Coaching Management 20.2

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Coaching Management

> Better Batting Practice > Vision Training

AIRING IT OUT The debate over long toss

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CONTENTS | BASEBALL Edition | PREseason 2012 | Vol. XX, No. 2

THE KALAMAZOO Gazette/Jonathon Gruenke (USED WITH PERMISSION)

Coaching Management

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31

COVER STORY 14 AIRING IT OUT

HITTING OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE 22 SWINGING WITH PURPOSE 31 EYES ON THE PRIZE

While some pitchers swear by it, long tossing is not universally accepted as an effective training tool. We look at its pros and cons and how to best implement it.

How can you get the most out of batting practice? A veteran high school coach suggests having players compete in the cage and focus on swing fundamentals outside it.

The muscles of the eye get stronger with use, and baseball players at the U.S. Air Force Academy have been reaping the benefits of sports vision training for more than a decade.

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Q&A 11 RUSS WRIGHT

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PRESEASON

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NCAA examines agent rules … Promoting baseball in Houston’s high schools … Following a coaching legend … NFHS assigns pregame equipment check to coaches … High school team scrimmages in Halloween costumes … College coaches stir up attention as chefs.

On the cover

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Although he describes himself as “just some high school coach in a small town,” Russ Wright of Fruitland (Idaho) High School is only the 19th high school coach inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame.

Former UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer jumped into the center of the long-toss debate during last spring’s amateur draft. Cover story begins on page 14. Photo by percy anderson/ucla athletics

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BULLETIN BOARD Preseason 2012

CONTENTS

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3 NCAA addresses agent concerns

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4 Growing the

game in Houston

NCAA Legislation

Agent Rules Face New Review

john shadrick

With agents looming as a concern in baseball and several other sports, the NCAA is reviewing its rules governing their use by student-athletes. The Division I Amateurism Cabinet is taking the lead and during its fall meeting endorsed new concepts to help schools educate student-athletes about involvement with agents. The cabinet also supported measures that would provide athletes additional tools to better help them make informed decisions about pursuing a professional career before exhausting their eligibility. One of the cabinet’s proposals is the creation of an NCAA Agent Registration Program, which would require agents to register and then provide student-athletes and schools with contact information, employee lists, and any disciplinary actions that have been taken against individual agents. The program would create a database of individuals who fit the NCAA definition of an agent, including those recognized by professional sports unions, such as the Major League Baseball Players’ Association’s list of registered agents and advisors. Any person representing a studentathlete would have to be registered with the NCAA. In addition to providing a central database for agent contact information, the program would also serve as a way for schools to be aware of problems other schools or athletes have had with particular agents. The secure, Web-based registry would replace individual agent registries currently maintained by some athletic

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5 Coaches get new pre-game duty

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7 A Halloween scrimmage

departments. Cabinet members are considering penalties for institutions or eligibility consequences for student-athletes who work with agents not in the registry. The cabinet has also endorsed the creation of the National Professional Sports Counseling Panel, which would advise student-athletes on topics such as the viability of a pro career, contract details, and agent interaction. The cabinet hopes the panel would include current or former professional athletes, as well as legal experts. Many schools already offer similar programs, but few student-athletes use them, partly because of concerns over the truthfulness of the information they provide.

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8 3 Qs on following a legend

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9 Cooking up some publicity

“There is a need for this advisory committee for student-athletes, primarily for student-athletes who are not the cream of the crop,” Curtis Schickner, a third baseman at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and member of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, said in an NCAA statement. “The elite student-athletes will get the information they need, but the kids [drafted] in the subsequent rounds who may not come from the largest programs and may not know alumni in the professional ranks need to know what life is like as a professional compared to what they can get out of extra time in college.”

Potential changes to NCAA rules governing a student-athlete’s use of agents could help avoid a repeat of the problems that cost James Paxton (right), who finished 2011 as a member of the Class AA Jackson Generals, his senior season at the University of Kentucky. Paxton was kept off the mound by the school in 2010 after he refused to answer NCAA questions surrounding an amateurism issue reportedly related to use of an agent during negotiations with the Toronto Blue Jays following baseball’s amateur draft.

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Both proposals will be reviewed again at the cabinet’s next meeting in February. In the meantime, at the NCAA Convention in January, the Division I Legislative Council approved a rule that changes the definition of an agent. It now includes some of the third parties who did not previously fall under anyone’s jurisdiction yet market student-athletes for their own financial gain, which may include financial advisors, marketing representatives, or even parents. The idea is to expand the definition of an agent, but the NCAA is clear that is does not want to scrutinize those who have the best interests of a student-athlete in mind and are not interested in any personal benefits. Legislative Council Chair Carolyn Campbell-McGovern explained the change as “closing a loophole.” Baseball coaches are hopeful that more significant changes in rules will improve the current system, which many feel isn’t working well and is causing players to lose eligibility. Current rules allow baseball players to have agents or advisors, but these representatives are not allowed to communicate or negotiate with professional teams. “There’s no question that changes need to be made,” says Rich Maloney, Head Coach at the University of Michigan and Chair of the American Baseball Coaches Association Division I Committee. “There needs to be a better way for players to get the advice they need, and also protect schools from losing players they don’t want to lose. You would hope there’s another way of doing things so everyone could benefit.” Maloney also believes the unique circumstances of baseball, including a player’s ability to turn pro straight out of high school and not having to declare to be eligible for a professional draft, necessitate sport-specific rules. “The tendency is to throw every sport into the same bowl, but there are issues in our sport that need to be looked at independently,” he says. “If you want to correct it, you can’t throw it in the hodgepodge of all the other sports.” In the city

From the first week of the school year until the beginning of baseball season, Steve Robinson, Head Coach at Jones High School in Houston, Texas, is always looking for students to come out for his team. Any time he finds a young man who doesn’t already play a spring sport, Robinson asks if he’d be interested in trying baseball. While such a practice might seem far-fetched for many coaches, it’s just one of the ways that Rob4 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

partnership between the Astros and the Houston Independent School District led to the creation of an annual spring tournament for inner-city schools. “Any time we’re able to associate with a professional organization, it’s a positive thing for our students,” says Robinson. “It’s an opportunity to showcase the kids on nice fields, hopefully in front of some scouts. It also gives them a chance to play against other kids who are on their same level.” A major goal for Robinson, who is in his second year at Jones after previously coaching at Yates High School, also in Houston, is developing relationships within the community. In order to sustain a stable program at the high school level, Robinson believes he has to get athletes interested in baseball at a young age. “The younger kids are eventually going to feed into the Jones program and

help revitalize it and keep it strong,” Robinson says. “The Little League in our community didn’t start until five or six years ago, and I’m trying to strengthen it by doing clinics and helping out where I can. I also go to a lot of the games, talk to kids, and develop relationships with them. “I want these kids and their parents to know about the Jones baseball team,

Steve Robinson (above left), Head Coach at Jones High School in Houston, builds his players’ passion for baseball through discussions about news from the big leagues and trips to watch the Astros play. and that it’s a respectable program,” he continues. “A lot of kids don’t even realize baseball is an option for them. One of my major goals is to let them know that the opportunity is there, and not just at the high school level­—they can go on to play in college.” Robinson also works hard to educate his current players about the game. He says that some players come out for the squad after being encouraged by friends, and don’t know much about the sport. “I’ve really tried to get the kids to understand the game and respect it,” he says. “Sometimes we’ll receive donated CoachesNetwork.com

JERMISHA HARDMAN/PICTURE PERFECT PHOTOGRAPHY

Houston Makes Gains

inson and his colleagues at other city schools are attempting—with help from the Houston Astros—to revive baseball in the area. The Astros opened their MLB Urban Youth Academy, which features four state-of-the-art fields and provides players with instruction from former college players, in the spring of 2010. Additionally, a


BULLETIN BOARD tickets for the entire team to attend an Astros game. It’s a team-building event, but it also helps the players see baseball at its highest level and develop a passion and understanding for the game. We’ll also talk about what’s happening in Major League Baseball and what happened in games the previous day. It’s important to find ways to get them interested in baseball. “Another big thing I preach is respecting the game,” Robinson continues. “We all wear the same uniform the same way, and we all wear our hats the same way. Those are simple things, but they go a long way in teaching the kids how to approach the game and have a professional attitude.” Robinson also focuses on getting the community—especially players’ parents— involved in the program. “I want people in the community to bring their kids to games, put them in Little League, and support them when they do play,” he says. “We’ve done some promotions for parents, such as giving them T-shirts or free admission to our games to get them to come out and support their kids.” On a larger scale, Robinson is working toward renovating the school’s base-

ball field, which was nothing more than a backstop when he arrived. Thanks to private donors, by the end of this school year, he hopes to have dugouts and an outfield fence installed. “Getting the field renovated and having a facility that draws students in will be a big help,” he says. “It’s tough to recruit kids from the middle school or get their parents on board when they see poor facilities.” High School Rules

Coaches Take Over Equipment Checks This spring, high school head coaches will have an additional duty to perform before their teams take the field for a game. Rules changes adopted by the NFHS last July require head coaches to verify to the umpire that all players are legally equipped and that all equipment is in compliance with NFHS rules. Prior to the change, umpires were required to perform pregame equipment checks. That responsibility now belongs to

coaches, and includes ensuring that bats are “unaltered from the manufacturer’s original design and production and that helmets are free of cracks and damage.” Elliot Hopkins, NFHS Assistant Director and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee, says the change was made because coaches are more likely than umpires to spot equipment issues. “A coach who spends every day with his players and is on top of his program will know more about the equipment they’re using than an umpire,” Hopkins says. “If a player arrives to the game late and isn’t there for the pregame equipment check, how is an umpire going to know what type of bat he’s using?” While head coaches can still ask umpires to check equipment either team is using, Hopkins hopes that the new rule will cut down on disagreements about equipment. “We certainly don’t want coaches and umpires at odds over a piece of equipment,” he says. “But I also believe coaches don’t want their opponents challenging their equipment, because they may see that as gamesmanship and be angry with the other coach. I think coaches want to be in charge of their own house, so to speak.”

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Hopkins admits it may be tough for a coach to spot certain equipment alterations, especially in bats. But he feels their knowledge of their players should help them spot anything out of the ordinary.

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Umpires and high school coaches will switch one of their roles this spring, thanks to a new NFHS rule requiring coaches to be responsible for checking their players’ equipment.

“If a player who can barely get the bat off his shoulder during the first few weeks of practice starts hitting 400-foot home runs when the season starts, the head coach is going to know that something is off,” he says. “An umpire doesn’t know anything about that player, so he wouldn’t know anything is unusual.” Taking on the responsibility of ensuring that their players’ equipment is in order also means that coaches could be open to punishments if it’s found that coach-approved equipment violated the rules. Currently, there are no set penalties at the national level, although Hopkins anticipates both the NFHS and individual states will eventually have punishments on the books. “We have to give the rules some teeth, otherwise we’ll have just wasted paper,” he says. “Looking at how other sports handle things, there’s a precedent for coaches missing games if they are found to be in violation.” Currently, there are no formal plans for increased education for coaches, but Hopkins expects they will be able to handle the additional responsibility. “The bottom line is, a coach should know that a bat shouldn’t sound like there are marbles inside,” he says.


BULLETIN BOARD “We’re stepping into new territory with this rule, and we’re going to do it gingerly and see what the membership wants us to do,” Hopkins adds. “We haven’t heard any complaints from coaches, but we’ll welcome feedback.” FALL FUN

Scrimmaging in Costume While it’s not unusual to see people wearing costumes as Halloween approaches, seeing players on the baseball diamond dressed as penguins, cartoon characters, and a giant marshmallow is a rare sight. That’s why students and faculty at Simi Valley (Calif.) High School turned out in droves to watch the baseball team play a fall intrasquad

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To add some variety to its fall season, Simi Valley (Calif.) High School held a special Halloween scrimmage with players wearing costumes. Above, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the movie Ghostbusters readies for a pitch.

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QUESTIONS

3

When hall-of-fame coach Don Schaly retired in 2003 after 40 years at Marietta College and handed the reins to then-assistant Brian Brewer, he left behind a tradition-rich program that had won three NCAA Division III national championships and finished second seven times. He also left Brewer, who played for Schaly, a large pair of shoes to fill. But after just three years, Brewer found those shoes fit him just fine, leading Marietta to a Division III-record tying fourth national championship in 2006 while earning national Coach of the Year honors. This past season, the program claimed the record as its own, winning its fifth national title. In his eight years at Marietta, Brewer, who is also Assistant Athletics Director at the school, has amassed a record of 278-103. History tells us that succeeding a legend rarely works out for the next in line. However, Brewer has bucked those odds. We recently talked to him about the keys to making the transition work and the ways he’s put his mark on Marietta baseball. CM: What are the secrets to taking over for a hall of famer? Brewer: When I took this job, a lot people asked me why I would want to follow a legend, but I never looked at it that way. The fact that Coach Schaly himself selected me as his successor was the biggest vote of confidence I could have ever received, and it removed any of the pressure that goes along with replacing the greatest coach in the history of college baseball. From there, my competitive nature took over and I was on my

Following a Legend way. I didn’t set out to fill his shoes—I wanted to go out and make a new pair by putting a great staff around me and bringing in great players. What have you done to put your own stamp on the program? We’ve tweaked a few things over the years, but we’re not going to try to fix anything that’s not broke. Recruiting is one thing we’ve approached differently, however. Coach Schaly never went on the road to recruit, and neither did I as his assistant. Since I took over and Mike BRIAN BREWER Deegan became my assistant, we’ve never stopped recruiting. We go on the road and see plenty of prospects—it’s a constant process. The second notable change has been our schedule. Coach Schaly didn’t have the team travel much when he was here—he didn’t believe in it. But I felt we had to travel more and play a tougher schedule to have exposure to recruits and stay on the national radar. What is the biggest challenge you face? Finding players who can afford to attend a small, private, liberal arts school. Next year, it’s going to cost $40,000 to attend Marietta College, and while there are more expensive schools out there, it’s an issue we have to deal with. But we have tradition, facilities, and staffing that appeal to a certain type of kid. We find student-athletes who are driven to succeed academically, and are also driven to succeed athletically, which is what we want in our program. We’re a major college-type of program in a small college environment, which is a beautiful thing. And because of the history of our program and the academic profile, some families are willing to pay for that experience.

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Marietta College set an NCAA Division III record by winning its fifth national title in 2011. It was the second title for Head Coach Brian Brewer, who took over for hall-of-fame coach Don Schaly in 2003.


