Softball parents will spend countless money for tools and aids to help their daughter. We have developed a list of the the top 6 things your developing athletes need for her 2017 and beyond softball seasons.
There are countless softball training aids, tools and gimmicks that claim to improve performance. The best investment for an athlete is physical training with a focus on their specific goal.
Top 6 Tools for 2017
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Triton Rays North are proud to announce former C Nick Sainato inks with ETSU! If you know Sainato he is a hard working kid, who always believed he would make it at the college level. He has a great story and we wanted to share.
Q. How many college offers did you have when you played your last high school game?
Sainato : I didn't have a single offer.
Q. When you played for the triton rays north after your senior year of high school when did you commit to a college baseball program?
Sainato : The summer after my SR year of high school.
Q. After your freshman year of college, what happened? Did you plan on returning to that program?
Sainato : After my freshman year I didn't really have a chance to think about that because my coach was fired, so I had to really scramble and look for a school to play for.
Q. Tell us how your dedication & will to succeed landed you with a scholarship at a D1 program?
Sainato : I have always known hard work since I was younger and wanting to make myself better at everything I did. But it was different after my freshman year because I had no place to go I really hit a wall and had to pick myself up and keep working towards a goal I wasn't even sure achievable at the time. At the end of the summer ball I had a lot of obstacles in my way of playing in college again. I just decided to put myself out there and call every college coach I knew. Finally after many days spent on the phone Coach Shelton at Walters state put me in contact with ETSU saying they were looking for another catcher, and with in hours I was talking to ETSU coaches and the next day I was on campus deciding to become a ETSU catcher.
Q. Who influenced and assisted with this opportunity?
Sainato : God really answered my prayers. I would pray every chance I could asking him not to let me stop playing the game I've poured my heart into. Who also helped me was my family, Brian Smith, and Allen Lang, which out their guidance I wouldn't be near the man or baseball player I am today.
Q. What advise would you give a HS senior who doesn't have an offer?
Sainato : Work as hard as you can every day in every facet of the game and never give up on your skills. Stay confident in your process even when your backs against the wall.
As a former collegiate baseball coach and current travel team director, I get the question of what do I need to do to get a baseball scholarship. I wanted to put together a quick breakdown of what we discuss with each of our travel players.
1. Approximately 10-12% of high school baseball players in 2015 went on to play college baseball. When looking at all high school seniors and draft eligible college baseball players 1/94 were drafted. With those facts only a select few get to play at the collegiate or professional level.
2. The maximum allotted scholarships available at the college level for fully funded institutions.
DI – 11.7
DII – 9
DII – 0
NAIA – 12
Junior College – 24
3. How to choose a school – We asked our guys to rank the following topics in order of priority. This will determine where they feel they can play at the next level, and more importantly how far away they are willing to go to play baseball.
Size of School
4. Top 5 Schools you would like to play at… This list will give us as a staff a guideline of what level of baseball the player feels he is capable of playing. Sometimes this is the hard question, because many players have a false sense of their abilities.
5. What college coaches evaluate while recruiting:
Parent’s high maintenance?
When a PLAYER, (NOT THE PARENT) has completed this information and gains an understanding of what it takes to play college baseball it is at that time we can start to narrow down the schools that we contact on behalf of that player. We do bring the parents in to discuss the final decisions obviously, but in many cases if the parent completes the above information it is not the same as when the player does the work. å
Baseball catchers, from little league to the majors, have the same tasks: receive pitches, block balls in the dirt, throw out base runners, and keep the entire team ready on each play. All catchers, no matter what their level, must develop their receiving stance. This will be uncomfortable for beginners, tough for intermediate players, and on occasion cause advanced catchers to experience soreness during spring training.
These baseball catcher drills progress from beginner to intermediate to advanced. They should be performed in order while wearing y0ur equipment. When they come to train with us, we take each catcher regardless of age through each level. The fundamentals of receiving, blocking, and throwing are the same for all levels.
These drills should be included in each catcher's workout or practice plan. A good catcher can make a bad pitcher look good, and a bad catcher can make a good pitcher look bad.
Beginner Baseball Catcher Drills
Receiving DrillsTennis Ball Barehanded: Coach tosses a tennis ball to the catcher without a glove on. Catcher should work on having soft hands and just catch the ball
Receiving Baseballs from a Short Distance: Coach tosses baseballs to the catcher with a glove on from 10-12 feet away
Blocking Drills3-Ball Drill: Place three baseballs in front of the catcher and demonstrate how to move in order to block each baseball successfully.
