Friday, August 29, 2008

Youth Baseball Training

RT Staff Note: On the eve of the Labor Day weekend, we thought we would introduce another article about another kind of labor...working out, from Jon Doyle. If you want to see more articles on Jon Doyle, go to his web site at Baseball Training Secrets

By Jon Doyle - MA, CSCS

Youth Baseball Training is a simple, yet very complex topic. The information floating around these days leaves little to be desired. The goal of this article is to teach you how young athletes should train for maximum effectiveness, optimal performance and utmost safety.

Obviously, the term “youth” is very broad. The term can refer to any individual 18 years or under. The scope of this article will cover the ages of 6-18 years of age.

When an athlete is a beginner he/she needs to learn proper movement patterns. Overlooking this crucial element is the biggest mistake I see with youth baseball training. Everyone wants to put a barbell, dumbbells or medicine balls in the hands of these individuals before they have learned proper movement patterns.

What’s the point of doing a squat with weight on your back before you have learned how to squat correctly with just bodyweight? Why would anyone bench press before they have learned the proper movement and built up strength in the pushup? These two scenarios make absolutely no sense but I see it happening everyday.

The key is learning proper movement through specific movement patterns. Everyone and anyone can benefit greatly from these movements. If you don’t have a copy of “The Ultimate 7-Minute Dynamic Baseball Warm-Up” I suggest you pick one up immediately.

Not only will this DVD teach you how to move properly, but it serves as a form of strength training. In order to have strength, power, speed and flexibility that transfers over to the baseball diamond the body must be taught to move properly.

It does not matter what age the player is. Age 6 or 18, these movements serve as the foundation. If these basic fundamentals are not developed an individual will never even come close to their potential. The great thing is this all can be done in 7 minutes per day.

Also, for those athletes that are certainly too young to start a strength training program with barbells and dumbbells these movements will build strength, power, speed and flexibility through what is called neurological adaptation. Basically this means that the connection between the brain and the muscles will work much, much better. Common improvements that occur are increased overall body coordination, more fluid movements, the game “slowing down” as well as aforementioned strength, power, speed and flexibility.

After these basic movements have been learned the individual can move to classic strength training. The best movements to use are what we refer to as “Focus Lifts. They are as follows:

• Power Clean
• Power Snatch
• Squat
• Deadlift
• Bench Press
• Push Press

These should be taught first because these are the lifts that have the most carryover to the diamond and everyday life.

To learn how to do each Focus Lift in extreme detail check out the Power/Speed Development Series. Here you will learn the specifics and how to teach each Focus Lift quickly and easily for a price that is less than one personal training session with the kid down at the local gym.

If an athlete learns how to move properly and then is taught the Focus Lifts he/she will be a force to be reckoned with!

Proper youth baseball training will make all the difference in the world for your young athletes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Talent Division

For many of you it’s old news by now, but the story about nine-year-old Jericho Scott that was told he couldn’t pitch any more because he was too good, is exactly part of the reason we started this web site 10 months ago. The right-hander has a fastball that tops out at about 40 mph. He throws “so hard” that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven told his coach that the boy could not pitch any more. When Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear and left, his coach said.

This is the type of anguish you get when your talented sons play Rec Ball. We don’t dislike Rec Ball. In fact, we absolutely support any league that promotes the great game of baseball. The more kids playing baseball, the better off America is.

We do think that the leagues need to re-write their mission statements and decide what level of baseball they want to compete in. I have been a huge advocate of Talent Division. Talent Division is a term I just made up as I was writing this post, but it is a philosophy I have been promoting on this site for months.

Talent Division is just like it sounds…dividing the talent of baseball players up by their ability. The best players play with and against the best players, the developing players play against alike players and the rec ball, 18 games and out players, play with their peer groups.

In this system, there would be no Jericho Scott's terrorizing players on a 40mph fastball. In fact, Scott's 40mph fastball would be very mediocre against better, more established players his age. He should not have even played in that league to begin with if they thought his 40mph was too fast.

Don’t blame the mom. She signed her son up in what she was told was a league that was commensurate with her sons ability. All baseball leagues have a responsibility to help athletes grow, compete and develop. The Youth Baseball League of New Haven was purposely being oppressive, by stifling and holding back a player. Instead of praising and encouraging Scott's play, they humiliated and downgraded his talent…making the kid feel like a freak of nature, not a player with superior skills.

League attorney Peter Noble says the only factor in banning Jericho from the mound is his pitches are just too fast.

"He is a very skilled player, a very hard thrower," Noble said. "There are a lot of beginners. This is not a high-powered league. This is a developmental league whose main purpose is to promote the sport."

Yes, folks, you read that right. This league has an attorney. That is no doubt, one of the biggest problems. Little League’s do not need attorneys turning the game into a safe haven for every paranoid parent that thinks their kid should be wearing complete, head to toe body armor to play baseball.

Also, Nobles comment about being a developmental league to promote baseball is very off-base. If it’s a developmental league, why are they demoting and demeaning the talent of their best player? They should be developing him into a better player right? Instead, they are telling him not to be so good and are banning him from the very thing he does well.

Coaches, parents and league officials, if you don’t want a New Haven scenario in your community, then start by adopting a Talent Division model. USSSA, in many parts of the Midwest and Southeast have a similar model. They split up their Team Division model by calling each division, Major, AAA and AA. In order to qualify a team for any of those divisions, there is a pre-season, 4 day tourney to determine that if the league the coach signed a team up for, matches the talent level of the team. Majors is for teams that want to play 50 or more games a year including many qualifying tournaments in and out of state. AAA is for teams that want to play 25-50 games and also play in a few tourneys and AA is for teams that want to play a league schedule of 20 games.

And, it’s not just separating the good from the bad. It’s about being fair. Many coaches purposely sign up an above average team to play down a division so that they can win a trophy. USSSA steps in and says, “Do your players a favor and play-up! Challenge them, develop them and they will get better.”

The Youth Baseball League of New Haven should have had an idea that Jericho Scott was a good player in a weak league and guided him to play up or in a different league that would have challenged him a bit more. Instead, they made it a national story by reacting to a bunch of overprotective parents that just wanted their sons to play their 20 games and get this whole baseball thing over with. I wonder if their sons felt the same way about Jericho? I wonder if they were really frightened of Jericho or awed by him?

There was a kid when I was 10 that was a foot taller than anyone in our league. He was a terror on the mound, at the plate and on the base-pads. His name was Phil…the coaches called him “The Philnomenon.” It was a rec league and there was a mixture of awful and decent talent on each team. But not one parent, player or coach complained when we had to play against The Philnomenon. In fact, those games were our most attended. Moms actually stocked up on the hot dogs at the parent run concession stands when The Philnomenon came to our home field. Phil was a rock star…We were awed by his talent and wanted to be like him. It certainly made an impression on me, because I am still talking about it 40 years later.

So, I feel sorry for the other players in the New Haven League. Their Rock Star is gone…abolished and diminished to a mere mortal…all because of a League that has a lawyer.

RT Staff

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


RT Staff Note: This is another great Thought For The Day we found on the TeachdGame web site run by Jim Giles. Enjoy!

By Jim Giles
I recently ran across a small little thought in an article I was reading. The thought went like this:

There are Two Wolves fighting within each one of us. One embraces pride, burning ambition and desperate to win and gain honors at all costs. The other is humane, compassionate and eager to teach or learn life’s lessons. Which one will win? Whichever one you FEED!

I think this is a very important aspect to think about whether we are a player or coach. It also can serve us well as our athletic careers dwindle down and we move forward in our lives. While difficult on the surface, to be truly successful and reach our full potential today as an athlete, tomorrow as a coach or long term as a human being, we must learn to FEED BOTH in equal parts to survive. If we only feed one and ignore the other, that “wolf” will die. Feed only the ambitious one, you may succeed but quite possibly you will be left lonely and incomplete. Feeding only the humane or compassionate side could leave you achieving less than your full potential.

As athletes, you must be and remain hungry. You must have ambition and embrace the pride and challenge to succeed moving forward to the next goal. Otherwise you will not push yourself to greater things. How often have you seen someone have a good performance, only to follow it up with a less than stellar one? Whether it is at bats, or innings pitched during a game, you have to continue to push. Get a hit in your first AB, wonderful, now what will you do in your next. As a Pitcher you get through the first inning or two fine, but how will you finish the game. In the end it is how you finish that matters.