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BROCK SCOTT

scrimmage with players sporting Halloween costumes. Simi Valley Head Coach Matt LaBelle got the idea from former players who had been involved in a similar event at the University of California-Irvine. When LaBelle took the idea to his team, the squad quickly jumped on board. “It seemed like a fun way to break up the monotony of fall practice,” he says. “At that time of year, the players are mostly in the weightroom and batting cages. They work hard, but this was the first scrimmage we had scheduled.” LaBelle made it clear that he expected his players to take the scrimmage seriously, despite the costumes. “My rule was, ‘Don’t make a mockery of the game,’” he says. “I wanted them to treat this like it was halfway between a real game and goofing off in their backyard. I didn’t want them catching balls behind their back or trying to tackle someone. But at the same time, I told them I wasn’t going to evaluate how quickly they ran to first base in a cumbersome costume.” So the Friday before Halloween, the squad took the field in a variety of outfits, ranging from the Ghostbusters’ Stay Puft Marshmallow Man to Gumby. LaBelle’s only restrictions on the costumes were that they couldn’t be offensive and pitchers couldn’t wear anything that restricted their ability to throw. “At first, I was worried some guys wouldn’t dress up, but everyone was really excited,” he says. “We had to make a few adjustments for safety, though. For example, when the player dressed as Gumby hit, he had to take the head off his costume, and the player in a tuxedo had to take off his jacket and tie when he pitched, but besides that, we didn’t have any problems.” LaBelle was also pleased that the players heeded his advice and played hard. “We had players breaking up double plays and diving for balls,” he says. “The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man led off the game with a single, and when the penguin in the outfield bobbled the ball, he ran hard for second base.” The game was a hit with fans as well. “The principal mentioned it during the school announcements that morning, and we had a great crowd,” LaBelle says.

“We’re going to make this an annual tradition, and hopefully it continues to grow in popularity.” As much fun as the afternoon was, LaBelle made sure to quickly refocus his team as soon as the final out was recorded. “As the guys were walking around with big grins and thanking the fans after the game, I told them, ‘We’ve had a lot of fun today, but on Monday, we’re going right back to work,’” he says. “I didn’t think it would get so much publicity, and that’s not why we did it, but the players have handled it well. And in the next few practices, they showed a little more pep. The game was great for team camaraderie and really energized everyone involved.”

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PROMOTIONS

Preseason Cooking Contest a Big Hit It’s not often that University of San Diego Head Coach Rich Hill is pleased to see one of his sliders turn into a hit. But he was thrilled when his lowcarb San Diego Paleo slider was named most creative dish at the 2011 Southern California Baseball Coaches Media Day/ ESPN Zone Cooking Challenge. Held at the ESPN Zone in Disneyland, the annual event brought together 11 col-

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University of San Diego Head Coach Rich Hill took home “most creative” honors during a cooking contest that’s part of the annual Southern California college baseball media day. Eleven coaches participated in the event. 8510/2012

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Coaching Management Preseason 2012 9 Circle No. 105 8510/2012


BULLETIN BOARD lege coaches from the Big West, Pac-10, and West Coast Conferences for an afternoon of cooking and good-natured competition while drumming up public-

“In college baseball, we’re still in the promotional stages and every one of us has a responsibility to market and promote our teams and our sport. This is a great event for drawing in the media because it’s out of the ordinary and fun.” RICH HILL University of San Diego

ity for the college game in Southern California. Coaches were given 15 minutes to prepare a slider-themed entrée, which they presented to a panel of judges that included a local restaura-

teur, the founder of a local culinary school, a television broadcaster, and a sports columnist for the Orange County Register. “It’s a fun event for the coaches and a great, relaxed way for us to interact with the local press and kick off our season,” says Hill. “In college baseball, we’re still in the promotional stages and every one of us has a responsibility to market and promote our teams and our sport. This is a great event for drawing in the media because it’s out of the ordinary and fun.” With smoke rolling and hot plates sizzling, the coaches spoke with collected media members and bantered with each other about their offseasons and what their teams had in store for the upcoming season. “I love this event because it allows us to build and display our camaraderie,” says Hill. “We have a good group here in Southern California. On the field, we compete hard, but off the field all of us are very friendly with one another.” When constructing their culinary masterpieces, each coach had a few main ingredients at their disposal, including pork, chicken, hamburger,

cheeses, sauces, and condiments. Each dish was graded in three categories: presentation, creativity, and taste. “The event is incredibly well run,” says Hill. “It looks like something from the Food Network. They have everything set up for us and there is tons of highquality food—you can’t really screw it up.” Tapping into his own dietary preferences, Hill’s San Diego Paleo slider was a bun-less creation inspired by the Paleo Diet, which Hill follows. “I’m a standup paddle board surfer and racer so I do a lot of endurance training and that diet cuts out high glcyemic carbs, which is beneficial for my training,” Hill says. “I think the healthy aspect of it is what caught the judges’ attention as far as being creative.” Not a natural-born chef, Hill admits that going into the competition he had no idea what he would cook. Still, he had his sights set on winning the creativity category. “I flew by the seat of my pants,” he says. “Having done this before, I knew the creativity category was the only chance I had of winning anything, so I tried to make as funny and unique a dish as possible.”

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Q&A

Pitcher Zach Huff helped Fruitland High capture the Idaho 3A title last year, the squad’s second state crown under Head Coach Russ Wright.

A HIGH HONOR

Q&A with RUSS WRIGHT | FRUITLAND (IDAHO) HGH SCHOOL

JOANIE HUFF (RIGHT)

Russ Wright is only in his mid-40s, but he’s already a Hall of Fame coach. A member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Class of 2012, Wright is just the 19th high school coach to be inducted. Since 2006, Wright has been Head Coach at Fruitland (Idaho) High School, where he has led the school to two state titles while also serving as a biology teacher and assistant football coach. He came to Fruitland after spending three seasons as Head Coach at Treasure Valley Community College in Oregon, where he had been an assistant coach earlier in his career. CoachesNetwork.com

Wright’s first head coaching job came in 1991, when took over the reins at Payette (Idaho) High School, leading the team to its first 20-win season. A year later, Wright became Head Coach at Minico (Idaho) High School, his alma mater, where he stayed for 10 years. Wright has served as President of the Idaho Baseball Coaches Association, and in 2002, he received the Distinguished Coaches Award in Baseball from the Idaho State Coaches Association. Here, Wright—who also serves as an Associate Scout for the Kansas City Royals—talks about his life in coaching, his mentors, and how baseball can be a means for teaching life lessons.

CM: What was your reaction to being selected for the ABCA Hall of Fame?

Wright: A good friend of mine, Mark Johnson [former Head Coach at Texas A&M and Sam Houston State], nominated me. When he told me he did that, I didn’t know how to take it. I’m just some high school coach in a small town. So I was honored, obviously, and never ever, ever expected to be inducted in my wildest dreams. But I was, so I must have done something right in my 25 years of coaching. How did a high school coach in Idaho become close friends with a top college coach?

When I was coaching at Minico, I was part of a group of coaches who decided to start a summer baseball camp. One of us called Coaching Management Preseason 2012 11


Texas A&M to see if one of the grad assistants would want to help out. We couldn’t pay very much, but we offered to take them fishing and treat them right. When we called A&M, Coach Johnson picked up the phone, and after hearing about the camp, he said, “This sounds like something I need to come to.” And he did every year for 12 years, and we ended up becoming close friends. I really admired the way he went about his business. If you ask anyone about Mark, they’ll say he always does the right thing. He has amazing character—we should all try to be like him. Do you still run a baseball camp?

We run a youth camp and middle school camp at Fruitland with just our staff, but when I moved to Treasure Valley, I kind of left the big camp behind. We’d like to start it up again, but it was a lot easier to get other coaches to attend 10 or 15 years ago. These days, coaches have a different calendar, and they don’t have as much free time to come to Fruitland to work with our kids. With the showcase schedule and recruiting, it’s just a different animal now. And trying to find dates that didn’t mess with our kids’ busy schedules was tough, too.

What led you to pursue coaching as a career?

I loved drafting in high school, and thought I wanted to be an architect. But after my first year of college, I had no passion for it. What I thought I wanted to be didn’t match what I really wanted to be. So I changed my major to geological engineering, and I was a year and a half from graduating when a high school coach asked me to take over his summer American Legion team. And that was it. When I told my mom I had to change my major one more time, she shook her head, but it was the best decision I ever made. Why did you return to coaching in high school after your time at Treasure Valley Community College?

I had really wanted to try my hand in college. I wasn’t necessarily looking to move up the ladder—it was more the challenge to see if I could do it, and to open myself up to the possibilities. But after four years there, my sons were coming through middle and high school, so I thought it was time for a change. I realized I didn’t enjoy being gone all the time. I didn’t

enjoy having to recruit on Friday night and miss my son’s football game. Fruitland hired me and it’s been amazing ever since. How would you compare coaching junior college to high school?

The thing about junior college that I didn’t really enjoy was that it’s such a transient setting—kids are there for just a year or two. I missed seeing what a kid looked like at 14 and then comparing that to when he graduated at 18. I know it sounds corny, but I missed having the four-year connection you get at a high school.

What’s been the key to your ongoing success?

The biggest key is my assistant coaches, because I can’t do it all myself. I have five assistants, and they’re so good with kids it’s crazy. I just happened to luck into one of those situations where I can get these guys. I have the head coaching tag, but they really do the work. Also, I should mention that I have the best wife in the world, who allows me to go about this whole deal—not just the games

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Circle No. 107 12 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

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Q&A and practices, but also going to camps and clinics, taking care of the field, and so on. She’ll say, “That’s who you are, and what you do. Go do your thing.” What do you see as the biggest issue facing high school baseball?

The biggest thing is a lack of opportunities at the college level. Kids can receive full scholarships for basketball and football, so I think we miss out on a few kids who would play baseball if they knew a college coach could offer a full ride. I understand all the financial reasons for this. Still, it’s a big issue because baseball is a very important sport for teaching lessons about dealing with adversity. But if a kid wants to play baseball in college, he has to do it on a partial scholarship or pay his own way—and some kids just can’t afford that. So it would be nice if baseball was on an even footing with football and basketball.

arship by baseball standards. And if your draft status does go down after college or you don’t get drafted, chances are you were probably going to wash out in A ball anyway. So it’s better to have your education done so you can be ready for your life, because we all have to stop playing at some point.” How do you keep growing as a coach?

I like to learn by going to clinics, watching other people, and finding ways

to do things better. I remember watching Mark Johnson at a coaching clinic one year. Sure, it’s a social event, but he’d have his note pad out to write things down from people he was coaching against. So I’m thinking, if coaches like him can learn from clinics, I should, too. Whether it’s the ABCA clinic or a local one, our staff tries hard to attend at least one every year. Finding new ways to do things is always cool, not only for our kids but for us as well. CM

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Why is baseball a good vehicle for teaching about adversity?

In football, you have to be physically tough, but you’re all covered up in gear and the crowd is far away, so they don’t always know the mistakes you might make. In basketball, people are so close to you that you can feel their eyes on you. But it’s so quick you can also kind of escape responsibility within a play. In baseball, the ball is coming at you, and no one else can save you. Everyone knows when you strike out with bases loaded, let a ball go through your legs, or walk a guy. Being able to accept that fact, deal with the failure constructively, and move on is one of the biggest lessons baseball can teach.

What advice do you give to players who are considering pro offers right out of high school?

I’m an associate scout for the Royals, and I’ve been a college coach, so I’ve had experience on both sides of the equation. If a player is in position to get an amount of money that will significantly change his life, or if he feels the opportunity with an organization is a good one, I tell him that’s great. That being said, I don’t think players should sign just to be able to say they played pro ball. Statistics show that going to college usually results in a player getting drafted in an earlier round. I tell guys, “If you’re going to get drafted out of high school, that means you can probably get a fairly substantial scholCoachesNetwork.com

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AIRING

IT OUT While some pitchers swear by it, long tossing is not universally accepted as an effective training tool. Here, coaches and pitching experts share their thoughts on the pros and cons of long tossing and how to best implement it. | By Patrick Bohn

Before the 2011 Major League Baseball amateur draft, a pair of high-profile pitchers each made an unusual request. They independently asked that certain teams not select them, and their reasons were totally unrelated to money. Instead, both Dylan Bundy of Owasso (Okla.) High School, USA Today’s 2011 National Player of the Year, and Trevor Bauer of UCLA, Baseball America’s College Player of the Year, suggested that teams unwilling to let them continue to do long-toss training choose someone else instead.

14 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

mondbacks, and Bundy, who went fourth to the Baltimore Orioles, had about long tossing highlight the growing controversy surrounding the practice. Compounding the issue is the lack of hard data on the training tactic. Few scientific studies have been done on long toss, and arguments on either side remain largely anecdotal. Without many concrete answers, the questions for coaches who are undecided about long tossing are numerous: What are the benefits to long tossing? What are its downsides? What does science say on the matter? And if a coach decides he wants his pitchers long tossing, how should he set up

PERCY ANDERSON/UCLA ATHLETICS

“I know a lot of organizations firmly believe that you long toss at 120 feet,” Bauer told Baseball America. “[They say] you don’t want to elevate the ball because you want the body to do what it’s going to do on the mound, which makes sense. But I like to throw long—350, 400 feet. I really feel like that’s one of the things that’s helped me stay loose with my upper body and really fits in with the way I pitch. And so if I go to an organization and they say, ‘Well, we’re only going to go 120 feet,’ that doesn’t really work for me.” The concerns of both Bauer, who was drafted third overall by the Arizona Dia-

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COVER STORY

After a record-setting 2011 season, UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer said he wouldn’t want to play for a professional team that prohibited him from long tossing, putting a face to the ongoing debate over the training technique.


a program and what should he have pitchers focus on? In this article, coaches and experts offer some answers. MIXED SIGNALS

As evidenced by Bauer and Bundy’s predraft requests, there are diverging opinions

John Savage, Bauer’s Head Coach at UCLA, is also a long-toss proponent. “The big thing we’ve seen is an increase in durability and endurance,” he says. “Also, our pitchers’ velocity will jump, and often times it happens in May and June. That’s critical, because you don’t want a pitcher throwing

effort throws that are typically in the 210- to 240-foot range. What are the arguments against long tossing? “It’s not that long toss is harmful, it’s just that long tossing and pitching are two different activities,” says Dick Mills, a private pitching coach who spent several

“Coaches need to understand that max distance throws are different. When you throw a ball with maximum effort and an arc, mechanics break down from traditional pitching and there’s significantly more torque and rotation of the arm.” | Glen FlEisig, Research Director, ASMI on the value of long toss. To coaches who use it, the benefits of a long-toss program are evident on the field, both in arm health and performance. “We’ve seen our pitchers add velocity, and they’ve been healthy for as long as we’ve had them long toss,” says Tony Rasmus, Head Coach at Russell County (Ala.) High School. “The one time our players didn’t long toss was in 2004, and guys ended up dealing with shoulder and elbow problems all season.”

