`Squares up' expression gets lost in translation


Youth sports

December 02, 2007|By CAL RIPKEN JR.

DEAR CAL -- A few years ago, I was watching a baseball game on TV. Derek Jeter was hitting, and the announcer said something like, "Nobody squares up the pitch" or "Nobody squares up the pitcher" as well as Jeter. I had never heard that expression, and the announcers said it was one of the reasons Jeter was such a good hitter. Can you explain this term?

Timothy Kuhn, Millersville

DEAR TIMOTHY -- I can't explain that exactly. Nobody squares up the pitch. It might refer to hitting the ball on the right part of the bat or the sweet spot. We call that "hitting the ball squarely." That's normally how that expression is used. But I don't know if he was talking about the position Jeter was in as a batter - that he was squarely aligned to the pitcher - or not. That's difficult for me to explain.

Certainly, terminology is the key to teaching, but if you can't give an explanation of what the terminology really means, something gets lost in the translation.

In this case, it probably was a situation in which the announcer was trying to be entertaining. What he said doesn't have any real meaning to me other than perhaps that Jeter hits the ball hard as consistently as anyone in baseball.

DEAR CAL -- I have managed in my local Little League for the past four years and am a board member. This fall, I managed a 7- to 8-year-old team. I introduced the Ripken way of coaching for this season. I used your book, Coaching Youth Baseball the Ripken Way, and it was great. Because our kids improved so much in the two months we played, I am proposing we introduce this method beginning at the T-ball level and possibly the next level. Do you have suggestions on how to introduce this for the spring season?

Bradley Pate, Etters, Pa.

DEAR BRADLEY -- I assume your question is in reference to figuring out the best way to present the program to your local recreation league so that the coaches will implement it for all of their kids. The best way to do this is to have a meeting with them and talk about your team's successes. Lay it out in the form of a presentation and tell the story about what happened with your team.

The most powerful form of presentation is to draw from personal experience. Tell them, "I had these kids. We did X, Y and Z. Here are the materials that I used. The program really helped and I'd like to help take the lead on creating a program for all T-ball players."

If you present it this way, you are helping to develop a system that can be implemented for everyone. Many times when you approach volunteer organizations, the main argument against implementing something new is time. If you offer to take the lead or to organize a committee to make this happen, you might be able to overcome that hurdle.

Have a question or issue arising from your involvement in youth sports? Send it by e-mail to askripken@baltimoresun.com.

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