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

9/28/2017 Updates:

This page is currently being updated daily.  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.  

TopVelocity Pitching Mechanics (please re-read, many things have been updated),  Mental Toughness, Auburn Hop, 3X Pitching manual, Driveline arm care program, Jaegar sports long toss program, detailed tips for every position.  

 

   

As we build and move into our new baseball facilities at the new GCS campus, we will be implementing a dynamic, individualized baseball training program.

INSPIRATIONAL STORY:

The Game Knows

 

NEW VIDEO:

Mental Toughness  –NEW

Please review the following videos:

BATTING:

Batting Tips from the legend Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron doesn’t use his wrists like commonly thought.  He uses upper body rotation along with leading the swing with the front arm.  Instead of muscling the bat with the rear arm, Aaron is able to get his bat through the zone quickly with balanced power in both arms by leading with the front arm.  Rotating his upper body instead of focusing on releasing the hips allows his swing to stay compact and gives him good vision on the ball.

Jumping at Ball Fix

THROWING:

Throw Like a Pro   Water Bottle Drill — Perform this drill daily
Throwing Drill
Direction and Weight Shift 1
Direction and Weight Shift 2

FIELDING:

Auburn Hop –NEW

Relays – Very Important!!
You have to communicate with each other.  Outfielders need to be told where to throw the ball as they are concentrating on fielding the ball.  Infielders need to help out the outfielders by screaming out “RELAY!” a few times otherwise the outfielder will either simply hold onto the ball too long or throw it home or into the stands.  We’re a team.  We need to help each other out.   If you misplay a ball in the infield and the outfielder backs you up, look back to the infield to see if any runners are trying to capitalize on your mistake and let the outfielder know where to throw the ball.  

Fielding Grounders with Brandon Phillips

If you’re playing 2B with no runners on, you have to be able to cover the hole between 2B and 1B.  Since 1B is a slow footed position and SS is played with range, you can cheat a little bit more to 1B than to 2B.  You want to be behind the base running line by 5-10ft, depending on your quickness.  When a ball is hit, you approach the ball by building up a rhythm with the way you move your feet into fielding position.  Start by hopping, shuffling or “skipping” (without crossing the feet) towards where the ball is going.  You want to field the ball at the peak of your rhythm while you’re moving to (or moving back to) the direction of where you’re throwing. Allow your glove to reach all the way down to the ground between your feet approximately 1 second before you expect the ball to reach you.  If you drop the glove too early the ball may change directions.  If you drop it too late the ball may roll under your glove.  Timing yourself to field the ball about 1 second before the ball reaches you allows you time to adjust to any change of direction, right or left or any bad bounces or dead bounces.  You have to have very good eye vision to play 2B since balls are usually hit in a line right to you, making it difficult to gauge the speed.  On double play balls hit to you, the SS will cover second.  Typically you will field the ball and quickly pivot/twist your upper body to face the SS and flick a quick throw over to him.  You must make the throw to the bag at 2B and adjust the speed of your throw with the anticipation of when the SS will reach the bag.  If he’s far away you can take a little speed off the throw (throw at 90%) or you can make a strong throw just to the left side of the bag if he’s coming from the far left.  You should talk to your SS during double play drills to find out specifically what he prefers.  In the major leagues you’ll see the throw is usually made on the side on which the runner is not running, if that’s an option.  That’s more advanced and takes turning hundreds of double plays to get a feel for.  But when  you’re receiving a double play throw, you’re not going to be able to know where the runner is.  If the runner is a good distance away, you’ll want to receive the ball on the inside of the bag so that you can make an easy throw to 1B.  If you receive it on the outside, the runner might start running outside and interfere with your vision/throw.  He’s less likely to be able to run on the inside.  If the runner is already near the bag, you should receive the ball on the outside of the bag so that you can throw it over his head when he slides or step quickly off the bag to the left to get a clear a line of view to 1B.  The SS has to be able to see the runner out of the corner of his eye after he fields the ball and make a split second decision to throw at the bag, inside or outside.  Again he has to adjust the speed of his throw to the distance you’re coming from.  When either of you are close to the bag after fielding the ball hit hard to you, it is often preferable to underhand a toss to the bag instead of throwing it overhand or flicking it, so that the person receiving the throw can catch it easily and release quickly to 1B.  And if either of you are so close to the bag when fielding, most often when fielding on the run,  you might want to hold onto the ball with your right hand, put your glove up and wave off the other fielder, step on the bag yourself and throw out the runner at 1B.  

Underhanding to second base

Always move/lean into the direction you are underhanding.  That gives you a little extra momentum to make a strong underhand toss.  You should only do a soft underhand toss when you know you have plenty of time to get the runner out. 

