Joe Janish has been coaching baseball for 20+ years, and playing for 30+. He was a D-1 ABCA All-American catcher in 1992, when he finished in the top 15 in the nation in hitting. He also coached at the D-1 level, and currently provides private instruction to serious baseball players in the NY/NJ/PA area.
Browsing All Posts By Joe Janish

Ron Swoboda on Outfield Play

swoboda-catchFormer Miracle Met Ron Swoboda chats about the techniques and approach he developed while making himself into a Major League outfielder in the most recent baseball conversation.

Many of you may remember, or have seen the highlight of, “the catch” made by Swoboda against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series. What you may not know is Ron was a converted infielder who struggled with the outfield in his early days as a pro. However, with hard work and dedication, he transformed himself into an everyday MLB outfielder and the man who made one of the most legendary snares in New York baseball history.

Special thanks to MintPros for arranging this conversation.

By the way, you can purchase a framed and autographed photo of “The Catch” through the Daily News (a great holiday gift idea!). It is a limited edition commemorating the 40th anniversary of the event and the Mets’ first World Series win. A portion of the proceeds go to the Mets Foundation, which funds and promotes educational, social, and athletic programs, as well as other charitable causes.

The conversation with Ron Swoboda can be heard below, and you can also subscribe to the OnBaseball.com podcast feed through iTunes.

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Hitting: How To Lose Power in Your Swing

Wait, who wants to LOSE power when they’re hitting?

Nobody of course, unless you’re attempting a sacrifice bunt!

But there are common problems among hitters — even the pros — that can sap you of your power. Both players and coaches should be aware of these minor, correctable flaws.

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Why A-Rod is Suddenly a Postseason Hero

a-rodFor years, the knock on perhaps the greatest player ever to suit up in a Major League uniform was that Alex Rodriguez never performed to his capabilities in the playoffs.

In the autum of 2009, however, that has changed, as A-Rod hit .365 with 6 homeruns in 50 postseason at-bats, a .500 OBP, and a 1.308 OPS in leading the New York Yankees to a World Series Championship.

So what’s changed?

He’s the same player … from the neck down. But above the neck is where Alex Rodriguez has improved — he’s now relaxed and focused, using many of the techniques learned while working with mental coach Jim Fannin.

In the last post you had the chance to hear me speak with Jim Fannin about some of those techniques, and the challenges of mental preparation for baseball.

Here are some of the tips or “takeaways” from the interview:

– No matter what the situation, the essence of your craft does not change. In other words, you use the same physical technique and concentration in “regular” and “pressure” situations

– Big games: sometimes you need to “spill” some energy — maybe jump up and down a few times to expel your energy if you feel a little too jacked up

– Batters: lock in to the release, forget about the pitcher

– Batters: Pick up the baseball within 6 feet after release, and then be sure to track it within the last two feet

– Batters: start learning to pick up the ball and the pitcher’s release in the on-deck circle

– Batters: EXPECT to hit the ball solidly – confidence is key

– Pitchers: prepare to retire the leadoff batter by getting the heart rate up and throwing the last few warmup pitches as if they were “game” pitches

– Pitchers: mentality should be to retire the leadoff guy every inning

– Pitchers: if tense, stressed, or nervous, slow down your heart rate by walking off the mound, taking a breath, unhinging your jaw, and focus on throwing through the target (see the target not the batter)

– The ultimate for all players is to have the same mindset in all situations

– Every great player uses the tools of visualization

– Visualization is applicable to every level down to little league

– Every human being spends 56 hours — 50% of their waking hours — daydreaming. Daydreaming is a form of visualization, but it is generally random and chaotic.

– Controlled visualization is proactive and specific – you are daydreaming about what you want.

– Most people visualize about what they don’t want — so you want to visualize what you want

– Coaches: the great coaches and teachers — no matter what the sport — are painting a picture of total positivity in the student’s mind.

– Coaches: using “don’t” in your instruction is completely ineffective – so eliminate it from your speech! Replace the “don’t” with a positive image

– All players who struggle with their mental mindset can improve — but they have to want to do it

If you want to listen to the podcast, you can find it here:
Jim Fannin On Baseball podcast

You can also subscribe to the OnBaseball.com podcast through iTunes.

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Mental Prep for Baseball with Jim Fannin

How does a Major League Baseball player prepare — mentally — for a big game or a postseason series?

I had the opportunity to discuss that topic and many others related to mental preparation for baseball with one of the leading experts on the subject, Jim Fannin.

Jim’s worked with 24 All-Stars over the years, including Alex Rodriguez, Casey Blake, Barry Zito, Carlos Delgado, Jim Thome, Orel Hershiser, Frank Thomas, Alex Cora, and many others.

You can learn more about Jim Fannin and the services he provides by visiting his website, JimFannin.com.

Listen to the conversation below. You can also subscribe to the OnBaseball.com podcast through iTunes.

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Stealing Signs is NOT Cheating

If you use a telescope, binoculars, or video camera to steal another team’s signs — THAT is cheating. But if all you use is your eyes, it’s completely within the rules — and it could mean the difference between winning and losing.

Watch an example of Joe Mauer stealing the opposing catcher’s signs and relaying them to his teammate:

I do not advocate stealing signs below the high school level. In lower leagues, it is more important for players to be focusing on executing the fundamentals. Stealing signs — from the catcher or a coach — is an advanced technique that requires concentration and thinking. In addition, players and coaches should always be aware that someone may be watching, and therefore develop means to prevent their signs from being stolen.

We’ll get into the techniques on both sides in the future, but in the meantime if you have any suggestions for stealing signs or preventing the theft of signs, please post your comments.

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Pitchers Can Go Into Slumps Too

jason-bergmann

Everyone knows that hitters can go into slumps, but did you know pitchers can as well? And unfortunately, some never find their way out of them.

This particular interview is from over a year ago, but it is a timeless / relevant piece. It is a short Q & A with Washington Nationals pitching coach Randy St. Claire, who spoke candidly to the Washingtong Post about Nats pitcher Jason Bergmann.

St. Claire offered his analysis on why Bergmann was pitching poorly in 2008, and how he had entered a vicious cycle that would inevitably lead to more bad outings — unless he changed his mindset.

A year later, Bergmann was moved out of the starting rotation and into the bullpen — where he’s continued to struggle. One must wonder if his inability to fulfill his once-promising potential has something to do with the way he deals with pitching slumps.

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When To Steal Home (and Not To)

Jackie Robinson steals home against the Braves

It’s not often you see someone trying to steal home — it may be the most rare offensive execution in baseball. But that doesn’t diminish its value, and it certainly brings excitement to the game. Personally, I’d like to see more players attempt to steal home — but, there is a right time and a wrong time to do so.

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