Friday, December 30, 2016

Online Hitting Academy


Online Hitting Academy for players that can't come into The Baseball Barn for face to face hitting lessons - Richard Lovell-Epstein Hitting Online Academy.

A Customized Training Plan, Based on Your Specific Needs, And Managed by Your Very Own Personal Epstein Hitting Master Instructor, Rich Lovell, Will Show You How To Become the Best Hitter You Can Be!


Looking for more information on baseball and softball hitting? Richard Lovell and The Baseball Barn, combined with the Epstein Hitting System, offers up to date instruction with video annotations for those wanting to improve their knowledge and keep up-to-date on the latest in hitting instruction and mechanics. Are you a player, or parent of a player wanting direct, interactive coaching from an expert in the field of hitting? Schedule an initial evaluation with Epstein Hitting Master Certified Instructor. Receive customized training plans and in-depth video analysis of your hitting and how to fix swing flaws. Contact Rich Lovell at The Baseball Barn now to schedule your initial evaluation.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays


Best Wishes for a Wonderful Holiday Season and a New Year Filled with Peace and Happiness

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

How Little League® Grad Michael Conforto Made Baseball History


In all of sports, there are few clubs that are as exclusive as the “World Series Slam” - players who have competed in the Little League Baseball®, College, and Major League Baseball World Series. That fraternity added a member when the New York Mets completed a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the 2015 National League Championship Series as rookie Michael Conforto became just the third person in the history of baseball to play in all three major World Series tournaments, joining Ed Vosberg and Jason Varitek.

Mr. Conforto was one the key contributors on the 2004 Northwest Region Championship team from Redmond North Little League from Redmond, Wash. He finished the tournament tied for fifth in batting average, going 6-for-10 from the plate in three games. In his first game of the Little League Baseball World Series, he faced off against fellow current MLB outfielder, Randal Grichuk, who played in both the 2003 and 2004 World Series with Lamar National Little League from Richmond, Texas. Both Mr. Conforto and Mr. Grichuk homered in that game.

“I remember watching the Little League World Series on TV and wanting so badly to be there. Recognizing that the odds weren’t great, playing with our little All-Star team from the corner of the country,” said Mr. Conforto. “That journey was one of the most fun experiences of my life – for me it was the big league World Series when we got to the Little League World Series. You get the same feelings as you do now – it brings back that kid in you.”

Mr. Conforto, who made his major league debut on July 24, 2015, was the first rookie and youngest player to achieve the accomplishment of playing in all three World Series tournaments. At the 2015 MLB World Series, Mr. Conforto made headlines, powering two home runs in Game 4 of the series at his home park, Citi Field. The previous game, he knocked in a run, becoming the only person to record an RBI in all three World Series tournaments. He finished the 2015 World Series 5-for-15.

“Anytime you get to be put in the history books, your name will be in there forever, and that’s pretty awesome,” said Mr. Conforto. “I knew I was one of a few guys who had done all three, but I haven’t won any of them. The next goal is to win a World Series.”

The other two gentleman to accomplish this feat do have World Series rings. Mr. Vosberg competed in the 1973 Little League Baseball World Series with his team from Cactus Little League from Tucson, Ariz. He went on to play in the 1980 NCAA® Men’s College World Series® while at the University of Arizona, and was a member of the 1997 MLB World Series Champion Florida Marlins team. Seven years later, Mr. Varitek joined the club when his Boston Red Sox team won the MLB World Series in 2004. Mr. Varitek played in the 1984 Little League® World Series with Almonte Springs National Little League from Almonte Springs, Fla., and in the 1994 College World Series while at Georgia Tech. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash nearly achieved the accomplishment, participating in the 1989 Little League World Series and the 1998 and 1999 College World Series. He was with both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees during their 2007 and 2009 MLB World Series Championship seasons, respectively, but Mr. Cash did not appear on their World Series rosters.

“I think I gained as much confidence as you can as an 11-year-old. I was probably naïve to how big the stage was, but looking back on it, I’ve been able to say that I played in a big game with big circumstances,” said Mr. Conforto. “It really is a big deal at the Little League World Series – there are a lot of people watching and a lot of people rooting you on. I think I gained a lot of confidence from that, and I don’t think I’d be the same player as I am today if I hadn’t gone through that experience.”

At Oregon State University, Mr. Conforto was a standout for the Beavers baseball team. In 2012, he was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. His sophomore year, he hit .328 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI, leading his team to the 2013 College World Series (CWS) in Omaha, Neb. At the CWS, he went 7-for-16 at the plate and was named to the All-Tournament Team. He was selected as a first-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), and was drafted by the New York Mets as the 10th overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft. Looking at his baseball success, though, Mr. Conforto is quick to point to his broader sporting background.

“I also played basketball, soccer, and football,” said Mr. Conforto. “I had to make sure my passion was there and you have to try things. You learn things from different sports and it makes you a better baseball player. Find what you like and work hard.”