Coaching cue: Catcher should land on knees, glove between knees, bare hand behind mitt, and chin tucked into chest.
Tennis Balls: Coach bounces the ball in front of the catcher to demonstrate how to be aggressive when blocking. Beginner catchers have a tendency to turn away from the ball. The key to this drill is for the catcher to watch the ball all the way in to the chest. Keeping the head in line with and focused on the ball allows the face mask to cover the neck of the catcher. If the catcher turns his head, the risk of getting hit in the throat increases. Use the chest protector to keep the ball in front. The glove should drop down between the knees, with the catcher's throwing hand behind the mitt. This creates a "wall" for the ball to stay in front of the catcher. Beginners become confident with tennis balls, then move to baseballs for this drill.
Footwork to Second Base: Beginner catchers should learn proper footwork toward the base where they are throwing the baseball. We use a T (in tape on the ground) to work on footwork to second base. The catcher's feet should land on the bottom line of the T with his throwing foot landing first, then the glove foot.
Coaching tip: Let the catcher work through this drill finding balance/athletic stance from which to throw.
Intermediate Baseball Catcher DrillsReceiving DrillsTennis Ball Barehanded: Coach throws a tennis ball to the catcher without a glove on. Catcher should work on receiving the ball between his thumb and index finger.
Receiving Baseballs From a Short Distance: Coach throws baseballs to the catcher with a glove on from 14-16 feet away.
Receiving Baseballs From a Pitching Machine: Coach sets the machine at a speed comparable to game speed.
Blocking DrillsTennis Balls: Coach bounces the ball in front of the catcher to teach him to catch the baseball. Intermediate catchers are challenged to "absorb" the tennis ball, trying to make their body soft when the ball makes contact with their body. We tape a semicircle 5 feet in front of the catcher and challenge him to keep the ball inside that perimeter. This allows him to get to the baseball quicker when a runner attempts to steal a base on a ball thrown in the dirt.
Gain Ground: Catcher gets into receiving stance. Coach points right, left, or straight down, directing the catcher to get into a blocking position and immediately bounce back up into a receiving stance.
Throwing DrillsFootwork to Bases: Intermediate catchers work on throwing to each base, starting with the ball in his mitt. Coach walks around the catcher and offers cues. Coaching cues are to make sure the catcher maintains balance throughout his footwork to each base while working on transferring the ball from the mitt to the bare hand.
Advanced Baseball Catcher DrillsReceiving DrillsBaseball Barehanded: Coach tosses a baseball to the catcher without a glove on. Catcher should receive the ball between his thumb and index finger.
Receiving Baseballs From a Pitching Machine: Coach sets the machine at a speed faster than game speed.
3-Man Quick Hands: Coach plus two other players have five baseballs and stand in a semicircle in front of the catcher, approximately 12 feet away. The player on one side throws a ball to the catcher, then the middle guy, then the guy on the other side throws a ball. The speed of this drill can become extremely quick with more advanced catchers.
Coaching cue: Catcher should receive each pitch, drop the ball and immediately focus on the next ball.
Blocking Without a Mitt: Catcher places his hands behind his back. This trains him to use his chest protector to block the ball.
Coaching cue: Bounce the ball far enough in front of the catcher so it takes a long hop. Short hops can result in the baseball hitting the catcher in a painful area.
Block It and Get up: This teaches the catcher how to block the ball and bounce up quickly to get to the baseball.
Coaching cue: 10 repetitions, then let the catcher rest while another catcher performs the drill.
Throwing DrillsFootwork to Bases: Advanced catchers need to focus on reducing the time it takes to catch and release the baseball. The "touch to release" goal for our catchers is under eight tenths of a second.
Throwing From Knees: Yes, we work with our catchers on throwing to all three bases from their knees. There will be times in a game when the pitch is low or in the dirt, and throwing from their knees may be the only option. This drill also focuses on the transfer of the ball from mitt to throwing hand.
With young hitters, you don't need a hitting philosophy as much as you need a few strong pieces of advice to get them on track. Here are my top three tips for baseball hitting, which can help your athletes bring it home.
