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The Top 7 Baseball Training Aides for 2020

If you’ve been following my weekly newsletter you know that at the beginning of every year my wife and I pray for a word.

One night in early January I started dreaming and I saw a group of people all huddled around looking into the ground.  

I walked up to see what they were looking at and out of the dirt came the word:

ENDURE

Being part awake, I was like “Oh it’s a word….maybe that’s my word!”

Then I was like, “Wait.  I don’t think I want that word!”

I was hoping for “Prosperity” or “Money” or "Niners win Super Bowl" or something fun like that.

So I’m like, “Hey God - thanks but no thanks, can you give me a different word?”

And right then out of the dirt came ENDURE & ENGAGE.

And I’m like “Ummmm, that’s better but WHY IS ENDURE STILL IN THERE?

Now I’m fully awake and dream is over. 

I wrote down the words on a little notepad next to me and wonder “Huh, I wonder what that is gonna mean.”

I think we found out!

Man, what an appropriate word for this year.

For me it was comforting to remember that word as God used 2020 like a personal snow globe.

Back to baseball, after a long quarantine we were fortunate to get some ball in this summer and fall.

And with the new challenges during and after quarantine I discovered some new products and new techniques that have really helped us along the way.

I get a lot of questions about my favorite things, so I put together a list at the end of the year.

(This must be what Oprah feels like)

So without further ado, here are this year’s top 7 products – Quarantine Edition:


7.  HitTrax

Ok, perhaps this should be in it’s own category for Best Commercial Product but hear me out.

A common problem many people experienced during quarantine was:

Their kid was completely disinterested in working on baseball.

We experienced the same thing.

As it turns out, without the lure of games or even practices with friends, baseball drills are really boring!

My son and I found ourselves playing basketball – like HORSE and other shoot around games that we’d make up.

There was something about the YES or NO outcome of a shot, either you made it or didn’t, that held our attention.

Our baseball drills didn’t give us that kind of feedback.

"Was that a good swing?  A great swing?  A bad swing?" 

It’s hard to tell!

Home run derby is a YES or NO game that kids LOVE, but takes a lot of room.

And so for us, practicing baseball wasn’t too appealing.  

We did it out of obligation more than “want to”, if that makes sense.  

Then once quarantine started to lift, we went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and decided to give their bat-testing-cage a try…which was equipped with a HitTrax…

…and our world changed.

"Now THIS is fun."

For those of you unfamiliar, HitTrax measures the speed/spin/trajectory of your hits and projects them onto the monitor where you can see the ball travel – get distance/exit speed/etc.

It. Is. Awesome.

We didn’t wanna leave!  After like 10 minutes I was feeling kinda guilty because there was this college kid who had to monitor us so we finally stopped.....

But I felt like we saw the future.

THIS is the type of experience that will get kids having fun while working on their stroke.

Now, the downside.

I called Hittrax to get more info and most of their current clients are academies. 

The package they offer them is over $20k.

They also offer a home version which is currently $10k.

Not exactly cheap!

But I’m telling you, this type of thing is what could solve a lot of issues with decreased participation and interest in the younger generation.

Mark my words, as this technology becomes more affordable - and it will - you're gonna see these everywhere.

And if you’re interested in getting one check out hittrax.com and let them know Baseball Notes sent you….I'll see if I can negotiate a little discount for you!


6.  Vuk Gripz

Bat tape is bat tape right?

I used to think so until I ran into these just recently.

A guy was showing me a custom bat and all I could see was the tape on the handle.  I was like, “What is this??”

He says “Oh this are called Vuk Gripz, they’re incredible”.

As I held the bat I was super impressed with how it felt.

The grip was incredible but it wasn’t sticky….more of a spongey feel to it.

From their site:

“Grip Lighter! Hold Tighter!”, VukGripz will provide more fluid movements when athletes use their sport, specific equipment. By not having to grip equipment with a hard, intense grip, athletes will now be able to experience a more free and flexible grip."

Apparently the grip is far superior in cold/damp settings as well, though I haven’t tried that first hand….but I’m sold!  

I just liked the way they felt.

They make these in a lot of colors too so would make a great stocking stuffer, check 'em out here.


