Review – Midfielders

We continue our review with midfielders…

Hard to remember much from the little Turk this season having started only 8 games (9 as substitute). To our knowledge, the player hasn’t undergone any major surgery to cure the lengthy injury problems he’s had while on Tyneside – which begs the question whether his issues are physical or mental…

One of Keegan’s number one targets this summer must be a creative midfielder which was essentially the player Emre should have been. There’s no doubt that when he’s up for the challenge Emre can turn a game around but sadly that’s about once or twice a season.

To be fair to him, he’s often found around our own penalty box trying to get possession rather than the opposition’s and maybe next season with a better supporting cast he can stick to what he’s good at.

Last seasons rating: 6
This seasons rating: 4

Joey Barton

After playing well below his potential for the majority of the season, Barton’s form picked up towards the end as he started to show glimpses of the player we know he can be.

His whole season has now been eclipsed by his actions on December 27th 2007 when he was charged and arranged for being involved in a street attack in Liverpool City Center. Barton will spend the next six months in jail, putting a huge doubt over his future at the club.

If that wasn’t enough, he’ll be in court again this summer for assaulting a former team mate while at Manchester City.

Last season rating: n/a
This seasons rating: 5

Damien Duff

Last season we said about Duff, “The Irish winger hasn’t had anywhere near the type of impact we were hoping for in his first season, looking like a shadow of the player who terrorized defenders at Blackburn and Chelsea.”

Make that two seasons in a row then…

It’s time for Duff to make his mark or move on, the latter possibly on the cards as the Irish man looks set to sell his Tyneside home.

Last season rating: 3
This seasons rating: 3

Charles N’Zogbia

Although Charlie played most of this season in an unfamiliar left-back role, the little French man is still at his best when running at opposition’s defenders.

Sadly we didn’t see much of that, such was our plight at left-back but his pace and ability to pick out a pass is still a huge asset for the team and he was 1000x times better than last season.

Whether he stays at the club or not is still to be seen. Keegan has gone public saying he needs to be more of a “team player,” although rumors of an end of the day bust up with Faye were denied by the player – which spawned this fantastic quote (insert fantastic quote).

Last season rating: 2
This seasons rating: 7

James Milner

Scored the highest out of all outfield players last season (8), Milner continues to work hard down both flanks but is still lacking that little bit of quality which would equate to more goals and assists.

Still young, still plenty of time to learn new tricks, but his commitment to the cause cannot be questioned as he keeps ploughing away at the opposition when others heads have dropped.

Last seasons rating: 8
This seasons rating: 6

Alan Smith

30 starts, 7 substitute appearances and ZERO goals. Speaks for itself really.

Although many could argue that Smith had played the majority of games in midfield, the player very rarely chipped in with assists and was mainly causing our own defense problems by giving away silly fouls and free-kicks around our own box.

He gave the ball away more times than we can remember and has to go down as the worst signing of the season – a huge disappointment since leaving Man Utd.

Neither effective as an attacking midfielder or striker, his future at the club (if he has any) would be in a Nicky Butt type role as holding midfielder. Even that’s stretching the imagination…

Last seasons rating: n/a
This seasons rating: 2


Chipped in with some vital assists towards the end of the season although was largely unimpressive throughout.

Some of his passing (for a midfielder), is absolutely shocking and the guy has no pace whatsoever. His corners and free kicks are also pretty unremarkable although he did score a vital goal at Spurs (his only goal of the season).

He can pick out a cross though and with the likes of Owen and Viduka sniffing around the box, that can only be a good thing – his ball for Owen’s goal against the mackems particularly impressive.

We hope Keegan brings in a little more creativity in the summer so Geremi isn’t needed for more than a squad player.

Last season rating: n/a
This seasons rating: 5

Nicky Butt

Another solid season for Butt who has now won the Newcastle fans over after a shaky start to his career on Tyneside.

He played more games than any other player this season (37 starts, 2 sub appearances) and continues to help out the back four by getting stuck in and breaking up attacks.

