Monthly Archives: April 2014
Today I heard a very funny expression from one of my students. She told me her high school coach says it all the time.
When they’re in practice, if they start overthrowing the ball back and forth he’ll yell “It looks like you’re having a snowball fight.” What a great description! Made me laugh when I heard it.
It may not be new to some of you, but it sure was to me and I just had to share it.
One other funny line I heard a while back comes from former Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks. When his players were struggling he’d yell, “You guys are getting worse every day, and right now you’re playing like it’s next month.” Again, very funny but it gets the point across.
As a coach it always helps to have a few one-lines handy to get attention and break the tension at the same time. So what are your favorite (serious but funny) things to say to your players when they need to be brought back on track?
If you are into pitching at all, or work with pitchers, you’ve probably heard about the Pocket Radar. It’s a device about the size of a mobile phone that makes it easy to gun pitch speeds, overhand throws, exit speed of the ball off the bat and (allegedly) the speed of car whizzing through your neighborhood.
I recently upgraded from the original Pocket Radar to the new Ball Coach version. While it’s an $100 more expensive than the original, I feel like it’s worth the extra money. The Pocket Radar Ball Coach retails for $299, which is still considerably less that a Jugs or Stalker gun – and it does a very comparable job.
The thing that got me to upgrade (other than a $100 rebate being offered for sending the old one back) was the ease of use. With the original Pocket Radar you had to time pushing the button just right to get the maximum speed. It was as much an art as it was a science.
The new version takes that timing issue out of it. In other words, it’s radar speed measurement for dummies. With the Ball Coach version, you point the unit at the source of the pitch, hold down the big blue button (as opposed to a red button on the original) and keep holding it until you get a speed reading. Nothing could be simpler.
When I first got the new version I immediately tried it next to my Jugs gun. While they didn’t always match exactly, they were always within 1 mph of one another. Sometimes the Pocket Radar read higher, sometimes the Jugs gun did. But close enough for my purposes.
The real acid test, though, came this past weekend when I took it to a couple of games and (somewhat) discretely timed the pitchers from behind the backstop. In one case I was well behind it. But it seemed to give me good readings on all the pitchers.
Another advantage to the Pocket Radar Ball Coach is the ability to have it automatically take up to 25 reading in automatic mode. You can set it up on a tripod or a mobile phone holder, click through to automatic mode, and it will give you the readings. You can then page through to see what the player got – which is great for batting practice, pitching practice or whatever.
If you’re reading this in Canada, or anywhere else that uses the metric system, you’ll be glad to know the Pocket Radar Ball Coach can be switched to read in kilometers per hour. The instructions explain how.
The Pocket Radar Ball Coach comes with a handy soft shell pouch that clips onto your belt. That’s another nice upgrade over the original, which came with a hard shell case you had to keep in your pocket. I still kept mine in my pocket, but it takes up less space. In addition to the case it also comes with a wrist strap and a pair of AA batteries (Eveready alkaline batteries, not those cheap no-name ones that often come with many electronics these days.
If you’re at all interested in measuring speed I can highly recommend the Pocket Radar Ball Coach. With its (relatively) low cost, high accuracy and ease of use it’s a great investment.
Last night I was working with a 12U player named Grace on her hitting. We’ve been working together for a while now and she has developed a very nice, powerful swing. But it wasn’t until last night that she really got to enjoy the fruits of her labors.
You see, her old composite bat has been on its last legs for the last few lessons. In fact, in the previous lesson she wasn’t getting much pop on the ball at all, despite using a technically solid swing. Her dad mentioned he thought it might be cracking, and sure enough when we looked at it there was a small crack that got larger as the lesson went on. The decision was made right there for Grace to get a new bat.
And there it was last night – a brand new bat, still in the wrapper. It was an inch longer than her old bat, and I also recommended she move from a -11 to a -10, mostly because no one should use anything lighter than -10 unless they’re really small or really young (in my opinion). So now in addition to having a brand new bat, she was swinging an extra couple of ounces.
The difference was immediately noticeable. On her very first swing she drove a line drive that, had we been outside instead of in a cage, would’ve gone into a gap in left center. She continued popping them that way – even catching me in the leg once when I didn’t jump behind the protective screen right away.
There’s no doubt that Grace and her dad feel like they got their money’s worth in investing in this new bat. The same swing mechanics are delivering much better results.
Can a new bat deliver better results even without a good swing? Sure, sometimes. But when you combine today’s technology with solid fundamentals you get the kind of hits that make it fun to go to the plate.
What about you? Do you have any new bat stories to tell? Have you ever experienced that instant upgrade in the quality of hits?