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Category Archives: Sport

Catchers and Catching in Baseball

Observe the player carefully and note things like the following:

  • After the player gets the equipment on, does he look like he’s used to wearing it, or is he fidgeting with it, pulling at it and trying to figure out how to wear it? Does it appear that it feels “weird” to him? A catcher that is used to wearing this stuff usually will just throw it on in a few minutes and be done with it.
  • When the player gets down is his receiving stance, does he look relaxed, comfortable and stable? Is it basically a correct stance? Or does he look clumsy and uncomfortable and not sure how he wants to squat? A catcher that has done a good deal of catching will normally get right down in a stance that you can tell is natural to him and feels O.K., even if you think it’s not an exactly correct stance.
  • When you are winding up, does the player appear ready, still relaxed and focused? Or, does the player appear pretty nervous, maybe a little scared at this point? Young catchers with experience at this point usually have a look of anticipation and focus. They are concentrating on your release and the ball, not worrying about getting hit by the ball. Most of the time it is easy to see the difference.
  • When you actually do the fake throw, does the catcher flinch, turn his head, bring his non-glove hand around to protect himself, even though you haven’t even thrown the ball yet? If he does, he’s probably relatively new at this and should be taught how to do things correctly, mainly to protect himself. Young catchers with innings under their belts won’t flinch too much at the point when you are about to throw the ball. They are calm, stable on their feet and are focused. They are anticipating the ball and how to catch it or block it. They are not overly concerned with getting hit by the ball.

If the player that you are assessing appears like he does indeed have some of the “experience” qualities mentioned above and just needs work to improve, you’re in good shape. Focus on fundamentals and repeat, repeat and repeat. That’s what separates good catchers from mediocre ones.

Fastpitch Softball Players

Composite bats offer more advantages than aluminum bats these days, but cost more and lack durability. Composite bats also require attention and care to prevent damage.

Composite Bat Speed: Composite bats are easier to swing and can be more accurately controlled.
Aluminum Bat Speed: Aluminum bats are generally heavier than composite bats and less evenly balanced.
Composite Performance: Composite bats peak in performance once they have been properly broken in. A broken-in composite bat will outperform most aluminum bats.
Aluminum Performance: Aluminum bats maintain a steady performance throughout the life of the bat.
Composite Durability: Composite bats are fragile and batters must be conscious of weather conditions and proper use.
Aluminum Durability: Aluminum bats are very durable and require little attention.
Composite Cost: Composite bats vary greatly in cost, depending on materials used.
Aluminum Cost: Aluminum bats are less expensive than composite bats and do not require as much technology to produce.

With a type of bat in mind, now you can start gather hitting drills for your players. Some aspects of hitting to focus on could include Building The Swing, Visual Preparation and Game Adjustments. There are many types of drills to focus on the simple mechanics of hitting. Some use a hitting Tee, some will use wiffle balls and even the Soft Toss Drill where a ball is tossed in front of the hitter in line with the big toe allowing the hitter to focus on their technique instead of reading a pitch coming straight at them.

If you’re looking to improve your bat speed or looking to increase your bat strength make sure you choose a bat that best fits your personal preference. Take some time to choose your bat. Take the time to select your hitting drills and get yourself set up for the drills that are focusing on the specific mechanics you are looking to improve and get to work! May all your swings come true. Have a great year!!

Must Use Volleyball Shoes

The first question I asked was simple. Why are shoes so important? Shoes are some of the most important equipment that you will use. You need to have shoes that have good arch support and keep the foot stable. I know from personal experience that poor support can cause pain in the feet, knees or even the lower back. You also need to make sure that the shoe fits properly so that your foot does not move or shift around inside of the shoe. Not choosing wisely can result in injury.

Next I asked what makes them different. The sport of volleyball puts stresses and wear and tear on certain points of the shoe. For example, the toe area is reinforced which is the first area to wear out on these shoes because of the way your foot drags after serving the ball. The ventilation is also important. Each shoe has been designed with a ventilation system to help keep your feet dry and cool during the game. This helps prevent chafing and reduces the chance of fungus growth like athletes foot. They also have specially designed cushioning in the sole of the shoe. It helps to reduce impact on the athlete’s body after running or jumping. The shoes also have a specially designed rubberized out-sole that helps with traction on the court. This helps the athlete to change directions faster and more easily. Finally the support and stability of the shoe is designed around the rigors of the sport.

The final question was can you use a different type of shoe such as a basketball or running shoe? The simple answer is yes. Those types of shoes will work, but they probably won’t last as long. Also they will not perform quite as well on the court. You have to remember that basketball shoes were developed for basketball and running shoes were developed for running. Although sometimes people feel more comfortable playing in shoes they are more familiar with, that is OK even if it was designed for other sports.