Some of his passing still lets him down but overall another decent year for the lad.

Last seasons rating: 7
This seasons rating: 7

Pitching Velocity and Pitch Count

Do you feel a loss or an increase in your pitching velocity this time of year? There are many factors that contribute to a loss of velocity at the end of the season.

Many pitchers throw too much all season and some pitchers just aren’t throwing enough. You need a happy medium. Unfortunately, coaches at many levels are to blame for pitchers arm soreness and lack of speed this time of year. Is it overthrowing or lack of pitching mechanics that causes this?

The answer is a little of both. If you are a coach or parent, are you allowing your pitchers to warm up (throw long toss) with the rest of the team the day after they throw a long game?

If they play other positions as well, are you monitoring how much they actually throw during the course of the week?

How many other teams do they pitch or play for?

If your pitcher throws in a game, how often do they get a chance to hit?

It’s important to know that if they pitch a lot they shouldn’t hit a lot and vise versa.

I have heard of pitchers, as young as 10 years old, that pitch up to three games a week because they pitch with more than one team.

Each team may pay attention to pitch count, but if a pitcher has maxed out their pitch count for two different teams, that’s a bit much for that week.

When a pitcher becomes fatigued, their mechanics go to pot. When that happens there is lack of control and velocity, not to mention a sore arm on top of that.

It is imperative that your pitchers use proper pitching mechanics when throwing. I feel coaches aren’t allowing their pitchers to succeed as much as they could because they haven’t taken the necessary time to learn about pitching mechanics.

Pitchers need that education or they are doing more harm than good. Not just to themselves, but their team. Learning proper pitching mechanics is imperative to your pitching success.

Coaches and parents should be concerned how their athletes are throwing the ball. Not only will pitchers win more games, they will stay healthy throughout the course of the year if they apply proper throwing mechanics.

More importantly, they will maintain or increase their velocity at the end of the year. Most inexperienced or uninformed pitchers experience a decrease in velocity when it counts the most; championship games and tournaments.

If you are a pitcher who tends to lose some velocity at the end of the season, you need to make sure that you are rebuilding what you tear down on the mound.

For example, throwing on the mound is a tearing down process on the arm. Pitchers who work on elastic band training, light dumbbell exercises and core strength training, they are the ones that are going to continue to throw hard or even harder at the end of the year.

Wer gannin back to Europe again!

Wer gannin back to Europe again!
A Wild and Crazy Season

Lap of Honor photo”I just think it’s marvelous,” said Sir Bobby after the win over Birmingham ensured that the Toon would once again be in the Champions League next season.

But it was a rollercoaster April in which Newcastle went from being a Premiership contender to scrambling for a Champions League place. But the lads made it. And we are all very thankful.

As Alan Shearer said, it’s important that the Toon repeat in Europe as often as possible. You don’t get that much experience from a one-off showing.

Other teams had their problems too this season. Arsenal went from being six points ahead of MU to being five points behind at the end of the season.

Even on the last day of the Premiership, many of the matches would have a bearing on next year.

Last August the Toon had a shaky start to the Premiership and soon found themselves in the cellar. Add to this the losses in the first matches of the Champions League and you felt that the wheels were coming off.

However, Sir Bobby performed his usual magic and soon the wins started coming – both in the Premiership and the European matches.

By Christmas the Toon were fourth in the English table – the lowest position they were to have – and thanks to some robust battling had got themselves into the second round of the Champions League.

The New Year was almost a time for euphoria as home victories continued as well as a few away victories. (But not enough as it turned out. This was the Toon’s biggest problem this year).

Again after a poor start in the second round of the Champions League, Newcastle had a couple of thumping victories over last year’s finalists, Bayern Leverkusen, and a courageous battle away at Inter Milan. Although it was a draw, the lads were done in by some sloppy refereeing.

It was now time to concentrate on knocking off MU and Arsenal for a run on the Premiership. Newcastle kept pace with the leaders until the season’s turning point against Everton and MU in April.

