Whether you live with Little Leaguers, softball stars, newbie T-ball players or just loyal fans, it’s always a good time to sharpen your baseball skills. We asked Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees to give us his best advice on honing baseball skills in the off-season.
Before you start, don’t forget to get all the right equipment. Talk to the professionals at Big 5 Sporting Goods or any of our local sports equipment and apparel stores. And you’ll need a place to play, such as Piper Park or Magnolia Avenue Park, or any of the other wonderful ballfields in the Twin Cities area.
What are three things I can do to become a better fielder?
1. Make sure you know what to do if the ball is hit to you. Are there runners on base? How many outs are there? What is the score of the game? All of these factors decide where you will throw the ball when it is hit to you.
2. Your feet and legs are very important: make sure you are doing plenty of footwork, speed and agility drills. This will put you in the best possible position to catch and throw the ball.
3. Practice every possible situation: don't just field ground balls or fly balls. Turn double plays, field slow rollers, barehanded plays, balls near the fence and any other play that could occur during a game.
What are three things I can do to become a better hitter?
1. The tee is not just for little kids: hitting off of a tee is the drill that I do the most. It keeps the ball still and allows you to concentrate on the correct mechanics over and over again. Muscle memory is best built using the tee.
2. Be patient: it is very important to swing at good pitches. It doesn't matter how talented you are; you must swing at strikes to be successful.
3. Take your "best" swing every time: make sure to swing hard and follow through. Many players are not successful hitters because they cut their swing short and do not get the most speed and power out of their swing.
How can I stay in shape during the off-season?
Play, play, play: when I was a kid, I swam, played tennis, baseball, basketball, soccer, and was basically outside all day long. Strength and athletic ability are developed at a young age by playing many different sports and being active all year long. When the sun is out, turn off the television, computer and video games!