Blog

Softball Community Welcomes…

Sandy Montgomery from SIUE,
and Brett Swip from Extreme Baseball & Softball Club.
 
These two coaches will be having an open dialogue session to discuss the Midwest athlete and how they can increase their opportunities to be recruited for college scholarships.
Details

WHEN: Sunday, August 2nd

WHERE: Collinsville VFW, 1234 Vandalia, Collinsville IL 62234
TIME: 7 – 8 pm
COST: FREE
Why You And Your Family Should Be There

Topics To Be Discussed:
  1. Understand firsthand how a college coach evaluates talent
  2. Learn the responsibility of club and select teams in
    developing recruitable players.
  3. Gain perspective on the number of high-level scholarships available each year and how they are distributed Nationally.

Player Highlights

Good Morning Everyone!
 
As Turn 2 & CFC Athletes compete on the diamond this season, we would like to highlight three athletes whose hard work in the cage is paying off on the diamond. We are proud of all the work our athletes are putting in, especially the three below!  
 
Turn 2 & CFC Coaches

FIRST OF MANY!

Emma Kiger is a Turn 2 Softball Athlete and plays for 10U Bluff City. Her hard work in the cage is paying off on the field. This past weekend, Kiger went 3-4 which included her first home run at Lenz Field! She also drew 4 walks at the plate. 

Emma trains with Coach Tim on hitting and has worked with both Coach Lauren & Coach Wade in pitching. 
 
Keep it up Emma, that home run was the first of many!

FOCUSED & CONSISTENT!

Megan Radae is a CrossFit Collinsville Teen, Turn 2 Softball Premier Hitter and a Senior at Edwardsville High School. Her focus on ‘in-season’ strength training has been on being technique strong on her lifts, which has led to her staying healthy and consistent on the field for Edwardsville. 

 

Crossfit Coach Chris Thomas had this to say about Megan’s training. 

 

“Megan has been really consistent getting in [which can be a challenge during the season] and it shows in her steady improvements and  strength gains.”

 

Megan, along with her sister Sara, will be playing softball for McKendree University next fall.

A PAIR OF DOMINANT PERFORMANCES!

Connor Adams currently does pitching training at Turn 2 with Coach Paul Tremlin. Adams is also a RHP / SS for Coach TIm Fox with the 12U Collinsville Extreme. Adams had a pair of stellar performances last week that included him pitching a no hit  shutout last Tuesday and hitting two home runs last Thursday. To cap off his Thursday performance, his second home run was a walk-off that lifted his team to a 4-3 win. 

 

Coach Paul had these remarks about Adams,

“Connor Adams has the make of a really good ball player. He’s built like a pitcher and is a good athlete for his age. We’ve been working on him getting more drive off the mound and being more fluid with his mechanics. Those two things will impact his ability to create even more power, which is a scary thought for any hitter facing him.”

Practice Plan For Beginning Youth Teams – Part 3 – Pop-Flys and Groundballs

By Coach Brett Swip


If you missed Part 2 of this blog on catching the ball, you can click here to read and see the videos.   Today’s portion of the blog will give you ideas on drills and progressions to better prepare your youth athlete for catching a pop-fly and fielding a ground ball.  Again, progressing them to feeling confident about these skills is the key.  These are two of the fundamental skills to playing defense and some of the most under-coached skills.  Commonly, when we coach these skills, we put the players in their positions or in a single-file line and hit them pop-flys and ground balls from our bat.  These videos will provide you with other variations to develop the skill safely, creatively, and allow the athletes to have fun in doing so.

 

POP-FLYS

Remember this picture from the movie, Sandlot!?!?

Untitled

Instead of praying that you don’t cause a black-eye with one of your athletes trying to catch a pop-fly, take them through a simple progression to teach 2 important tips to catching a pop-fly.

 

1) Getting their feet to the ball before putting the glove up in the air.

Put a helmet on your athlete, throw a wiffle in the air, have them run to where they think the wiffle ball will drop and let the wiffle hit them in the helmet.  Kids love this drill and it is a great way to drive home the idea of running to the fly ball before sticking their glove up in the air.  Teaches them great hand-eye coordination and depth perception to help them catch pop-flys.

