Over the next two weeks, I’m going to put out a few blogs on ideas for practice planning with your youth baseball or softball team. With youth practices in full swings, it it critical that coaches keeps drills fun, creative, instructional, and game oriented. Implementing a few of these ideas will help you see improvements in the key areas of the game with your athletes. Athletes that get better at baseball and softball have fun playing the game for a long time.
After you have your team jog and stretch at the beginning of practice, have them get in the routine of warming-up their arms. This will assure that they remain injury free and build up a stronger throwing arm. Instead of just having them play catch at different distances to warm-up their arm, I suggest adding a fun progression to keep them engaged while learning various throws that will come up during the game. At the end of this progression, their arms will be warm and you will have exposed them to key situations on the field.
Develop a throwing progression that encompasses these throws:
1. Stand sideways towards your partner and get the arm to move in a circular motion (separate hands in a down and out motion then up to throw). Also have them work on shifting their weight to their back leg and then to the follow through.
2. Continue to stand sideways towards your partner and use a shuffle to throw.
3. Now, stand normal towards your partner and learn to “step and throw” (walkthrough version of a crow hop).
4. Finally, imagine fielding a ground ball towards your partner and then incorporate the step and throw.
Stay tuned for Part 2 which will give you fun and creative drills to help your players better catch the ball. Difficulty catching the ball is a big reason youth teams lose games and kids lose their love of this game.
A CLUTCH PERFORMANCE!
Jeff Hightower is a Turn 2 Premier Hitter and a senior at Mascoutah High School. He was recently recognized for his clutch performance against Belleville West’s right-hander Jacob Eccher. With two outs In the fourth inning, Hightower drove a double into left-center to extend the inning and ended up being the only run to score on the day as Mascoutah took the win.
Hightower currently sits on the Metro East Leaders List for RBI’s with 12.
A NEW SCHOOL RECORD!
Kassidy Smith is a Turn 2 Premier Softball Hitter and is a junior for Collinsville High School. Not too many athletes have had such a hot start as Smith has. Through 6 games during the start of April she hit 12-22 (.545), with four doubles, two triples, a home run, and 9 RBI’s. Her home run against Belleville West was her 16th career home run, good enough for a new school record!
CONSISTENCY PAYS OFF!
Josh Mesenbrink is a CrossFit Collinsville Teen, Turn 2 Premier hitter and pitcher, as well as a freshman at Triad High School. Mesenbrink has been recognized for his incredible work ethic and consistent attendance in all three programs that he is involved in. His hard work has earned him some significant time on the JV squad as a freshman and a new PR on his back squat (#125 @ 2 reps).
Athletes can struggle to find time to train during the season. Josh isn’t one of those athletes!
By Coach Chris Fair
Many of you have probably seen us advertising our new All Skills Camp program that begins April 21st. But what is All Skills Camp? Let me fill you in…
2 characteristics of All Skills Camp are pretty obvious..
- We work on ALL SKILLS (hitting, fielding, throwing, catching, base running, etc.)
- It is CHEAP! Only $50 for 4 weeks!
So why all skills camp??..
At Turn 2 we are always working to develop our area youth athletes. When most people think of baseball or softball “training” the thought that comes to mind is the more elite level athletes that are working towards a higher goal (i.e. the Jr. High player working to make a splash in High School, or the High School player working for that college scholarship). What about the other athletes? What about the 5 year old just getting introduced to the game, or the 10 year old that is starting to get a little more serious about the game? All Skills Camp is for them.
All Skills Camp allows our young athletes to learn multiple aspects of the game in a fun and ever changing environment. Athletes learn in a group setting with players of similar age.
As the head of our baseball department here are Turn 2, I hear so frequently the questions that can be answered by a program like All Skills…..
- My child is just starting out, what programs are out there that will teach them proper fundamentals, but overall make sure they HAVE FUN playing the game?
- My child has been playing for a few years, I can’t deicide if they love the game or not. I would like to put them in training, but want to be sure they have the passion for it.
- My child is already in skill specific training (example – hitting lessons), but I’d like to allow them to learn the other aspects of the game as well.
- My child thinks their team practices are boring.
Our All Skills Camp answers these questions. When athletes are young or starting out, they need to learn the FUNdamentals. The emphasis is on the FUN because that is what it should be about. None of us fell in love with the game at a young age because we were taught how to get our arm to the L-position, or learned how to add extension to our swing. We fell in love because we got to be outside, run around, throw things, hit things, and tag people. That is where it has to start. Athletes want to train because they love the game, not the other way around. Practices should be fun and informative. All these things are what our All Skills Program aims to bring to the youth in our area.