5.  Box Jump

I bet you didn’t expect to see this on the list!

Watching my son play – baseball and other sports – the last few seasons, it always just looked to me like he needed some stronger legs.

So I bought this box jump, and honestly it didn’t get a ton of use at first.

Then a few months go by and Covid hit and we’re locked in the house for quarantine for a few months….

and that box jump was worth its weight in gold!

With the kids trapped in the house for days on end that box jump became much more versatile – not only did my son like to challenge himself for jumping to the highest level, it also became a hurdle/vault in our front room.

 Now, it’s great that they kids enjoyed it and all, but the reason it made this list was because my son made very noticeable improvement with his athleticism/speed.

See how he had a running start in the video?  He can now get over 30" flat footed.

I was so impressed with how much progress he made that I brought the box jump out to practice a couple of times (I would have brought it more but it's not very "Wagon friendly"!)

And it was incredible to see how BAD the boys were at it.

Hip strength/mobility and explosiveness are keys to the Big Boy movements they’re gonna need to be good at as they get older and want to throw hard and do anything athletic at a high level...

And I think box jumps are the simplest and most straightforward way to quick growth.

We tend to do 60 seconds max on the lowest level, then work on flat footed jumps on the highest (30”).

And most importantly he is noticeable better at baseball for it.  He’s faster, runs better (always ran kinda funny) and looks to have a stronger base while hitting.

I remember buying this on Amazon for like $130 and it was in that territory of “I really don’t WANT to spend this money right now” but went ahead and did it anyway and am SO glad we did.

Here's one on Amazon that looks most affordable and good. you can rotate it around to 3 different heights and is pretty durable.  Not a shin buster either like the wood ones!


4.  Infinitee

Here’s an awesome little nugget with you: a Baseball Notes reader invented this tee.

A few years back when I first started Baseball Notes a guy named Nick reached out to me and told me about this idea for a tee that he couldn’t get out of his head.

His position reminded me of myself when I was thinking about starting Baseball Notes.

After YEARS of being haunted by thinking this website could be a good idea, I finally decided that, you know what - even if Baseball Notes was a garbage idea I needed to smell the funk and not keep hypothesizing about whether it’ll stink or not.

I gave it a rip and it has been worthwhile.

So after providing Nick ZERO assistance on actually where he should go with his idea, I encouraged him to keep going.

"You only live once.  If you think you’ve got a winner then give it a go".

Now, fast forward to just a few weeks ago and he reaches out again.

Not only did he see his idea through but he WON BEST IN SHOW at the ABCA 2020 Convention (American Baseball Coaches Association).

Say whaaaaaaaaaaat!

That’s a big deal! 

That award isn’t given to the best tee but the best product of the year.  So cool!

So he sent me one.

And up to that point my stance on tees fell into two categories:

  • Simple tees that get the job done.
  • Creative tees that are WAY too cute and clever.

But the Infinitee strikes a great balance between the two….

I can see why it won Best In Show.

It’s super high quality (I recommend the Tanner Tee in home plate base option), it doesn’t fall over and the REAL genius is the little hinge in the neck.

It allows for you to work on different locations without moving the tee.

You might be thinking “Clint, I can use my old tee like this and just move it around for different locations.”

That’s what I used to do too.

But I noticed that after a couple of swings that the kids would lose consistency on where they’d stand.

Moving the base around kinda throws them off.

But with this you simply move the hinge to where you want it and the player still has a clear visual on where to stand.

(Pro tip:  Always set the arm placement so the ball is on the front half – if not front 1/3 – of the plate.  Today’s coaches have used video to break down the swing and it turns out that “letting the ball get deep” on outside pitches is only like an inch or two deeper than an inside fastball.  That’s more of a mental cue than anything. So hit that ball out in front)

So this is my new favorite tee and it easily made my top 2020 list.

I told my guy Nick that his tee made my Top Products List and he generously offered me a discount for you and an affiliate fee for me if I linked to his site….

….but since I’m feeling festive I asked him to take that affiliate fee and add it to the discount for you.

So use this link www.hitoffinfinitee.com and type in the code “baseball notes” at checkout and receive 20% off of your order!

