Baseball Simplified

John also dedicates his time as a youth baseball select coach, where he mentors and guides young athletes. While he is currently writing a baseball book to simplify the game to young athletes, his most often shared wisdom includes:

1. If you want to be average, do what the average player does. If you want to be great, do what no other player does. 

2. Don't just play with your teammates, play for them. Playing with your teammates means striking out and grabbing water. Playing for them means striking out and communicating what you saw to the dugout. 

3. If you want a better relationship with your coach (which you should), focus on the team when you talk to him (i.e. "how can I help the team today?" vs. "what can I do to bat higher in the lineup?"). 

4. When you run, run hard. When you throw, throw hard. When you swing, swing hard. Before turning to any other advice, check these areas of your game for improvement.

5. On defense, you should always go to one of 3 places: (1) the ball, (2) a base, or (3) to back-up. 

6. Hitters - Everyone is just trying to get to relatively the same swing mechanics BUT to get there, you have to figure out swing thoughts get YOU there. What you feel is not always what really happens, so a tip that works for some players could actually hurt other players. Let the ball tell you which swing thoughts actually work for YOU. 

7. Hitters - With less than two strikes, attack the ball! With two strikes, survive. 

8. Hitters - Before thinking about changing your physical swing or mechanics, check your (1) timing, (2) approach, and (3) balance first. Most of the time, your swing is fine - you are just consistently too early/late, too aggressive/defensive/passive, or your weight is too far forward/back. 

9. Hitters - The goal is to be (1) on time, (2) balanced, and (3) short to the ball. 

10. Hitters - Being on time > Being Early > Being Late. 

11. Hitters - If you are consistently off time or late, try getting your front foot down early and softly with your weight back. This will allow to recognize the pitch and react accordingly. 

12. Hitters - To fix contact issues, focus on your head and hands. To fix power issues, focus on your hips and overall effort. 

13. Hitters - Instead of just rotating your hips, think of firing your back hip right at the pitcher. 

14. Hitters - Even though the hips will naturally fire before your hands, many hitters need to either think to "fire hips and hands at the same" or even to "fire the hands first" to avoid too much lag and/or a slow swing. However, this handsy approach may not work for hitters already making consistent contact but failing to drive the ball with power. 

15. Hitters - To maximize power, you need to (1) hit the ball on the barrel, (2) hit the ball in FRONT of home plate, and (3) keep your weight and chest behind your front leg (i.e. stay back and rotate as opposed to lunging forward). 

16. Hitters - When in doubt (or a slump), think less and go hit more. When you just go hit every single day (off a tee, with a coach, etc.), you will be shocked at the results in the game. Professional hitters have a bat in their hand 300+ days a year. 

17. Hitters - With a runner on third with less than two outs, FIND A WAY TO PUT THE BALL IN PLAY! Think more ping pong and less golf swing. 

18. Hitters - the best time to work on timing in a game is in the dugout. Take mental hitting reps every single time the pitcher throws a pitch on the mound. By the time you step in the box, you should be on time and ready to attack. 

19. Pitchers - Here is your game plan: (1) Breathe (2) Set Target, (3) Attack!

20. Pitchers - To gain regain control, aim your target at the mitt. If you hit the mitt, aim at it again. If you miss, do not aim at the mitt. Aim based on your last miss (i.e. if you missed one foot right of the mitt, try aiming 6 inches left of the mitt). If you hit the mitt aiming somewhere else, then keep aiming there.

*When you can throw 2/3 strikes, you have control. 

*When all of your targets (based on your misses) are located inside the strike zone, you have command!

20. Pitchers - When in doubt, throw your best pitch hard and low (unless you are intentionally elevating a fastball for a specific reason). 

21. Pitchers - If you need a swing and miss, throw your pitch off of the plate in the direction of the pitch's natural movement (i.e. 4 seam above the zone, 2 seam arm side out of the zone, curveball down out of the zone, slider glove side out of the zone, slurve/sweeper glove side out of the zone, changeup arm side out of the zone). 

22. Pitchers - To throw hard, you have to try to throw hard! When your arm feels great, go long toss and throw as hard as you can a few times!

23. Pitchers - If your arm hurts (5/10 pain or more) or you have a sharp pain, take a break. If your arm is sore (4/10 pain or less), throw lightly that day. This is just a general rule but the idea is to throw through soreness but not throw through pain.

24. Pitchers - Pitching is a sprint, not a marathon so move fast! This applies on the mound but also during training, conditioning, etc.  