Article Source: http://www.littleleague.org/media/llnewsarchive/2016/September-December/LL-grad-michael-conforto-makes-baseball-history.htm

Friday, December 9, 2016

What Is Bat Drag? How To Fix It


Coach Rich goes over how to identify and eliminate bat drag. See more at http://www.vvbaseballbarn.com
Rich Lovell - Epstein Hitting Online Academy - (link below) http://bit.ly/BaseballBarn

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Unlock Your Hidden Potential


The key to activating the neuromuscular system is through the eccentric component of muscular contraction.

Let me explain in simpler terms. Most everyone has done a bicep curl with a dumbbell. When you lift the weight up (the curl) you are contracting the muscle or shortening it.

This is the concentric component of the contraction. When you let it back down you are stretching the muscle. This is the eccentric contraction.

When you jump up in the air you are contracting the muscle and when you come back down and land you are stretching the muscle. You are shortening and stretching the muscle and this is called the plyometric effect. In order to throw hard you need to be explosive. To be explosive you need to have a well defined neuromuscular system. Some people are born with a more activated neuromuscular system and some with a less defined system. Either way this system can be improved.

How do we improve it?
We need to train it.
We need to activate it.

Medicine ball training targets the core of the body. The core of the body is responsible for transferring force from the lower body to the upper body. The core of the body acts as a stabilizer which is extremely important in the pitching delivery. The medicine ball is resistance. When you apply force to that resistance with intensity you are training the body to be more explosive. You need to be on a good conditioning program that incorporates both lower body plyometrics and upper body plyometrics. You need to be doing these exercises with high intensity and proper form. 

The cool thing is, these exercises can be utilized by younger kids...as long as they are using proper form and proper weight. I would suggest getting kids involved in this as early as nine years old. Over time, let's say when a nine year old gets to high school, his neuromuscular system is going to be much more developed than if he had not done this type of training. In the pitching delivery the body is stretching and shortening, rotating and going through different planes of movement. These movements need to be efficient. Faulty movement patterns decrease neuromuscular efficiency and end up in abnormal joint stress This is where injuries occur. 

Training the neuromuscular system by utilizing medicine ball and plyometric exercises, using proper form, is a great way to build more explosiveness and to also keep the body safe from harm. Over time this can have a big impact on reaching your highest potential velocity and reducing your risk of injury.

Article Source: Pitching.com

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Keeping Weight Back


Richard Lovell, Epstein Hitting Master Instructor explains how the hitting cue "weight back" could be robbing you of power and consistency. See more at http://www.vvbaseballbarn.com

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Open Hitting Returns This Sunday!


Sunday Open Hitting Resumes December 4th from 12pm - 2pm at The Baseball Barn in Vacaville.

Fills Up Fast, Register Early HERE

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!


"An attitude of gratitude brings great things.
-Yogi Bhajan 

Happy Thanksgiving 
from The Baseball Barn

Monday, November 21, 2016

Things to Know From Little League: November 2016


Each month, Little League® International is providing a quick look at important information and events for the month ahead. We invite you to review and share with your colleagues and friends. Another great resource for keeping up to date on Little League's latest training and educational efforts is Little League University. Designed for volunteers, league and district administrators, coaches, and parents, this free website is a wonderful portal for experiencing and learning about the Little League.

Read More HERE

Friday, November 18, 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Quotes of the Month


Vin Scully: I really love baseball. The guys and the game, and I love the challenge of describing things. The only thing I hate - and I know you have to be realistic and pay the bills in this life - is the loneliness on the road.


Ted Williams: "There has always been a saying in baseball that you can't make a hitter, but I think you can improve a hitter. More than you can improve a fielder. More mistakes are made hitting than in any other part of the game."


Yogi Berra: "Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets."


Bob Feller: "My father kept me busy from dawn to dusk when I was a kid. When I wasn't pitching hay, hauling corn or running a tractor, I was heaving a baseball into his mitt behind the barn... If all the parents in the country followed his rule, juvenile delinquency would be cut in half in a year's time."


Babe Ruth: "Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world."

Thursday, November 3, 2016

LITTLE LEAGUE® INTERNATIONAL RESTRUCTURES ITS TEENAGE DIVISIONS


Energizing its focus on providing baseball and softball opportunities for young athletes, Little League to discontinue the Big League Baseball and Softball divisions, providing offerings for children 4 to 16 years old

Since its founding in 1939, Little League® International has paved the way in creating opportunities for children to have an organized sporting activity in their community. Continuing the organization’s efforts to provide local league volunteers and families with the best support and structure for operating local Little League programs, the Little League International Board of Directors approved the restructuring of its baseball and softball programs, dissolving the Big League Baseball and Big League Softball divisions, and capping participation in the Little League program for children 16 years old.

“Little League strives to continue to find new ways to support communities around the world and provide a healthy, fun sporting experience for children around the world,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “Over the past few years, our Little League parents, volunteers, and local league and District Administrators have expressed that Little League can best serve their communities through efforts focusing on the youngest levels of the games, providing the structure and support, so that boys and girls can develop their on-field skills while learning valuable life lessons.”