This same concept carries over as you approach games or your season. Start off in preseason just fine, but then you have to keep things going into your league season. As you enter the end of the season and move forward toward the playoffs, you now have to step things up. How will you continue to “feed” this desire to move forward as the weaker teams are eliminated and each game get’s progressively more difficult? Coaches, how will you continue to “feed” your team game to game, week to week, to keep them hungry and continually striving for more?

You must continue to avoid becoming complacent with who/what you are and failing to strive to achieve more. If things are not going well, how will you find the ability within you to not give up and continue to “feed” the wolf of desire, ambition and pride to turn things around and get better. Coming off a bad game or season, you need to find this inside you to move forward and improve to avoid spinning in the other direction.

Contrasting that, you cannot go about life with a win at all costs mentality and forget the humane side of things. If you do, you will win but will have no one to share the success with. Part of the joy of succeeding in athletics and in life, is having someone around when it is all said and done to share the celebration with. It is also about having respect for and being respected by those you have encountered along the way. At the end of the day, we should all seek not just the victory or success, but the respect that comes from going about it in the right manner. If we reach the end of a journey, only to look around and see no one there wishing to share it with us, then what joy does that bring.

Greed is Good ----- the good is in continually striving for more. Be Greedy, continue to strive for more out of your life experiences and out of yourself. The good can also be in how we handle this desire to achieve. Achieve it in a positive and compassionate manner and you will have a wealth of people around to share in these successes with. In the end, you must find a way to FEED BOTH THE WOLVES. Only in doing this, will you find your greatest potential while achieving it in the right manner and gain respect along the way.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Summer Champs

The biggest tournaments of the summer produced some exciting baseball and the winners deserve some additional recognition aside from the tournament organizers websites. Here are our favorite tournaments and the champs of each…

The WWBA in East Cobb, GA

WWBA 18U Championships
The Florida Bombers won their unprecedented 5th World Wood Bat Association National Championship with a 3-2 win over the Illinois Sparks Monday afternoon at the East Cobb Complex in Marietta, Georgia.

The Bombers, who also claimed the championship in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006, did it in normal Bomber fashion, with outstanding defense in the middle of the field, timely hitting and a deep staff of pitchers who pound the strike zone.

RHP Brent Zimmerman was the star of the championship game, throwing a complete game 4 hitter, walking none and striking out 4. Zimmerman, a 2009 prospect, pitched in the upper 80’s with a sharp curveball and excellent change up that kept the powerful Sparks lineup off balance.

The Bombers scored 3 runs in the third inning, with the key blow being a run scoring double by SS Carlos Lopez.

The Illinois Sparks became the first team from the northern tier of the country in WWBA and BCS history to make a National Championship final. They were a dominant offensive team and had scored 13, 12 and 10 runs in their previous 3 playoff games.

WWBA 17U Championships
The Diamond Devils defeated the ABD Bulldogs 13-6 to win the 2008 World Wood Bat Association National Championship Monday night in Marietta, Georgia.

The 192 team championship is the largest such event in baseball history.

The sluggers from South Carolina were an offensive powerhouse all week, scoring 93 in 10 games and earning most of them with extra base hits, including 9 home runs. They scored 32 runs in one pool play game and totaled 30 in 16 innings in the last 3 playoff games.

Their 7-run 4th inning in the championship game was the defining moment in a game that looked like it was going to be high scoring from the outset, as both teams pitching staffs were running on fumes. 1B Daniel Palka led off the inning with a home run and RF Daniel Aldrich punctuated the inning with a 3-run blast.

Both ABD and the Diamond Devils were forced to play 27 innings of baseball on the event’s final day due to the heavy rain that plagued the entire tournament and virtually canceled play entirely on Sunday.

The Bulldogs defeated Tri-State Arsenal/Cust D-Jacks 6-0 in one semifinal behind a combined no hit effort by RHP’s Ethan Miller (3 innings) and Nolan Arenado (2 innings). 3B Matt Davidson hit his 4th home run of the championship, a 2-run shot in the 3rd inning, to key the offense.

WWBA 16U Championships
The 16u WWBA Championship game came right down to the wire on Sunday. A back and forth game between the Jack Cust Diamond Jacks and Richmond Braves that had four lead changes was ultimately decided in the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out and the bases loaded, a single to left field by Patrick Harrington was all the Richmond Braves needed to overcome a 3-2 deficit to walk off the field with a 4-3 victory. Congratulations to the Richmond Braves who are the 2008 16u WWBA Champions!

The Co-Most Valuable Players of the 136 team 16u WWBA Championship are Mitchell Shifflett of the Richmond Braves and Thomas Zengel of the Jack Cust Diamond Jacks. The Most Valuable Pitcher for the tournament was Hobbs Johnson. Shifflett went 11-25 with 12 runs and 6 steals as the spark plug for the Richmond Braves offense

WWBA 15U Championships
The #1 overall seed in the 15u WWBA tournament bracket did not disappoint as they capped off an undefeated tournament with a 16-4 win over the #2 seeded Kentucky Baseball Club. NorCal fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning but took a 5-3 lead in their half of the first and scored in every inning thereafter to win the game. NorCal’s offense came from the whole lineup as every member of their lineup scored a run. NorCal’s pitcher Kyle Moses worked three shutout innings to earn the win. NorCal advanced to the championship by defeating the East Cobb Astros 14u, while Kentucky Baseball Club advanced to the finals by defeating the Dallas Yankees.

The tournament MVP was NorCal’s shortstop Alex Blandino who finished the tournament with thirteen hits, including two in the championship game, and eight runs, including two in the championship game, as he was the spark plug for the NorCal offense.

USA BASEBALL Championships (The tourney formerly known as the Junior Olympics)

This tourney is no longer called the Junior Olympics because baseball will not be an Olympic Sport in the 2012 games. And, the way the Olympic teams have been faring, that may be a good thing.

USA Baseball 16U Championship WEST
The San Diego Show defeated OC Baseball in the gold medal game to win the 2008 USA Baseball 16U Championships -- West. In the bronze medal game, ABD Bulldogs Navy beat the Temecula Boxers. Congratulations to all the teams for a great week in Peoria and Surprise.

USA Baseball 16U Championship EAST
The 23rd seeded Orlando Scorpions won the 2008 USA Baseball 16U Championships -- East with a 1-0 win over their cross-city rival, the Orlando Reds. 16U Trials invite AJ Cole recorded a two-inning save without allowing a hit, and Orlando Reds starter Preston Cronk pitched a tremendous game in a losing effort, going the distance, scattering 7 hits, and giving up the lone run in the 4th.

USA Baseball Tournament of Stars
500 fans were in attendance as the Dixie team, consisting of players through the Southeast, won a close battle and beat the NABF National team 3-2 to win the pro and college scout heavy TOS.

LeVon Washington and Waxahachie, Tx star Colton Cain had two hits a piece. Anthony Figliolia got the win and Patrick Schuster the save.

Palomino World Series
Michael Goodnight had a namesake kind of night and fired his final 95 mph fastball past a stunned Chinese Taipei player to end the 2008 PONY Palomino World Series with Houston Kyle Chapman Red winning by a run-rule shortened score of 14-3. Robbie Grossman set the tone for the afternoon when he hammered the very first pitch of the game far over the San Jose Municipal Stadium right field fence to give Houston a 1-0 lead.

Great offense, terrific pitching, rock solid defense, excellent coaching, and a mature, disciplined, respectful approach to the game of baseball. To quote the coach of one of the teams that K.C. defeated, "they play the game the way it was meant to be played." What an amazing compliment for the coaches, players, and families that make up the Kyle Chapman family.

Outside of the East Cobb, Ga complex, the nicest sports facility in the nation has to be the Disney Wide World of Sports baseball complex in Orlando. It's also home to the Atlanta Braves during spring training.

The BL Bombers of the great state of Alabama went to the finals and with the help of David Dahl, Tourney MVP and Charles Masonia, Offensive Tourney MVP, they blasted the Central Texas Raiders 6-0. The Bombers capped off an unbelievable season with an outstanding record of 45-4.

Game summaries were provided by Perfect Game, Houston 5A Baseball, USSSA and USA Baseball.

Monday, August 25, 2008

One Last Time

With apologies to PETA, we may be beating a dead horse on our rage against the NCAA machine, but everyday we uncover a new article or stat that gives us more fuel to want to make another point....and bore you guys with another rant.

