Road Trip from Maryland to Southern California

Summer ball is coming to a close, for me, that means planning for the road trip home.  I have a few things planned, but it doesn’t seem like it’s enough.  Since this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I want it to be planned out well.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to go across the country and you don’t have a time limit, I suggest driving.  There are plenty of people who do it just for fun, why not turn your trip from just an expense, into an experience??? This post is for people who are looking for some pointers on things they should do, I won’t experience it all, but if you’re reading this and want a few pointers on how you should plan your trip, go ahead and contact me and I’ll help you out.

As of right now, this is my road map –

Road Trip map

I am driving with a buddy who lives near San Francisco so we mapped out the route we would take if we were going to his house as well as to my house.  I found that the road through Colorado, Utah and Las Vegas looks a lot more fun than the road through Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.

We are starting in Gaithersburg, MD and our first stop is at a friend’s house in Chicago.  I don’t have all the nearby baseball fields mapped out, only the ones who are home when we are driving though.  The first one is PnC Park.  From there we are going straight to Chicago, in Chicago you have the White Sox and the Cubs, along with a lot of other things to do…  You are also passing relatively close to Cleveland so you could go to a Cavs game.

From Chicago, the road through Iowa and Arkansas is pretty boring, I have the Field of Dreams, a matchstick museum and a small $20 zoo planned out if we want to do anything during that time.  The green dot is a camp ground, my buddy and I will have a tent and a grill, so we’ll be camping out a couple of our days.

 

From our stop in Arkansas, we are going to Denver to catch a Rockies game and found a $30 hotel (sketchy, I know, we might change our minds about that one) to sleep and shower.  From there, the three walking men are three hikes I have planned out.  Below are links to all three in order from east to west on the map –

Blue Lakes Trail

North Fork of Mill Creek

Zion Narrows Riverside Walk

I’m most excited for Blue Lakes Trail.  It is a three mile hike to a lake hidden away by mountains.  It looks beautiful.

From Colorado, we are going to Las Vegas where we will spend a night, then home. All in all, it will be a great time.  I’m sure on the way we will find more places to stop, and I’ll post an updated map of what we actually did.

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Summer Ball for High School Grads in California

Summer is when baseball thrives the most for kids who are still in high school or younger.  There is no school, the weather is nice and you have all the time in the world to play as much baseball as you can.

For high school graduates, the story can be a little different.  D1 ball players usually don’t have a hard time finding somewhere to play, but it’s still a tougher time.  To find a good league, they often have to travel across the nation and stay with a host family.  I’ve heard of a couple good leagues in California, but considering how many guys play baseball, there’s not enough.

For all the junior college guys, there needs to be more places where guys can stay home and play 40-50 games over the summer without having to worry about traveling or a place to stay.  There is a need for this, so the point of this blog post is to try and get someone to start thinking about a way to put something like this together.

This is for anyone who would like to help put a league like this together, exclusively for Junior College guys trying to go to a four year school on a scholarship.  I know that something like this would do a lot of good things for not only the players but also for the community.  If this were done well, the games could turn into revenue and there would be something in it for people running the league as well as the players.  If enough coaches would get involved, and people were to step into positions of power on each team, recruitment would be easy.  We could bring scouts to come out to see these players and money could be made at these baseball games.

Back to School!

School started today which means I’ll have very little time to update my website and my blog.  I’m going to try to put an hour of work in every day but some days I may not be able to meet that.  If you were wondering what a college player’s schedule looks like… here’s what mine will look like for the next month until we are allowed to get into real team practice.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

6:00-7:00 – weights

9:15-11:50 – class

2:30 – 3:30 – baseball **

Tuesday, Thursday

 

9:15 – 11:50 – class

2:30 – 3:30 – baseball**

4:00 – 5:00 – conditioning

** This is during an NCAA regulated time where you’re only allotted a certain amount of time with the coach.  That being said, if you’re not at the field for one or two extra hours… mental notes will be taken by the coaches.

Although it may look like a lot, now that I’m writing it down it’s not that bad.  When we get closer to season we will be allotted a lot more practice time and we’ll have games so it’s going to get a lot more hectic.

 

The Hype Around the Backspin Tee

Seemingly out of nowhere someone has decided that the conventional tee is no good and went and made a brand new design and it has exploded.  So what’s all the hype about?  If you have read or heard anything at all about the tee then you know that the purpose is essentially to stop players from hitting ground balls.

