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Education is one of the fundamental building blocks of the game. As such, USA Baseball’s educational resources emphasize a culture of development, safety and fun within the sport through free online training courses and programs focused for players, parents, coaches, and umpires. Content is available in both English and Spanish.

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USA Baseball is passionate about protecting the health and safety of all constituents within the game. Through the Pure Baseball, SafeSport, and Pitch Smart, and other health and safety initiatives, USA Baseball is working to make the game of baseball a positive and safe experience at all levels of play.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

USA Baseball strives to be a steward of the amateur game through offering cutting edge sport performance analysis and player development. With a focus on physical literacy, fundamental movement skills and advanced performance metrics, the analysis of athletic abilities can help prepare players for their next level of play, wherever that may be.

BLOG

 Unifying Leadership
(8/16/2019)
 
 
   

Unifying Leadership


FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster


In the coming weeks and months, teams for all sports and all seasons will begin to take shape.  Experienced upperclassmen will return to college campuses and high school grounds just as wide-eyed newcomers will have no idea what they are in for.  At some schools, veteran players will “welcome” their younger teammates to the club by having them carry equipment bags, pick up garbage, and fill water jugs, along with other forms of initiation, in the name of tradition and paying dues.

Meanwhile, at hopefully many, many more schools, the old will genuinely welcome the new, in the real meaning of the word. 

Back in May, right in the midst of a run to the Stanley Cup Finals, Boston Bruins team captain Zdeno Chara was asked about how his team has blended so well. His answer went viral. 

“No matter if someone is 18 or 40, somebody who has 1,000 games or playing their first game, we treat each other with respect and the same way as everybody else in the locker room. I didn’t like the separation inside of the team between younger players and older players, players who have accomplished something, players who are just coming into the league.  I don’t like to use the word rookie. They are our teammates… Once you’re a team, you’re a team, regardless of the age or accomplishments.”

In a sport with arguably more tradition than all others combined, the captain for one of the NHL’s best teams actively chooses to make his teammates feel, well, like a part of the team.

The best teams in sport aren’t always the most talented, but rather the clubs who collectively work together better than the rest as a cohesive unit, with everyone pulling the rope in the same direction.  Of course, success requires talent. But as history has taught us, success goes beyond talent. Much of this true sense of team is built from a culture whose foundation is set by leaders like Chara with the goal to unify. The toxic sense of selfish individuality that permeates through bad teams is developed in a very similar manner of including… by excluding. 

There is a very simple and incredibly impactful way to create a positive environment amongst old and new: sweep the sheds. 

In the book Legacy, author James Kerr gives an inside look at the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team who just happens to be one of the most successful sports teams in the history of sports who, at the time of publishing, held a winning percentage of .770. How this club has been able to enjoy so much sustained success is more impressive than their record itself; they attribute their success as much to their culture as they do their talent. 

Part of that culture includes the mantra of sweeping the sheds, where all members of the All Blacks live the tradition that no individual is bigger than the team or those who came before them when it comes to doing their job, both on and off the field. They take as much pride in keeping their locker room clean (sweeping their shed) as they do competing against opposing world powers in rugby.
No one is too good to do something.  When the biggest star or the most experienced veteran are themselves doing the most remedial tasks, like carrying equipment, like picking up trash, like filling water jugs, the newcomers can’t help but notice and will tend to quickly fall in line themselves, just as the All Blacks have done over time.  They are leading by doing the things that no one wants to do, which, ironically, makes everyone else WANT to do them.  This type of leadership bonds and team and its players far better than any words possibly could.

At one point or another, every single player was a rookie. Every single student-athlete was once a freshman. Every single star was the new guy way back when.  For some, it’s an easy transition. For others, it’s an overwhelming one. They ALL want to be a part of the team, sooner rather than later. That team is a simple, conscious decision; an intentional decision made by its leaders, choosing to create that team by unifying one another; new, old, and everyone in between.

 



Darren Fenster is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the Manager of the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. A former player in the Kansas City Royals minor league system, Fenster joined the Red Sox organization in 2012 after filling various roles on the Rutgers University Baseball staff, where he was a two-time All-American for the Scarlet Knights. Fenster is also Founder and CEO of Coaching Your Kids, LLC, and can be found on Twitter @CoachYourKids.


 Strengthening an Athlete's Decision-Making Skills
(8/15/2019)
 
 
   

Strengthening an Athlete's Decision-Making Skills


In youth sports


Whether it’s making a decision about how to properly prepare for a competition, practice a recovery plan, or stay away from shortcuts, good decision-making, although challenging to teach, is a skill that is critical to an athlete’s success.

According to the Decision Education Foundation (DEF), which seeks to empower youth with effective decision-making skills through curriculum and courses in decision quality, teaching teenagers how to decide is more effective than teaching them what to decide. For example, the popular D.A.R.E. campaign that was implemented in schools nationwide simply told adolescents about the negative effects of drugs and had adolescents sign a pledge to say no to drugs, but it didn’t have a significant effect on actually preventing youth from illicit drug use according to a report by the U.S. General Accounting Office.