Join us for our All Skills Camp…
Date and Time Options
Ages Days Times
4 – 5 YRS Thursdays 5:00 PM
6 – 8 YRS Tues / Thurs 5:00 or 6:00 PM
9 – 12 YRS Tues / Thurs 5:00 or 6:00 PM
Call 618.346.4646 or Register Here
DURING THE SEASON
It’s that time of the year folks! The grass is getting green, the sun is shining and the season is here. I know all of us here at the facility are excited for our athletes to put all their hard work into action on the field. One of the best parts about starting the season for an athlete is the feeling of being strong, explosive and healthy. However, as a former Division I college and professional athlete, I can tell you personally that sense of strength and health does not automatically maintain itself throughout the course of the season. The honest truth is it takes a lot of discipline and consistency in many areas to stay strong, explosive and healthy. This article is going to focus on 5 areas that athletes need to be disciplined and consistent in to take care of their bodies in order to compete at their highest potential through the season.
- Nutrition – Being a former pitcher, I saw a big change in my velocity based on how my body weight would fluctuate. When I lost weight during the season, I lost velocity (power). When I maintained a good weight, I maintained my velocity. The same principle goes for hitters and athletes in other sports. Nutrition is so important for athletes (hence the previous two blogs!) in staying strong, explosive and healthy. What athletes should focus on most is fueling their bodies with proper nutrition and LOTS OF IT! For more on proper nutrition and 5 things that athletes should be having, follow the link below.
- Strength & Conditioning – A consistent theme that we see in the athletic community involves most athletes slowing down (or completely shutting down) their strength and conditioning during the season due to fear of overload. The truth is that strength and conditioning is an important part in athletes maintaining their strength, explosiveness, flexibility, and health through the season. If an athlete is properly using nutrition to fuel and recover their body, then utilizing a strength and conditioning program will be nothing but a major advantage for that athlete in maintaining strength and health. For more info, check out Coach Chris Fair’s article
Don’t get me wrong, there is such a thing as doing too much during the season. However don’t let the fear of doing too much keep your athlete from doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING when it comes to strength and conditioning during the season.
- Mobility – Range of motion (flexibility) is something athletes tend to lose naturally as the season progresses due to the physical stress placed on the body during competition. Where athletes can combat this loss is by utilizing a mobility program as a source of PRE-HAB (not REHAB). Most athletes (and adults) focus on mobility after an injury versus using mobility as a way to maintain range of motion (flexibility) and prevent injuries. One resource that I personally utilize is Kelly Starrett’s MobilityWOD.com. He has tons of free information and videos that you can view to improve and maintain good range of motion. If you’re a little nervous about trying to mimic Starrett, CrossFit Collinsville offers great mobility sessions for athletes (and adults) of all ages.
- Hydration – Just like nutrition, proper hydration is the difference between being a healthy athlete and a weak athlete. The weather here in the Mid-West alone should cause athletes (and everyone else) to pay very close attention to their intake of fluids. Stick with water and drinks with electrolytes (without artificial sweeteners or high amount of sugar!). If you’ve missed Coach Chris Thomas’s article about water, I’ll leave the link below for you!
- Sleep – Sleep is recovery. Athletes with poor sleep habits will find themselves feeling more tired and weaker since they aren’t allowing their body to recover through the night. It’s quite simple, get plenty of sleep through the season to allow the body to recover and your athlete will notice a difference in their strength and focus. For more info on sleep, check out Coach Jen Doehring’s article “Is Sleep Affecting your Workouts?”
“Train like an ATHLETE, eat like a NUTRITIONIST and sleep like a BABY!”
And your athlete will stay stronger, more explosive and healthier throughout the season.
By Coach Brett Swip
Develop a throwing progression that encompasses things like:
- Stand sideways and get the arm to move in a circular motion ( separate hands in a down and out motion then up to throw) also have them work on shifting their weight to their back leg and then to the follow through)
- Stand sideways and use a shuffle to throw
- Stand normal and learn to “step and throw” (walkthrough version of a crow hop)
- Imagine fielding a ground ball and then incorporate the step and throw
(MOST IMPORTANT FUNDAMENTAL TO CONQUER AT A YOUNG AGE)
- Hand-eye coordination
- No chicken-winging
- Fingers up when catching
- Lots of wiffle balls, tennis balls, and nerf balls with no gloves to start
- Transition to using soft hands paddles to catch with two hands (you can use oven mitts if you don’t have access to paddles)
- Catch barehanded so they can see their elbows stay down and their fingers stay up.
- Let them use their glove only once they’ve master bare hands and oven mitts
- Use softie balls with gloves, then move to regular hard balls when the skill of catching is achieved.