Don’t say I don’t ever do anything for you!


3.  Half Bat

Alright this thing is so cool.  

It’s like my personal toy.

My daughter asked me over the summer “Dad, why do you always carry that thing around

[Lol]

So this little dandy was created by Mets MiLB hitting coach and one of my favorite accounts on twitter: Trey Hannam.

The concept behind the bat is that it encourages the “palm up, palm down” position at contact, and any swings that aren’t in that position will be sliced or foul tipped.

(Note: plastic or foam balls are to be used with this bat.  No real baseballs/softballs.  My son and I used rolled up socks during quarantine….so fun!)

And what I really like about it is the visual of the flat bat.

See, what all the good hitting coaches seem to be pounding home these days are that the good hitters keep their barrel in the hitting zone much longer than bad hitters.

They don’t roll over right after contact like average hitters.

And the flat barrel is a better visual than a round barrel for kids to keep that sweet spot “alive” as long as possible.

Plus the thing feels so cool. 

It’s made from quality wood with a big time grip on it.  It’s usually in my office and I find myself carrying it all the time when I’m on the phone or something.

So check it out here if you’re interested and be sure to follow Trey on Twitter – his link is on this page as well:  www.halfbat.com


2.  The Way of The Warrior Kid by Jocko Willink

Our first repeat winner on the Top Things List!

Some of you may remember me fawning over this book a year ago when it made the top 2019 list but MAN….

These books are magic.

And came in very handy during the quarantine!

For the first 2 months of the pandemic our baseball team met on zoom twice a week.

At first I tried to do some teaching on mechanics and stuff like that but it just wasn’t working, so I changed it up a bit.

We did 3 things every meet up:  #1 a physical workout (2 mins of max pushups, 2 mins of planks, that type of thing).

The second that was each player would present for about a minute on a former or current player that I assigned them the week before– just to keep baseball in their life a little bit and get to know players names better.

(I found out kids don’t know jack about players not named Betts, Trout and Harper!)

And the third thing we would do is have about 5-6 kids present a chapter summary from the AWESOME book, The Way of The Warrior Kid.

Love the book Jocko!

If you are unfamiliar, Jocko Willink is a Navy SEAL who wrote a number of great books on leadership and has a massively successful podcast…

…and he wrote a three book series about a young boy named Mark whose Uncle Jake (former Navy SEAL) lives with him for a summer, and Mark is taught how to handle a bully, how to be disciplined, how to be patient, make your own money….all sorts of good things.

And the best part is that not only is it a book that kids enjoy….it actually improves behavior!

After one chapter that my son and I read together about the main character taking awful care of his bike, my son said “That makes me want to find those batting gloves that I lost.”

And I was like “It makes me want to go clean out my truck!”

One of my good friends who got the books for his son (who is definitely gonna read this list – What’s up Addington!!) told me that he slept in one morning, looked at the clock and saw it was 8:30 and thought to himself “Uncle Jake would be so mad at me.”

Lol.

If you have a son around the 7-12 age, GET THESE BOOKS.  

They’re perfect stocking stuffers and your kid will be better off for it…

…and Uncle Jake will be proud of you.

Here's the Amazon link (Click Here)


And without further ado, the #1 product for 2020 is.....

[DRUMROLL!]

...

...

...

1. The SR BOOST Mid Weight Trainer

A few months back I had been brushing up on the latest and greatest in the hitting world – particularly focused on improving bat speed and power.

And from the studies and experiments that I read about, the fastest way to improve power is…..

Heavy bat training!

A lot of coaches call it “overload” training.

Just like lifting weights, swinging a heavy bat strengthens the body and after some consistent practice – boom, exit velocity improves.

But here’s the problem – a heavy bat can really break down a player’s swing

Especially a young hitter (like under 14).

So WHERE the extra weight is distributed in the bat makes a MAJOR difference in how “swingable” the bat is.

And having the weight closer to the hands (as opposed to the end cap) not only helps young players maintain their movements, it actually improves the movements by “staying inside the ball”.

There’s a few options of heavy trainers with the weight in the handle, but the guys over at SR Bats – who are MLB certified bat manufacturers – use their Pro Stock quality maple for these trainers and I think they’re good dudes, so I got mine from them.