Over the past decade, the landscape of youth sports, specifically youth baseball and softball, has shifted, where more opportunities exist for teenagers, especially for players 17 and 18 years old, than ever before. As such, Little League International, at the urging of its local league volunteers, parents, and constituents, began to look at the structure of its entire organization to ensure that it is providing the best support for its local Little League programs. Throughout the winter of 2016, Little League engaged its District Administrators and other local league volunteers in a biannual review of Little League rules and regulations, where an agenda item on restructuring the teenage divisions of the Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® programs was discussed, and ultimately voted on. A majority of the voting body of volunteers approved the measure that Little League should restructure its teenage divisions, eliminating one level of play for both baseball and softball.

After a thorough review, Little League International made the recommendation of dissolving the Big League divisions in both baseball and softball and capping participation in the Little League program at 16 years old. With direct input from the Little League International Board of Directors Executive Committee, and Little League International Board of Directors Operating Committee, which includes the nine District Administrators who serve as Field Directors, the Little League International Board of Directors approved the restructuring at their August 26, 2016 meeting. Beginning with the 2017 season, the Little League Baseball and Little League Softball programs will focus its emphasis on providing opportunities for children 4 to 16 and eliminate the Big League Baseball and Big League Softball divisions for regular season and tournament play.

“Historically, the Big League divisions, and specifically participation of children 17 and 18 years old, has made up less than one percent of the entire Little League program, and has not seen any significant growth or decline over the past 15 years,” said Mr. Keener. “When thoroughly reviewing all our offerings, the Little League International Board of Directors felt that this restructuring was the best way to focus our efforts where the Little League program came make its most positive impact at the younger levels of the game.”

The restructuring is the latest action in Little League International’s efforts to enhance opportunities for its youngest participants and provide more children the opportunity have a quality Little League experience. In 2013, the Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division was launched for children 11 to 13 years old to provide a better transition for players going from the Little League field to the conventional baseball field. Little League has also created its new Tee Ball program focusing on fun, fitness, and fundamentals, and has begun implementing a new Age Determination Date for the Little League Baseball program, as part of its concerted efforts to provide more opportunities for children to develop as players and learn the important life lessons of teamwork, dedication, and fair play at a young age. Also, starting with the 2017 season, Little League International will begin separately chartering Coach Pitch, to be able to better serve this important transition from Tee Ball to the Major League (Little League) division.

As part of this restructuring, Little League International will also relocate the Senior League Baseball World Series from Bangor, Maine, to Easley, S.C., which had previously served as the home of the Big League Baseball World Series. The Senior League Softball World Series will remain in Lower Sussex, Del., which also hosted the Big League Softball World Series since 2013.

“For 15 years, the city of Bangor has been a wonderful host of the Senior League Baseball World Series, and words cannot express our sincere gratitude to our Tournament Director Mike Brooker, his fellow volunteers, and the entire city for their support,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “Equally, Easley has an incredible volunteer staff, led by Tournament Director Jon Humphrey, and support from the city. When reviewing both locations, Easley offers dormitory housing, with support from Clemson University, and is a more central location, with easier transportation options for all participants, families, and fans. This was an extremely difficult decisions given that both sites have fantastic facilities and volunteers that support our tournaments.”

Source and More Info: http://www.littleleague.org/media/llnewsarchive/2016/May-August/Little-League-International-Restructures-its-Teenage-Divisions.htm

Friday, October 28, 2016

What's Happening In: Pony - Official Practice Planning Baseball and Softball


  • Athlete Development Plan - PONY-specific curriculum for development from tee ball through age 14.
  • Practice Plans - Ready-made practice plans to achieve development goals at each age level
    (200+ plans offered in 60, 90, or 120-minute formats).
  • Drill Library - 150+ unique drill detail pages, including video, text description, diagram, DC coaching keys, and equipment list.
  • Skill Training - How-to-Coach video series for skill training in Hitting, Pitching, Catching, and Infield.
  • Tips - Coaching tips life lessons, and DC philosophy videos supporting PONY's commitment to developing champions on and off the field 
  • Digital Clipboard - Drag-and-drop drills and practice plans and shared with assistant coaches and athlete families.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

LITTLE LEAGUE® INTERNATIONAL RESTRUCTURES ITS TEENAGE DIVISIONS


Energizing its focus on providing baseball and softball opportunities for young athletes, Little League to discontinue the Big League Baseball and Softball divisions, providing offerings for children 4 to 16 years old

Since its founding in 1939, Little League® International has paved the way in creating opportunities for children to have an organized sporting activity in their community. Continuing the organization’s efforts to provide local league volunteers and families with the best support and structure for operating local Little League programs, the Little League International Board of Directors approved the restructuring of its baseball and softball programs, dissolving the Big League Baseball and Big League Softball divisions, and capping participation in the Little League program for children 16 years old.

“Little League strives to continue to find new ways to support communities around the world and provide a healthy, fun sporting experience for children around the world,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “Over the past few years, our Little League parents, volunteers, and local league and District Administrators have expressed that Little League can best serve their communities through efforts focusing on the youngest levels of the games, providing the structure and support, so that boys and girls can develop their on-field skills while learning valuable life lessons.”

