Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Baseball Glove Options for Switch Pitchers

Custom made
 Mizuno ambidextrous glove
Looking for a glove for a switch pitcher?

Here are glove options for ambidextrous pitchers, based on age:

Age 3-5

Kids don't pitch at this age. They should be learning the proper way to throw.

Young kids should try catching the ball with two hands. Use tennis balls or foam balls for throwing. Forget about the low quality plastic glove - it's in the landfill within a year. Gloves are awkward for young kids. If they learn two hand catch when they are young and continue with the skill, they will do well fielding balls when they are older.

Learning to throw with both arms is easy at this stage. If a child can throw with either hand when they are three-years-old, it doesn't mean that they are talented or ambidextrous - it just means that they are a typical kid.

Gloves: Buy a nice leather glove for the player when they are around five-years-old. You might find a nice used glove at a local thrift shop or second-hand sports store that will work.


Age 5-7

Most of these kids play in tee ball or coach pitch. My son started pitching as a 7-year-old, but most kids don't have good throwing mechanics at this age.

Please don't force the your child to pitch -- even if they are left-handed. Not all kids want to be a pitcher. Pitching can be very stressful to kids. They really have to enjoy pitching to become good.

This is a good age to teach kids how to switch hit. Many of the switch pitchers started out as switch hitters. Switch hitting helps with balance and learning the strike zone, which will come in handy when pitching.

Gloves: Two gloves work fine for an ambidextrous thrower. 9-10 inch size. It's better to use a small infield glove than a large outfield glove.

No ambidextrous glove is available for this age.

Have fun learning to throw a baseball.

Watch a 6-year-old practice throwing with both arms


Age 8-10
Switch pitcher using two gloves

Ambidextrous throwers in this group can use two separate gloves since there is rarely a situation where having an ambi glove on the mound will help at this age. Have the kid pitch one inning with each arm and see how well they do facing hitters.

In a game, if the ambidextrous pitcher needs to switch gloves, then the coach can call time and get the other glove from the dugout. Using two gloves worked well for the best ambidextrous pitchers. There is no need to switch gloves for one hitter. Winning just isn't that important at this age. Remember the game should be fun.

Gloves: Use two separate gloves for switch pitching. Different color gloves make in easy to gab the correct one. 10-11.5 inch size

Don't think about ordering a custom ambidextrous glove until your child can throw well with boths arms or else you are waisting money.

Training glove: Valle Baseball makes a nice ambidextrous pancake glove. This flat training glove does not have a pocket, so it forces you to use two hands.  My son loves his pancake glove and his teammates find it challenging to use. Cost is around $40 for the Valle Flat Ambi Pancake Glove  www.vallebaseball.com


Age 10-12

Players this age should really work on developing good throwing mechanics. It's time for pitching lessons.

Switch Pitchers can use two separate gloves without a problem. Pitch lefty one inning, then switch to righty the next. Or pitch two innings left, then the third inning right. Lefties are valuable in games since they have an advantage over most hitters. Make sure to spend extra time throwing left-handed.

The exception might be in tournament play where pitchers mainly throw with the dominant arm.

Let the umpire know before the game that the player is planning to use both arms for pitching. Check to make sure the umpires know the rules regarding switch pitching. Note that the pitch count is still the same for one player - they don't count each arm separately.

Most umpires really enjoy calling games with a switch pitcher. It's something they can share with their buddies.
Henry Knight pitching using an
Akadema ABX-00 Ambidextrous Glove


Gloves:
Most switch pitchers will use two separate gloves that are different styles or colors. 11.5" size is common (range 11" - 12").

If the kid has adult-sized hands, and is a solid pitcher from both sides, then you can order the ambidextrous glove from Akadema (see below). This is the only "stock" ambidextrous glove available and it is ready for delivery within a week.

Custom made gloves are $200-$450+ and it takes 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. That's just too much money to spend on a glove at this age. I read that it's hard to find a manufacturer that will make a custom ambidextrous glove. Akadema can make high-quality custom gloves and so can Carpenter Trade, Inc.