Some dodgy refereeing in the Everton game probably did us in for the championship, while the pounding by MU was a big psychological blow.

The following Easter weekend produced two more indifferent performances, and the Toon were struggling for Champions League qualification, especially since injuries were starting to appear.

An away win at Sunderland seemed to settle the lads down, and with Liverpool and Chelsea both losing, the Toon’s win over Birmingham set the seal for a return to Europe next year.

Alan Shearer had one of his best seasons with the Toon, and was rewarded with professional player of the decade, domestic player of the decade, and outstanding contribution to the Premier League by the Professional Footballers Association.

That the Magpies still need his skills and intuitive knowledge of the game was well shown when he missed the last three games because of injuries. Sir Bobby is setting up a team for the future with young talented players, many of whom have already had international experience.

With the prospect of European League money now being available it’s likely that he will be in the market over the summer for players who can make an immediate impact on a sustained league challenge. They need to cultivate the ruthlessness of champions.

Newcastle may not have won anything this season, but to finish third in the Premiership after fourth place last year is a brilliant achievement.

Tips on How to Avoid Your Fear of Being Hit by a Pitch

For some young players one of the largest troubles to overcome in baseball is the fear of being hit by a pitch while hitting. This fear is the reason for various technical flaws while batting, the biggest being “stepping in the bucket” where you step away from the plate as you swing.

It is pretty much impossible to be a good hitter when you’re scared of the ball. As former Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski said, “If you’re afraid of being hit, you might as well not bother going up to the plate at all. You can’t hit the ball if you’re afraid it will hit you.” While this is usually a big fear to conquer, with some persistence it is definitely possible.

The first thing you ought to do for you to cure your fear of being hit by a pitch should be to know why you’re afraid of it. You’re likely afraid of being hit by a pitch because you don’t want to be wounded or in pain.

Well, if you find out how to avoid being injured if a pitch is coming at you, you’ll likely be less frightened of the baseball hitting you.

If you’re going to get hit with a pitch, the best possible spot to get hit is on the back or side of your body.

So instead of stepping out and exposing the front of your body you want to turn towards the backstop in a clockwise direction (if you happen to be right handed) so your back is what gets hit. If you get hit in the back or side you won’t be in as much pain as you would be if you got hit somewhere else.

Now that you fully understand what to do if the pitch is coming towards you, you need to repair your confidence in realizing that if the baseball does hit you, it’s not going to hurt a great deal given that it will hit your back or side.

A terrific drill to perform will be to have someone kneel ten feet from the hitter and throw rolled up socks for the hitter to swing at (only if they’re strikes).

Occasionally throw a balled up sock at the hitter and have him turn away from the pitch the correct way rather than step away from the pitch. When the batter has got the hang of it using socks, progress to tennis balls, and after that soft tee-balls.

When the player feels safe knowing it does not hurt much if the baseball hits his back or side and he isn’t stepping in the bucket even with soft tee-balls, start using regular baseballs.

Setup a batting cage  and buying some of wooden bats for practice in cage (this help you don’t waste a lot of times during practice) and Pitch some batting practice as you would normally, but throw one or two pitches at him.

If he uses the correct approach to turning away from the pitch, he’ll quickly realize that it does not really hurt much to get hit in the back or side even with a typical baseball.

His overall confidence while at bat will improve and he’ll be able to hit the ball better than ever as he will be striding towards the pitch rather than away from it.

It’s really depressing that a lot of young baseball players with a lot of potential never flourish and sometimes stop playing all because they are afraid of being hit by a pitch.

All of us have fears and it’s necessary, regardless of whether we’re referring to baseball or life in general, to conquer those fears.

By working hard and digging deep, it will be possible to get over this fear with no issues and get back to your baseball workouts and doing your best at the game.

The dream may be over, but they’re still Champions to us

The dream may be over, but they’re still Champions to us

The Champions League dream ended for Bobby’s battling boys in the last game of the second round. Their loss to Barcelona wasn’t as important as the expected win by their nemesis, Inter Milan, over Leverkusen (who arguably tanked in the second round – how on earth did they get through the first round?).

