This blog is dedicated to bringing players, coaches, parents, and fans the finer points of the game of baseball.

Click here for an explanation of "By the Yard."

Have a question or recommendation for a future post? Email me at

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Baseball coaches clinics - Mark your calendars!

For those in the Philadelphia area, you might want to check out these coaches clinic that will be coming up after the holidays!  I will be speaking at both of them!  Click on the titles for more information.

January 21:  Winning Team Baseball Coaches Clinic - West Chester, PA
The clinic will feature local baseball experts sharing their strategies and drills for high school, middle school and other youth amateur coaches. Topics will include hitting, baserunning, stealing, pitching, catching, practice organization, and more. The clinic will occur at Science and Discovery High School in Chester, PA.  I will be giving a seminar on hitting drills.

February 3-4:  Greater Philadelphia Area Baseball Coaches Clinic - Malvern, PA
Several Philadelphia area college coaches will be speaking at the event along with Steve Springer, a very popular national speaker and scout/coach in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.  I will be speaking at a seminar as well and will be co-hosting a high school coaches round table/Q&A session on the Friday evening of the event. Hope to see you there!

Thanks to all of you who have taken the survey!  If you have not, a link is below.  I would appreciate any feedback you could provide!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Birthday! ... and a survey!

Today is Baseball By The Yard's first birthday!  On December 12, 2010, I launched the site with two posts: First Impressions and By The Yard.

Everyday since then (with the exception of a family vacation during the summer) I have tried to post something valuable for players, coaches, parents, and/or fans.  I hope you found them useful!

My goal from the start was to pass on some of the finer points of the game that I have picked up over the years.  I added interviews, a guest post from a good friend of mine, started to add video posts towards the end of the year, and even created a new logo. Your comments and emails along the way were very encouraging and challenged me to give you more.  Hopefully, I have provided content that is easily understood and relevant to all of you in some way.

I have a lot of plans for the future of Baseball By The Yard.  In order to produce the content I want to share, I will need to revamp the site since the current host (Blogger) does not support some of the things I want to do.  Changing things up will require some work and certainly time on my part.  I am hoping it will be finished by the start of the new year.

I will need to take a break from posting until the new site is finished so I can apply the necessary time to get that up and running.  I am hoping the readers will use the remainder of December as a "catch-up" period to go back and read through some of the 340+ posts on the site.

Along with catching up, could you also do me a favor?  

Below is a link that will take you to a survey designed to help me plan out some of the content in the future.  Ultimately, I want to produce information that you need and want.  I don't want to assume I know what that is.  I would greatly appreciate if you could give a minute or two of your time to complete the survey.  Your feedback would be very helpful.

I hope all of you have a happy and relaxing holiday season.  As always, thank you for being a reader and shoot me an email if you need anything!

Click here for the survey

Coach McCreary

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stepping down as head coach

About 10 days ago I officially announced that I was stepping down as head coach of my high school team.  This is something I have been mulling over for a couple years now and just finally came to the conclusion that it was time.  Being a head coach at any level takes up an enormous amount of time.  This, of course, is somewhat predicated on whether or not you want to do it right.  When I started as head coach of the school 13 years ago, I was not married and therefore my wife and I didn’t have the pleasure of chasing around our three little ones yet.  Times have changed.  Basically, I can no longer keep up with the schedule I created 13 years ago.  Those off-season morning and evening workouts, lifting and running sessions, etc. all have helped turn our program into a successful one.  When players enter our high school, they look forward to this schedule and usually ask to start even earlier and include more options.  This expanding program just doesn’t match my need to back off the time commitment.  As a result, it was just time for me to move on.

I feel very blessed that I have been able to decide for myself when it was time to step down.  Many coaches do not get that luxury.  I am lucky that school administrators, parents, and community members bought into our system and let it proceed as we saw fit.  The players played.  The coaches coached.  The parents cheered.  The administrators backed up our mission.  I know how fortunate I was to lead such a program.  Many of the pitfalls that throw large wrenches into programs just didn’t seem to occur for us.  Not really sure why.  I’ve heard many horror stories from and about other programs where good coaches are/were not given the same treatment.  I consider myself lucky.

When I was younger, I paid attention when players and coaches were interviewed on TV.  I also read books about and sometimes written by people in the game.  At the end of these players’ and coaches’ careers, ultimately the same question was asked to all of them.  “Do you have any regrets?”  In virtually every single case, the answer was “I didn’t get to see my kids grow up.”  I’m not sure why but even as a little kid, I remember hoping that if I was ever asked that question in the future, I would truthfully be able to give another answer.

Two of my kids are now playing their first team sport - the "S" word (soccer).  Watching them both run around in a swarm of players around the ball with gigantic smiles on their faces is priceless.  I want to see more of that.