Age 13-14

If the player really can pitch well in games with both arms, then you might consider using an ambidextrous glove. Kids are playing more games at this age and owning a quality glove is a good idea. Many of the utility players own multiple gloves for different positions - pitcher, first base, catcher, infield or outfield. It's amazing the money parents shell out for sports equipment (but it won't make the kid a better player). One ambidextrous glove could cost less that two quality right- and left-handed gloves.

Gloves: 
Many switch pitchers use two separate gloves that are different styles or colors. 11.5"-12" size

A quality ambidextrous glove is available from Akadema (ABX-00: Ambidextrous, 12" model $120). My son uses the 12" model - the only option available. This is a stock glove, but you will not find these in any stores. Order online from Akadema. They only produce about 100 per year (made in China). You can have a smaller custom glove made by Akadema for around $200. Visit www.akademapro.com



This six-finger ambidextrous glove is from the Akadema Pro Soft Series. The leather glove features four finger slots, plus two adjustable thumb loops (using velcro tabs). Like most quality gloves, this ambi glove is very stiff at first. If you follow the old-time break-in process, with glove oil and playing catch daily, then the glove works fine after a couple of weeks. Learn about Breaking in Your Glove

The Akadema ambi glove is a bit too large for an 11 or 12-year old player since it is an adult size glove. The glove is symetrical with no webbing, so it looks different and a lot larger than the 11.5" style of infield glove. Be prepared to use two hands on every catch until the pocket is formed since the ambi glove does not have the conventional webbing. Young fielders should try to use two hands to catch the ball, since they often have trouble squeezing a glove with one hand. So this turns out to be a good training glove.

The Akadema Ambidextrous Glove in Action

Switch pitcher Henry Knight using an Akadema ambidextrous glove


After about two weeks of regular use, the pocket breaks-in and the ambidextrous glove works really well in practice. It might take a month of regular use to make the Akadema ambi glove game-ready. The glove spreads out nicely for scooping up grounders. It's large enough to use in the outfield.


Custom Crafted Ambidextrous Glove

This cool looking ambidextrous glove, crafted by Carpenter Trade, uses state-of-the-art synthetic materials making it stronger and lighter than conventional gloves. The ambi glove was designed by Scott Carpenter after consulting with Pat Venditte the famous switch pitcher with the NY Yankees organization. All Carpenter Gloves are custom made to fit each individual. The glove maker is based near Copperstown, N.Y.

    Order your Carpenter glove ..

Carpenter gloves are unrivaled in craftsmanship, performance, and customization. If you dare to be different, visit  CarpenterTrade.com

High School

Using two separate gloves is still a good option for games. There just aren't that many left-handed hitters playing baseball, so most of the pitching will be done right-handed against righties. The advantage of switching sides at this stage is to rest the dominant arm.

Two Pitching Gloves

The top high school player in Washington state, Drew Vettleson, was a switch-pitcher. Vettleson used two gloves and his strategy worked well for switch pitching.

"Drew Vettleson would take two baseball gloves with him out to the mound when he pitched for Central Kitsap High School in Washington. If he was pitching with his left arm, he tossed his left-handed glove to the back of the mound. Pitching as a righty, Vettleson would switch gloves and toss the other to the back of the mound". (source: milb.com)

Vettleson, a power hitter, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays as an outfielder. The Tampa Rays named Drew Vettleson the MVP of the Princeton (W.Va.) Rays, their rookie league team in the Appalachain League.

Ambidextrous Pitcher Glove

Ryan Perez, a dominant switch pitcher from the Chicago-area has a six-finger glove from Akadema. His fastball tops out in the 91-92 mph range from the right side and in the 88-89 range left-handed. Watch Ryan pitching.

According to a report in the Chicago Sun Times, Perez threw a complete game no-hitter left-handed, then came back later in the day and threw four innings of two-hit, shutout relief right-handed.