Over the past decade, the landscape of youth sports, specifically youth baseball and softball, has shifted, where more opportunities exist for teenagers, especially for players 17 and 18 years old, than ever before. As such, Little League International, at the urging of its local league volunteers, parents, and constituents, began to look at the structure of its entire organization to ensure that it is providing the best support for its local Little League programs. Throughout the winter of 2016, Little League engaged its District Administrators and other local league volunteers in a biannual review of Little League rules and regulations, where an agenda item on restructuring the teenage divisions of the Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® programs was discussed, and ultimately voted on. A majority of the voting body of volunteers approved the measure that Little League should restructure its teenage divisions, eliminating one level of play for both baseball and softball.

After a thorough review, Little League International made the recommendation of dissolving the Big League divisions in both baseball and softball and capping participation in the Little League program at 16 years old. With direct input from the Little League International Board of Directors Executive Committee, and Little League International Board of Directors Operating Committee, which includes the nine District Administrators who serve as Field Directors, the Little League International Board of Directors approved the restructuring at their August 26, 2016 meeting. Beginning with the 2017 season, the Little League Baseball and Little League Softball programs will focus its emphasis on providing opportunities for children 4 to 16 and eliminate the Big League Baseball and Big League Softball divisions for regular season and tournament play.

“Historically, the Big League divisions, and specifically participation of children 17 and 18 years old, has made up less than one percent of the entire Little League program, and has not seen any significant growth or decline over the past 15 years,” said Mr. Keener. “When thoroughly reviewing all our offerings, the Little League International Board of Directors felt that this restructuring was the best way to focus our efforts where the Little League program came make its most positive impact at the younger levels of the game.”

The restructuring is the latest action in Little League International’s efforts to enhance opportunities for its youngest participants and provide more children the opportunity have a quality Little League experience. In 2013, the Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division was launched for children 11 to 13 years old to provide a better transition for players going from the Little League field to the conventional baseball field. Little League has also created its new Tee Ball program focusing on fun, fitness, and fundamentals, and has begun implementing a new Age Determination Date for the Little League Baseball program, as part of its concerted efforts to provide more opportunities for children to develop as players and learn the important life lessons of teamwork, dedication, and fair play at a young age. Also, starting with the 2017 season, Little League International will begin separately chartering Coach Pitch, to be able to better serve this important transition from Tee Ball to the Major League (Little League) division.

As part of this restructuring, Little League International will also relocate the Senior League Baseball World Series from Bangor, Maine, to Easley, S.C., which had previously served as the home of the Big League Baseball World Series. The Senior League Softball World Series will remain in Lower Sussex, Del., which also hosted the Big League Softball World Series since 2013.

“For 15 years, the city of Bangor has been a wonderful host of the Senior League Baseball World Series, and words cannot express our sincere gratitude to our Tournament Director Mike Brooker, his fellow volunteers, and the entire city for their support,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “Equally, Easley has an incredible volunteer staff, led by Tournament Director Jon Humphrey, and support from the city. When reviewing both locations, Easley offers dormitory housing, with support from Clemson University, and is a more central location, with easier transportation options for all participants, families, and fans. This was an extremely difficult decisions given that both sites have fantastic facilities and volunteers that support our tournaments.”

Article Source and More Information HERE

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How To Focus When In The Batter's Box


Coach Rich gives some great tips on how to focus during an at bat and when in the batter's box. See more at http://www.vvbaseballbarn.com

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Online Hitting Academy


Online Hitting Academy for players that can't come into The Baseball Barn for face to face hitting lessons - Richard Lovell-Epstein Hitting Online Academy.

A Customized Training Plan, Based on Your Specific Needs, And Managed by Your Very Own Personal Epstein Hitting Master Instructor, Rich Lovell, Will Show You How To Become the Best Hitter You Can Be!


Looking for more information on baseball and softball hitting? Richard Lovell and The Baseball Barn, combined with the Epstein Hitting System, offers up to date instruction with video annotations for those wanting to improve their knowledge and keep up-to-date on the latest in hitting instruction and mechanics. Are you a player, or parent of a player wanting direct, interactive coaching from an expert in the field of hitting? Schedule an initial evaluation with Epstein Hitting Master Certified Instructor. Receive customized training plans and in-depth video analysis of your hitting and how to fix swing flaws. Contact Rich Lovell at The Baseball Barn now to schedule your initial evaluation.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Importance of Developing Proper Movement Patterns at a Young Age


Let’s face it, making movement pattern changes can be difficult and very frustrating especially if proper movement patters weren’t developed at a young age.  Think about the first time you started throwing a baseball, whether you were 5 years old or 12 years old, you probably watched someone else do it and tried to copy what they were doing.  As you continued to throw over the years you started developing habit patterns as far as the way your body moved.

It’s just like learning how to run, everybody develops their own style and it becomes unique to you as an individual.Now someone who learns how to run but doesn’t have good posture or form is going to eventually start having aches and pains.  In order to get rid of those aches and pains in their joints they will either have to stop running all together or change the way they run.

Same with throwing a baseball, except throwing a baseball is a much more complex movement and therefor more difficult to change depending on how old you are.  Anytime you are having aches and pains it’s a signal from your body that something isn’t right.  Or if you aren’t having any pain but you feel like your velocity is much less than what it should be, you most likely aren’t moving efficiently and don’t fully understand how to use your body.

