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Programs at Two Top High Schools
Reprinted from Baseball Parent Magazine

Sarasota, Florida

Head Coach: Clyde Metcalf
1994 USA Today Coach of the Year.
1995 Record: 27-5.
Titles: The "Fighting Sailors" were the 1994 National High School Baseball Coaches Association national champion, the Florida state champion, and NHSBCA's 13th place team in 1995.

Baseball beyond high school: Twelve 1995 grads play: one a 3rd-round draft pick; one at Notre Dame; one at Auburn; and nine at junior colleges.

Secret of success: "Hard work," says Metcalf. "Of course, a team needs talent, but every day in the weight room and every day at practice we try to outwork our opponents."

Fall games: None. Metcalf thinks baseball players should have time off from the sport.

Workout: Weight training began August 28 and continues until November 13.
Training will then be turned over to Vern Gambetta, the Chicago White Sox director of conditioning, until January 23, when Sarasota High School's tryouts begin. Gambetta's program also includes weights, plus extensive medicine-ball work; and speed, agility, and conditioning.

"Medicine-ball training targets the center of the body," says Gambetta. "It bridges the gap between strength developed in the weight room and the application of that strength to a baseball skill."

For pitchers, Gambetta recommends a variety of medicine-ball drills: stepping and throwing the ball overhead with two hands; twisting to one side and throwing with two arms; single-arm bounce throws; situps, with the ball extended overhead and passing it to a partner; lunging forward, then twisting to the side of the forward leg; stepups onto a box, with the ball held at the chest; stepping forward and throwing the ball from between the legs; and standing back-to-back with a partner, and arm's length apart, and passing the ball by twisting toward that partner.

Position-player workouts include many of the same exercises, plus slamball (which is played and scored like handball except the ball is thrown); passing the ball held waist-high off the hip to a partner standing several feet away; and throwing the medicine ball from off one hip over the opposite shoulder to a partner. All these exercises are done with balls of various weights, in different combinations of sets and repetitions, and at slow, medium, and fast speeds.

Philosophy: "We keep the game simple," says Metcalf. "We spend our offensive time hitting, bunting, and base-running. We work with pitchers on locating pitches. We work on fundamentals. No pick-off plays, no fake plays with guys falling down trying to steal. We try to 'out-sound' other teams."

Spring 1996: The season starts February 10 and runs through the state tournament May 16. Metcalf expects 70 or so players out of a school enrollment of 1,800 to try out for the 35 spots on his JV and varsity teams.

"My goal," he says, "is always to reach the state tournament and the championship game."

For additional information, contact:
Vern Gambetta
Optimum Sports Training
P.O. Box 10277
Sarasota, FL 34278
(813) 366-8451

Missouri City, Texas

Head Coach: Rick Carpenter
1995 record: 32-2
1995 titles: The "Knights" were the NHSBCA 2nd-place team, won the Texas 5A championship, and were 4th in Easton Sports National High School Poll.

Baseball beyond high school: Of the '95 grads, 11 are playing in college, with five at Division I (Texas Christian, 2; Baylor, 2; and Texas) universities.

Fall games: Twenty each for sophomore, JV and varsity teams from September 1 to November 1, Teams have 15 players and are coached by parents.

Workout: Elkins baseball players workout year-round. School began August 14. The sixth period of the day, which runs from 1:35 to 2:30 p.m., is baseball workout. Then, after the season begins around February 1, baseball practice lasts from 1:35 until 4:00 p.m. And on Saturdays, Carpenter and his staff of three paid and two volunteer coaches instruct various position players during hour-long sessions, one after the other.

Carpenter's conditioning program includes running two days a week, weight lifting another two, and scrimmages or baseball drills on Fridays.

Running drills include stretching; 15 to 20 40-yard sprints; 100- and 400-yard relays; 100-, 200-, 300-, 400-, and 500-yard runs; two- to three-mile runs; agility running (including "high-knee," crossover steps, bounding with exaggerated strides, and skip bounding); and, closer to the season's start, base-running skills.

On alternating days players lift weights, including bench presses, squats, lat pulls, leg extensions, curls, and dumbbell incline work. They also work out on hip-running and abdominal-exercise machines.

Players do sets of eight, six, and four repetitions at 75 percent of their maximum weight-lifting capability.

Philosophy: "We play tough," says Carpenter. "We get dirty. Every ball hit is played like we're in a game situation. Players must dive for balls. It's the way this game should be played."

"We work hard during our two-hour practices," he says. "Infielders get 50 to 100 ground balls each day, hitters see 30 to 50 live pitches, and base-running is always live. We're in game situations daily, so when we're in games, the situation is very familiar."

Carpenter credits assistant coach Luis Venitucci for some of the team's success. They share similar practice philosophies and habits.

The results of last season are the fruit of this philosophy. According to local old-timers, "It was the best team ever to play high school ball in Texas."

Spring 1996: Between 85 and 120 players out of 2,400 students will tryout for 54 spots on three teams. The season will get underway about February 1. Post-season tournaments could take until mid-June, fully two weeks after school is out. Carpenter says the sophomore and JV teams will play some 25 games next spring, depending on how many games get rained out. The varsity will play more, since it will enter three pre-season tournaments.

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