 

2) Catch the ball with two hands near their chest.

Most athletes will not get their feet to the pop-fly and then they will just stick their glove out away from their body like a basket and hope the pop-fly lands in.  Instead, teach them to catch the ball near their chest.  First, stand close to the athletes and let them work on getting their feet to the ball and catching the ball barehanded.  Then scoot back and give them an oven mitt.  Finally, finish up by giving the athlete their gloves and throwing traditional pop-flys.

 

Putting it together

Pop-fly 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.  You can space out the cones farther and farther apart as they get more confident in this skill.

 

GROUNDBALLS

When we were kids, we remember our baseball or softball coach telling us to field groundballs with our head down, butt down, out in front at the top of the triangle, and with our throwing hand near-by . . . . . . but when we hit a groundball to the athletes we are coaching, we end up with them trying to field it on the side, one-handed, with their head pulling up and us hoping that it doesn’t take a bad hop and hurt them.  Instead of immediately putting a mask on them when they are fielding to keep them safe, take them through a roundball progression that will build the muscle memory that you are looking for them when you hit a groundball.  Below is a progression that we use for our youth players all the way up to our collegiate athletes.

 

Groundball progression:Untitled1

  1. Knees No Gloves
  2. Stool No Gloves
  3. Standing No Gloves
  4. Standing No Gloves Transitioning in to throwing
  5. Then add paddles or oven mitts
  6. Then add gloves
  7. Then add force outs
  8. Then add tag outs
  9. Then add throws to bases on the field

 

 

Stay tuned for the final Part 4 of this youth practice plan which will introduce coaches to hitting drills and baselining drills that will surely help the athletes score more runs and enjoy the offensive part of baseball and softball.

 

 

Practice Plan For Beginning Youth Teams – Part 2 – Catching the ball

By Coach Brett Swip


If you missed Part 1 of this blog on throwing, you can click here to read and see the videos.   This portion of the blog will help you build confidence and good habits in your young ballplayer around the skill of catching the baseball or softball.  Difficulty catching the ball is a big reason that youth teams lose games and their interest in the game itself.  Coaches are tempted to throw the glove on the young athlete and begin chucking hardballs at them to play catch.


  I strongly discourage coaches of young teams to start this way.  Many habits and fears are started because of the lack of understanding on how to use the glove to play catch properly and safely.  


 Add this catching progression to your first few practices and you will see a significant improvement in confidence and skills when the ball is coming towards them.  These are also great reminders for moms and dads playing catch with their child at home or at the park.
Catching the ball is the most important fundamental to conquer at a young age.  Develop a catching progression that encompasses these fun and creative ways to learn to play catch:

1) As coaches, we must first learn to recognize some of the common problems that young athletes have when playing catch.  

 

  • Stepping backwards when receiving the ball – young athletes commonly move away from the throw when it is coming in.  This puts them in a very defensive, non-athletic position that leads to fear and potentially injury.
  • “Chicken-winging” their elbows – young athletes commonly try to catch a ball with the wrong part of their glove because of a tendency to “chicken-wing” their elbows when they try to receive the throw

2) Help young athletes progress confidently when catching the ball by using various balls.  This will help develop hand-eye coordination and teach them the proper way to use two hands when playing catch.   The glove is truly meant to be used as a padded barehand, so start barehanded throwing these balls stock-footage-smiling-boy-playing-baseball-while-standing-upright-in-the-countrysideslowly.  This will teach them the fingers-up and two-handed approach to catching.

  • Deflated basketball
  • Deflated volleyball or 16″ chicago ball
  • A nerf type ball
  • A tennis ball
  • A baseball or softball

3) Once you see the confidence start to increase when they catch barehanded, put a paddle on their hands to help with the idea of using a backboard that will then help transitioning in to their throwing hand.  An oven mitt is another great tool to train the proper way to use a glove.

 

4) Once they have mastered this progression, now is the time to begin teaching them to play catch with their glove.  Athletes will typically use their glove as a basket or grabbing tool.  They make the mistake of thinking that the glove is made to single-handedly receive the baseball or softball.  The glove is made to be supported by the 2nd hand in a similar manner that they would catch barehanded or with a paddle.  