I took a few dry swings with it myself, and when you initiate the swing you can really feel the ‘pull’ backward above the hands….that barrel stays slotted pretty good.

And most importantly, I like the way my son swings it. 

We have another super heavy bat – kids use it on deck sometimes – that we don’t really use because my son just doesn’t look right.

And the ball is coming off harder too.  I’ve been measuring the exit velo on the Pocket Radar (also a nice item!) and he’s already up a little bit from when we first started.

All to say….I’m super impressed!

So here’s the deal, if you’d like to order one the link is right here.  

These things can get backordered pretty quick so you may want to jump on this if you’re thinking about Christmas gifts.

I bet your kid is gonna love it.

 

    And before we finish, with Thanksgiving coming up I want to take a sec and say “THANK YOU” to all of you for reading.

The craziness of 2020 has actually helped me to be more mindful of the good things in my life.

And among a number of things, having readers who take the time to read work like this is something I’m really grateful for.

So if you're reading this, I'm sending up a prayer for you.  For health, happiness and endurance.

Here's to finishing the year strong and to being the best version of ourselves in 2021, regardless of what the year throws at us.

God bless and go get em!!!


My wife’s word for the year (2019)

(Repost from Jan 2019)

Non-baseball, but I think you’re gonna like this.

Dabo’s quote yesterday about his word for the year made me want to share a personal story….

….because my wife and I do this same thing.

Not sure your feelings about God (I’m a fan), so if you’re not a fan or undecided , don’t worry – just hang with me for a sec.

(Well maybe worry just a little:)

For the last few years she and I have prayed for a word for the upcoming year.  We usually have to let it marinate for a while, but every time there seems to a specific word that seems to stand out.

Last year my word was Expansion.  I felt like I was being called to “expand my territory”, specifically with Baseball Notes.  

I had a lot of content I thought was good – but I wasn’t promoting it mostly because I was a little intimidated about “putting myself out there”, ya know?

So anyway, 2018 we went from like 800 followers to 14k on FB, not to mention a few other channels.  Expand indeed!

This year, my wife feels like her word is “Transform“.

She just settled on this word this past weekend, we talk about it and are like “Whoa that’s a pretty big word!”

She’s gone down the health rabbit hole trying to find an eczema solution for our daughter and has taken a big interest in health.

So she had been thinking about getting her integrative medicine certification…which is no small time and money investment…and we were torn, so we prayed for clarity on the issue.

Again, this was this past weekend.

On Monday, two days ago as I type this, she sends me this screenshot of her email from the program:

Say whaaaaat!?!

“Does that word resonate with you?”

Just a little, haha.

Clarity = received.

So my wife may have a new career path in front of her.

As for me, it’s 9 days into the new year and I haven’t settled on a word just yet.

I’ve been hoping “Sugar Mama” is my word but it’s feeling a little forced.

I share this to encourage you to pray for a word for 2019.

And if you’ve never prayed before or haven’t been into the God thing, I’d REALLY encourage you to try it also.

I first thought it was kinda hippy-dippy but did it anyway because a few smart people I respect did it…and I’m so glad I did.

What could it hurt?  There’s something here and I would hate for anyone to miss out on it.

If you have questions on it feel free to reach out.  I don’t have all of the answers (or even half) but would love to chat.

And once you’ve got your word, share it with me, I’d love to hear!

Clint McGill

[UPDATE JAN 2020: Amy graduated from the Integrative Health program last week! And, she got her first health coaching client – whoop whoop! And I’ll be honest with you – she is phenomenal at this. More life coach than health coach. So if you have any interest in improving your health, happiness and mindset let me know and I’ll hook you up with her. Or better yet, give her a follow @amy.mcgill.hc on instagram. But better act fast before she’s booked and can’t take on more peeps, haha. ]

This MLB player changed my life with one sentence

I hope you understand how incredibly powerful your words can be.

Story time:

Just before my sophomore season at Fresno City College I was invited to a winter camp at Long Beach State.

I was EXTREMELY excited to be invited but also pretty nervous.

