Below are five key points to remember while attending our program:
This camp is for Grades K-12 and all age groups will be in the gym or on the field at the same time. Each skill session is divided into groups based on grade. We will do our best to ensure groupings are age appropriate but please understand the age of the players in the group will not affect the player’s learning curve. If you see your player grouped incorrectly, please address it with the site director so we can correct.
SMALL GROUP TRAINING
This is not a one-on-one instructional camp. When the players rotate through the drills, the coach will be working with each player one-on-one but not in the sense that he will have time to correct major flaws in the player. The drills are designed, if done properly, to naturally correct flaws. The coach will be able to give quick tips, but with a small group, each player is entitled to equal time in the station.
Many stations will include a “player-assistant” in addition to the station coach. While the player-assistant is not technically coaching and is not factored into our coaching ratio, he is there to increase the repetitions while players wait to get to the lead coach at that station. Each participant works with the adult coach at that station for instruction, and the player-assistant for repetition and reinforcement. Not all camps will have player assistants.
All players will receive a complimentary t-shirt. T-shirts are typically handed out weeks three and four at a 4-week camp and weeks four and five at a 6-week camp. If you miss one of these weeks, please be sure to check with a coach to get your t-shirt.
U.S. Baseball Academy is a progressive program that works through each of the building blocks for successful hitting, pitching, fielding and catching. For hitters, that includes grip, athletic stance, stride, balance, proper alignment, weight transfer, path of swing, power position, contact points, extension, pitch recognition, mental aspects, and many others. For pitchers, it includes various grips, stance, arm slot, arm action, balance point, hand and wrist position, release point, proper alignment, power position, follow-through, mental aspects, and more. For catchers, players work through stance, receiving, framing, blocking, throwing, fielding drills, the mental side of catching and dealing with pitchers and umpires. For fielders, it includes approach, stance, footwork, throwing, backhand, forehand, slo-rollers, feeds and pivots, cut-offs, tag plays, rundowns and more.
This is a teaching camp. If you are expecting to see your player take 200 swings a day in a cage against a pitcher, you will not find it here. You can get that by putting tokens in a machine at an arcade, but what will the player learn? Rather than improve, he will simply be driving bad habits deeper and deeper into his muscle memory. Pitchers who haven’t thrown a ball in months would tear up their arm throwing full speed off a mound in January or February. Drills will break down mechanics and build muscle memory so players understand how to pitch and have success when they get on the field. The goal is not to get hitters out in the middle of winter.
As is the case at colleges and even Major League spring training, many of the drills will use hitting Tees, soft toss, and similar techniques. Young kids may think they are boring. You may think they are repetitive. They are not. At each station, the coaches are working on a specific “building block.” Feel free to ask the coaches to explain the specific purpose of any drill you don’t understand.
So, if your player tells you he hit off Tees all day, or he hit soft-toss, it’s important to understand what is happening at each station. Tony Gwynn, one of the greatest hitters of all time, hit off a Tee for 30 minutes a day throughout his Major League career. He was known to say, “If you can’t do it off a Tee, you sure can’t do it off a pitcher.” That always reminds me of one of the most memorable calls to come into our office in 20 years. A parent considering signing up her son for the camp asked if the kids hit off Tees in the program. She was told that yes, some of the drills involve hitting off Tees and soft-toss. “Tees are for T-ballers,” she responded loudly. “My son is a fourth-grader. I’ll take him to a batting cage.”
Good thing she wasn’t Tony Gwynn’s mom.