This is why it’s so important for kids to be active at a young age.  I love when kids are playing multiple sports rather than just one because it allows the body learn different types of movements.

When I was a kid, after I got home from school I was straight out the door and on my skateboard riding around the neighborhood with friends.  This is completely belief based and maybe kind of funny but I really think riding a skateboard gave me better hip strength and flexibility later in my life.  I would use both legs to push off from when the other started to get tired.The neuromuscular system is developing in young kids so it’s a crucial time for them to activate certain movements athletically.

For example, let’s say there’s two 21 year olds.  One is gifted athletically but for whatever reason has never thrown a baseball in his life.  He might be a running back or a point guard and is on a higher level than his peers.  The other one has ability but not nearly as gifted as the other 21 year old and from the time when he was 12 to 16 years old played baseball and pitched for a little while.

Take both of these kids at their current age of 21 and have them throw a baseball, the kid that played for those four years is going to be able to throw much more effectively than the athletically gifted kid because his neuromuscular system is going to remember that even though he hasn’t thrown a baseball in five years.  The athletically gifted kid doesn’t have that pattern stored in his body and it is completely foreign to him.  Obviously there are exceptions but for the most part this would be the case.  Think about when you watch a basketball player or a boxer throw out the first pitch at a major league game.  A lot of the time it is comical because they’ve simply never done it before but the fact that their throwing out the first pitch implies that they excel at their sport.

In baseball and more specifically pitching, it is extremely important to focus on skill development from a young age.  The life span of an athlete is much shorter than other professions and if you wait too long…well then it can be too late.  Kids these days are spending too much time playing games and not nearly enough time on skill development.  In my opinion baseball is way behind in this aspect.  You don’t get better playing games you get better practicing and developing your skills.  Baseball is a skill sport and that’s what makes it great, you don’t have to be the biggest fastest most athletic kid to have success.  And when you are competing against athletes that are more naturally gifted you can separate yourself by having exceptional skills.

I was watching an interview with Freddie Roach who is Manny Paquiou’s trainer.  If you don’t know who Manny Paquiou is then you either live in a cave or are disconnected from society.  If you’re reading this article then most likely that’s not the case but he is a boxer.  Anyway, Freddie was asked at what point he knew Paquiou was going to be a star.  His answer was it happened in one fight.  All of the sudden Paquiou was starting to put punching combinations together like it was second nature, he just started reacting without thinking and all of the hours upon hours in the gym started to show itself.  Everything they had worked on for years in the gym out of nowhere just clicked and it has changed the boxing world forever.  I am writing this article before the Maywether fight but win or lose he will go down in history as one of the best boxers to walk the face of the earth.

My hope in writing this is to raise the question in your mind about how you are going about  yours or your son’s development as a baseball player.  Just like a doctor or a lawyer needs to develop skills in their profession so doesn’t a baseball player need to develop the necessary skills at a young age in order to compete at a high level later on.  Sometimes you have to think outside the box and do what everybody else isn’t instead of following along with the crowd.  Less games more practice.


Article Source: Pitching.com

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nutrition Tip: Vary your Fats, Proteins, and Grains


In this week's Nutrition Tip of the Week, Min explains the importance of varying your fats, proteins, and grains!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Luckiest Plays Throughout History of Baseball


Take a look at some of the luckiest and unluckiest plays in baseball history, depending on perspective. Willie McCovey may have been too strong for his own good in the fall of 1962. The Cardinals were three outs away from a World Series championship in 1985. Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader was mortal on one October night. Who did the baseball Gods side with?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Style Vs Technique: Work on What the Pros Work On...


Coach Rich goes over the importance to recognize what needs to be corrected to fix problems with your swing, style or technique. See more at http://www.vvbaseballbarn.com

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Baseball Star Kris Bryant Pranks a College Team as ‘The Transfer’


National League Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant went back to college ball – for a day. Conspiring with the coach at Mesa Community College in Arizona, the two tricked the Thunderbirds baseball team into believing he was the new hot shot transfer. Using the alias of Roy Nabryt (‘Roy’ is short for Rookie of the Year and ‘Nabryt’ is Bryant with letters twisted), here’s what happened when Bryant – aka Roy - proceeded to launch balls out of the ballpark as stunned players looked on.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Nutrition Tip: Staying Hydrated


In this week's Nutrition Tip of the Week, Amanda explains the importance of staying hydrated!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

What Is The Best Way To Improve Pitching Mechanics So That Changes Stick?


Improving pitching mechanics so that needed adjustments stick is challenging. Many pitchers, although they want to make changes in their mechanics and have good intentions, find that the improvements they hoped to make do not stick. So they revert back to their old way.

This is very common and probably occurs more often than not for many good reasons.  It’s the main reason why most pitchers do not improve during the off-season.

Many pitchers are not able to improve their pitching mechanics during the off-season because of the following reasons:

1. they are working on correcting the wrong mechanical fault

2. they work on too many aspects of pitching mechanics at a time

3. they do not do enough repetitions of the new way during each practice session

4. they don’t take enough time in between each new trial pitch so that the brain learns the new way

5. they do not use video feedback to see if the improvements are actually occurring

This article will address #4 in the above list and why not taking enough time in between each new trial pitch is one of the big reasons why changes to pitching mechanics don’t work.
This is also true for ball control.

