How To Become The Ideal Leadoff Man

How To Become The Ideal Leadoff Man

Simply put, you can’t describe a leadoff man with just one skill. Analysts

will typically say they prefer certain attributes, but the truth is they

need to possess a little bit of everything. Legendary leadoff man Kenny

Lofton once said, “You can’t put your shoes on without your socks.

Everything works together – shoes, socks, pants and shirts. If one is

missing, you’re in trouble.” This analogy is referring to the varying

skillsets needed to effectively be the man at the top.

Understanding The Shift

Understanding The Shift

Baseball is a constant game of adjustments. In the 1940’s, Ted Williams

essentially forced opposing managers to enact a shift because it was the

only way to slow him down. It worked for a little while until the Red Sox

slugger made an adjustment to hit more to the opposite field. This is just

one of many examples on how teams have implemented the shift to

serve as an adjustment to get more hitters out.

Basic Positioning

In terms of the actual positioning, we have seen more varieties arise in

recent years. However, for the sake of this article, I’ll give the most

general one that’s been used. Here is how it looks: The third baseman

will move over to where the shortstop normally is. The shortstop will

slide over to the right of second base. Meanwhile, the second baseman

will move back into the grass and in-between second and first. The first

baseman will slide over closer to the line. As for the outfield, the right

fielder can get closer to the line and the center fielder will move into

right-center. This is the most commonly used shift, but it is still

important to gauge the hitting abilities of the player at the plate and

adjust appropriately.

Advantages of Using the Shift on Defense

Before even starting this section, I want to make it clear that merely

shifting a lot is not always an effective strategy. There is a substantial

difference between shifting a lot and shifting effectively (recording

outs). For younger levels, it might be hard to determine when to shift. If

it’s a team you’ve played before or one that you can watch the opposing

players take batting practice, then this might be a little easier. However,

there are plenty of advantages that can arise from implementing a shift.

The most prevalent one is limiting a hitter’s ability to pull the ball.

Obviously, baseball players love to pull the ball to nab extra base hits. It

is much more difficult to be a consistent opposite field hitter. In fact,

we’ve even seen some players dominate throughout the minors only to

struggle in the majors once managers start shifting against them. The

shift also benefits pitchers. When there defense is aligned appropriately,

they can limit hits against them and basically have to throw less pitches,

thus allowing them to go deeper into the game. In addition, they can

focus solely on the inner half of the plate to force the hitter to pull it.

These are two of the primary advantages that can be brought about by

shifting effectively.

5 Tips For Crushing A Curveball

5 Tips For Crushing A Curveball

How To Hit A Curveball

There goes the old saying that when life throws you a curveball, hit it out of the park. However, as easy as that sounds, hitting a curveball is one of the toughest tasks that every batter will face over the course of the game. The movement on a curveball differs from pitcher to pitcher.  The way the pitcher grips the ball, and their delivery of the pitch has an effect on the trajectory, and the aerodynamics on the way to the plate. The 12-to-6 curve is one of the most common curveballs fans are familiar with, which references the vertical movement from starting high and ending low. Another breaking pitch is the 11-to-5 curve, which entails more horizontal movement but not as much as vertical. There are also curveballs called “slurvy” curves, or sliders, that do not have much vertical movement, but have a strong amount of horizontal movement. One of the hottest pitchers right now who throws a nasty 12-to-6 curve is Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zach Greinke, who has completely left batters stone cold and motionless at the plate. One memorable at bat came against White Sox second-baseman Yomer Sanchez, where he threw his 65mph eephus curveball, which is defined as a very low-speed junk ball. The end result was Sanchez completing his swing before the pitch even got there. Click here to watch to admire this devastating and demoralizing pitch.

Do you want to become the next person who looks as lost as Yomer Sanchez at the plate against someone who has an outstanding curveball? I doubt anyone wants to look like a fool at the plate and this is why I have produced my top 5 steps of hitting a curveball.

