set: Hitting
Difficulty Level: Easy
Number of Athletes and Coaches: 1-2 athletes and 1 coach, or 2 athletes as partners
Average Time to Complete: 5 minutes
Equipment Required: Bat, pitcher's mound or decline hill or similar slope  

Goal: Focus on hitting against the front leg and keeping upper body and head behind it

Description of the Drill: 
• Hitter sets up in hitting stance on a decline hill or similar slope (like a pitcher’s mound) with back foot at top of the hill and front foot down the hill
• Hitter takes dry swings (without hitting a ball)
• Focus should be on hitting against the front leg and keeping the head and body behind it
• If hitter feels their head and upper body getting out over their front leg, they should move their front leg forward a half inch and repeat until they find a spot where their body and head stays behind their leg (this is the stance they should then use as their hitting stance)
• Partners switch after 10 swings

Add Difficulty:
• To add a degree of difficulty, hitters can hit off of a tee from the decline position
• To add a degree of difficulty, hitters can hit front toss from the decline position

Using Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker Sensor and mobile App - the following metrics and tools can help you measure your swing and see improvement when doing this drill:


Impact Momentum
Overview: Impact Momentum is a combination of barrel speed and the size of the bat the hitter is swinging.  The higher the impact momentum, the better chance a hitter has to do damage with greater exit velocities.  Impact Momentum is a great measure of the power potential of a given hitter.

Top 10% of Age Groups: 
• U10 Players: 13 KG/M +
• U12 Players: 15 KG/M +
• U14 Players: 19 KG/M +
• U16 Players: 24 KG/M +
• U18 Players: 27 KG/M +
• D1 College:   28 KG/M +

Coaching Insights:
• Impact Momentum is a “smarter version” of barrel speed because it takes into account the size of the bat. If a kid swings a bigger bat at the same speed, when contact happens, the ball goes further.
• If you want to understand how improving Impact Momentum translates to the game – for every +1 a hitter adds to their Impact Momentum, it equates to roughly a 1.5 MPH increase in exit velocity. And every 1.5 MPH of exit velo translates to roughly 6-10 more feet of carry, depending on launch angle.  
• If you have a high-school kid playing on a full-size field, the magic Impact Momentum number to hit dingers is 27 + (with the right launch angle, of course). A well hit ball with an “IM” of 24 is caught well inside the warning track. Hit it with an IM of 27+ and it is out of the park.

Max Acceleration
Overview: This is the maximum acceleration the bat experiences during a swing. To be clear, acceleration is not how fast the bat is moving; that’s barrel speed. Acceleration determines how quickly a hitter can reach that top speed. Great bat acceleration is in the DNA of elite hitters.

Top 10% of Age Groups:
• U10 Players: 25 G’s +
• U12 Players: 32 G’s +
• U14 Players: 35 G’s +
• U16 Players: 38 G’s +
• U18 Players: 42 G’s +
• D1 College: 49 G’s +

Coaching Insights:
• Max Acceleration tells coaches & scouts if a player can get the bat up to speed in a shorter time, allowing them to… 1) wait longer to recognize the pitch 2) decide what to do 3) And still have the ability to achieve their goal.
• This is a high-level metric that can sometimes stand apart from Max Barrel Speed and Impact Momentum. Max Acceleration requires all parts of the swing to sequence together, achieving that ‘snap’ of the bat that indicates great acceleration.
• You’ll often hear people say, ‘when that kid hits, it sounds different.” This metric is the science behind that old adage.

For more Tech in Baseball videos, click here.


Diamond Kinetics is the market leader in mobile motion technology and information that enables player development, superior equipment fitting, objective scouting and recruiting, and engagement-driven entertainment.


 Ground Ball Hit to the Third-Base Side of the Mound
(7/22/2019)
 
 
   

Ground Ball Hit to the Third-Base Side of the Mound 


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow discusses the method of securing a ground ball hit to the third-base side of the mound and converting a successful throw to record an out after delivering a pitch. 

 



Tom Succow, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 7 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Multi-Sport Camps
(7/18/2019)
 
 
   

7 Reasons to Invest in Multi-Sport Camps 


Consider a multi-sport summer camp rather than a sport-specific one


“Anything we can do to give kids diversity in physical and physiological ways is a win,” says Steve Smith, PhD. Smith is a professor of clinical psychology at University of California, Santa Barbara and focuses on working with young athletes and parents, especially around topics like early specialization in sport. Smith sees multi-sport camps as a great way for young athletes to experience other sports and develop new skills without the pressure of playing for new teams or committing more time during already-packed seasons.

“A multi-sport camp is ideal for helping young athletes avoid early specialization,” says Smith. While tacking on extra sports during the year might be stressful for an athlete and difficult to handle from a time management perspective, a multi-sport camp allows young athletes to explore new sports without adding to an already-busy schedule. 

Here are seven more reasons why you should invest in a multi-sport camp. 

Promote Chances for New Teamwork and Friendships

When young athletes are involved in one sport, they tend to end up with a tight-knit group of friends from that one team. While it’s great to have close friendships, young athletes should be branching out, meeting new people, and learning to work with new teammates. In college, and in life, athletes aren’t always going to be surrounded by teammates they’ve known since kindergarten, so developing social skills is key to long-term success. 

“I work with a lot of collegiate athletes now, and I notice that they travel, practice, and live with their teammates — and if you’re not able to become friendly with those new teammates, you’re going to have a really hard time,” says Smith. “By only knowing one set of teammates, you lose out on interpersonal skills,” he adds. 