Technology in Rugby Balls

The comprehensive range is available in the market from where you can pick it up for you. But, here I want to narrate the story about how the rugby ball is manufactured. This information helps you in understanding what you should keep in mind while buying these balls.

In the past, the rugby balls were manufactured using pig’s bladder. But for now, the material has been changed to leather. Nowadays, the manufacturers are developing these balls using excellent quality leather. The shape of this ball is oval with 4 panels. But, there is a problem with the leather. The leather has the tendency to absorb water. The absorption of the water eventually results in making the balls heavier. This makes the ball over-weighted making it imperfect for the game.

To cater this problem, the rugby ball manufacturers are employing synthetic leather. This doesn’t have the property to absorb water molecules. The synthetic leather is basically the polymer of hydrocarbon. This is a highly durable material and provides long life to the ball. This is basically the waterproof material and prevents the absorption of water. Another promising feature associated with this material is that it behaves more consistently in different weather conditions.

The color is very important when it comes to influence the performance of the players. The rugby balls are widely developed in those color combinations that provide good visibility to the players. The manufacturers use different patterns while developing their products in order to provide good visibility to the players during the game.

Unlike soccer balls, the rugby balls don’t contain any bladder or lining. In this, the soft foam is used in place of the tubes. So, there is no need to get these balls inflated. Owing to this soft foam, the fingers of the players don’t get hurt. The heavier balls are also available in the market that can be used for playing and practicing purposes.

The rugby ball manufacturers are creating their products using latest manufacturing machinery. In this, they are employing the latest machinery for stitching. The advanced machinery helps in providing durability & reliability to the product.

Problem Swinging Late at Pitches

  • Many youngsters in particular, have the bad habit of loading up twice. You go back once, not twice. They load up once and then they make the common mistake of loading up a little bit more. You can’t be going back toward the catcher when the pitch is on its way.
  • You are possibly taking too long a route to the ball. Be more direct when going from point A, where you are “loaded up,” to point B, where you make contact.
  • The first movement after you are loaded up should be down toward the ball and the bat should level out only at the point of contact. Many weak hitters have the bat parallel to the ground at the very beginning of the swing and this is wrong and will present many baseball hitting problems for you.
  • Another possibility for being late is the bottom of the knob of bat is facing too far back toward the catcher. This will cause the bat to have to travel a much greater distance to get to the ball and make you late on your swing.
  • Possibly the bat is wrapped too far around your head. Again, the bat will have to travel too far and you will be late on the pitch.
  • You don’t want to have your hands too far away from the body, which causes the front arm to straighten out too soon. This will cause a longer and indirect swing, causing you to be late on the pitch.
  • Maybe the bat is being held too much straight up and down. If you are doing this, try a compromise of half way between straight up and down and parallel to the ground.
  • Maybe you are gripping the bat too tightly. It’s a known fact that you can swing the bat more efficiently and quicker by not gripping it too tightly. It’s the same exact principle as a pitcher gripping the ball tighter to slow down the speed of the pitch to fool the hitter. Gripping the bat too tightly will actually slow down your bat speed just like it slows down a pitch from the pitcher.

Overhand Serve in Volleyball

Pick a target

Serving is a proactive activity and should be done with intent. At higher levels players are instructed to serve specific opposing players or locations on the court in an effort to go for aces or to put the other team under pressure. Even at lower levels, though, picking a target is a good way to get focused in a positive fashion about your serve. It helps you visualize your serve and gives you something better to think about than “get the ball in”. Much better to be proactive than hopeful.

Take your time

I see so many players serve as soon as the whistle blows, rushing their serves needlessly. This tends to lead to mistakes. Much better to take your time and get yourself focused. You have several seconds after the whistle blows, so relax. This is especially important after a long or important rally. Give yourself time to take a breath, pick your target, and visualize the serve going right where you want it.

About Volleyball Drills

Cooperative Games

Pepper is a favorite warm-up for volleyball players everywhere. It quite effectively has the players working on passing, setting, and hitting skills. If we expand that beyond 2-3 players and start bringing in more players – up to full 6 v 6 – we can have a very adaptable drill which can be used for warm-ups, to work on all facets of ball-handling, and to focus on certain types of offense and/or defense strategies. Because the idea is to keep the ball in play rather than going for kills, you automatically get longer rallies and thereby more touches for everyone involved, and you do so in game-like situations. And lest the players get too focused on hitting the ball at each other, you can always use a cooperative play to lead into full play or small-side games.