90 in the early part of the season and 84 at the end of the year when the games get more important.” Savage has his pitchers start long-tossing at 90 feet. He then backs them up in 20 foot increments, making 12 to 15 throws at each distance, up to about 200 feet. Rasmus does something similar, having his players make eight to 15 throws starting at 120 feet and then moving them back about 30 feet per round, before they make 10 to 20 maximum-

years as a pitcher in the Boston Red Sox organization. “The goal of pitching is to get a hitter out, and you accomplish that by throwing the ball in a specific way and aiming at specific locations. None of that occurs when you’re long tossing. “The principle of specificity states that in Patrick Bohn is an Assistant Editor at Coaching Management. He can be reached at: pb@MomentumMedia.com.

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COVER STORY

order to improve at a certain skill, you need to practice it,” Mills continues. “Well, if you practice long-tossing, that’s what you’ll get good at, not pitching.” Mills suggests pitchers should just pitch off the mound instead. “There’s no other action that can replicate what you do in pitching,” he says. “Unless you’re practicing the movements and actions involved in pitching, you’re not going to improve at it. I believe that if coaches took the time they had their pitchers long toss and spent it on pitching, we’d see ERAs drop by a run.” Angel Borrelli is a sports kinesiologist at GymScience Sport Performance in Pleasant Hill, Calif., and has advised several high schools and colleges about training their pitchers. She says there’s no evidence behind the idea that long tossing will improve velocity. “Whatever arm strength the pitchers may be gaining doesn’t correlate to velocity,” she says. “Pitchers recruit different muscle fibers when they throw on a mound than when they throw on flat ground. Sure, long toss might help pitchers develop overall strength, but what you really want is increased strength in a specific way that benefits pitching.”

shoulder. The pitchers’ maximum shoulder external rotation, or the amount their arms bent backwards during their delivery, increased from an average of 174 degrees when throwing a fastball from the mound to 180 degrees on maximum-distance throws. While that discrepancy may seem small, Fleisig says it’s important. “That’s a significant difference, both statistically and clinically,” he says. “If I rotated your arm back to the furthest point where you were comfortable, and then went six

degrees further, you’d notice it. Pitchers are really cranking their shoulders back more when throwing maximum distance. The extra rotation can lead to tension and tearing on the front of the capsule surrounding the shoulder, and the rotator cuff muscle can become pinched inside the back of the shoulder and possibly tear.” The study also found that when throwing from distances of 180 feet and greater, pitchers put significantly more torque on their elbows and shoulders. “When comparing

Study hall

Glen Fleisig is Research Director at the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) and a member of USA Baseball’s Medical & Safety Committee. He has been a part of many discussions and written numerous papers on the biomechanics of throwing, but as he fielded more and more questions about long toss from coaches, Fleisig was surprised by the lack of hard science addressing the value and safety of long tossing. “Some people would tell me it was beneficial because it enabled pitchers to use more force while keeping their mechanics consistent,” Fleisig says. “Others would say it was bad because it altered the pitcher’s mechanics. Eventually, I decided that we needed to find out what was happening to pitchers when they long tossed, so people would stop making up unsubstantiated theories.” Fleisig was the lead researcher for a study appearing in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy that examined the mechanics of 17 college pitchers while they threw from four different distances. Each pitcher threw 10 fastballs from a mound at a traditional distance, five flat-ground throws as straight as possible from 120 and 180 feet, and five throws from their maximum distance—which ranged from 213 to 350 feet and could arc. Fleisig found that the longer throwing distances had a significant effect on the pitchers’ throwing mechanics, particularly in the CoachesNetwork.com

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Circle No. 111 Coaching Management Preseason 2012 17


pitching from a mound to flat-ground throwing from 120 feet, the numbers measuring torque are about the same,” Fleisig says. “But during 180-foot and maximum-distance

throws, the numbers go up. The bottom line is the farther you throw, the more stress you put on your arm. “Interestingly, we also measured ball veloc-

PROPER MEASURES Coaches that use long toss as a training technique for their pitchers should realize that it can be difficult for both athletes to properly gauge long distances by sight. Measuring and marking practice areas for all the distances you want pitchers to throw at will ensure they are spaced correctly. “When you’re just going out to 90 feet, it’s easy to use the bases as a

guideline,” says John Savage, Head Coach at UCLA. “But beyond that, you want to have some consistent distance markers so kids really know how far they are throwing. “Our throwing distances increase incrementally by 20 feet once we get past 90, and we’ve got those distances marked off outside the left field fence,” he continues. “We’ll also do long toss on the football field and use the yard lines to make sure everyone is at the right distance.”

ity at the point of release, and there weren’t significant changes at any distance,” he continues. “That means at longer distances, the movement isn’t efficient—they’re stressing the arm more, but the ball isn’t going any faster.” The study also noted that mechanical differences occurred in the trunk and lower body. Pitchers were found to rotate their hips and trunks increasingly faster while throwing longer distances. Pitchers also bent their front knee less when throwing long distances and their feet moved closer together as they threw longer distances. What can coaches take away from the study? “When a player is throwing on a line, the mechanics aren’t that different from pitching,” Fleisig says. “The body rotates a little faster and the forces in the cocked arm are a little greater, but it looks like a reasonable exercise for pitchers at distances up to 180 feet. “But coaches need to understand that max distance throws are different,” he continues. “When you throw a ball with maximum effort and an arc, mechanics break down significantly from traditional pitching and there’s significantly more torque and rotation of the arm.”

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COVER STORY

MECHANICAL approach

Although Borrelli does not advocate long toss as a means to improve pitchers’ velocity, she sometimes works with teams or individual pitchers who use it as a training technique. She understands some coaches want to use long toss, but emphasizes the need for them to focus on proper mechanics during long toss sessions. The problem, according to Borrelli, isn’t as much about the exercise itself as it is the player’s mindset. “Long-tossing isn’t bad in and of itself,” she says. “It’s the way pitchers approach it that can cause issues. There’s this sense among players that long toss really isn’t pitching, so it’s okay to relax and not pay attention to proper mechanics. And the longer the distances get, the more intense the throws become, and mechanical errors show up even more. “Coaches need to make players realize that every time they’re throwing a ball, they’re programming their brain,” she continues. “Their job is to ensure pitchers respect the pitching motion, because if a pitcher can’t land with a stable front leg on flat ground, he won’t do it on a mound.”

When Borrelli starts working with a team, the first thing she does is watch the players as they play catch. “I see three common mechanical errors when pitchers play catch—improper weight transfer leading to unstable front feet, a sloppy glove arm, and players’ heads pulling off,” she says. “After I watch pitchers play catch, I film them throwing four fastballs. And I’ve never seen a sloppy round of catch followed by perfect pitching mechanics.” Rasmus has experienced the need to closely monitor long toss sessions firsthand. “When I began using a long-toss program, there was a lot of lackadaisical throwing, and as a result, the players weren’t improving,” he says. “I finally told them that I had no problem sitting them out if they weren’t going to do it correctly.” Savage takes special steps to make sure his pitchers stay mechanically sound when long-tossing. “We want our pitchers to have a quiet head and a loose arm,” he says. “When our pitchers long toss, we often have them hold a second ball in their gloves. Pinching that ball makes them more aware of where the front side of their body is,

which keeps the glove side connected with the throw and helps keep it smoother.” Dean Stiles, Assistant Coach at the University of Oregon, says the Ducks’ coaches keep a watchful eye during long toss, but also teach pitchers to monitor themselves by emphasizing self-awareness. “We watch the guys long toss, so if we see changes in their motion, we can stop them or move them closer if we need to,” he says. “At the same time, we want them to work on listening to their bodies. You want to give them some freedom. But first, you have to trust that your players can and will communicate with you about any issues they’re having.” When mechanical problems appear, Borrelli says the player should not increase their distance until the problems are fixed. “No coach should allow a pitcher to go beyond any distance that he can’t perform correctly from a mechanical standpoint,” she says. “If a player gets into bad habits when long tossing, those habits will carry over into their pitching.” Savage says plenty of signs can indicate a pitcher is pushing too hard. “The pitcher’s arm will let you know when it’s a good time

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Coaching Management Preseason 2012 19


to scale back,” he says. “If we see a pitcher who is struggling at 90 feet, whether it’s because his arm is bothering him or he’s putting forth too much effort, we won’t have him throw. But if he’s looking good and holding his velocity, there are no limits.”

tant to take stock of your pitching staff. She advises that you ask pitchers the following questions: n Where do you get sore after pitching? n What soreness doesn’t go away? n What diagnosed injuries do you have?

tossing will only amplify those problems. “If you have a pitcher who is falling off the mound when he throws, or has some improper arm action, those deficiencies are only going to be made worse by long tossing,” Borrelli says. “Additionally, any time a

“For us, giving pitchers freedom in their long-toss program is crucial. Some schools have a time limit, and if a pitcher doesn’t get in all the throws they need, that’s just how it is. We don’t want to place limits like that on our players.” | Dean stiles, University of Oregon The Bruins coach discourages his pitchers from using maximum effort on their throws, both to protect their arms and help with mechanics. “We tell the pitchers to keep all their throws at about 80 percent effort, even at the longest distances,” Savage says. “That helps keep the arm flexible and loose, and the delivery smoother and more repeatable.” GROUND RULES

Before you have pitchers start launching balls across the field, Borrelli says it’s impor-

What surgeries have you had? Armed with this information, you can start to weed out those players who are at greater risk of injury. “Any pitcher with elbow or shoulder pain or pathology shouldn’t go past 120 feet, let alone try to throw their maximum distance,” Borrelli says. “The risk of re-injury is just too great.” Once those pitchers have been removed, coaches need to identify existing mechanical flaws they see on the mound, because longn

pitcher’s mechanics start to suffer when they’re long tossing, they should stop, because a guy with sloppy mechanics is going to break down.” Once you know who’s able to long toss, coaches suggest mapping out a schedule. “We have our pitchers long toss four or five times a week, before they do their bullpen session,” says Savage. “For example, our Friday night starter will long toss before he bullpens on Monday and Wednesday. He’ll also long toss on Tuesday, with Thursday

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COVER STORY

being an optional day.” Regardless of when you have pitchers long toss, it’s important to allot enough time so they aren’t rushed through their throws. Stiles says one of the keys of the Oregon long-toss program is that players are free to take as much time as they need. “For us, giving pitchers freedom in their long-toss program is crucial,” he says. “Some schools have a time limit, and if a pitcher doesn’t get in all the throws they need, that’s just how it is. We don’t want to place limits like that on our players, and it’s one of the reasons our kids buy into the idea.” Each long-toss program will be unique based on the make-up of the pitching staff and the coaching staff’s philosophy, but there are some key tenets coaches should follow. One important guideline is to make sure pitchers of similar arm strength are throwing with each other. “If we have a kid who can throw it a few hundred feet, we match him up with a teammate who can do the same,” says Savage. “We don’t want a pitcher overworking his arm by trying to throw farther than he’s comfortable with in order to keep up with another player. We also want to ensure that a pitcher who can throw long distances still gets the opportunity to stretch his arm out.” Rasmus follows a similar protocol. “I can’t match up a senior with a seventh grader,” he says. “If I need to, I’ll have guys wait around until someone relatively equal with them is available to throw.” One of the common complaints about long tossing is that at longer distances, it can cause a pitcher to alter his release point. That’s why coaches emphasize having pitchers reel their distance back in before ending a session. Once they reach the maximum distance for a session, pitchers should decrease their distance significantly before finishing. “I see a lot of pitchers who will long toss and not bring the distance down, and then they’ll miss the strike zone high when they’re on the mound,” Savage says. “You need to get guys back into pitcher mode, and bringing the distance back to 90 feet helps them find their proper release point.” Rasmus has his players do a “hat drill” at the end of their long-toss sessions to regain their release point. “We’ll put a hat down as the plate, and have the pitcher stand 75 feet away from a catcher,” he says. “The pitcher will aim for an imaginary batter’s knees and hips on both the left and right side of the hat. This is helpful because if they can locate your pitches from 75 feet, it’s going to be that much easier at 60.” CoachesNetwork.com

Focusing the release point isn’t the only benefit of having pitchers come back down before finishing. “Decreasing the pitcher’s distance also allows them to increase their arm speed again, and that makes them more explosive,” says Stiles. “That’s when you start to see the increases in endurance and velocity.” Despite all the debate surrounding long toss, it is important to remember it’s simply one tool coaches can use in pitcher development. Even those who use long toss admit it

may not be for everyone. “I’ve never tried to jam my philosophy down anyone’s throat,” Rasmus says. “I’m just a coach trying to help my players. If I’ve got one who doesn’t long toss, and he’s successful, I’m not going to make him change.” CM The abstract of the study Glen Fleisig conducted titled “Biomechanical Comparison of Baseball Pitching and Long Toss: Implications for Training and Rehabilitation,” can be found at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21212502.