- Assure that they are playing catch at home at least 3 times per week (the ability to throw and catch is where games are won at this age) – the inability to throw and catch is the main reason that kids quit baseball and softball at a young age.
- Getting their feet to the ball before putting the glove up in the air
- Put a helmet on them, throw a wiffle in the air, have them run to where they think the ball will drop and let the wiffle hit them in the helmet (kids love this drill!)
- Then progress to barehands and teach them to catch it with their elbows down and near their chest (allowing their eyes to see the ball over their fingers)
- Then progress to gloves
- Circle Drill – put 5 cones on the ground in the shape of a big circle, have them start at one cone and throw a ball in to the middle of the circle, they run to the middle and catch the fly ball, then they go to the next cone. Repeat at each cone for a series of 5 fly balls from different angles.
Use a progression
- Knees No Gloves
- Stool No Gloves
- Standing No Gloves
- Standing No Gloves Transitioning in to throwing
- Then add paddles or oven mitts
- Then add gloves
- Then add force outs
- Then add tag outs
- Then add throws to bases on the field
Start with bunting to teach them the importance of hand-eye coordination.
This will also teach them where the barrel of the ball is and how to watch the ball hit the sweet spot. Then progress to swinging.
As you can see, I’m a believer in progressions 🙂
- Tees with bottom hand only with small bat
- Tees with top hand only with small bat
- Tees with both hands with small bat
- Tees with both hands with regular bat
- Soft toss with bottom hand only with small bat
- Soft toss with top hand only with small bat
- Soft toss with both hands with small bat
- Soft toss with both hands with regular bat
For the above progression, use various balls
(golf ball waffles, small waffles, softball sided wiffles, and regular softballs)
Then, progress to hitting heavy balls so they can learn how to drive through the ball
(16″ Chicago ball, deflated volleyball, deflated basketball, etc).
Then, progress to front toss drills followed by machine drills.
Here is the best circuit that I use to teach young kids the important parts of base-running:
By: Coach Paul Tremlin
A few weeks ago I wrote an article on athletic nutrition and presented a question that went like this…
“Do youth and high school athletes have a grasp on how to utilize healthy nutrition to maximize their training potential to become top performance athletes?”
It is apparent that in a world of fast food, GMO’s, artificial sweeteners and foods pumped with preservatives that athletes face a greater challenge in their nutritional choices. The key to being educated on nutrition is knowing what to avoid and what to have, plain and simple.
My first article on athletic nutrition,
focused on what foods athletes need to steer clear of due to being associated with poor nutrition. Remember, nutrition is everything for athletes and their bodies. It’s their fuel, their recovery and their gains. It’s the edge that top performance athletes have over all other athletes. If you did not get the chance to read HNFAP1, you can access that article HERE
For this article, it’s time to turn the attention to 5 foods that athletes should start having NOW! Links will be provided for you to gather more information on each food listed below.
- H20 – There are so many incredible benefits to water! Want to know what they are, check out CFC Coach Chris Thomas’s article, “Awesome Overlooked Benefits to Water”
Water is ALWAYS the better choice over sodas and other drinks filled with artificial sweeteners! If you are looking for some flavor try green tea or juice that is naturally sweetened.
- Nuts – These little guys are a good source of fuel being packed with protein, healthy fats, magnesium, and other nutrients. Nuts also compliment an athlete’s lifestyle by being a quick food-on-the-go.
- Superfoods – For #3 we’re going to focus solely on avocados, because they are absolutely AWESOME! Athletes need good fats to have energy and drive during training. Avocados also protect against cell damage and inflammation!
Other superfoods include: spinach, salmon, berries, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.
- Protein – Everyone knows protein is important for athletes. Protein provides the body with amino acids that are vital for recovery. If an athlete is not consuming protein on a daily basis, athletes may be taking their training and heading in the wrong direction that can lead to muscle injury. To learn more about how much protein to consume and when, read CFC Coach Chris Thomas’s article,
Athletes can get protein from nuts, lean meats (like turkey and salmon), grains and vegetables.
- Carbs – Right off the bat, I’m declaring that McDonald’s fries DO NOT count as a proper source of carbs. The importance of carbs in an athlete’s diet is that they provide fuel for activity and recovery. Good sources of carbs are sweet potatoes, wild rice (or quinoa) and humus (or chickpeas).
I’ll finish this article with how I started the previous article. For athletes to become top performance athletes, we need to understand how to properly use nutrition as a way to maximize training. There are foods that athletes should avoid and foods that athletes need to consume to become top performance athletes.
