Do we live in a time where there is consistent, great baseball instruction for our youth players? Is there great baseball instruction for high school players? If you love baseball, or if you play baseball, or if you coach baseball, do yourself a favor and one Spring Saturday morning, go over to your local Little League field or Pony fields, and observe some of the youth baseball being played right in your backyard. Are there some kids who stand out from others? Are there a handful that you look at that make you say “WOW – that kid could sure play?” Or “holy moly, that kid is going to be a superstar!” What makes these kids stand out? Natural talent? Work ethic at such a young age? The unbelievable capacity to grasp the baseball fundamentals and required techniques necessary to perform? The uncanny ability to absorb all baseball instruction and put it to good use? Or perhaps a combination of all of the above?!?!? Whatever the case, there are some youth ballplayers who certainly stand heads and shoulders above their peers as far as mastering the required baseball fundamentals at such an early age!
Photo by Christine Beck, Chrissybeck photography, Chesapeake, VA
Now, continue to do yourself a favor and go to a local high school game, when they are in season. Do the same comparison, and notice what you see. At this level, high school baseball players are relatively a lot more closely grouped. They have come close to mastering the required baseball fundamentals and are contributing at some level along the same line as their peers. Is this because high school baseball players get better baseball instruction than youth ballplayers? Perhaps. So while it’s great to be the best 12 year old out there, eventually, when all is said and done, most kids that stick with the program do catch up, for a number of reasons, and as a result, a ballplayer will be required to work hard and needs to strive to be the BEST 16 or 17 year old out there. That is, if you, as a player, have any aspirations about playing this great game beyond high school baseball, it is crucial that you master the required baseball fundamentals, baseball techniques and baseball skills in order to continue playing at a high level! Become fundamentally sound! Much of this stems from receiving good baseball instruction, early on and throughout.
What is being fundamentally sound? Basically, it is when you, as a player, are able to perform the basics of the game – the very foundation of the game - the proper way. Not necessarily specifically techniques and form, but all the basic skills. Fundamentals cover a wide variety of individual aspects of hitting, pitching and fielding, and also include the little things – not just the small ball method of building runs, but knowing where to be, conducting perfect relays, backing up plays, running hard down the line, and anything else you could think of. Some of these are not necessarily skills that you are born with, and with the right work ethic and determination, you can learn and improve them. And it would be in your best interest to do so since these are the things that will help you stand out from your peers as you progress. These are the things that started with good baseball instruction and end with that baseball fanatic, who stops by a high school game on a Wednesday afternoon to check out the action, and after seeing a player perform better than most, says “WOW! That kid could sure play!”
What is the best way to incorporate the good baseball instruction you receive and put it to good use? Work, work, work, practice, practice, practice! Practice at practice, practice at home. Use a wall. Use a tee. Use a sock! But you have to work the right way, and practice the right way, and if you really want to succeed, you have to work outside of your once or twice a week scheduled team practices. I was recently talking with Henry Cuddyer, Michael’s father, and I asked him how often Michael would do drills, take swings, and work on his game. Without hesitation, he said “EVERY DAY, no questions asked.” We’ve all heard that practice makes perfect, but in reality, it is perfect practice that makes perfect. So along these lines, it is critical that as a youth player, you receive quality instruction that allows you to master the baseball fundamentals and skills you will so greatly need to give you an advantage as other kids “catch up” to you. These are the required skills that will ensure you are fundamentally sound, and being a fundamentally sound player makes you a coach’s dream! Having top notch baseball fundamentals is also the key to becoming a consistently great, maybe even an elite baseball player, and it is a trait that can never be understated. This is why it is important to receive proper baseball instruction as early as possible. Think about how many times you’ve watched your favorite team fail to lay down a bunt in a critical situation, or have a runner get picked off first as the tying run late in the game. Or even ground out to short with a runner on third and less than two outs. As a fan, I guarantee your reaction was just short of putting your size 11 working boot through the television, and the only reason you restrained from that is because you just dropped 1200 dollars on that television and couldn’t figure out a way to tell your family that they are going to be TVless for the foreseeable future. Be that as it may, your next thought probably went right to fundamentals, or the lack thereof, of your favorite team. While you were thinking your favorite team is poorly coached and lacking proper baseball instruction, and that is why they are fundamentally weak, I can assure you theseprofessional players want to do everything they can do to help their team win, and the lack of execution was not a reflection of poor fundamentals, bad instruction, or lack of effort. Maybe they forgot some of those, but baseball is hard, especially at the major league level, and this difficulty is one of the reasons it is important to receive proper instruction and training early on so you can ingrain the proper baseball fundamentals into your own game and habits!
Here and throughout this site, we will provide some baseball instruction in order to help make you a fundamentally sound ball player, or help you, as a coach, provide instruction to enable your team to become fundamentally sound. We will have sections on hitting instruction, pitching instruction, fielding instruction, being a catcher, and anything else we could come up with. If there is something anyone out there wants to see, let us know and we will get it out there! As we have stated in other sections, not everything works the same for each individual, so experiment, try things out, work hard, and never, ever be afraid to reach out to contact me for advice! And remember, baseball is ultimately a game so work hard, play hard, and have fun while you become great!!!Baseball › Baseball Instruction
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