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Essentials for Starting a New Season off Right

There is only so much time that a team gets to prepare for a new season, and in that short amount of time, there is a plethora of information that needs to be put out there and absorbed in order for all to be ready to go at first pitch.
So, how can one best compartmentalize the importance of what a team needs to focus on the most, and what type of reps are necessary to make sure that the team as a whole is getting things started on the right foot?

For Dan Letarte, the head coach at St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, Massachusetts, it’s a matter of breaking down the defensive and offensive aspects of the game, then focusing on the common situations that he expects his team to be in from game one.

“We’ll do a lot of our plays, first-and-thirds, rundowns. We’ll do bunt execution. We’ll do bunt defense,” he said. “We really want to have everything really down and organized before the first game. With a lot of reps on infield, throwing across the diamond, tracking fly balls.” 

In working on situational ball, there is ample opportunity to hone both sides of things, as the team can take the time to practice the offensive and defensive executions of each intricacy.

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While time is always of the essence, and each practice opportunity may vary in length, using an hour of time to focus on these particular items will have positive effects for any team willing to put in the time.

Letarte also makes it a priority to get the bats working furiously in each session for, “Honestly, an hour of hitting every practice.”

That methodology has been proven to be genuine, backed by one of the more potent high school offenses in Massachusetts, which has advanced to the state finals the last two seasons.

“Our motto is we hit for at least an hour every day,” said Letarte, who is aided by assistant coach Matt Antonelli, a first round selection of the San Diego Padres in 2006. “We do defensive situations for at least an hour, but we hit at least for an hour every day. We really focus on hammering and try hit, hit, hit.”

The idea with the focus on hitting is that if the bats are ready to go at the beginning of the season, then they should be in full bloom when the postseason begins.

The same can be said about working situationally to tighten up the defense and the base-running aspects of things.

Letarte firmly believes that with this approach, the team can abide the “patience and execution” mind-frame that goes a long way towards breeding winning baseball, from first pitch to last.

From GameChanger and Craig Forde.

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