Baseball

Welcome to the 2017-2018 Gators Baseball page.  Your returning coaches this year are Coach Sosa and Coach Ly.  We have added Coach Lebeda and Coach Giannelli to the staff this year.   Baseball tryouts Begin in January.  Please see Coach Sosa to sign up prior to tryouts.  You must have an Athletic Packet filled out with a signed Physical turned into the office prior to trying out. Tips and instruction will be provided on this page so keep checking back for more updates throughout the year.

Announcements

1/10/2018 Updates:

This is for last year’s team and also any student wishing to join the team this year.  This year will be our best team ever.  We want all players to be conditioned and on point, ready to go in January as our first game will only be a month away.  This season will feature many more games and scrimmages against local teams.

UPDATES: New training videos.  Updated, compacted pitching mechanics instruction.

 

INSPIRATIONAL STORY:

The Game Knows

 

Mental Toughness  

BATTING:

How to Increase Bat Speed
Stride Foot and Front Knee

THROWING:

Throw Like a Pro 
The Most Important Throwing Drills

FIELDING:

Auburn Hop
5 Must Know Infield Drills
Relays
Fielding Grounders with Brandon Phillips
Wall Ball Drill 
Outfield Tips
Outfield Drop Step
3B Tips
3B Mechanics 

Derek Jeter’s Shortstop Mechanics
1B Tips from Don Mattingly

BASERUNNING:

When you make contact with the ball, even if it goes foul, your first reaction should be to drop the bat and run to 1B.  It’s a good habit to run on every foul ball as it also gives you extra time to recover from a swing, contemplate what just happened and how to approach the next pitch.  What pitch did he throw?  Did I put a good swing on it?  What do I want to do if he throws that same pitch again?  How deep are the infielders playing?  Maybe I can put down a bunt.

When you make contact, you run hard out of the box until you touch first base.  You don’t see it on TV but all major leaguers run hard out of the box.  They don’t slow down until they’re nearly certain they’ll be thrown out at first.  Unfortunately the cameras only show you them slowing down to 1B and makes you think they’re running slow the entire way.  But don’t slow down just short of 1B.  You can’t expect a high school fielder to always make a good throw and get you out.  That may be likely at the pro level, but in a high school game there’s always 3-4 bad throws to 1B.  If the First Baseman drops a throw and you’re still 10ft away because you were slowing down thinking he’s going to catch it, all he has to do is pick it up and you’re out.  But if you had ran hard and was 5ft from the bag when he dropped it, you’re going to be safe.  When I played, I got on base A LOT just from hustling down to first.  Your aggressiveness makes fielders nervous.  They realize that they have to be quick to get you out and they might make a mistake due to that fear.

 

PITCHING AND CATCHING:

Printable Guide for Catchers
Balk Rules
Pitching Position Rules

PITCHING:

TopVelocity/3X Technical Pitching Manual
Driveline Arm Care Program

Image 1: Lift and Drive.

Lift the front leg straight up with some umph, basically kicking the knee almost into your chest.  Your energy load is now close to your hands.  Transfer the energy load down by imagine you’re on the first downward hill of a rollercoaster.  Bend the back knee on the dip (your back shoulder can also tilt slightly) to transfer the load and use the back leg forcefully drive towards home plate. Your throwing arm circles down and up either on line with your body or slightly in front.  Don’t swing your arm behind your back as that reduces velocity. In the power position your hand has the ball behind the ear and elbow at shoulder level.

Image 2: Power Position.

The front foot strike at landing should be strong and stiff, fully braced.  Your back leg is 90% straight and extended from the force of the drive image 1.  You don’t have to stride far if you are driving towards home with really strong energy.  Your glove arm is pointing towards home plate, whether it’s the elbow or the glove itself. A slight tilt of the front shoulder towards the sky is desired as this creates what is commonly referred to as “hip to shoulder separation”.   Your forearm now starts to flex, ready to act as a catapult for the ball.

Image 3: Catapult.

Your upper body starts to lean forward.  The front hips and abdominals turn to face home plate while the back shoulder explodes forward, pulling the elbow until it points to home plate and the arm forms a sling shot position.  The back foot drags off of the rubber without coming off of the ground or only slightly at the most.

Image 4: Fire.

The throwing arm’s forearm accelerates to launch the ball on a downward plane.  The hand releases the ball with the fingers over the top of the ball with both tips of the index and middle fingers as aligned as possible with each other and the slight space the between the fingers aligned with the thumb below, providing equal pressure on the ball.  Release the ball by pinching the fingers and thumb together to create maximum spin.  Note: Do not “muscle” the ball forward.  Velocity comes from the momentum generated by the “flex” of the forearm.  This creates a rubber band effect where the elasticity of the arm combined with the momentum of the drive creates the velocity.

Image 5: Glove Tuck and Pronate.

After release, the glove tucks under the armpit to keep it a close distance to your body in order to quickly field any balls hit back up to you.  Near the end of release, your throwing arm pronates counter-clockwise as if your hand is opening a door knob.  This protects your elbow from the stress of throwing and puts movement on your pitch.  Pronate at the very end of release, not before.  If you wait until after release to pronate, there will be no added movement on the pitch.

Image 6: Follow through and Kick back.