It’s important that kids develop their ability to interact with different types of people. A multi-sport camp offers a diverse group of athletes from different disciplines, locations, and backgrounds. Young athletes will have the chance to get outside their comfort zone by participating in a multi-sport camp.  

Learn to Accept Loss and Failure 

In the world of sport, being able to lose is just as important as being able to win when it comes to longevity. If your young athlete has been naturally talented and successful from a young age, it might be beneficial for him or her to experience not being the best on the field. 

“We learn more from failures than we do from wins,” says Smith. "Giving kids the opportunity to be in an environment where they aren’t the best, where they have to step outside of their comfort zone, that’s what teaches them about life and those important life skills.”  

Learn New Skills 

Enrolling athletes in a multi-sport camp can also help them develop in a more well-rounded way. Skills often blend from one game to another: footwork from soccer agility practice may be helpful on the football field and throwing a baseball may make a shot-putter tweak his stance. 

Youth athletes exposed to multiple sports have been shown to be more consistent performers, experience fewer injuries, and stay in sport longer than early-specializers. In a study of 700 professional baseball players, Smith even found that late specializing baseball players were "more likely to get college scholarships and that they consistently practiced more than early specializers.”  

Remember How to Simply Play

"Competition is hard, and it’s hard to be in that place all the time. Young athletes now don’t have a lot of time to just simply play, and camps can offer that,” says Smith. “Taking away the competition and giving a kid an opportunity to just be playful and not results-focused is a huge win.” 

A multi-sport camp can offer young athletes a chance to rediscover the joy of playing, not for a result, just for the sheer fun of running, jumping, throwing and dancing. 

Helps Athletes Get Over Injury

“There’s a benefit to having a horizontal kid—one who can run fast but also play basketball and paint and play an instrument. You shouldn’t be pinning hopes and dreams on one thing. When athletes do that and get injured, it can be devastating,” says Smith. 

A multi-sport camp can offer opportunities for cross-training so that your young athlete can continue to build skills and fitness without pushing an injury. Be sure to talk to a doctor before picking a camp in this case, as certain sports may be better for specific injuries than others.

Find a New Talent or Passion 

Discovering new passions is a great thing for a young athlete. “If a kid specializes early, it increases the likelihood that they’ll get injured or burned out and increases the likelihood of them being sedentary as adults,” says Smith. "That’s not what we want for our kids.” 

Helping children find sports that they can play for life is just as important as winning a championship. Many young athletes won’t go on to be professionals, but they can go on to lead happy, active lives, and finding hobbies outside of that one focus can help them achieve that goal.

Learn Independence

No matter how close you are with your young athlete, it’s important that they get some time outside of your sphere of influence to discover what they are truly passionate about. “You need to let your child figure out who they are, and to do that, you need to separate yourself from the equation,” says Smith. "Letting a child get away from the pressure can be a great thing for them."

_____

Parents and kids are often told that an athlete has to do one sport, do it early, and do it year-round. But as Smith and the research indicate, that’s not always for the best. So this summer, try enrolling your young athlete in a multi-sport camp. 

TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Side Toss
(7/12/2019)
 
 
   

Side Toss


Tech in Baseball
Presented with Diamond Kinetics


Skill Set: Hitting
Difficulty Level: Medium
Number of Athletes and Coaches: 1-2 athletes and 1 coach, or 2 athletes as partners
Average Time to Complete: 5 minutes
Equipment Required: Bucket of baseballs, bats, helmets 

Goal: Focus on loading, staying behind the ball, and hitting the ball up the middle 

Description of the Drill: 
• Hitter sets up even with the plate, while partner kneels on the other side of the plate about 8 feet away
• Partner tosses a ball to the front part of the plate
• Hitter should load, stay behind the ball, and make contact with the ball just in front of the front hip.
• Partners switch after 10 swings

Using Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker Sensor and mobile App - the following metrics and tools can help you measure your swing and see improvement when doing this drill:

Max Acceleration 
Overview: This is the maximum acceleration the bat experiences during a swing. To be clear, acceleration is not how fast the bat is moving; that’s barrel speed. Acceleration determines how quickly a hitter can reach that top speed. Great bat acceleration is in the DNA of elite hitters

Top 10% of Age Groups: 
• U10 Players: 25 G’s +
• U12 Players: 32 G’s +
• U14 Players: 35 G’s +
• U16 Players: 38 G’s +
• U18 Players: 42 G’s +
• D1 College:   49 G’s +


Coaching Insights:
• Max Acceleration tells coaches & scouts if a player can get the bat up to speed in a shorter time, allowing them to… 1) wait longer to recognize the pitch 2) decide what to do 3) And still have the ability to achieve their goal.
• This is a high-level metric that can sometimes stand apart from Max Barrel Speed and Impact Momentum. Max Accel requires all parts of the swing to sequence together, achieving that ‘snap’ of the bat that indicates great acceleration.
• You’ll often hear people say, ‘when that kid hits, it sounds different.” This metric is the science behind that old adage.  

Max Barrel Speed 
Overview: Using Barrel speed, hitters can know the maximum speed of the bat’s barrel during their swing.  It’s measured in miles per hour, so it’s easy to understand and measure improvement over time.  Higher barrel speed is the main factor in producing high exit velocity after contact so the ball goes further… faster

Top 10% of Age Groups: 
• U10 Players: 49mph +
• U12 Players: 54mph +
• U14 Players: 58mph +
• U16 Players: 63mph +
• U18 Players: 69mph +
• D1 College:   72mph +

Coaching Insights:
• This is the maximum speed of the bat’s barrel during a swing, at a point 20% from the tip of the bat (i.e. the sweet spot). It is the main factor in producing high exit velocity when the ball is hit. It greatly affects both the distance and speed at which the ball travels after impact
• Keep in mind that hitters need to “square the ball up” to maximize ball exit velocity.
• Increasing barrel speed is an important goal. Improvement should be measured over time to see if there is real physical and/or swing-mechanic growth. 
• Mechanics are important, but so is size & strength. So when thinking about a kid’s projectability, keep in mind if a player is not done growing yet.