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HITTING

How can you get the most out of batting practice? A veteran high school coach suggests having players compete in the cage and focus on swing fundamentals outside it. By Jim Fornaciari Getting players excited about taking batting practice is usually not much of a challenge. Most players would rather be taking swings in the batting cage than fielding grounders or shagging flies. One of the attractions of batting practice is the lack of consequences for failure. Players

22 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

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Jonathon Gruenke/ THE KALAMAZOO Gazette (USED WITH PERMISSION)

SWINGING WITH PURPOSE

simply swing, swing, swing while paying little attention to bad outcomes—several weak roll-over swings can be erased by a couple of well-hit line drives up the middle. I’ve found that simply working on hitting mechanics and technique is not enough. Adding competition and measuring players’ results in batting practice not only develops a healthy competitive environment, it also gives coaches and players insight into their swing that will help hitters improve at the plate. And best of all, I’ve found the results are as evident on game day as they are in the batting cage. Keep in mind this approach can work regardless of your offensive philosophy or the core hitting fundamentals you want players to learn. It doesn’t matter whether you want to develop power or contact, where you want the hitter’s hands to be, or if you will overlook a hitch in the swing. Hit-


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ters will benefit from batting practices that are measured and competitive. Structural Advice

At Glenbard West, our batting practice routine varied day-to-day depending on the amount of time available. But it usually followed a consistent structure, starting with an emphasis on basic swing fundamentals and progressing to more game-like situations and competitions. One important thing to note is that because baseball games are played with teams continually transitioning from defense to offense and then back to defense, I have always felt it’s important to mix the offensive portions of practice in with defensive portions to reflect what happens during games. Fortunately, several portions of our batting practice schedule are easily set up, keeping transitions smooth and downtime limited. Most days, I started our batting practice with a “dry swing” sequence. This portion of practice takes virtually no time to set up yet can be critical to the development of quality hitting mechanics. Although these swings are completed without the use of a ball, they

provide important feedback to both coaches and players. In this drill, players line up in rows of five or six spaced 10 feet or more apart. Providing at least 10 feet between players not only ensures safety, it also gives the coaches the opportunity to walk from row to row mentoring swing mechanics. They can easily stop and correct any swing flaws they see. This set up also allows players to provide each other with valuable feedback. During the dry-swing session, players focus on hitting imaginary pitches in nine different locations, each identified by a letter and number. We used “O’s” for outside locations, “M’s” for middle locations, and “I’s” for inside locations. A pitch at the bottom of the strike zone is called a “1,” a pitch at the belt is a “2,” and those at the top of the strike zone are a “3.” For example, players take six or seven swings at “O-1,” which represents a pitch on the outside corner (O) at the knees (1), a location that gives most hitters trouble. Each player works on a swing that takes this pitch to the opposite field being careful not to “roll over” on a ball that should be allowed to

travel deeper into the strike zone. I would usually run the hitters through a sequence of locations, emphasizing specific teaching points for each. My basic sequence would go through nine locations in the following order: O-1, O-2, O-3, M-1, M-2, M-3, I-1, I-2, I-3. If the team was struggling in a certain area, I might emphasize some locations over others. For example, if they were having trouble going to the opposite field, I might repeat the outside plate locations and skip the ones in the middle of the plate. An entire offensive group can take more than 60 swings each in less than five minutes during this sequence. Despite the absence of a ball, I found players bought into this dry swing sequence when they saw the rapid improvement it brought in both live batting practice and games. However, this will only happen if you treat it as a true teaching tool and not let it Jim Fornaciari recently retired as Head Baseball Coach at Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, where he continues to serve as a history teacher. His teams went to the state finals in 2002 and 2003 and his program produced a number of college and professional players. He can be reached at: James_Fornaciari@glenbard.org.

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HITTING

become a time for players to simply warm up and go through the motions. Although I usually started BP with this drill, the brief set-up time allows it to be placed at any point in a practice plan. Some coaches may elect to use it at the conclusion of practice in order to reinforce some of the fundamentals stressed during the other parts of batting practice. I occasionally moved it around simply to provide variation to the practice plan and inject energy in a team that had fallen into a rut. Toss Drills

Typically, the second phase of our batting practice followed some throwing and individual defensive work. This next sequence features soft-toss or flip drills using tennis or soft-toss balls. Players work with an assigned partner and spread out at least 20 feet from the next group, creating a large circle or oval in the outfield. Each group is given a five-gallon bucket of balls to hit. We found that our players were able to get in at least 100 swings during a 15-minute sequence. Coaches can walk around the outside of the circle, providing instruction as they

make their way from group to group. This sequence requires just a small amount of setup time and provides much needed feedback with every ball that is hit. Every coach has several preferred shorttoss and flip drills that he likes to use in batting practice, and I would usually select three or four to focus on each day. To avoid monotony, I varied the drills each day. My favorite drills are the self-fungo toss, high toss, and opposite-field toss. The selffungo toss is used to encourage hitters to load properly before beginning the swing. Players are instructed to toss the ball to themselves using their top hand, which forces them to bring their hands back into the load position after the toss. Instead of simply tossing the balls up and swinging freely, players should be taught to toss the ball to the same locations used during the dry-swing sequence. The high toss drill involves a partner tossing a ball to the batter at the letters. This will require the hitter to get on top of the ball in order to drive it across the field. Players with poor swing mechanics will drop their hands on this toss and hit a high pop up, if they make contact at all. Hitters should take five or

BARRIER NETS CUSTOM NETTING BATTING CAGES IMPACT NETS

more swings at balls tossed to each part of the plate—inside, outside, and down the middle. Opposite-field toss helps players focus on driving an outside pitch to the opposite field. Partners are instructed to toss the ball to the hitter’s outside corner at a variety of heights. Players who bought into this flip and softtoss sequence were able to quickly transfer that work into improved results during live batting practice and ultimately game at-bats. Although this sequence takes more time and space to set up than the first sequence, it offers more feedback than the initial phase because players are actually hitting balls. Live Hitting

Following another defensive session, we moved to the third phase of our batting practice, which involves a rotation from a batting tunnel to a flip station and finally into facing live pitching in a batting cage. Other coaches can adapt the stations based on their own facilities. In the batting tunnel, players hit balls thrown by a pitcher no more than 20 feet away behind a screen while being closely monitored by the coaching staff. This par-

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Circle No. 121 Coaching Management Preseason 2012 25


SCORING SCALE During the live portion of batting practice, we graded each hitter on every swing. Using the following scale, scores were totaled each day, and we kept a running average based on each player’s last three practices. Averages above 3.5 were considered good while those below 3.0 indicated a player was struggling. Each season we taught one team manager the scoring system and had that same manager score batting practice each day. I found that changing scorekeepers from day to day could result in inconsistent scoring.

0 = Batter swings and misses or gets a foul tip

1 = Batter fouls the ball off

weakly or hits a weak pop fly anywhere in the infield fair or foul

2 = Batter fouls the ball off

sharply or hits a fly ball high, but not deep, in the outfield

3 = Batter hits a weak ground ball or a weak line drive anywhere in fair territory

4 = Batter hits a hard ground

ball or a long fly ball anywhere in fair territory

5 = Batter hits a line shot anywhere in fair territory

ticular station usually focuses on addressing a hitter’s specific faults. For instance, if a player is having trouble with offspeed pitches, that could be the focus of his tunnel session. Each player should get at least 20 swings in during this sequence. The next station of flip drills can be set up in an area adjacent to your batting cage. During the flip work, players should focus on getting quality swings in preparation for entering the cage. The drills selected are from the same menu used during the second phase of BP. During the cage stage, players face live pitching, usually thrown by a coach behind a screen, although a pitching machine can also be used. The number of swings and rounds to give each hitter will vary based on the size of the squad and available time, but hitters should generally be limited to 15 swings per round, or fewer if time is limited. This helps the session be more game-like, and swings and results can regress if rounds drag on too long. Also make sure at least one round includes bunting and hit-and-run work. Coaches should clearly communicate the focus of each round of hitting in this live stage.

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HITTING

Measuring and Competing

The first two phases of batting practice focus on teaching and skill development. Although coaching continues in the third phase of batting practice, this is where we also introduce the competitive elements. The first change is a grading/scoring element. Each swing taken in the cage during this sequence is scored and recorded. (For an explanation of the scoring system, see “Scoring Scale” on page 26.) We found that scoring every swing improves the quality of batting practice and creates a more competitive environment. Players are forced to focus on each pitch rather than relaxing on some, which can happen in a typical BP session. Under this system, each player takes pride in developing a solid rating, and “give-away” swings are no longer a problem. As coaches, we looked to the rating chart as another form of player evaluation and used it as one of the factors we considered in naming a starting line-up. To demonstrate the importance of these ratings, coaches should take the time to discuss the results with players. We would often hold these

discussions late in practices to build confidence following an improved session. We also tried to tie together the players’ work in all three phases of batting practice in an effort to encourage fundamentals. The ratings provided the coaching staff an indication of whether players were truly buying into the hitting program. Say, for example, a player averaged a score of 3.6 over the course of three practice sessions, which is a very respectable score. Then, in the first game following these three positive sessions, that player hits the ball hard in each of his three at-bats, but goes hitless. Although his batting average suffered following the 0-for-3 game, the rating sheets tell a different story. And since these ratings are based on 60 plus swings over a three-day period, they’re probably a more accurate reflection of the player’s true ability than his batting average. All that hitters can control is the quality of their swings and the contact they make with the ball, which is reflected in their rating score. If, during games, they hit the ball right at a defender, that’s the way the game goes. But if the practice rating is good, there’s no reason for the hitter or coach to

start making mechanical changes, and more hits are likely just around the corner. Of course, games are different than practices so I liked to use a second tool to help foster a more competitive batting practice. For years, coaches in other sports have employed one-on-one contests to encourage competition on the practice field. While simply scoring batting practice provides a level of competition between players, I’ve found that adding one-on-one competitions to batting practice provides an excellent opportunity to create conditions that better prepare hitters to handle the stress and demands of an actual game. We simply matched up two players to compete against one another, alternating turns in and out of the cage, each taking one swing before their opponent re-enters. The goal is to hit the ball hard five times before the opponent does. To save time, coaches can shorten the drill to the first hitter with three hard-hit balls being declared the winner. Another option is to break players into teams before holding one-on-one contests and combine the results to determine the winning team.

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Coaching Management Preseason 2012 27


HITTING

GAME-DAY BP Pregame batting practice is far different than practice sessions, largely because of time constraints. Often there is little time available for live BP before

a game. If there is enough time, players should go through an abbreviated version of the third phase of the normal batting practice schedule. At Glenbard West, we rotated players from the tunnel to soft-toss drills and then into the cage, but we would not hold contests or grade swings. We wanted the focus to be simple—see the ball and hit it hard. Depending on time, our live pregame work in the cage would have an opposite-field stage, a hitter’s count stage, and a back-through-the-middle stage. During each of these short phases, hitters also dropped down both sacrifice and base-hit bunts. I have found that pregame batting practice needs to have a quick, game-like pace to it. If a player struggles, be careful not to fall into the trap of throwing him extra pitches in an effort to correct a flaw. This shifts the focus of the troubled hitter to his weakenss and throws off the rhythm of the group waiting to hit.

Should you be on the road and have no time for a live batting practice, a quick short toss sequence can be completed in about ten minutes, if space is available. Coaches should be prepared and travel with soft-toss balls, which work well in smaller spaces. If even less time or space are available, a team can benefit by going through a short five-minute dryswing sequence.

At Glenbard West, we were fortunate to work with many talented young players. One of those players, Ryan Anetsberger, was a draft pick of the Florida Marlins. He has told me how much he benefited from the one-on-one batting practice competitions. “I feel anytime you can put game-like pressure on your players during batting practice, you have done your job,” Anetsberger says. “Hitting is all about getting in the box and competing. I truly believe 25 game-like swings under some pressure is better than rolling out the balls and hitting in the cage for an hour. The one-on-one hitting drills kept our teams focused and competing against each other every day.” We felt the drill work leading up to our live sequence served as an excellent building block for improved mechanics as well as improved confidence. Once hitters moved to the live sequence of batting practice, the use of both the rating chart and hitting competitions developed a more spirited, competitive player. We found that on game day our hitters became much more competitive and were eager to win each of their at-bats. CM

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OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE

U.S. Air Force Academy players like Vai Schierholtz are improving their focus, concentration, and reaction skills through vision training.

EYES ON THE PRIZE

The muscles of the eye get stronger with use, and baseball players at the U.S. Air Force Academy have been reaping the benefits of sports vision training for more than a decade. By Dr. Michael Zupan & Al Wile

How much can sports vision training improve an athlete’s performance? This is by far the most common question we receive here in the Human Performance Laboratory at the United States Air Force Academy. Unfortunately, we cannot quantify exactly how much sports vision training will increase a baseball player’s batting average or add to his defensive abilities. CoachesNetwork.com

But we can tell you that in 1995, the first year we implemented a six-week training program for our baseball players, the team led the nation in hitting and slugging percentage. We can also tell you that the data we’ve collected show anywhere from 24 to 114 percent improvement in athletes’ visualmotor performance over the course of their playing career at the USAFA. Finally, we can tell you what our athletes and coaches think about it. Our baseball players say that they are able to pick up the spin of the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand earlier, other athletes say that their eyes don’t fatigue as quickly, and our coaches end Coaching Management Preseason 2012 31


up wanting their players to start coming in year-round instead of only during the offseason because they’ve noticed a difference in their athletes’ performance. A Look at the Program

Here at the USAFA, vision training is an integral part of performance enhancement. In our mandatory six-week off-season program, athletes train for 15 to 20 minutes at least three times a week. After each training session, we update each athlete’s file. Currently, we have a vision training database that includes data from over 2,000 athletes—some with over 100 training sessions throughout their four-year playing career—and it shows tremendous improvements in all of our athletes’ visual-motor performance. Although there are a variety of different sports vision training programs in which an athlete sits down at a computer to use a software program, we feel the best results come when athletes most closely mimic the specific demands of their sport. Having athletes engage in sport specific behavior while training the eye establishes neural connections between the brain and the

body’s large muscle groups, which is very important for making improvements on the field. Walk into the Human Performance Lab, and you might see one of our athletes training in their playing stance—for example, a hitter awaiting a pitcher’s delivery. Training in this life size, sport-specific mode allows the athletes to better integrate all their peripheral sensory inputs, including the vestibular system (which helps the body maintain good balance) and muscle proprioceptors (which help promote spatial awareness). It’s best to think of sports vision training as an extension of athletic motor skill development. To increase performance, athletes must develop visual motor skills throughout their careers to allow the eyes to perform effectively and efficiently. The idea is similar to motor skill development for a baseball swing. A baseball player develops his swing throughout his career based on visualization and motor input from his last game, batting practice, or coach’s advice. This same progression occurs in the eyes. Most of our work strives to increase the

endurance of the six extraocular muscles, which results in a decrease in eye fatigue that may occur during a game or over the course of a long season. The extraocular muscles, like any other striated muscles, tire when stressed. All athletes work their eyes during practices and games, but our 20minute vision training session specifically overloads the extraocular muscles. These muscles then respond by getting stronger and becoming more resistant to fatigue. As athletes progress and begin to master the exercises, distractions are added to increase the level of difficulty. These include having several athletes training at the same time call numbers out loud, playing loud music in background (sometimes music they like, sometimes music they don’t), having people walk around and in front of athletes, and using unstable surfaces such as a BOSU ball, mini trampolines, or balance boards. Michael Zupan, PhD, is Director and Al Wile is Assistant Director of the United States Air Force Academy’s Human Performance Laboratory. For more information about the Lab, go to: www.goairforcefalcons.com and click on “Performance Lab” under the “Inside Athletics” drop-down menu.

Circle No. 129 32 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

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OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE

Exercise science

The exercises we choose for our athletes concentrate on six areas: saccadic (rapid) eye movement; eye-hand speed and coordination with central peripheral awareness; stereopsis and depth perception; dynamic visual acuity; accommodation; and visual memory, focus, and concentration. In all six areas, we use established principles such as individual-

from target to target while enhancing their visual processing abilities. In our drills, an athlete stands in their athletic position eight feet from a wall. On the wall directly in front of them are two vertically aligned letter charts placed 10 feet apart. Looking at the chart on the left, the athlete reads the first letter out loud, then quickly moves his or her eyes to read the first letter on

Athletes must do this exercise without moving their head—only their eyes. As athletes progress, we move the charts further apart, forcing the eyes to span a greater distance. We’ll separate the horizontal charts up to 16 feet and the vertical charts as far as we can before they hit the ceiling. Eye-hand speed and coordination with peripheral awareness: A skill vital to all

Our athletes use several eye-hand training devices that have targets they must strike when they light up. During these exercises, we emphasize the importance of keeping the head still and the eyes fixated.

