The 5 tools of baseball are well documented: hit, hit for power, run, throw and field. These tools are uniquely important in evaluating a player and setting a minimum bar or threshold at every level of the game.
The intangibles – Baseball IQ, mental makeup and mindset – are great differentiators on the field. While the intangibles are well known to be a great differentiator between good and great athletes, less time has been spent on training the intangibles.
One of the best examples of Baseball IQ in history was Derek Jeter’s “Flip Play” against the Oakland A’s in game 3 of the ALDS. To the casual baseball observer, Jeter was way out of his shortstop position – but to the baseball expert Jeter was right where he was supposed to be – reading an errant throw from right field. While the “Flip Play” is an extreme example of Baseball IQ, it is one of the examples that built Jeter’s lore as one of the greatest shortstops of all time.
More common examples of Baseball IQ include players’ responsibilities on a routine ground ball to shortstop with no one on base, a simple pick off play to first base or a cut/relay play from center field with a runner on second base.
While 1 or many of the 5 tools will get you noticed by a high school or college coach and/or an MLB scout, Baseball IQ will be a great separator. Baseball IQ will be one of the determining factors when separating players with equal tools. Baseball IQ can help you make the cut.
At Hard 90 Baseball, we have had a documented baseball curriculum designed to teach Baseball IQ from the beginning. We developed this curriculum in conjunction with baseball coaching experts from the likes of Rocklin High School, Stanford Baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Every day, we continue to test our curriculum and refine the teaching of baseball.
We learn from experts that visit our facility from MLB teams, collegiate teams and local high schools, we learn from other baseball schools we play against and we learn every day from teaching the curriculum. While we have a documented curriculum, continual learning and refinement is at the heart of our culture.
Practice is the most critical component for developing Baseball IQ. At Hard 90 Baseball we teach our curriculum through documented practice plans that start with dry/posture drills that teach and reinforce the right movements, progress to simulated repetition through fungo and other game situations and end with live game situations from the batted ball. The practice plans are also appropriately structured between high frequency plays and high impact plays to prepare our players.