My dream was to play D1 baseball but I still was having the “imposter syndrome” doubts of, “Am I good enough?  Can I really play D1?”

To be honest, I was coming off a decent freshman season in junior college and still grappling with my identity there, like “Wow, I can’t believe little ol’ me is starting at FRESNO city college!”.

And now here I was, getting very real interest from Long Beach State, a perennial top 10 program at the time.

There were some monster names coming through LB: Jered Weaver, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria….

…but at the time, none bigger than this one: 

Bobby Crosby.

Bobby was a shortstop and had just signed a contract with the Oakland A’s as their first round draft pick …and he drove a new Escalade.

For a 19 year old kid, this literally is the dream.

This was winter time so he was hanging around the 2 day camp and wherever he was, people took notice.

I end up having a VERY good weekend.  Hard contact at the plate, throwing guys out trying to stretch triples, turning double plays…all of it.   Just one of those things where I picked a good weekend to have a good weekend.

And my last at bat of the weekend I crushed a high fastball but got way underneath of it.  The ball ends up being caught at the track.

But I killed that ball.

And Bobby happened to be standing at the end of our third base dugout during this part of the game, and
as I crossed in front of him…he says this:

Hey man.

I stop my jog and walk over to him.

He says with a very serious look on his face, “Are these coaches talking to you?”

Right when he says that he looks over to the first base dugout where all of the coaches were, as if he were about to get their attention to make sure they talk to me.

I say, “Yeah, I’ve been on the phone with Buckley and Barbara (coaches at the time) a little bit, so we’re talking.”

He looks back at me – no smile or anything – and says, “Ok.  Good.”

Right then some guy walks up and throws his arm around him and was like “Hey Bobby!” and so Bobby and I just gave each other a head nod and I went to put my helmet away.

I can still remember standing by the helmet rack, putting my batting gloves in my helmet and thinking:

“Bobby Crosby….thinks I’m alright.”

I had always *thought* and *hoped* that I was pretty good, but from that moment on….I believed it.

That one simple exchange – I can say with no exaggeration – changed my life.

And do you want to talk about the ULTIMATE throw away comment from Bobby!!

If you ask him a day later – shoot, an hour later – what he said to me, he probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.

And I will remember it for the rest of my life.

The thing is, we underestimate what an impact we can make – and are making – with our words.

We get caught up just watching ball games that we forget that these boys and girls out there are waiting for something ELSE to tell them what kind of player they are.

For most, the game results tell them WHO they are.  And if you let the game tell you who you are, it’s gonna tell you that you suck most of the time.

Every now and then it’ll give you a reprieve with a great day, but most of the time it’s gonna point out how many times you mess up.

So as parents and coaches, WE have to help them determine WHAT THEY THINK OF THEMSELVES.

Kids will believe what adults tell them, they really will.

If you have ever had a positive thought about a player on your kid’s team, and you DID NOT SHARE IT….

…man, what a missed opportunity.

A LIFETIME memory may have just been made….but you didn’t share it.

And “good job!” ain’t it.  “Hey _____, your bat looked so fast today.  I really love watching you hit.”

For some players you have to dig a little deeper….but those are the ones who could use a genuine compliment the most.

And I want you complimenting your own kid, but compliments to your own kid can be easily brushed off.

But a compliment from another parent?  Feels like a million bucks.

So parents/coaches, be mindful of how powerful your words are.

Your words are going to create their self identity – for better or for worse – so make sure you are choosing carefully.

My Top 5 Youth Baseball Training Aids of 2019 (and my least favorite also)

Alright, shout out to all of you who responded sharing your favorite baseball training aids and gadgets….

…so many I haven’t heard of that I’m going to check out.

(and a few I’m not – man there’s some weird stuff out there, lol!)

So here are my top 5 training aids from this past year – 

plus one I didn’t care for and A LOT of you asked about.

We’ll start with #5:

5.  The Swing Away Trainer

I didn’t want to like this.

When I first saw the Swing Away, I decided that I hated it.

So big, so much going on.

All the pulleys and cables and what not….I was like “Do we have to over-complicate EVERYTHING!??”

Then I used it.  

Like 2 weeks ago.