Day 7

athletes, eye-hand coordination needs to continually be developed. And peripheral awareness allows catchers to be aware of opponents stealing a base while maintaining concentration on handling the ball. Our athletes use several eye-hand training devices that have targets they must strike when they light up. We start each exercise at a low speed and increase the pace once an athlete hits 80 percent of the targets at a

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the right chart. The athlete then repositions their eyes back to the left chart to read the second letter, then the second letter on the right chart, and repeats the sequence for two 60-second intervals. Calling each letter out loud ensures the athlete is reading the correct letter and fully processing the image. The athletes do this with horizontal charts as well, with one placed 10 feet above the other for two 60-second intervals.

Full

ity, specificity, and progressive overload with the overall intent to fatigue the eyes so they will recover and be stronger. Saccadic (rapid) eye movement: Saccade exercises improve muscular endurance and help athletes improve their ability to focus on a single spot or object, like a baseball coming out of a pitcher’s hand. We use both horizontal and vertical saccade exercises to train athletes to move their eyes quickly and efficiently

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OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE

given speed. During these exercises, we emphasize the importance of keeping the head still and the eyes fixated on the center of the boards. We ask them to do this because it increases their peripheral awareness for the distance lateral targets. Stereopsis and depth perception: Several of our exercises work to improve binocular vision, which results in better stereopsis and depth perception. Stereopsis is the processing of the slightly different images each eye sees while looking at something to determine depth. For example, a right-handed batter standing at the plate may have his right eye three inches behind his left eye when looking at a pitch, yet the brain decodes the two slightly different images and allows him to determine where the ball is in flight. The batter then decides exactly where to swing the bat. Good depth perception allows athletes to judge where objects are in space, including estimating distances accurately. This is vital for fielders, especially those in the outfield who have to follow balls over long distance.

successful in improving depth perception that our base optometry clinic sent us 10 cadets who failed the depth perception portion of their pilot qualification test. In all 10 cases, we were able to get the cadets proficient enough to pass the test and they are now all pilots in the Air Force. Dynamic visual acuity: As athletes move up the ranks from high school to college to the professional level, the game gets faster in every aspect. Therefore, having excellent dynamic visual acuity is just as important as having 20/20 static visual acuity. Dynamic visual acuity is the ability to track moving objects, often while the athletes themselves are in motion. Picture an outfielder running toward the foul line while tracking the ball with the stands in the background. To improve our athletes’ tracking abilities, we use a variable speed rotator scanner, which has random numbers and letters on a 24-inch rotating disc. The letters are attached with Velcro so we can change their location each week. Athletes stand eight feet away from the rotating disc and identify as many

and forth between the charts for two 60-second sessions. Visual memory: We believe sport-specific visual memory exercises develop more efficient processing of available visual information, which improves athletes’ focus, concentration, and reaction skills. These drills are also fun because athletes can compete with one another. One of our most competitive training exercises is the tachistoscope, which works to improve our athletes’ focus and concentration. The tachistoscope consists of videos that flash action photos with sets of numbers embedded in them. The photos are flashed on a large screen for varying amounts of time, ranging from 130 to 1,000 milliseconds, and our athletes have to correctly identify and record the numbers they see. A follow-up slide with the same image is shown with the answers so the athletes can immediately score their responses. Entire teams view the images together, making it a competitive situation in which teammates try to best one another.

To improve athletes’ tracking abilities, we use a variable speed rotator scanner, which has random numbers and letters on a 24-inch rotating disc. Athletes stand eight feet away and identify as many digits and letters as they can. One of the simplest exercises to improve stereopsis and depth perception is the Brock string exercise. The Brock string is a 20-foot length of string with colored beads on it spaced four feet apart. While the athlete holds the string at the tip of their nose and the other end is attached to a fixed point in front of them, they begin by looking at the first bead. If they have excellent depth perception, they should see two strings coming into the bead at the vertex and two strings exiting directly behind the bead. It should look like an X with the bead right in the middle. An athlete who sees the strings meeting three inches short of the bead needs to train his or her eyes to relax and gaze further into the distance. When they do this, they will actually see the X move toward the bead. This exercise gives immediate feedback to athletes on how well their eyes are “working” that day. And we’ve found that accuracy varies based on how much sleep an athlete has gotten during the week or how much stress their eyes have been under. We have also modified this exercise to be sport specific. For example, baseball infielders hook the string near the bottom of a wall and do the exercise with a downward gaze. Our program at the USAFA has been so 34 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

digits and letters as they can per one-minute session. They need to move their eyes at the same speed as the disc to pick out the correct letter. We don’t allow athletes to just fixate on one location and wait for the letters to come into view. Results are recorded daily, and once an athlete has correctly identified eight or more letters in a minute, they will train at a faster speed at their next session. Accommodation: Several of our exercises work the accommodative process, which requires the eyes to maintain focus as they look back and forth from an object in the distance to one close to them, or as they track an object coming toward them. The accommodative system is important for fielders who must quickly shift their focus from fielding the ball to looking at their throwing target. One simple exercise we use is the near-far drill. A chart with 36-point type is posted on the wall while the athlete holds another chart with 9-point type. The athlete stands 20 feet from the wall while keeping the small chart four to six inches from their eyes, positioned directly below the wall chart in their path of vision. The athlete reads the top left letter from the wall chart out loud, then quickly refocuses to read the top left letter on the hand-held chart, and continues going back

This is an exercise in which we see a wide disparity among athletes. The tendency is for them to scan the screen from left to right rather than relax their eyes and take in the entire image at once. With practice, they learn to view the entire image and see the embedded numbers, and our best athletes process three- or four-digit numbers at a flashing speed as fast as 130 milliseconds per image. We also recently began using strobe glasses, which allow athletes to perform sportspecific activities, such as bat swings, with discontinuous visual input. This means they will only see the ball at various points in space, not continually. This forces an athlete’s eyes to project where the ball is headed. They start at a quick LCD strobe speed and continue to slow the strobe down, which disrupts the visual image for longer. So why should vision training be part of your players’ regular training program? For the same reason they practice every day— improved performance. Most of the root skills in baseball are tied to be being able to see the ball. After all, the body reacts only after the eyes send the proper information to the brain. No matter how much they practice, your athletes cannot hit or catch balls they don’t see clearly. CM CoachesNetwork.com


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Fax this order to 607-257-7328 or Mail this order to MAG, Inc., 20 Eastlake Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850

QUANTITY 15

Subtotal $ + Shipping $ NY residents add sales tax $ = TOTAL $ Circle No. 132

TOTAL $116.25

Learn how proper nutrition can help your players reach their true potential through the valuable information presented in this collection edited by Susan Kundrat, Sports Dietitian for the University of Illinois. 180 pages. 2010 Price: $16.95

Performance Nutrition For Football Author Lisa Dorfman provides athletic trainers, strength and conditioning professionals, coaches, and football players with cuttingedge information on how to gain a competitive edge in this demanding sport. 264 pages. 2010 Price: $18.95


BOOKS

& DVDS

Skills & Drills for Pitching Velocity

Team Drills to Improve Infield Play

Situational Basesball Drills for Team Defense

Randy Mazey, whose pitching staff at TCU finished the 2008 season with a 3.63 ERA (fifth in Division I), identifies four areas that aid velocity - Linear movement, Finger placement, Large muscle strength and Rotation - and demonstrates simple, yet effective drills that will build each area in your pitcher. 39 minutes. 2010.

Coach Jack Leggett demonstrates the baseball drills he uses to improve infield play and practice efficiency in a team or group environment. More than 15 baseball drills are demonstrated including his 30 minute infield drill, the square drill and an excellent drill that combines batting and infield practice. Areas covered include ground balls, bunt offense and defense, game situations, tagging, and much more! 38 minutes. 2003.

Two of the most challenging aspects of coaching a baseball practice are keeping all of your players active and covering as many game situations as possible. Point Loma Nazarene coach, Joe Schaefer shares eight complete team defensive drills you can use to do both in your limited amount of practice time. These are the same drills Coach Schaefer incorporates every day in practice that have helped produce two NAIA Gold-Glove winners over the past two years. 43 minutes. 2009.

Price: $16.00

Price: $39.99

Price: $39.99

Price: $39.99

Skills & Drills for Catchers

Play Ball–100 Baseball Practice Games

20 Drills to Build a Better Outfielder

Learn and develop the skills you need to play the most demanding position in baseball. Ryan Shotzberger takes you through the three “Catching Musts:” 1) Catching; 2) Blocking; and 3) Throwing. For each “Catching Must,” Shotzberger explains the common flaws associated with it and demonstrates drills to correct the problems. 36 minutes. 2010.

With more than 100 skills - this book covers everything from the fundamentals of fielding, pitching, catching, and hitting to special situations such as rundowns, base stealing, and bunting. Renowned ABCA Hall of Fame coach Tom O’Connell includes games for individual players as well as group competitions for infielders, outfielders, and pitchers and catchers. 240 pages

Coach Tom Riginos highlights more than 20 baseball drills that will keep your outfielders performing at their best! Coach Riginos’ throwing drills series will help your outfielders increase the back spin on the ball which will give their throws more carry and create a better hop for the cut-off man. Learn ground ball and pop fly drills and techniques that can be used every day in practice. 46 minutes. 2002.

Secrets of the Short Game: Bunting Technique and Drills

Price: $39.99

Price: $18.95

Price: $39.99

The Making of a Hitter This is a “how to teach” hitting book that offers insight that will help hitters of all ages. The non-confrontational approach to hitting provides coaches and parents teaching methods that will make practicing hitting fun for all. Author Jack Perconte was a professional baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cleveland Indians, the Seattle Mariners, and the Chicago White Sox. He has taught baseball and softball for more than 20 years.

Item Number: MM0001

Item Number: LD-03433F

36 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

Item Number: LD-03433B

Item Number: 9780736081573

Item Number: LD-02001C

Item Number: LD-01825

Item Number: LD-03417

This baseball bunting DVD is your all-inclusive guide for learning and practicing the bunt and integrating it into your scoring philosophy. Watch as Coast Carolina Coach Gary Gilmore provides detailed strategy and offensive advantages to bunting. Take a look at an in-depth breakdown of bunting techniques, including footage from Coastal Carolina practices, and learn how to “sell” bunting to your players. 45 minutes. 2009.

Price: $39.99

Item Number: LD-03349

CoachesNetwork.com


LOOKING TO GAIN A COACHING EDGE? ORDER THESE BOOKS/DVDS by using the form below.

Secrets to PitcherCatcher Relationship

Practice Perfect Baseball

Following The Functional Path

Coach Matt Walbeck, an 11-year major league catcher, presents a unique look at developing the pitcher - catcher relationship. Good communication between the catcher and pitcher before and during the game will lead to greater success. An overall pitching plan is devised between the coach, pitcher and the catcher. Topics discussed are reviewing signs and different counts you will encounter during the game. 30 minutes. 2006.

Successful seasons don’t begin on opening day. The game’s premier collegiate coaches share their approaches, experiences, and philosophies on every facet of practice. From structuring sessions to evaluating practice performance, the vast information allows you to choose what you wish to implement in your program. Developed by the ABCA and edited by Bob Bennett, Practice Perfect Baseball is essential reading for every coach at every level of the sport. 256 pages

If you are intrigued by the thoughts of veteran conditioning coach Vern Gambetta, you will want a copy of his exciting new book, Following the Functional Path: Building and Rebuilding the Athlete. A collection of Gambetta’s blog posts from the past five years, the book includes insights, thought-provoking questions, and new ideas in an easy-to-read format. A pioneer of functional sports training, Gambetta will inspire you to review and upgrade your coaching methods. 280 pages. 2011

Price: $29.99

Price: $19.95

Price: $24.99

Item Number: 9780736087131

Item Number: LD-02677B

The Nutrition Edge

Item Number: 111005

Learn how proper nutrition can help your players reach their true potential through the valuable information presented in this collection prepared by Susan Kundrat, Sports Dietitian for the University of Illinois. Topics include recovery nutrition, nutrient timing, pregame meals, losing weight, caffeine, and hydration. It also includes case studies and a look at special situations including celiac disease and vegetarian athletes.

180 pages. 2011

Price: $16.95

Item Number: 111002

To view more BOOKS/DVDS, go to COACHESNETWORK.COM ORDER FORM MAG, Inc. 20 Eastlake Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850 Code CM 20.02

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TITLE

Following The Functional Path The Nutrition Edge

Fax this order to 607-257-7328 or Mail this order to MAG, Inc., 20 Eastlake Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850 CoachesNetwork.com

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37


Company News

Quality Products for All Levels

Infield Mixes Profile Products, LLC

Stabilizer Solutions, Inc.

800-207-6457 www.turface.com Turface® MVP®

800-336-2468 www.stabilizersolutions.com Stabilizer Organic Infield Amendment

Turface® MVP® absorbs moisture, improves drainage, and fights compaction, keeping infields safe and playable. Its larger particle size is excellent for topdressing and improving soil.

Turface® Pro League® Heritage Red

Osborne Innovative Products manufactures protective screens and training aids for players at all levels. All netting is constructed from virgin Dupont® Nylon, which is loomed in the U.S. The netting is hand-inspected, creating the finest 1 3/4-inch mesh, #72 braided, knotted netting. All netting is woven directly to the product’s frame. The frames are constructed from Heavy-Gauge Flo-Coat® galvanized steel. All Osborne Innovative Products are proudly made in the U.S.A. Here’s a list of the programs that have used Osborne Innovative Products:

Pro League Heritage Red provides a classic, rich cherry wood color for skinned infields, offering excellent ball visibility on wet and dry fields. Turface® Quick Dry ®

Turface® Quick Dry® clears up puddles on skinned infields. Absorbing its weight in water, you just dump and rake to make infields safe and playable.

38 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

Hilltopper Mound Clay

The polymer coating in this mound additive does the job in high-traffic areas in half of the time. No water or screening is needed—just tamp. Hilltopper Infield Mix

CUSTOMER PORTFOLIO:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Arizona State University Northwestern University New York Yankees Colorado Rockies

DiGeronimo Aggregates, LLC 888-593-0395 www.hayditegame-on.com Game On Soil Conditioner

Blend Game On into your infield soil for increased drainage and reduced compaction. Game On Red

Topdress your infield at 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch for a consistent playing surface and a deep red color.

