Players and Parents:
Here are additional details about USBA camps. This document contains important information to keep in mind while your player attends camp as well as provide additional details regarding what to bring, etc.
Please read carefully and let us know if you have any questions.
Important Program Note for Parents
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.
Here are four additional points to remember while at camp:
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.
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.
Multiple Age Groups
This camp is for Grades 1-12 and at any given time, all age groups may be in the gym or on the field at the same time. Each skill session is divided into groups based on age. In some cases, the number of younger or older players may be unbalanced making it necessary for an older player or a younger player to be grouped together. 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.
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.
Below you will find additional camp details including equipment, player safety, and spectators.
What to wear: Players should wear something comfortable for working out. Baseball pants, sweatpants or shorts are best. We will be inside, so wear gym shoes, not cleats or spikes.
What to wear: Players should wear something comfortable for working out and weather appropriate. Please bring your cleats and gym shoes each week. In some instances, the camp may be moved indoors or other covered area.
Hitting: Every player in the hitting camp must bring a bat. Because some players may be taking more swings in a shorter period of time than they are accustomed to, it would be wise to wear batting gloves if you have them.
Pitching: Participants in the pitching camp should bring a glove. It is not necessary to bring a baseball.
(Spring only)Remember, participants in the pitching camp must supply their own catchers. Because our coaches are working with the pitchers in a hands-on manner and all pitchers are participating in throwing drills simultaneously, each player needs to have someone catching for him. The catcher can be a parent, older sibling or friend. If the catcher is a friend or teammate, a mask is required. We do not want two players in the same session catching for each other, because each will only receive half as much instruction.
Catchers: Participants in the catcher's session should bring their own gear: shin guards, chest protector, mask and a protective cup. If you do not own your own catcher's gear, you should be able to borrow it from your coach or league.
Fielding/Baserunning: Participants in the fielding/baserunning should bring their own glove.
It is important that players not swing the bat unless they are at a station being instructed by a coach. If a player would step out of a station and swing the bat, or if players walking onto the floor to start the day swing their bats, there is a good chance someone could get hit. DO NOT SWING BATS unless you are in a station being instructed, and it is your turn to hit.
Parents are welcome to watch from the sidelines during the hitting, fielding and catching program. The site director will designate a viewing area that will allow you to observe the camp and take notes. We ask that the parents respect this space to allow the coaches to give their full attention to the player. Please wait until the end of the session if you have any questions about a particular drill.