We'll see when I decide to get back on a field to coach.  Expanding the blog, making some videos, maybe a book, organizing coaching seminars and player clinics certainly will keep me busy and connected to the game.

A big thank you to all those who played a role in our program.  My only request of you now is to continue giving the next coach the same treatment you gave me.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I'm looking for some help!

A graphic designer I am not.  Because of my artistic shortcomings, I am struggling with the creation of a logo for Baseball By The Yard that could be placed on hats, shirts, jackets, etc.  I thought I’d throw it out to all of the readers and try to tap into the collective creativity of the group.  I’m now accepting any and all ideas on a symbol or logo for the blog.  To make it worthwhile, if I choose someone’s idea, they’ll get some free merchandise with the logo.  If anyone is interested, please send your ideas, pictures, artwork, etc to

Ideally, I'd like to finalize one in a week or two.
Thanks in advance to anyone who takes time to help.
I hope you are enjoying the posts.  As always, if you have any ideas for posts, comments about posts, or questions, please do not hesitate to send them along as well. 

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading the feedback I get.

Have a great day!

Coach McCreary

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

By The Yard Update

Hello everyone.
The family and I have a lot going on in the next few weeks so I will be taking a bit of a vacation from posting largely because my access to a computer is not guarenteed. 

This may be a good opportunity to go back and check out some of the posts you may have missed!

Below is a list of posts that are coming in the near future:
  • A multiple part series on getting out of hitting slumps.
  • Another series on everything involving turning a double play as a second baseman.
  • The suicide squeeze and the safety squeeze.
  • Defending the 1st and 3rd situation
  • and many more.

My readership has consistently been growing since I started about 200 posts ago and I can't thank you all enough.  I will be adding some Baseball By The Yard merchandice section (t-shirts, sweatshirts, has, etc) in the near future.  Also some give-aways involving those things as well so stay tuned!

Should anybody have new ideas for posts or things you would recommend for the site, please do not hesitate to pass them along.  Just shoot me an email at

Coach McCreary

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011


You may have noticed in the upper right part of the page that there is a message asking for some feedback.  I am interested in doing some other projects in the future and wanted to get some feedback from my readers.  Those on my mailing list heard about the quick survey (thank you to those who responded!) and now I wanted to make it available for anyone else as well.

If you have an interest in helping me with the survey, please click HERE.

If you have an interest in joining our mailing list, please click HERE for details.

As always, thank you for reading my blog.  I am very grateful to all of you who feel my posts are worth reading.

Should any of you have comments, questions, and/or suggestions on how to improve the posts or the site, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Coach McCreary

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Step and Throw

“Step and Throw!"  If you were/are a pitcher, how many times have you heard that phrase on a ball hit back to you?  How many times have you said it as a coach?  A wonderful friend to any pitcher is an easily fielded ball hit back to them.  This is especially “friendly” when the pitcher needs a double play.  Of course, we’ve all seen this “easy” play turn into a disaster when the pitcher throws the ball down the right field line or into center field and gets nobody out. “Stepping and throwing” is good advice on these plays for one obvious reason and another reason that isn’t so obvious but just as important nonetheless.    

Practicing the pitcher's best friend.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
In my opinion, most throwing errors are the result of poor footwork.  Anything a pitcher can do to gather his weight and balance, set his feet properly, step towards the target, and follow through correctly is going to result in a more accurate, powerful throw.  Saying “step and throw” is a shorter way of expressing the need to do all of the above.

But there is a second reason why “stepping and throwing” is valuable on these types of plays especially those that require the pitcher to throw to second base to start a double play.  Some pitchers are in such a hurry to turn the double play that they catch the ground ball, turn, and throw to second base very quickly.  Because second base is fairly close to the mound, it usually becomes a fairly easy throw to make.  The problem that often arises is that the pitcher does not give the shortstop enough time to get to the bag.  The “step and throw” or “crow-hop” after catching the ball and before throwing allows the shortstop enough time to reach the bag.  In this case, the pitcher’s footwork is sometimes more for the shortstop than for the pitcher.

Good footwork before the throw helps pitchers with their throws and also improves the timing of allowing their teammates to be in a better position to make the catch and make a strong, accurate throw of their own.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Point to all fly balls.  You never know
when a teammate will need that help.
A simple tip for everyone in the infield that can go a long way is to point to all fly balls off the bat.  If you pay attention to MLB games, you'll see this quite a bit.  A ball is hit high and deep into the outfield and everyone in the infield points to the ball.  Even the pitcher.  Of course, this is done to help anyone who did not get a good read on the ball coming off the bat.  There are always times when a ball will get lost in the sea of white t-shirts or rally towels in the crowd.  Many fields at the amateur level do not have very good (dark) backgrounds behind the plate which would provide a good contrast to the white ball.  It could also simply be a case where a fielder just blinks at contact and doesn't see the ball come off the bat well.  