I am sure you have seen many pitchers simply throw their practice bullpens in a “rapid fire” fashion throwing pitch after pitch without taking time in between. In fact if you watch most high school bullpens you will see that pitchers do not throw enough pitches to not only warm up properly but to prepare themselves for the first inning.

If enough pitches are not thrown with time taken in between each pitch then the pitcher will normally not have good ball control during the first part of the game. In fact, you may have seen this happen often. The pitcher just can’t seem to get through the first couple of innings before he is walking hitters or giving up too many hits and runs.

The problem is he just did not take enough time so that his brain was able to teach his body how to control the ball. The brain is in charge. Plus there is no such thing as muscle memory.

When we do a lot of repetitions with time taken in between each trial we are able to learn something. If there is little to no time taken in between trials, then learning does not occur.

This is true in the case of baseball as well as other sports.

Here’s How To Improve Pitching Mechanics A Proven Way Based On Real Research

Above I outlined 5 ways to improve pitching mechanics during the off-season so that the new changes would stick and become unconscious. All of those 5 aspects should be taken into consideration for improvement to occur in mechanics during the off-season.

Most pitchers, as well as many coaches and instructors in my experience, do not understand that because pitching is such a highly skilled action that many more practice repetitions are required than most think.

If enough practice repetitions are not performed then relearning a new aspect of mechanics will not likely occur. Thus the pitcher reverts back to his old way. His mechanics nor his pitching velocity improve.  Many just get closer to an arm injury.

The same thinking goes into understanding that enough time must be taken in between pitches during practice trials in order for re-learning of the new way to occur.

Thus instead of throwing practice pitches one after the other, time should be taken in between each pitch. This time could be used to take a deep breath, look around, have some water and possibly think about the result that the pitcher wants to produce on the next practice pitch trial.

One thing we know about pitching is that one way to avoid fatigue during practice, which can deteriorate mechanics, is to take at least 20 seconds in between pitches so that the body can physically recover before throwing the next one. The muscles must have enough time to recharge.
Plus now that we know that by taking this additional time based on the study below, the pitcher creates two benefits – less fatigue and more learning.

The study below provides the evidence about this new way of learning.

BETWEEN TRIALS ACTIVITY

Magill, R., & Lee, T. D. (1984, October). Interference during the post-KR interval can enhance learning motor skills. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology, Kingston, ON.

Several conditions of post-trial activity were evaluated for effect upon performance. After a learning trial (the “post-knowledge-of-results” interval) Ss were involved in no activity, verbal activity, related motor activity, or unrelated motor activity.

Performance was affected by the type of post-trial activity. Performance was either maintained by some form of post-KR activity or superior to when there was no post-KR activity.

It was advocated that after a practice trial of a skill, a learner should engage in some activity (not yet determined if that activity should be related or unrelated to the skill) before the next repetition of the skill.

Implication. For effective learning to occur between repetitions of learning trials there has to be a minimum amount of time to allow feedback from a trial to produce a learning effect. That effect does not seem to be modified to any great extent if between-trials activity is related or unrelated to what is being learned. This means that it is possible to repeat trials too close together. Such rapidity does not allow the full learning effects from each repetition to occur.

For example, when practicing basketball free throws, after each shot there should be some non-shooting activity (e.g., put the ball down, walk around the circle, recommence the pre-shot routine) before commencing the physical movement in the next trial.

There obviously is too short of a period and too long of a period that can occur between trials where learning is intended.

As a further example, when tennis players practice from behind a baseline and stroke at a rate of approximately one every two seconds, it is unlikely that effective learning will occur, that is shot accuracy and technique will not be improved. In that form of practice not only is one type of shot not developed because there are usually a variety of strokes played, but the lack of feedback utilization most probably will result in the player developing more consistency in performing both the good and bad strokes practiced rather than improving in any one class of stroke.

It is possible to practice repetitions at too fast a rate to the extent that feedback from one practice trial cannot be used to influence the performance of the next trial. Without that utilization learning will not occur optimally.

So it is important to make changes in pitching mechanics during the off-season to improve pitching velocity, ball control while also reducing the risk of arm injuries.

The key to making permanent changes that stick is to first of all find the correct mechanical fault, to do enough repetitions of the new way while enough taking time in between pitches do that new learning occurs.  Plus coaches should be videotaping so that the pitcher gains valuable feedback on whether he is actually improving or not.

Article Source: Pitching.com

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mike Zunino on his Favorite Thing to do in Baseball


Mariners catcher Mike Zunino says he likes hitting home runs but he loves catching would-be basestealers

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nutrition Tip: Refueling After the Game


In this week's Nutrition Tip, Nina explains the importance of refueling after practices and games!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Start Early And Go Slow - Key To Timing The Pitch


Coach Rich goes over some timing and tempo issues you may behaving. How to get yourself into a better position at Launch before the ball gets to your front foot, but not too early.