Flip Drill

Wall Ball Drill 

This is the famous Ozzie Smith drill.  I performed this drill 5-10 minutes a day to get good at seeing the ball and reading bounces/rolls.  I’d vary the angles and speed to get the most out of it.  If you can’t field 1000 grounders a week, this drill will turn you into a very strong fielder.  Working the glove is good practice, but it’s your backup plan.  90% of the time you want to get into fielding position using your feet, not your glove.  So take a few steps back and throw yourself some grounders against the wall, practice a rhythm of using your feet to get to where the ball will be fielded between your feet while you’re taking 1 or 2 movements with your feet towards 1B.  So basically you want to field the ball between your feet and in front of your while you’re moving slightly towards the direction you’re going to throw the ball. 

Outfield Tips

Outfield Drop Step –

All Outfielders should practice the drop step. This will give you a head start on any fly ball hit towards you.  Your initial reaction to any hit ball in the air should be to go backwards.  It’s much easier to sprint forward if you notice the ball will drop shallow than it is to backpedal to get a ball that’s going over your head.  Near the peak of the ball’s flight path you should be able to guess where it’s going to land and you can adjust from there.  Before that, you should be moving back.   

3B Tips

3B Mechanics 

Start 7-8ft off the bag to the left and 2-3ft back.  This puts you in the position to field most batted balls to the 3B side.  If you stay too close to the bag, you’ll be leaving a giant hole between 3B and SS.  If you have the arm strength, play 5ft back.  If you have the quickness, play 9-10ft off the bag.  This puts you in position to handle balls in the hole but you also have to be super ready for any balls hit down the line.   The key to playing third base is to be quick and get a good read on where the ball is going at the moment of impact.  You only have a split second to get that read.  Any longer and it’s usually too late.  After getting the read, you have the option of taking a drop step and pushing yourself towards the direction of the batted ball or you can lean into that direction to start.  It’s a matter of preference and which one is faster for you.  For those who prefer to lean, it’s beneficial to take a little bit of a “hop” before the moment of impact to get your senses firing before you have to move.  This is known as the “Auburn Hop”.  When the ball is hit, if you can try to field the ball on a single hop.  The reason is that the first hop is predictable.  It’s either going to go high and when it does, you know you have to get rid of the ball quickly, but don’t rush or muscle a throw and instead, be smooth and put 90-95% of speed on the ball.  If you have a fast runner (sometimes you can tell by how loud and fast his cleats hit the ground) you’ll have to use 100% of your velocity to throw him out.  Now if you get a low hit most likely it’s going to give you a low hop, so get your glove down, field it, take a couple steps to get your momentum going towards 1B and make a medium strength throw.  If you happen to field a ball on its 2nd hop, it’s most likely going to drop and roll so you have to get your glove as low as possible until it touches the ground and adjust if the ball hops up.  On slow rollers that are fielded on the grass,  you should barehand them by pressing the ball into the ground and then pick it up and make a smooth throw.  If you must make a very strong throw due to lack of time, you should err on the side of the bag facing 2B.  A throw that tails towards the base path will likely reach the fence and gives the backup fielder a longer distance to reach the ball.  

Derek Jeter’s Shortstop Mechanics

Shortstop is typically the busiest position.  You need good range and a good arm to play here.  Only play deep when in a double play situation.  Otherwise, you should be halfway between 2B and the 3rd baseman, playing even with or 1-3ft deeper than the 3rd baseman.  Balls hit to SS are the hardest hit, but you also have the most time since you play the deepest.  Review the 2B section that plays a rhythmic approach to hit balls and utilize the Auburn Hop.  On balls hit soft-medium that will be fielded on the infield, if you are very good one gloving the ball, you should take what we call a banana route where you start curving outside of the direction of the ball and then come back in to where you field the ball and have your momentum already carrying yourself towards 1B.  Otherwise if you can’t handle it with one glove, you must field the ball between your two feet, preferably slightly left of center and 1-2ft in front of you and while you’re moving towards the direction of where you’ll be throwing to, but at the very least between your feet without backhanding it as that’s going to allow you to cleanly field balls hit to you.  More than any other position, balls hit to SS are going to be rolling on the ground so you have to make a habit of getting that glove down low enough to touch the ground when you field the ball, only adjusting for hops.  If it’s coming fast, you definitely want the glove on the ground and not an inch above.  If you keep finding yourself pulling the glove up too early and letting the ball roll under your glove, practice actually letting the ball roll under your glove and between your legs by keeping the glove up in practice.  You have to look at and track the ball to see why it keeps rolling low.  Once you do this enough you will understand that the ball is going to stay lower than you think it is and you will know that you have to get that glove so low that it touches the ground and don’t bring it back up until the ball is in it.  Remember that you have a 12″ glove so the ball can bounce up 10 inches and still go inside your glove if the glove is on the ground.