For more Tech in Baseball videos, click here.


Diamond Kinetics is the market leader in mobile motion technology and information that enables player development, superior equipment fitting, objective scouting and recruiting, and engagement-driven entertainment.


 Bat Behind Hips
(7/12/2019)
 
 
   

Bat Behind Hips


Tech in Baseball
Presented with Diamond Kinetics


Skill Set: Hitting
Difficulty Level: Easy
Number of Athletes and Coaches: 1-2 athletes and 1 coach, or 2 athletes as partners
Average Time to Complete: 5 minutes
Equipment Required: Bat, tee, baseballs, net or screen to hit into

Goal: Activate the hips into the swing by using only the lower half in the swing

Description of the Drill: 
• Tee set up in front of the middle of the plate at the height of the bat once placed behind hips
• Hitter sets up even with the plate, while partner places a ball on the tee
• Hitter puts the bat behind their back, resting right above their hips with the barrel of the bat off of their back hip and hooks their arms around the bat
• Hitter hits the ball off the tee by firing with the hips and having the hips control the bat to the ball
• If the hitter is pulling the ball to the pull side, they are casting their hands
• Partners switch after 10 swings


Add Difficulty:
• To add a degree of difficulty, the partner can toss the hitter baseballs, either from side toss or front toss.

Using Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker Sensor and mobile App - the following metrics and tools can help you measure your swing and see improvement when doing this drill:

Distance in the Zone
Overview: Using the Distance in the Zone metric, hitters can determine when their barrel is entering and leaving the hitting zone.  The longer the barrel stays in the hitting zone, the better chance the player has to make consistent, solid contact.  This is clearly depicted in the 3D viewer as the blue portion of the swing path.

Optimal Ranges by Age:
• U10-14: Good is 29-32 inches
• U15-18: Good is 31-34 inches
• College-Pro: Good is 33-37 inches

Coaching Insights:
• Having a swing that maintains a good Distance in The Zone gives the batter a better chance of making contact with the pitch. It also means the swing is “more forgiving” 
• Having a good Distance In The Zone can account for small errors in timing because there is more “space” for the batter to make contact and still put the ball in play.
• This metric can help coaches identify loopy swings based on how early the barrel enters the zone and if there is a ‘hard-turn’ coming out of the zone.
• Additionally, based on where contact is most often made, it can help identify if a hitter is having issues with timing up the pitch.

Hand Cast Distance 
Overview: Hand Cast Distance measure starts when the hitter gets to the load position.  From that point when the bat starts forward acceleration, it measures how far the knob of the bat travels away from that point…measured in inches.  This control metric is important because it shows a hitter’s ability to stay inside the ball instead of swinging around the ball.

Optimal Ranges by Age:
• U10-14 – expect double digit numbers in the teens.
• U15-18 – the batter should try to be a 10 or lower. A good swing


Coaching Insights:
• Impact Momentum is a “smarter version” of barrel speed because it takes into account the size of the bat. If a kid swings a bigger bat at the same speed, when contact happens, the ball goes further.
• If you want to understand how improving Impact Momentum translates to the game – for every +1 a hitter adds to their Impact Momentum, it equates to roughly a 1.5 MPH increase in exit velocity. And every 1.5 MPH of exit velo translates to roughly 6-10 more feet of carry, depending on launch angle.  
• If you have a high-school kid playing on a full-size field, the magic Impact Momentum number to hit dingers is 27 + (with the right launch angle, of course). A well hit ball with an “IM” of 24 is caught well inside the warning track. Hit it with an IM of 27+ and it is out of the park.



For more Tech in Baseball videos, click here.


Diamond Kinetics is the market leader in mobile motion technology and information that enables player development, superior equipment fitting, objective scouting and recruiting, and engagement-driven entertainment.


 Pitcher Overthrowing the Fastball
(7/8/2019)
 
 
   

Overthrowing the Fastball 


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow discusses how frustration and/or a slip in mechanics can lead to a pitcher overthrowing and not locating the fastball. 


Tom Succow, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 No Stride Tee
(7/12/2019)
 
 
   

No Stride Tee


Tech in Baseball
Presented with Diamond Kinetics


Skill Set: Hitting
Difficulty Level: Easy
Number of Athletes and Coaches: 1-2 athletes and 1 coach, or 2 athletes as partners
Average Time to Complete: 5 minutes
Equipment Required: Bat, tee, baseballs, net or screen to hit into

Goal: Focus on staying balanced through the entire swing and after the follow through

Description of the Drill: 
• Tee set up in front of the middle of the plate
• Hitter sets up even with the plate, and takes a practice swing with a stride, this is the position they should stay in for the rest of the drill
• Other partner puts a ball on the tee and hitter hits the ball off the tee WITHOUT striding again
• Hitter should be focused on staying balanced throughout the entire swing and after the follow through
• Partners switch after 10 swings


Add Difficulty:
• To add a degree of difficulty, one of the partners can stand on the other side of the plate facing their partner and throw side toss for their partner to hit while still not striding
• The partner can also throw front toss from behind a screen to their partner still not striding
• The hitter can also move the tee to different contact points (inside, middle, outside) 

Using Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker Sensor and mobile App - the following metrics and tools can help you measure your swing and see improvement when doing this drill:

Hand Cast Distance
Overview: Using the Distance in the Zone metric, hitters can determine when their barrel is entering and leaving the hitting zone.  The longer the barrel stays in the hitting zone, the better chance the player has to make consistent, solid contact.  This is clearly depicted in the 3D viewer as the blue portion of the swing path.

