Saturday, July 30, 2011

Importance of Communication


In baseball, communication can be the difference between success and failure. On every play, players need to communicate with each other. 

Think about that for a moment. In EVERY situation, there is communication between players. And it doesn’t have to be verbal communication. There are so many examples of non-verbal communication during a baseball game and, many times, those are the ones that are executed properly.

I’m not going to argue that communication is more important than talent – it’s not. But if you have two evenly matched teams, I’d bet the one that does a better job of communicating would win. 

What are some of the ways missed communication can affect the outcome of a game? The most common would be missed signs between the coach and either the batter or base runner. A mix up between the catcher and pitcher can happen often, especially with a runner on second base. 

When most of us think of communication, we think of fly balls and base coaches. We are all taught that the centerfielder has priority over the outfield, the shortstop controls the infield and your base coach can see the play behind you. 

Here are several other communication scenarios that take place in almost every single game.
 
Middle-infielders tell each other who will cover second base on a steal attempt.

Catchers let infielders know where to throw the ball on a bunt. 

Coaches signal players from the dugout and tell them where to play. 

First-basemen tell the pitcher when to attempt a pick-off if the runner has a big lead. 

Fielders position themselves based on what pitch is called by the catcher. 

On a ball hit back to the pitcher, with a runner on first, who will be covering second base?

With runners on first and third, someone tells the infield what play is on. 

First basemen let the catcher know when a runner is attempting to steal. 

On balls hit to the outfield, catchers line infielders up and let them know if throws need cut-off. 

Outfielders can let each other know where to throw the ball.
 
Communication is the basis of winning baseball. It doesn’t take additional time. It only takes thinking the game. You have to be aware of what situation is happening and what can you do or what can you say to help your teammate be more successful. 

Learn to do a better job at communicating – verbal and non-verbal – and you will see an increase in success.

Visit our complete online resource for instructional baseball videos and our free eBook at www.ToTheTopPerformance.com. To keep up to date with all of our info, Like us on Facebook - To The Top Performance.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hustle


Several days ago, in the bottom of the 10th inning of a 3-3 game, with one out, the Pirates’ Xavier Paul came to bat. Nobody was on and he was, like most players in that situation, looking to get on base to start a rally or, more likely, hit a homerun and end the game.  

He ended up in a 2-2 count and hit weak ground ball on a95-MPH fastball from St. Louis reliever Jason Motte. That ground ball bounced aimlessly to Cardinals’ first baseman Albert Pujols. At first glance, it looked like an easy out. That play is practiced hundreds, if not thousands, of times during spring training and happens at some point of every single game. 

Most players in Paul’s position would have jogged to first and conceded the out. After all, it was a hot day in Pittsburgh and the game was in extra innings. Even though he was came off the bench late in the game, after he made contact, there was a pretty good chance he’d be out there for the 11th inning. 

But Paul exploded out of the box – it also helps that he is a lefty. The ball took a big hop, which forced Pujols to wait for it, and then is seemed Albert took his time with the throw. To be fair, Jason Motte didn’t seem like he was in a real hurry to cover first either. It almost looked as if Motte expected Xavier Paul to only run to first base as a formality. 

Paul won the race and beat Motte to the base for an infield single. On the next pitch, Xavier takes off for second. Catcher Yadier Molina short hops the throw and the ball ends up in centerfield as Paul then advances to third base. Pirates’ third baseman Chase d’Arnaud eventually hits a sacrifice fly to centerfield, giving the Pirates the 4-3 victory and the avoid a sweep at the hands of their division rival.

It takes no talent to hustle. It only takes effort. It can be the difference in winning and losing, making a team or getting cut, having success or wishing for it. 

Xavier Paul could have cruised to first. My guess is many major-league players would have. He had every excuse not to run hard. It was hot. It was in extra innings. He hit a weak ground ball. There aren’t many infield singles when you hit the ball to the first baseman. 

But he didn’t. He hustled. He ran as hard as he could. He wanted to be safe. He wanted to win. He wanted to be the difference maker. 

And he was. 

All because he gave his best effort on a play that, in today’s Major League baseball, we expect minimal effort.

Visit our complete online resource for instructional baseball videos and our free eBook at www.ToTheTopPerformance.com. To keep up to date with all of our info, Like us on Facebook - To The Top Performance.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Great Play and A Bad Example

Here is the great play by the Pirates' Neil Walker. The other is because of the reaction of Reds' catcher Ramon Hernandez. I understand that he is a long-time Major League veteran, but that's no excuse for spiking your helmet because an opponent makes a great play.

Visit our complete online resource for instructional baseball videos and our free eBook at www.ToTheTopPerformance.com. To keep up to date with all of our info, Like us on Facebook - To The Top Performance.