More and more signs are pointing to a shift in the draft strategy for MLB. According to Baseball America, the player projections on the 2009 draft doesn't mention any high school prospects. It's all about college players. If that is the case, then MLB themselves, should be in Indianapolis as we speak, lobbying for an increase in Scholarships for NCAA collegiate baseball players. It's in their best interests to do so.

As we stated in past posts, it costs upward of $12,000 a year for parents to send their son to school WITH a scholarship. Families in need must get grants, subsidized and unsubsidized student loans to offset the difference. How many families with athletes fall through the cracks or just give up when faced with that burdensome red tape, when other sports like football and basketball are more accommodating. MLB and college baseball are missing out on a lot of two sport athletes due to the financial gaps between baseball and their fall and winter counterparts.

According to a John Manuel article from Baseball America, here are the names being bandied about at the top of the draft.

* Stephen Strasburg,San Diego State phenom. The only collegiate player on the U.S. Olympic team, the right-hander struck out 23 in a game against Utah this year and is the consensus No. 1 overall pick. "He compares favorably to Mark Prior at a similar stage of his career. ... He's an elite, elite guy and could move very quickly."

* Alex White, pitcher from University of North Carolina. "He has an electric arm and plus athletic ability."

• Kyle Gibson, pitcher from University of Missouri. "Average fastball, projectable body, wipeout slider."

• Grant Green, shortstop from USC. "Has torn up the Cape Cod League."

• Dustin Ackley, first baseman-outfielder from North Carolina. "A ridiculous hitter. He's fascinating. He has an elbow issue, can't throw, so he plays 1B. If I had to compare him to a player, the only one I can come up with is Tony Gwynn, because he has hit .400 two years in a row at UNC with speed, etc."

All those players are collegians. 2009 is considered a down year for high-schoolers, at least at the elite level. "There's no high-school guys, right now, worth taking up there," said ESPN's Keith Law, senior baseball analyst for Scouts, Inc., and a former executive with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Now, I'm not convinced that there are not any high schoolers worth taking. I can think of two people in the state of California alone that have been rumored to be top two round material. The conventional wisdom amongst many scouts and with the Major League Scouting Bureau however, is that pro teams would rather see a player grow up and be conditioned by the college process of strength and conditioning coaches, fall work-outs, the rigors of a 56 game regular season and the summer assignments to the Cape, Northwoods, Alaskan leagues and the myriad of other college summer leagues that will challenge and ready them for a career in the Bigs.

So if that is the case, then why not structure baseball like basketball and football and make collegiate baseball the sole resource to the pro ranks...eliminating the draft for graduated high school seniors?

The only problem with that scenario is that baseball doesn't offer enough scholarships to entice a player that is wooed by the prospect of making $500,000 or more. Does the player that is on the fence take the half million or have his parents pay out $48,000 over the next four years to go to college? Tough choice if the lure of college doesn't excite him as much as the money does.

However, what if that education was 100% paid for? Would that top prospect consider college over the pros? MLB should be all over this issue if they really feel more comfortable with the maturity, strength and overall skill set of the college player.

Now enough on this subject. The rest of this week, we will highlight the winners of this summers major tournaments.

RT Staff

Friday, August 22, 2008

Turning Down the Minors For A Major

If your son is a true baseball field rat, then he knows all about the College World Series and probably hasn’t missed it since he was 10 or 11. In fact, I bet that he has had a recurring dream or longing desire to want to play in front of those sell-out crowds at Rosenblatt Stadium. I know my son has. It also seemed to have a big influence on many of the recent top baseball players from the Class of 2008.

In addition to Gerrit Cole, there were many other players that decided to play college baseball for the next three years and all of those players went to teams that were selected to play in the NCAA post-season this year. Coincidence? No it's the power of televised sports. When you give a great sport like college baseball the air time it deserves, these are the benefits that result from it.

Another influential factor of today's players decision to go to college is that unlike many of the parents of baby boomers, more of today's kids have parents that went to college and are more aware of the benefits a college education can offer. According to a great article on Baseball, Gerrit Cole's family sat down and discussed the benefits and risks of college versus pro. His final decision was influenced by discussions initiated by his family in addition to his own desire to go to UCLA.

The desire to attend college to play ball seems to be a growing trend. The next highest ranked player to Cole had a similar experience as well as the same advisor. Alex Meyer, a 6-foot-7 righthander, was also a Scott Boras client and he spurned his first round selection by the Yankee hating Red Sox to play for the University of Kentucky. Is Boras losing his magic touch? He has had two clients in Cole and Meyer who got drafted by arguably the two most desired teams in baseball and they both are off to school.

Boras himself played college ball and had a time in the Cubs system. He also has a medical and law degree...he was even an overachiever back then. Could he have a softness in his heart for college bound players and had any influence in any of these decisions? Sure makes you wonder, although I'm not sure Brian Cashman or Theo Epstein would have wasted a first round pick if that was the case.

The Wildcats of Kentucky are just happy to have Alex no matter how he arrived at the decision to become a student. They wished more of their recruits would have done the same. Kentucky had a great NLI signing day last November. Experts called it the best signing class in the country, but lost three to the draft and one to academic issues, but still may end up with one of the best recruiting classes in the nation due to other recruits stepping it up this summer. Alex Meyer's decision to be a Wildcat helps solidify that strong class.

Another top draftee that chose college over the pros was Sonny Gray a RHP fire baller that has Tim Lincecum like power and size. Vanderbilt, who had a great season this year was the benefactor of Gray’s decision and will give the pitching rich Commodores some great depth that could propel them to another appearance in Omaha this upcoming season.

Others that turned down a trip to the minors to concentrate on a major were...

Nick Maronde was the 70th overall pick and will be a Gator…Zack Cox was number 72 and chose Arkansas…6 picks down the charts, at 78 was Brett Mooneyham who wisely chose one of the most picturesque and top academic schools in the nation in Stanford…Danny Hultzen, a sought after LHP picked the Cavaliers of Virginia…Zach Cone, a 6’2” 210 lbs outfielder was the 80th overall pick and chose Georgia…Donnie Roach a polished RHP at number 94 overall, picked the Wildcats of Arizona.

So in a few years, if you have a son that reaches the status of great players like these, we won’t blame you if you choose the pro’s over college. In fact, consider yourselves very fortunate if your son has the opportunity to make such a choice.

But, consider that these players chose to turn down $1 million and more to experience the college life. Now, a million dollars doesn’t come knocking that frequently in our lifetime…Yet, an education to these players was worth so much more than that. You can’t put a price tag on a Stanford, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, Florida or Arizona education.

These great players also won’t regret their decision this fall when they are sitting in the stands at a Saturday football game on a cool crisp autumn day or in January during their basketball team’s quest to play in March. There’s nothing like the college experience…nothing at all.

Congratulation guys…

You made the choice that was right for you and that is what this quest for next level baseball is all about.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Motley Crew

We have had numerous e-mails about our claim that women’s crew has 40% more scholarships than baseball.

Well, the truth about women's rowing is that it's a sport that requires fielding a large team, which in turn means it can command up to 20 athletic scholarships, the most the NCAA sanctions for any women's sport.

Title IX stipulated that schools had to offer to women what they offered to men. That is, just as many athletic scholarships. Sounds uncomplicated until you realize that 85 scholarships go to men to play football. And, there is no equivalent sport for women. So, Women's Rowing comes to the rescue. For the record, there are no scholarships for men's rowing.

Ok, we get it. More opportunities for women...and, living on the coast, even I admit there's a following for the sport...the kind that would make the Rockefellers proud. But, did you know that there are opportunities in the Midwest to earn such a scholarship? They exist in places like Creighton, Tulsa, Kansas and Kansas State.

Creighton is in Omaha, Nebraska…home of the NCAA College Baseball World Series. Funny, I have been to Omaha and I didn’t see any large body of waters to row in except the Missouri River…Hmmmm…Now that would be a sport…Rowing on the Missouri River. Ever seen the Big Muddy Mo? Chock full of debris from giant logs, to Uncle Zeke's 1968 Impala and the occasional bank hugging house on stilts that was engulfed by the latest flood. Could you imagine a crew team rowing down the river dodging all those obstacles? I’d watch that…on ESPN, The Ocho, right after the Dodge ball championships.

“There goes the Creighton team Larry, they are stroking at a quick pace overtaking the Jaystrokes from KU….oooooh! What a hit by that barge, split the Scull right in two”

“That’s Gotta Hurt Jim”

Yes America, Baseball and Women's Softball...two of the more established and high profile collegiate sports are awarded less scholarships than women’s crew in places like Omaha, Lawrence, Tulsa, Columbus, OH, and Iowa City. The cradle of women’s crew. No, we aren't deriding women's crew. They are temendous athletes. We ARE however a bit upset at the overall distribution of the scholarships.

