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Friday, July 29, 2022

US Sports Training Camp Baseball: Throwing Strikes and Playing Good Defense Equals Wins


Throwing Strikes and Playing Good Defense Equals Wins

  • By Jose Ortiz

Winning consistently in youth sports, particularly in baseball, is more about learning how not to lose, as opposed to learning how to win. Sure, you can focus on hitting line drives, stealing bases, effective bunting or any number of other things, but more often than not, wins and losses will come down to throwing strikes and playing good defense.

At all levels of baseball – even college and professional – far more games are lost than are won.

This means that teams usually do more to cause their own losses than the opposition does to win them.

Throwing Strikes

It seems simple enough, but so many pitchers and coaches focus more on improving velocity than improving location. What good is an 80 MPH fastball that’s always out of the strike zone? You’re better off throwing 40 MPH and consistently locating for strikes.

Before worrying about how fast a player throws or how much hook his curveball has, worry about them getting complete command of the strike zone. This means a pitcher can locate his pitch anywhere within the four quadrants of the strike zone at any time. For younger-level pitchers, this requires that they dial back the velocity a bit. Pitchers are better off focusing on command with a moderate fastball than trying to throw the heat.

Your average youth and high school baseball lineup isn’t stacked with sluggers who can make you pay dearly for leaving a meatball over the plate. In most situations, the worst that will happen is a base hit.

But the nature of baseball (.300 hitter is Hall of Fame material) dictates that even the slowest pitch will generally result in an out. When pitchers realize this and learn to trust their defense, they will find they have a lot more success, without the need for a blazing fastball or deceptive curve.

Remember that pitches off the plate lead to walks, which almost always come around to score. Make players earn their way on base by consistently throwing strikes.

Play Good Defense

One of the worst things you can do in baseball is give a team extra outs through bad defense. Each team is supposed to have three outs per inning – when defensive errors are made, the team is essentially given an extra out to put more runs on the board. It doesn’t take a baseball genius to realize that this eventually leads to crooked numbers on the board against you.

A defensive error not only gives the other team an extra life, it also demoralizes the pitcher and everyone else on the defense. You were about to get out of an inning and get back in the dugout to bat when a routine grounder rolled through the shortstop’s legs. Now, you have to work to get another out, naturally leading to a mental let down. It also invigorates the other team, which now has another chance to do some damage.

Conversely, a great defensive play excites your team and your pitcher. You were about to give up a run or an extra base hit until the centerfielder made a diving catch to get you out of the inning. Now, instead of having runners on base, you’re back in the dugout getting ready to put some runs on the board. On the other hand, robbing a team of surefire runs is a great way to kill the opposition’s spirit.

At worst, you want to have a baseball team that makes all of the routine plays and some of the great ones. Watch Coach Bob Morgan go over some of his favorite infield drills to improve defense.

Source: Infield Play: Drills & Techniques For Infielders

Minimize Mistakes to Maximize Wins

In all sports, mistakes are killers. Whether it’s turnovers in football or basketball, faults in tennis or errors and walks in baseball – the more chances you give another team to beat you, the more likely they will take advantage.

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