High school switch pitcher Aubrey McCarty uses a custom Mizuno ambidextrous glove. McCarty signed a letter of intent to pitch for Vanderbilt University in 2014. Aubrey McCarty was drafted in 2013 by the SF Giants, but he will probably play in college.

College

If you pitch in college, then it's time to buy a custom ambidextrous glove with your name on it.  The custom six-finger glove could bring you some extra attention in the press.


Pat Vindette used a custom Louisville Slugger TPX Ambidextrous glove at Creighton University. The  leather glove has 6-fingers, with 4-finger holes plus two thumb loops. It looks cool and was easy to change from one hand to the other.

You can custom order the Louisville Slugger ambidextrous glove for $399.99 by calling 1-800-282-2287 and a representative would be happy to assist you. (updated June 2012)

The Mizuno GMP1A ambidextrous glove is $450 and it takes 4-6 weeks to deliver.  

Carpenter Trade crafts custom gloves to fit each individual. Gloves range in price from $300 for a conventional style to $400 for an ambidextrous glove. Learn more at CarpenterTrade.com



Big Leagues

Pat Vindette, a minor league pitcher with the NY Yankees organization, uses a custom six finger glove made by Mizuno. (Contact Mizuno by phone or email).
A big leaguer can arrange a sponsorship deal with the glove manufacturer.




Good luck.
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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Baseball tryouts: Tips for making the team


Are you getting ready for a baseball tryout?

Here are some helpful tips from baseball coaches on making a good first impression.

Preparation
- practice hitting, throwing and fielding, a least two weeks before the tryout
- be prepared, have everything ready the day before the tryout
- dress like a baseball player (baseball pants, jersey, cap, cleats)
- wear a shirt with your name on the back
- plan to learn something new
- show up 30 minutes early
- relax and have fun

Attitude
Coaches are looking for skilled players, with a positive attitude - who are coachable

- listen carefully, be coachable
- introduce yourself to the coaches, shake their hands
- pay attention and look the coach in the eye
- ask and answer questions
- focus on the skill
- have a positive attitude
- hustle everywhere

Bonus Points
- be a leader
- support your teammates
- show your love of the game


Pitching
- talk with the catcher before you pitch
- make sure to warmup first
- take your time and use good mechanics
- make adjustments
- change speed and location
- follow through and finish the pitch
- keep the ball low in the strike zone
- first pitch strike

Hitting
- have a plan before you step in the batter's box
- wait for a good pitch to hit
- trust your swing
- focus on hitting line drives
- 65% of pitches are on the outer half - hit to the opposite field
- make solid contact - don't swing for the fences
- run the bases hard

Fielding
- make the routine plays
- move on every hit
- stay focused
- talk on every play - communication is important

- footwork is very important
- be ready and in position to make the play
- call the fly ball by yelling - "ball, ball, ball"
- set your feet, make a good throw, follow through
- take your time to make accurate throws
- backup other fielders
- chase after missed balls
- show you can play multiple positions


Mental Game
- set goals for the season
- don't think too much
- try not to over react when you strikeout or make an error
- stay positive 

Make a Good Impression
- set yourself apart 
- do something to make a good lasting impression
- help the coaches carry equipment
- volunteer to fill a spot in the field
- hustle - run fast on and off the field

Communication
- listen carefully
- look the coach in the eye when they are speaking
- shake the coaches hand and thank them after the tryout
- let the coaches know why you want to join the team
- talk with players on the team, see what they like and don't like about the team


Recommended Reading

Is your son or daughter looking for a new select baseball or softball team? Here are some tips to get your kid on the team he or she wants.

Making Your High School Team
A seven part series on how to give yourself the best opportunity. Tips and information by high school coaches from across the country.



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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Switch Pitcher videos

Watch videos of ambidextrous pitchers on YouTube >>


Switch pitcher Henry Knight throwing a bullpen in Seattle.

Knight has a 14:1 strikeout/walk ratio as a closer in high school



Henry Knight throwing a knuckleball and splitter


Videos of switch pitchers on YouTube >>


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