17
Apr
2013

JUGS Softie Practice Baseballs

JUGS Softie Practice Baseballs are a little pricey at $50 per dozen, however the superior quality they have over other indoor practice baseballs make it worth the extra money.  They are made with real leather and weigh the official weight of 5 1/4 ounces, however are safe for indoor use with its spongy composition.  If you are in a cold weather state these indoor baseballs are almost a must have.  We practice approximately two months indoors and using indoor baseballs that most simulate a real baseball is very important to me.  The dozen JUGS Softie Practice Baseballs I purchased a few years back has held up through the rough usage by 14 year old boys.  They survived much longer than other indoor baseballs I purchased in the past.  Durability coupled with them being actual weight make them worth the extra money you will pay.  Being actual weight is especially important when working on pitching indoors.  
08
Apr
2013

Coach D Review: First Pitch Baseline

Coach D Review: First Pitch Baseline
I have a finance background and a term I use a lot is "cost benefit".  Basically that means you measure the benefit you will get from something compared to the cost you pay for the item.  I bring that up because when you apply this to the First Pitch Baseline Pitching Machine, you will find quite a bit of benefit compared to the cost you will pay for it.  At just under $650 you will get an American made machine that is built as sturdy as pitching machines come.  First Pitch is so confident in their pitching machine they have given it a 5 year warranty.  The tires and the motor is the same motor you will find on the machines that cost twice as much as the First Pitch model.  First Pitch Baseline throws fastballs only as baseball speeds up to 70 MPH (from 60' 6") and approx. 60 MPH for softballs.  I have found the machine to very accurate and it is lightweight enough (55lbs) that you can transport it to a practice quite easily.  This is very...
06
Apr
2013

Coach D Review: Sports Radar Gun Model SR3600

One of the smartest purchases I made for my youth baseball team was my Sports Radar Gun 3600.  I use this gun in my practices and also use a radar gun that is at our local batting cage facility (that is a much pricier radar gun) and I found them to be very close to each other in the speeds they are registering.  I do not use my radar gun to see how hard the kids are throwing, I use the radar gun to check on pitch speed differentials between fastballs, curveballs, and change-ups.  Changing speeds is one of the most critical things a pitcher needs to do.  If a pitcher only has one speed, no matter how hard, eventually good hitters will get their timing on it.  We spend a lot of time at practice measuring the speed of the fastball and then making sure the off speed pitches are 6-10 MPH slower than their fastball.  The Sports Radar Gun 3600 is very accurate in measuring this.  Additionally, it is very light weight and portable to take to practices.This...
06
Apr
2013

Coach D Review: Heater X-Tender Batting Cages

Heater (Trend Sports) specialty is fitting into the youth age group (6-12) at a very affordable price compared to other batting cages and pitching machines.  With that being said I think it is important for everyone purchasing any of their products know what they are designed for.  I would have no problem recomending these products to that age group and also point out to them it is at the affordable price level because it doesn't typically last as long as other products.  Their products are great in many situations, however some thought needs to be put into the purchase before going with Heater products.The Heater X-Tender Cages fit right into my discussion above.  The X-Tender cages are made in various lengths and to make the cage larger you just add another X-Tender to it.  For example if you want a 48' cage you purchase two 24' cages and combine them.  I had difficulty combining my two 24' cages making it into one.  I will be honest that I...
03
Apr
2013

Coach D Review: Morrow Sports A Frame

I am in the second year of using my Morrow Sports A Frame pitchers protective screen.  The first thing that jumps out at you is that it is in the shape of an "A" versus the usual shape of a "L" for pitchers protective screen.  I would say both styles will give you equal protection as I have been pretty lucky in not having been hit by a batted ball while throwing batting practice using either type screen.  It does take some time to get use to the "A" shape versus the "L" shape since I had used the "L" for my entire life.  It is very well constructed and both the netting and frame is very durable and appears that it will last a long time.  It is relatively lightweight at 32 pounds.I think the biggest plus to this screen is the ability to put it up and take it down in a matter of minutes.  One of the batting cages we use for practice does not leave protective screens there, so I take the Morrow Sports A Frame screen with me.  It sets up quickly and is...
02
Apr
2013