And I was like, “Ohhhhhhh.  I get it.”

Dodgers hitting coach Luis Ortiz once told me that Americans hate picking up balls, and I thought of him when I used it.

No need to chase balls.  No need to even reload a tee!

Now, some one emailed and said the cables/tethers can wear out….and I’m not sure how long it takes for the baseball that’s attached to wear out (let me know if you do!)…

…plus you don’t get to see ball flight, which is obviously solid feedback…

…but overall, this is a really slick product for home workouts.

4.  Line Drive Pro

This little gadget basically velcros a tennis ball to the barrel of the bat and helps a player feel his way to a short and up-the-middle hand/bat path.

If the tennis ball goes up the middle…you’re looking good.

Or if your bat/hand path is a little too “round” the tennis ball is going to fly off to the left or right.

If you have kids that are arm-barring or casting (which is almost all young hitters), this is a pretty cool product.

I’ve had a couple of kids who couldn’t figure it out (and I was confused as to what to tell them outside of the super helpful comment “send it up the middle” , ha).

But mostly this has been a nice gadget.  Made by a pro hitting coach too, which is a plus.

I was surprised at the price ($50) which seemed like way too much for such a simple item.

BUT, it does work….

And I’d rather pay $50 for something that works than $10 for something that doesn’t, ya know what I mean?

3. Heavy Training Balls

These little babies are made of rubber, full of sand (I think) and super durable.

They’re are GREAT to have on hand for a couple of reasons:

One, they are a great pre-game tools for kids to be able to take full swings without needing a ton of space or netting.

The balls just don’t go very far even when crushed.

Second, this was my #1 tool just 2-3 years ago when the boys were like 5-7 years old, because one of the biggest problems was that kids weren’t swinging HARD enough.

At least not in practice.

I’d put the ball on a tee, move out about 8 feet or so in front of the hitter and say “Hit it over my head”.

And they’d start to REALLY take aggressive swings, and all of a sudden they were moving better (loading better, staying tall, etc)…

and it seemed a lot of their problems ironed out without having to give too many cues.

I love these things.

2.  Pocket Radar

I’m a huge believer in “What you measure, improves.”  

And it’s so easy to get caught up with all of our drills and programs and pat ourselves on the back like, “We’re making great progress!”

But if you’re not measuring your progress….how do you really know?

There’s two things I measure with this:

Exit velocity and throwing velocity.

I’ve used the bat sensors and they were cool…..but you could kinda get lost in the weeds with SO much information. 

Plus, the sensor would have to stay on the same bat if we wanted to measure a bunch of kids quickly…..or we’d have to take the time to mount the sensor to each player’s bat…

Which isn’t TOO hard but is just kind of a pain.

The Pocket Radar is so simple.  There’s ONE button and it gives one measurement.

One very helpful measurement.

At the end of the season, it’s good to know…

Is my kid/team ACTUALLY hitting harder?  Are they throwing harder?

Now, I’ll admit there’s something a lil uncomfortable about getting little guys throwing for the radar gun….so I don’t do it often.

It’s not like “Hey, you’re throwing 44…I need you selling out on the mound today and get to 46+”.

Personally, I use this like 3-4 times a season.

Once right when we get started with the season and then every couple of months and then definitely one at the end.

(To get their score I typically I do about 7 swings/throws, throw out the top and bottom and average the rest and make note of their top.)

And the kids LOVE it.  Oh man do they love it.

Same principle as the heavy balls: when they start to “ask” their body for more performance….it responds.

Now, sometimes the readouts seem a little wonky and I think it’s important to measure everyone at the same angle (all from the side, or all from head on….which is what I think they recommend) because different angles seems to mess with the numbers some.

But I know pro scouts who use these…so it’s pretty reliable.

Not a cheap option either, but man, is it worth it.

Last note, there’s one (cheaper) version where you HAVE to hold the button down for a read out and another – the “Ball Coach” option – that can shoot continuous without holding the button. 

I got the Ball Coach and like it – though I hold the button everytime anyway – and have heard people that bought the lesser version and wish they had continuous option.  Either way I think it’s pretty good.

And NUMBER 1:

(Drumroll please!)
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Inflatable Balls!

