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Tips for diving to catch the ball

Fans love to watch their favorite ball players make diving catches in the infield and the outfield. The amazing catches prove that the players are fully dedicated to making outs and helping their team win.

While professional ball players make it look easy, the diving catch requires a significant amount of practice. Once a player commits to a diving catch, they have to have the perfect route and be dead on to make it. If they miss, the runner can get extra bases and if there are runners on base, they have the opportunity to score.

Making a diving catch can also be painful, especially if the defensive player makes a mistake on the landing. Due to these possible difficulties, many young players are hesitant to make a diving catch.

To help them get better at the skill and develop confidence, here are some tips to help them make the diving catch:

Every Ball Needs Backup Coverage

One of the first tips that every baseball player should know is that there should always be a second defensive player helping to get the ball. This way, if a player misses a diving catch, there is another nearby who can help make the play. Failing to get to the play is one of the biggest mistakes that young baseball players make, which is why missed diving catches can go so wrong.

Dives Should be Low

While a sky-high dive can look inspiring on a television highlight reel, there is no need to dive high up to catch a ball. The most successful dives actually happen close to the ground. Baseball players do not just upwards to dive, they head toward the ground so they can get the ball before it lands and quickly get back up. Diving should not slow down a player like sliding into a base does. It should help the player move quickly to the ball.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

As you commit to the dive, it is important to always watch the ball. The moment that you take your eye off of the ball, you could lose it and give up a hit and possibly a run. Catching a ball in a dive is just like catching any ball. You want to see the ball land in the glove.

Do Not Extend Your Arm

To protect your body and make the catch, you do not dive with your glove arm extended. This can be too hard on the arm. You make the dive and as you are sliding quickly to the ball, you then extend the arm to make the catch. Think of it like running to catch a popup. You do not run with your arm extended, you only extend your arm after you get to the place where the ball is going to land.

Get Up Quickly

The next important step is to get up very quickly. Even though you have made the catch and the batter is out, there could be runners on base who simply have to tag up before running to get to the base. If you stay on the ground, the dive you made could still result in a sacrifice fly or a runner getting closer to home. You need to be quick to your feet and quick to hit the cut-off man.

The same goes for infield dives. It is important to be extremely quick to your feet to hit the cutoff man. You might even be able to make a double play if you can be fast enough. You might catch the runner in between bases and get into a pickle play.

Practice the Dive

In order to be good at making diving catches, you have to practice diving. There are drills that coaches can use to help kids learn how to get the ball without hurting themselves. The drills are similar to those that teach kids to dive into a swimming pool. Kids start on their knees and the coach throws the ball to their left or right sides. Kids than dive from their knees to make the catch. This eases them into diving from their feet and it helps them understand how to position their catching arms.

Commit, Practice, and Be Smart

The best tips to catching a fly ball is to just decide to do it. Defensive players should always dive on their chests, rather than on their sides because it is easier to get up from the chest and safer to land, too. To get up from the dive, using both hands is important. Good defensive players will throw to the cutoff man from the quickest position they can – which could be from one need. The best dives often come from low squats for safe landings and sure catches. And, always keep your eye on the ball.

Wooden vs Metal baseball bats – advantages & disadvantages

The crack of the bat is one of the best sounds in all of sports.

But, now baseball players and fans get to listen to the ping of the bat. Metal bats have taken over all levels of ball with the exception of the professional leagues.

Even though metal bats are more durable and give hitters the ability to the ball farther, Major League Baseball will continue to use wooden bats to preserve the validity of records that date back to the 1800s.

Price and Durability

Metal bats and wooden bats have several benefits for hitters and for defenders.

Both are valuable in their own ways and they both have features that hitters do not like. Wooden bats are available in a variety of hardwoods, like maple, birch, and ash. This link provides a great summary of the different materials. One of the best features of wooden bats is that they are extremely affordable – most are priced under $150. While the better composite or aluminum bats are often priced over $350.

