Baseball is a game of statistics and timing. Its most elite players may only get to affect the outcome of a game four times over the course of nine innings making each time at bat, each fielding opportunity crucial to the game's outcome. Players are required to know the game situation at all times in order to make decisions that give the team the best chance to win.
Baseball is a game characterized by quick bursts of activity followed by longer periods of intense readiness. A player must be physically fit in order endure this way of playing over a 160-game professional season and avoid the common problems that can plague baseball players like hamstring pulls and muscle strains. These injuries can keep players out of the lineup for weeks due to the very technical aspects of hitting, pitching and fielding. A player that alters his swing because of injury could reduce his effectiveness and become an "easy out."
Batters must have a full repertoire of situational hitting techniques from the ability to bunt to being able to aim the ball anywhere in the field. These techniques can take an entire career to master but every player must have some understanding of the mechanics involved if called upon to perform them in a game situation. This does not include hitting for power as that is one of the great unknowns in baseball. Some players have a power swing with the ability hit over 40 home runs a season, others simply do not.
Knowing What to Do With the Ball
Baseball is all about situational plays and knowing where the ball is going to get an out. A player that is prepared in the field knows where the ball has to go if it comes to him in order to get an out, stop a runner from scoring, or to prevent runners from advancing further around the base pads. An errant throw in the field can cost the team runs which can often mean the difference between winning and losing.
Just as defensive players have to know where to go with the ball, base runners have to know how far to advance on a given play. This can involve knowing how far a ball has been hit, if a ball has been bobbled in the outfield or knowing how strong the arm of the fielder that has the ball is. Paying attention to coaches is a requirement as it will help a player understand the situation and help him to maximize his base running.
- Photo Credit baseball image by Tomasz Plawski from Fotolia.com
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