1. Learn the Opposing PitcherEarly in the game, batters have time to figure out what the opposing pitcher is going to throw in a particular situation. For instance, if he throws a change-up on a 2-1 pitch that is a called strike against your teammate, when that pitcher gets into a situation where he is behind in the count and the game is on the line—here comes a change-up.
Talk with your players about what they observe and what they can interpret from it. When each hitter can evaluate his teammates' at-bats and learn how the pitcher is pitching, he will have the necessary information for steps two and three.
2. Guess Which Pitch Is ComingThe second step for in-game baseball hitting is to guess which pitch is coming.
Many baseball hitting coaches argue that hitters should not guess pitches, but should just sit on the fastball and adjust to off-speed. At certain levels that may be acceptable, although we want to teach our hitters to think like Ted Williams, who stated in his book The Science of Hitting: learn how to think like a pitcher and guess the pitch.
Hitting coaches can use any term they think is necessary for step 2. For our guys, it's an educated guess.
3. Hit the Ball HardAll hitting coaches want their players to hit the ball hard. This is an attainable goal that we teach our hitters to focus on. Telling them to hit for a certain batting average doesn't translate well when they're at the plate. Overthinking it can lead to not enough force.
Babe Ruth once famously said, "All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it. I get back to the dugout and they ask me what it was I hit, and I tell them I don't know except it looked good."
One of the rockiest relationships in sports, and one of the most important, is the relationship between pitchers and catchers. Big egos and strong opinions can easily get in the way. To work together in harmony to get the job done, these players usually need to go through some growing pains to build a working relationship.
On day one of spring training, it's up to the pitchers to start throwing. But it's up to the catchers to start a relationship that will be able to withstand adversity, tension and fights, so the team will be able to compete at a high level throughout the entire season.
How a Catcher Must LeadA catcher must act as a leader, while remaining sensitive to the needs of the pitcher. A catcher earns trust through listening to the pitchers, and then leading the entire team. It is the catcher's responsbility to build, maintain, mend and nurture the relationship with each pitcher. It's no accident that Bruce Bochy and Mike Matheny, two of the most successful MLB managers in the past few years, were catchers.
How do you accomplish this? You work with your pitcher to develop a gameplan. Understand the pitcher's strengths and weaknesses, and work with him to develop mutually agreed upon strategies for different game situations. There should rarely be a moment when the two of you are not on the same page. If you provide a sign, the pitcher should know why you are suggesting that pitch.
It all comes down to communication. If possible, review each inning with your pitcher to determine what's working and what's not. Be sensitive to how the pitcher is feeling and adjust your gameplan accordingly.
Another important factor is research. If you have the resources, you should know the weaknesses of opposing batters. When you have this knowledge, your pitcher will have more confidence in your decision-making abilities.
How a Pitcher Must LeadPitchers typically don't care about arm strength or hitting ability; they care about getting opposing hitters out, and feeling comfortable on the mound. Greg Maddux used a variety of catchers while pitching for the Atlanta Braves. Charlie O'Brien, Eddie Perez, Paul Bako and Henry Blanco were Maddux's personal catchers, even though the All-Star Javy Lopez was Braves' primary catcher.
The close relationship was developed because the pitchers were most comfortable with the catcher. They trusted the catcher and could focus on their routine on the mound without having to worry about what's going on behind the plate.
Again, it all comes down to communication. It's the pitcher's job to explain his tendencies, preferences and strengths when on the mound. If he doesn't feel like something is working well, he must tell the catcher.
Pitchers need to check their ego at the dugout door. The catcher may select a pitch the pitcher doesn't necessarily agree with, because he may see or know something the pitcher isn't aware of. If shaking off signs becomes commonplace, the catcher should talk to the pitcher to learn what he's feeling before frustrations get out of control.
One of the most sought after skills in baseball is stealing bases. Few players work on base stealing, because it's difficult to recreate the scenarios in practice. This article, which is intended for baseball players 12 and older, outlines four steps for successful base stealing.
1. Take a Lead
A base runner can take any one of several types of leads. The normal lead is 3-1/2 large steps off the bag. If you count 3-1/2 steps off the bag, you should be approximately one step back. With your body length and your arm outstretched, you should be able to touch the bag.