Another advantage to a wooden bat is that they can be used in all weather conditions, on the hottest and coldest days at the park. The biggest issue with wooden bats is that they break. In nearly every baseball game, there will be at least one broken bat, which is why MLB players have so many in the dugout.

Weight of the Bats

Wooden bats also have issues with their weight. Some of them are so heavy that young batters would have difficulty swinging them fast enough to even hit the bat. MLB hitters start using them when they are in the minor leagues so they are used to the weight. Their physical fitness gives them the strength they need to hit baseballs over the fence. So, it is clear that when a Major League hitter hits a homerun, or even gets a base hit, that the player really did earn it.

There are just a few disadvantages to wooden bats. One is the heavy weight and the other is that they are only used in the professional league. So, kids who want to learn to swing a bat don’t have many opportunities unless they enter into wooden bat leagues or unique tournaments that encourage the use of them. We recommend using one of our best youth baseball bats instead.

Advantages of Aluminum Bats

When it comes to metal bats, there are plenty of advantages.

First, they are lightweight, so they are easy to swing with serious bat speed. Some of the composite bats have specially engineered sweet spots that have been designed to put extra pop into the ball. In some cases, composite bats have been designed to move with the swing to send the ball as far as possible. Wooden bats do not do what the composite bats do simply because wooden bats are made of solid pieces of wood and composite bats are not made of solid metal.

Metal bats are durable and often last a season of ball or even more. Aluminum bats are designed are designed to absorb energy from the ball and they give that energy back to the ball. This is what keeps composite or aluminum bats from breaking when they hit the ball. When a ball hits a wooden bat, the bat does not behave in the same way as a composite one does, which is why it is so much more common for a wooden bat to break than a composite bat. For adult players, you can check out our updated list of our top choices for bats.

Denting Aluminum Bats

One of the disadvantages with composite or metal bats is that they do dent. Depending on the bat that you buy and where you buy it, you should get a warranty that lasts a year. These warranties cover damage like dents and cracks. Before you bring the bat home, make sure that the bat comes with a warranty – because the warranty is worth every penny.

Know the Weather Recommendations

Another issue with aluminum bats is that they cannot be used in certain weather conditions.

Most manufacturers will recommend not using their bats when the temperature falls below a certain number. The bats are more likely to crack or dent. Unfortunately for ball players in many states, baseball season takes place when the weather is still cold. There are ballgames scheduled when the weather hovers around the freezing mark and most composite bats are not rated to that temperature. For those ballplayers, there is no other option – because wooden bats are not allowed in most amateur games.

While wooden bats are the traditional tool for the greatest game on the planet, composite/metal bats are the tool of choice for young players who are learning the game. As long as records are still being compared in the Major Leagues, the wooden bat will remain as the bat-of-choice for professional players. Since aluminum bats are lightweight and durable, they will continue to be used in young leagues.

Are there differences between baseball and soccer cleats

Gone are the days when multi-sport athletes could save money buying gear and wearing it in all their sports. Now, it is important to have special gear for each sport. The different gear starts at the top and goes all the way to the bottom. In some cases, athletes will not be allowed on the playing field.

One of the most important considerations for any sport is to wear proper footgear. It may seem like cleats are all the same, this could not be farther from the truth. There are different cleats for sports that are played on fields. The cleats are designed for those specific sports. For example, soccer cleats do not have cleats at the toe because that could injure another player while kicking the ball.

Soccer Cleats 101

Along with the missing toe cleat, soccer cleats are also designed for the different types of fields. Soccer cleats have been designed for fields that are made of firm ground, soft ground, artificial ground or turf, and for indoor hard courts. The most durable cleats are those that are meant for hard ground, because they need to be durable for ground that can be wet or dry. They also work well on other fields, like artificial turf.

Soccer cleats are significantly lightweight simply because of all of the running that soccer players do. Therefore, the most desirable types of cleats are made of leather, especially kangaroo leather or calfskin. There are synthetic options that are also lightweight, but they do not conform to the foot quite like the leather options do.

