Sunday, March 14, 2010

Go Ahead, See if You Can Hit It!

"I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it," - Sandy Koufax, Hall of Fame pitcher from the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers

   This week, as we started baseball practice at Toms River High School South, I made sure to take some time to go over some important ideas and concepts with our pitchers. At practice as they began throwing bullpen sessions and preparing for our upcoming preseason schedule, we took some time handle the mental side of the pitching. I typed-up a handout with about a dozen quotes about pitching and made sure to put this one on the end, in bold, like and exclamation point.

  Even though we had our first three scrimmages rained out, it gave us some time to focus on these important concepts.  I made sure to a few moments to read to them the quote above from Brooklyn bred Sandy Koufax - one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game. 

The gist is - challenge the hitter! Throw them your best and see if they can handle it.  Don't worry about trying to dance around their talents, make them worry about your talent. 

Then end result of this idea should be every single pitcher's goal - strike one.  The sooner you get there as a pitcher, the sooner that batter is on the bench worrying about his next at bat against you.

 I happened to catch a minute or two of the Mets preseason broadcast of game from March 13th feature left-hander Oliver Perez who threw four no-hit innings. He was the lucky recipient of some personal coaching by Koufax who is connected to the Mets through owner Fred Wilpon who was Sandy's high school teammate in Brooklyn at Lafayette HS. The broadcasters let us in on the coaching and the proverbial "secret-sauce" - as many have tried to help Perez who has been struggling the past few seasons. Sandy said, you know what, just relax and throw the ball. 

And I'd bet he told Perez to make the hitters try to hit it.

Any comments or questions or topics you'd like me to cover, feel free to email me at

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Baseball Offense - Made Simple


   Hopefully most of you are failiar with the strategy of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!). I think this acronym is perfect for figuring out baseball strategy and technique and works best in almost every situation.

  So I will break down for you the only three strategies a batter can be thinking about when he (or she) steps into a batters box and faces live pitching. In a game with endless possibilites, there are ONLY THREE THINGS A BATTER SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT!!!!!

1. - GET ON BASE - This would be a hitting situation when you need baserunners against a pitcher. Get the hot pitcher into the stretch. Make them worry about too many baserunners. You could be ahead big in the game. You could be behind big in the game. You could be in a tie game. It could be the first inning. It could be the last inning. Find a way to GET ON BASE.

2 - MOVE A RUNNER OVER - This second situation calls for the batter to put the ball somewhere in the field to move a runner to the next base. A sacrifice bunt. A ground ball to the right side of the infield. Get hit by the pitch. Draw a walk. Get a hit. All of those do the trick. Remember the goal is to move runners.

3 - DRIVE A RUNNER IN - This is probably the most imporant hitting situation because runs will be produced in the situation and the strategy in baseball is obviously to get more runs than your opponent. A sacrifice fly, a squeeze bunt, a ground out up the middle with the infield playing back - those all would work. Obviously home runs could do this too.

So in any offensive scenario for a batter in a baseball (or softball) game, there are only three potential things that he or she could be concentrating on!! Keep it simple and keep winning!!

Mitch Powitz

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Keeping Hitting Simple

"My theory on hitting is, attack the ball before it attacks you," Hank Aaron

  I think Henry "Hank" Aaron might have been onto something here. 

  I think he may have a little bit of success with that idea.

  Of course, up until a few years ago when a steroid-induced Barry Bonds passed him by, Hank Aaron was the career "Home Run King."

  Now we as players, former players, coaches and fans get caught up with records and statistics there is really one main objective when competing - and that is SUCCESS. This quote gives us a good starting point for any baseball player that will be facing live pitching this season - BE AGGRESSIVE. ATTACK THE BALL. TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE PITCHER.

  There is a certain simplicity that really works toward a baseball player's (or any athlete's) advantage. I believe that is often under-stated. If, as athletes, we do the most simple and basic techniques in an outstanding way - we will be extremely success and in the process, contribute to our team winning. 

  So as all of those involved in baseball get ready to shovel the snow and then take the field, remember "Hammerin" Hank Aaron and attack the baseball.  In my next post, I will give all you hitters a hitting game plan which is based on three simple rules. As you stride into the batters box, stay aggressive out there!

By the way, Aaron is wearing the uniform of the Milwaukee Braves - which is where the team was prior to their current location in Atlanta.  The Braves originally shared the Beantown audience of Boston prior to its move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pitching Wins! Here are the tips to get you going

Toms River High School South - 2010


1. Give me the ball! (want the ball, want to pitch)

2. Set the tempo; work quickly; throw strikes.

3. Help yourself – know our plays (pickoffs); field your position; backup.

4. Take advantage of your strengths and the opponents’ weaknesses.

5. Project confidence – believe in yourself.

6. Work ahead in the count - throw 2 different pitches for strikes; 3 would be a plus.

7. Keep your pitches down; especially the fastball. Change speeds, arm angle & looks.

8. Always a 0-0 game.

9. Shutouts win!!

10. Don’t be a nice guy! Get the hitters down (in the count) and BURY THEM!

(pictured above, St. Louis Cardinal ace Dizzy Dean. It would be interesting to bring back those old pitching motions!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"When I think of a stadium, it's like a temple. It's religious." -Jim LeFebvre, major league outfielder and coach

It is the time of year!  If you aren't yearning for it right about now, you might want to double-check your affinity for baseball! Major leaguers; potential major leaguers; college players they are getting ready and prepped for Opening Day! 

