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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.


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.


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.


 Shortstop Working Through the Play

Shortstop Working Through the Play

Monday Manager
By Tom Succow

In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow discusses why a shortstop should maintain composure, scoop up the ball and make a strong throw, despite bobbling or misplaying a sharply hit ground ball. 

Tom Succow, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.

 The Reality of Sports Supplements

The Reality of Sports Supplements 

In youth sports 

For young athletes today, the temptation of sports supplements is everywhere. These products are found easily online and in almost any store. The reality is, their popularity is only growing. Because supplements are so readily available, coaches and parents should know the risks involved and precautions they can take.  
A Short Lesson on Supplements

Sports supplements are technically dietary supplements. Like the name suggests, they’re intended to supplement a person’s nutritional diet or address a nutritional deficiency. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements on a post-market basis. This means they’re taken off the market only after they’ve shown to cause adverse health effects. It’s up to the manufacturer to be upfront about a product’s safety, effectiveness and quality. 

Labels Don’t Tell the Whole Story

The truth is, supplement labels have at times been inaccurate or misleading.  Some products out there are contaminated and may contain potentially harmful substances or illegal ingredients such as:  
Anabolic steroids
Heavy metals

While not all supplements may pose a problem, young athletes may unknowingly take these supplements without realizing the potential health consequences.

Look for the Certified for Sport® mark and Download the NSF for Sport App 
With thousands of supplements on the market, how can you as a parent recognize the good from the bad?  Look for products that have been Certified for Sport® by NSF International, an independent third party. The Certified for Sport® program is the best way to protect against potentially harmful supplements because of the rigorous testing and facility inspections that certified products must undergo. Lack of certification doesn’t necessarily mean a product is bad, but using it is a bit of a guessing game. Knowing the product has been tested for contaminants, such as toxins and athletic banned substances, provide peace of mind. 

The NSF for Sport App 

With thousands of products out there, it would be unrealistic to expect a coach or parent to research every single dietary supplement. One simple solution: Look for products certified by a third-party testing program like NSF Certified for Sport®. Better yet, use the app.  

The NSF Certified for Sport® app is free and lets you search for safer supplements by name, UPC code, product type and goals. It looks for products with the NSF Certified for Sport® mark for you. Having the mark is a sign that a supplement has gone through a rigorous testing process that:    

Tests for over 270 substances banned by pro sports leagues and anti-doping organizations
Confirms ingredient levels are listed correctly
Ensures there are no unsafe levels of contaminants
Audits manufacturing facilities for quality and safety twice a year

For more peace of mind, you should know that NSF Certified for Sport® is recommended by major professional sports leagues like the NFL, NBA, PGA and LPGA. It’s also the only independent certification program recognized by the United States Anti-Doping Agency and is required by Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and Canadian Football League.

Play It Smart

If you’re the coach or parent of a young athlete, do your homework about safer sports supplements. Talk to a registered dietitian if you can. Have a conversation with your player or child. Using supplements can be a tempting decision. NSF Certified for Sport® can help make it a safer one. To learn more visit

NSF International ( is an independent, global organization that facilitates standards development, and tests and certifies products for the food, water, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment. Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. With operations in more than 175 countries, NSF International is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center on Food Safety, Water Quality and Indoor Environment.

 The Power of One Play

The Power of One Play 

FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster

The final score read 16-1.  The Red Sox win over the Yankees put them just one victory away from advancing to the ALCS in last year’s playoffs. Boston collected 18 hits for the game, including four from second baseman Brock Holt, who hit for the first cycle in postseason history.

But it was a single, non-descript, non-scoring play in the top of the 3rd inning that changed the whole complexion of the game, and in turn, the series. As the Sox lead 1-0, left fielder Andrew Benintendi stepped to the plate with Mookie Betts on first base and nobody out when he blooped a single towards the left field line. Such a soft and shallow hit generally wouldn’t allow a runner on first to advance beyond second base.  When he realized Andrew McCutchen was in no position to throw him out, Betts saw a window of opportunity to go from first to third and challenged the Yankees’ left fielder to make a play on him. 

The safe play in this situation- especially with nobody out- would have been for Betts to hold at second, which would have kept Benintendi at first with the meat of the order coming up. But the Red Sox did not get to where there were by playing it safe; they continued playing the same aggressive style of baseball that got them into the postseason in the first place. 

The result: Betts slid safely into third well ahead of the throw, and Benintendi alertly took second base without breaking stride and without being contested when he read the play in front of him. Not only did the aggressive play put two runners in scoring position, it also eliminated a potential double play, and perhaps most importantly, it set the tone for the game that would shellshock the Yankees. 

Both Betts and Benintendi would score in the inning, and while the Yankees minimized the damage and hit in the bottom half only down 3-0, it was a clear swing of momentum that anyone watching the game could feel. The flood gates would open in the 4th when the Red Sox essentially put the game away with a seven-run rally to jump out to a 10-0 lead.  Game.  Set.  Match.  

As we move into the final few weeks of the Major League Baseball season with a World Series crown on the line, just a single play can change everything. That play may happen on the very first pitch of the game, or sometime in the innings that follow with something that may not even appear in the box score, like an outfielder throwing the ball to the right base. Or an infielder making a diving play on a hit to save a run. Or runners taking the extra base. 

When players are made aware of how much momentum can impact our game, along with the types of plays that can create those swings in their favor, all of a sudden they will take the field looking to change their own games with a newfound attention to details to do things right. There is a microscope that comes over the game in October, one where almost every pitch can be dissected ad nauseum.  Perhaps this year’s champion will be able to look back on its run and point to a single play that made that run possible. THAT… is the power of a single play. 

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.


USA Baseball's Sport Development team is proud to work with various partners within the amateur game.