Like anything worth doing in life, being a good baseball player involves a lot of hard work. Is ‘good’ not good enough for you and are you not willing to settle for anything less than greatness? Be prepared to sweat your behind off while making quite a few sacrifices on the road to success.
Most of us can’t afford to work with awesome baseball coaches nor do we have the time to participate in lengthy camps and training programs that would force us to temporarily abandon our professional and personal lives. No need to worry, though, as there are alternatives that let you manage your time effectively while still acquiring some impressive field skills to show off. Here are 3 of the best training programs to up your game at your own pace.
Baseball Training Programs
Baseball Strategies – The Top 100 Ways To Improve Your Baseball Game by Ace McCloud: Really, how can you not trust someone named Ace when it comes to becoming a great baseball player? In all seriousness, The Top 100 Ways is a terrific baseball program that focuses on virtually every aspect of becoming good at baseball and staying that way. Anyone who follows sports knows that it takes a lot more than technique or talent to get to the top – to become an athlete, you’ll need to stick to proper nutrition, practice as regularly as time allows and train your mind just as much as your body. McCloud’s book covers all this and more, catering to different positions and different types of individuals equally – whether you’re more interested in becoming a fearsome pitcher or a flashy batter, 100 Ways will have you covered and then some.
The Mental Game of Baseball by H.A. Dorfman: Part of what makes baseball such a great sport is the possibility of making it without having amazing physical gifts. While in other sports you might have to be a mountain of a man or have near-unlimited endurance to make it to the top, baseball focuses more on perfect timing, speed and technique, all of which are governed in good part by the mind. Dorfman’s program ignores the physical aspect of baseball and instead aims to train your mind so that you can think the same way an MLB batter or pitcher thinks – no excuses, no quitting and a drive for days. Featuring field reports from some of the sport’s foremost figures as well as practical advice that you can apply as soon as you find yourself holding a ball again, The Mental Game takes an oft-neglected aspect of baseball greatness and tackles it without fear or reservations.
The Baseball Drill Book by the American Baseball Coaches Association: With all that said, you still can’t will yourself to become a great player, can you? No, you’ll have to practice a whole lot in-between repeating the mantra of success. To help you with that, ABCA released a comprehensive book of drills that aims to instill all of the most necessary techniques in you through one tactic we all know and hate: repetition. The drills in this book go from easy to grueling, but each of them serves a purpose – if you can stick with the program and practice as often as necessary, you’ll find yourself improving in leaps and bounds in a relatively short amount of time. Keep at it for a while, and who knows – we might watch you hit that home run on national TV in the not-so-distant future.
If you can set aside the time, there aren’t many ways to get better at baseball that are more efficient than a summer training camp. Simply put, you’ll be living and breathing baseball for the duration of the camp whether you like it or not – no quitting, no missed practices and no indulging in activities that hurt your game.
There are quite a few camps spread throughout our great nation and each of them promises great things for your casual or professional baseball career – to help you get the most for your time and money, here are 4 that might transform you from a rookie to a star over the course of a single summer.
Baseball Summer Training Camps
IMG Academy in Florida: A place for all ages and skill levels, IMG Academy features multiple summer training camps to choose from depending on your needs: from a two-week camp for youngsters to a five-week full-course training schedule, IMG has what it takes to shape you into the best player you can possibly be. Here, you’ll train your body as well as your mind through drills, practices, live games, studying of strategy and everything else a player needs to improve. If you can afford it, IMG is sure to skyrocket your game in a relatively small amount of time.
Longhorn Baseball Camp: Over the years, the University of Texas has given birth to some amazing MLB players thanks to the campus’ high-level baseball training facility. If you’re fortunate enough to be part of one of the nation’s proudest universities, participating in any of the summer camps here will put your skills and mental fortitude to the test and will provide you with a detailed assessment of where you stand and how you can improve. That being said, the daily fee is fairly high, so you’d better be sure that baseball is your true passion before registering.
Under Armour Baseball Factory: Do you think you or a youngster in your family could make it to the Major Leagues with the right coaching? If so, give the Baseball Factory camps a serious consideration. The programs are geared towards those harboring some baseball potential already – you’ll first have to participate in a tryout where your skills will be evaluated before you can get accepted into a full course. If you have what it takes and receive an invitation, your game will go up with each passing day and you’ll enjoy rubbing shoulders with people who might very well reach the very top of the game some day.
Ripken Camps: The Ripken family are youth baseball specialists – any parent hoping that their son makes it big in baseball should seriously consider running him through one of the Ripken programs. Ripken summer camps focus on improving every aspect of the game and offer serious coaching for ages as young as 8 and onwards – there aren’t many better ways to improve a youngster’s chances of having a career in baseball. Aside from some of the best coaches in the biz and a great training facility, the camp also boasts a decent ratio of instructors to campers that will ensure every kid gets plenty of personalized instruction.