The Toon deserve our applause for their determination and grit in fighting all the way through both initial rounds of this year’s competition. They were the first team to lose their opening games and yet come storming back to claim a place in the second round.

Again, having lost their first few matches in the second phase, they valiantly fought back with wins over Leverkusen and a draw against Inter Milan in Italy.

This last game was a farce as the referee seemed to lose complete control of the situation, allowing the Italian players to dive at every opportunity and to hustle the referee.

As Alan Shearer said afterwards, “Maybe English players are just too honest.” But this is part and parcel of the European game and the Champions League experience.

It will certainly have been an eye-opener to Bobby’s bairns, but has no doubt provided them with excellent training for the Toon’s expected return next season to Champions League action. And it will have been a good lesson in the strategy and gamesmanship that is required at this level of football.

Sir Bobby was full of praise for his lads. “It’s been a great experience and we’ve done very well in it. We haven’t been overawed. We haven’t been outclassed in any of the games. We’ve enjoyed the ride.”

Perhaps the most memorable part of the team’s progress was the presence of thousands of Toon Army fans at all the matches in Europe.

Over 7,000 watched the Inter Milan game, where they endured missiles, bottles, flares, and racial epithets both on and off the field.

No question that vociferous fan support plays a part in motivating the whole team.

Let’s hope that we’re close to getting some silverware to reward everyone connected with NUFC. The fans and players alike deserve no less.

Ways To Improve Your Fastball

Knowing how to throw a good fastball is a very basic skill for any pitcher. There are many different skills and qualities that make up a good pitcher and being able to throw hard and fast is definitely one of them.

While the ability to throw with great velocity is very much a God given ability there are several practice techniques that will help improve a pitcher’s fastball.

Natural talent will only get you so far. Proper baseball training, physical conditioning and learning proven pitching techniques can greatly enhance your pitching ability.

Proper pitching mechanics are perhaps the most important factor when you throw a fastball, or any pitch for that matter. Good mechanics help you have an efficient throwing movement.

The right mechanics will also help reduce the risk of injury. You want to develop a smooth and relaxed pitching motion and practice that motion until it becomes second nature.

Your motion should include a strong leg drive, hip rotation, a smooth but explosive arm acceleration and a good follow through. Remember that your arm speed at the moment of release is directly related to the speed of the pitch.

Pitching fitness and conditioning is also very important. A good general conditioning program should be followed along with your baseball training. Running on a regular basis will help your general fitness and endurance.

Combining distance running and wind sprints will provide excellent conditioning. Weight training exercises for all your major muscle groups will improve muscle strength.

Do not be afraid of building some muscle and getting stronger with a moderate weight training routine. Stronger muscle will help you pitch better. Light stretching is also recommended particularly after pitching.

In between starts the long toss drill can be very helpful. Sessions of about 15 to 20 minutes will help with your ability to throw hard. Be sure to warm up gradually and then begin to increase your distance gradually.

During a long toss session remember that you want to throw hard, throw accurately and try to throw through your partner, not just reach him. Do NOT over do long toss as it can lead to a tired or sore arm.

Another important drill is simply to practice pitching as if your were actually pitching. Between starts you should be doing some throwing off a mound. Practice all your pitches.

Ideally you should have the confidence that you can throw any pitch for a strike at any time. Even on different types of pitches try to make your delivery appear the same so that you are not “tipping pitches” and giving your opponents an advantage. Use both a wind-up and a stretch position. Maintain focus on each and every pitch.

Remember these tips to help you throw an effective fastball:

  • Develop proper mechanics.
  • Develop stronger muscles.
  • Practice the long toss drill on a regular basis.
  • Concentrate on increasing your arm speed just prior to release of the ball.
    Remember that proper practice and proper training are both vital to improving your pitching performance.

It Really is a Game of Two Halves


We all know it had to come to an end at some point and on Monday morning it did when title-chasing Chelsea finished our seven match unbeaten run.