25. Pitchers - When in doubt, throw your best pitch. You never want to get beat on a pitch you think will work when you have a pitch you know will work (i.e. some coaches say "don't mess around", so if you get a hitter 0-2 with two fastballs he missed by a mile, the fastball is probably going to work again... no need for an off-speed). This strategy also applies when you need a swing and miss late in the game or against a good hitter, throw your best swing and miss pitch!!

26. Pitchers - After you give up a hit, ask yourself (1) was that the right pitch?, (2) was that a good pitch?, (3) was the hitter lucky? If yes to all 3, don't worry about it. If no to any of those, there's a problem (i.e. you threw a fastball to a fastball hitter, you threw a pitch right down the middle with 2 strikes and no balls, the hitter hit the ball hard, etc.). 

27. Pitchers - Stop trying to throw like everyone else. Hitters have seen thousands of right handed pitches thrown with conventional timing and arm slots. BE DIFFERENT!

28. Pitchers - If you have control issues and the majority of your misses are arm-side high, consider moving glove-side on the rubber. If you have control, consider moving all the way arm-side on the rubber to create a better angle for your pitches (and to make it tougher on same-side hitters). 

29. Pitchers - At peak left lift, shift your center of gravity towards the plate to create momentum. At the same time, drop your hips to increase force towards the plate. 

30. Pitchers - Think foot down then throw. Too many times, pitchers jump to their front leg and open up early. Think about pushing hard but staying back and closed for as long as possible. Rotate late!!

31. Lefty Pitchers - Set up your move. Do not show your best pick off too early. Setting up the move means using your bad and okay moves and also pitching home before using your best moves. 

32. Lefty Pitchers 

*Bad move = look at the runner the whole time, pick off and step right at 1st base. 

*Okay move = look home the whole time, pick off and step right at 1st base or a little towards home. 

*Good move = come set, look at the runner, lift your leg, when you reach the top of your leg kick and your leg begins to come down, look home, step 45 degrees halfway between home and first and pick off (Pro Tip: break your hands as your leg starts to go down). 

*Elite move = same as above but come set looking at home. When you lift, look at the runner, then look back home when you drop your leg after the top of the left look. 

33. Finishing the pitch means throwing over the front leg by getting your arm and chest out front over your front knee (this is the exact opposite of hitting which requires rotating against your front leg and keeping your chest behind the front knee). 

34. Infielders - Stay low, move your feet, and sweep the ground. 

35. Infielders - Don't blame bad hops. Create good ones with your feet and glove!

36. Outfielders - When in doubt, take your first step back and work from behind the ball. 

37. Outfielders - Your job is simple: get the ball into the infield as quick as possible. To do this, sprint to the ball and throw it through your cutoff man's head!

38. Runners - With less than two outs, your goal is to get to 3rd base (to score on sac fly, past ball, grounder with infield back, etc.). With two outs, your goal is to get to second base (to score on a hit which should be easy because you're running on contact unless the ball is hit to the shortstop or 3rd baseman). 

39. Runners - Time up the pitcher's looks. Odds are he repeats his timing so you can time up your jump. 

40. Runners - At first base, focus on the pitcher's heels.

41. Runners - At second base, make the pitcher and middle infield stop your feet. If they don't, you can easily steal third base. 

42. Runners - At third base, make sure your feet are moving towards home (in foul territory) when the ball crosses the plate. 

43. Runners - The general rule is (1) freeze on a line drive, (2) tag on a fly ball, and (3) go on the ground if the ball is at you or behind you. There are plenty of exceptions to this, but this is 90% of baserunning. Also, remember the two primary goals (i.e. getting to third with less than two outs, getting to second with two outs). 

44. Runners - Time up the pitcher in the dugout. Count his looks and how long it takes for him to pitch once coming set. Many pitchers use the exact same timing every single pitch. If the opposing pitcher uses consistent timing, you should easily be able to steal. 

45. All Players - Address every single coach parent with "Yes Sir" and "Yes Mam". The baseball world is very small and reputations travel very fast. 

46. All Players - When trying out, do every single drill max effort. Coaches are looking for effort and potential - not perfect mechanics. This is because coaches can teach mechanics. They can't teach potential and they don't have time to teach effort. In practice, this means sprinting around the diamond when possible. If you drop a ball, pick it up and throw it in hard to show off your arm. If you have a good hitting round making contact, try showing power in the next round (and vice versa).