Encourage your player to play 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.  Stay tuned for Part 3 which will display some common pop-fly and groundball mistakes that athletes typically make and some drills to help build great habits!

Practice Plan for Beginning Youth Teams – Part 1 – THROWING

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.

 

Softball_Proper-Footwork-for-Throwing-a-Softball_01_300x350

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.

Player Highlights

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!    

All Skills Camp Should Be On Your Calendar! Here’s Why…


 

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..

  1. We work on ALL SKILLS (hitting, fielding, throwing, catching, base running, etc.)
  2. 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…..maxresdefault

 

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Taking Care Of Your Body During The Season

TAKINGCAREOFYOURBODY
                                    DURING THE SEASON
by
COACHPAULTREMLIN

 

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.
  1. 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.

5 Food Athletes NEED to Have


 

  1. Strength & Conditioning – A consistent theme that we see in the athletic community involves mostfocus-on-your-strengths-theperfectdesign-300x300 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

 

Importance of Being in Athletic Shape

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.


  1. 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.

  1. 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 14_Hydration02close 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!

 

 Awesome Overlooked Benefits of Water


 

  1. 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?”

Is Sleep Affecting Your Workouts?

 

Remember…

“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.

Practice Plan For Beginning Youth Teams


By Coach Brett Swip


 

ThrowingSoftball_Proper-Footwork-for-Throwing-a-Softball_01_300x350

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

Catching

(MOST IMPORTANT FUNDAMENTAL TO CONQUER AT A YOUNG AGE)

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • No chicken-winging
  • Fingers up when catching

stock-footage-smiling-boy-playing-baseball-while-standing-upright-in-the-countryside

Sample Drills

  •  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.

Pop-Flys

  • Getting their feet to the ball before putting the glove up in the air

Sample Drill

  • 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.

Groundballs

Use a progression628x471

  1. Knees No Gloves
  2. Stool No Gloves
  3. Standing No Gloves
  4. Standing No Gloves Transitioning in to throwing
  5. Then add paddles or oven mitts
  6. Then add gloves
  7. Then add force outs
  8. Then add tag outs
  9. Then add throws to bases on the field

Hitting

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 🙂

  1. Tees with bottom hand only with small bat
  2. Tees with top hand only with small bat
  3. Tees with both hands with small bat
  4. Tees with both hands with regular bat
  5. Soft toss with bottom hand only with small bat
  6. Soft toss with top hand only with small bat
  7. Soft toss with both hands with small bat
  8. 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.


Base-running

Here is the best circuit that I use to teach young kids the important parts of base-running:

1 runner) Home to 1st – have coach standing in the first base box, they run through the bag, the coach has a ball in hand, if the coach drops the ball as they run through first base they continue on to 2nd, if the coach still has the ball in hand as they run through first base, they come right back to the bag.
2 runner) 1st to 2nd – have coach standing in third base box, the runner leads off and goes to 2nd like a girl hit the ball, they pick up the coach and the coach holds their hands up to hold them at 2nd in which the runner than sticks the base, or the coach is waving them on to 3rd and the runner continues to third
3 runner) 3rd to Home – have coach at home with a bucket of balls, the coach throws a ground ball or a pop fly, the runner is learning to read the angle of the ball of the bat.  If the coach throws it in the air, the runner retreats to tag up.  If the coach throws on the ground, the runner scores.
Note: add slip and slide on a warm practice day to finish up practice and teach the girls to slide.
baserunner

HEALTHY NUTRITION FOR ATHLETES PT. II: 5 FOODS ATHLETES NEED TO HAVE!

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,

“Healthy Nutrition for Athletes PT. I: 5 Foods Athletes Should Avoid

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

healthy eating wordle

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Importance of Nuts & Seeds

  1. 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!

Avocados For The Athlete

Other superfoods include: spinach, salmon, berries, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.

  1. 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,

    “How Much Protein Should I be Taking?”

Athletes can get protein from nuts, lean meats (like turkey and salmon), grains and vegetables.

  1. 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).

5 Best Carbs For Athletes

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.

Remember…

“Train like an athlete, EAT LIKE A NUTRITIONIST, sleep like a baby.”