Does women's crew really need 20? Could you throw 6 or so to women's softball and then give baseball 2-3 more to keep it on the plus side for the women? Could football stand to give up 3-5 of their 85 to baseball too? More on that later.

America’s Past Time…11.7 scholarships divided amongst 30 man rosters? In a sport so dependent on numbers like 56, 755 (*762), 2,632 and many more…those scholarship numbers are a slap in the face of our beloved sport.

How does this and the other confusing rules affect recruits? Case in point...UGA Coach Perno had to inform several players last month that he had no room for some of his incoming recruits and that they had to enroll in a JC. The reasoning was that not as many juniors and seniors were drafted or if they were, did not sign an MLB contract. That put Perno in a bind. New Rules...A coach has to give out at least a 25% scholarship and has 30 man roster limits...

While it's true that Coach Perno is in a pickle, and it is very easy to blast him for not honoring those players that signed their NLI last November...let's put things into perspective. Georgia is a Top Tier program that everyone in the Southeast would love to play for. There is also a lot of pressure to win and a program like that almost has to over-recruit a bit in anticipation of present players and some of their high profile High school recruits leaving for the draft. That didn't happen. So, Perno had to make some calls.

Imagine that player who announced in his school gymnasium, the local press, as well as friends and family that he signed his NLI to the University of Georgia. Imagine watching Georgia in the finals of the College World Series, feeling on top of the world with those same friends, wearing his Bulldog jersey and cap. Now, fast forward to July 1 when he gets a phone call from Coach Perno telling him that he has to go to a JC. Ughh!

As cold and awful as that scenario sounds...and folks, it really happened to more than a few players at UGA and other schools...we can't really blame the coach. We blame the fact that the NCAA tries to paint everything black and white in a 3-Dimensional, Technicolor world.

Why are there 30 player roster limits and could we approach this on a case by case basis??? What about a three year average of 100 players to accommodate for the unforeseen player overage, as in the case of UGA?

Why are there strict transfer rules that make a player sit out a year...could there also be a case where this could be amended? The ideal scenario would have Perno talking to all of his players, regardless of grade and asking them if they would want to be released and take advantage of a legal transfer without penalty...everyone is happy.

Again, it's not really UGA's fault that Perno recruited well and the present upperclassmen didn't sign an MLB contract. It's unfortunate, but there has to be case by case exceptions. It's the only right thing to do for the players...That's who gets hurt the most.

And of course, the scholarship limits of 11.7. Can someone at the NCAA trade in their Abacus for a shiny new calculator and run some numbers? Let's see...hmmmm...if you divide this number....into...that get...39% per player. That is just plain embarassing.

And, I really love college football...But, why does football get 85 scholarships? Shiny calculator time again...With 11 per side, that's enough players to put together 4 full teams...all on FULL RIDES!!! You know it's a wacky system when a kicker, his holder and their back-ups get full rides.

Meanwhile, Yankee jilter and UCLA bound Gerrit Cole, who throws 97MPH with about as much effort as Usain Bolt runs the 100 meters, get's maybe a 50% scholarship.

Have you noticed? We are really concerned and are urging all of you to write the NCAA, college coaches, your local sports columnist, Bubba the garbage man…write anybody and express your concerns too…because of all of the rules that the NCAA has imposed on baseball athletes, 11.7 Scholarships, 30 Man Roster Limits and the Transfer Rule hurt the most.

It hurts struggling, middle class America, Inner City athletes, and just about everyone that was depending on the American Dream (your home value...Aargghh!) to help finance junior’s college education. Baseball student athletes have put a lot of blood, sweat, tears and parents money into their sport as much and maybe even more than the other fully funded sports at college universities. It’s time that baseball got it’s due too.

We Want:

1. 20 Scholarships (1.3 from women's crew, 5 from football and two as a gift from the NCAA)
2. 100 Player Roster Limits Over Three Years
3. Case By Case Transfer Rules

And we won’t settle for anything less!!!

But mostly, we want more scholarships because...

11.7 is FOUL...20 IS FAIR!!!

RT Staff

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How The NCAA Rules Affects Recruits

Yesterdays post might not have meant much to incoming High School sophomores and juniors, but parents and players should take note. The rules that the NCAA makes can greatly affect your son and his decision to go to a particular college. Today, we will tackle two of the issues discussed yesterday, Transfer Rule and Scholarships.

Amend The Transfer Rule
As we stated yesterday, the rule was put into place to protect the smaller schools from being raided by larger schools during the summer leagues. Like today, recruits that didn't get much action from larger universities as a high school player due to lack of physical maturity and skills, yet wanted to play baseball, usually committed to a smaller school. Back then however, it was a free for all and the player had the option of "upgrading" to that larger, more desirable school after a year or two.

The new rules state that a player must sit out one full year if he transfers to another school. We believe it is applicable to scholarship and walk-ons as well. (Reading the NCAA rules is like a foreign language)

Now, we like the transfer rule to a certain extent. But, if that university is not working out for a player and the coach is willing to release the players scholarship to seek out a better fit, the way the rules are worded now, that player has to sit out a year. That's wrong in our opinion. There are a multitude of reasons for a player to transfer...too much competition at his position, change of coaching staff, change of majors that isn't offered at the present school, lousy weather, not comfortable with the school and the social life, homesickness and moving to a college closer to home (it happens more than you think) and many more that we sure are good, legitimate reasons.

The key change or amendment that needs to take place is the mutual separation between coach and school based on the aforementioned reasons.

How does the present transfer rule affect recruits? The way the rules are worded now makes it even more important for your son to make the right decision based on the bigger university picture and not just the baseball facilities. Because, once your son takes that first class, he is stuck there. There's no turning back without penalty. Prospective athletes and their parents should take those college visits and guided tours, no matter how lame they may seem. Some of our campus tour guides at the many schools we visited were embarrassingly bad...but even then, they took us to parts of the campus that we would have never gone to and we learned a bit more than if we had just walked around ourselves.

Talk to the baseball coaches and ask them about their other recruits and where your son fits in. Go over the roster and find out their depth at your sons position and the grade of those players. If your son is an outfielder and there's six outfielders... five of which are seniors, then that's a good sign that the coaches are filling an immediate need. Look at the number of at-bats that their past freshman have had in past seasons. If there are a dearth of freshman plate appearances, ask the coach if that was due to better talent or team policy of not playing freshman.

Most top D-I universities will have 12-15 pitchers on their staff. Look at what class they are in and the innings they had in the underclass seasons. Due to the new rules and shortened seasons, it's a good time to be a heavily recruited pitcher. Chances are they will be looking hard at your sons ability to contribute during those weekday games. Because of the shortened season, many teams will have as many as 5 games a week. A team could use as many as 10-12 arms in one week alone...especially early in the season when the starters have pitch count limits. Ask the coach how many pitchers they used in the first 4-6 weeks of the season. That could be an opportunity for a recruit to get some innings in his freshman year.

Increase Scholarships
The zenith of NCAA confusion can be summed up with one stat...Women's Crew gets 40% more scholarships than America's Pastime.

How does a major college program in our most important national sport, grant only 11.7 scholarships to 30 rostered players? There is rumor of a new proposal out there is asking for 14 scholarships....We Say, Not Enough...16?...Nada... 18?...Not Quite...How about at least 20!!! That's an equal two-thirds scholly for every player. That's so much better than the present combo of grants, loans and scholarships that they burden the player with now.

How does the present rules affect your son? College expenses in most states are roughly $20,000+ per year with tuition, books, room and board. Therefore, even with a "Scholarship", count on paying at least $12,000 out of pocket per year...That's how it affects your son. So, all of the travel ball, tourneys, showcases and camps you schlepped your son to over the years...What did it get you? A discounted coupon to go to college. Meanwhile, Stretch Armstrong on the basketball team gets a full ride...and then some.

Another issue is the fact that MLB had a record number of college players picked in the draft this year. Collegiate players are becoming more desirable, yet are the best athletes really there?

One of the top initiatives of MLB is to bring the inner city youth back to baseball. But how many inner city kids are being pushed away from the sport due to the costs involved to play at the next level? It's one thing to set up youth leagues, tourneys and camps to play through high school...but how many inner city families are able to pay for the part of college not covered by the scholarship? Is it any wonder why inner city youth athletes gravitate towards basketball and football?