Circle No. 502

Diamond Pro

800-228-2987 www.diamondpro.com Infield Conditioner

This vitrified clay product can be applied to skinned areas to enrich color, prevent rain delays, reduce compaction, and improve safety.

Calcined Clay Topdressing, Professional Grade, and Drying Agent

Apply Game Dry to puddles for quick absorption, and blend it into your infield after it dries.

These calcined clay products are used as conditioners on the infield. The professional grade has a more uniform particle size, and the standard topdressing has a larger particle size.

Game On Warning Track

Mound/Home Plate Clay

Game Dry

Install this mix at your preferred depth for a professional-looking warning track. Customer Portfolio:

Cleveland Indians San Francisco Giants Miami Marlins Columbus Parks & Recreation, OH John Carroll University

This screened clay has a rich color and is easy to use. It binds into holes and low areas for greater durability and consistency. Infield Mixes, Sand & Gravel, Warning Track Mix

Several mixes are available for creating a safe, welldraining, properly constructed athletic fields. Customer Portfolio:

Philadelphia Phillies Kansas City Royals Baltimore Orioles Texas Rangers

Osborne Innovative Products 1413 S. Meridian Road Jasper, IN 47546 800-264-4519 Fax: 812-634-2036 service@sportsadvantage.com www.sportsadvantage.com

Stabilizer “Pro Red” Infield Mix

Trusted by the pros and youth leagues for more than 20 years, “Pro Red” lends strength and consistency to your infield.

This natural soil—enhanced with polymer—protects your field from both rain and drought. Saves hours in maintenance and watering.

Circle No. 501 University of Utah Adelphi University University of Tampa Cisco College North Dakota State University Cardinal Stritch University Franklin College Xavier College Bucknell University University of Portland University of St. Thomas Bradley University Colorado State University SUNY State University Florida International University Illinois Eastern Community College University of Nebraska Nicholls State University Texas State University Palomar College Tennessee State University West Virginia Wesleyan College Bethel University Columbia University University of Iowa

This infield mix binds soil particles, controlling moisture and dust and minimizing maintenance.

Circle No. 504

Circle No. 505 CoachesNetwork.com


Infield Mixes Oil-Dri Corporation of America 800-233-1959 www.oil-dri.com Pro’s Choice Select

This premium infield conditioner keeps infields smooth, safe, and resilient. Its specially sized granules and red color make for the perfect infield topdressing. Pro’s Choice Pro Red

This deep red premium topdressing maintains its rich color to achieve a championship look. Formulated for uniform particle size and durability, Pro Red is used by professional groundskeepers.

Beam Clay® 800-247-BEAM www.beamclay.com BEAM CLAY® Baseball Diamond Mixes

These premium infield mixes provide a consistent playing surface that’s firm yet soft, with great drainage and color, and without separation and tracking.

BEAM CLAY Regional Infield Mixes

Infield mixes for every state and climate are blended at bulk plants nationwide. BEAM CLAY Pitcher’s Mound Clay

Pro’s Choice Rapid Dry

Rapid Dry tiny granules are designed to quickly wick away excess water from your infield, and keep your games playing safely and without delay. Pro’s Choice Pro Mound

Pro Mound blue gumbo packing clay bonds to form a solid subsurface that allows players to “dig in” and establish footing without leaving large holes. Customer Portfolio:

Chicago White Sox New York Yankees Colorado Rockies University of Miami Virginia Tech

Circle No. 534

Mound and batter’s box clays are available in all-natural red, orange, brown, tan, and grey. Also available are mound and batter’s box bricks and red polyurethane pads that give the feel of natural clay but are buried two inches below the surface to eliminate 95 percent of maintenance. BEAM CLAY Red Warning Track Surfaces

These products produce premium, long-lasting warning tracks—firm yet crunchy, with low maintenance, great drainage, and excellent color for a perfect finishing touch. CUSTOMER PORTFOLIO:

Boston Red Sox New York Mets New York Yankees Tampa Bay Rays

Southern Athletic Fields

800-437-1614 www.drymyfield.com

800-837-8062 www.mulemix.com Mulemix Field Conditioners

A revolutionary new way to maintain your infield, this is the one product that both conditions and dries your infield. DryMyField holds moisture in the soil so your infield stays in great playing condition. It’s also great for drying wet infields because it absorbs 250 times its weight in water. This means no more carrying around bulky 50-pound bags. One 10-pound bucket dries the same amount of field as a pallet of other infield products.

Conditioners are used to reduce compaction and absorb moisture. Mulemix products reduce the tackiness of a field’s clay to keep your games on schedule.

PLAYMAKER Field Conditioner

PLAYMAKER offers one of the most uniform, cleanest particle sizes on the market. It can be used as a field conditioner to help reduce compaction, absorb moisture, and keep your games on time. Mar Mix

Customer Portfolio:

Louisiana State University University of Michigan St. John’s University Broken Arrow High School, OK Bright House Field, Phillies Spring Training, FL

This screened red infield mix is compactable, yet it allows water to percolate. It’s great for use with Mulemix conditioners or SAF Coat and features a natural blend of approximately 70-percent sand and 30-percent clay. Mar Mound Clay

This screened red mound and home plate clay is ideal for pitcher’s mounds, batter’s boxes, and high-wear areas. It’s compactable, easy to use, and available in bags or in bulk. Customer Portfolio:

Atlanta Braves Houston Astros Louisville Riverbats Louisiana State University Ohio State University Circle No. 548 CoachesNetwork.com

Educating Those Interested in the Sport of Football Football Coach 360 is a blog to educate coaches, parents, athletes and others interested in the sport of football. Articles are provided by students and faculty at American Public University (APU) along with guest contributing football coaches. APU is a 100% online, regionally accredited university that supports more than 100,000 distance learners in all 50 states and 100 countries. APU’s degrees in Coaching Studies and Coaching Theory and Strategy align with American Sport Education Program’s Bronze Level Certification. Learn more at http:// footballcoach360.com or

http://studyatAPU.com/ coaching

Circle No. 500

Dry My Field, from Taylor Baseball, LLC

DryMyField

Webnews

Multi-Functional and Easy to Navigate At the BigSigns.com Web site, users can learn about the company’s newest and most popular products, see its proven versatility in design, and understand why it is a trusted national leader in stadium graphics. The user-friendly site showcases an electronic portfolio of projects with sharp photos and in-depth product detail. There are product installation manuals and instructions, tabs for art uploading and proofing, and a link for a quick quote. While online, see how BigSigns.com can help build your sponsorship revenue and elevate your stadium graphics. Get inspiration for your latest projects today.

www.bigsigns.com

Circle No. 503 Coaching Management Preseason 2012 39


Directory

We’ll Help You Give Athletes The Recognition They Deserve Coaching Management’s Custom Publishing Services

Advertisers Directory Circle #. . . . Company. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page #

Circle #. . . . Company. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page #

118. . . Aer-Flo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

117. . . Netex Sport Netting Systems . . . . . . . . . . . 21

102. . . Aqua Short. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

107. . . OC Sports. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

132. . . Athlete’s Guide to Nutrition. . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

114. . . OPTP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

116. . . Beam Clay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

124. . . Osborne Innovative Products. . . . . . . . . . . . 27

109. . . BetterBaseball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

134. . . Parents’ Guide to Concussions. . . . . . . . . . 46

100. . . BigSigns.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IFC

103. . . Pro’s Choice Sports Field Products . . . . . . . . 6

128. . . Blueprint for Better Coaching . . . . . . . . . . . 30

141. . . ProGrass. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BC

112. . . C&H Baseball. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

130. . . Ready Play. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

105. . . Diamond Pro®. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

101. . . Shaw Sportexe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

127. . . Dry My Field. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

113. . . Southern Athletic Fields . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

121. . . Game-On Sports Field Conditioners. . . . . . . 25

108. . . SPI Nets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

120. . . Gourock. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

140. . . Sports Attack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IBC

123. . . Human Kinetics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

119. . . Sports Tutor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

104 . . . K&K Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

122. . . Stabilizer Solutions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

110. . . M.A.S.A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

131. . . Trigon Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

126. . . Memphis Net & Twine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

111. . . Turface Athletics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

115. . . Muhl Tech. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

106. . . Vero Beach Sports Village. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

133. . . myTEAMBOOK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

129. . . White Line Markers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

125. . . National Sports Products. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Products Directory • Programs for Your Home Games • Yearbook • Year-In-Review • Event Programs • Championship Season Celebrations • Athletics Department Newsletters

Circle #. . . . Company. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page #

Circle #. . . . Company. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page #

537. . . Aer-Flo (Tuffy® Windscreen) . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

536. . . Netex. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

538. . . Aer-Flo (Wind Weighted® Baseball Tarps) . . 43

522. . . OC Sports. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

524. . . Aqua Short. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

534. . . Oil-Dri (Pro’s Choice). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

539. . . Aqua Short (product launch). . . . . . . . . . . . 43

525. . . OPTP (PRO Rollers). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

500. . . Beam Clay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

523. . . OPTP (SpiderTech® Tape) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

511. . . BigSigns.com (backstop padding). . . . . . . . 42

526. . . Pocket Radar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

513. . . BigSigns.com (Tuff-Turf On Deck Circles) . . 43

530. . . Power Systems (Power Rope-Ball™). . . . . . 45

533. . . C&H Baseball. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

529. . . Power Systems (Power-Stride Ladder™). . . 45

543. . . CytoSport. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

501. . . Profile Products (Turface) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

505. . . Diamond Pro®. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

510. . . ProGrass. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

528. . . Diamond Pro (mobile app). . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

549. . . Ready Play. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

504. . . DiGeronimo Aggregates (Game On). . . . . . . 38

514. . . Shaw Sportexe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

548. . . Dry My Field. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

515. . . Shaw Sportexe (TruHop™). . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

545. . . Gatorade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

503. . . Southern Athletic Fields . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

535. . . Gourock. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

508. . . SPI Nets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

521. . . Human Kinetics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

531. . . Sports Attack (Hack Attack). . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

527. . . K&K Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

532. . . Sports Attack (Junior Hack Attack) . . . . . . . 44

547. . . M.A.S.A. (Catcher’s Gear) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

518. . . Sports Tutor (HomePlate). . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

509. . . M.A.S.A. (field conditioner). . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

516. . . Sports Tutor (TriplePlay Basic). . . . . . . . . . . 44

506. . . M.A.S.A. (nets and cages). . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

502. . . Stabilizer Solutions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

542. . . M.A.S.A. (OIP Head Saver). . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

507. . . Trigon Sports (nets and cages). . . . . . . . . . 41

512. . . M.A.S.A. (Pro-Stripe Heavy-Duty Markers). 43

546. . . Trigon Sports (ProCage™). . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

517. . . Muhl Tech (Advanced Skills Tee). . . . . . . . . 44

519. . . Vero Beach Sports Village. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

520. . . Muhl Tech (Power Bag). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

544. . . ZAMST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

®

ANNOUNCING A NEW SERVICE

Digital Magazines, Newsletters and Year-In-Review Reports We’ll personalize a custom-design concept that captures the spirit of your athletics. FOR MORE INFORMATION please contact MARK GOLDBERG @ 607.257.6970 EXT. 11 or mg@momentummedia.com

540. . . National Sports Products. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Circle No. 133 40 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

CoachesNetwork.com


Net & Cages M.A.S.A.

Trigon Sports (TSI)

800-264-4519 • www.masa.com

888-313-1303 • www.trigonsports.com

Primary Advantages:

PRIMARY ADVANTAGES:

The array of nets and cages that M.A.S.A. offers are top-notch. M.A.S.A. can help at every level of play with prices to meet any budget. Regardless of which model you choose, you will be getting the highest-quality product. Customer Portfolio:

ProCage™ batting tunnel nets are manufactured using high abrasion resistant twistedknotted netting, the strongest form of netting in commercial use. Nets are permanent black in color, 100-percent waterproof, and hung square for minimum sag. There is a three-year warranty on most popular sizes.

Diamonds Groundskeepers, NE Central Washington University Nevada Community School, IA Fryeburg Academy, ME Luke Lehman School District, PA

SPI Nets

866-243-6387 • www.spinets.net Primary Advantages:

SPI Nets offers a full range of nets for your training needs. The quality and excellent pricing are matched only by SPI’s outstanding service. The company’s products and customer service are carefully monitored to ensure that you receive maximum value for your dollar. Customer Portfolio:

SPI nets are used all over the United States at youth, high school, college, and professional facilities.

PRODUCTS: ProCage™ Batting Tunnel Frame Kits

PRODUCTS: Batco Batting Cage

This unique design surpasses all other cages in portability and storage, and features five-minute set up or tear down. Pro-Gold II Pitchers L-shaped Screen

The Pro-Gold II L-screen features a built-in hip saver to protect your players. Premium Painted Home Plate Mat

The mat is constructed from the highest-quality spike-proof Bermuda turf. OIP Poly-Tough Pro Hexagon Tee

HD 2” square tubing, galvanized aircraft cable, and HD manual winch system. Available as three- or four-section complete kits. ProCage™ “Ole 96er” Professional Screens

Heavy-duty #96 Net with 2” steel frame. Pneumatic wheel kit and foam protective padding. Size: 8’ x 8’

PRODUCTS: Premium Batting Cage Nets

SPI Nets premium cages offer top quality, lots of features, and some of the best pricing options available. Deluxe Practice Screens

ProCage™ Premium Protective Screens

SPI Nets practice screens are among the highestquality screens in the business, and they’re available at very competitive prices.

ProCage™ Batting Tunnel Nets

Custom Netting

1-1/2” deluxe steel frames, easy push-button assembly, and double #42 netting. Size: 7’ x 7’ with an optional wheel kit available. This is the strongest form of netting in commercial use. It features HDPE twisted-knotted fiber, permanent black color, 100-percent waterproof qualities, and extreme Circle No. 507 abrasion resistance.

SPI Nets can fully customize your nets to meet your exact specifications at an affordable price.

C&H Baseball

Gourock

Netex

800-248-5192 • www.chbaseball.com

877-803-5123 • www.gourock.com

800-936-6388 • www.netexnetting.ca

Primary Advantages:

Primary Advantages:

Primary Advantages:

C&H Baseball’s products are built to last. The company’s allwelded fielding equipment has set the industry standard since 1968. C&H also knows the meaning of customer service. Its customers’ satisfaction comes first. C&H Baseball supplies only the highest-quality products.

Gourock provides reliable commercialstrength netting applications featuring top-notch craftsmanship and excellent service. Fast turnaround and multiple twine/mesh size combinations are available. The company specializes in providing high-quality materials and expert design and production. Its products can be customized to any dimensions.