Chris Spetzler, DEF Executive Director, recommends helping students understand how to make better decisions as the first step to “increasing their thoughtfulness when engaging their values, creativity, and critical thinking in making and following through on their personal choices.”

As a coach, it’s important to develop an understanding of the decision-making process, as this will better equip you to help shape the way your athletes approach decisions on the field and throughout their lives. DEF explains that there are six elements that must be considered in order to reach a quality decision, including helpful frame, clear values, creative alternatives, useful information, sound reasoning, and commitment to follow through.

Keeping in mind these six foundational elements of a good decision, here are five DEF exercises we’ve tailored for coaches to use at practice with their team to help strengthen an athlete’s decision-making skills:
 
Explain Decisions You’ve Made

Sharing a personal decision-making story of your own can help you build trust with your team, make you more relatable, and allow you to break down the decision-making process with them. Being able to pull from your experience and explain the rationale behind the choices you’ve made will help illustrate the six elements of good decision-making for your team.
 
Case Studies from Sports

Whether it’s deciding who should take the final shot of a game or how to deal the temptation of performance-enhancing drugs, sports come with a lot of decision-making opportunities.
Walking through a sports story that involves decision making is a great way to start the discussion on the topic with your team. Using case studies of athletes who have made poor choices in the past provides your team with the opportunity to dive deep and analyze the situation, reasoning, and outcome of a real decision with real consequences.
 
Interactive Role Play Activities

Inviting your team to participate in simulated decision-making scenarios allows them to critically think and practice the elements of good decisions in real-time.
Have your athletes act out relevant situations, such as deciding how to react to a teammate who consumes energy drinks before practice, to help them evaluate their values and learn how to make more informed decisions.
 
Group Projects

Breaking your athletes into groups and giving them a sport-related challenge to work through is another way you can give them hands-on decision-making experience, while also encouraging them to consider the values and logic of their teammates.
Encourage your groups to share their outcomes and explain how they reached their final decision.
 
Visualization

Many coaches are familiar with the practice of having athletes visualize skills or upcoming games, but you can also apply this technique to your athlete’s decision-making.
For example, practice setting a goal with your athlete and walk through the decisions they would make to reach that goal. Encourage them to visualize their future after achieving their goal and evaluate the steps they needed to take to get there. Would they be proud of the decisions they made to achieve their goal?
_____
Creating a space that encourages the development of an essential life skill like decision-making should be a top priority for the coaches of youth athletes. Continue to encourage your team to evaluate their decisions and take ownership over their actions so they can be proud of the paths they choose.
TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 El Medio del Cuadro - Ejecutar una Doble Matanza
(8/13/2019)
 
 
   

El Medio del Cuadro - Ejecutar una Doble Matanza 


USA Baseball


El medio del cuadro puede jugar un papel destacado en el éxito global del equipo. Cuánto más se comunican los jugadores del medio del cuadro, más eficaz será la pareja. Ejecutar las doble matanzas requiere no sólo comunicación eficaz, sino también juego de pies y técnicas correctos. La información que sigue contiene los puntos primarios sobre el posicionamiento, el juego de pies y la alimentación para las doble matanzas tanto para el campo corto como para el defensor de segunda base:

EL POSICIONAMIENTO CORRECTO

En una situación de doble matanza, tanto el campo corto como el defensor de segunda base deben moverse hacia dentro dos o tres pasos y hacia la base entre dos y cuatro pasos. Esto reduce la distancia que se necesita para cubrir la segunda base.

ACERCARSE A LA BASE

Hay varios factores involucrados en ejecutar una doble matanza en la segunda base, y todos son igualmente importantes. Para ejecutar una doble matanza con éxito, el jugador del medio 
del cuadro tiene que acercarse a la base correctamente. Aquí se describe la manera correcta:

 Llega a la base lo más rápido posible, poniendo el pie izquierdo en la base.
 Haz un buen blanco para el tirador con las dos manos extendidas y los dos pulgares juntos, casi a punto de tocarse.
 Dobla las rodillas en una buena posición atlética mientras miras el tirador.
 Relaja las manos, manteniéndolas relajadas para recibir la pelota. No te estires para la pelota; vendrá a ti. Anticipa siempre un tiro malo. No empieces a moverte hasta que el tiro esté en el aire.

EJECUTAR LA DOBLE MATANZA – DEFENSOR DE SEGUNDA BASE

Hay varias maneras de completar la doble matanza en la segunda base. Siguen dos ejemplos generales que se pueden usar para completar una doble matanza:

 Estar de pie a horcajadas sobre la base: Este método se usa primariamente si hay una jugada reñida en la segunda base o si un corredor veloz está de turno. El defensor de segunda base llega a la base y está de pie con la base entre las dos piernas. Mientras atrapa la pelota, rápidamente reajusta los pies en la misma locación y hace el tiro a la primera base. Cuando usa este método, el defensor de segunda base debe estar preparado para saltar por encima del corredor que está deslizándose.
 Sobre la base: Ésta es una manera común de enseñar la doble matanza en la segunda base. Mientras la pelota se golpea, el defensor de segunda base llega rápidamente a la base y pone el pie izquierdo en la base. Mientras viene el tiro de la tercera base o el campo corto, el defensor de segunda base da un paso hacia la pelota con el pie derecho. Si el tiro va al pecho, el defensor de segunda base viene sobre la base. Si el tiro va a su derecho, el defensor de segunda base da un paso hacia la base con el pie derecho y se planta antes de que tire a la primera base. Si el tiro va a su izquierdo, el defensor de segunda base debe dar un paso hacia la pelota y sobre la base con el pie derecho. Este método permite que el defensor evite al corredor que se desliza en la segunda base.