Optimal Ranges by Age:
• U10-14: Good is 29-32 inches
• U15-18: Good is 31-34 inches
• College-Pro: Good is 33-37 inches

Coaching Insights:
• Having a swing that maintains a good Distance in The Zone gives the batter a better chance of making contact with the pitch. It also means the swing is “more forgiving” 
• Having a good Distance In The Zone can account for small errors in timing because there is more “space” for the batter to make contact and still put the ball in play.
• This metric can help coaches identify loopy swings based on how early the barrel enters the zone and if there is a ‘hard-turn’ coming out of the zone.
• Additionally, based on where contact is most often made, it can help identify if a hitter is having issues with timing up the pitch.


For more Tech in Baseball videos, click here.



Diamond Kinetics is the market leader in mobile motion technology and information that enables player development, superior equipment fitting, objective scouting and recruiting, and engagement-driven entertainment.


 Ball Down Front Toss
(7/12/2019)
 
 
   

Ball Down Front Toss


Tech in Baseball
Presented with Diamond Kinetics


Skill Set: Hitting
Difficulty Level: Easy
Number of Athletes and Coaches: 1-2 athletes and 1 coach, or 2 athletes as partners
Average Time to Complete: 10 minutes
Equipment Required:Bat, screen for coach to throw behind, home plate, and a bucket of baseballs

Goal: Focus on hitting the ball up the middle by hitting the inside of the ball off of the tee

Description of the Drill: 
• Screen set up 20 feet from the plate, baseball placed 18 feet in front of plate
• Hitter sets up even with the plate
• Coach throws under/overhand while seated on a chair or bucket, down the middle of the plate on a line at a slow to medium speed from behind the screen
• Hitter hits the ball, with the focus on trying to throw the knob of the bat toward the placed baseball 18 feet away
• If the hitter is pulling the ball to the pull side, they are casting their hands
• Focus should be on good quality swings, with hitters swinging with a direct path to the ball
• Partners switch after 10 swings

Add Difficulty:
• To add a degree of difficulty, coaches can throw pitches inside and outside. Be sure to move the placed baseball to the pull or opposite side of the hitter.
• Hitters should hit outside pitches to the opposite field (or opposite side in a cage)
• Hitters should try to hit inside pitches back up the middle or a little to the pull side of the middle

Using Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker Sensor and mobile App - the following metrics and tools can help you measure your swing and see improvement when doing this drill:

Distance in the Zone
Overview: Using the Distance in the Zone metric, hitters can determine when their barrel is entering and leaving the hitting zone.  The longer the barrel stays in the hitting zone, the better chance the player has to make consistent, solid contact.  This is clearly depicted in the 3D viewer as the blue portion of the swing path.

Optimal Ranges by Age:
• U10-14: Good is 29-32 inches
• U15-18: Good is 31-34 inches
•College-Pro: Good is 33-37 inches

Coaching Insights:
• Having a swing that maintains a good Distance in The Zone gives the batter a better chance of making contact with the pitch. It also means the swing is “more forgiving” 
• Having a good Distance In The Zone can account for small errors in timing because there is more “space” for the batter to make contact and still put the ball in play.
• This metric can help coaches identify loopy swings based on how early the barrel enters the zone and if there is a ‘hard-turn’ coming out of the zone.
• Additionally, based on where contact is most often made, it can help identify if a hitter is having issues with timing up the pitch.

Impact Momentum
Overview: Impact Momentum is a combination of barrel speed and the size of the bat the hitter is swinging.  The higher the impact momentum, the better chance a hitter has to do damage with greater exit velocities.  Impact Momentum is a great measure of the power potential of a given hitter.

Top 10% of Age Groups: 
• U10 Players: 13 KG/M +
• U12 Players: 15 KG/M +
• U14 Players: 19 KG/M +
• U16 Players: 24 KG/M +
• U18 Players: 27 KG/M +
• D1 College:   28 KG/M +

Coaching Insights:
• Impact Momentum is a “smarter version” of barrel speed because it takes into account the size of the bat. If a kid swings a bigger bat at the same speed, when contact happens, the ball goes further.
• If you want to understand how improving Impact Momentum translates to the game – for every +1 a hitter adds to their Impact Momentum, it equates to roughly a 1.5 MPH increase in exit velocity. And every 1.5 MPH of exit velo translates to roughly 6-10 more feet of carry, depending on launch angle.  
• If you have a high-school kid playing on a full-size field, the magic Impact Momentum number to hit dingers is 27 + (with the right launch angle, of course). A well hit ball with an “IM” of 24 is caught well inside the warning track. Hit it with an IM of 27+ and it is out of the park.

Max Barrel Speed 
Using Barrel speed, hitters can know the maximum speed of the bat’s barrel during their swing.  It’s measured in miles per hour, so it’s easy to understand and measure improvement over time.  Higher barrel speed is the main factor in producing high exit velocity after contact so the ball goes further… faster.

Top 10% of Age Groups:
• U10 Players: 49mph +
• U12 Players: 54mph +
• U14 Players: 58mph +
• U16 Players: 63mph +
• U18 Players: 69mph +
• D1 College:   72mph +

Coaching Insights:
• This is the maximum speed of the bat’s barrel during a swing, at a point 20% from the tip of the bat (i.e. the sweet spot). It is the main factor in producing high exit velocity when the ball is hit. It greatly affects both the distance and speed at which the ball travels after impact. 
• Keep in mind that hitters need to “square the ball up” to maximize ball exit velocity.
• Increasing barrel speed is an important goal. Improvement should be measured over time to see if there is real physical and/or swing-mechanic growth. 
• Mechanics are important, but so is size & strength. So when thinking about a kid’s projectability, keep in mind if a player is not done growing yet.