The throwing arm continues its initial acceleration until the hand nearly touches the ground.  The back leg automatically kicks up from the forces pulling on it from the hip and shoulder rotation and upper body falling forward towards home plate.  If your back leg isn’t kicking up by itself after release and follow through of the arm, you’re not rotating your body and your arm hard enough when releasing the ball.

HOW TO THROW A BULLPEN:

There are several purposes to throwing a bullpen.  1) To improve command of all pitches. 2) To build up stamina and arm strength. 3) To build rapport with your catcher. 4) To work on new pitches.  5) To work on one or more or all parts of your mechanics.

KERSHAW BULLPEN:

The 34-pitch sequence is designed to reinforce command of pitch selection.  Use your glove to signal to the catcher which pitch you’re going to throw.

If you hit your target, great.  If not, was there a reason that made you miss?  Was it the release point?  Was it the finger position on release?  Was your stride too long/short?  Was the landing foot position too far right or left?  Did your hips open too soon/late?  Was your arm locked/loaded too high or low, too soon or too late?  Every part of your mechanics has to be spot on if you’re going to expect to hit your target consistently.  If you’re throwing a bullpen on a poorly manicured mound, I wouldn’t expect perfect results.  You can miss a curveball or change-up belt high if you’re aiming low.  Don’t get too hard on yourself if you miss.  Think about what you can do to correct it, but don’t throw the same pitch again if it’s not next on the list.

  • 3 Fastballs (Catcher Standing)
  • 3 Fastballs (Middle)
  • 3 Fastballs (Either Side)
  • 3 Changeups (Away)
  • 1 Fastball (Inside)
  • 3 Curveballs (Middle)
  • 1 Fastball (Inside)
  • 3 Sliders (Middle)

(From the stretch position)

  • 2 Fastballs (Inside)
  • 2 Fastballs (Away)
  • 2 Changeups
  • 1 Fastball (Inside)
  • 2 Curveballs
  • 1 Fastball (Inside)
  • 2 Sliders

(From the windup)

  • 1 Fastball (Inside)
  • 1 Fastball (Away)

MASTERING PITCHES

CURVEBALL:

When you receive catcher signs, it doesn’t matter if it’s a fastball, curveball or changeup.  You always have to be thinking inside your head that you’re going with the fastball.  This helps your body ready itself for a fastball and keeps your mechanics and arm speed consistent with a fastball, so that when you throw a changeup, your body and arm looks like it’s throwing a fastball and when the batter sees that, he also thinks you’re throwing a fastball and will be more susceptible to getting fooled on an off-speed pitch.  When you throw, you grit your teeth and let it fly.  Even a change-up should only be 5-10mph slower than your fastball.  If your head and body is thinking “I’m going to throw a slow pitch” you’ll end up taking off 15-20mph and the ball will be more likely to bounce in front of the plate.  You throw every pitch like it’s a fastball and let the grip do the work.  A curveball also needs to be thrown hard like a fastball in order to deceive the batter.  This takes a little more time to learn as the first hundred times you practice, you’ll probably throw a curve over a batter’s head.  But when you do master it, you will have a devastatingly deceptive curveball.   There’s two kinds of curve balls.  The 12-6 and the 12-9.  The 12-6 is the classic curveball that requires a “snap” at release.  The 12-9 is easier on the elbow and instead of snapping at release, you “cut” the ball from 12-9 instead.  As with the fastball, the most important part of the curveball is the flex that your forearm generates when throwing.  This is what really puts a lot of spin on the ball.  I can’t stress enough the importance of throwing every pitch like a fastball.  If you focus on the grip and release, you’re going to stride too short and everyone in the ball park can see the curveball coming.  Even if you can’t locate the pitch at first, just keep practicing a longer stride length and you’ll eventually be able to get a feel for it.  This was my favorite pitch and it took a year for me to develop it.

SINKER:

The sinker was a pitch that was my out pitch.  It’s not an easy pitch to master but can be a helpful pitch when you are in a jam and you need something the batter hasn’t seen you throw before.  A sinker is one of the hardest hit pitches in the major leagues.  It’s a nightmare for young fielders to handle batted balls off of if you throw it too consistently.  This is a great pitch at the pro level when you want ground ball outs, but for youth baseball you will find more success with a slider.  The sinker is thrown like a 2-seam fastball but with the fingers on the inside part of the seams only instead of completely on top of the seams.

SLIDER:

The slider that I teach is gripped in a traditional slider grip but thrown with a last second pronation to the left but without the final “snap” at the release that you do with a curveball.  This is the way I was taught to throw the slider by former major league player Eric Rasmussen but I never used it because it places a lot of strain on the elbow.

CHANGE-UP:

The changeup like the curveball should be thrown while you’re thinking “fastball” inside your head.  The release point and arm speed should be the same as a fastball.  The difference is when you are using a circle change grip, your fingers on top of the ball (middle and ring fingers) will be pulling down on the ball while pronating to the right.

CUTTER:

My own cutter grip was a standard 4-seam grip.  If you find yourself throwing a natural cutter when using a 4-seam grip, that’s going to be your cutter grip too.  The real cutter grip is done by placing your fingers across the “railroad tracks”.  You have to throw it with different seam positions by changing where on the seams (up or down) you place your two fingers.

 


Guidance Charter High School Boys Baseball Team Info
 


Robert Sosa
Head Coach

Tri Ly
Assistant Coach

Alan Lebeda
Assistant Coach