[note: no need to use this link, just get them at the local store]

I didn’t use these until a couple of months ago when I met Mike Brumley (hitting coach for the Braves if you’re new here)…

…and he uses these with his pro guys….

…and they’re fantastic.

I spent like $7 for two at Kroger and they are PERFECT for the best drill you’re likely not doing.

I should probably tease you about Mike’s teachings in his program (which you can find here 🙂 

but I think this drill is straight up genius.  

And honestly, it’s been so helpful for my players that it’s not right not to share.

Here’s a picture:

​All you do is put that inflatable ball between your shoulder and *roughly* the top of your grip/handle....

...and then swing!

That's the only cue you really have to give.

If you look at the second picture you can see that it keeps the "barrel inside the hands" 

(which is a term I had never heard and Mike believes is more helpful/accurate than "hands inside the ball")

but I've found you don't even need to worry about that part.

Kids tend to do it right on their own.

But for me the main benefit is the SPACE that is created by having the ball there when you set up.

All of the drills he put me through were really good...

...but it was the ball props - this position in particular - that made me go - 

"Whoaaaaaa".

Still don't have the perfect words to describe it...but my swing just came out so much better compared to my normal hands-close-to-chest swing.

In fact after we were done Mike was packing up his gear I sat on a bench thinking

"My hands were in the wrong place my entire career. Lol"

"How did nobody tell me!!!"

And all I needed was a $3 ball from the grocery store.

It's been a killer tool for my team of 9 year olds too.  Truly a game changer for a couple in particular.

So I make sure that ball is in my "coach wagon" for every practice.

If you don't go get one of those cheap things within the next week then I'd suggest you unsubscribe from this email list...

...cuz I can't help you, haha!

So simple.  So cheap.  This needs to be an automatic part of everyone's routine.

Oh, and I was going to share the product that so many asked about that I didn't care for.

It was the Swingrail.

Man, I hate to say it because I think the mechanics it teaches are sound - 

and full disclaimer, I didn't give it too long of a shot.

But I couldn't get it to work.

Basically the goal is to keep the barrel from "releasing" too early.

And if the barrel DOES release too early (which basically means getting the barrel outside of the hands....the 2nd picture of Mike is a good example of the barrel NOT released yet)

...then the velcro (that's wrapped around your arm and attached to the bat) tears and that's the feedback that you've done it wrong.

We spent about 15 mins with it and every single time anyone swung with it....the velcro tore.

And it was like......wait, did we do this right?

Is the strap is too long for these little kids with skinny little arms?

I put it on and was trying to figure it out too....and every time it ripped.

Now, maybe (probably!) my swing needs adjusting, but like I said we fiddled with it for about 15 mins and then haven't gone back to it.

I've talked with a few other people and all had a similar experience.

But the thing won awards and is everywhere....so there's gotta be some value to it - so let me know if you've had a good experience.

(In fact, a friend just replied to my first email saying they use and like the Swingrail...so there ya go!)

But in my opinion, the Line Drive Pro is more user-friendly that achieves a similar thing...or like I said, the inflatable balls in the shoulder/bat position do the trick also.

So that's it!

Was this helpful?

Let me know what you think.

I've thought about putting a list of a BUNCH of gadgets and reviewing them all if that's something you guys would like to see.

And let me know what's worked for you, I'd love to hear it and add it to my Santa list  🙂

Go get em today guys!!!!

(And if you enjoyed this article, find us on social media on Facebook and Instagram)

God bless,

Clint McGill
Baseball Notes

P.S.  A friend of mine suggested I use affiliate links for the products and wanted to make it clear this is my genuine top 5.  Basically, I'd get a little kick back from Amazon  - a little slice 'cause I'm nice - for the referral and it doesn't cost people any more.  Anyway it's kinda irrelevant but thought it was the right thing to do to give you a heads up.  Thanks!

The 4.5 Tips for Tryout Season

It’s tryout season, and with the first tip I want to share comes directly from this community.

A couple of weeks ago I asked the question “Imagine it’s July of 2019…what do you want your son’s game and his experience to have looked like this past year?”

