Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Baseball Basic Part 1 - Batter Up!

Everyone loves America’s favorite pastime – Baseball! The sun on your face, the green of the field, the crack of the bat and the roar for the crowd appeals to young and old fans alike.  There is nothing that compares to an afternoon eating peanuts and watching a baseball game.

Throwing, catching, base running and batting are key skills required for any aspiring baseball player. All of these skills are fun to practice with your family and friends. Set up a baseball skills challenge for a fun weekend mornings of baseball basics. This is the first of a four-part series on baseball skills.

Warming Up

Remember to warm up your muscles before you do any of the workouts. First, stand with your legs shoulder width apart and swing your arms in a huge circle 10 times, then backward 10 times. Stretch your shoulder by placing your right arm across your chest and hold with your left arm below the elbow. Now switch arms and do the same thing. Before throwing hard it is always important to warm up your arm.  Stand a medium distance apart and gently throw the ball in a lofted arc back and forth until your arm is loose and ready to go. 


Throwing a baseball is not simple. To throw accurately requires the entire body to work together. Every position on the baseball field requires the ability to throw the ball accurately.


You need the right grip to throw a baseball. The photo below shows the proper finger position. You want to hold the ball across the seams as shown. Keep the ball out on your fingertips, not in the back of your hand. Using your fingertips will give you better accuracy and speed.


When you bring the ball back to throw your wrist should be cocked so it can be used as part of the
throwing motion.

Practice this skill by bending your throwing arm at the elbow holding your forearm vertical. Hold your throwing arm just below you wrist with your glove hand. With your arm in this position, practice throwing the ball with just your wrist and fingers. It may feel strange, but keep working on this skill. Using your wrist and fingers correctly will play a major role in the accuracy and strength of your throw.

Arm Motion

The throwing motion is circular. Think of a small circle for a short throw and a large circle for longer throws. Bring your arm back at should height with your hand making a circle to release the ball forward.

Throwing is the most important part of your game. Now go get a friend and your gloves and practice the basics of the throw.

Next week…catching!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How’s your free throw percentage?

There’s nothing like a game of basketball to get the competitive spirit going. Whether it’s for fun or competition, basketball is a great way stay active and have fun with family and friends.

All basketball shots are important but many important games have been won and lost because of the “free throw”. Free throw shooting is a skill that everyone needs to practice from the novice player to the pros. 
Statistics show that 91% of high school basketball players shoot free throws with the wrong arc. 91%! Practice and technique are important. The more practice the better the “free throw percentage”.  The numbers below show how accurate basketball players are at the high school, college and professional

High school:  55-60%
College:         69%
Professional:  75%

So, how do you calculate your free throw percentage? We’ve provided a step-by-step method to help you find your free throw percentage.

   1.   Get a friend who wants to improve their free throw percentage. They will keep track the free throws you attempt and the free throws you miss. You can rotate between shooting and keeping track of free throws to get an accurate free throw percentage for both of you.

   2.   Take a piece of paper and make two columns: “Free Throws Made" on the right side, "Free Throws Attempted” on the left side. For each free throw, put a mark in the appropriate column. For a successful free throw, you should put a mark in both the “made” column and the attempted column. For a missed free throw only put a mark in the attempted free throw column.

   3.   Total the numbers in each column when you’re finished with a round of shooting. You should have the number of free throws attempted and a number for free throws made. The free throws made total should be equal to or less than the free throws attempted total.

4.   To calculate the free throw percentage divide the number of free throws made by the number of free throws attempted. Example: 7 successful free throws divided by 10 attempts = .70 or a 70% free throw percentage.

Now go out there and practice your shots! The team needs your skills!