Few knowledgeable sports fans would disagreee that a good coach makes all the difference in the world when it comes to helping a player or a team succeed. Aside from coaching every individual athlete to bring out the best in them, baseball coaches face another difficulty that all coaches of team sports do – managing the different and oft-colorful personalities of every player in order to get everyone working as a whole.
So how do you coach a baseball team, anyways?
You could say that in-depth knowledge of the game as well as what separates a good baseball team from a less-than-successful one is what comes first and foremost when determining a coach’s merit.
But perhaps even more important than that, a coach should be an attentive individual who can recognize different personalities and emotional states in order to relate to the players well. To put it in blunt terms, some players will react better to gentle suggestions – almost as if you’re asking them nicely to play a certain way – while others will get more motivation from your shouting and cursing. Failure to recognize what makes each player tick can lead to lost games faster than you can say “Out!”, while succeeding in doing so will have a huge impact on every individual game.
No matter the team you’re coaching and the level at which they’re playing, aim to relate to every individual on a personal level – juggle the roles of the best friend, the cool uncle, the strict-but-benevolent father, the wise grandfather and so on.
Likewise, never let any one player undermine your authority in any way – everyone has to know that your commands are absolute as a single mutineer can completely destroy even the best strategy.
Here are some useful resources for more in-depth info on the art of baseball coaching:
Coaching Youth Baseball the Ripken Way: If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that the coaching you’ll be doing revolves around youth – we all want to see our young ones succeed in everything we do to the point where we’ll pull our hair out when things go awry. This program will do a great job of preventing that: the Ripken family has decades of experience coaching youths from all backgrounds and transforming them into miniature versions of MLB stars.
Coaching the Beginning Pitcher by Daniel Keller: Many consider the position of pitcher to be the toughest one in baseball, if only due to the sheer room for error – without a doubt, these people would also agree that coaching pitchers is nearly as big of a challenge. This book approaches pitcher-coaching in a friendly way while showering you with info that’s meant to make your player shine – while special emphasis is placed on fathers coaching their sons, the program can just as easily help any coach who works with beginners.
baseballpositive.com: When you’re done analyzing programs that help bring out your team’s A-game, try checking out this coaching blog that focuses primarily on youth coaching – written by coaches with a clear passion for what they do, the blog tackles various aspects of transferring knowledge to the players and motivating them without ever burdening you with too much technical information or critique.
Most baseball fans who aren’t obsessed with swinging a bat found themselves wondering time and time again what makes a great pitcher. Why do some pitchers’ balls always reach the glove while others get batted out seemingly every time? Is it physical ability, eye-to-hand coordination or God-given talent?
In truth, being a good pitcher involves a combination of all of those traits but also more practice than most are willing to put in – if you want to be a pro pitcher, you better enjoy throwing a ball over and over again until your hand can act as a substitute for a ball launcher.
To help you practice and reduce the time spent on the road to becoming an all-time pitching great, here are some great programs that tell you how to throw a ball very fast and with extreme accuracy.
Baseball Pitching Programs
10 Essential Baseball Pitching Drills by Nicolas Foate: Improving your pitching significantly for less than $4? Sign us up! In his book, Foate outlines the ten most essential drills one should practice to go from amateur to… well, an amateur with a great pitch. His drills focus on developing everything that makes a good pitch, from velocity to accuracy – perhaps more importantly, though, Foate never fills you with false hopes of avoiding hard work to get to where you want to be.
www.topvelocity.net: This pitching-oriented site provides three different programs that are meant to double or triple your pitching prowess in a short amount of time. Top Velocity is like a perfect combination of flair and grit: it promises astounding results that will turn you into an “elite level” or even MLB pitcher while still reminding you that there’ll be plenty of work in-between. The program promises major (get it? Major League Baseball?) results in 16 weeks while swearing that their method differs from the norm – at any rate, they’re worth checking out if you feel your pitching has hit a slump.
How to Pitch by Steven Adler: Need something a little more beginner-friendly? How to Pitch approaches the art of pitching from a beginner’s standpoint – if you can’t even get your ball to fly in the desired direction, this is a great program to check out. The small-but-informative guidebook is useful to both coaches and players of any age or even skill. That’s right – even those who consider themselves good pitchers might raise an eyebrow or two while brushing up on Adler’s basics.
So What, Next Pitch! by Brian Cain: Cain’s tome is everything that How to Pitch is not: instead of focusing on the fundamentals, So What, Next Pitch! explores some of the more abstract parts of being a top-level athlete by interviewing various stars of the sports and examining their methods and approach. This program focuses heavily on the mental aspect of being a pitcher with a high degree of success – there’s quite a few coaches and even athletes out there who would argue that your mental game is a lot more important than the fast-twitch fibers in your muscles, so you should definitely give this program a try even if you don’t consider yourself a ponderous pitcher.