They didn’t have it all their own way though and our lot were very impressive in the first half, passing the ball around confidently and making good use of the width offered by Enrique and Beye.

In fact we could easily have been two-nil up at half time – Owen skying an effort after a lovely chipped pass by Nicky Butt and then John Terry clearing an Owen effort off the line after Cech had earlier denied Martins and Viduka.

The second half though was a different story. We lost Viduka during the interval with his achilles injury and with that, lost someone who could hold the ball up for the running Owen or Martins. His replacement was Smith who once again was totally ineffective and looks likely he’ll finish the season with ZERO goals.

So with little happening upfront, Chelsea laid siege to our goal and we were grateful for some last ditch defending by Taylor and Faye (who were both impressive today), and our crossbar that denied John Terry from opening the scoring.

Alas though we conceded, a Drogba free-kick on the edge of the box found the completely unmarked Ballack (Butt or Smith the culprits) and he couldn’t miss from 6 yards out.

To be fair to our lot we kept going and had Owen been 6ft, he would have met a Nicky Butt pass/shot when fully stretched – instead it just evaded our little forward and our final chance of the game went unconverted.

A nice move by Chelsea finished us off – Malouda racing onto a ball from Drogba and slotting under Harper. Chelsea now set up an interesting final day of the season as they go into their last game level on points on Man Utd – but behind on goal difference.

So no doubt there is still plenty of work to do for our lot until we can reach the level of the likes of Chelsea and Man Utd but after the performance yesterday in which we held our own for the majority of the game, combined with our seven game unbeaten run, there is plenty of reason for optimism next season.

Succeeding In Baseball and Softball Merely By Employing Your Head

It’s common knowledge that possessing a good mental attitude is crucial in sport. You can not only trust in your physical skills and your baseball and softball bats, you also require that the mind is in the game. This information will allow you to grow the desired mental abilities to triumph in your baseball games.

We all know that physical skills along with an excellent baseball bat much like the DeMarini CF9, is not every thing in sport. Everyone can be taught to hit a ball but not every body may turn into a genuine excellent hitter. You really will want a robust mindset to stand against the emotional stress along with the anxiety of failure. An remarkably big component connected with baseball is without a doubt mental focus.

In the event you like to take your sport towards the next stage you’ve got to learn easy methods to take control of your mind. In case you are in a situation when you are in serious pressure, you have got to learn to keep relaxed. An excellent way to remain relaxed is undoubtedly deep breathing.

In order to deep breathe begin by closing the eyes, and focus on your breathing. Let the air flow entirely down in the abdomen, it’s essential to truly feel the stomach fall and rise.

Do not allow your mind race, the best way to stop your thoughts from racing make an effort to count your breaths. Following roughly ten to twenty deep breaths you should be calm and also relaxed but still attentive.

Train deep breathing in the home prior to taking it to the game. It usually requires a few tries to get it perfect. After you have learned deep breathing, you will have ability throughout your lifetime.

Keep in mind deep breathing can be employed outside of baseball too, at any time when you really feel stressed just take a few deep inhales. When you perform deep breathing do not get angry at yourself in case it does not work properly in the beginning, and do not quit after just one or two attempts.

Another important aspect, to develop a powerful mentality is without question self-esteem. Without having a good self confidence you won’t ever turn into a superb player. To help increase your own self confidence exercise daily and stay in a top shape.

You need to be reassured that your physique can handle every scenario that it will end up being exposed to and that you have got the required abilities in order to play your level.

You also must be confident in your gear. You must know that the softball or baseball bats you have is the greatest you can get. You need to truly feel confident that after you strike the ball it’ll be a strike everyone around you is going to remember. I use the 2018 DeMarini. Which is a fantastic softball bat simply by holding the bat I really feel the self-confidence rise in me. After I got this bat my games have been fantastic.

In addition, when it comes to the bats that help you more confident. You should in-deep researching before getting any bats if choosing wrong bats then you will get big problem in match. There are many guides about pick a bat which made by wood, aluminum or composite just read through and pick the right bats. So, good lucky!