Synergy – What is it?
Synergy is such a cool thing. The more synergistic things are, the better life is, and the smoother things go. The better the synergy, the superior the baseball – no doubt. But first, what is synergy? Well, I had to refer to the dictionary, as I knew it was cool and what it implied but wasn’t sure of its exact definition. Synergy is the “interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their extra parts.” That’s a long way of saying a combined effort. There is no doubt in my mind that by the “other agents” mentioned in the definition, the authors had baseball in mind. Baseball, at least successful baseball, requires synergy in every department. The hitting, throwing, and fielding movements are all synergistic. As far as chemistry goes, baseball is all about team dynamics, another possible description of the word.
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The Synergistic Effect of Baseball Fundamentals
Athletic movements are synergy in action. That is apparent in every baseball move, especially when it comes to hitting and pitching. Hitting a baseball, maybe the most difficult thing to perfect in all of the sports, takes cooperation from every body part, from the baby toe to the head. The baseball batter must have the extraordinary synergy to swing as fast as humanly possible. When any body part gets out of line, the baseball swing fails, and hitting success falls apart. Bat speed is all about the collaboration of a batter’s upper and lower body parts. If anyone of them is out of the correct order, the proper sequence of the swing fails to generate the necessary bat speed, timing, and contact to hit the ball well. Here are two tips to help hitters have that synergistic effect to produce a consistent, interactive swing.
Synergy Drills for Hitting
- Swing the bat on a balance beam. Of course, not a real gymnastic beam as to be seen in the Rio Olympic games. A simple two by four will help players develop the body balance to achieve synergy. As players become more comfortable with it, they can proceed to swing it faster.
- Upon completion of the baseball swing, batters should alternate lifting both the back and front foot. This finished position suggests the head is in the correct position. The head is the key to balance and stability needed to maximize the body control while swinging.
Synergistic Drills for Pitching
The same things that go into baseball hitting apply for baseball pitching. It takes the synergistic effect of the entire body to throw the ball to the exact spot desired. When players add in rhythm and balance, the pitching delivery appears to be effortless while throwing the ball at maximum speed. Following are two drills pitchers should do to gain the rhythm and balance for success.
- In the stretch position, pitchers should raise their knee as high as they can and with a tuck of their lower body into a high coiled position ten times in a row. As they tire a little, they find the best rhythm. As they become proficient at this, they can increase the number to build up greater leg strength.
- After the release of the ball, the pitcher should take a couple of hops towards home plate on their front leg. This action requires great balance and stability, which comes from head control when throwing the pitch.
To gain great synergy with fielding a baseball, players should perform the following moves.
- In a bent over fielding position and the glove side foot slightly out front, fielders take a one-two step in a smooth sequence five to ten times in a row towards home plate. This movement is even better with balls set on the ground equal distant out front of them. The goal is to develop a rhythm and balance to the footwork. Upon landing, players should have the same spacing of the feet.
- From fielding setup position, players take their first step in every direction. For example, players move the right foot while keeping the left one planted as they take a step forward, crossovers right and left, and a drop step left and right. Once again, one foot remains planted as the other one moves and then returns to the initial setup position. As players get used to it, they should do it as fast as they can.
The Ultimate Synergistic Effect – Cooperation of the Mind and Body
Many people believe sports success is as much a matter of the mindset as the actions. One could debate that forever, but there is no doubt that the head and mechanics must be in perfect harmony to have the chance of success with the most difficult game of all – baseball. The ability to stay in the moment, without any mental distractions, comes when players have prepared to the utmost, so they trust their moves without having to think of what to do. Once players have that confidence, instincts take over, which leads to success, at least when players gain the necessary experience. Following are some things players can practice to help achieve the synergistic effect of the mind and body.
- Pre-pitch, players visualize a great play from their past. This mind game puts a positive thought in their head to give them the necessary confidence.
- Put the ultimate focus on the ball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand, whether batting or on defense. This concentration clears the mind of any mental clutter that can lead to error.
Nowhere is the synergistic effect more crucial than in the baseball clubhouse. Twenty-five people striving for the same goal, without regard for personal glory, is the pinnacle of synergy. The team dynamics determine a team’s chances of winning championships. When even one player is not on board with the rest, winning becomes more problematic. For instance, failing to get the runner over or get a bunt down in a crucial spot, because one player would rather try for a home run, comprises what the team is out to accomplish. Developing a team philosophy is the area where the best coaches make all the difference. These two suggestions for coaches help team continuity.
- As often as possible, have players work with different players when doing drill work or when playing catch. This technique is especially important when having little group competitions. Players get to know others and pull for different teammates in this way.
- When putting players into groups for competition, rides or whatever, separate players by position. Pitchers and catchers together, middle infielders, first baseman and third basemen together. The goal is to have players develop a close bond with those they practice with most, so they are comfortable when communication is necessary on the field.
Yes, baseball is all about cooperation and interaction – synergy in motion.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is now out. Get them here. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte at YouTube with over 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.