Great Basketball Drill

It that time of year when youth basketball leagues around the country are forming and volunteer coaches are being recruited. Never played organized basketball but you’re thinking of coaching your son or daughter’s team? Even if you did play but would like a handy pack of drills, we can help. CoachDeck is a deck of cards with 52 good, fundamental drills that don’t require late nights reading a thick book or surfing online. Just drop the handy pack in your pocket and, while your players are showing up and lacing up their shoes, pull 3-4 cards out of the deck and you have a professional practice right in front of you. You can even give cards to assistants and break your team into smaller groups. Let players who have worked hard pull a card out of the deck as a fun reward. There are millions of practice combinations you can come up with. Below is an example of one of the many great drills you’ll find inside.

v-cut-jumpers

Staying true to your school

We’ve brought you other articles by the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Sondheimer, and this is another great one. Nationwide, young students will be playing high school football this weekend. We’re especially cheering for those who chose not to chase greener pastures at glamorous transfer schools and instead decided to play all four years for their original school and community.

Did you miss yesterday’s OnDeck Newsletter?

Well, don’t fret. You can always read past issues here, and sign up to be sure you don’t miss any in the future. You’ll definitely want to read the article about Lazy Volunteer Coaches and get the sports parent checklist.

Sign up to get today’s OnDeck Newsletter

If you’re a baseball or softball player or coach, you’ll love our tips for outfielders in the baseball edition of our popular OnDeck Newsletter. If you’re a soccer parent or league administrator you won’t want to miss the “Soccer Landmines” article in our soccer issue. Sign up here and you can get either one delivered to your inbox for free!

Lazy Volunteer Coaches?

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

Over the years we’ve had the fortune to have thousands and thousands of youth sports organizations provide our unique CoachDeck to their coaches. Of course, not everyone we approach becomes a client, and we understand when the budget it tight and there’s no room for anything but the barest necessities. But the we felt compelled to address the comments we received from one organization President recently, because we’re sure he’s not alone in his thinking.

In telling us he was going to pass on ordering decks for his soccer club this individual wrote, “The concept appears to reward the lazy coach where you state in your literature that ‘you can literally show up at practice with no time to plan’. This goes against everything we encourage in our coaches where we are looking for a practice plan that spans the whole season to measure individual player and team development.”

See, we at CoachDeck do not think volunteer coaches are lazy. Busy, maybe, but not lazy. They are doing us a favor by coaching for free. The individual who wrote this email is probably paid a salary by the club. Guess where a good portion of the club’s revenue comes from? Recreational player registrations. If no one volunteered to coach, this revenue would be eliminated and so would some or all of his salary. Yet, those good folks who are doing this job for free are lazy?

We, as league administrators, need to realize that not everyone can devote the amount of time we’d like. Not all are as “into it” as we are. I think of a person who owns a sandwich shop. When he makes a sandwich for a customer he tries to create a work of art. All the ingredients applied precisely, the plating perfect. He wants it to be the best sandwich the customer has ever had.

Then he hires employees to help him make sandwiches. He observes them rushing through the process, skipping steps, not being as careful as he’d like. He can’t understand how they would not take the same pride in each meal as he does. What he doesn’t get is that it is not their business. They are just doing this job temporarily. This shop may be his life, but it is not theirs. It doesn’t mean they don’t care at all – they just don’t care as much.

So we designed our product to bridge the gap between the professional and the volunteer. CoachDeck was created to give a lifeline to the coach who is overwhelmed but trying his best. We want to provide a shot in the arm of confidence to those who might only be coaching because no one else was willing to do it. We’re proud to give them a tool that’s easy to use, not a chore, so that they can have fun with kids instead of being robotic drill instructors. It’s rec sports. Fun comes first. Individual and team development? Somewhere further down the list. We know that not all volunteer coaches will be as diligent or skilled as we are. But we’ll thank them for pitching in, and never call them lazy.

Ironically, on this particular club’s website we found this: The recreational program is geared for players who love the game of soccer and want to keep playing and improving their skills, while not committing the additional time and effort necessary for a travel team.  Games are held every Saturday and the individual coaches decide on the number of practices.  If your child enjoys playing soccer and does not want to commit to the more demanding requirements of a travel team, then come join our recreational soccer program.

We couldn’t have said it much better ourselves.

Brian Gotta is a former professional youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

Pro Tips for How to Play Outfield

By Doug Bernier

The tips on this page for how to play outfield will help you create a foundation of knowledge and technique that will make you a better outfielder, maximizing your natural talents and helping you go as far in this game of baseball as you can.

Having an understanding of the proper way to track down and how to catch fly balls will help you cover more ground, and take more hits away from the other team.  There are many types of fly balls that can be hit into the outfield.  Balls to your left, right, up, and back, as well as many variations of each.

Former Red Sox outfielder offers tips for outfielders on Baseball-Insider.comFormer Red Sox Outfielder Jonathan Van Every believes the three essentials of being a good outfielder are:

  • Get a good initial read
  • Get a good first step
  • Take a good route to the baseball

1. Ready position

This is the position we should be in every time when the ball is being pitched and traveling through the strike zone.

  • In between pitches, outfielders can be walking around and moving, or doing whatever we feel is comfortable, it doesn’t really matter. Don’t fall into the trap of not moving your feet for 2,3,4 pitches. Keep your legs light and ready by moving in between pitches.
  • As the pitch is about to be delivered we want to be in an athletic position. This position would mirror a basketball player playing defense, or a tennis player about to return a serve.
  • We want to have our legs a little wider than shoulder width and have some movement with our legs.
  • Our hands are off of our knees and we are anticipating a swing and getting a good first step.
  • React with what you see, let your eyes guide your body.