Increasing the scholarships for baseball is not only a sensible solution, but has positive social implications as well.

So, what do we do? We can write. I'm not sure to whom we write, but I have included a link to the NCAA Baseball executives. Write all of them. They need to hear from more than just the coaches. They need to hear from all of you...the future of collegiate baseball.

NCAA Baseball

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Listen Up NCAA

Yesterday, we had a comment from one of our readers that helped give us the idea for today's post. His comment:

College baseball has a long way to have the panache and status that college basketball and college football have. If you have noticed most of the high school baseball players who have signed with MLB clubs have received the signing bonuses and a clause for future education money. I believe a majority of high school players would prefer to go to college, play ball, and get their education. The fact is (and here is the real fallacy and unfairness of college baseball) baseball players do not get full scholarships!!! Why does the media and web sites like yours not address the real problems with college baseball and the NCAA. Come on 11.7 scholarships to divide between 35 roster players, when football players (all on the roster) get full rides. When it gets down to it "money talks". Thank-you Rounding Third for letting me air my opinion.

We couldn't agree with him more. No doubt baseball has a long way to go to reach the heights of basketball and football. Even though college baseball's popularity is on the rise, there's so much more room to grow the game to new heights.

First of all, we bring this subject up because many of you parents and athletes out there will be obsessing over these issues the closer your sons dream of being a collegiate athlete becomes a reality. We know this because we have sons that are playing college ball or have played D-I. And like many parents, coaches and fans, we feel the new rules only made the old rules look even more outdated and absurd. If there was a time for a is the time...just when the college game is on the upswing and like the baseball players they recruit, has tremendous upside.

As we stated yesterday, television coverage is increasing through ESPN, CSTV and FOX.. Web exposure via Gametracker and CSTV's online broadcast is a life saver for long distance parents unable to take a leisurely drive to see their son play like they did in high school. While more television exposure would help the sport from a exposure and financial's certainly not the end game.

There's a long list of improvements that we would like to make for the betterment of the college game. We started to write our loquacious version of what needs to happen until we stumbled upon an article written by Kendall Rogers of's college baseball site. Enjoy!

By Kendall Rogers

There's no question most coaches agree with the idea of a uniform start date. In its first test this past season, the uniform start date was welcomed with open arms. The timing of the start date? Not so much. I think everyone likes the idea of teams starting the season at the same time. However, many coaches believe the season should start two weeks earlier, leaving teams with more time to play 56 games. In the first season of the uniform start date, the condensed schedule caused a variety of issues.

Football, basketball and baseball are popular sports on the collegiate level, but you'd never know that by the way the NCAA treats each sport. Football and basketball generally have rules put in place to help the sports. Baseball is on the other end of the spectrum. Though it's true some Division I institutions still don't have baseball scholarships, the list is small. For now, baseball has a scholarship limit of 11.7. Several coaches have proposed the scholarship total be raised to 14.7, but we have our doubts that will change.

Most coaches I've spoken with this summer are relieved at the absence of transfers. Because of the new transfer rule, players must now sit out a year if they choose to transfer schools. For the smaller schools, the transfer rule has been a huge relief. No longer can the larger schools use the summer leagues and other avenues as recruiting zones. However, there are some losers in this situation. Sure, the transfer rule is a step in the right direction. But allowing no transfers is going too far. Therefore, we propose that players can transfer if the school they're leaving gives them a full release, regardless of conference affiliation. That certainly could keep larger schools from raiding smaller schools, while also giving players the ability to transfer.

The selection committee generally does a good job with the Regional host site selections, but the same can't be said about where they place teams. Nothing this past season was more disappointing than the Long Beach Regional, where the committee paired Long Beach State, San Diego, California and Fresno State together. Long Beach State won the Big West, San Diego won the WCC, Fresno State won the WAC and California was a very dangerous team. Amazingly, Fresno won the Regional as a four seed. They also won the national title. Though the NCAA won't come out and say it, they stack the West Coast teams for attendance purposes. That may be a plausible answer, but that doesn't mean it's right. The NCAA should adopt a Regional system that consists of a field of 64 equally spread out.

With college baseball gaining popularity, it's time to improve the television contracts. The SEC and ACC have respectable television contracts with many regular season contests and their respective conference tournaments on television. The same can't be said for the Big 12, Pac-10 and C-USA. If the sport wants to get over the biggest hump, better television contracts must be negotiated. ESPN does a good job with the Super Regionals and College World Series, but its coverage the other four months of the season is laughable. The sport must spread the wealth to succeed.

Monday, August 18, 2008

College Baseball Breakthrough

The clock struck midnight and the opulent, powerful and opposite of Cinderella coach known as the New York Yankees were expecting to sign a plum prospect last Saturday night and got a pumpkin instead. Yes folks, not only were the cash rich Bronx Bombers jilted at the alter, but super agent/advisor Scott Boras actually lost a sizable amount of money...investing hundreds of billable hours of tub thumping, chest beating, and artful negotiating to only watch his first round draft pick, Gerrit Cole officially commit to UCLA.

Cole is a mature RHP with a 6'3'', 200lb. frame from Orange Lutheran HS. His strong, wide frame projects extremely well. More important, Cole throws in the mid-high 90's with minimal effort. The Yankees coveted Cole and Eric Hosmer as their top two high school choices. When Hosmer went third overall to the Royals, Cole became their man.

Not in recent memory have the Yankees had a first round draft pick...and a Scott Boras client at that, fail to sign a lucrative contract. Usually, Boras reduces most MLB front office personnel to whimpers, but Brian Cashman and Boras are cut from the same cloth. They get the deals done. But not this time.

The UCLA Bruins get Cole for the next three years and that, in of itself is absolutely fantastic for college baseball. Just when we thought that the NCAA was doing everything in its power to destroy D-I baseball, along comes a public relations gift like this...A first rounder picking UCLA over the Yankees!!!

NCAA baseball has been the benefactor of great coverage this year from ESPN, CBS, and FOX, and was capped off by record College World Series ratings from the surprising run by Fresno State.

But, there is still a huge gap when trying to make the connection from college to the pro's. Unlike football and basketball, a player is rarely introduced as a product of their college. MLB looks like it is trying to bridge that gap by televising the Draft and giving it prime time status. This year, more college players than ever before were drafted in the top rounds and many, like Florida State's Buster Posey, Vanderbilt's Pedro Alverez, Miami's Yonder Alonzo, and Georgia's Gordan Beckham got huge, over-slot bonuses.

Playing college ball is becoming the choice of more and more top prospects...especially position players and many developing pitchers. Even MLB scouts are conceding that they like the more physical, disciplined and mentally mature 21 year olds over their barely adult counterparts.

The MLB draft this year was proof of that. There will always be the freakishly good HS players like Tim Beckham and Eric Hosmer that are worth the risk...but for the most part, most High school players need the controlled discipline of college with it's multitude of mentors from professors, tutors, TA's, strength and conditioning coaches and baseball coaches watching their every step on their way to adulthood.

And now, high profile, power pitcher Gerrit Cole will be a collegian...the story of the 2009 season...creating excitement throughout the PAC 10 and the rest of the west as the guy who told two titans of pro baseball...the Yankees and Scott Boras...thanks, but no thanks. This could be the start of more big name prospects following suit...turning college baseball into the type of panache and status that basketball and football enjoy.

This will be great for College Baseball...great for all of you prospects out there and a big financial boost for heard it here first.

RT Staff

Friday, August 15, 2008

Right Field is for Winners Too

Yesterdays post, "Be Who You Are Supposed To Be" is a very important message not only for players but for parents as well. Let the path of your sons natural ability take its course. So many parents want their sons to become that top pitcher, starting shortstop, lead-off or number three hitter...when in fact he may be none of those things.

We have witnessed coaching Dad's trying to develop their sons into shortstops, when their body type screams first base. Have you ever wondered why a certain pitcher that had a hard time finding the plate was on the mound? Yup, Dad's doing.

One thing I've never understood is why right field is the dreaded spot for young players and their parents. I have actually seen fights breakout at games between parents and coaches because their son was in right field. Never mind that the player had a great arm, good tracking ability and a little power...the hallmark tools of a right fielder. Perception in this case trumped reality. Why do coaches and parents feel that the worst youth players must play there? Let's just say, good coaches don't. Tell Reggie Jackson that right field is for losers. There are Hall of Famers at every position, including some of the best in right field. They all didn't start off at shortstop.

