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Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Coaching Baseball - 4 Things the On-Deck Batter Should Always Do and 4 Things He Should Never Do
By Nick Dixon
Baseball coaching is teaching the big and little details of the game. Every position or location on the field requires a player to observe and to be aware of what is happening. Many young batters on deck often do no pay attention to what is happening. They are often guilty of looking into the crowd or even talking to someone through the fence. On-deck batters that do not closely observe the pitcher and the catcher are missing a greatly opportunity to "scout" the opponent. The on-deck circle is a crucial location from which the observation process should be done. Here are 4 things that the on-deck batter must do and 4 things they not do.
On-deck batters should always:
1) Identify the ARM SLOT of the opposing pitcher? Is the opposing pitchers arm motion, over the top, side-arm, at 1 O'Clock, or 2 O'clock, 3 O'clock or submarine? The on-deck batter must know this before getting into the batting box. Knowing the "arm slot" or pitchers arm angle during the delivery will accelerate the batters ability to "pick the ball up" or see the ball in the pitchers hand before it is released. Picking the ball up early allows the batter to see the ball out of the pitchers hand at the release point.
2) Take practice swings every time the pitcher throws a pitch to the batter ahead of you. Try to pick up the pitchers speed, timing, rhythm, and release point. Time the fastball by taking a stance, loading, and swing in rhythm with the pitching delivery. This timing warm-up exercise should be taken facing the pitcher.
3) Does the pitcher have a tendency to work slow or fast? If the pitcher works too slow or fast, you may want to call time and step out to change the pitchers rhythm.
4) Does the pitcher throw a lot of off-speed or junk pitches? Does the pitcher have below average, average, or above average pop on the fastball? You will move up in the box if the pitcher is a slow ball junk pitcher and move deeper in the box if the pitcher has high velocity on the fastball.
Coaching Point: There are other duties of the on-deck hitter at the high school, college and even travel ball level. If the batter ahead of you gets a RBI hit, you may have to move the bat out of the sliding zone if the umpire does not move it. Only do this if time allows. The on-deck batter will may also coach the scoring runner at the plate by using signs or verbal call to signal "get down", "you are up", or a "needed slide location to avoid a possible tag".
1. Never talk to the crowd, fans or family through the fence. The on-deck batter should be seeing and concentrating on what is happening on the field. This is for performance, concentration, and safety reasons.
2. Never Swing Before looking. For safety reasons, never swing the bat in the on-deck circle without looking to make sure that he is clear of the fence and that other players have not approached him. Making sure that everyone is clear of you before you swing a bat is a rule for all batters, of all ages, to live by.
3. Never talk to the batter unless it is positive praise or encouraging words. "Warning" the batter that he better look out for that curve-ball is not encouraging words. Simply telling the batter that he can do it and to keep his eyes on the ball is far more appropriate and productive.
4. Never take a knee or kneel in the on-deck circle. If a ball is hit toward you, you must be able to move quickly.
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Nick Dixon is the President and founder of Nedco Sports, the "Hit2win Company". Dixon is also an active and full time high school baseball coach with over 25 years experience. Dixon is widely recognized as an expert in the area of baseball training, practice and skill development. Coach Dixon is better known as the inventor of several of baseball and softball's most popular training products such as the Original BatAction Hitting Machine, SKLZ Derek Jeter Hurricane Hitting Machine, Original Hitting Stick, Hit2win Trainer, SKLZ Target Trainer, SKLZ Derek Jeter ZipnHit Pro, and Strikeback Trainer. Dixon is also a contributing writer for BaseballCoachingDigest, the Baseball 2Day Coaches Journal, Batting Cage Builder, the American Baseball Directory and the Hit2win Baseball Coaches Monthly Newsletter. Dixon has 5 blogs related to baseball training including the BaseballCoachingDigest Blog, CoachesBest Training Blog, Hurricane Machine Training Blog, Batting Cage Buyers Blog, and the Bat Action Training Blog.
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