2. Movement of baseballs off the bat

Most of the time, balls that are hit to outfield are either hooking or slicing. This will affect the corner outfielders more than the centerfielder. Balls that are hit back up the middle towards the centerfielder can have some movement but usually have more backspin and less sidespin.

Balls hit towards the corner outfielders will likely have some hooking or slicing action depending on the side of the plate the hitter is hitting from. The action of a batted ball tends to hook or slice toward the foul line. Very rarely you will see a baseball start toward the line and work back into the gap.

Left Fielder
  • Right handed batter: If a right handed hitter hits a fly ball to left field, the action on the baseball most likely will be going left to right from the outfielders perspective (or hooking from the batters perspective).
  • Left handed batter: If a left handed hitter hits a fly ball to left field, the ball will be working from your left to right (or slicing from the batters perspective).
Right Fielder
  • Right handed batter: If a right handed hitter hits a fly ball to right field, the baseball will be working from your right to left (or slicing from the batters perspective).
  • Left handed batter: If a left handed hitter hits a fly ball to right field, the ball will be working from your right to left (or hooking from the batters perspective).

It’s important to understand this theory when tracking down fly balls and making your first move on baseballs

3. Movement of baseballs on the ground (snaking ground balls)

Keep in mind how the outfield grass is cut. When there are a bunch of nice looking designs and lines in the grass, after a fresh mow, the ball will do weird things.

The outfield grass is different shades of green because of which way the grass is laying, so when the ball is rolling towards you the ball will actually “snake” or zig zag left and right depending on which way the outfield grass is laying when the ball is rolling over that section.

This can be tough for some fielders to get used to this when fielding ground balls. Just know how the ball is rolling, take your time, and watch the ball into your glove.

tips for outfielders, how to back up plays, outfield positioning“Know when to throw out runners at home plate and when to throw to 2nd base. With a runner on 2nd base and a ball hit that takes you to your right or left a few steps, throw to second. Base hits that are hit right at you take a chance and try for the runner at home.”- Kevin Russo, Left fielder and second baseman for the New York Yankees

4. Using a crossover step

Using a crossover step is the foundation to starting your track after a fly ball. This is where you can save valuable steps by getting to where you need to go in a straight line.

Our first move from our ready position is to make a good, hard step.

  • This step is made by if we need to be going left, we will take our right foot and throw it over our left foot in the direction we need to run. This movement is quick and violent, so we can get to top speed as quickly as possible.
  • The opposite is true by going to our right we will take our left foot and throw it quick and violent over our right foot in the direction we need to run.

After our crossover step is made and we are in stride, we will need to use our eyes to figure out where the baseball is going to hit the ground. Once we find this spot we need to beat the ball there. Our eyes are very good, with practice, at calculating how hard the baseball is hit, how high it is hit, and how much spin is on it. This calculation is what we rely on to get to the spot where we need to be to catch the baseball.

5. Catch the baseball with your eyes

As the baseball is coming down and it is about to fall into your glove, keep your glove out of the way of your eye sight.

Every outfielder has done this before and it gets a little scary because when your glove crosses in front of your eyes you lose track of the baseball for just a split second but that is about the time you are catching the ball. This is how people drop fly balls.

As you are running to your left and right, follow the baseball all the way into your glove and catch the it with 1 hand.   Click here if you want to read more about tracking fly balls.  Also, you can read more about how to avoid losing baseballs in the sun.

6. Run on your toes

When outfielders are running after the ball, sometimes it might feel like the ball is bouncing all over the place.

This happens because of how you are running after the baseball.

When you run and your heels hit the ground first at impact your eyes will bounce and it will give you the illusion of the baseball jumping all around.

To minimize this bouncing, try letting your toes hit the ground first and the impact will be a lot softer on your eyes and you will see a big difference when running after a baseball.

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins’ AAA team in Rochester, NY 

Parents’ Issues Checklist

By Dr. Darrell J. Burnett

The following parents issues checklist for teaching character and sportsmanship is short, but sweet. Answer YES or NO to the following 10 statements, tally up your score and see how you did.

  1. I maintain a “Fun is Number One” attitude in youth sports.
  2. I treat officials, coaches, my kids, their teammates, and their opponents, with respect, modeling manners for kids, avoiding put-downs, ridicule, or sarcasm.
  3. I praise my kids, their teammates, and their opponents, just for participating, regardless of their athletic skills.
  4. I remember to look for, and make a “big deal” out of positives with my kids, their teammates, and their opponents as a way of teaching character and encouraging personal health and wellness.
  5. I remain calm when my kids or their teammates make a mistake, but instead, help them to learn from it.
  6. I remind my kids and their teammates not to get down on themselves when things don’t go well in youth sports or other adolescent activities.
  7. I try not to take myself too seriously when it comes to my involvement in youth sports, reminding myself that there is life beyond youth sports whether my kids are playing athletic games for preschoolers or at the college level.
  8. I remind myself and my kids to laugh and keep a sense of humor.
  9. I emphasize teamwork in team sports with my kids, teaching them to think “we,” instead of “me.”
  10. I teach my kids by giving them a good example of good sportsmanship: winning without gloating, and losing without complaining.

Now, tally up your score. Which of these do you need to work on?

Dr. Darrell Burnett is a clinical psychologist and a certified sports psychologist specializing in youth sports. He has been in private practice for 25+ years in Laguna Niguel, California. His book, IT’S JUST A GAME! (Youth, Sports, & Self Esteem: A Guide for Parents), is described at his website, www.djburnett.com, along with his other books, booklets and CDs on youth sports and family life.