The reason why we see these things is because parents don't let their sons "Be Who They Are Supposed To Be"...Parents have this preconceived image of their son and try to mold them into their image. I don't have stats to back this up, but I would bet that a lot of the attrition in baseball is due to a son being cast into his dad's image, failing at this experiment and then just giving up due to frustration.

The fact is, many parents don't know as much about the game that they think they do. In fact, many know very little or they would be able to analyze their sons skill set and place him into those positions that suit his ability. Or...they could just let the experts make that call, but that has it's perceived downside, because most parents don't want to hear that their son is not good enough for the position that they think is the premier position.

Last October, we ran a post called Showcase Realistic Outcomes" There's a quote in that article that rings true in this case...

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”

In other words, listen to what your coaches, instructors and showcase scouts tell you what your sons position should be. Be realistic and react accordingly to the assessments that the evaluators share with you and your son. There’s no need to be defensive or mad if the evaluation differs from your own assessment of your son. Just be grateful that you know and understand where your child stands in the grand scheme of the baseball world order.

Many of the top Showcase and Player evaluation organizations know exactly what colleges and pro scouts want. They are going to be honest… brutally honest in some cases. The bottom line…Your son isn’t a part of those 5 year old recreational soccer teams that gives out a trophy to everyone in the league anymore. He’s in the real world now, on his way to being a man.

But bottom line...Let his ability take its course and don't try to be the player you want him to be...let his ability dictate that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Be Who You Are Supposed To Be

RT Staff Note: One of the more gracious guys in the game of baseball is a man named Jim Giles of There used to be pretty decent band in the 70's called the JGiles to us oldsters, his name stands out. We have used his articles before in our blog, and this next piece really hits home for us and others in our circle of baseball goons. Enjoy!

Athletics and Life are simply making the most of the moments between the beginning and the end. In your life, these are very easy points to determine, your birth and your death; in the Athletes life it can be more difficult to determine. Sure, you could say it is merely the beginning of your career (little league, jr league) and the ultimate end whether it be high school, college or the professional ranks. How we live this athletic life can be a wonderfully rewarding experience or it can be a very traumatic one.

How do you go about making the most of these moments? I believe the easiest way to have success in your Life or your Athletic Life is simply to BE WHO YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.

At the beginning of this journey, all players have potential. Your goal at the end of the journey is to NOT be one of those players that HAD potential and never quite lived up to it or used it to its’ greatest ability. You have to find the way to perform each and every day to be the player you are supposed to be. To do this you have to challenge yourself continually every day. You can never live in the present on performances in the past. Conversely, you have to quit thinking of what you could be and just BE IT – Be the player you are supposed to be. For everyone this is different. You have to find a way to perform to YOUR greatest ability and thus fulfill your potential.

A difficult aspect of this is to not judge yourself based on the barometer of others. You can not base your life on pleasing the expectations of others. This is a sure fire way to fail. Sure your coaches, parents, teachers, etc. will have expectations. These expectations are an important part of your development and can be a component of the basis for your expectations of yourself. Ultimately though, YOU have to make the decision of what YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.

You have to find who you are and commit to it. Determine what your goals should be and then go about striving to reach them every day. A key aspect is also to COMMIT TO THE PROCESS, NOT THE PATH. The path you take quite often will change based on circumstances and achievement. The only way you can fail in this endeavor is not by failing to achieve a goal, but failing to commit to the process. If you reach a goal, you need to immediately raise the bar and push the next goal higher. If your current path to achieve a goal is not producing the expected results, you need to determine if the path must be adjusted.

In determining who you are supposed to be, you must BE TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE! You can not fake this in life. You have to find who you are at the very core of your being and determine a path to use this as a strength. You have to truly believe and find commitment in the YOU that this represents. As an athlete, if you are not a RAH RAH type of player, you can not force yourself to be that. Any attempt will come off to those you are trying to pump up, as fake, because it will not be who you can commit to being. If you are quiet and lead by example, then DO IT.

That is the essence of who you are and you need to use this to your advantage.
What does this all mean for an athlete? If you are a Pitcher and you don’t have a 90+ mph fastball, then it makes no sense trying to blow the ball by everyone. Use what you have, hit spots, change speeds, force ground balls and GET OUTS. If you are a line drive type hitter with average power, stepping up to the plate and trying to jack home runs is not going to produce positive results.

If you have been blessed with plus running speed, put the ball in play and make the defense throw you out. Pressure them and see what happens. As a Leader on the team, if you’re not a RAH RAH guy, then lead by example. Be the first one out to practice, last one to leave, run on and off the field hustling everywhere you go regardless of the score or situation, etc. If you are the RAH RAH guy, use it in the right situations and pick up those players around you.

Coaches often make a huge mistake in not understanding who their players really are and try to make them into something they are not. They can make their star player a Captain and then expect him to stand up and lead as a RAH RAH type player. If he is not this at his very core, he will never be successful as the leader they want him to be. He will also not be successful as the Leader that the team needs him to be. As Coaches we have to find the strength of each of our players and develop their roles along these strengths.

Communicating this with the Player is extremely important as well. Pete Carroll was quoted as saying “I just live out what I truly believe and everything takes care of itself from there”. The commitment and identification of what you truly believe is the key ingredient in your ability to BE WHO YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE. And being who you are supposed to be will help you be a success in Life both inside and outside of athletics.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's STUDENT athlete

Most of you high school athletes that have your site on playing college ball must come to the realization that the term Student-Athlete is stated in the right order. You all are students first and athletes second. Yes, the athletic version got you into the college of your choice, but it is a COLLEGE, not a professional team.

Therefore, now is the time to ramp up your scholarly skills with the same grit and determination as you do with baseball. Why the lecture?

We have stated this in so many of our past posts, but college baseball like student athlete puts the college in front of the baseball. It will be hard to work out with your strength an conditioning coach at 7:00 in the morning, go to class, practice from 1:30-5:30, get your three to four meals that they want you to devour AND study four hours a night. With this schedule, you will need to get in condition for school as much as you will for baseball. Guys, it's hard!

College professors don't care that you play baseball, they have no room for complacency and you can't decide just to skip school or class like you may have done in your high school years. Not that any of you would do it, but many professors will deduct a whole letter grade if you miss more than one discussion or lab.

So, many of you seniors on your way to play college ball next year...get in college shape! Set your alarm early and go jogging or do a small work-out routine. Develop a plan to work out in the afternoon in the off season after school and then make your self be dedicated to at least four hours of studying at night...because in college you will be expected to study even more.

Many colleges have a plan that states that you should study THREE HOURS for every credit or unit you take...If you take 14 credits or units...that's 42 hours a week that they want you to study. (the plan includes weekend integral part of college time management.)

Therefore, if school is a drag for your son, then maybe you should be targeting the colleges that have the courses, tutors and a support group that fits his aptitude. They will need it. Picking a college is so much deeper than just meeting the coach and the facilities. Don't ever let up on the baseball part. It's what got many of you recruited athletes to this point. Now...ramp up the school part. You won't ever regret that decision no matter what success you have as a baseball player.

RT Staff

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Make It An Olypmian Effort

RT Staff Note: I have been watching the Olympics with a more discerning eye than in the past...and many of you should too. If you have sons that aspire to be collegiate baseball players, the Olympians at this event exemplify the type of work ethic and dedication necessary to become the best at their game. We have been doing a lot of research and the strength and conditioning coaches at D-I Universities base their training techniques on Olympic training methods. That's great while your son is there, but the S&C coaches are not there to make your son their project...They want athletes that already have the fundamentals of conditioning as part of their daily routine. More and more coaches want the few, the proud, the Marine like work ethic player. So it is time to get in shape and the first step of any conditioning program starts with Core Training. Here's an article from Dr. Norman Eng, D.C., C.S.C.S.

By: Dr. Norman Eng

Every time I turn on the TV, there's a new commercial with a buffed up guy or waif looking woman promoting a new ab machine. All these little contraptions make excellent door stops, and are great if you have an empty house and you're looking for a new household ornament to fill space. Whichever commercial I encounter, they all seem to relay the same message: ripped abs means you have a great core! Ehmm. Sure. The reality is that a truly strong core extends far beyond the beach body six pack.