Baseball Cleats 101

Baseball cleats are very different from soccer cleats. While soccer cleats can be used in baseball, baseball cleats cannot be worn on the soccer pitch. The difference that keeps baseball cleats out of soccer is the fact that the baseball cleat has a special cleat at the toe. This cleat is not there to intentionally harm defenders who are covering their bases, but to help base runners get a good grip on the dirt when they are running the bases. Unfortunately, soccer officials do not feel that the toe cleat will help soccer players, so they will check cleats prior to a game and anyone with a toe cleat will not be allowed to play.

Like soccer cleats, baseball cleats are designed for the field of play, too. Cleats come in special designs for playing outside on a traditional dirt and grass field and they come in a style designed for playing on a field made of turf. Also, like soccer cleats, baseball cleats are available in synthetic materials as well as in real leather. The least expensive options are synthetic cleats, which are an ideal material for children with growing feet. Serious baseball players can invest in the more expensive leather cleats that are incredibly comfortable because they quickly conform to fit the wearer’s feet.

Baseball cleats also come in different styles: high (like those pictured to the left), mid, and low cuts (which you can see on our cleats reviews page). Soccer cleats only come in low cut due to the fact that soccer players need to be able to get the most out of their entire foot and especially the inner arch for moving the ball. High-cut baseball cleats provide support for players who are not the best runners; these are usually players like the pitcher, catcher, and corner infielders. There are also mid-cut shoes that are just good choices for any player. Players who really enjoy stealing bases and need to be speedy in the outfield do well with low-cut shoes because they allow for the most flexibility. Low-cut shoes weigh less than the other styles, which also aids in speed.

Like soccer cleats, it is easy to find baseball cleats with different types of cleats. Metal cleats are used by high school players, collegiate players, and professionals. They are also used by amateur players who are no longer in college or high school. Baseball players who have not yet reached high school age wear molded cleats because of the fears of injuries from sliding into defensive players on the bases. When young players cleat defenders on the bases, it does not hurt as much. There are also cleats that have removable individual cleats; these can easily be adjusted or removed based on the type of field.

There are also cleats designed for different position play. Pitchers usually need to have cleats that have slightly reinforced toes. Their back toes often drag on the mound which causes the toes of the cleats to wear out quickly. Since infielders run on dirt, they often have cleats with short spikes because they do not need as much grip to run on dirt. Outfielders spend their time in the grass, so their cleats usually have longer spikes. This helps prevent slipping on the grass, especially if the game is earlier in the day and the grass is still wet with dew. Baseball players who spend their time on artificial turf can play in regular athletic shoes, but many of them will play in baseball shoes with soles specifically designed for turf. These do not have spikes, but they have molded soles that allow for safe running on the artificial grass and dirt.

How to Size a Baseball Bat

Choosing a brand new bat is one of the most important things you will ever do as a baseball player. And while there are a variety of different methods and measurements you can use when choosing a bat, the best metric by far is simply what feels comfortable to you.

When you are trying out new bats, take a few practice swings to see how it feels. As you are trying out each bat, go up one inch at a time until you find one that works great for your. Going up one inch at a time will make it a lot easier for you to adjust to your new bat. It will also ensure your swing isn’t negatively affected.

Whether you are just starting to play the game of baseball or you are in need of a new bat, follow these 3 simple steps to properly measure yourself.

Image courtesy
Step #1 – Start by measuring from the center of your chest all the way to the tip of your index finger. Make sure your arm is completely straight. You will then need to use one of the many free sizing charts online to determine the proper bat size for your height and weight.

Once you have the bat size there are two more steps you need to take to determine if the size you chose is indeed the right fit.

Step #2 – Hold the bat in your hand and put it down your side. If the palm of your hand reaches the handle, that is a sure sign you have the right sized bat.