 See more at http://www.vvbaseballbarn.com

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Salvador Perez: From Venezuela To World Series MVP


As a four-year-old in Venezuela, Salvador Perez had no idea he would become a professional baseball player. He just played for fun. Now, he's a World Series MVP.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Saturday, July 30, 2016

How To Improve Pitching Velocity And Control At The Same Time


Many pitchers feel they have good control but below average pitching velocity.  This seems to be the case with the majority of high school pitchers…most seem to be stuck in the upper 70’s to low 80’s.

So how does a pitcher improve his pitching velocity without losing his pinpoint control.  I hate to make it sound obvious but the key is to practice improving velocity and control at the same time…when working on throwing practice bullpens.

The reason that so many pitchers are throwing with average or below average velocity is not because they lack the strength but rather because they have focused too much on ball control while slowing down the overall tempo which reduces forward momentum and thus reduces the ability to create enough energy to transfer to the ball.

This reduced pitching velocity begins to occur in youth baseball because volunteer coaches and well meaning fathers create the idea that ball control is about moving the body slower.

The only thing that moving slower does is build in slow movements when  increasing velocity occurs by moving the body down the mound more explosively and faster so more energy is created. 

Pitchers Who Are Taught To Move Slow Will Lose Pitching Velocity…End Up Throwing Slow

Thus if the pitcher is taught to move slow as a youth pitcher, he will have a difficult time later learning to move faster since the slow movement becomes part of his entire nervous system.

Pitchers that already move explosively down the mound and are then told to slow down for better control will probably not have immediate success throwing more strikes.  In fact, it may cause their ball control to get worse.  The reason why is because the speed at which an athlete is taught to move becomes his predominant movement speed.  If you slow him down, that slower movement is foreign to his brain and body and thus his entire movement will have to be relearned at the slower pace.  His control will more than likely get worse because of that…not better.

All pitchers, especially once they have learned the pitching motion and the proper sequence and timing should then work on moving faster down the mound.

That can be practiced during the off-season.  The faster movement should create more energy to shift from the pitcher’s lower body to his trunk and help the trunk rotate faster…which is how faster arm speed is created. 

Here are some tips on how to improve pitching velocity by using the body efficiently
  • increase overall body tempo
  • drive away from the rubber explosively leading with the front hip
  • keep the nose positioned over the bellybutton from start to landing
  • use back leg drive to extend the back leg and speed up the lower body
  • land on a flexed but braced front leg with the head positioned between the two feet
  • land on the mid-line with the foot directed at the target
  • use the glove arm to rotate the trunk faster
 
Why Youth Pitchers Need To Work On Learning Velocity Now…Not Later 
 
I hope it becomes obvious why youth pitchers should begin to work on improving pitching velocity now rather than thinking they can get it later on.  That usually does not happen because of learning slower movement speeds. 
 
Thus why youth parents and volunteer coaches should not think that they can work on control now and then once your son goes into high school he can then work on velocity. It may be too late because the body learns only what you teach it. 
 
Movement speed or being explosive down the mound is a learned pattern that must be practiced from early on.  This is why teaching proper mechanics should start as early as possible.  Thus when mechanics are learned early then pitching velocity and control can be learned early as well. 
 
If you teach the body to move slow under control, that is what it will learn to do. Trying to move faster later on will require lots of work and actually learning a brand new faster movement. It can be done but it will take a lot of extra work to displace the slow pattern that was learned early. 
 
The absolute best way to find out if you are on the right track or not is to get an expert side-by-side voice-over Video Analysis where your pitching mechanics are compared to a top MLB pitcher. 
 
 
Article Source: Pitching.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Power L?


Coach Rich goes over what the Power L is and the importance of not staying with the Power L depending on pitch location and swing. Were you early and if you were, how extension can save you.


See more at http://www.vvbaseballbarn.com

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How To Improve Pitching Velocity And Fastball Command


Being able to improve your pitching velocity and command your fastball are two very important elements if you expect to get hitters out consistently.  You can’t get by for long throwing junk or at below average velocity.   However, if you do have below average velocity you must have pin-point control.

Many pitchers spend far too much time on control and thus sacrifice pitching velocity.  But you don’t need to sacrifice velocity in order to gain control.

A pitcher should never slow down his delivery in order to gain ball control. Yet, many coaches recommend that pitchers do that and that is one of the biggest causes of a lack of pitching velocity.

To gain more pitching velocity pitchers must train themselves to throw at a higher intensity more often. That is the only way the body will learn who to create more intensity and thus more velocity. 

Using Fastball Command To Achieve Success
 
Fastball command is one of the biggest keys to pitching success.  That means you want to be able to throw “pitcher’s strikes” rather than “hitter’s strikes.”

A pitcher’s strike is a well located fastball where you stay away from the middle of the plate and away from about belt high.  And sometimes it is a ball that is located just off the plate but looks like a strike to the hitter.

As Pedro Martinez used to say:  “Get ahead with strikes and get ’em out with balls.”

For Little League or youth pitchers, I suggest splitting the plate in half and throwing to the outer half.  Once that is consistent, move on to pitching to the inner half.