The concept of core training really amuses me. When I was a trainer in the gym, I would walk through the crowded aisles, listening to the sounds of clunking iron and witnessing unsightly visuals of the meatheads wrapped in sleeveless spandex, which they call workout clothes, admiring their shredded abs (and more often not so shredded) in the mirror. What's more entertaining is the weekend warrior doing 500 crunches a day to try and eliminate the 6 pack a day stomach. Adjacent to this guy would be an aspiring athlete with a $2 Fruit of the Loom tank top, pumping biceps curls while standing on 1 leg.

Without even asking these misled athletes, I would immediately know what they were TRYING to do….work the core. They probably saw the exercise in a magazine or on TV, and as we all know, it must be good since it was in a magazine or on TV, right? WRONG!! Unbeknownst to the misinformed and their brethren, the only thing that they're doing is succumbing to the fallacies spewed out by the media. How will this help you in athletic greatness? With all the information spread about core training, let's get to the truth and what needs to be done to achieve optimal performance.

The Core and Core Stability

Firstly, what is the core and core stability? Your everyday Joe or Jane thinks core refers to rippling abs that look great in a bathing suit, but that's incomplete. In reference to core, there are numerous muscles involved. Depending on the field of practice, differing ideas have emerged. From a clinical perspective, the core, also known as the inner unit, consists of the following muscles according the works of Vleeming(1), Lee(2), and Gracovetsky(3):

Superiorly - Respiratory diaphragm
Inferiorly - Pelvic diaphragm
Posteriorly - Lumbar Multifidus
Antero-Posterior - Transversus Abdominis
Spinal Column
These muscles are deep and not muscles you can see in your mirror. Currently, it is proposed that these muscles co-contract through external loading and help facilitate ballistic and normal movements in activities of daily living. Internal/external Oblique and rectus abdominus are also critical components of core stability.

According to McGill, when all of these muscles contract in symphony, it creates stiffness far superior than any single muscle group4. These muscle groups must activate within milliseconds prior to arm movements and hip movements5, 6. Thus, we can conclude that stiffening of the spine by the core muscles precedes movements of the extremities. Furthermore, greater contraction is required if these movements are ballistic and abrupt.

Let's review the performance requirements for a baseball player. They need to possess explosive lateral movement, quick feet, seamless hand/eye coordination, power, flexibility, linear speed, and the reflexes of a ninja. All of these factors require that the body, particularly the core, create maximal contraction in a ballistic fashion. Translation, core contraction has to be explosive and powerful.

To create maximal amplitude and speed of muscle contraction, let's try and envision how a single leg bicep curl will create maximal and explosive contraction in the core. That's right, it doesn't. So get rid of your $30 ab roller you bought off of an infomercial, stop doing 500 crunches a day, stand on 2 feet when working out, and follow a well-guided core regimen like the one found on Jon Doyle's Unbreakable Abs DVD.

In Part 2 of this article, we'll highlight 3 must-do exercises to build a man-of-steel core.

About Norman Eng, D.C., C.S.C.S

Dr. Norman Eng is owner of 14th Street Chiropractic based in Atlanta, GA, which specializes in the conservative management of neuromusculoskeletal conditions. He is a certified Graston Technique and Active Release Technique provider. Dr. Eng is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). In 2005, he coached the boys' Wethersfield High School 4x100m relay team to All-American status at the Nike Outdoor Nationals.

Dr. Eng has served on the medical staff for the New York City Marathon, NYC Triathlon, the Gold Cup Soccer Tournament, and the MORE Marathon. He has been a strength consultant with the University of Connecticut Women's Track and Field program and the University of Bridgeport Men's and Women's Soccer teams. Dr. Eng received his doctorate from the University of Bridgeport college of Chiropractic where he graduated summa cum laude, and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Get Exposed Early

There are many parents out there that are very concerned about the current recruiting situation for high school baseball players. Well, it goes both ways folks. The coaches have as much concern as you do. Many coaches at major colleges are pressuring more and more players to sign early and are telling players that if they don’t sign now that they risk losing their scholarship offer.

Is this right? It doesn’t matter…it’s the state of collegiate sports today. It doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, track, basketball or football, coaches want their roster spots filled early, so that they can concentrate on the upcoming season at hand. They have a well paying job to justify and the sooner they can reel in a top recruit, the better the chance they will be able to build on that for other pitchers, and position players of alike ability.

Some people think that it’s the kids that get hurt. We are not sure that is true. The day you as parents, first signed your sons up with a travel team, showcase, camps etc, you knew what you were getting into. Parents of travel players should be used to this routine. Travel ball pits the best against the best and that’s exactly the situation collegiate coaches want to see your sons in. and…the more they see good players in that competitive situation, the easier it is for them to make a decision of whether or not a player is worth the risk.

Once college recruiters are completely convinced that the talent matches their needs, they will go after that player with a vengeance…That’s why we think it’s so important to get your son exposed early. The earlier you go through the rounds of showcases, camps and the plethora of showcase tournaments….believe us….you will WANT to get it over with and sign early.

Seriously, it is so important for you to get your son ready and exposed as early as after their freshman and no later than after their sophomore year. You DO NOT want to wait until after your son’s junior year to start the recruiting process. You will be very disappointed if you wait that long.

Early exposure makes the inevitable decision your son will make seem like it is wasn’t a quick decision. He also won’t have any feelings of dissonance later on if you start early enough and weigh your choices or at least your desired choices carefully. It’s so important to really do your homework as early as the summer after your freshman year because there is no turning back anymore. The NCAA has put a penalty on transfers. Yes, a player can still transfer, but not without sitting out a full year.

There are certainly other issues and irrational rules that the NCAA has imposed lately. The later start date and new roster limits the most controversial. But, none of us are going to change those rules at least in the upcoming year…so we as parents have to learn how to work around them.

Our advise…just have your sons keep playing a lot of highly competitive ball…get him exposed…make a list of realistic prospective colleges…go visit those colleges…then… have your son work hard…very hard…because parents…the bottom line is that playing college ball is extremely difficult and coaches are only going to want players that have that hard work ethic and the intense desire to play the game.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Prove It!

RT Staff Note: The following is from Carmen Bucci, President of The Complete Athlete. Carmen teaches high school athletes how to communicate better with their current coaches, college coaches and/or professional scouts.

By Carmen Bucci, The Complete Athlete
It’s not enough just to tell a college coach or professional scout that you work hard or you’re a leader on /and off the field. It’s not enough to tell a college coach you would love to attend their college to get an education and play ball. You need to Prove It! Show vs. Tell. What do I mean?

Think about what a college coach goes through in the recruiting process. Once they have narrowed down the recruits they are interested in, they’re going call them on the phone. In doing so, it’s evident that they like the player’s ability, but they also want to get to know them as a person. Let’s say they call 5 recruits in a night. If you’re one of the lucky ones to get that phone call, you’ll experience an array of emotions, one of which will be “nervous”. You want that coach to like you. You want that coach to know you’re interested in their school. You want the coach to know you’re a hard worker, a leader and someone that would be a great representative of their program. There are a lot of things that you want a coach to know about you, but you may not know how to say it. If you simply tell a coach you’re a hard worker, etc, than you’re no different than any other recruit. How many guys are going to tell a coach that they don’t work hard? How many guys are going to tell a coach that they have bad character, or they aren’t leaders? The answer is NONE.

The same can be said for an interview with a professional scout. It’s not just about ability when someone is thinking of investing money in you in the draft. As I have mentioned in previous articles, they are investing in you as a person…the whole package. The affect that making the wrong decision has on a club is more than just a wasted draft pick. Besides winning, professional baseball teams, as a whole, are concerned with the perception of their organization. They want to bring in the right people, not just the right players.

So how do you stand out to a college coach or professional scout? The easiest way is in showing instead of telling. If you call a coach or scout, who has not seen you play, and tell them you’re a good player, they’re going to want to see it with their own eyes. They’ll either want to see you on video or see you play in person. The same goes for telling a coach you’re a hard worker, you’re a leader, or you have good character. Let them see it. Provide examples of what you’re talking about. In the following example, which of the players would stand out to you?

Player 1 – “Coach, I’m a hard worker. I give 100% all the time, and I think I’m a leader on the field. And I was named captain this year.”

Player 2 – “Coach, I’ve always worked hard. Usually I am up at 6 am…I lift weights before school….Then, after school, my friends and I hit in the batting cages and take ground balls in the gym….I have been working with a hitting coach 2 times per week, for the past year….I try to finish first every time we run sprints….My teammates voted me captain this year, and I was elected class rep in school by my teachers.”