1. Study the pitcher: While he is throwing in-game, or in the bullpen, analyze the pitcher’s movements in his windup. See if the pitcher changes up his release points depending on the pitch he is throwing. It is essential to find out if there are any potential tells in his windup of when he will throw a curveball. For example, a twitch in the glove or an adjustment in the windup. Every advantage will count because batters have under a second to determine the pitch, whether the pitch is a ball or strike, and the speed of the pitch. Watch the pitchers arm and observe whether or not it snaps downward, this is an indication a curveball.



  • By Phil
  • 2016-04-21

Last week hundreds of families and MLB, NFL, and NBA legends came out to join CTX Ability Sports and MLB Players Alumni for their Inclusion Baseball Clinic in Pflugerville, TX. Every year this event gives kids with all abilities the opportunity to get out on the field, learn life lessons, and have fun.

It was incredible to participate and witness the joy of sports this program gives to children who wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience. This is something that we at CoachTube believe in whole-heartedly, and we were proud to help capture the amazing things CTXAS and their partners are doing to promote inclusion in sports.

Watch this video to see for yourself!

Fourteen Ways To Turn A .300 Hitter Into A .210 Hitter

Fourteen Ways To Turn A .300 Hitter Into A .210 Hitter

Here are a few tips that can help pitchers throw more strikes in those big games:

Utilize records, data and video from previous games to better understand the hitters you will be up against and learn how best to pitch to certain batters. For instance, if the hitter likes to extend on the ball, it makes sense to pitch to him inside. Similarly, if a hitter has trouble with a fastball, the pitcher may want to rely on this basic pitch.

Diversify your pitches. Pitchers can benefit from mastering four or five pitches. While this is not a physically easy task, having a variety of pitches can keep batters guessing and consequently off balance.

Throw more strikes. Throwing strikes is very important. In addition, focusing on throwing strikes can help to remove mental clutter from the pitcher’s mind and can help to simplify the task at hand for many pitchers.

Stay ahead of the hitter. At the major league level, staying ahead of the hitter can actually turn at .300 hitter into a .210 hitter as found by the sports statistical researchers at Carlton Chin. This ninety-point swing can be a huge advantage for the hurler. Pitchers need to have an appreciation of this simple mathematical fact.

Build relationships. Pitchers need to have a good working relationship with their pitching coach, their head coach and their catcher.

Develop a positive self-talk. A Pitcher needs to know what kind of self-talk allows them to “enter the zone” on the mound. It is all about how you communicate and drive yourself when it comes to getting positive outcomes.

Clear your mind. Some pitchers benefit from knowing how to empty their minds of all distractions before each and every pitch. This empty mind helps them to allow their athleticism and years of training to take over when they are on the pitching mound.

Visualize your target. Some pitchers think in terms of hitting the catcher’s mitt. Others try to hit portions of the plate. Pitchers need to choose a target that gives them the right amount of focus, without creating too much anxiety for them. The right target can very from pitcher to pitcher.

Disrupt the hitter’s timing. While location of pitches is very important, pitchers need to remember that good pitching is also about disrupting the hitter’s timing. Varying speeds can be a very useful skill for baseball hurlers.

Limit self-inflicted pressure. Some pitchers put too much pressure on themselves by forgetting that they have teammates on the field that can help them win games. A ground out or fly out is as good as strikeout much of the time in baseball.

Focus on one thing. Some baseball hurlers do well by focusing on a simple part of their mechanics. For example, a pitcher might focus on the follow through or their leg maneuvers. Another pitcher might repeat a short phrase to himself like “easy does it.” Find what works for you to simplify your pitch.

Develop a pre-pitch routine. Having a consistent pre-pitch routing helps many pitchers to perform well.

Find your pitching habit. Knowing the pace that you like to pitch at is also important. Some pitchers like to work rapidly. Others need more time between each pitch. Pitchers who are struggling may want to adjust their pace of pitching accordingly. Experiment with less time or more time and see what works best.

Focus your mind with mental training exercises. Pitchers can benefit from mental toughness training to show them how to be relaxed, confident, focused and resilient when the pressure is on. Hypnosis, visualization and meditation can help pitchers to maintain the right mindset in the dugout, in the bullpen and on the mound.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist, author and founder of

Learn more about how you can start pitch in the zone in Dr. Granat’s full course on CoachTube:How To Throw More Strikes With Sport Psychology & Self-Hypnosis