For more Tech in Baseball videos, click here.


Diamond Kinetics is the market leader in mobile motion technology and information that enables player development, superior equipment fitting, objective scouting and recruiting, and engagement-driven entertainment.


 1-2-3 Drill
(7/12/2019)
 
 
   

1-2-3 Drill


Tech in Baseball
Presented with Diamond Kinetics


Skill Set: Hitting
Difficulty Level:
Easy
Number of Athletes and Coaches:
1-2 athletes and 1 coach, or 2 athletes as partners
Average Time to Complete:
10 minutes
Equipment Required:
Tee, baseballs, net or screen to hit into

Description of the Drill: 

• Tee set up slightly in front of the middle of the plate
• Hitter sets up even with the plate, while other partner puts a ball on the tee
• Hitter gets ready, looks forward to visualize a pitcher
• Partner then calls out “1, 2, 3” pausing after each number, on each number hitter will:
     o 1: Hitter loads shifting weight to back foot
     o 2: Hitter strides while staying balanced, hands separate to move back from the shoulder
     o 3: Hitter swings and hits the ball
• Hitter tries to hit the ball back up the middle
• Partners switch after 5 swings

Add Difficulty:

• To add a degree of difficulty, one of the partners can stand 30 feet away on the other side of the net the players are hitting into (shown below) and go through a dry pitch like a pitcher (without a ball), this gives the hitter a real visual of a pitcher (1, 2, 3 should still be separated motions)
• The hitter can also move the tee to different contact points (inside, middle, outside).

Using Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker Sensor and mobile App - the following metrics and tools can help you measure your swing and see improvement when doing this drill:

Max Barrel Speed
Overview: Using Barrel speed, hitters can know the maximum speed of the bat’s barrel during their swing.  It’s measured in miles per hour, so it’s easy to understand and measure improvement over time.  Higher barrel speed is the main factor in producing high exit velocity after contact so the ball goes further… faster.

Top 10% of Age Groups: 
• U10 Players: 49mph +
• U12 Players: 54mph +
• U14 Players: 58mph +
• U16 Players: 63mph +
• U18 Players: 69mph +
• D1 College:   72mph +

Coaching Insights: 
• This is the maximum speed of the bat’s barrel during a swing, at a point 20% from the tip of the bat (i.e. the sweet spot). It is the main factor in producing high exit velocity when the ball is hit. It greatly affects both the distance and speed at which the ball travels after impact. 
• Keep in mind that hitters need to “square the ball up” to maximize ball exit velocity.
• Increasing barrel speed is an important goal. Improvement should be measured over time to see if there is real physical and/or swing-mechanic growth. 
• Mechanics are important, but so is size & strength. So when thinking about a kid’s projectability, keep in mind if a player is not done growing yet.

Impact Momentum
Overview: Impact Momentum is a combination of barrel speed and the size of the bat the hitter is swinging.  The higher the impact momentum, the better chance a hitter has to do damage with greater exit velocities.  Impact Momentum is a great measure of the power potential of a given hitter.

Top 10% of Age Groups: 
• U10 Players: 13 KG/M +
• U12 Players: 15 KG/M +
• U14 Players: 19 KG/M +
• U16 Players: 24 KG/M +
• U18 Players: 27 KG/M +
• D1 College:   28 KG/M +

Coaching Insights:
• Impact Momentum is a “smarter version” of barrel speed because it takes into account the size of the bat. If a kid swings a bigger bat at the same speed, when contact happens, the ball goes further.
• If you want to understand how improving Impact Momentum translates to the game – for every +1 a hitter adds to their Impact Momentum, it equates to roughly a 1.5 MPH increase in exit velocity. And every 1.5 MPH of exit velo translates to roughly 6-10 more feet of carry, depending on launch angle.  
• If you have a high-school kid playing on a full-size field, the magic Impact Momentum number to hit dingers is 27 + (with the right launch angle, of course). A well hit ball with an “IM” of 24 is caught well inside the warning track. Hit it with an IM of 27+ and it is out of the park.

Max Acceleration
Overview: This is the maximum acceleration the bat experiences during a swing. To be clear, acceleration is not how fast the bat is moving; that’s barrel speed. Acceleration determines how quickly a hitter can reach that top speed. Great bat acceleration is in the DNA of elite hitters.

Top 10% of Age Groups:
• U10 Players: 25 G’s +
• U12 Players: 32 G’s +
• U14 Players: 35 G’s +
• U16 Players: 38 G’s +
• U18 Players: 42 G’s +
• D1 College: 49 G’s +

Coaching Insights:
• Max Acceleration tells coaches & scouts if a player can get the bat up to speed in a shorter time, allowing them to… 1) wait longer to recognize the pitch 2) decide what to do 3) And still have the ability to achieve their goal.
• This is a high-level metric that can sometimes stand apart from Max Barrel Speed and Impact Momentum. Max Acceleration requires all parts of the swing to sequence together, achieving that ‘snap’ of the bat that indicates great acceleration.
• You’ll often hear people say, ‘when that kid hits, it sounds different.” This metric is the science behind that old adage.

For more Tech in Baseball videos, click here.


Diamond Kinetics is the market leader in mobile motion technology and information that enables player development, superior equipment fitting, objective scouting and recruiting, and engagement-driven entertainment.