Of course, your answers as a player will vary depending on your activities and personality. But, Player 2 is going to stand out over Player 1. He was able to “paint a picture.” When you’re ready to answer a question from a coach or scout, ask yourself “how” or “why,” and answer thoroughly. Do you want a coach to know you’re interested in their school? Research a school before you speak with a coach or you take your visit, and make sure to talk about what you’ve learned through your research. Do you have good character? Give some examples of situations you’ve been in and have shown good character, or talk about clubs you’re involved in inside or outside of school. Whether it’s talking to a coach or scout, don’t assume that just telling is enough. Actions speak louder than words. Prove it!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

8 Habits of Serious Athletes

RT Staff Note: There are so many talented baseball minds out there and Paul Reddick is one of them. Paul is the Director of The Yogi Berra Baseball School and has also worked camps with Bobby Valentine, Steve Balboni, Tom House and many other baseball greats. Paul is also a ghost writer form some of baseball's best known authors. You have read Paul's work...for sure. Paul has worked on The Picture Perfect Pitcher with Tom House, Mike Epstein on Hitting with Mike Epstein, and Surprise Baseball with Stu Southworth...and many others due out. Paul is currently reworking some of baseball's classic instructional books. Over the last ten years Paul has served as a coach, scout, and consultant to over a dozen major league teams. Paul has spent the last 6 seasons as a recommending scout with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Paul also served as a state delegate for USA Baseball and coached in the Montreal Expo farm system. This is Pauls 8 Habits of Serious Athletes...Enjoy!

Habit 1 – Be Proactive
Great players take responsibility for everything that happens in their career. They take responsibility for their time and for making sure that every day they are working towards their goals. When you are proactive, you take control of your time and you stay in green lights. When you start acting reactive you fall into red and yellow lights.

Habit 2 – Begin With The End In Mind
Know what you want to accomplish. Have a DETAILED daily plan to take you closer to the overall goal. Remember, yard by yard it is hard, inch by inch it is a synch. Today + Today + Today = Your Career. Get the most out of today, live in the present moment, and the end results that you wish will take care of themselves, ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Habit 3 – Put First Things First
You must put YOURSELF first. Fighters can get consumed by things outside of their control, media, fans and people looking to get a piece of your action if YOU let them. Put your training and your health above public appearances, interviews and social engagements. When you put first things first, you prioritize and can feel good about saying NO.

Habit 4 – Think Win–Win
You’re only as good as your training partners! So manage your relationships well. Don’t beat on your partners so bad that they never want to train with you again. Instead think win-win. Make sure you show that you care about their MMA game and that you will help them to get better. That way when you show up to the gym you will always have someone to train with. Likewise if your training with fighters better then you, make your situation win-win by always giving them 100%, being on time for practice, having a good attitude… etc.

Having a win-win environment with your MMA training partners makes your team more efficient, provides a more positive place to train, causes less feuds and creates partners that want to see you improve instead of secretly jealous teammates that wan to see you fail.

Habit 5 – Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
Empty your cup young grasshopper. No one wants to train with a fighter that thinks he knows it all. Some fighters egos are so delicate that they think they’re always right. These type fighters never listen and are always the first to have the answer. In the world of MMA there are so many different styles and approaches, it seems that we all believe to have the perfect training formula or martial art style.

There is something to learn from everybody and from every style. So empty your cup first before every class so that others may pour there knowledge into your cup. Don’t make the mistake thinking you know it all or you’ll miss out on learning new things…. Seek first to listen (opening your mind to new things) and then to be heard (sharing what you have learned along the way).

Habit 6 – Synergize
2+2=5 or more. When you synergize you surround yourself with others who believe in you and help to make you better. Synergy happens when you are in green lights and are with training partners and coaches that take you to a place you can not get to by yourself. Together we are stronger than when we stand as individuals.

Habit 7 – Sharpen The Saw
Sharpening the saw means continuing to refine and rejuvenate your greatest tool… YOU. Getting adequate rest and relaxation., having an understanding of nutrition and how you can eat to win is an area that fighters need to tap into. Having consistent sleep patterns, consistent eating schedules and consistent thoughts leads to consistent performance.

Habit 8 – From Effectiveness To Greatness
Greatness is learning how to have a consistent routine that you can follow on a daily basis. It is learning from your mistakes and getting better everyday. Greatness is becoming a student of yourself and knowing what you need to do to fight your best fight. It is knowing how to get from yellow and red back to green as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Saluting Houston 5A Baseball

A while back we ran an article about how newspapers, in an attempt to stave off extinction, have cut the coverage of high school sports. High schools sports are sports at its purest. They are the backbone of our communities and the supply chain to our colleges. Unfortunately and quite irrationally in our opinion, High School Baseball coverage was the first to go in many metro daily newspapers.

Therefore, when we came upon a site called Houston 5A Baseball, we were pleased that there is still a medium out there dedicated to the COMPLETE coverage of high school baseball. This site was founded by Randy Byers on February 15, 2000 as the High School Score Board and became Houston 5A Baseball on February 22, 2001. Houston 5A Baseball is dedicated to 5A High School Baseball coverage in the Houston Metro area.

Houston 5A believes it is very important to provide positive publicity to their student athletes. Houston 5A is a very pro-active web site in the promotion of High School Baseball. Byers has established a valuable relationship with the High School Baseball community in the Houston and metro areas from Conroe to Galveston, Beaumont to Katy and all points between.

In February 2001, after running a score board site for the past couple years, Byers was cruising around on the net looking at high school baseball websites when he realized, there was hardly any Houston area coverage at all and started his web site.

“I felt that the Houston High School Baseball community that includes players, coaches, and volunteers deserve recognition for their efforts,” according to Byers, “Houston 5A baseball covers the big game, from January 1 to December 31, covering the gamut High School Baseball, to Summer Ball to Fall Ball.”

Houston 5A Baseball is the only one of it's kind on the net today. Their off season coverage is also unique as well as their regular season coverage. And, they are home to the most comprehensive high school baseball play-off coverage online.

Family struggles caused Byers to miss much of his high school playing days and at 18 he moved to Houston (1980) and that rekindled his passion for the game at the high school level. He had always heard about this national baseball power called Bellaire, so needles to say, one of the first things he did was attend a Bellaire High School game and watch the methodical, legendary coaching style of Ray Knoblauch. He remembers that those teams were so fundamentally sound and played truly for the love of the game.

Working to survive in Houston as a young adult from a small community in middle Indiana, stole the time needed for the passion he had for this game. He fell into a routine when the most important thing becomes not what you want, but what you need. So his passion was put on hold for many years until his boys started playing the game in 1989-1990. When his youngest was in 8th grade in 1999, he started the scoreboard, due in part to the difficulty of finding any media on the high school game.

As a life long baseball fan of nearly every level of the game, he has always felt the high school player is truly the last bastion of amateur athlete left in our game. “They play the game with passion, desire, for the love of the game,” he adds, “They reward friendship, life lessons, and self confidence. For this they had no, or very, very little, coverage in the media.”

It was terribly difficult to even get scores in many instances in the greater Houston area. Having followed the game fairly closely for years and very closely when his boys started playing, Byers was very much aware of the talent pouring out of Houston from their high schools. He saw that there was tremendous interest within the baseball community but no real interest in the media of promoting the game, players, coaches, and volunteers at the High School level. So the score board became the monster that is now Houston 5A Baseball. It seems there was even more interest in the baseball community than he even imagined. In just a few short years, H5AB grew into a 5000+ member site where everyone helps out in their own way.

The bottom line is Byers felt the Players, Coaches, and Volunteers, of the game of baseball deserved their own avenue. Their own space in the media if you will. He still feels that way to this day, maybe even more so now then ever.

Byers has a reason for covering the game at both the High School and Select levels; “It has been apparent that over the past fifteen years that Select Baseball provides a much needed service for our boys on the field just as High School level provides them the guidance, life lessons, and true friendships that will last a lifetime, so does Select and Traveling Baseball with an added plus, EXSPOSURE. No other level of the prep game exposes the players to so many from so far away.”

Houston 5A Baseball has entered it tenth year covering the sport of High School Baseball. Many faces have changed as well as the names but one constant remains. The Player.

"The players deserve maximum exposure for their maximum efforts and that will never change," concludes Byers, "There will always be a need for promotion and the timely dissemination of information in our sport."

Rounding Third Salutes Houston 5A Baseball. Take notice America. A site like this could exist in your communities too. All it takes is passion…like the kind Randy Byers has.