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 Model SR3600

One of the smartest purchases I made for my youth baseball team was my Sports Radar 3600.  I use this gun in my practices and also use a radar that is at our local batting cage facility (that is a much pricier radar) and I found them to be very close to each other in the speeds they are registering.  I do not use my radar to see how hard the kids are throwing, I use the radar 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 3600 is very accurate in measuring this.  Additionally, it is very light weight and portable to take to practices.This radar is one of the...
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...
23
Aug
2012

Coaching With The Zip Net

Coaching With The Zip Net
I have been coaching youth sports for over 8 years and my perspective on things has changed considerably over that time. A lot of it has to do with trial and error and some of it has to do with being around “real” coaches, i.e. coaches that get paid to coach. One of my recent revelations is to what constitutes a good batting practice. 5 years ago I was a firm believer that throwing live batting practice was the only way to have an effective batting practice. If someone said they were going to do tee work or soft toss, I would say “That is great, but when are you going to throw live”? Not that we didn’t do these drills, however I treated them more like a warm up versus a hitting work out. A few years ago I discovered the Zip Net. My son and I hung it in our garage in 10 minutes and have been using it since. We live in a cold weather state and a lot of times this is the only hitting we have a chance to do. We really focused on his swing mechanics from a tee during the winter and he...

Pages