Normal tees cover up the bottom of the ball which is where you need to hit in order to get some lift.  I know a lot of younger players can get away with hitting the ball on the ground, but as you get older, the infielders get more range and make less mistakes.  So why not fix the problem before it becomes a problem?

Recently our college team bought a backspin tee and our coach loves having us use it.  About half the players like the tee and half the players don’t.  The only thing negative I have to say about the tee is that the ball comes off the bat slower because the ball has to be held up by the tee so there’s some friction slowing the ball down.  That and the fact that it’s different than what they’re used to, these are the only negative things I have heard about the tee.

That being said, the tee does everything it’s supposed to do.  It teaches you how to hit balls with backspin.  More importantly, when your swing gets too long and you wrap around the ball, you can tell.  Since the tee is on top, you can feel the bat hit the tee and the ball is forced down more than it would normally go.  It feels absolutely terrible, but it lets you know when your swing is getting too long.  Normal tees don’t reveal any flaws in your swing like the backspin tee does.

 

 

How to get a more Powerful Swing

First of all, where does power come from?

It all starts in your legs.

       Buster Posey                  Albert Pujols                    Kris Bryant

As you can tell, there are different ways to effectively load, but the point of these pictures is to see how, for all three of these players, there is a lot of weight that starts in their back leg.  The power that comes from that back leg and the transfer of that energy is what makes up almost all of the power in a good swing.

Efficiently transferring energy (heel touch).

Buster Posey               Albert Pujols                Kris Bryant

This is right before heel touch, as you can tell they are all fairly similar.  The power is moving from the legs slowly to the hips.  The power is all in the hips at contact which we will get to next.

Obviously squats are the primary form of strengthening your legs, but people often forget about the hamstrings.  And wouldn’t you know it, strained hamstrings are one of the most frequent forms of injury at the college and major league level.  Here is a great video for a hamstring workout you can do at home.  Also, explosive lateral movement exercises are necessary as this kind of movement is where a lot of power is generated.

There are resistance bands out there that are made to go around your legs and ankles that can increase the power in your legs and hips.  These bands are good for strengthening for power and can help your running speed.  These bands are being used constantly at the college and professional level.

resistance-bands-big-image

For a good instructional video click here and here.

 

Efficiently transferring energy (contact point)

Buster Posey                Albert Pujols                      Kris Bryant

At this point the energy has moved up through the hips and through the core and the arms.  The stronger your forearms, wrists and hands are, the less energy will be lost at contact point.  If you’re weak there the bat head will give on contact and the ball will come off the bat a lot slower.  You should not feel like the ball slows your swing down at all.  If you do, you need to work on your arms and core.  In high school I brought a small hand/ forearm strengthening device to school every day and worked on my grip strength.

 

The Importance of Hitting Every Day

Most people say hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in all of sports.  That being said, you’re given a lot of room to work with, you only have to get a hit 30% of the time and you’re an all star.  When I go to the batting cages, sometimes I’ll see a young player with his dad, and every time he hits the ball, his bat bounces backwards and his dad will be telling him the mechanical things he needs to do differently… Parents… if your son can’t swing all the way through the baseball, that is all you need to focus on.  Keep it as simple as possible.  Make him or her hit bigger, heavier balls and build up their strength so that when they hit baseballs there’s something behind it even if it’t a ground ball or pop fly.

I’m not going to try to teach you how to hit through words on a computer screen, that’s impossible.  But I do want to share how absolutely, unavoidably imperative it is that you hit at least every other day.  Now that I’m in college, I hit almost every single day.  I will usually take one day a week off, then after a few months I’ll take a few extra days, then right back on the grind.

However you are practicing, whether it’s off a tee, front toss, live arm or off a machine… you are getting better.  Especially if you’re in high school, those who practice everyday get rewarded, period.  You will get better, your coaches will know you as a grinder, and college scouts love grinders.  People will always tell you how many people are working harder than you, but if you do an hour of extra batting practice after everyone else is done every day, I’m here to tell you that yes, there are still people working harder, but you are working harder than MOST high school ball players.

Once you get yourself in the cage, it’s not just about hitting the ball; work on something.  Pick one thing to work on and do it until you don’t have to think about it anymore.  Don’t make it a mind game; pick just one thing so you don’t confuse yourself and mess up your swing.

TRUST ME, I’VE BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT.  THE PEOPLE WHO WORK ON THEIR CRAFT MORE THAN THE OTHERS ARE THE ONES WHO GET TO THE NEXT LEVEL

With just a tee and a net you’ll have what you need to hit in your back yard whenever you want.

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