A fastball thrown down and away is the most difficult pitch for a hitter.  Ted Williams and Barry Bonds, two of the games greatest hitters, only hit about .230 when pitches were located there.

But you must be able to locate the ball for a strike on the inner half as well.  That inside fastball looks much faster than the ball throw down and away.  So to be successful as a pitcher you must be able to locate the ball away from the middle of the plate while keeping the ball down.  For a youth pitcher practice should be initially about keeping the ball down.  Belt high pitchers are easy for even youth hitters to hit.  Once you can keep the ball down then work on the outer half of the plate.

Two things determine whether a pitcher has good control or not.  The first is mechanics. If your mechanics are poor or inconsistent then good control will be tough to learn.

The second factor is practice.  We of course recommend “blocked over-practice bullpens” where you focus on throwing the same pitch to the same location over and over using several blocked sets of 5-8 pitches.  This method helps train both the brain and the body how to locate to those specific locations because there is a goal for each pitch.

Not throwing enough pitches at game intensity is why so many pitchers never gain command of their fastball or the strike zone.

CAUTION: Do not work on control and sacrifice velocity.  Velocity must be worked on at the same time you are working on ball control.  Remember this – the faster you move the less chance of mechanical error. 

Don’t Slow Down Your Delivery To Improve Ball Control
 
This is where most youth and high school pitchers go wrong.  They slow down their level of intensity to just “throw a strike”.  Big, big mistake.  Doing that simply teaches the body to move slower and thus you are teaching the body to throw slower.  When you want to locate your best fastball, it will be difficult because your brain has taught your body to move slower to locate your best fastball.

The brain learns only what you teach it.  Movement speed is a learned skill.  If you want to locate your best fastball you must teach your body to move at a high level of intensity moving all your forces toward the target.

If youth pitchers focus on one location initially, keeping the ball down, and then on the outer half and then eventually the inner half, and do that during each practice bullpen, they will have success.
Watch and see which pitches get hit the most. Those down the middle and belt high.

Once you can locate inner and outer half and keep the ball down, then practice throwing the ball just above the hands.  This skill is valuable when you are ahead in the count 0-2 or 1-2. Or even 2-2.

This is called “changing eye level.”  You throw a pitch down and then the next one a bit higher.  When you move the ball you also move the hitter’s eye from low to high. This is a tough adjustment for a hitter and makes it difficult for the hitter to lay off of that pitch.

But that above the hands fastball or the letter high fastball must be practiced regularly and be part of every bullpen… if you expect to use it in a game.

Have you noticed how many MLB pitchers are not able to throw a letter high fastball?  Normally they throw it much too high and the hitter of course takes it for a ball.

This is because most MLB pitchers are not throwing enough high fastballs during their bullpens. They might throw 2 or 3, but not blocked sets of letter high fastballs.  Thus the pitcher never learns to command their fastball letter high.

So if you want better command of all your pitches you must first improve your mechanics. Once you can land with good lower body stability while directing all your forces toward the target you can then teach yourself how to command your fastball.  Once you do that and learn how to change speeds you will make most hitters very uncomfortable and become a very successful pitcher.

Every practice session is an opportunity to improve some aspect of your pitching skills. You will only learn what you practice.  Make sure that before every bullpen or practice throwing session that you warm-up your arm properly in order to aid performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Article Source: Pitching.com

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cause And Fix To Ball Flare or Slicing The Ball - The Baseball Barn



Coach Rich goes over the causes and fix to losing distance due to the ball flaring to the opposite field side or slicing the ball. See more at http://www.vvbaseballbarn.com

Monday, July 18, 2016

Houston Astros Rookie Prank



Houston Astros Prank Tyler White by Parking SUV Range Rover on Center Field Before a Game

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fix for Front Elbow-Does it Stay Up, Down, or In Between?



Coach Rich goes over the use of the front elbow with different pitch heights and how it moves according to those pitch heights.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Quotes of the Month


Ichiro Suzuki: "Chicks who dig home runs aren't the ones who appeal to me. I think there's sexiness in infield hits because they require technique. I'd rather impress the chicks with my technique than with my brute strength. Then, every now and then, just to show I can do that, too, I might flirt a little by hitting one out." Source: New York Times (August 22, 2009)

"I can do that (foul off pitches) intentionally. They were borderline. And I was trying to get the pitcher to make a mistake." Source: Associated Press (June 15, 2002)

"I didn't know I hit that way (.625 with runners in scoring position). Maybe not knowing is my secret. If I chased numbers, maybe I wouldn't have as good results." Source: Seattle Times (May 16, 2001)


Ted Williams: "Hitting is fifty percent above the shoulders." Source: Baseball's Forgotten Basics: A Field Manual And Instructional Dvd (Marc Shoenfelt, Destech Publishers, 03/02/2006, Page 40)

"Hitting is the most important part of the game. It is where the big money is, where much of the status is, and the fan interest." Source: The Science of Hitting (Ted Williams, Fireside Publishers, 03/29/1986, Page 9)


Dizzy Dean: "If Satch (Paige) and I were pitching on the same team, we would clinch the pennant by July fourth and go fishing until World Series time."

"Son, what kind of pitch would you like to miss."