Baseball's Timeless Tips
As a a former MLB catcher, Jim Hibbs knows a thing or two about pitchers. He understands what makes a good pitcher and what it takes to be a GREAT pitcher. He has been around and caught for some of the great players in the game. He has written two books and helped countless players improve. His passion is baseball. His mission is to share what he has learned over several decades of his involvement with baseball played at all levels.
Jim has compiled several Timeless Tips on all aspects of the game. Take them to heart...then practice, practice, practice, or coach, coach, coach.
Above all - THROW STRIKES!
Learn your position like it's your life.
Stay ahead of the count by not being too fine.
Generally jam the hitter standing away from the plate while pitching for the one crowding it.
Stay with the fastball as long as you can, keeping the rest of your arsenal in reserve.
Work fast. The players behind you love it... plus it keeps them on their toes for better defense.
Win on any pitch you can; lose on your best pitch.
Keep the ball down. It is harder to hit worms. Remeber that.
Change speeds. Sometimes slow and slower works beautifully.
Choose control over speed for the best sucess.
Finish hitters quickly on 0 - 2 or 1 - 2 counts. No cute stuff allowed.
Learn to bunt. Good pitchers are good bunters. Bunt everyday in practice and before each game.
Disdain batters. Barely acknowledge them.
Respect Hitters. They're thetoughest outs, so use your head!
Use the whole plate, including the black.
Be a first pitch strike pitcher. Done consistently it puts the breeze at your back.
Work for quick outs to keep the momentum on your side.
Bear down hrdest with two outs.
Practice from the stretch as much as the full windup. Make the stretch as comfortable as the full windup.
Be quick with the hands, delivering to the plateto lessen stolen bases.
Develop a good sidestep plus a sharp pick off move.
Know where to back up, who is covering second while busting hard on any play to first.
Be fearless pitching inside while dirty down outside.
Be on time and prepared to pitch.
Take your time warming up.
Keep your cool by controlling the tempo. Make hitters march to YOUR beat.
Attitude is all. It counts more than money, intelligence, and even education.
Concentrate like you neve thought possible....EVERY practice. EVERY game.
Let's face it. No ballplayer really likes to sacrifice bunt. Who wants to bunt when hitting away is so much more fun and macho? Yet the best ballplayers take great pride in knowing how to sacrifice bunt and the best coaches demand that all team members know how to do it too.
Sacrifice bunting is at the foundation to championship seasons. It is so important that major league players practice it before every game and so should you. By definition, the sacrifice bunt advances a runner or runners into scoring position while the batter is put out. Called "Little Ball," it often creates the edge for victory. Like baseball itself, sacrifice bunting is both an art and a science. The art part is the mental aspect. The science is in the execution. The art comes when you paint in your mind a strong and vivid picture of you actually doing it successfully. Mentally you see where you must be in the batter's box, the proper bunting position for your body, hands and feet, how you should hold the bat and where you want to bunt the ball. This aggressive mental image has your eyes locked and your mind fully concentrated on the ball combined with a fearless desire to get the job done. And presto, there you are laying the ball down beautifully.
This is no fantasy because seeing what you are going to do is always the first step to doing it. Plus, when you have done the job how fun is it to be greeted back at the dugout with all the high fives and pats on the back. In fact, that is exactly why we play and love baseball so much. Now, let's talk about the science of the sacrifice bunt. The titanic word here is SACRIFICE! Imprint this word on your forehead. You are up there only to advance the runner or runners into scoring position at your own expense. Period! The first step is to position yourself at the very front of the batter's box. Who cares if you are "tipping off" the play? Even if everyone in the ballpark knows that the bunt is on it will still succeed if done properly. Being at the front of the box increases the field of the play and widens the angles you have to work with.
Remember foul territory is the bunt's biggest enemy. For example, some balls bunted in the middle of the box and most balls bunted deep in the box will go foul that would have gone fair if bunted from the front. At the start of the pitcher's windup, pivot on your front foot to bring both feet squarely pointed at the pitcher. Keep your feet spread about the width of your shoulders. Your body and knees should be bent slightly while your heels are off the ground. Hold the bat high and level. By high I mean at the top of the strike zone so that a pitch above your bat can be taken because it is a ball. Your bottom hand should rest easily at the knob. Use it as you would a rudder to guide the bathead. Your top hand should cradle half the bat's circumference at the label with the thumb resting on the top of the label while the fingers are formed in a bridge to stabilize and cushion the impact of the pitch. If the situation asks you to bunt down the first baseline use the second baseman as the line and target for your bunt. This method helps you to resist the destructive tendency to try to bunt the ball too finely along line which too often results in the dreaded foul ball. Also, this method helps you to avoid the powerful impulse to try to get a base hit while advancing the runner. Wrong! Recall SACRIFICE! Likewise, when bunting down the third baseline use the shortstop for the bunting direction. Believe me it works great!
Now as the pitch approaches the strike zone adjust your bat down to the ball while bending your knees proportionally to get it there. It is impossible to bunt the ball on the ground by bunting up on it. Therefore, always bunt down on the ball. So there you have it. To summarize, good ballplayers picture plus practice sacrifice bunting often. They see themselves at the front of the box, bat high and level, positioned squarely at the pitcher, using the second basemen or shortstop as the target while the word SACRIFICE is momentarily imbedded on the brain. The eyes never come off the ball nor does the full throttled will to get the job done. That's what good ballplayers do when they sacrifice bunt. Now you go do it too!
- Matt Kiley