 UCL Repairs
(7/9/2019)
 
 
   

UCL Repairs


Diamond Doc
By Dr. Marc Richard


Dr. Marc Richard, Orthopedic Surgeon at Duke University and USA Baseball Sport Development Contributor, discusses UCL Repair as an alternative to Tommy John Surgery, which has a much quicker recovery and rehabilitation timetable. To have your questions answered by Dr. Richard, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Marc Richard, MD, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University, specializing in elbow, wrist and hand injuries. Dr. Richard’s research evaluates the clinical outcomes of fractures of the upper extremity, with a particular interest in wrist and elbow fractures and improving ways to treat elbow arthritis in young patients. He also has a clinical and research interest in adolescent elbow throwing injuries.


 5 Reasons Why Your Athletes Need a Hydration Plan
(7/4/2019)
 
   

5 Reasons Why Your Athletes Need a Hydration Plan


How can you help an athlete figure out the right hydration plan for themselves? 


There’s no way to know exactly how much water each of us needs to consume daily. With varying levels of activity, finding the right balance of fluid intake for young athletes can seem like a guessing game. But, it’s important to note that without a proper hydration plan, there are potential dangers from both dehydration and the lesser known over-hydration that can be a matter of life and death.

Dr. Mitchell Rosner, a nephrologist with a clinical focus on fluid and electrolyte disorders, acute kidney injury, and polycystic kidney disease (PKD), has dedicated much of his work at the University of Virginia to studying the potentially fatal impacts of over-hydration in young athletes. According to Rosner, over-hydration is one of the most preventable and least understood problems that coaches face. 

Many of us have spent most of our lives being told to make sure to drink more fluids, but several deaths in marathon races and at football practices due to over-hydration prove that you can get too much of a good thing. 

As we approach these hot summer months, it’s important to know how to spot the symptoms of over-hydration and how to help your athletes develop a plan to stay balanced with their hydration needs on and off the field. 

1. Effects and Symptoms of Over-Hydration

Over-hydration can lead to hyponatremia, meaning too much water is consumed and an athlete’s electrolyte balance is dangerously diluted. “People will feel bloated or have a bit of a headache or some nausea, but unfortunately, those are the same symptoms of dehydration,” says Rosner. 

"But if you’ve been drinking a lot, you should be able to know that you should stop drinking. Even then, it may be too late—your stomach is already full of water. The best thing to do is to try to avoid getting there,” Rosner adds. And, if an athlete is experiencing these symptoms or displaying signs of confusion, you should seek medical attention immediately.

2. Dehydration v. Over-Hydration

“Dehydration in youth sports is relatively mild and rarely life-threatening, but water overload is absolutely life-threatening,” says Rosner. While you should be urging your athletes to stay properly hydrated throughout the day, you shouldn’t focus on filling them with gallons of water on game day. A few sips of water during most games or practices is usually all an athlete will need, adds Rosner. Remind athletes to sip when thirsty, but don’t force them to consume a specific volume of water.  

3. How to Gauge Hydration Needs

“If you just use thirst as a guide, that’s the optimal way to gauge how much you need,” says Rosner. “Thirst is an innate feeling, and rarely would someone not know that they’re thirsty.” 

"There’s a myth that if you’re feeling thirsty, it’s too late and you’re already too dehydrated — but that’s not the case,” Rosner adds, and studies support this assertion. “It’s rare a young athlete would ever get dehydrated in a baseball game or at cross-country practice,” he says.  

4. How You Can Help an Athlete Make a Plan

The best way to develop that plan, Rosner says, is by using the scale as a guide. “A good rule of thumb is that if you’re gaining weight during an athletic activity, you’re drinking too much. You shouldn’t lose more than a few percent of your body weight — that indicates dehydration — but losing a little weight during exercise is fine. You can replace that after activity." 

Weigh your athlete before and after a few practices to get a sense of how much weight they lose during activity. Ask how they feel and note both their weight and feelings. Keep a record, and eventually, patterns will emerge. 

You’ll be able to estimate how much your athlete should be drinking during practices and in competition. "If you feel lightheaded and you dropped weight, you need to drink more,” says Rosner. "If you’re feeling bloated, you’re probably drinking too much.”

5. Teach Self-Advocacy

Coaches may push fluids on athletes during a hot game or match, but each athlete needs to be able to think for him or herself. “That’s very important — hydration is so individual, and everyone has different needs,” says Rosner. 

If a coach is pushing athletes to drink a lot, it can be lethal. “There are cases of high school athletes following coaches' recommendations who died from over-hydration. Every year, we see fatalities, and the sad thing is, it’s completely preventable,” he adds. 

Make sure your athlete knows that they can say no to chugging a water bottle after running a lap and can ask for a drink break if thirsty. Your athlete should feel in control of their hydration plan — that’s the key to developing an athlete who’s successful in the long-term. 

_____

Rosner wants coaches to remember that “there’s no calculation that’s going to be perfect: people sweat at different levels, temperatures impact how much you sweat, how hard you work impacts how much you need to drink to replenish,”

Finding an optimal hydration plan that works for each athlete will take a little bit of trial and error, but making sure your athletes are staying properly hydrated will not only help them perform at their best, but it will also ensure the safety of your team throughout the sport season.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 The Career Impact of Playing Youth Sports
(6/20/2019)
 
   

The Career Impact of Playing Youth Sports


In youth sports


As parents, we all like to think we’re steering our children toward activities and opportunities that will help them lead happy, productive, and fulfilling lives. We encourage them to work hard, have integrity, take risks, show gratitude, be respectful, etc. But at some point, deep down, every parent realizes there are no guarantees. There’s no formula that ensures success, but there are definitely behaviors, activities, and opportunities that increase the chances your child will become a successful, ethical, and happy adult. According to recent research, participation in youth sports is one them.