Step #3 – The last step is to take the bat and place the knob at the center of your chest. Make sure the bat is facing outward. The goal is to be able to grab the barrel of the bat. If you can, that means you have the right size. If you can’t, you need to try a different size.

Measuring Youth players For The Right Bat Size

If you are looking for the best youth bats, the way you measure for it will be somewhat different. Here are the 3 steps to measuring a child for a baseball bat.

Step #1 – Measure The Child’s Height – Be sure to measure your child’s height with cleats on. If your child is 3’ and 3’4”, a 26 inch bat may be the best size to start with. As your child gets taller, increase the bat size 1 inch at a time.

Step #2 – Compare The Child To The Bat – Have your child stand up next to the bat. The goal is for the bat to reach the child’s hip. If the bat exceeds or goes past the hip area, it will be too long for your child to swing. Go down 1 inch at a time until you find the right size.

Step #3 – Weigh Your Child

Weight plays a major role in determining which bat your child will be able to swing. Again, use one of the free online charts to determine the right bat for your child’s height and weight. In most cases a child 60 pounds and under should use a bat between 26 and 29 inches long. Children weighing more than 70 pounds should use bats between 28 and 32 inches. Some more tips can be seen in the following video:

Benefits of Cleats

When it comes to the game of baseball you can’t wear just any shoe on to the field. You need baseball cleats. Below I am going to share with you 3 big benefits of baseball cleats and why you should wear them.

Benefit #1 – They Provide Excellent Grip

In baseball there is a lot of running and lateral movements that are required of the baseball player. And one of the biggest problems baseball players tend to have is grip. When you take off from the plate or you are running in the outfield to catch a long ball, you can’t afford to slip or lose a step. You need an explosive first step so you can get to where you need to be quickly.

These days some of the top shoe companies use a variety of different technologies to ensure you get maximum grip with every stride you take. The better the grip the faster you can run. And the faster you can run, the quicker you will be able to get to the next base or get an opposing player out.

Benefit #2 – They Provide Comfort

Standing and running around for hours on metal cleats can be very uncomfortable. Luckily, there is a lot of really great cushioning technology that is now used when creating baseball cleats. No longer do you have to worry about the pressure from the cleats pushing against the heel of your feet.

In the elite baseball cleats you will find form fitting cushioning technology being used. That basically means the cushion adjusts to the movement of your feet. The result is unbelievable cushion and comfort. How your feet feel out on the field is extremely important. If you feel the impact every time you take a step, you won’t have a very good game.

But thanks to technologies such as Adidas ADItuff and Nike’s Max Air, the impact gets absorbed. That means the pressure from the impact never makes its way to your knees and lower leg giving you the ability to go all out much longer.

Benefit #3 – They Improve Your Overall Game

Wearing the right cleats during a game of baseball is vital to your overall performance. This is especially true if you are playing competitive baseball. Not wearing baseball cleats can lead to a variety of different problems. In some cases it can even lead to serious injury.

When you play baseball you play on different fields made up of different materials. Some surfaces are hard while others are considered soft. So not only do you need baseball cleats, you need the right kind of baseball cleats for the type of surface you are playing on.

This all boils down to research. Find out the conditions you will be playing in and then research the right baseball cleats for the job. When you wear the right baseball cleats, no matter what position you are playing, it will dramatically increase your overall performance. Just ask any pro and I assure you they will tell you the same.

How to catch fly balls in the sun

Its no secret the sun can completely mess up your game. What would usually be a routine fly ball can turn into a tricky play all because of the sun. But don’t worry, I am here to help. Below I am going to share with you 4 tips that will help you catch fly balls in the sun.

Tip #1 – Use Your Glove To Block The Sun

One of the easiest defenses against the sun is your glove (our top choices can be found in the best gloves section). You need to get used to using it as a shield to help you block the sun from getting in your eyes. When you are looking up to find the baseball use the glove so you can see where the ball is.

