Are you looking for ways to incorporate baseball into your school programming? Our Fun At Bat program could be a fit for your school, find out more!


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Explore our resources and programs that can enhance your league and your players' experiences. Find out more about what we have to offer!

EDUCATION

Education is one of the fundamental building blocks of the game. As such, USA Baseball’s educational resources emphasize a culture of development, safety and fun within the sport through free online training courses and programs focused for players, parents, coaches, and umpires. Content is available in both English and Spanish.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

USA Baseball is passionate about protecting the health and safety of all constituents within the game. Through the Pure Baseball, SafeSport, and Pitch Smart, and other health and safety initiatives, USA Baseball is working to make the game of baseball a positive and safe experience at all levels of play.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

USA Baseball strives to be a steward of the amateur game through offering cutting edge sport performance analysis and player development. With a focus on physical literacy, fundamental movement skills and advanced performance metrics, the analysis of athletic abilities can help prepare players for their next level of play, wherever that may be.

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.


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USA Baseball's Sport Development team is proud to work with various partners within the amateur game.