Customer Portfolio:

Customer Portfolio:

The Pro Hexagon is constructed of solid polyurethane, making this tee nearly indestructible. Circle No. 506

New York Yankees New York Mets San Diego Padres University of Michigan Oklahoma State University

Netex has over 120 years of net-building experience, with five full-time net builders offering design and installation services. It is a true turnkey company with installations in Asia, Canada, and the U.S.

University of Alabama-Huntsville Duke University Eastern Illinois University Middle Georgia College Siena Heights University

PRODUCTS: The “Original” Ball Caddy

PRODUCTS: Batting Cage Nets

CAG100 - The Pro Cage

Barrier Nets

This rolling ball caddy holds close to 150 baseballs and features all-welded construction.

These nets feature commercial-strength DuPont 66-728 nylon and can be built to any dimensional requirements.

This cage was designed in 1968 and is still an industry leader, with all-welded construction.

High-quality DuPont 66-728 nylon is used for these customized barrier nets in several twine/mesh combinations.

Custom Dyneema Backstop Systems

DuPont 66-728 nylon impact nets feature high abrasion resistance, multi-sport adaptability, and custom sizing.

With more than 300 stadium projects, these custom designed and built systems are an industry standard. Custom Wall Padding

C&H Baseball padding is built using only quality products and workmanship. All sizes and applications are available.

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CoachesNetwork.com

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Soft-Toss/Impact Nets

Protective Screens

Commercial-strength protective netting screens are built pillowcase-style and can be customized to fit existing frames.

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PRODUCTS: Batting Cages

Netex offers custom fabrication and installation of ropebordered net. The products are built by the company’s own crew. Engineered Backstops

Certified in all states, these units feature steel poles up to 120 feet high and pole spans of 23 feet wide. Barrier Netting

Nylon, polyethylene, and Spectra nets are custom-built with 3/8-inch perimeter rope borders and nationwide installation. Pitching Screens

Custom-built to customer requirements, choose #72 or #96 nets with an aluminum #40 1 3/4-inch frame and eight-inch pneumatic wheels. Circle No. 536 Coaching Management Preseason 2012 41


Baseball Facilities MULTI-PURPOSE TOOL

This multi-use field conditioner breaks up hard, compacted infields for improved sliding comfort, blending in conditioners, drying out a damp field, and working as a leveling device to improve your field for safety. The dual action design can be used teethdown for scarification, or flip it over creating a twin-bladed leveling box for leveling and smoothing. Measures 6’ wide by a full 16-1/2” deep for added stability. Extremely rugged, the condiments fully welded angle iron construction features a powder-coated finish to resist rust. Can hold up to six concrete blocks. Conditioner features 46 cutting teeth that are staggered for 1-1/2” spacing. This is a great heavy-duty drag for the cost-conscious groundskeeper.

M.A.S.A. • 800-264-4519 www.sportsadvantage.com

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Unique Performance

No turf lasts longer, performs better, maintains its appearance, and addresses biomechanical concerns of the players like a ProGrass Field. That’s because no other synthetic turf system has the company’s unique “5-P” Performance: People, Product, Playability, Professional Service, and Proactive Maintenance.

ProGrass LLC • 866-270-6003 www.prograssturf.com

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Lasts For Years

The Tuffy ® Windscreen will last for years because it’s made of AerFlo’s exclusive VIPOL® Matrix. This product is used by all levels of baseball, even MLB, and is available in 20 standard colors, including purple, brown, burnt orange, and scarlet. The super durable Chroma-Bond Imprinting technology produces multi-color logos that do not fade like digital printing. The windscreen comes with a fiveyear warranty. It’s the Official Windscreen of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association, and super-premium but surprisingly value-priced. This product is only sold by AerFlo dealers. Aer-Flo, Inc. • 800-823-7356 www.aerflo.com

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Revolutionary Design

Introducing TruHop™, Shaw Sportexe’s new John Smoltz Signature line of baseball turf. Uniquely designed with baseball player feedback, TruHop is the closest thing to natural grass for baseball fields of all levels. Its revolutionary design mirrors the real thing in terms of playability (no spring-boarding effect and a controlled infill system) and performance (truer ball roll), yet provides durability (all weather, 24/play) that natural grass just can’t rival.

Shaw Sportexe • 866-703-4004 www.shawsportexe.com 42 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

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Premier Moisture Retention

Field Magic™, Ready Play’s premier moisture retention product, willsave you not only time and energy, but also water and money. Just incorporate Field Magic™ into the top two to three inches of your skinned infield or warning track and watch the Magic work for you. Field Magic™ is a superabsorbent sand whose advanced technology greatly increases water holding capacity, prevents soil erosion, lowers frequency of watering and irrigation, and is biodegradable and non-toxic. Ready Play • 303-880-4227 www.readyplaysports.com

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Next Level of Safety

The OIP Head Saver is endorsed by numerous professional players, coaches, and hitting instructors. The Head Saver creates a protective “roof” that virtually eliminates injury. It measures 40”W x 37”H and angles 30 degrees, providing headroom and space. The innovative, easy to attach design features twin J-style hooks spaced 18 inches apart, attaching to the top of your L-screen, and sliding support arms that adjust to fit your L-screens, and lock into place. The Head Saver features heavy wall, 1 3/8-inch diameter, Flo-Coat galvanized steel tubing, double layer, slip-on pillow case style net, and heavy 1/8-inch thick (#48) braided twine. M.A.S.A. • 800-264-4519 www.sportsadvantage.com

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Heavy-Duty Frames

The new Douglas® Double Batting Tunnel Frames share center poles to allow side-by-side installation eliminating the need for extra poles and ground footings. These heavy-duty frames feature the same high-quality craftsmanship as the single Douglas® frames constructing from four-inch square heavy steel with a black powder coat finish to add extra resistance to the elements. Adjustable crossbars feature Allied’s® Superior zinc Flo-coat® galvanization process for maximum protection. This product boasts a five-year warranty. National Sports Products • 800-478-6497 www.nationalsportsproducts.com

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The Perfect Backstop Solution

BigSigns.com offers printable backstop padding that is the perfect solution for covering dangerous walls and exposed fence edges, and is also eye-catching and attractive. The company can help you brand your program or organization while increasing player safety. BigSigns.com digitally prints its backstop pads using UVprotected Ultra Brite inks remains bold, so your graphics will pop, and resist fading from the sun’s bright rays. BigSigns.com • 800-790-7611 www.bigsigns.com

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Baseball Facilities Get Tough

Tuff-Turf On Deck Circles are some the most durable turf on-deck circles on the market. The company’s revolutionary process allows graphics to become part of the turf, which results in a more durable on-deck circle with excellent graphic clarity unlike painted or cut-in and glued graphics. Tuff-Turf is also designed to be puncture- and tear-resistant against metal cleats, is lightweight to make storing and maneuvering a breeze, and when properly cared for can be used for multiple seasons. BigSigns.com • 800-790-7611 www.bigsigns.com

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Quality and Innovation

A subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., Shaw Sportexe is one of the leading synthetic turf companies in North America. Shaw Sportexe has represented quality and innovation for more than two decades with more than 900 successful installations, including baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey sports fields. Scientifically tested and designed, Shaw Sportexe engineers quality turf systems that excel in safety, performance, and wear resistance. Shaw Sportexe • 866-703-4004 www.shawsportexe.com

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Heavy-Duty Markers

M.A.S.A. is making lining your fields easier and more budget-friendly than ever with these newly redesigned Pro-Stripe Heavy-Duty Markers. Available in three models, these markers are perfect for leagues, schools, and parks. These Pro-Stripe Markers are made exclusively from steel that create a more rugged body. Features include deluxe heavy wall tubing, “handlebar” style handles, premium 10” D x 4” W pneumatic wheels with steel rims and axle bushings, fingertip controls that adjust between off, two inches, and four inches, rubber handle grips to provide extra comfort, high quality electrostatically powder-coated finish, dual direct drive front wheels, hinged lids, and an 18-month limited warranty. M.A.S.A. • 800-264-4519 www.sportsadvantage.com

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Makes Installation Easy

Wind Weighted® Baseball Tarps feature the famous edge-chainweighted rain cover now used by all levels of baseball, including MLB. Wind cannot get under the tarp, so it stays down even in high winds. Introduced in 2004, this product has made the job of tarp installation much easier and was recently awarded its fifth U.S. Patent. The tarp is now available in your choice of 14- or 18-ounce vinyl in ten colors. Aer-Flo, Inc. • 800-823-7356 www.aerflo.com

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Product Launch

Pocket Radar, Inc.

The Aqua Short

www.pocketradar.com 888-381-2672 Circle No. 526

Wave Wear, Inc. www.theaquashort.com 732-414-6333 Circle No. 539

Unique features:

Benefits for the user:

Unique features:

Benefits for the user:

• Speed measurement that is convenient enough to use on the field every day • Professional performance radar gun with a 120-foot range on a baseball • Can perform 10,000 speed readings on two AAA batteries • Rugged design, stays accurate

• Great for any sport where speed and quickness matter • Measures throws, hits, kicks, runners and more • Instant feedback, enhances performance • Discreet measurements, doesn’t change behavior • A fraction of the cost of other radar guns

• Loose, comfortable, 100-percent terry towel short available in red, royal, black, and white, sizes small, medium, large, and extra-large • Wide leg opening makes this the product of the future for athletic trainers and physical therapists • Great for fundraising

• Hands-free short, deep pockets, and locker loop makes walk to shower easier than ever • Perfect for practice and training • Ideal for locker rooms, team travel, dorms, and frats

CoachesNetwork.com

Coaching Management Preseason 2012 43


Practice Aids Three-Wheel Advantage

The TriplePlay Basic throws fastballs, curves, sliders, and sinkers at speeds from 30 to 80 miles per hour. Its design allows the baseball to be visible to the hitter from the moment it leaves the feeder’s hand until it is pitched. The three-wheel pitching mechanism is more accurate than conventional machines and allows you to change pitches more quickly. If you don’t have electric power on the field, an optional external battery pack is available to provide up to four hours of practice time. $1,995. Sports Tutor • 800-448-8867 www.sportsmachines.com

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Quality Time

Vero Beach Sports Village provides the ideal setting to enable your team to grow together and better prepare for your upcoming season. Everything you need is here at this 67-acre sports and conference center. The complex can be configured to accommodate a variety of sports, and features an abundance of competition and practice fields, along with on-site housing, dining, and recreation, allowing your team to spend quality time together on and off the field.

ro Ball Cart

Trigon Sports (TSI) presents the new ProCage™ brand professional ball cart. This product features a beefy heavy-duty steel frame, pneumatic turf tires, and thick netting ball basket. It also holds 300 baseballs. Contact your local team sports dealer or visit the company’s Web site to see its full line of baseball equipment. Trigon Sports • 888-313-1303 www.trigonsports.com

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Programmable Pitching

The HomePlate pitching machine is the first programmable pitching machine designed for both batting cage and on-field use. Users can store up to eight different pitches—including fastballs up to 90 miles per hour, curveballs, changeups, sliders, and more—in eight different programs, with only seven seconds between pitches. The programmed pitches in the HomePlate can be thrown sequentially for specific hitting drills, randomly for game conditions, or in a way that simulates an opposing pitcher. The HomePlate features a patented three-wheel pitching mechanism for greater pitch accuracy, along with an 80-ball auto-feed system. $6,595. Sports Tutor • 800-448-8867 www.sportsmachines.com

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All In the Hips

Recent customers of the Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine include: Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s, Pittsburgh Pirates, University of Arkansas, Birmingham Community College (Ala.), St. Joseph’s College (N.Y.), Penn State University, University of California-Santa Barbara, Berry College (Ga.), Neosho Community College (Kan.), McKendree University (Ill.), and Gonzaga University (Wash.).

44 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

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In Good Company

Sports Attack • 800-717-4251 www.sportsattack.com

Muhl Tech • 888-766-8772 www.muhltech.com

P

Recent customers of the Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine include: David Brisbane Baseball Academy (Pa.), Roane County High School (W.Va.), Ravenscroft School (N.C.), Pinelands Regional High School (N.J.), Hope Christian School (N.M.), Belton High School (Texas), Stony Point High School (Texas), Pleasant Valley High School (Calif.), Flatonia High School (Texas), and Sacred Heart Catholic School (Texas). E-mail info@sportsattack.com to join these respected ranks.

Vero Beach Sports Village • 772-257-8557 www.vbsportsvillage.com

Want to give your hitters instant feedback? Look no further than the Advanced Skills Tee, the tee of choice for more than 3,000 high school and college programs. Its unique forward arm design and outside barrier give instant visual and physical feedback. Eliminate casting, looping bats, and dropping shoulders with this portable and extremely durable batting tee. It comes with a two-year warranty.

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Perfect Pitch

Sports Attack • 800-717-4251 www.sportsattack.com

Feedback Matters

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Hitting for power? Try the Power Bag. It was designed to teach hitters to use their lower half when hitting the ball—not just to rotate the hips, but to use them as a power source when driving through the ball. The Power Bag allows hitters to power through contact and finish the swing. Use good point-of-contact mechanics and the bag will swing higher for a visual reward. Use lazy hips, rolled wrists, or swing around the ball and the bag will not move nearly as much. Muhl Tech • 888-766-8772 www.muhltech.com

Circle No. 520 CoachesNetwork.com


Team Equipment Learn to Practice

In Practice Perfect Baseball, top collegiate coaches from the ABCA share their approaches, experiences, and philosophies on every facet of practice. You’ll learn how to identify and establish a practice ethic, learn to assess team strengths, and develop players’ skills in the field, on the mound, or at the plate. You’ll also learn how to make the most of indoor practices and incorporate technology to perfect skills and evaluate performance.

Human Kinetics • 800-747-4457 www.humankinetics.com

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Power Systems’ Power-Stride Ladder™ can help improve speed by teaching the muscles the optimum stride length and frequency pattern. Space the eight moveable slats at specific intervals to reflect the desired pattern. The plastic slats— made of high-impact PVC—slide easily and clips lock them into place for quick adjustments. Three color-coded pre-marked acceleration patterns accommodate different levels of athletes. The 30’ x 20” ladder can be used indoors or outdoors, and a carry bag is included. A stacking pin aids transport and storage. Circle No. 529

Won’t Break Down

Guaranteed not to break down, OPTP’s PRO Roller series has no equal. Closed-cell, cross-linked foam technology is heat-molded and able to withstand your biggest challenge. These colorful blue and green marbled rollers have a firm density and textured surface making them ideal for proprioceptive balance, strength, and stability exercises. Call OPTP for a catalog or go online for more information.