EJECUTAR LA DOBLE MATANZA – CAMPO CORTO

Una vez que la pelota esté en camino, el campo corto empieza a moverse.

El tiro del defensor de segunda base: El campo corto da un paso con el pie derecho sobre la esquina exterior de la base, desobstruye suficiente espacio entre él mismo y el corredor, planta el pie y tira.
 El tiro del defensor de primera base: Si el campo corto recibe el tiro del defensor de primera base dentro de la línea de las bases, el campo coro toca la parte interior de la almohadilla con el pie izquierdo, planta el pie derecho y tira. Si viene de fuera de la línea, arrastra con el pie derecho. Es útil gritar “¡Dentro!” o “¡Fuera!” para comunicar al defensor de primera base a dónde debe tirar la pelota.
 El campo corto lo toma él mismo: Si el campo corto fildea la pelota suficientemente cerca de la segunda base, puede que sea más eficaz ejecutar la doble matanza él mismo. Para hacer esto, simplemente da un paso en la base con el pie izquierdo en el medio del tiro, asegurándose de comunicar al defensor de segunda base su intención de hacer la jugada él mismo. El pie izquierdo del campo corto chocará con la almohadilla justo antes de que suelte la pelota, lo cual es mucho más rápido que pasar el pie derecho sobre la almohadilla y tirar después.
 Evitar al corredor: El campo corto debe desobstruir espacio suficiente ente él mismo y l a almohadilla para que el corredor no pueda chocar con él. Después de tocar la almohadilla con el pie derecho, el campo corto puede moverse lejos de la almohadilla o quedarse cerca, dependiendo de la proximidad del corredor.

LA ALIMENTACIÓN DE DOBLE MATANZA A LA SEGUNDA BASE

Campo corto – Hay varias maneras posibles de tirar a la segunda base:

 Por debajo del hombro: Es importante que este tiro a la segunda base sea firme. El campo corto debe ubicarse detrás del tiro lo suficiente para que la pelota se mueva en una línea al pecho del defensor de segunda base. La clave es marcar el movimiento en el tiro. El campo corto debe usar este tiro sólo cuando está suficientemente cerca de la base o cuando está moviéndose hacia la base para fildear una roleta.
 Por encima del hombro: El tiro debe ser siempre en una línea al pecho del defensor de segunda base. Usa este tiro cuando fildeas una pelota que está demasiado lejos para tirar por debajo del hombro en una línea, o en cualquier pelota que te saca de la segunda base.

Hay dos maneras de hacer este tiro:

1. Ponte de rodillas: Fildea la pelota con el pie izquierdo apuntado ligeramente hacia la almohadilla. Ponte de rodilla derecha y haz el tiro al defensor de segunda base. No te pongas de pie para tirar.
2. Da un paso hacia atrás: Fildea la pelota de manera normal. Da un paso hacia atrás con el pie izquierdo y tira a la segunda base. Esto puede ser un tiro por el lado del brazo.

Segunda Base – Hay tres maneras posibles de tirar a la segunda base.

 Por debajo del hombro – Usa este tiro cuando te mueves hacia la almohadilla o cuando estás cerca de ella. Fildea la pelota y tírala por debajo del hombro a la almohadilla mientras el pie derecho da un paso hacia delante, siguiendo el tiro, con el brazo izquierdo girando hacia arriba detrás de ti. Mantén una muñeca rígida, y no dejes que la pelota gire de los dedos. Tira a la mitad frontal de la almohadilla hacia el pecho del campo corto para que el campo corto pueda venir por la almohadilla.
 Por encima del hombro – Éste es el tiro más difícil para el defensor de segunda base. Asegúrate siempre de un out. Fildea la pelota y rota sobre los tercios anteriores de los pies, poniendo la rodilla izquierda en el suelo y apuntando el torso hacia la segunda base. Tira por encima del hombro al pecho del campo corto, haciéndolo avanzar ligeramente.
 Por el lado del brazo – Esto es un tiro rápido al campo corto que se usa cuando un tiro por debajo del hombro sería demasiado lento o cuando la pelota se fildea en la línea de la base. Fildea la pelota, y con la palma hacia abajo, suelta la pelota al final del movimiento lateral del brazo.

LA JUGADA DE TOQUE

En algunas ocasiones con un corredor en la primera base, puede que se haga el out en la primera base antes de que la pelota se envíe a la segunda base. En dichos casos, el out forzado en la segunda base ya no es necesario, así requiriendo un toque del corredor para conseguir el out.


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