“Train like an athlete, EAT LIKE A NUTRITIONIST, sleep like a baby.”
BY COACH PAUL TREMLIN
There’s a saying in the performance world that goes like this,
“Train like an athlete, EAT LIKE A NUTRITIONIST, sleep like a baby.”
For a top performance athlete those three elements go hand-in-hand. The culture of athletes we train with on a daily basis understand the value of training. Many athletes can easily grasp the fact that taking an extra 200 swings before bed will aid in gaining repetition and lead to muscle memory. Where those athletes might lack is in their understanding on the impact that sleep and healthy nutrition have on their training. For information on how important sleep is for athletes, check out Crossfit Collinsville Coach Jen Doehring’s article, “Is sleep affecting your workouts?”
If athletes do not have good sleep habits and are not fueling their bodies properly with healthy nutrition, then all the training in the world is not going to allow those athletes to maximize their training to reach their fullest potential. Period. So here’s a question for everyone reading this, “Do youth and high school athletes have a grasp on how to utilize healthy nutrition to maximize their training potential to become top performance athletes?”
Something to think about.
Once athletes recognize that they do not utilize healthy nutrition to complement their training, their question is always, “Where do we start then?” For the sake of this article, let us put our focus on getting athletes to avoid certain foods that are associated with poor nutrition. Links will be provided for you to gather more information on each food listed below.
As Dave Dameshek would say, “Let it begin!”
# 1 Artificially Sweetened Drinks
We already know that soda is terrible for our health, but add artificial sweeteners to it (diet sodas) and we just made something that’s bad, worse. Artificial sweeteners offer no nutritional benefits, cause health issues and weight gain. If your athlete consumed diet sodas or energy drinks with artific-ial sweeteners on a daily basis, get them to STOP NOW!
#2 Sugary Cereals
Breakfast is a big area that athletes struggle in. Most either have a quick bowl of cereal with high amounts of sugar or nothing at all (which is a whole other topic!). Not only are sugary cereals filled with empty carbs, but they also lack protein and (you guessed it) have a high amount of sugar that spikes the body’s blood sugar levels. This is a recipe for weight gain and not the good kind athletes are looking!
#3 White Bread
White bread is processed in a way that totally strips any nutritional value bread is supposed to have. According to Livestrong.com, “(White bread) is made of refined grain that is created when a whole grain is finely ground and stripped of its bran and germ, the elements that contain natural fiber, vitamins and minerals.”
#4 Canned Goods
Canned goods are loaded with the following: Bisphenol or BPA (which are plastic contaminants), preservatives, leaking aluminum, and low quality of food.
#5 Fried Foods
This is an obvious pick, however we still see athletes consuming fried foods in the facility on a daily basis. We need to think of fried foods like the way we think of putting fuel into our car. Eating fried foods is comparable to putting poor quality gasoline into our cars, which will have a negative impact on our car’s performance. The same principle applies to the food athletes consume into their bodies.
We live in a culture of food on the go, highly-processed foods, GMO’s, BPA, MSG, and artificial sweeteners. For athletes to maximize their training to reach their fullest potential, we have to understand that training is 20% of the work it takes to become a top performance athlete. The rest is proper sleep habits and what ends up on the plate.
Check out Coach Lauren’s video!! Join her pitching program that starts THIS MONDAY!!!
Beep, beep, beep! It’s time to shake off the sleep and start to focus your mind for the day ahead of you. Your body feels rested and ready to tackle the next 12 hours but your mind may be restless, doubtful, nervous or anxious for that moment where everything counts. Every swing, pitch, catch or throw will be put on the line and may determine what is in store for your future. You will be timed, analyzed, studied and put in situations for all to see what you’re made of! Suddenly, you feel your heart beating just as quickly as the beeps screaming from your alarm clock. You ask yourself, am I ready? Did I prepare enough? Could I of done more?
I must say that if you have even ONE of those questions lingering in your mind then you may not have done enough. However, what if I told you that by taking a couple hours out of your Saturday it may ease some of those thoughts going through your head? Would you take advantage of those two hours to prepare for your high school try out? Two hours to sharpen your skills, receive solid feedback on your skills and a few tips to take on your try-out! If you’re nodding your head and your mind is screaming YES, then I attend our upcoming “Pre-Try Out” Camp on February 28th.
Within those two hours we have programed drills that will focus on improving mechanics and fundamentals to get you ready for your try-out! We will give insight to what your coaches will be looking for and will provide tips that may better your chances of having a successful try out. Our instructors will give you instructions on how to better improve your skills as well as getting a chance to test your sprint time, throwing accuracy, hitting power and run the bases.