OPTP • 800-367-7393 www.optp.com

Towel of the Future

Circle No. 525

Have you figured out an easy way to manage all your belongings in the locker room? Are you afraid that the knot holding up your towel will give out at the worst possible time? Do you want coverage and comfort to and from the shower? Check out the towel of the future, the Aqua Short by Wave Wear. It’s a towel and short all in one, good for any time of day. Aqua Short • 732-414-6333 www.theaquashort.com Circle No. 524 CoachesNetwork.com

Develop rotational strength and power with the Power Rope-Ball™, a functional training tool that combines a medicine ball with a rope handle. The rope-ball combination allows athletes to perform quick rotational movements in an assortment of patterns and planes of movement—it’s ideal for swinging and chopping motions. The handle attachment offers many gripping options. The rope is 36 inches long and the ball comes in 2-, 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-pound options. The ball is color-coded by weight; colors may vary. The Power Rope-Ball comes with a threeyear limited warranty. Power Systems, Inc. • 800-321-6975 www.powersystems.com

Hit Your Stride

Power Systems, Inc. • 800-321-6975 www.powersystems.com

For A Powerful Swing

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Enhances Performance

Pre-cut, pre-packaged, and ready-to-apply SpiderTech Tape was developed to facilitate a functional medicine approach to pain modulation and myofascial dysfunction. It is available in rolls, strips, or 17 pre-cut, pre-packaged kinesiology taping applications. Each application has been exclusively engineered to enhance athletic performance, reduce pain, and prevent injury in a convenient, easyto-use form. Made of high-grade cotton material with 100-percent acrylic, hypoallergenic adhesive, SpiderTech Tape mimics the thickness, weight, and elasticity of human skin. It is water-resistant, breathable, and may be worn for up to five days. OPTP • 800-367-7393 www.optp.com

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Catch It While You Can M.A.S.A. is now carrying numerous lines of Catcher’s Gear from Schutt, Diamond, Worth, Wilson, and Rawlings. This catcher’s gear ranges from adult to youth and offers a tremendous amount of colors. You can even order custom colors to match your school or organization. M.A.S.A. • 800-264-4519 www.sportsadvantage.com

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Custom Headwear OC Sports has your team headwear covered in 2012 with three custom headwear programs based on your design and delivery needs. Contact your OC Sports team dealer or go online to locate a dealer near you.

OC Sports by Outdoor Cap • 800-826-6047 www.ocsports.com

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Coaching Management Preseason 2012 45


NEW FROM COACHING MANAGEMENT

In the Fight Against Concussions: Reliable Resources PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CONCUSSIONS To help athletes fully recover from concussions, athletic trainers, coaches and athletic directors need an important ally — athletes’ parents. We’ve produced a comprehensive guide on concussions specifically created for the parents of the athletes you work with. It includes:

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Developed by national experts in concussion assessment and management, the kit is specifically designed for professionals who work with high school and middle school athletics. Topics covered include: • Concussion treatment policies • Monitoring the student-athlete’s recovery • Educating parents and staff • Return to play guidelines Written by national leaders on concussion assessment and management. This guide is a step-by-step approach to developing a successful and comprehensive concussion program in schools. Information on concussion and post concussion syndrome for athletic trainers, coaches, and educators.

This 14 x 20 inch poster is designed to be posted in locker rooms, athletic offices, and team areas. It includes five guidelines for safe play.Players sign their names, indicating their acceptance and commitment to safety.

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An innovative manual that educates athletic trainers, coaches, physicians, and peers about the effects of mild brain injury. CoachesNetwork.com


More Products Enhance Hydration

Original G, part of the G Series, is a sports drink designed to enhance hydration during prolonged training and competition when fluid and electrolyte losses can be significant. It delivers a unique formula of sodium, potassium, and essential carbohydrates to your muscles and mind during the heat of a battle. G2 is a low-calorie thirst quencher option that delivers functional hydration, but with less than half the calories of Gatorade Thirst Quencher. Gatorade • 800-884-2867 www.gatorade.com

Purchase insurance for your sports teams and events quickly and conveniently online with K&K Insurance. K&K offers essential, affordable coverage for sports teams, leagues, tournaments, events, camps, and clinics. The company’s Web site is simple to use and provides an option to buy coverage immediately when using a credit card. Celebrating 60 years of insuring the world’s fun, K&K Insurance is a trusted provider of coverage for the sports and recreation industry. Circle No. 527

Fields On The Go

The first mobile app from Diamond Pro®, which can be downloaded for free, combines information from the company’s Web site and marketing direct mail pieces together in one place, allowing you to easily create your “Field of Dreams” on the go. The app’s unique lay out provides instant groundskeeping product information, recommended field dimensions, and your nearest Diamond Pro distributor. It also features the Product Calculator, which can determine just how much product you will need for your fields. Download the app at www.diamondpro.com/mobile.

Diamond Pro • 800-228-2987 www.diamondpro.com

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Ideal Icing

The ZAMST IW-2 Icing Set for shoulder and back provides easy wrapping and immobilization of up to three ice bags. The ZAMST icing set is ideal for the R.I.C.E. procedure since the dual-strap design enables accurate placement of the ice bag and adjustable compression of the affected body part. Easy to apply and adjust, this product is perfect for elbows, back, and shoulders, and can be used on other joints. The ZAMST IW-2 Icing Set contains two large ice bags (replacements sold separately).

ZAMST • 877-926-7887 www.zamst.com

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Founded in 1998, CytoSport, Inc. is a global industry leader in the sports nutrition category and offers a complete line of protein-enhanced powders, beverages, and bars. CytoSport distributes a portfolio of premium brands including Cytomax ®, Muscle Milk®, and Monster Milk™. CytoSport products are produced in the company’s wholly owned, NSF GMP Certified for Sport ® manufacturing facility.

CoachesNetwork.com

Vero Beach Sports Village provides the ideal setting to enable your team to grow together and better prepare for your upcoming season. Everything you need is there at the 67-acre sports and conference center. The complex can be configured to accommodate a variety of sports and features an abundance of competition and practice fields, along with on-site housing, dining, and recreation, allowing your team to spend quality time together on and off the field. “I had looked at other facilities and none of them matched up to the great accommodations here. I was treated like royalty, with everything at the palm of my hands. It was very convenient to be able to walk to and from wherever I needed to go.” —George Foster, Former MLB Player Baseball Boot Camp Program

“I would recommend this facility to anyone, especially any baseball team that needs to come down and work out from the north. There are ample things to do and everything is right here. When you put all of the players together in one place they spend quality time on and off the field which is great for team building.” —Tom Lawless, Former MLB Player Manager of China National Baseball Team

“The facilities, accommodations, umpiring, dining hall, and competition were top notch. Our parents were blown away with the facility and treatment that we received during our stay.” —Jeff Paul, Baseball Team Head Coach Bloomington Central Catholic High School, IL

Nutrition Leader

CytoSport, Inc. • 707-747-3377 www.cytosport.com

A Village That Can Make a Difference

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Insure Your Teams

K&K Insurance • 800-426-2889 www.sportsinsurance-kk.com

Testimonial

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Vero Beach Sports Village 3901 26th Street • Vero Beach, FL 32960 866-656-4900 • FAX: (772) 257-8198 VBSportsVillage@milb.com www.vbsportsvillage.com Coaching Management Preseason 2012 47


COACHing IS MORE THAN X s ANd Os intrOduCing new COACHing guides from

For every decision about lineups and strategy, there is another one about dealing with parents, developing leaders, and handling budgets. That’s why Coaching Management is producing a series of Coaching guides addressing these important off-the-field topics. Topics will include strength training, leadership, nutrition, management, and sports medicine. Read advice from experts and other coaches about handling these vital, yet often overlooked, areas. For a limited time, we are offering a sample guide that will include articles on each of these important subjects. You can get your e-version by submitting the form below or going to coachesnetwork.com. Use this form for your free sample guide. LEADERSHIP them. Throughout these discussions, let your leaders know how important they are to the program. Don’t be afraid to tell them how much you will rely on them to set the standards, keep the team focused, and handle conflicts. You may even want to tell them that it is “their” team. You will be there to help them, but ultimately it’s the athletes— particularly the leaders— who determine how far the team will go.

Here is a sample list of responsibilities coaches can give to team captains:

School: _______________________________________

issues like how to best discipline a teammate who has broken team rules. Whatever the case, we will expect you to add your insight to help our decision making.

Lead warmups and drills: We expect you to get your teammates organized and keep Talk with struggling L E A D E R S H I P teammates: We expect you to everyone in line, literally and figuratively. talk with teammates who might be struggling with their performance Set the right toneon for depend you for leadership, pageItand leading together as or role on the team. is your the team: We expect you to guidance, and support a unified front, great things can jobastothey understand them, support start practices off with the right them, They challenge happen them, and step up to their challenge. in figure your program. attitude, focus, and work ethic. howato get them back on rely on the theirteam coach toout create You must also refocus track. positive and productive environwhen practices get sloppy, create ment that is conducive to helping a positive momentum going into Handle conflicts: We may Starting on them lead. the competition, and recharge ask you to get involved with team Provide team when needed. We expect you conflicts when they arise. If aRight Foot the In other words, great team capOpportunities to be the mental and emotional small problem crops up, we may both catalyst for thetains team.are made whenask youroles to find out exactly what is of the coach-captain going equation on and develop a workable Keep coaches informed: are tended to. What can easSpending time at the very start solution. While talking about their We expect you to keep us ily occur, however, is that one of the season working with your responsibilities is important, informed about issues that impact Plan team activities: becomes frustrated with the captains builds the basis for the success andside psyche of the We will ask you to plan and your captains need conthisevents leadership team. We want other. to know who coordinate various so team. To be on tinual opportunities to make the might be in conflict with whom, your teammates can same betterpage, get to you need to real leadership decisions. Some coaches’ frustrations stem whether playersfrom are accepting each other.talk Wethrough will rely what on being a team It often works well to start a belief that theknow athletes their roles, if anyone’s social life captain means you to initiate these events and and how to be an small and build up to more of today don’t seem to have the is getting out of control, and so make sure everyone is invited effective one. and complicated tasks. strong leadership skills they did forth. Of course, we don’t need involved. thething. past.You’ll I often hear coaches Step number one is to clarify to know every in little For example, let them Be loyal: that we of them. Many lament, “Kidstotoday don’t un- Understand your expectations have to use your discretion oversee warmups before are putting a tremendous amountsay to their capderstand what coaches simply decide which issues might haveit ameans to be a practice and make any of trust in you. For example, negative impactleader. on theThey team.aren’t Be nearly as votains, “You’re our leader. I expect team announcements. Have we may tell you things that we careful to respect trustneed of your cal the as they to be.” Another to step up will not tell youryou teammates. In and lead.” But this them contact teammates teammates as well. You don’t want is, “They frequent complaint alone is too vague to give proper return, we expect you to respect to inform them of schedto be viewed asaren’t a tattletale. willing to standand up support and the direction. decisions we ule changes. You can even confront their teammates Provide input on team makewhen for the team. You than may assuming your let them lead some pracRather necessary.” decisions: We will ask your disagree with them behind closed tice drills, or take it a step captains understand their duopinion on a variety of decisions doors, but we will expect you to further and let them plan a captains ties,toasthe well as your philosophy that will affect And the team. This don’t always show afeel united front team. practice from time to time. they have the necessary and could include minor decisions We guidalso will insist on expectations, your loyalty sit down and ance or to support fromand their carefully clarify like what wearmagically. that you never bad mouth uswhat you need It’s teams also key to solicit your great leaders. Great always include But itwarmup doesn’tgear happen coaches coaches. recent conductfromThere them. Create or where the team prefersA to eat. polltoI your teammates. must be a job descripcaptains’ inputinon team de- roles, providing must invest time explaining opportunities, and giving afeedback. ed ofmore student-athletes revealed Or it could involve serious sacred trust between tion of us. the eight to 10 priorities cisions. These can be minor that over 60 percent of captains you expect them to handle. (See By Jeff Janssen felt their coaches do a “Job Description” on next page.) Jeff Janssen is director of the Janssen Sports Leadership center,needed in cary,toN.c., better job of working them. Clarification of their roles and and a former athletic administrator at the University of arizona. Thiswith article is In essence, captains complain responsibilities on the front end an adapted excerpt from his book, The Team captain’s Leadership Manual. that too many coaches preach will prevent misunderstandings the need for athlete leadership as the season goes on. but don’t teach it. Next, discuss the risks and chalRather both sides blaming Yourthan team captains lenges of leadership. Let your the other,make they must the captains know that this new recan ormake break effort to work together and forge sponsibility might be difficult and your season. a strong coach-captain partdemanding at times. They will nership. I like to like think it as a encounter many gray areas and f that sounds anofoverstateleadership team. When bumps along the way, and they ment, think back overcoaches your and captainscareer. are onduring the same should understand that these coaching your

_____ _____

_____ _____

LeaderShIP

Name: _______________________________________

JOB DESCRIPTION

Leader Of The Pack

I

most successful seasons, I bet you had great team leaders. Now consider your most frustrating years. did they include poor leaders?

Title: _________________________________________ challenges are a normal part of leadership. Most importantly, let them know that you will be there to support them through thick and thin.

E-mail: _______________________________________

From there, ask your captains to describe what they think it means to be an effective leader. Their ideas of leadership might be quite different than yours. Ask them to talk about the leaders whom they respect in their lives and why, and the ones they don’t respect and why. This will give you insight into their model of leadership and can start great discussions that get you both on the same page.

Phone: _______________________________________

It can also be helpful to provide your captains with an assessment of their leadership style. Just as each athlete has certain physical strengths and weaknesses, so do leaders. I use a two-part evaluation that rates how a person leads by example and vocally, in several areas, from composure to team building. (Click here for a Web link to the survey.) This type of analysis can help make the captains aware of their strengths and weaknesses in their leadership qualities. Encourage your captains to utilize and maximize their strengths and acknowledge areas to improve in. For example, some of your leaders might have a hard time confronting their teammates when necessary. Or, some of your leaders may be too blunt and lack the necessary tact to get their messages across well. Whatever the challenge, encourage them to make sure that their weaknesses are not a leadership liability as they work to improve

Would you be interested in receiving a complimentary digital copy of An Athlete’s Guide to Nutrition? ____________________ Fax to: 607.257.7328 Mail to: Coaching Management, 20 Eastlake Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850

and not only do your captains have a huge impact on your team’s success, but also on your sanity and your satisfaction as a coach. You’ll usually remember a year you had fantastic team leaders with a smile, regardless of the final record. You rely on your captains to help set and uphold the standards of the squad, monitor team chemistry, and be your voice in the locker room and on the weekends when you’re not around. You need your captains to consistently reinforce the team’s standards and hold their teammates accountable. at the same time, your captains

48 Coaching Management Preseason 2012

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You can also request your FREE sample guide by going to www.coachesnetwork.com

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