A 2014 study by Kniffin, Wansink, and Shimizu examined how participation in high school sports correlated with a person’s behaviors and accomplishments later in life. Here are some of their findings:

Hiring Managers Preferentially Hire Student Athletes

Parents often look to youth sports to help their children develop leadership skills, self-confidence, and self-respect. According to the research from Kniffin and his colleagues, managers looking to hire people for entry-level jobs have the expectation former student athletes possess those skills and traits, which gives them a competitive advantage. They even looked at whether this advantage was specifically associated with sports, or whether participation in any organized activity provided the same advantage. Compared to former band and yearbook members, former student athletes were perceived by managers to have greater leadership skills, self-confidence, and self-respect.

Former Student Athletes Advance Faster

Certain lessons learned through sports help young workers advance in their careers. Youth sports expose kids to organizational leaders (coaches) early on, which research has shown to be an important component of learning leadership skills. Team sports also “reward group-level achievements and appear to facilitate the enforcement of group-serving behavior.” In other words, former student athletes are better team players in a career setting, and grow to become leaders 
who strive for the success of the team.

Former Student Athletes Have Higher Wages at 30 years old

Supporting prior research, a 2010 study by Betsey Stevenson showed participation in high school sports had a positive effect on the amount of education people attained, the likelihood of being employed as an adult, and the wages they earned. Stevenson’s work focused on the effect of Title IX on the success of women in the workforce, and two results of particular note were that 1) Higher wages only correlated with participation in high school sports, and not any other extracurricular activities, and 2) Title IX led to a substantial increase in the percentage of women who subsequently pursued traditionally male-dominated, higher-wage careers.

Former Student Athletes Are More Likely to Give Back

Another component of the study by Knifflin and his colleagues examined philanthropic behaviors of former student athletes 60 years after high school. They found that older men who participated in volunteer work or donated money to charitable causes were more likely to have participated in high school sports, and particularly, exhibited leadership traits in high school sports.

Overall, former student athletes earned more money, advanced to more senior career positions, and were more likely than non-athletes to volunteer and donate money as older adults.

It is important to note, the researchers referenced in this article acknowledged they could only show correlation, and not causation. They couldn’t answer whether the people who earned more, advanced further, and were more philanthropic achieved those outcomes because they participated in sport or if the traits that helped them succeed later in life also drew them to participate in sport in the first place.

Either way, participating in high school sports is a winning proposition!

References:
Kniffin, Kevin M., et al. “Sports at Work.” Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, vol. 22, no. 2, 2014, pp. 217–230., doi:10.1177/1548051814538099.
Stevenson, Betsey. “Beyond the Classroom: Using Title IX to Measure the Return to High School Sports.” 2010, doi:10.3386/w15728.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Blisters
(6/25/2019)
 
   

Blisters


Diamond Doc
By Dr. Marc Richard


Dr. Marc Richard, Orthopedic Surgeon at Duke University and USA Baseball Sport Development Contributor, discusses the causes and issues associated with blisters, as well as how to prevent and treat them. To have your questions answered by Dr. Richard, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Marc Richard, MD, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University, specializing in elbow, wrist and hand injuries. Dr. Richard’s research evaluates the clinical outcomes of fractures of the upper extremity, with a particular interest in wrist and elbow fractures and improving ways to treat elbow arthritis in young patients. He also has a clinical and research interest in adolescent elbow throwing injuries.


 Misplayed Throw Down on a Steal Attempt
(6/24/2019)
 
   

Misplayed Throw Down on a Steal Attempt


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow shares the things that should go right, as well as what could go wrong, in an attempt to erase a stealing baserunner with a throw down from the catcher.

Tom Succow, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 Secundar Jugadas
(6/19/2019)
 
   

Secundar Jugadas


USA Baseball

 
Sin importar el nivel de competencia, los errores son gran parte del béisbol. Mientras que los respaldos quizás no eliminen los errores, por supuesto limitan la cantidad de bases extra que entrega un equipo. La mayoría de las responsabilidades de respaldar pertenece a los jardineros. Cuando una pelota se pone en juego, los jardineros deben correr para respaldar o los jugadores de cuadro o los otros jardineros. Es importante entender que cada pelota en juego crea una oportunidad de respaldar.

RESPALDAR A LOS JUGADORES DEL CUADRO

Sin importar si la pelota se golpea directamente al jugador del cuadro o a cualquier lado, el jardinero debe siempre correr a respaldar a su jugador del cuadro. Si un jugador del cuadro comete un error en una pelota que se golpea directamente a él, y el jardinero no ha corrido a respaldarlo, puede que el corredor tome fácilmente una base extra. Por ejemplo, imagine que una pelota se golpea directamente al defensor de la primera base cuando hay corredores en la primera y la segunda base. Si la pelota va bajo su guante y el jardinero no lo respalda, el jardinero no tiene ningún oportunidad de fusilar al corredor en el plato.
Jugadas de sorpresa y tiradas: Asimismo, los jardineros deben secundar las tiradas de los jugadores del cuadro a las bases. Por ejemplo, el jardinero central debe secundar las tiradas a la segunda base (incluyendo los intentos de sorpresa), el jardinero derecho debe secundar las tiradas a la primera base y las del defensor de la tercera base a la segunda base, y el jardinero izquierdo debe secundar las tiradas a la tercera base y las del defensor de la primera base a la segunda base.