Tip #2 – Remain Calm

The worst thing you can do in this situation is panic. When the baseball is hit high in the sky you can lose sight of it when the sun is glaring down on you. But don’t panic. Remain calm. Remember the ball has to come down. Your job is to get an angle where you are not looking directly at the sun. When you do you should be able to see the ball before it comes down and hits the ground.

Trust your read. Generally speaking you are right. Make sure you are in the general area and once the ball comes out of the sun you will be able to make the catch.

Tip #3 – Use Your Angles

When the ball is hit you need to immediately change your angle. You need to angle your body in way that the sun is not blocking your view of the ball. This can be difficult but it is not impossible. You want the sun to be in your peripheral vision. And as stated before, you have to trust your read. Be in the area where you believe the ball will come down. As the ball comes down you will be able to see it. I will be honest with you, this is not an easy catch.

Tip #4 – Make Sure You Have The Right Sunglasses

If you play in the outfield you absolutely must have sunglasses. They are one of the most important pieces of equipment you need. Sunglasses help keep the bright sun out of your eyes and it helps prevent glare. As you can imagine there are a ton of different sunglasses you can choose from. Take your time and do a little research to find the best ones. Like with all things, you have to find the pair that works best for you.

When you are on the field always make sure you have your glasses on. You never want to get caught with your glasses on your hat. Especially if it prevents you from making an important play. That is a sure way to find yourself in the dugout. So when the sun is out have your glasses on. That way you will have a better chance of catching any fly balls that come your way.

Hitting Tips – How to have more success

Hitting a baseball is a very simple yet complex thing. Its actually very easy to learn how to hit a baseball. But to become good at it can sometimes take years and years of developing your swing. That’s because there is so much that goes into it.

You have to get your stance right, you have to hit the ball just right and so much more. Below I am going to share with you 5 tips you can use to hit the baseball better.

Tip #1 – Hit Against A Firm Front Side

Your front leg has a lot of responsibility. It ensures your hands and your body stay behind the baseball. It prevents forward momentum so you won’t fall over once you hit the ball. It starts what is known as the axis of rotation. So as you can see, having a firm front side is extremely important. Just know that firm doesn’t mean stiff.

Tip #2 – Make Sure Your Back Foot Is On Its Toe

While there are some exceptions to this rule, for the most part your back foot should be on its toe. When you swing at the ball you generate a lot of force. So much so that your back toe may slightly come up off the ground when you swing. If you are flat footed you could cause an injury. So make sure you back foot is on its toe.

Tip #3 – Make Sure Your Hands Are In The Right Position

Hand position is extremely important when it comes to hitting the baseball. The correct positioning for your hands is palm up, palm down. If you are a right handed batter your right hand should be palm up and your left hand should be palm down. If you are a left handed batter it would be the opposite. When it comes to gripping the bat this is by far the most powerful position.

Tip #4 – See The Ball At Its Contact Point

This is known as head on the ball. And while it seems obvious to make sure you see the ball at its contact point, its not as easy as it sounds. Before you can hit the ball you must know how to see the ball. It is therefore very important you work on your ability to see the ball at its point of contact. This will dramatically increase your chances of hitting the ball.

Tip #5 – Bend Your Top Arm

When you are hitting a baseball you will get the most power when your elbow is firmly planted on your side. You will get more torque when your elbow is close to your body. If you start to straighten your elbow that is when you start to lose power. You also lose leverage since your elbow will no longer be firmly against your body.

And there you have it, 5 tips guaranteed to help you hit the baseball better. Follow these tips and you will be hitting like the pros in no time.

How to improve your bunting skills

If you are having trouble with your bunting you have come to the right place. With this brief article I am going to share with you 4 simple bunting tips straight from the pros. Let’s get started shall we.

Tip #1 – Make Sure You Have The Right Bat Angle

The angle of the bat will determine which direction the ball goes. If you have the wrong angle the ball will pop up in the air instead of on to the baseball field. Getting the right bat angle starts with your stance. You should be in the same stance you use when hitting any other type of ball. The only thing different about the bunt is the way you use the bat.