Regardless of the reason for not picking up the ball, everyone in the infield should point to fly balls in order to help their teammates find the ball more easily.  If the fielder does not see the ball, he can just look at everyone's arm and follow them right up to where the ball is.  Of course, if the fly ball is hit and a fielder has to go for the ball, he would not be expected to point to the ball as he runs.  This would slow him down.  Everyone else not involved in the play should though.

You never know when a fielder may need this kind of help so everyone in the infield should get into the habit of pointing every time.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pitchers: Pre-game routine (Part 2)

In the previous Pre-game routine (Part 1), I provided a pre-game schedule for starting pitchers.  The timing involved allows pitchers to properly prepare to avoid having a sluggish start to the first inning.  Today, I provide a suggested pitch-by-pitch routine when pitchers are actually on the bullpen mound practicing their pitches.  This too can be tweaked to fit the needs of individual pitchers.  Below the chart are some additional explanations of things that appear in the chart.

Chart Key:
FB = Fastball                    I   = Inside half or corner
CU = Change-up              M = Middle of the plate, low
BR = Breaking Pitch        O  = Outer half or corner
S / B = Strike or Ball


S / B

S / B
1. FB – M

21. FB – M

2. FB – M

22. FB – I

3. FB – I

23. FB – O

4. FB – I

24. CU – M

5. FB – O

25. FB – I

6. FB – O

26. BR – M

7. CU – M

27. FB – O

8. CU – M

28. BR – O

9. FB – M

29. BR – O

10. CU – M

30. FB - M

11. FB – I

12. BR- M

13. BR – M

14. FB – I

 % Strikes

15. BR - O

 FB % strikes

16. FB – O

 BR % strikes

17. CU – M

 CU % strikes

18. FB – I

 Wind-up %

19. BR – O

 Stretch %

20. FB - M

Additional Notes:

A starting pitcher needs to be efficient
yet thorough to ensure he doesn't throw
too much or too little in the pen.
  • After the first few fast balls it is important to alternate pitches frequently.  This is what pitchers will do in a game so it's important to get used to it in the bullpen as well.  
  • Another reason for breaking up off-speed pitches with a fast ball or two is to remind your arm of the proper arm speed needed.  One of the goals of every pitcher is to get their arm speed on all off-speed pitches to look like their fast ball.  In many cases, the arm speed does more to fool the batter than the break or speed of the actual pitch.  Mixing in a fastball gives your arm the reminder it needs as to what the arm speed of the fast ball feels like.
  • You'll notice that every pitch has a targeted location.  This process has a dual purpose.  It allows the pitcher to get his arm loose and work location at the same time.  When pitchers are able to do multiple things at the same time during their bullpen sessions, they are able to save on the number of pitches thrown.  In turn, these saved pitches can be reserved for later in the game when the pitcher may need them the most.
  • BR - M refers to a "get me over" breaking pitch.  Many hitters will take a breaking pitch early in the count so a pitcher must be able to throw it and have it end up in the strike zone if the batter takes it.  BR - O refers to a breaking pitch used as an "out pitch."  Both types of pitches are extremely important come game time so a pitcher wants to get the feel of both prior to starting the game.
  • You'll notice that all the change-ups are located down the middle.  I'm a firm believer that pitchers should aim for the center of the plate with their change-ups.  You want the batter to think it's a mistake fast ball down the middle so he is encouraged to swing.  If you get a batter thinking this, he will be way out in front of the pitch.  If that is the case, the last thing I want is for him to miss it.  If he hits it, it's probably an easy out.  If he misses it, unless he strikes out he gets at least one more pitch to swing at. 
  • The last 10 pitches are from the stretch.  I am constantly amazed how many pitchers I see at the high school level that do not throw enough from the stretch prior to the game.  This is a big reason why many pitchers are very vulnerable the first time they throw from the stretch during the game.  They just did not prepare themselves for it.
  • It would be nice to have  quality pitching coach with you while you are warming up to monitor everything but it is not necessary.  The "win" or "loss" goes next to the pitcher's name so ultimately it is his responsibility to make sure he is prepared.
  • It's important for pitchers to focus on what they are doing during their pre-game bullpen session.  It's also important to NOT take the results too seriously though.  Many great games have followed a poor bullpen session where the pitcher appeared to have nothing.  Of course, many pitchers have also left the bullpen on top of the world and never made it out of the first inning.  Do your best but stay level headed regardless of how you perform in the pen.