The second lead is a one-way lead. It is typically used when you are facing a left-handed pitcher and your team needs to see what kind of pickoff move he has. The one-way lead is larger, maybe 4 to 4-1/2 steps off the bag. As soon as the pitcher moves, you take a big step back toward the bag, expecting the pitcher to try to pick you off. This is a cat-and-mouse game with the pitcher. The players who gain information on every pitch will have the knowledge necessary to excel later in the game.
2. Set Your Feet
Feet placement is vital to allow the base runner to either steal a base or get back to the bag if the pitcher picks. An athletic stance with your weight centered is the ideal position to produce a powerful first step, whether to take off or dive back to the bag. Eric Cressey demonstrates this in the above video.
3. Anticipate the Pitch
We encourage base stealers to guess when to take off. We time pitchers and use that against them if they use consistent timing—i.e., from when they establish their set position to when they begin their movement to throw the ball toward home plate. Many pitchers get into a rhythm, and they begin their movement to throw home between 1 and 2 seconds after setting up.
Left-handed pitchers are tougher to read and run against, because they have up to a 45-degree angle in which to step toward first base for a pickoff attempt. We teach our base runners to take off on the first movement from a left-handed pitcher. If the pitcher goes to first, we hope our base runners can beat the throws from the pitcher to first, then from first to second.
When we steal against a right-handed pitcher, we teach our players to trust their instincts. They sometimes leave a little early. The key to learning typically comes from failing a few times at first.
4. Time Your Sprint
After he sees the pitcher and catcher throw the ball, every great base runner knows instinctively whether he can steal against them. He combines this with the knowledge of exactly how long it takes him to get from his lead position to the next base. Use a stopwatch to determine how long it takes the pitcher to throw home from his set position. Add the time it takes for the catcher to rise up and throw to the next base. If your sprinting time is less than their total time, you should be safe.
When we conduct training camps, we are often surprised that so many high school baseball players have no idea how long it takes them to go from base to base. The average time for good collegiate players to steal second base is 3-1/2 seconds. The average college pitcher takes 1.4 seconds to throw the ball home, and the average college catcher takes approximately 2 seconds to catch the ball, rise up and and throw to second.
The delay steal is a great way for slower runners to steal a base. Every base runner on the team takes a quality secondary lead, meaning they take two shuffles toward the next bag to gain momentum when the ball is hit, the pitch is in the dirt, or another opportunity presents itself to move up on the base path. If the middle infielders do not move toward second base after every pitch, the base runner can take advantage by taking off to steal after the second shuffle. The delay steal is designed to take the opposition by surprise. My teams try two or three delay steals per weekend in addition to five to seven straight steals. This is a great equalizer when we play against teams that have high quality pitching.
1. What is Your Grade Point Average and ACT/SAT Test Scores?
Your answers will help you find out whether a college will accept you as a student. If you have the desire to play at an NCAA program, you should review the information at NCAA eligibility. If your ACT score is below 18 and/or your GPA is low, you may have to consider a junior college for the first two years of your college career. With that being said, some baseball players choose to pursue the junior college ranks for different reasons, such as cost, location, great baseball program and/or draft eligibility.
2. Set Priorities
To help you identify your program of choice, rank these topics in order of priority: playing time, program history, size of school, location and major. After you understand your eligibility requirements and set your priorities, you should be able to find the right programs to pursue in your efforts to be recruited.
3. Physical Attributes
Baseball is considered a five-tool sport. Players are evaluated on speed, fielding, arm strength, ability to hit for contact and ability to hit for power. Some college programs have predetermined rankings to ensure they get players who will be good fits. The NSCA has a page devoted to information and guidance for potential college baseball players. Playing for a nationally ranked travel team (our team is No. 3 in the country) in addition to playing for your high school—and your accolades—are among the criteria colleges look at.
4. Social Media
The prevalence of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media sites can have either a positive or negative impact on your search for a college. We encourage our athletes to present a positive environment with the topics, quotes and especially the pictures they post on their social media accounts. College coaches will do their homework and research each player they are recruiting.
When a player is looking for a baseball scholarship, we encourage him to determine with his family what is an acceptable dollar amount before he makes his decision. Many college baseball programs have limited scholarship money available, although academic scholarships are available for deserving student-athletes. Recently, one of our players received an academic scholarship offer of 75 percent, which far exceeded his baseball scholarship offers. He decided to play for the college that offered him the academic scholarship and continue to play baseball as a walk-on.