When the ball is pitched you will swing on your back leg just like you would with any other baseball swing. The only difference is the angle at which you hold the bat. The correct angle is with the barrel just a tad bit higher than your hands.

Tip #2 – Make Sure You Have The Right Hand Position

Find the label and place your top hand there. Make sure it is just a little bit higher than it normally would be. Your bottom hand should be close to the knob of the bat. Avoid bringing your hands close together as that will limit the amount of control you have. Keeping your hands properly spaced makes bunting easier and more effective.

Tip #3 – Make Contact At The Right Spot

This just might be one of the most important bunting tips of all. Where and how you come in contact with the baseball will determine the projectile of the ball. For your bunt to be effective you need to hit the ball at the perfect spot. Right at the tip, or as some call it, the barrel’s sweet spot, is where you want to hit it. When you hit at the right spot it will deaden the ball and prevent it from coming off too hard.

When you hit it too hard off the bat it makes it easy for the pitcher and infielders. So you want to hit it just right so they can’t get to the ball easily.

Tip #4 – Position Your Head The Right Way

You need to be able to see two things in your line of vision. The baseball and the baseball bat. If you can’t see those two things you won’t be able to bunt the ball effectively. Your head should be positioned behind the barrel. This gives you the best line of sight. Most people struggle with head position but it is critical if you want to be good at bunting. If your head is in the wrong position you will find it very difficult to bunt correctly.

So take this tip very seriously. You should also make sure you keep your eye on the ball from the moment the pitcher throws it till the moment it hits the barrel of your baseball bat. Doing so will give you the best chance of bunting the ball and getting to first base as quickly as possible.

Once you have bunting mastered to a science, you may also be interested in our BBCOR baseball bat reviews page which takes a look at the top models available this year.

5 Tips To Help You Run an Effective Rundown

A baseball rundown, also known as a pickle, is when a base runner is caught between two bases. When done the right way the base runner never wins. The defense should be able to get the base runner out every time in this type of situation. Below I am going to share with you 5 tips that will ensure you are able to do just that.

Tip #1 – Communicate – In all sports communication is the most important factor. When you are doing a rundown talking to each other will prove to be your most valuable asset. Before you go onto the field you should work out commands that will be said if this type of situation should occur.

For example, when the receiving infielder is ready to receive the ball they should use a special command so the other infielder knows they are ready to receive the ball. You can say “now” or “throw it” Whatever works best for you. The idea is to get them the ball when they are ready to catch and tag.

Tip #2 – Rundown the target before you throw the ball

This is the type of play you want to get done in the fewest number of throws possible. To make this happen the person with the ball will need to rundown the target. You want to run hard towards him. The idea is to force him to turn around and run towards your teammate. If you run hard, he too will run hard. This is to your advantage as it makes it much more difficult for the runner to quickly change directions.

Make him commit. Once he commits you will either tag him or throw your teammate the ball so they can tag the runner. If you are the receiving infielder it is your job to close the gap. You don’t want to give the runner a chance to stop and start running again. Keep him in the middle of the bases so you can quickly tag him out.

Tip #3 – Follow The Throw

In some cases it may take you more than two throws to get the base runner out. That’s why it is very important you follow the throw. You want the runner to be covered from both sides at all times. This will help you get him out faster.

Tip #4 – Never Cross The Baseline

After you make a throw get out of the way. You never want to be in the way of the runner if you don’t have the ball. If the runner comes in contact with any player that doesn’t have the ball he will automatically be safe. So stay away from the baseline.

Tip #5 – Never Let The Runner Advance

If you have a runner caught between second and third base push them towards second base. You never want to give the runner a chance to advance. Even if he somehow gets out of the pickle and is safe, you want him to be safe on the lower base. So always run him in the direction of the smaller base.