Friday, August 3, 2012

Throwing Arm Rest and Relaxation

Now that in some areas of the country baseball is played year round, youth baseball players are finding a hard time to to find time to rest their arms.

There are tons of studies out there that talk about curve balls, pitch counts - however there are not many that provide a plan or make a recommendation about how much rest during the year that players should rest their arms.

One of the recommendations that has come to the forefront is that young ball players should rest their arms at least 3 months out of the year. With fall baseball running from September through November and then spring baseball going from January through July - where does a player find the three months to rest their arm.

I would recommend this as a plan for those players that play year round. Between the spring/summer and fall season, the month of August is a good time to take a break from throwing. Between fall and spring/summer, the months of November and December are good to take a break.

During the months when you are taking a break from throwing, you can still hit, take ground balls, as well as keeping your legs in shape - do lots of running - sprints and distance.

Any coach with a view of the big picture, will respect your decision to rest your arm during those months.

When it is time to throw again - be sure to take your time and use a good long toss throwing program to get your arm back in shape. Don't rush this - take your time and keep your arm healthy.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up | March 2-4, 2012

TCA Field #1 Infield Turf Done
First Use - March 4, 2012
Eleven teams in tournaments, Field #1's Maiden Voyage and High School players workout.

Triple Creek Field Update
Over the last two weeks, there have been many improvements made to the Triple Creek Complex - walkways, bullpens and fields. One of the main projects that has been worked on over the last couple weeks is Field #1. Field #1 was completely skinned (all existing grass from the infield area removed), the infield edge that connects to the outfield was cut deeper into the outfield and then . . . new grass on the infield, pitchers mound and home plate cut perfectly and new grass down the lines. Sunday, March 4, 2012 was the maiden voyage for Field #1 and all teams that played - couldn't stop talking about how great the infield grass and dirt were to play on - the boys felt like professionals - Big League field for a big league feel.

Tournament Summary
The eleven (11) TCA Twins teams played in two tournaments this weekend - Triple Crown Sports North Texas Season Opener (#ntxseasonopener) and Triple Creek Academy Clover All Over (#cloverallover).

Triple Crown Sports North Texas Season Opener (#ntxseasonopener):

  • 9U Benhardt (#9UBenhardt)
  • 10U Varner (#10UVarner)
  • 10U Zarbaugh (#10UZarbaugh)
  • 11U DeButy (#11UDeButy)
  • 12U Findley (#12UFindley)
  • 12U Mitchell (#12UMitchell)
Triple Creek Academy Clover All Over (#cloverallover):

  • 8U Constantine (#8UConstantine)
  • 8U Springer (#8USpringer)
  • 11U Wiesner (#11UWiesner)
  • 13U Thielepape (#13UThielepape)
  • 14U Pierce (#14UPierce)
Across the two tournaments, TCA Twins had two (2) teams play for championships and four (4) teams play in semi-final games.
11U DeButy players
Sitting in the Semi-Finals

The following two teams played in the championship games, but came up short and finished second:

  • 10U Zarbaugh | North Texas Season Opener | 10U D1
  • 14U Pierce | Clover All Over | 14U AA Division
The following teams made it to the semi-finals, but got knocked out:
  • North Texas Season Opener
    • 10U Varner | 10U D2
    • 11U DeButy | 11U D1
    • 12U Mitchell | 12U D1
  • Clover All Over
    • 11U Wiesner | 11U AAA
It is still early in the season and all teams played well and represented TCA Twins with class and respect when winning and losing. Keep up all the hard work boys!

High School Workout
This past Sunday, some of the high school players got together for a light workout - some infield, outfield and situational hitting. We also had some of our 14U-Majors players join the group to get a little extra work in and provide some live pitching. As we progress through the spring and high school players are playing mostly league games, we look forward to seeing more players for light workouts and get closer to ensuring players are slotted for the right teams.

As usual, there was a lot of things going on this weekend and more coming this weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Plant, Shuffle, Flip & Drop Step

Which zone the pitcher fielding this bunt in?
Plant | Shuffle | Flip | Drop Step
The bunt is back in play. Why? New BBCOR bats is probably the main reason. Colleges and High School baseball has changed and the 'bunt' is now a tool being used more to get runners on base, move runners over, score runs and make the defense antsy and uncomfortable.

So what does - 'Plant, Shuffle, Flip & Drop Step' have to do with bunts?

TCA Twins Coach, Jace Findley, at Monday's Extra Work showed & explained to pitchers four (4) zones for fielding bunts.

The four zones in front of the pitchers mound, yet far enough from the catcher - from third base line to the first base line are as follows:

  1. Plant - When a bunt is fielded in this zone, the pitcher does not have a lot of time to re-shuffle their feet and then throw because the bunt is near the third base foul line. When a ball is bunted in this zone, the pitcher must field the bunt, with their feet in a good position to throw - thus they must field the ball in a 'plant' position. Once they field the fall, they must keep their feet 'planted' and throw.
  2. Shuffle - When a bunt is fielded in this zone, the pitcher has some time, so we want the pitcher to shuffle, get their feet under them and sometimes shuffle to get off the mound. Granted this is not a good bunt by the offense - as this bunt is right back to the pitcher.
  3. Flip - When a bunt is fielded in this zone, the pitcher will be fielding this with some momentum moving towards first base and it is too close to first base to throw the ball. When the pitcher fields this bunt (usually a push-bunt towards the second basemen), the pitcher will field this bunt and use an under-hand flip (or what I like to describe as a toss) to the player covering first base.
  4. Drop Step - When a bunt is fielded in this zone, the pitcher is close to the first base line and needs to create a throwing lane so the throw does not hit the runner running to first base. After the bunt is fielded in this zone, the pitcher will use a drop step towards the pitchers mound and then throw to the player covering first base.
The Plant, Shuffle, Flip and Drop Step zones are primarily used for fielding bunts by the pitcher and making the play to first base.