Coach D Review: JUGS Instant Screen Hitting Net

I have had my JUGS Instant Screen Hitting Net for just under ten years and it still works as well as the day I first used it.  I would say that its durability is the biggest strength of this net.  It has lasted for 9 years and numerous indoor and outdoor practices.  We have used it for tee work, soft toss work, and even used it as a makeshift L-screen for protection when throwing batting practice.  The 7 x 8 hitting area has been adequate for these drills.  Although we do have the occasional ball hit over the top of the net.  I would say we have more than got our moneys worth on this screen.  When I purchased my net there was not any competition in the instant net market.  Now there are several other brands that make them.  They are all in the same range for price, so that is not the deciding factor when purchasing.  The other nets have not even been on the market as long as my JUGS Instant Screen Hitting Net has lasted, so I am not...
01
Apr
2013

Coach D Review: JUGS Lite Flite Pitching Machine

I have been using my JUGS Lite Flite Machine for just over 3 years and it has helped me run a much more efficient indoor practice.  I first incorporated it by having indoor batting practice.  Our gym has a net that will split it in half, so I pull the net out set the machine up and have them take 12 swings on fastballs, 12 swings on curveballs, and then have them bunt 12 pitches.  I have 3 boys spread out in the gym to shag the balls.  I put the machine approximately 25 feet from the hitter in order to avoid the balls from "floating" in.  A draw back is if you set the machine too far back the balls will have the appearance of floating in, which is very difficult to hit.  The hitters adjust pretty quickly to it being this close and it actually helps with developing quick hands.I now have started using the machine for defensive purposes also.  It is very good for teaching catchers to block pitches and also is good for catchers to work on framing...
28
Sep
2012

Practice Progression

Practice Progression
I have discovered through years of trial and error that the order of the drills you do in practice is just as important as the drills themselves. Every practice should start with jogging and stretching to loosen up the muscles. From there, drills should progress in sequence in order to accomplish an end goal for the practice.I am most experienced in coaching basketball and baseball, but having a practice progression for your drills is important for every sport. Ultimately, the goal for practicing is to get the athletes ready for game situations. In baseball we start by loosening the arms after we have stretched. We do this by playing basic catch. After we play catch, we will do “dry ground balls,” which is essentially fielding a ground ball with the ball being stationary. This helps footwork and form. We will then roll ground balls and then progress to hitting ground balls. With fly balls we start with throwing them and work towards hitting them with working on different types of...
24
Aug
2012

Pre-game drills for a great game

Pre-game drills for a great game
Over the years having been through more pre-games than I can remember I have developed a pre-game routine that I like and think gets the boys ready to play. I have learned that I had to invest some money into a few products to make it effective, but it has been a cheap investment for what I have obtained from it.I always request the boys get to the game 45 minutes before the first pitch. I am a believer that this is the right amount of time, and that too much time before the game is just as bad as too little time before the game. I always have the boys jog and stretch as a team. When this is done I pull off 3 boys to start them through the hitting stations. The rest of the team goes through our throwing routine in order to get their arms loose. The stations are 1) warming up 2) soft toss and tee into a portable hitting net and 3) taking live hitting with poly balls (wiffle balls). I have found that a key to a portable hitting net is that it is easy to assemble and breakdown and that...
24
Aug
2012

Using a Lite-Flite For Effective Indoor Practice

Using a Lite-Flite For Effective Indoor Practice
As I coach baseball in a cold weather state, I have evolved my indoor practice drills and routines over time to keep practicing no matter what the weather offers. Some of the things I have found effective are to keep drills under 10 minutes and make sure to break the team up into groups of no more than 4. I found this to be work to keep them focused for the hour and a half I have them twice a week. It can be difficult to find drills to do indoors, especially hitting drills if a batting cage is not available. The drills we have always done are soft toss and tee work into a portable hitting net. These are great drills for swing mechanics and we do these every practice. I also feel it is important to start working on timing and so a few years ago purchased the JUGS Lite Flite Machine for my indoor hitting. This is a great machine when a batting cage does not exist.For my particular situation we have a divider down the middle of the gymnasium we can pull to separate a practice. We...

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