In the photo above of Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium) - the former home of the Philadelphia Phillies and the Philadelphia A's - it makes you feel the summertime,  even by just looking at the picture.

Soon enough pitchers will be throwing strikes and balls. Batters will be hoping for a good one to hit. The tying run, the winning run, just another run will all be in play once the field is taken by the players. The defense will be gunning for outs. Voices will be heard. Dirt will fly. 

This makes all the snow and cold leave my mind. It makes me visualize the spring and summer of 2010!

So make sure you make a mental note to check in with the ballplayers as soon as you are able.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It's About "We"

"A team is where a boy can prove his courage on his own. A gang is where a coward goes to hide." - Mickey Mantle, NY Yankees.

I am a firm believer that we are only as good as the people around us.

Whether it's in life or in sports or in the business world, one is dependent on the concept of "we" not "I." 

I think this Mickey Mantle quote sort of leads us down that road. It leads us to a place where we can contribute to success, not hide among excuses for failure. 

As much as one remembers Mantle for being at the core of the Yankees success in the 1950s and early 1960s, there were many, many, many names that helped him bring the glory and World Series trophies to the Bronx. After all is winning is a team effort. In the 2010 world we live in today, there is too much emphasis placed on individuals and individuality.  If everyone cared about the group or groups succeeding, I think we'd see more success.

Make sure you players understand that individual stats are important, but the success of the team is of the Utmost importance.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Georgia Peach on a Cold January Morning...

"Baseball was one hundred percent my life." - Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers
On this frigid winter morning, there are thoughts of baseball diamonds, white leather spheres and bats running through my brain. 

I can see the players lined up in the outfield, getting stretched out. I visualize them throwing and then going through the pre-game workout.

On the pro level its a few weeks away. On the collegiate level, its just about here. At the high school level (at least in NJ) we start up March 5th!!

With this in mind, the advice we get from the great "Georgia Peach" - Tyrus Cobb, tells us that - we should be thinking about all this already as we prepare for the upcoming season.

He lets us know that to be the best at whatever you choose, it takes a 100% effort - physically, mentally, emotionally. So whether we are going to be engineers, accountants, bankers, teachers, nurses, attorneys, entrepreneurs - go at it with everything back. If you hold - you run the risk of looking back on the moments and saying "What if I had given 100%?"

So on the cold New Jersey morning, take a little time to reflect about the choices you make, look in the mirror and decide where you are going to put your 100%. You can't change the past, but you can surely shape the future.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's All in the Mind...

"You must have an alibi to show why lost. If you haven't one, you must fake one. Your self-confidence must be maintained." - Christy Mathewson, Hall of Fame pitcher from the New York Giants

One of the most underrated qualites of successful people is their confidence. To be successful and triumphant, one must believe! There has to be no doubts. Doubts will lead to self-questioning. Self-question will lead to fear. And fear will lead to, even more fear.

So close your eyes, count to five and believe! If one lacks self-confidence, one is defeated before the contest has even begun.

So whether it's baseball, life or any game - one has to look and play the role, before any wins can be put in the book.

For more on Mathewson, check out -

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Skills, Skills, Skills

"If you aim to steal 30 or 40 bases a year, you it by surprising the other side. But if your goal is 50 or 100 bases, the element of surprise doesn't matter. You go even though they know you're going to go.  Then each steal becomes a contest, matching your skills against theirs." - Hall of Fame outfielder Lou Brock - former Cub and Cardinal

Ok all you baseball nuts out there, here we sit in late January pining for Spring and the arrival of pitchers and catchers to Florida and Arizona.

At the collegiate, high school and youth levels - kids are working on their game getting ready for the upcoming season. One way players can get ready for the upcoming season is to hone up on the love of the contest and to work on their baseball skills.  It's a great time to start swinging the bat, throwing the baseball and getting the legs in shape for baseball type activity.  

It doesn't have to be everyday, but about 2-3 times a week is perfect. If hitting, it doesn't have to be live pitching - it could be soft toss, tee work or even just dry swings.  For pitchers, it doesn't have to involve throwing hard - just work on the basics. The basics for pitchers would be the windup/set stances, the motion, balance and getting the arm into the proper throwing position.

On the mental side, players should be analyzing their own goals and expectation and getting them down in writing.  They should be specific goals and specific expectations. Players should be doing a lot of visualizing and mental preparation.

January is almost over. At that point, we're just about 4 weeks from Spring Training games!!

Mitch Powitz

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Feels like spring...

Ok everyone, I'm give this blogging this a run on a regular basis. (At least the third or fourth time I've written that).

I'm going to feature a famous quote (or not so famous) and work off of it as we start counting down to the start of baseball season.

So we start with Brooklyn Dodger great Roy Campanella:

"You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too." 

The Three-time National League MVP ( sums up a key element to success in any endeavor - enthusiasm. He perhaps was one of the greatest catchers in baseball history and this, I'm sure, was one of the keys to his success.

Even after he suffered a career-ending car accident which paralyzed him from the waist down in the late 1950s, he still had a reputation and upbeat and enthusiastic man. 

Let's hope the little boy (or little girl) comes out of each of us a little bit each day.