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Coaches Needed
by posted 04/23/2022

Hi All,

Due to some time conflicts, our team's assistant coaches will not be able to help out as much as they had planned to.  We could REALLY use some extra hands at practices to help facilitate drills and small group work.  No baseball knowledge or coaching experience necessary.  We could also use some moms and dads to help out during games - keeping the kids focused in the dugout and aware of the batting order and so on.  If you are willing and able to help out - even if it's only a practice/game here and there - please register to volunteer: https://www.leagueathletics.com/Registration/Default.asp?n=20213&org=sybsa.org.  It's a lot of fun!  

Thanks, and see you at practice Sunday at 5:45! 



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Training Tools
by posted 04/16/2022

Pros using the pancake glove


Great first practice the other day!  Even though we were doing the boring - yet vital - work of developing our throwing and ground ball fielding mechanics, everyone was enthusiastic and put forth great effort.  I have no doubt that this will be a fun season with this group.

At practice, I mentioned some good training tools that are extremely helpful in teaching players (forcing players) to use better form when fielding grounders.  Ellis used these over the winter, and they definitely made a difference in improving his play in the field.  The first, and most important, is something called a "pancake glove" or "soft hands glove" or other names various manufacturers call them.  Essentially, it's a flat glove without webbing, so players are forced to use proper wrist motion taking ground balls, and they are forced to develop muscle memory on using their throwing hand to make a quick transfer out of the glove.  There are lots of different ones on the market, but this is an excellent (and inexpensive) one to start with: https://www.amazon.com/SKLZ-Softhands-Baseball-Fielding-Trainer/dp/B0019GEU5K/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1UFR0Q8SVJ336&keywords=soft+hands+baseball+glove&qid=1650122279&sprefix=soft+hands+baseball+glove%2Caps%2C115&sr=8-3.  Ellis used it for a few months before he decided he liked it so much he wanted a better one, so we upgraded to this (still inexpensive) one: https://www.amazon.com/MacGregor-1281491-Infield-Training-Glove/dp/B0032VH2XC/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1UFR0Q8SVJ336&keywords=soft+hands+baseball+glove&qid=1650123937&sprefix=soft+hands+baseball+glove%2Caps%2C115&sr=8-2.  

Obviously, there is no requirement to buy this, but it's just an option to be aware of.  If you do get one, we'll 100% be having players use it every single practice, so it'll get its money's worth.  Even pros use these gloves - the Red Sox started using them this spring training season (along with small balls, which we also use in practice), and it saved Willi Castro's career: https://www.mlb.com/news/willi-castro-fixed-fielding-with-pancake-glove.  You can find these locally at Olympia Sports, Dick's, and Monkey Sports in Norwood.

The other tool which is really good for fielding is training glasses.  They may look a bit goofy, but these are great at forcing players to see the ball all the way into their gloves.  We preach "butt down, glove down, eyes down" twenty times every practice when working on ground balls, but players at this age start to think about the throw before the ball gets into their glove, and that's probably the number one cause of silly errors at this level.  The glasses make sure this critical step is not missed.   https://www.amazon.com/Field-Specs-Baseball-Softball-Training/dp/B0030APMCI/ref=sr_1_5?crid=20VBT3AKALTNC&keywords=baseball+training+glasses&qid=1650122357&sprefix=baseball+training+glasses%2Caps%2C414&sr=8-5

With or without these training aids, I encourage the players to not just practice baseball during team practices, but seven days per week.  There are a ton of "toys" out there for baseball (toss back nets, hit-a-way batting trainers, etc.), but really all you need is a tennis ball and a wall to practice our throwing drills and fielding drills, or even just a baseball to spin in your throwing hand to develop agility when watching tv or (dare I say) watching TikTok videos.  Daily marginal gains make huge differences over time.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone next Tuesday at 5:45.  The weather forecast doesn't look so great right now, so watch for an email from me on Monday or Tuesday to determine whether practice will be on or not.



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Diving into the new season
by posted 03/26/2022

Hi Phillie Fanatics!

Here we are again, on the verge of another season.  And this one will be special for a number of reasons.  First, for all of our players, this will be our final months on the small diamond before we graduate to the 50/70 field.  Second, it's our last year of Little League.  Third, we have a LOT of really good ballplayers on our club.  And finally, and most importantly, pretty much every person on our team knows one another and are good friends, so win, lose, or draw, every practice and game will be sure to be a fun time as we learn to become better skilled in this sport.

When I assembled this team, I did so not just on the basis of baseball ability, but more so, as I've coached almost every one of these athletes at least once on the field or on the basketball court, because I know how they play - their hustle, desire, positive attitude, good sportmanship, and the ability to be a great teammate.  Along with the mechanics of pitching, hitting, fielding, throwing, and base running, these are the traits we are going to be continuing to work on each practice and game individually and as a team.

While we'll do our best to win a championship this spring, we have three primary goals that trump that aspiration.  First, we want to have fun every time we step on the field and be smiling every time we step off it.  Second, we want to develop skills in all facets of the game (physical and mental) to become better players not just for this season, but for this coming summer and even for high school (and beyond).  And third, we want our players not just to bond as a team, but as friends off the field, so when the games are over, the camaraderie endures.    

As far as games go, expect that every player will get a shot at trying every position on the field (with the possible exception of pitcher and catcher) and that they'll move around in the batting line-up from game to game (someone at the bottom of the order one game will be at the top the next).  There also will be equal playing time for all.  

If any adult would like to help coach, please reach out to Kevin and sign-up - the more hands on the field, the more efficient we can be with our practice time!  The more efficient we are at practices, the better we become.  Prior baseball experience not at all required.  

As we get closer to opening day, we'll begin to discuss more of the nitty-gritty details of the season.  But for now, let's just be excited that the air is warm, the field is dry, and it's a healthy time to be together.

Three final notes for now as we prepare for the season:

1) Please make sure you have all the right equipment: good quality glove (Wilson A500 gloves are the best bang-for-buck in my opinion), a USA stamped bat (must say USA on it or it's not legal for use in games/practices - feel free to ask me about size, weight, brands, etc.), a proper fitting helmet, baseball pants and knee high socks for all practices, sliding shorts and cup, and other necessities (warm under-clothing, sunglasses, batting gloves, etc.) as your player may desire. 

2) Starting on Friday, April 8th, I'll be hosting optional practices for our team on Tuesdays and Firdays at the Deb Sampson fields from 5:45-7:15.  This will be a good chance to shake off the rust before the season officially starts.

3) Lastly, and this too is 100% optional, I thought it would be cool if this year we looked like a pro team and had matching pants and socks for games.  These are my recommendation for the team (I've already bought these for Ellis) - Socks: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B083D4LDVB/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?smid=A3HM8K4BWE43WZ&psc=1

Pants have two options: knickers or traditional: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MV43AW6/ref=ox_sc_act_title_5?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1 or https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01I0J567O/ref=ox_sc_act_title_4?smid=A4LCVG76T71OU&psc=1.  

Again, do not feel obligated at all to purchase these - just an idea to make us look sharp for game days.  I would, though, at least to have all the players in white pants and red baseball socks for our games.  

I'm really looking forward to this season - I'm super exited about coaching all these guys (again).  It's just a really great crew.  I'll reach out a few days prior to our first optional get-together on the 8th.  If you have any questions or comments before then, please don't hesitate to contact me!  And don't forget, you can sign up any time to be a volunteer - even if it's just to help out at one or two practices or to sit in the dugout a couple of games to remd players of the batting order - every little bit helps!  

See you all soon!


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