1B Tips from Don Mattingly

First, you want to play off the bag 5-6ft to the right and 5-6ft back.  When  you have a runner on, as soon as the pitch is delivered you must get as close to this position as fast as possible.  Even if you only get to 3ft off and 3ft back that’s better than being stuck by the bag and leaving a gigantic hole between you and the 2nd baseman.  In the major leagues you might see the 1st baseman after holding the runner simply slide 5ft to the right without moving back.  This is a pro move by someone with lightning quick reflexes who’s also defending against the bunt, or wants to play close when there’s a runner on 3rd threatening to score.  Those situations are the only times you should be playing that close in.  There are also times when a power hitter is at the plate where you want to play very deep, such as 5ft right and 7-8ft back.  You don’t want to play too far back because the further back you are, the more hops you’re letting a batted ball take and the more hops it takes, the more of a chance you’ll get a bad hop.  Similar to playing 3B, try to play a ball on the 1st or 2nd hop maximum.  As for receiving throws, in addition to the tips in the video above, when a throw forces you to scoop it on a hop, if you’re not good at scooping the most important thing may be to block it by getting the glove face up and setting it low, using both hands to field the ball and using your body to block it from getting past you.  In this situation it’s ok if you drop/block the ball in front of you as letting it get by would be far worse.

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:

Mouthguards can improve velocity
Pick Off moves to 1B

Arm Strengthening Drill – Perform daily
Printable Guide for Catchers
Balk Rules
Pitching Position Rules

TOPVELOCITY PITCHING MECHANICS:

TopVelocity/3X Pitching has been at the forefront of pitching instruction since 2007.  The first part of pitching is implementing correct mechanics.  The idea of what are correct mechanics is continually evolving.  Topvelocity tasked itself with examining what exactly top level pitchers do when they throw a pitch, which they found is often the complete opposite of what they actually think they do or how they’ve been taught.  Below is our summary of efficient pitching mechanics based on both Topvelocity/3X theories on pitching and the Driveline Baseball system.  

TopVelocity/3X Technical Pitching Manual
Driveline Arm Care Program
Jaegar Sports Throwing/Long Toss Program

Image 1: Lift and Drive.

Lift the front leg straight up with the foot pointing upward or straight.  Your load is now on the upper body where the ball is held.  Now you will transfer the load down to your back leg by dipping the back knee slightly while using the back calf and foot to forcefully push the lower body forward and down towards home plate.  Do not allow the front leg to swing out in a circle.  From the top of the leg lift to front foot strike, you will take less than 1 second or less to accomplish this.  This requires a drive from the post leg while accelerating the front leg towards your landing. Your throwing arm moves quickly into a high cocked position with the ball behind the ear and elbow at shoulder level.  The arm doesn’t muscle into position but rather is locked and loaded.  

Image 2: Power Position.

The front foot strike at landing should be strong and stiff, fully braced.  Do not allow the front knee to collapse.  Your back leg is 90% straight and extended due to the drive in image 1.  Your glove arm is pointing towards home plate, whether it’s the elbow or the glove itself. Your upper body is slightly leaning back towards second base.  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” with the drive leg forcefully pushing forward towards landing sending the front hip forward while the back shoulder stays back as long as possible.   Your throwing arm now starts to flex, the elbow pointing at 2b, getting ready to swing 180 degrees towards home plate while still holding the ball near your ear.  Do not form a standard L position with the throwing arm by pointing the ball up to the sky.  It is closer to a C with the ball held at behind the ear until the throwing elbow finally points to home plate.

Image 3: Catapult.

Your upper body starts to lean forward.  Do not keep the upper body upright.  The front hips and abdominals turn to face home plate while the back shoulder explodes forward, pulling the elbow around while the ball stays behind the ear, until the elbow 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.  You’re not jumping off of the rubber into the air, but you can dip and drive the back leg forward.

Image 4: Fire.

The upper body leans forward at a 45 degree angle.  Look at where your front arm’s glove/elbow is pointing.  It should be pointing to the catcher/home plate.  The throwing arm’s upper arm   The throwing arm’s forearm, with the ball still behind the ear, accelerates to launch the ball on a downward plane, the ball coming over the top with the forearm perpendicular to the ground or at a three quarters angle with the forearm near paralleled to the ground (a sidearm delivery would have the forearm parallel).    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 drive of the back leg and the pushing of the front leg towards home plate/landing.  The arm simply goes along for the ride as it is pulled around first by flexing the upper arm/forearm combo when the elbow makes it way forward while the ball is kept back near the ear.  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 upper body falls forward and collapses to near parallel to the ground.  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.

IMPORTANCE ABOUT STRIDE LENGTH:

A long stride length is necessary at this level in order for your body to learn how to maximize its potential, not just for velocity but control and deception. Working in a longer stride forces your body to adjust every other part of your mechanics.  The first thing you’ll notice when lengthening your stride, other than the fact that it feels uncomfortable, is that your arm will be late.  You have to make a conscious effort to get your arm started a little earlier, but in order to do that you have to speed up the lower body as well.  If you take 1 second to stride normal, you should also take 1 second to stride longer.  Otherwise your entire body will be out of sync throughout the delivery.  

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.  I like to throw this curve because it has more side to side movement.  This was the pitch that my college coach wanted me to throw most of the time.  

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