Thanks to TCA Twins coach Jace (12U Head Coach, 10U Assistant & 15U Co-Head Coach) for providing our TCA Twins players with a method and zones for fielding bunts as a pitcher.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Triple Creek Make-Over

Curb Appeal - you got it!!
Triple Creek Academy is getting a make-over and it's starting at the curb. A new entrance, with walkway, garden area - gets you to Fields 1 & 2.

The main highlight is the crushed granite pathways. Two pathways from the parking lot to the 'clubhouse' and a winding pathway from the 'clubhouse' to Fields 1 & 2.

The make-over doesn't stop there - Field 1, used for 13U & 14U has got a new infield 'skin'. New bermuda grass turf has been laid down in the foul territories from infield/outfield edge - from 1st base to 3rd base. Not only that - the infield got cut back a bit deeper - so now the shortstop and second basemen can play in the right spot and get better angles to balls in the hole and up the middle. Wait for it.....the infield grass has also been renewed with the same bermuda turf that is laid in foul territory.

Field 1 is still having final touches done - so it won't be ready for this weekend's tournament - however it is targeted to be ready for next weekend's tournament - "Clover all Over".

The following are more photos of the pathways - photos of Field 1 coming soon. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Catching Technique - Baseball Prospectus

Can a catcher really earn/lose strikes for their pitcher?

According to studies and statistics, it has been proven to be true.

By getting extra strikes called, catchers are able to save their team base runners and eventually runs scored.

The article, Spinning Yarn at Baseball Prospectus, provides a very in-depth look into the statistics and relate them to catching technique. The first part of the article provides a list of catcher's and how they rank from saving runs (getting more strikes called). Later in the article there are some video clips that compare catchers and some actions they do to either earn/lose strike calls.

Couple key points from a catching technique:

  1. Squat low - this may be difficult for you taller/bigger catchers - however squatting low allows the umpire to get a clear view of the ball crossing the plate.
  2. Target/Glove at your knees - You want to start your target at the bottom of the strike zone - when the pitch crosses that low plane, you are able to 'catch' the ball by extending your glove straight out, as opposed to going down to catch.
  3. Catch the Ball Firmly - This allows you as the catcher to catch the ball and hold it in the spot that you catch it - as opposed to letting the pitch take your glove out of the strike zone.
  4. Less Movement the Better - Keep your head and body as still as possible while catching the pitch. Lots of head and body movement are a distraction to the umpire.
Here is a quote from the article from an excellent MLB receiver (catcher) - Brett Mayne:
Exaggerated glove and body movements are well known to be distracting to umpires. As Brent Mayne wrote in The Art of Catching:
Simply catch the ball firmly. When the pitch and glove meet, that’s where the action should stop. The catcher should have enough strength to stop the momentum of the ball so that strikes don’t turn into balls. Think of a gymnast “sticking” a landing. Just “stick” the ball, hold it for a brief second, then throw it back.
Check out this clip of Jonathan Lucroy (MLB - Brewers)

EARN THOSE STRIKES - Read the full article - Spinning Yarn at Baseball Prospectus.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A New Way

Excitement @ TCA
The Triple Creek Academy Twins (TCA Twins) select baseball organization is taking a new approach to teams, practices and organization.

After kicking off their season with a uniform fitting and team meetings, the TCA Twins introduced shared practice times, an organizational culture and extra workouts. For over a month now - teams have adapted to working together to leverage practice facilities - even during rainy days - to ensure their players are getting 'deliberate workouts'. Not just 'reps', but deliberate reps that are focused to increase muscle memory and instill great fundamentals.

The 'extra work' program has been extremely well received with families and players taking full advantage. Extra work programs are 30-90 minute workouts focused on various aspects of the game: pitching, catching, middle infielders, outfielders, corner infielders, speed & agility, base running and much much more. This is a way the organization provides focused work on areas that is sometimes difficult to work into a 'team' practice. Sometimes the workouts occur before practices, sometimes on the weekend and sometimes in the evening during other team practices.

The TCA Twins organization is promoting a new culture for youth sports - encouraging their coaches, players and parents to 'ENJOY' the game being played. With experienced leadership from Ross Powell (ex-major league player) who knows what it takes to get to a high level of baseball, but more importantly the characteristics of what makes a successful person - Ross takes an approach to youth baseball that is unfortunately - way to uncommon. Coaches and players are encouraged to push the limits during practice and build solid fundamentals. Parents are requested to 'enjoy' - practices, workouts, scrimmages and games.

The 'TCA Twins Way' is not so much 'New' - but just uncommon amongst most youth sports organizations. Just like anything that is a bit new or different - it will take time, however we are very excited. The staff, coaches, families and players for this 2012 season are great and just the right folks to make this happend and be the beginning of something great!