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Use the Tee

Lefty asks daily to go out and take some batting practice.  But sometimes there is just not enough time in the day and the rusty arm is REALLY rusty.  I know hitting off a tee is not the most fun drill for a 10-year-old to do, but I encourage him to do it daily.  It doesn't require a lot of space or time or even another person.  Lefty takes the tee into the garage and uses wiffle balls.  I don't think young hitters do this enough.  Albert Pujols does.

He works out on the tee virtually every day. “When I’m hitting off a tee I’m getting loose,” he says, “but I’m also thinking: put that perfect swing on it and repeat it.”

Working out in a standard batting cage, Albert tries to hit the ball toward the right side of the back net into an area about three feet in diameter, 3 to 4 feet off the ground (roughly the same height as a thrown strike). If he were on a baseball field, the balls would be lined through the infield betwe…

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Teammates

When the games end, when all the seasons end, and when the playing is over, this is what Lefty will remember the most...his teammates. There will be teammates who come and go, but I hope he finds a few teammates that will last a lifetime.
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Father’s Day Gift

Lefty found another Father's Day gift for me in his school bag. Lefty dressed up as me coaching first base...that is my shirt, hat, watch and he claims my "sometimes grumpy face" which he found tough to make happen.  Love it!
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Summer Time Routine

There is always a lot of talk about playing year round baseball.  With summer here, I found this article by Danny Knobler on Bleacher Report about Josh Beckett and his summers.  I believe limiting pitching and throwing is the way to go during summer.

Baseball's Pitching Dilemma: 'Too Hard, Too Fast, Too Much, Too Soon'

Josh Beckett grew up as a baseball star in the baseball hotbed of Texas. He was so good at his Houston-area high school that the Florida Marlins made him the second overall pick in the 1999 draft.

He played high school baseball. He played fall ball. He played summer ball.

But during those three months of the summer, Josh Beckett almost never pitched. His father wouldn't allow it. His coach wouldn't allow it. For those three months a year, Beckett played the outfield instead.

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It’s Good To Have Heroes

I know this week a lot of us are remembering our childhood baseball heroes.         Here is mine.           I imitated everything from his windup to his demeanor on the mound.  I just could not achieve his fastball (hence the desk job).  When I asked Lefty who his baseball hero is, he said Mike Trout.  An awesome pick.  Probably the choice of most young ball players today (rightly so). But today, when I think back about my baseball heroes growing up, I not only remember Gwynn and Ryan, I remember the people who impacted my life on a daily basis. For example, my high school coach John Crow.  My college coach Dave Snow.  I took pitching lessons from Clyde Wright who paid me a dime for every strike I threw. My pitching mentor/pitching coach/pitch caller in high school Randy Stuart. And of course my mom and dad.  My mom who was one of my first catch partners at the park during those summer days.  My dad who sat on a bucke…
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Don’t Try To Make Everything Perfect

I hate to admit it, but there are times when I try to make every single aspect of Lefty's game perfect and tend to focus on the negative instead of celebrating the positives. There aren't too many ten-year olds who play the game with the intensity as Lefty does.  He gives 100% on every pitch and every play.  He plays his heart out in a game as a catcher, then pitcher, then first base, then outfield.  Never complaining, always trying his best and ALWAYS encouraging his teammates. So what happens when he goes 0 - 3 at bat.  I tend to focus on his hitting and forget about the contributions he made on defense along with his positive, play hard attitude. Luckily, this article came across my screen right when I needed it.  Teacher, coach and author Bruce E. Brown described in his article Support your child athlete to create great experiences and memories how athletics are a very valuable part of the educational process.  And how parents can be an important component of making …
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WALL ART – SWINGS OF BEAUTY

I sent a video clip of Lefty's swing to his coach and got some good feedback.  He recommended that Lefty get his belly button facing the pitcher after contact.  He also noticed that Lefty's front knee is bent at and following contact which takes away all his power and torque produced by his lower half.  He explained the stride leg can go out bent but should straighten as the swing progresses. To encourage this approach, I printed out pictures of Lefty's two favorite players' swings - Trout and Harper.  I was shocked to find the similarity in their swings when placed side by side.  I put these photos right over Lefty's bed hoping for visions of raking to fill his dreams.
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Lefty’s Clubhouse

 Okay, I admit it. I am kind of a cheese-ball when it comes to pre-game preparation for Lefty. Maybe it is because I enjoyed the pre-game rituals when I was playing. What player at any age doesn't enjoy  the routine of gearing up and putting on the uniform? Or maybe it is because we usually have to leave at zero dark thirty for weekend games and I have to get Lefty's gear ready the night before.  I don't know about you, but at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, all I can do is drink coffee.  Or maybe it is because I wish I was the one playing (place your bets on this one). Whatever the case my cheese-ball admission for the day is this, the night before a game I set Lefty's room up as a clubhouse. I hang his freshly washed uni in his closet. I lay out his socks, hat and glove. Sometimes I even place a chair in front of his closet so he can be like Barry Bonds. And it wouldn't be a clubhouse without music. So I ha…
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Hitting – Get Mad

Stepping into the batter's box and facing live pitching takes confidence. The transition from machine pitch to live pitching can be stressful for young players. No one at any level likes being hit by a pitch, but it happens . Overcoming the fear is key for young hitters. From the time I started throwing wiffle balls to Lefty for batting practice, I would intentionally let one get away and hit him with the wiffle ball. Hoping it would prepare him for what WILL happen at some point. Now thinking about it, he has been plucked once so far in a game...so far. He does not mention any concern over being hit and I don't think it crosses his mind as far as I know. Maybe because he pitches, he knows the ball will get away from you at times. Now really thinking about it, he has plucked one batter...coincidence..hmm. Nah, no retaliation, it was different teams and games.

I believe as Ted Williams did that "hitting is 50 percent above the shoulders". Besi…
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