Team Serving & Passing

We all know that good serving and solid passing are the foundations of volleyball success. A simple way to work on these two skills is to split your team in half and have one side serve to the other. What makes this such a useful drill is how you can use scoring and competition to adapt it to different training needs. And you can add follow-up skills such as servers covering a setter dump or the passing team running an offensive play to raise the stakes.

Advantages of Rugby for Children

Rugby like other sports has benefits to the body where it is known to enhance the physical strength and abilities of the children to make them healthy and strong both mentally and physically.

• Increases physical fitness – As the game involves running around the rugby field with a goal to make the rugby ball reach the other end, it improves the fitness of the body. The exercises involved in the training procedure builds the muscles and the growth of the bones to provide their bodies with a better structure while they grow up.

• Improved moral and ethical senses – The game has a rule for itself and thus whether it is a training session or a competitive match, each player is deemed to follow the norms of the game. It involves strict rule maintenance and thus bringing about a strong moral and ethical sense in their minds. They can apply the same in the different tasks that they perform in life whether in the present or the future.

• Develops healthy team spirit – While the players of a rugby team play in unison, it brings about the sense of positive team spirit in them where they understand the value of healthy competition with the other team and the fact that they have to play for their team to make it win.

• The sense of evaluation and concentration – Rugby is a game that requires analysis and assessment while on the field. The player has to evaluate the paths that they need to run down to dodge opponents and reach with the ball to the other side. It increases their sense of concentration at a young age and thus making it come to good use in their academics as well.

All about Baseball Hitting

Striding With the Front Toes Slightly Closed

If your toes are slightly closed, it encourages you to keep your front hip and front shoulder closed as well. In other words, instead of having the toes pointing straight out away from your body when you take your stride, turn them an inch or two inward, back toward the catcher. If you point the front toes out toward the pitcher, it will encourage you to open your front side too early which will create many baseball hitting problems.

Have the Bat Fully Loaded When the Stride Foot Touches the Ground

All good hitters have the bat in the “launching position” when their front foot completes the stride. You stride and then you swing. They are two separate movements that should happen very quickly and smoothly but they are separate movements.

Making an Aggressive Motion Toward The Pitcher

A lot of hitters do not do this but all the great hitters do. That is where the ball is coming from and that’s where you should be going. Real good hitters go into the ball to hit it. It’s a common baseball hitting problem to not go toward the pitcher when swinging. The reason it’s such a common baseball hitting problem is because it is simply not natural to move your body toward a baseball that someone is throwing in your direction.

Having a Tension Free Swing

“Tension is a hitter’s worst enemy,” is a quote that’s been around for decades and is still one of the best baseball tips on hitting. Tension destroys a fluid, graceful swing that’s necessary for hitting the ball properly. Don’t squeeze the bat too tightly and don’t tighten up your muscles. Like mentioned above, many very good hitters have a slight waggle to help them relax.

Head Behind the Swing

The real good hitters actually see the ball a little longer than the weaker hitters. They literally lower and turn their heads when making contact. You simply can not keep your head facing the pitcher and look at the baseball out of the corners of your eyes when trying to make contact.

Hitting to All Fields

Rarely will you find a hitter with a high batting average who limits himself to hitting the ball to only one part of the field. Pay attention to the old expression, “hit it where it’s pitched.” In the long run, you will be much better off.

Defend Against Dink in Volleyball

Positional responsibility

After attitude comes positioning. The players with designated responsibility for tip coverage, if any, are determined by the type of defense a team employs. For example, a rotational defense in which the right back player moves up behind the block on an outside hitter attack means that right back defender is responsible for shots over the block and into the middle of the court. In a standard perimeter defense there is no specifically designated tip coverage player, so basically it is up to the player(s) closest to the ball to make the dig.

Expecting the shot

This is perhaps the most important part of being good at off-speed defense. Tips, roll shots, and the like tend to score more because defenders are surprised than because they are well-placed. A prime example of this is setter dumps scoring when in most teams’ base defense there are two players specifically placed to defend against the first or second ball coming over. If those players expect the setter to dump they will often make a rather easy play on the ball. If not, they are caught flat-footed and the ball drops – a source of many a coach’s grey hairs.

Moving through the ball

As noted above, defense against an off-speed shot is often about pursuit. A player must move to the ball to make the play on it. In many instances the player has to run to get the ball and may not be able to be stopped in time to make a good play. In these cases they need to be able to execute a run-through dig to the favored target zone. This is something which requires training for less advanced players as the mechanics involved are a bit different than the normal more static dig or pass.