And the answer is tip number 1:

1.  Make sure you are putting your child’s INDIVIDUAL development above all.

Don’t just go out for a team because you think they’re going to win a ton or if the coach is a little shaky or if your kid might be buried in the OF or at the bottom of the lineup.

The overwhelming response from parents was that they wanted their kid to have grown as a player as much as possible (and enjoy themselves while doing it).

Let me tell you, even on GREAT teams the kids who are hitting 8th and 9th (or 11th and 12th in many cases) are STILL quick to identify with “being the worst”, so be careful here.

Now, iron sharpens iron and playing with good players sort of ups the ante and can inspire a player to new heights….

…but you need to be CRYSTAL CLEAR on what you’re wanting – and *not* wanting – this upcoming season and try out for the according teams.

2.  Make sure your kid knows what his/her objective is at tryouts

This one is big for the younger ages.

It’s amazing to see how many players seem content with simply fielding their ground ball or catching their fly ball, and throwing it to the base just like they normally do.

And when I say normal, I mean at about 80%!!

My son did this at his first tryout, they hit grounders to short and he needed to throw it to first…

…and he just sort of lobbed it!!!

The ball bounced short of first and just kind of trickled in….

…and I was about to flip out, haha!

“Throw it!!!!!!”

Well I bit my tongue and didn’t say anything and he threw all of his chances the same way (and didn’t get selected).

Your kid must realize he is SHOWCASING what he can do: how hard he can throw, how hard he can hit and how fast he can run.

Do not let him/her go in there unaware that he needs to bring 150% to all of his throws and everything he does.

3.  Don’t mess around

I’ve crossed off several kids from my list who would have had a real chance of making the team because of how much they goofed off.

There is A LOT of waiting around during a tryout format and some lack of concentration is understandable….

…but when kids are running around, playing keep away with a hat, or my biggest pet peeve – not being READY FOR YOUR TURN (“Hey #19…Aiden….hey you’re up!!!”)– they are really  hurting their chances.

4.  Use your words

Ok here’s my favorite tip.  We can psych ourselves out and say things like:

“I’m not good at tryouts”

“I hope I don’t screw up”

“I hope this doesn’t go poorly”.

And it’s natural (and helpful) to have some juice/nerves flowing but you have to take control of your words/thoughts:

“I love tryouts”

“I kill it in tryouts”

“This is so fun, I love this”.

Simply saying those words will signal the body differently and you will be FAR more likely to live into those words.

I’m telling you, do this one!

and finally:

4.5.  Thank the coach

I almost didn’t put this one, but I’m gonna share it and let you do with it what you will 🙂

About 10 years ago I was putting on a tryout for a 10u team.

And FYI, every roster I’ve ever been a part of comes down to the same thing –

There’s 1 or 2 roster spots left to fill and about 5-6 kids in contention to fill it and you have almost no clue on how to decide between them.

One kid can hit but can’t throw, another kid can throw and run but doesn’t hit….that type of thing.

And this year was no different.

Well I was the catcher for these kids during the pitching station and one kid came up to me afterward and said “Thanks coach” and shook my hand.

Now, while I thought this was a nice thing I also recognized that this kid was probably buttering me up a little!

But here’s the key…it worked!

The “he seems like a really nice kid” ended up being one of the deciding factors and I picked him!

Funny note, this kid never lived up to how well he did during tryouts and while being a nice kid – I wished I had that pick back.

And I always remembered – The Handshake got me!

But what I’m trying to say, is that good manners, a handshake, a thank you can be a factor when things are close.

Feels like brown nosing – and kinda is(!) – but it can be effective when done right!

Wrong way to do it: Going too far out of the way or over the top.  If the coaches are in deep RF, just let them be.

And it’s gotta be the kid, parents coming up to schmooze doesn’t work.

But if the coach is close by and you can thank him for something, go ahead and give it a try.

P.S.  Oh and one final tip here that is probably most important….

Pray for some guidance.

This works whether you’re a believer, non believer, whoever.

When you get quiet and as for guidance or to be guided down the correct path for your kid-

I promise you, it really helps.

Good luck during tryouts this year, let me know how it goes!!!

YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!

Clint McGill