RESPALDAR A LOS JARDINEROS

Como regla general, el jardinero más próximo al jugador que recoge la pelota va a secundar la jugada. El jardinero debe entender que cuánto más brusco sea el ángulo de un elevado, más lejos va a rodar. A veces la pelota toma un mal piconaso, salta sobre el guante del jardinero y rueda lejos.  Si otro jardinero no lo respalda, es probable que el corredor pueda anotar. Secundar una roleta en el jardín limita la cantidad de bases extra que puede tomar el corredor como resultado del error.
Elevados: Esto sigue la misma regla. Por ejemplo, si un elevado se golpea a la izquierda del jardinero central, el jardinero derecho va a correr a respaldar al jardinero central.
Líneas: Esto sigue la misma regla. Si el jardinero se lanza para recoger la pelota pero no la atrapa, el jardinero de respaldo tiene que correr rápidamente para cortar la pelota y tirarla al cortador.


 GIRD and Post-Pitching Recovery
(6/11/2019)
 
   

GIRD and Post-Pitching Recovery


Diamond Doc
By Dr. Marc Richard


Dr. Marc Richard, Orthopedic Surgeon at Duke University and USA Baseball Sport Development Contributor, discusses Glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD), which is an adaptive process in which the throwing shoulder experiences a loss of internal rotation, and how to mitigate its affects after pitching. To have your questions answered by Dr. Richard, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Marc Richard, MD, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University, specializing in elbow, wrist and hand injuries. Dr. Richard’s research evaluates the clinical outcomes of fractures of the upper extremity, with a particular interest in wrist and elbow fractures and improving ways to treat elbow arthritis in young patients. He also has a clinical and research interest in adolescent elbow throwing injuries.


 Helping Your Team Beyond the Box Score
(6/14/2019)
 
   

Helping Your Team Beyond the Box Score


FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster


Baltimore, Maryland.

Red Sox. Orioles.

These two American League East foes found themselves in a tie ballgame when Trey Mancini stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom 11th, ready to send the Camden Yards faithful home happy. With one swing, it appeared as if he had done just that, driving a Ryan Brasier fastball deep to center. The crack of the bat was that sound hitters love to hear. On the mound, Boston’s pitcher’s head immediately went down when he heard it. And Xander Bogaerts barely moved at shortstop when he saw it.  Both thought the game was over. 
 
And it would have been, had it not been for Jackie Bradley, Jr. 

On that crack of the bat that deflated Brasier and paralyzed Bogaerts, Bradley turned, put his head down, and started running back into deep centerfield. Lining the ball up almost perfectly in stride and scaling the wall as if it was a part of the outfield grass, the Red Sox Gold Glove winning centerfielder reached with his glove from his perch atop the wall into the Orioles bullpen and caught the ball, robbing what would have been a walk-off home run for Mancini.

The play went down in the scorecard as a simple F8.  It was played on highlight shows for the days that followed but has since been largely forgotten. What should never be forgotten, however, are the many ways a player can help his team win that aren’t seen in the numbers. 

At the time of his game-saving catch, Bradley was hitting .142 for the season and, for the game, hitless in three at bats, including two strikeouts. Last October, he was a vital cog in the Red Sox World Series title run and was named ALCS Most Valuable Player along the way. While his offensive production hasn’t yet gotten back to his Fall Classic form this season, Jackie Bradley, Jr. reminded us with his glove that the game is not only about what you do with the bat and exemplifies that player who is contributing to his team’s success without necessarily producing runs. His ability to continue being an elite defender despite his offensive struggles also highlights the importance of being able to separate the game, mentally.

That combination is what championship players are made of.

No sport is more discouraging than baseball, where, as we’ve all heard ad nauseum, failing seven out of ten times makes you the best of the best. That frequency of failure is extremely challenging to deal with and often results in hitter’s bringing at bats out into the field- which sets them up for defensive miscues- or pitchers still worrying about a previous inning or hitter instead of focusing on the next inning or better. But when coaches consistently make their players aware of the many facets of the game that in the end play into a win or a loss, they will far more likely be able to move on from a bad AB, a bad inning, or a bad play. 

We all know how much players live and die by the numbers on the back of their baseball card. But championship teams win championships in large part for what their players do in the parts of the game that are NOT seen on the back of that card. Sometimes, a productive out can be more valuable than a base hit. Sometimes, something as simple as throwing the ball to the correct base may be the one play that puts a team in a position to win a game. And sometimes, something like a pitcher minimizing damage in the 2nd inning may be the reason why a team is still within striking distance in the 9th. 

While a player’s stat line may not look pretty, that doesn’t mean that player can’t actually have the type of game that helps his team win. The best players in our game are the ones who can take their game far beyond the box score. 


Darren Fenster is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the Manager of the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. A former player in the Kansas City Royals minor league system, Fenster joined the Red Sox organization in 2012 after filling various roles on the Rutgers University Baseball staff, where he was a two-time All-American for the Scarlet Knights. Fenster is also Founder and CEO of Coaching Your Kids, LLC, and can be found on Twitter @CoachYourKids.


 Accountability
(6/5/2019)
 
   

Accountability


Cuddyer's Corner
By Michael Cuddyer


Former Major Leaguer Michael Cuddyer discusses the importance of being accountable for your actions on and off the diamond. To have your questions answered by Michael Cuddyer, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Michael Cuddyer is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development blog, and is a 15-year MLB veteran and two-time All-Star, spending his career playing for the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets. A member of the USA Baseball 18U National Team in 1996 and 1997, Cuddyer was then named the 1997 Virginia Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, and was a member of USA Today’s All-Star team. He was selected ninth overall in the 1997 MLB Amateur Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins.