Monday, November 30, 2009

The "Invited" Walk-on


RT Staff: A lot of parents and senior players are getting e-mails and letters from coaches asking them if they would be a recruited or invited walk-on for the 2008-2009 year. Many of our readers are confused about this. We did some research and the best explanation we found for baseball is on our favorite web site High School Baseball Web. This article was written by their resident genius, Bob Howdeshell...Enjoy!

The "Invited" Walk On Player
by: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web

There are several significant differences between being a walk-on college baseball player and in being an "invited" walk-on player. When a college coach contacts a high school player and invites him to walk-on at his program he has a "real" interest in that player. We take a look at the topic.

The typical walk on player is one that comes out in the fall of the year. Usually after seeing a notice for baseball try-outs. (Many schools still require their programs to hold try-outs)

The "invited" walk-on is the player that a college baseball coach specifically calls or invites in person, to come and be a part of their program as a walk-on. Those players are the focus of this article.

As funding for college baseball programs continues to get tighter and tighter and team rosters seem to be getting larger (numbers) at many schools each year, the walk-on is becoming more and more important.

This is especially true when the player is an in-state student.

An invited walk-on player almost always has a chance to earn some scholarship money as he continues to contribute to his team. Invitees also are usually given a much longer "look" by the coaching staff. This may involve getting to play in mid-week games, etc.

Keep in mind that the walk-on player will have to be clearly better than the scholarship players at his position to get significant playing time. This is just the way the world works. It's not always fair.

In many cases the invited walk-on player is given the use of the same resources as the scholarship players. Things such as weight room usage times, training staff, dorm assignments (the walk on will pay a dorm fee (board), use of the athletic dining room (again the walk-on will pay), athletic department tutors, athletic department academic advisors among other items.

NCAA non-scholarship players do not sign a National Letter of Intent. The LOI comes into play only when scholarship monies are involved.

The same is true for NAIA and NJCAA letters of intent.

Some schools require all players to sign a "code of conduct" type of agreement, this applies to both scholarship and non-scholarship players. This agreement is a "one way" document that allows the school to terminate the players involvement with the baseball program for violations of team rules.

The signing of one of these "conduct" agreements does not prohibit a player from transferring to another school.

In the case of ALL invited walk-on players the acceptance of the initial offer to be an invitee is a verbal commitment. There are no binding written agreements involved. A player is free to sign a scholarship offer with another school after verbally agreeing to walk on at the first school. I will leave the moral and ethical debate on this issue up to the individuals and their families.

As we have discussed on this site before -- Being a walk-on player can be a great experience for some, for others it is not. I suggest that the player and his family research a school's, and the head coaches history of playing walk-ons before agreeing to do so.

In some cases it is better to get a small scholarship at a lesser baseball power or a junior college than it is to be a walk-on at a major college baseball program.

The name of the game is "PLAYING TIME", all players ultimately want to play, not sit on the bench. Being invited to walk-on makes a big difference, just be sure to do your homework.

I suggest reading the High School Baseball Web article entitled Walking On as well as this article.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


Despite our economy and the millions of Americans out of work, we have a lot to give thanks for. We live in a resilient country that has seen the best of times and the worst of times, yet always maintains its status as the greatest country in the world. Whereas many countries strive to have a singular strength, we live in a country that is diverse and strives to be the best at all aspects of skill sets and societal values.

We have the best and brightest in science, medicine, engineering, finance, technology, theater, arts, music, and yes, sports. Since our emphasis on Rounding Third is on sports and baseball in particular...let us all give thanks to the multitude of coaches, trainers and parents that have supported and given so much to the great sport of baseball.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You Make The Call....Literally


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. He is a great resource and if players want to get serious about the recruiting process...Carmen's site is a must see.

By Carmen Bucci...
Sometimes how you say something is more important than what you say. We’ve all heard the phrase, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” In this day and age of text messaging, instant messaging, and whatever other kind of messaging that High School Students create on a daily basis, that phrase has never been more true…Especially in the realm of Athletic Recruiting.

Do you prefer to get an e-card wishing you a Happy Birthday or Congratulations, or a phone call? I know it’s the thought that counts, and sometimes those animated cards are very funny….sometimes. Personally, I like getting a phone call, and so do college coaches. You don’t have to call and wish them a Happy Birthday, but instead of sending emails all the time, do something to separate yourself from the pack. Sure emails are easy, quick, and it’s what we do now, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best means of communication. Are you going to email everyone on your team during the game? NO. You need to be able to communicate with the coaching staff, and your teammates. Show that to the college coaches right now, in high school.

In the business of Athletic Recruiting, it’s essential to develop relationships with college coaches. Think of it this way….. In high school, people start to date. Doesn’t it feel good to get a phone call from someone that you like and find out that they like you too? Of course it does. Or, how about getting a call from someone that you didn’t know likes you, but they happen to be the perfect person for you? Great, right? Well, that goes for college coaches too, especially if you want to be the one that gets offered the scholarship. One way to start the relationship is to write a letter to a coach. Another way is to send an email. But one of the most effective ways is still verbal communication. You won’t have the opportunity to meet face to face with every coach during the recruiting process, and some of the time you’ll get recruited off of your video and through conversations over the phone. A coach is going to feel more confident about the decision to offer you a scholarship, if he’s gotten a chance to get to know you, over time, as a player and especially a person. Remember, their reputations and their jobs are on the line based on who they recruit, and the results that come of it.

If you’re interested in some schools, and you fit in there academically and athletically, pick up the phone and call the coaches. They would love to hear from you! I know what you’re thinking, “There are rules about when a coach can talk to me.” Not True! There may be rules about when coaches can call you, but there are no rules as far as you calling them…Big difference (See www.ncaa.org for phone call dates for each sport). As a student-athlete, you can call a coach anytime you’d like. By you picking up the phone, you’re showing those coaches that you’re really interested in their school and their athletic program. Coaches want to recruit athletes that want to be there. And many coaches use that phone call to get a better idea about you as a person. How you come across on that first phone call, whether initiated by you or the coach, can have a huge impact on whether the process goes any further. Some coaches translate how you communicate on the phone to your ability to handle the academic, social, and athletic environment at their school.

Always have some questions ready by the phone. Be prepared. You never know when a coach will call. Don’t you prepare for a test, or an athletic competition? Don’t tell me you’re not prepared for the phone call. This could be your one shot to make a great first impression. Remember, it’s not mom or dad’s job to call the coach. Coaches are recruiting you for their team, not your parents. The best line I’ve heard from a coach about parents calling is, “We’ve never recruited a kid whose parents didn’t think they were good enough.” Like anything else, if you want it, you have to go and get it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Little Things Count


RT Staff Note: I guess the best thing about being a blog is that the rules are a bit different. We try to write as much of our content as we can, but our real jobs sometimes get in the way. We have always admired this article written by Bob Howdershell for High School Baseball Web…personally one of our favorite sites…just because it’s regular posters are the most passionate baseball fans we have ever seen. Enjoy this article…

By: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web


This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be allowed to sit with several college coaches as they evaluated talent at a very good high school baseball tournament. This was a small tournament with only six invited teams, held at a major division 1 college campus. A “showcase” tournament.

No player’s names are being used, no teams are being mentioned and I will try to stay as generic as possible with the description of these players. The focus of this article is to make a point, not to embarrass any particular player.
The following are some of the comments and discussions that I was allowed to listen in on:

The first involves a player with a “national reputation” listed as a top prospect in several sources that I am familiar with. He is a position player. The coaches were in agreement that this player had several nice tools …. Good arm strength, good glove and good speed. The question that each of them had was his ability to hit at the upper end of college baseball.

Some coaches told me that the solid tools that the player had would make him a prospect to them even without “plus” hitting abilities. What happened next amazed even me. The player was struggling with his bat but showed flashes of an “upside.” However on defense the player did not move well. Did not show good anticipation, did not follow foul balls (showing a jump). More often than not only moved from his position if he was involved in the play.

Some of the coaches REALLY did not like the “lazy” (their words – not mine) attitude shown. On a couple of stolen base attempts (where the player was covering the bag) he did not make an attempt to stop a “less than perfect” throw. Basically he flagged at the ball and got out of the way.

One coach told me that he wanted players that were interested in “sticking their nose in there and getting dirty.” This coach is with a team that would be considered a “national power.”

Some of the coaches told me that they would have to see the player again – later this summer before making any decision regarding a potential scholarship offer. Other coaches told me that they probably would not pursue this player any further.

Next Up - A right handed pitcher that was throwing solidly in the upper 80’s. He has a slight movement on his fastball, an okay breaking ball and a fair change-up.

This player however did impress many of the coaches. WHY ????
He did not have his best control at times. At times was getting penalized by a “moving” and small strike zone, and had 5 errors made behind him, by his defense. What caught the coach’s attention was his ability to battle and keep challenging the hitters. He did not drop his head or slump his shoulders when things went against him. He showed no expression when a ball was called on an obvious strike. He even went so far as to walk over and speak to his second baseman, after a costly error and then pat him on the back as he walked away. The coaches I was sitting near did not miss this!

Each of the coaches that I spoke to admitted that they did not have the player on their lists of potential recruits. Each also said that they would be making a point to see the player pitch again this summer. This player became a prospect with several “big time” schools on a day when he was the losing pitcher and did not have his best stuff. Because of his attitude and the heart he showed.

Third Example: Is a big first baseman. This young man does not run like a gazelle, does not have a great arm. (average at best) He is not what you would term “athletic” but he is not fat. However he made points with several of the coaches in attendance.

Of course you have guessed it by now …. The young man can hit with the best of them. There is a little more to the story though. He can hit to all fields with power. He displayed a good ability to “go with a pitch.” He showed a good knowledge of the strike zone. I personally did not see him chase a bad pitch.

With runners on second and third and no outs in a one run ball game this young man hit a ground ball to the right side of the infield. He did this with a 2-strike count. He made an out and the run scored. He did his job for his team.

He hit a home run or two over the weekend, a double or two to the spacious gaps, had several “screaming” singles, but more importantly he hustled! This player ran hard on and off the field, every inning He did not quit as most of his teammates did in a blow out loss at one point in the tournament. As one pro scout commented to me …. “A “player” never changes his game, no matter what the score. A “player” plays as hard if his team is behind seven runs or ahead seven runs, or if his team is in a one run ballgame."

If you think that college coaches and professional scouts do not notice the “little things” you are mistaken. As one coach told me …. “We have to pay attention to each of the intangibles, it is the only real separator between some of these guys.” He went on to explain that each recruiting year they will have several players on their board that are essentially equal in athletic skills and ability. What then makes the difference is the “Little Things.”

So the next time you think that it doesn’t matter how you hustle or present yourself maybe you should revisit that part of your game. As another coach told me … “A player can hustle and give his maximum effort even on a day when he and/or his team is not playing their best game. It doesn’t take any athletic ability to hustle.”<

Monday, November 23, 2009

Banking On Your Sons Future


Let's say you are in the market for a home. The present state of the real estate industry aside, do you buy a home just for the lowest price or do you research everything about a neighborhood before buying a new home, such as residents, nearby schools, environmental statistics and information about recently sold properties in your neighborhood? If you want a return on your investment, you will do your homework and research...because you will reap the benefits if you follow the age old mantra of real estate 101 and buy for location, location, location.

Finding a College Development Program for your athlete follows the same principals. It's all about where you locate your son in front of the right scouts that can see him play. If your son has the right tools and may project to play at the next level, then how will he be seen? Does your sons present team adequately do that? If not, then maybe it is time to sit down with the present coaches and see what their plans are.

About 90% of all signed, college bound senior players in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and California played on college development programs or some higher level travel team. The numbers are proof that the travel teams produce results and a BIG return for your athlete. The good teams that is. As we recap our 2009 NLI's, we have found out that their are about a dozen teams that help place nearly 100% of their rosters. Those teams have managers that have influential contacts and know all or most of the key recruiters in all NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA schools in all divisions. Others may have the same influence with recruiters but will place only 25-50% of their players due to lack of recruitable players but even that's still good. At least they are trying.

The teams to stay away from, if there is any cost involved, are the teams that have little or no track record of success. If you are unsure of the integrity of a travel team, ask for references. Most good organizations like the teams we highlighted in our Top 5 will provide you with dozens of references from past players and parents, to college and pro scout references. If a College Development Program that is recruiting your son can't provide that, then it may not provide you the "return" you are looking for.

And a lot of the emphasis on College Development Programs depends on where you live. In the big baseball states of the West, South and Mid South CDP's are imperative if your son wants to play D-I in many instances. But in the north and rural states, a player may be OK playing for his Legion or Connie Mack club if that is the traditional resource for talent by the local colleges.

And that brings up the next point...the most important point...Where do the college recruiters in your area look to seek out talent? When sending out college letters, have your son ask them where they think he should play and where they go to find players. That will determine where he should play...But remember, most teams that play in competitive leagues will want your son to play baseball at the highest level, so that they can get a realistic look at his talents and the physical and mental reactions he projects against that level of competition.

Because the realities are...those same recruiters and coaches need to get a return on their investment as well. Especially in todays competitive, TV contract version of Collegiate baseball. So, the more confident they are that the player they recruited can transition to the next level, the better chance that player has. And, the best places a recruiter can be to ensure that a recruit can handle the rigors of college competition, is where the competition is at its best...and it won't be at the local Babe Ruth or Legion leagues in many cases...unless that is the preferred resource for that college or area...it will be at the big national or regional showcases and tournaments...but ask college coaches anyway...you definitely don't want to pay more than you have to. And, in these tough financial times, paying more than you need to is a big deal.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Baseball Only? Day 3


RT Staff Note: The following is our response to a thread on NorCal Preps.com that talks about the issue of whether or not players should baseball year round. The following is our take, but for the entire thread go to NorCalPreps.com Baseball Message Board. Not everyone agrees with our viewpoint. It's a great discussion and this message board is a model for other message boards, especially during the off-season. For the record, our stats on players that play only baseball come from our readers. We have received hundreds of e-mails from parents announcing their sons NLI and their sports exploits during their time in high school.

Everyone,
I think there's some confusion. We have written over 300 articles on our web site on subjects like this and we have tried to combine all of what we have written into two short posts. This subject is a sensitive one and must be spelled out and we apologize for any misunderstandings we may have caused.

First...TU mentioned the education part. We have written many times that college is an "education first" choice. A player must ask himself the following, "If baseball was not in the equation, would I go to school here?"

We do not advocate a player going to a university for the sole choice of trying to play baseball. College is one of those life long choices...a decision that will affect the rest of their lives. We have colleagues that have daughters that play collegiate softball and they do it the right way. For them, since there is no "after" after their college softball career is over, they always pick the school of their choice...and no matter how good they are, it is not always a D-I or high profile school. It's the school they WANT to go to.

Boys must approach baseball in much the same way and good CDP's really take this into consideration. There is a CDP in the Boston Area that we really admire (New England Ruffnecks) that helps place their players on some of the finest schools on the East Coast. Last season eleven of their roster of 15 signed NLI's to colleges like Brown, Vandy, Georgetown, Columbia, Holy Cross, Marist, Dickinson and more. These were good ball players that had more than baseball on their mind. That said, they were mostly year round baseball players that worked out with the Ruffnecks in their winter programs at Harvard's indoor facility. They knew that if they wanted to attend both the school of their choice AND play baseball their, they needed to show something extra.

When we say baseball only, it doesn't apply to the universe. There are exceptions. But, we ran an article last year and received e-mails from our readers that helped us come to the conclusion that over 80% of D-I signees this year and last only played baseball. The figure is nearly 95% in the sunbelt states.

Kids that are playing at this level and get recruited at this level are passionate players. Baseball is not only fun for them, it's a dream. Burn-out, as the coach said he was concerned about, usually only occurs to players that feel that they must do it to please Dad. Many recruiters and scouts usually can tell through body language and other non-verbal clues, which kids are "players" and which kids are just "playing". This is not unlike some of those basketball stories you hear about where the star player carries around a basketball like it is an extension of himself.

All athletes have a love and deep passion for their main sport. And, let's give kids some credit. They also know what they need to do to achieve those goals that they may have in life. The Barry Bonds of the world have that swagger and confidence built in to their DNA. He felt confident enough about his baseball game that he knew he could play football and basketball and still play his game of choice at the next level.

Other athletes don't have that built in to them and let's give them credit for making the choices to play year round to achieve their dreams. Sports are not unlike other choices kids make to get to their next level dream. A student that wants to get into Harvard or Stanford, makes school and studying his year round activity. He has to show extracurricular activities, enroll in AP classes, and then gets tutors in the summer for SAT testing, so that they can compete against the braniacs of the world where a 2300 on the SAT is not enough.

As stated earlier, we could write for days on this subject and have. The one thing everyone must realize is while there are exceptions, many ball players that play at the next level aren't always the sure bet. They are still growing and developing and know what they must do to achieve their goals...especially in the highly competitive areas in the sunbelt states. In the sunbelt states, it's not always a level playing field like it is in many cold weather states.

Our advice is for the developing, growing, "projectable" players...not the sure-fire stud. Stats show that these kids benefit by playing more. Make sense?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Baseball Only? Day 2


RT Staff Note: The following is our response to a thread on NorCal Preps.com that talks about the issue of whether or not players should baseball year round. The following is our take, but for the entire thread go to NorCalPreps.com Baseball Message Board. Not everyone agrees with our viewpoint. It's a great discussion and this message board is a model for other message boards, especially during the off-season.

There are a couple of interesting viewpoints and we have written about most of them in the past. We are big supporters of what we call College Development Programs. Those are programs whose main purpose is to develop, market and expose players to get seen by college recruiters. If one is to play year round ball, they must do so in the type of controlled and mentoring environment that these programs teach. Those are also the programs that recruiters tend to trust and keep coming back to, in order to fill annual roster spot needs.

One poster mentioned pitchers. We have talked about the teams that are only concerned about winning a cheap piece of plastic at the local weekend sports complex tournament. Pitchers need to stay away from those teams. A good pitcher shouldn't have to worry about over-use if he is on a good solid College Development Program that preaches development, fundamentals and puts their pitchers on strict, scheduled rotations. Most good pitchers that want to develop and strengthen their arms, throw a bullpen or two every five days in the offseason anyway...or at least they should if they want to avoid injury. Why not throw every five days against another team in the process?

Another post said that the trend is moving towards one sport. He is right and it has been that way now for most of this decade. Many high school and college coaches will be politically correct and say they like the multi-sport athlete, but as someone else on this board mentioned...in the back of their mind they want that guy all for themselves...especially if he is a difference maker.

I applaud the athletes that are good enough to play all sports and get what they want. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to a majority of athletes. Most athletes are not wired for other sports. Some are too short or too slow for basketball and football, but dominate in baseball. Others are still developing and may need the year round repetition to get better. Others...well you get the idea. There are a lot of variables and of all the sports, baseball in our opinion is by far the hardest to master without extensive background in the sport.

For example...a majority of freshman high school football players never played football before...yet in a few short weeks, they are running plays and look fairly competent as football players. Basketball is much harder and usually requires an AAU summer league credential or two, but there are players that start later in the sport...especially if they are of considerable height and after a while, can look fairly competent as a player.

Baseball will make you look stupid at the first attempt at an at bat if you don't have the experience, passion or fundamentals of the game down pat. And that takes an inordinate amount of time. So, whereas a basketball coach may look at a 6'9" kid and say I can work with that...most baseball coaches would shy away from a kid that is that raw and will tend to default to the player that has put his many hours in on the field.

If I was from Wisconsin, I may have a different viewpoint on this subject because there is not a year round option to consider. I live in a warm weather state and warm weather states have different dynamics to consider. You can play year round here...many do play year round here...and frankly, with the Arizona Fall Classic, PG WWBA in Florida, and the plethora of college camps available to prospects in late fall and early winter in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Arizona and California, it really is in a prospects best interest to play year round if they aren't one of the few blue chippers available out there.

And that brings up another point. Blue chippers like the players you mentioned are few and far between. Of course there are exceptions...that's why they are called exceptions.

Most players in high school are still physically developing and need to get better in order to get seen...They don't have the "It Factor" just yet...and that means playing more often and under the tutelege of a good coach and being surrounded by good players. The combination of a great mentor and osmosis will help a player more often than not, but in baseball it's about time, repetition and the ability to absorb the intricacies of the game. More baseball is the only answer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Baseball Only?


RT Staff Note: We occasionally scour Rivals message boards and came across a subject on NorCal Preps a few months ago. The issue discussed...should an athlete concentrate on baseball year round? Over the next few days, we will post our answers and comment on the entire subject...The following is our initial answer. For the entire thread, go to NorCal Preps Baseball Board.

The answer to your question depends on the ability, desire and goals of the player. For the purposes of this post...I will concentrate on High School only.

If a player desires to play baseball with a D-I college and has the ability, desire and work ethic to accomplish that, the choices are simple...play baseball and only play baseball...

If they want to play basketball, football, golf, tennis at the next level...the answer is the same...play only that sport, unless the athleticism of that player is so off the charts that no matter what they do, they will be recruited and sign with a college team. In conversations with D-I college coaches, it's pretty unanimous. They want dedicated, hard nosed, impact players. A well rounded athlete is nice, but baseball especially, is a very specialized sport. Plus, if a player favors baseball and coaches find him projectable, recruitable and a potential player that could impact their team...they may not want that player to risk injury and play football or basketball.

Great athletes don't always succeed at baseball as a part time hobby. If you look at the top 80% of college recruits in warm weather states, they all played baseball only throughout high school. There's the 20% that didn't...but stats point out that a player has a better chance of becoming better, and getting noticed, by playing more because of the plethora of available talent in warm weather states for baseball.

Now I mentioned warm weather states because in cold weather states, the option of year round baseball doesn't exist..so more players play multiple sports...and those players still get recruited and play baseball right? Right! But, unless you are a pitcher or one of those exceptional, freakish athletes like a Ryan Howard who came from a cold weather state, the level of baseball has to be put into perspective. Those players are playing catch-up and may never live-up to the talent level of an SEC, BIG 12 or Pac 10 school. Rarely does a northern school get to Omaha, get nationally ranked or have the type of OOC like a Stanford, Fullerton. LSU or Texas to prove their true rank.

That said...if a player has no desire to play at the next level or wants to try out at a smaller school or JC and wants to enjoy the total high school experience...by all means, play all sports IF you have the talent...but again, that depends on the school. You can't just walk into a Mater Dei in SoCal and tell the coach you want to play baseball, basketball and football. You'd better have credentials, a summer team coaches recommendation and a gym and field rat mentality.

There are those that believe in the total athlete, but percentages say otherwise....again if that player wants to play at the next level. If you live in California, your son is competing against a higher percentage of year round baseball players. Those year rounders will get noticed first, because they will be seen the most. And, if your son is a position player and goes to a low profile school and competes in a lesser competitive league, that decreases the chances of exposure. The next option for that player is a California based College Development Program (CDP) like Norcal, ADB, SGV Aresenal or another program that exposes that player to recruiters. And, that becomes a year round task, because many of the better camps and showcases are also in the fall and winter.

I could write for days about this subject...the bottom line is...if a player wants to play at the next level...they better step up their game to that level. Stats don't lie.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NLI Signing Rant


As we scoured the nations newspapers looking for news on recent high school players that may have slipped our web of contacts, we noticed that 95% of newspapers nationwide did not cover or mention any baseball National Letter of Intent signings. Those same newspapers did announce basketball NLI's.

This isn't new and it's been done this way for years because baseball is not considered a revenue generating sport like basketball and football. But as the true American Pastime, the sport deserves better.

The good news is...we see a change in the making as it relates to baseball as a revenue sport. The past few years have seen more national TV coverage of college from ESPNU and Fox. The NCAA College World Series continues to draw more and more viewers and fans each year.

But even now, baseball IS a revenue generating sport in many SEC and Big 12 south schools. Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi St, Wichita St., Oklahoma St., Nebraska, Arizona St, LSU (Who leads the nation in baseball attendance and sell-outs), Baylor, Rice, South Carolina, Fresno St. to name a few, are all profitable college baseball programs. When Rice built it's new stadium, it's attendance doubled. Nebraska averages well over 3,000 fans a game.

According to SEC sources, that conference continues to break attendance records by drawing over well over 1.75 million fans a year. The SEC has drawn over one million in paid attendance for eight straight seasons. No other conference has ever drawn a million or more fans to its baseball stadiums during a single season. The 2009 SEC Baseball Tournament, drew well over 100,000 for the 5th time in the last six years.

We encourage more influential people like Phil Knight and his generosity at Oregon to propel college and high school baseball as a revenue generating sport for the rest of the country, outside the SEC, Big 12 and several Western state schools.

But, for that to happen, we need to see more top round draftable players opt for college and play for their state or area school, get an education, and not just disappear into the minor league system for three-four years. If players would opt for college, we as fans can continue to follow them via the growing number of broadcast options available to us such as ESPN, FOX, CSTV and others. And, as more top prospects enter college, the competition would start to mimic the minors. In addition, the summer leagues in Cape Cod, Northwoods, Coastal Carolina, Alaska, etc. would play an even more important role in the development of future pro prospects. Plus, did we mention that these players could get a meaningful, life altering, career boosting, brain stimulating, college education?

As you can tell, we love college and college sports in general. Wouldn't it be nice to hear Fox's Joe Buck or ESPN's Jon Miller introduce MLB players as a product of their college, like they do in football and basketball? Wouldn't you like to see more pages dedicated in sport magazines and newspapers to collegiate baseball? We would too. Here's a start. Call your local newspaper and tell them to announce the baseball NLI signings. So what, it's not baseball season...these high school baseball players worked hard to sign that life changing piece of paper and they should be recognized as well.

RT Staff

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Slow Down Time With Your Mind


RT Staff Note: We saw this fascinating article on the web and had to reprint it. It takes the phrase, "think out of the box" to a whole new level. Interestingly, many of the top hitters in the game like Ichuro, A-Rod and Jeter practice mental techniques just like this article suggests. Scouts talk about the 5 tool athlete...The power behind all of those tools lies from within your mind.

By Enoch Tan / Creator of Secrets of Mind and Reality

Your spirit operates outside time and space. When there is an emergency where danger is about to approach you faster than you can normally sense, your spirit will compell you to act quickly without pondering. It directs you through your instinct and reflexes. Think of a time when you moved out of harm's way in an instant and the move was so spontaneous it seems that everything just flowed in the moment. Your awareness of what was happening and your response happened without hesistation, but so quickly that it was almost together at the same time.

That is because your spirit can observe things and sense reality beyond your ordinary rate and range of awareness. Imagine that a dagger is flying towards you from the side. In ordinary rate of awareness, there is simply not enough time to notice the dagger coming and to move out of the way. But in the realm of your spirit’s awareness, time is slowed down to a crawl and it can fully perceive everything that is happening no matter how quickly. It sends the message to you and in that moment you experience the spontaneous and seemingly simultaneous knowing and action. The awareness comes just before the action but it seems that time slows almost to a standstill during that moment of thought. Perception and action become as one.

If you want to consciously perceive faster so that things don’t seem to happen so quickly, you have to slow time down in your consciousness.

It is not time that slows down but you that slows down. See in your mind’s eye and memory things slowing down. Like a picture frame frozen from a movie in motion. It is the way you experience time slowing down or stopping when you see a beautiful person of your dreams.

It would be an advantage for anyone to stop the world or at least make everything appear to move in slow motion. It would give you time to analyze the situation and the actions of everyone and everything around you. It gives you extra time to determine your actions in a pressure situation. This would would be incredibly useful in business, driving your car in traffic, playing games, military combat, sports and life threatening situations.

Be Fully Alive to This Moment

Perceptive awareness is being fully alert and living fully in the moment. It is seeing the trees bend in the wind and the way the birds circle overhead. It is sensing how the trees feel and what problems and joy the birds are experiencing. It is experiencing the full moment around us and not just our little thoughts. It is clearing the mind of future events and past replayed scenes, so you can experience the entirety of the current moment in time. It is putting yourself in the full frame picture now in front of you in relationship to everything happening around you. It is being fully alive. With that kind of perceptive awareness, a moment can seem to you to last forever.

A master baseball batter is apparently able to slow things down when he’s at the plate. To everyone else, the ball would be rocketing toward the plate at approximately 100 mph, almost faster than the eye can see. But to the focused athlete, the ball seems to slow down just for him, and present itself to him.

This is what many of the best batters have this in common. Somehow, when they need to slow things down to make their big play, they are able to perceive everything happening in slow motion. The ball rolls slowly up to the plate and is easy to see, often appearing larger than life. It’s almost as if the ball is waiting for them to hit it. To everyone else, the ball is racing to the plate at a blistering speed, curving, skinking, and breaking in waysthat make it almost impossible to track, let alone hit.

This is truly time manipulation, since the perception of the person who seems to manage this trick is that time has been stretched longer or made shorter. Since this is the perception of the magician, and becomes the way he acts upon the world, it becomes that person’s own functional reality. It’s really a consciousness shift and an expanded awareness. And yes, it is real magic as we will see.

When playing baseball as a batter, allow yourself to focus consciously on the location and speed of the ball. Clear your mind of all noise and clutter. Get unnecessary thoughts out of your head. Tune out all sound and distraction around you. Simply focus on the baseball being pitched to you. Focus your intent. Imagine hitting it squarely and watching it sail far through the air. Concentrate on your abdomen and visualize projecting energy from this “will center”. You must want to hit the ball and will it to happen. See the ball big and bold. Fixate on the ball. See only the ball and focus your total intent and will on the ball. Did the ball appear to be moving slower than normal? If so, you are well on your way to becoming a master of time manipulation.

For most rapid perception, attention must be at its maximum focus on the area of the thing to be perceived. You must intend to see everything you can in that moment of looking. When you focus only on the thing you are looking at, things surrounding will become dimmer and out of focus while moving in slow motion together with it.

How to Experience Timelessness

To experience timelessness, you need to focus intently on the moment at hand. You cannot allow your mind to wander over events of the past or wallow in deep concern over the future. You must be in the present moment, fully alert and clear headed. In short, you must be totally involved in the “now”.

You must not fear but be calm and have a heightened state of awareness. Fear collapses time. You do not want to collapse time, you want to expand it. Awe is one of the feelings that expands time and slows it down. The opposite is true, things that move in slow motion likeness create a feeling of awe. Fear and awe are very similar and yet very different feelings. Fear causes you to be totally unseeing and blind to the action of the thing you are afraid of in the moment. Awe causes you to be totally seeing and taking in the fullness of what you are looking at.

Scientists have shown that mild anxiety can improve performance in some instances like a 100 meter dash, a musical performance, or even an exam. But for the most part, a full-blown autonomic response is not adaptive in most of these circumstances. These are classic instances of what the Taoists would call getting in your own way.

The ancient Eastern masters from various traditions such as Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu, Zen, Sufi and many others recognized this feature of the human nervous system, and so found antidotes to it. These were awareness and equanimity. They cultivated a calm temperament through meditation and breathing exercises, which you can think of as strengthening the parasympathetic response.

As a result, the Eastern masters were able to develop a very strong and nearly imperturbable presence. Because they were not getting in their own way, in the face of danger they were pure action, maximally effective. This cultivation fed into a hyper-aware state of mind, which, interestingly enough, seems to block out emotion-based responses.

Empathic healers who tranfer energy to others in therapeutic touch reach a level of heightened alertness, which is classified as hyper beta brain activity. This is a state of “superalertness” similar to the keen alertness that Zen masters have been observed to reach in closed-eye meditations. In this state, the healer is acutely focused on one thought or activity, tuning out all peripheral distractions.

You can also heal or comfort yourself in this manner. In this heightened state of consciousness, you can focus on any area of pain or injury and send healing energy to that area in thought forms. Similary, you can use your hands to help or to heal, using your hands to project and conduct that healing energy.

A concentrated mind is not an attentive mind, but a mind that is in the state of awareness can concentrate. Consciousness or awareness is never exclusive, it includes everything. It is not a constricted concentration but a relaxed and free one. When you get into the calm and unperturbed state of mind of conscious awareness, you can perceive easily and nothing can happen too quickly for you. When you are able to slow time down in consciousness, you can use time as the ultimate weapon. Nothing can stop you but you can stop anything. Time is the ultimate illusion. All time is mental.

By using the principle of “it is not time that slows down but you that slows down”, you slow down your actions to slow down the rate of things moving around you in consciousness. Then once you have that increased rate of perception, you can start moving faster again with much greater control and effectiveness. This is the secret of slowing down in order to go faster. Do not hurry because hurry manifests fear and collapses time. Only when you are calm are you able to perceive things in slow motion.


Act as if you have all the time to do everything you want.

Every time you slip up on an action or have a hesitation, it’s because you overlapped a proper sequence of things and it just cancels out in your mind. Maybe it’s because you were in a hurry. Your mind can only do one thing at a time, yet each may be done at the rate of microseconds, giving the illusion of many things at once. If you actually try to do many things at once, nothing happens. We’re referring to the conscious awareness here, although your subconscious can do many things simultaneously. It is your conscious awareness that uses rapid perception in order to slow time down.

Time is an illusion, only consciousness is reality. Who is to say that only a certain amount of things can happen within one second and not more? There are times when people encounter life threatening situation and in the moment, their whole life passed in front of them. As their precious life hung in the balance, for one split second, they took stock of their life, including their loved ones, unfulfilled dreams and unrealized goals and made a momentous decision that saved them in virtually no time at all.

Maybe you experienced moments like this before. It is a state of superconsciousness. Everything seemed to slow down. Things seemed to appear in slow motion. You saw your loved ones and they seemed to be frozen in time. You considered logical arguments and argued them through the steps to completion. All of this takes a long time normally, but for this one instance when you are so sharply focused and alert, you play it all our in one magical moment, a moment that you seemed to control.

You can perceive things in slow motion and still let your thoughts and actions flow at the “same speed”. It is all relativity. To you, time around you slows down but to an outside observer, you become phenomenally precise and in control. When you are able to perceive faster, you also possess the ability to respond faster. Each second of your time becomes stretched and you can have increased rate of movement within it. Your time is increased compared to other people’s. Those watching with normal rate of consciousness will see you moving like flashes of lightning with sudden bolts of speed.

You can also use your mind to increase your own rate of movement to phenomenal levels. Think of yourself moving at extremely high speed that is beyond the ordinary. And act with that mental state. Think speed and you manifest speed. Time manipulation and phenomenally fast movement like all mind powers, require you to be in the right state of consciousness to be of effect.

The best ballplayers, it seems, have learned how to manipulate time whenever it suits them. Perhaps they do this without a great deal of thought or analysis, but they certainly employ all of the key factors of time magicians. They focus their intent, engage their will power, and energize their thought forms. This is personal magic. This is personal power. Everyone can do it. The superstars just do it more easily and more often than the rest of us. We say that they are gifted or superhuman. They are simply focused, intent and willful.


All champions have one thing in common, they have learned to sieze the moment. No matter what situation we are in, there is always a cubic centimeter of chance that appears in the moment for us to accomplish what we want. The trick is to be alert enough to seize the moment and then have enough personal power to execute the appropriate move at the appropriate instance. Impeccable warriors are fully alert and fully aware of the physical world.

Everybody knows that under normal conditions when heroics are not on the line, a person cannot pass a ball through a crowd to a selected teamate who scores, all in less than one second. Under normal circumstances, most people cannot even locate a person in a crowd in less than one second, let alone pass the ball to him. This demonstates over and over again the elasticity of time.

There’s a young swimmer who came out of nowhere at the end of a race to eclipse the field. She always found a way to win, and would “pick her spot” to “make her move.” Still, it seemed uncanny how she could close the big gap between herself and the race lader at the end, when you consider she had to swim nearly twice as fast as she had been swimming throughout the rest of the race.

It’s like the track sprinter who digs down at the end of the race to bolt like a cannon to victory at the end. To the observer, it looks as thought they are running against opponents who are moving in slow motion. How can somebody who’s been running at top speed suddenly double that speed at the end of a race, when they should be the most tired? It’s an obvious display of will power, focused intent, and energized thought power, whereby they conceive of miraculous victory and believe it is possible. And whatever our consciousness can conceive, the body can achieve. Since everything is consciousness, the physical world is only an illusion.

Move Into the "Zone" of Higher Performance

You can cope with daily emergency situations and daily challenges where you need extra time and powers that heightened awareness affords you. You can run faster in less time and slow down events when needed by altering your perception of time and space. Some of the greatest athletes do it. Heroic rescue teams do it. You can do it too.

You can meditate anywhere and reach a state of heightened consciousness and timelessness. Surely, star athletes in action do not stop everything that they are doing to sit down in perfect posture and slowly number their bodies to enter this state. They have learned to do it within the flow of events. They pop in and out of this state, as needed. They do it quickly and almost effortlessly with practice. It becomes a learned behavior. Soon your total self will sense the opportunity or need and shift you to that new, higher level of consciousness. Then everything slows down in front of you, so that you can respond.

If you watch top athletes who gets into this “zone”, as sports people often call it, you will notice that their eyes seem to glaze over or close halfway for a brief time. They might even appear to be going into a trance. That trance, of course, is the altered state of consciousness known to meditators. They go into a state of higher consciousness very briefly. A split second can seem to last much longer to a person in this state because there is no time or normal laws of physics in higher consciousness.

Most people think that specacular atheletes simply try harder when they “turn it on”. Certainly, they do find extra energy and move with greater speed in less time at these moments, almost as though time for them was standing still. These golden moments in an athelete’s life are truly magical. They can see everything happening in slow motion around them. They have all the time in the world to make amazing moves. They can run faster, think faster, and jump higher than anyone else. And all of this comes by slipping momentarily into higher consciousness, a nonphysical reality where time does not exist and the normal laws of physics do not apply. What’s even better, they operate in these golden moments with a higher consciousness that thinks faster and better than the normal, physical consciousness that people use.

Remember that you control time as you experience it. As an agent of change, you control the only real measure of time. This is because time only occurs with change. The theatre of events around us is interpreted by our personal perception of change. Your perception will be somewhat different from mine, although we might agree on many things we observe together. Because of your unique perception, you create your own reality. You also create your own sense of time as an agent of change. Time simply measures change. Beyond that simple function, time is nonexistent. There is really only the “now”.

Since time only operates according to perception of it, you can manipulate time by controlling your perception of it. Your higher consciousness exist in the realm of timelessness. Stay in a state of heightened awareness in order to make your perception of time stand still. It is a matter of personal time perception and a focused intent to stay in the now. There are people who use such time powers to transverse great distances in very little amount of time and cause limited resources to last far longer than normal as though inexhaustible. Such are the miracles that happen when time and space are altered.

Slow Time Down and Stop the World

Sword masters and ninjas all use this “slowing time down” and “stopping the world” with the mind technique to accomplish amazing feats of lightning fast combat which normal perceiving people can hardly even comprehend how it is humanly possible for themselves to attempt.

We miss ourselves. We are so busy out there in our minds, in the mirror, on the phone, on the pc, listening to deafening music, overtaking, seeking power, status, labels. The boy racer feels alive, excited, when he is near a near death opportunity! Adrenalin pumping, over excited, showing off, seeking attention, seeking power, seeking approval, fearful. Fight or flight that we cannot see the signs. We make mistakes, we miss turnings, we lose or forget things. Because we lose the plot, we lose reign of our senses.

Only when there’s an accident, a car crash, a thump on the head, a slap in the face, a comment, a synchronistic moment, a glance from a beautiful person, song of a sweet bird, the rising or setting of the sun, a shooting star, ever renewing the rhythm of the waves do we stop for a second…time slows down…in awe, devotion, speechlessness, thoughtlessness, our ears perk up. We become aware of something here now. Something beautiful, fresh, sweet, pristine, shining, glowing, evervessant, ever fresh. Only at these times, are we awake, truly alive - during the skid / bang / crash - time slows down.

Mindfulness can be defined as knowing what is happening while it is happening, no matter what it is. The essence of meditation is training in mindfulness. It’s direct perception. We see through meditation, what the mind is doing, moment by moment. Why? Because we are training ourselves to become present. If we are present, we naturally bring our intelligence to bear on the moment. Therefore we have no option but to find out what is happening.

Meditation, then, involves being present with what is here. The observer consciousness allows you to fully observe what is happening internally as well. You notice thoughts and feelings as they arise and realize the causes. It is a self-reflective awareness where you know you are thinking when thinking happens. When you become mindful, you become more aware of things both within and without. The way to wisdom and intelligence is to understand ourselves as human beings. Not through a theory, not through a concept, but through direct experience.

When you are calm, you are clear seeing. You filter out a lot of noise that affects consciousness. To have a calm mind is to silence and still a lot of vibrations leaving perception to be free and unhindered. You get into the state of observer consciousness, where you are just watching what is going on and seeing it in every moment of its happening. Mindfulness is the systematic training in knowing what is happening, while it is happening.

As the mind becomes tranquil, many things begin to become clear. Things that were not formerly clear to us about ourselves, the world around us, the way we are living, relationships. We become clear about everything. So we need to generate within our minds the conditions for a prelimary mindfulness which is the essence of meditation. As tranquility arises we began gaining insight into the state of our own minds. Insight may arise naturally with tranquility. That is the traditional teaching. We train in tranquility and insight naturally arises.

Insight is the most profound level of learning. It is learning through direct perception which naturally gives rise to understanding. It is not learning through externally acquired information, something imported from outside. It leads to wisdom because it is learning inwardly how we are and what we are as human beings. When your meditation becomes really powerful, it also becomes constant. Life offers many challenges and the serious meditator is very seldom bored.

When you’re looking for something or a solution, take time to pause and enter the stilled state of consciousness. Don’t think of it as wasting time during the work day. With practice, this little exercise takes very little time, as others perceive it. Think of it as a creative way to think through your problems by engaging your higher mind to meditate on work issues. In that state of consciousness, the answer can come to you suddenly.

Remember, even a brief second in an altered state of consciouness can seem like hours, since you are controlling time. You are creating perfect timing of perfecting time manipulation. Time is but an illusion. There is all of the time in the world, if you can focus your intent and control your perception. Make your own reality.

Any activity where you perform can be expanded and enriched by a heightned state of awareness that allows you to expand your perception of time and operate somewhat outside of normal physical limitations.

Slow down only that which you want to, otherwise allow it to proceed at normal speed. Use rapid perception on whatever you want to, whenever you want to.

Enoch Tan is the creator of Secrets of Mind Reality.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Living the American Dream


RT Staff Note: There's a new baseball movie that looks pretty good called Calvin Marshall out this holiday season. We love good baseball movies. Here's an interview with the director.
Gary Lundgren talks the making of ‘Calvin Marshall’

By: Shea Carver - November 10th, 2009

Baseball provided me with my first heroes,” Gary Lundgrun told me last week about his feature, Calvin Marshall—a film that takes the American Dream and highlights it amongst America’s favorite sport, baseball. “For some reason [my heroes] weren’t Superman or Batman,” Lundgrun continued. “It was Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn, George Brett, Don Mattingly.” His obsession with the “great hitters” began early in life, fostering a love of baseball forever more.

It’s no wonder Lundgrun turned the spotlight on the sport when the idea for Calvin Marshall came to be. Last week, he spoke with encore about the movie, one that will have its East-Coast premiere on Saturday and Sunday. After the screeners, a Q&A session with Gary Lundgrun, actor Alex Frost and the producer Anne Lundgren will follow.

Q.Where did the inspiration start for Calvin Marshall?
Gary Lundgrun: Once upon a time I played college baseball and saw first hand how big the gulf was between high school and college. I watched a lot of players fall by the wayside. So many young players had their entire identities wrapped up in baseball, and it was tragic to see them clean out their lockers and walk away. I still wonder what happened to some of those guys. No doubt some are like the Steve Zahn character: out there somewhere, carrying around bitterness and regret.

Q.What about the storyline do you think is important? How will it connect with audiences?
GL: It is special to me because the story is really a metaphor for anyone trying to do something ambitious with their life. I find it inspiring when people go for it. And when things don’t pan out exactly the way they want, the most resilient people find a way to keep dreaming and reinvent themselves. It’s been satisfying to see audiences connect with Calvin’s story. They’re finding it both funny and inspiring, even though it’s ultimately a film about disappointment.

Q.What elements of your main characters draw you in most as a viewer and as a director? Are they one in the same?
GL: It’s difficult to separate the two perspectives. Watching the movie, now, I really do love the trifecta of Tori, Calvin and Little. Tori is beautiful, sweet and authentic, a good match for someone as earnest as Calvin. And Calvin’s a hero—one of these magnetic guys who wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to look like a fool. I find Coach Little hilarious and so true to life in a Bobby Knight sort of way. I do feel sorry for Little, and hope he comes to grips with who he is and where he’s at in life. There are no bad people in this story, really. They are characters I wouldn’t mind knowing in real life; it would be pretty cool to work with Ernie and Fred at the construction site, and playing softball with them once a week. You could do worse.

It was humbling to work with such a talented cast from top to bottom. They brought these characters to life and made my job easier than I expected. The biggest thrill on set was having the opportunity to collaborate with all of them.

Q.Why do you think America loves baseball movies so much?
GL: I suppose it’s the American Dream . . . Whether it’s Bull Durham, Eight Men Out, The Natural or even Major League, they’re all stories that are anchored by dreams. The game has a rich history of stories and characters, so filmmakers have a lot of material to draw from—from beautiful human stories to big scandals. There actually isn’t a ton of baseball in Calvin Marshall as it serves as more of a backdrop—just wanted to point that out. Baseball fans are responding to the film, but so are non-baseball fans because they’re drawn to the characters and relationships.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Synergy Equals Consistency


When a company like Apple Computer wants to introduce a new product, the timeline to bring it to market involves a synergistic relationship between several departments within that corporation…From research and development to engineering to IT and software development to manufacturing to finance and finally to marketing…The process involves each department communicating and handing down data and specs to bring a product to market that is consistent with what was conceived by the research and development teams that originated the idea….like the iPhone.

Doesn’t this analogy say it all? Imagine a world where we didn’t communicate with one another for a common goal. We wouldn’t allow this to happen in our places of employment, yet in some cases there adults that are letting it happen in the development of a child. Whether it’s a math teacher communicating a students weaknesses to a private tutor or a coach giving his assessment to a private instructor, open lines of communication will create a more consistent and successful result.

This series on Synergy has been controversial to some and an eye opener for others. We at Rounding Third definitely have strong opinions about this subject and we do it all without hidden agendas. We don’t run or own a travel club, batting cages, hitting/pitching instruction business, or are presently high school or travel coaches. We do have sons that played ball and have been heavily involved in all of the aforementioned activities.

We have seen the good and the bad of both sides of the fence and the only side that anyone should be taking is the side that benefits the player the most. And, that side involves all sides communicating and handing down facts, data and evaluations from one coach to another and another so that the end result can be a consistent with what was conceived by the teams, coaches and instructors that originated the initial assessment and goal of the player.

RT Staff

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What IS Your Intent?


Congratulations to all Baseball players that will be signing TODAY through November 18. You all should be proud of what you all have accomplished thus far in your lives. It’s really an honor to play a sport in college…and hard.

As you sign your Letter of Intent…Ask yourself what IS your intent? Will you strut around feeling full of yourself, or will you continue with that same hard nosed work ethic that got you here in the first place? Well, we along with your parents, coaches and future coaches encourage the latter, because it certainly won’t get any easier for you.

Each step in your life just keeps getting harder and more competitive. You may be the best in your high school or league, but next year, you will compete against all the best players in all the best leagues in your state or region of the country. Travel ball certainly helped you prepare for this moment, but now size, strength, stamina and heart are the wild cards to compete against and strive for. It’s time to get serious, be the senior leader, and show your future coaches that they have a lot to look forward to.

The same work ethic needs to extend into the classroom too. There really is no comparison between high school and college. Bottom line, college is much harder and just as you would train your body for a long grueling season ahead, you need to train your mind and prepare it for the rigors of higher learning.

Parents, savor this moment as well. It’s not too corny to break out the digital camera and take a few pictures of the signing. In fact, it will be a great moment. We even bet that as you drive away from his new surroundings next fall and head for home with the nest a bit emptier, you’ll break out those signing pics and your mind will rush with all of the memories of snack shack dinners, long drives with noisy players in the back, muddy floorboards, smelly socks, Motel 6’s when nothing else was available, diving catches, and the blur of acronyms like RBI’s GWH’s, HR’s, K’s, BA’s, OBP’s, ERA, SLG’s, and wonder how it went by so fast.

Congrats 2010’s!!!! Play Hard and Smart…Make us all proud!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Synergy Day 4...The Role of the High School Coach


There have been many discussions on various national and regional message boards about the role of the high school coach when it comes to promoting players to the next level. So over the past several years, we have heard just about every argument and opinion, good and bad. Everyone seems to have a personal story, some of them extremely touching and some not, about an experience they had with a high school coach. Therefore, everyone seems to have an opinion about what the HS coaches role should be...so do we.

In our opinion, the role of the high school coach is to coach...period.

Now, let's define the term "coach". High schools coaches see their players nearly every day of the school year...depending on their status at that school. By that, we mean many head coaches are also teachers. So those coaches influence on their players are in many cases, a bit more involved. Despite the restrictions many state High School associations have on off-season practices, a full time teacher/coach will encourage his players to buckle down in school, practice on their own, and open up the facilities for off-season conditioning.

During the season, the role of the coach is dedicated to molding his players into fundamentally sound, disciplined, smart, competitive ball players. His job is to make sure that those players taking the field are the nine best players he has seen in action at that point. Those nine can and probably will change throughout the season because good high school coaches will always create that kind of competitive atmosphere. And, no matter what combination of nine players are on that field, they will be the most competitive nine at that given time.

That's what high school baseball is all about. High School coaches are a huge influence in the development of baseball players and the better coaches take this role very seriously. This is a full time job that is not only emotionally draining, but these decisions often come with the baggage of over-zealous parents and other critics as well.

So with that in mind, we do not think his role should be that of recruiting facilitator on top of all of the aforementioned duties. It doesn't mean he is not a part of the process...he is, but just in a reduced role...more later...This is usually where the critics seem to disagree. If this question was asked 25 years ago, we would have said, sure...the high school coach should be involved. Today however, the rules of the recruiting game have changed.

The high school season is not a time when college recruiters can realistically observe players. Most college recruiters are assistant coaches and are too busy with their own schedules to find the time to go see a high school game. There are exceptions in areas like Houston, the North Carolina Research Triangle area, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area where their are 6 or more D-1 schools within an hours drive. Even then, unless it's a big time tourney like Southern California's Phil Nevin Classic or Florida's Lincoln National Spring Break Invitational, which features a multitude of potential recruits, it isn't cost effective for a recruiter to take the time away from his own teams duties to go see one or two players.

Therefore, the job of recruiting coordinator falls upon the families themselves, with a boost from their travel/select baseball organizations. Families must remember, if baseball wasn't in the picture, the application process would be 100% on the student. The same should apply WITH baseball in mind.

That doesn't mean that parents shouldn't seek out additional help...For instance, many good showcase or travel teams have great databases of college recruiters e-mails and snail mail addresses available. Players and their parents should also ask the travel team coaches to help assist them with the proper format for a profile sheet. Many of the top travel programs, like the teams we profiled in our "Top 5" list last month, will even send out material for their players prior to a big showcase and while at the tourney, do a little tub-thumping on behalf of their players.

However, student/athletes still need to send out their own letters and e-mails to every school on their wish list. A player must take that initiative...if for no other reason, to show the coaches that he has a vested interest in the recruitment process.

Now, here's where the high school coach comes back into play...and where our article last week needs to be taken seriously by both the HS and travel coaches... If a college recruiter has an interest in a player, there are two references he WILL phone or e-mail. One is the travel coach...the other is the High School Coach. A good travel teams M-O is to get their players placed, so that phone call is a no-brainer.

The unknown in many cases is the reaction of the high school coach. It's not his fault...he didn't see his player play in the summer showcases...But, he should either seek out or be given that information...For instance, a player may not have had a great High School season, but really showed his mettle during the summer against better competition that really impressed a college recruiter.

Depending on the High School League, some top players actually under perform at the plate during the HS season because they are ahead of or are over swinging at the slower and inconsistent pitching. The opposite also occurs, where a player may hit his stride and be MVP of his High School team, but can't come close to catching up with the faster, more controlled pitching of the travel tourneys.

So, in our opinion, the role of the high school coach is to follow-up with the travel team coaches to get assessments of his players progress. A high school coach must know that the high school season is half of that players time on a field. He needs to know about the other half or summer season as well, so when he gets that phone call from a college recruiter about one of his players, he can base that particular players assessments based on all of the facts...or at least give the college recruiter an idea of his players progression.

A High School Coach should never say a player is not ready for the next level based on half of that players season...especially when that recruiter saw him play in the summer and the HS coach did not...and evidently that has happened on occasion, based on e-mails we have received.

Bottom line...A college recruiter wouldn't even waste his time calling a High School Coach if that recruiter didn't see something positive in that particular player. These guys know what to look for and know what they want. At the very least a high school coach should talk about potential or that players projectablity if he doesn't want to talk to travel coaches for whatever reason. But, we feel that it is in the best interest of all parties for all coaches to know all of the facts before they say anything to a recruiter.

And, likewise, we also feel that it is equally the responsibility of the travel organization to help break the ice and call the high school coaches and give them an assessment of their players progress and interest from colleges throughout the summer. And, as our last "Synergy" article suggested, this contact between the two should happen before the summer season starts as well. Once that is done...then hopefully it will become an annual ritual...all for the betterment of the player and baseball in general.

RT Staff

Monday, November 9, 2009

Synergy Day 3


Holistic Synergy sounds like a New Age practice found off the shores of the California Coast. In fact, it was a suggestion from a reader on the cooperation that all coaches should have with everyone involved in the development of a top rated player. Actually, it also sounds sort of redundant, but that's what baseball is all about...Repetition, repetition, repetition.

Players need to keep in baseball shape year round and with the seasonal state restrictions on HS coaches and the geographic difficulties in seeing travel coaches, players need to seek out extra help. That increases the need for High School and Travel coaches to have a ongoing relationship with hitting, pitching and conditioning instructors. Like our past three posts, this is another one of those instances where the lack of communication gets in the way of results.

Instead of being long winded on this topic...we are going to be a bit more blunt...Coaches...You need to talk with the private instructors and instructors need to talk with the Coaches.

Baseball players aren't industrial patents...there are no ownership rights of their impending successes to brag about. We hear too many times about instructor "Smith" claiming that Player "Jones" was the result of his "Innovative 8 Step Program"...Blah, Blah, Blah. Guess what? Forget about which instructor did the best job...Everyone is responsible...The high school coaches, the travel coaches, and the instructors...The end result however could be even better, if all coaches stopped working independently of one another and worked together. Communication handed down from one coach to another will help that player use the information and build a successful career with it.

Again, everyone wins and maybe, just maybe, coaches and instructors could learn something along the way. Face it coaches... After the high school season they will play on a travel/College Development Program team and after that they will seek out hitting and pitching and conditioning instructors during the off-season...it's an ongoing cycle and it's a smart way to keep the mechanics top of mind and build muscle memory...Everyone needs that type of consistent training.

Work together guys. It's the "New Age" of total communication for the Betterment of Baseball!!!!

RT Staff

Friday, November 6, 2009

Synergy Day 2


As we continue to receive e-mails from both High School coaches and travel/summer coaches on their players upcoming NLI signings, some of the names were duplicated between the two...and the thought occurred to us that it would benefit everyone if the two parties would just work closer together and take an interest in each others role in the development of the players that they have in common. We don't know how these coaches feel about one another in your neck of the woods, but around here, the relationship between HS and Travel coaches can be a bit strained. But it sure doesn't have to be that way. In fact, the ultimate success of their players revolves around the two of them working together to produce smarter, mentally tough, fundamentally sound ball players.

High School is about daily repetition, mental toughness, playing in front of crowds, and discipline. Summer ball is about putting that extensive training to the test against top competition and in front of recruiters. So to us, it would be highly beneficial to both coaches if they talked with each other about the progress, abilities and potential of their players with each other, so that the players can improve upon their game in the forthcoming seasons. Bottom line, they both see each others players about equally.

A HS coach will conduct about 60 practices and 30 games with his players and a Travel coach about 60+ games and 20 practices. Coaches that spend that much time with players, know what their players can and can't do, and should communicate those points with each other for the betterment of the players.

Here's an example: Let's say a HS team has an underclassman with projectable skills, but he is a bit apprehensive at the plate and in the field. The HS Coach however, sees a hidden potential in this kid. Towards the end of the season, this kid gets more confident and contributes more to the team. In other words, the coach was right, this kid will be a big contributor to the team next year.

Now, here's a perfect opportunity for that coach to contact that players summer coach and give him a full report on this kids progression, strengths, weaknesses and communicate what his player needs to continue to work on. It's a win-win for both the player (the most important benefit) and both teams. But often times, egos get in the way and the players suffer as a result. If they don't communicate, the summer coach may not see what the High School coach saw and the player regresses rather than improves that summer season.

The opposite happens from summer/fall to the HS season. Why does this happen? We don't know, but for the sake of the players, open communication and synergy between the two programs is paramount to the progression of a players abilities. What are your thoughts? Click the comment button just below this post and communicate your opinions on this issue.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Synergy


Every year in November, many of the top college coaches meet one on one with their players and give them their summer assignments. The Top players are assigned to leagues like the Cape Cod, Northwoods, Great Lakes and even Alaska.

College coaches from all over the country work in direct contact with officials from the National Baseball Congress(NBC), National Association of College Summer Baseball (NACSB) and the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League(ABCCL) and other smaller leagues to get their players placed. Click on those links for a look at the leagues and their teams.

One of the mission statements of the NACSB is:

"To foster better relationships between collegiate coaches and the NACSB in conjunction with the ABCA".

The ABCCL's mission statement is:

* To serve as a convenient, accessible and quality resource for college baseball players to strengthen their skills and compete with their baseball peers.

* To provide college baseball coaches with an organized, constructive extension to their school programs during the traditional summer "off-season".

* To act as a venue for all college players to improve and showcase their talent before intercollegiate and professional evaluators.


Now That's Synergy!

Then it occurred to us...what if the high school coaches and the travel coaches took their communication to this level? Their college counterparts want their players to continue at a high level of competition...The leagues themselves (according to the ABCCL website)...are designed to improve the players by maximizing playing opportunity. As a result, they will improve their performance upon returning to school and increase their awareness among the professional scouting community.

Substitute the word professional with collegiate and that same synergy could exist with high school players. Again, we can not reiterate enough...the communications lines between the High School Coaches and the travel teams and leagues needs to come from both sides...and now is the time to make that contact! There is absolutely no reason why this can't happen...It's a huge win-win for both programs and an incredible upside for the players.

Comments?

RT Staff

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Make The Most Of Your Opportunities


RT Staff Note: As the high school season approaches in a few months, the same issues will crop up as it relates to playing time. Many high school teams have just completed their fall workouts and the following article is a reprint of a post we wrote last spring.

"You don't lose when you get knocked down, you lose when you decide to not get up."
I can't remember where I saw this quote or who said it. I'm not even sure I have the right words. It's just one of those thoughts that I recall from time to time and it gets me through a tough situation at work. I'm one of those odd parents that often see quotes that I think would inspire my kids. I usually print them out and lay them inconspicuously by the computer where they do their homework. They never acknowledge that they see any of these quotes and I never ask them if they saw it. The quote will just sit there for a few days and get tossed on weekends when my wife does her clean sweep of the house.

But, I'm pretty sure they see it and think how weird their father is and then quickly move on to explore the wonders of Facebook or I-Tunes. Nevertheless, maybe it's one of those subliminal messages that just pop up in their mind when they need it the most. They have had tremendous success with baseball and have a pretty terrific attitude, so maybe....

This quote pops up in my mind because we have been receiving an inordinate amount of e-mails from parents that think their kid is getting the shaft from not playing enough high school baseball. Most are from parents of underclassmen and that will be the focus of this post.

First, just because a player is not starting or getting as much playing time as you, as a parent would like, doesn't mean that he is not learning, developing or a valuable asset to the team. Being on a baseball team is more than just playing or starting. Everyone on that roster has a role.

Many high school teams have mid week scrimmages, and situational practices in which everyone participates. We talked about this in a a previous post. Those scrimmages and practices are just as important as the games to many coaches. If a player is good, then his skills may motivate someone else that doesn't want to lose their position to that underclassman.

Many of you parents with bench sitting sons need to sit down with them and ask them what is their motivation? Is your son setting goals and working harder in practice to achieve those goals? Does he have the desire and the drive to want to be the first on the field and the last to leave? Does he hustle the most? Is he the most attentive when the coaches speak?

If so, then his time will come. If not...then that may be the problem at hand. Because practice and scrimmages are where you learn and develop skills...it's not always in regular season games. The coach may have picked up on that. The only way to turn this situation around is giving 110% effort, learning, developing and setting goals to get out of that mental rut that is often caused by sitting on the bench. If he truly loves baseball, he needs to truly love the journey to get there as well. That means paying dues, working harder, hustling and doing everything he is asked to do and more in practice.

But even if that player never gets his chance or is just not as physically talented enough to crack an everyday line-up, attitude and enthusiasm is still important. A player must realize that this is still a team sport and that there are other team members that need their support...a dead dug-out often results in dud of a game. There really is no room for negative attitudes in the dug-out just because a player is sitting the bench.

There used to be a kid we knew who was a smallish infielder who also never played much...but he never gave up trying. He was the inspiration in the dug-out, leading the team in other ways like spirit and upbeat chatter on the bench. He usually only got in games that were blow-outs, but when he got up to bat, he received more vocal support from his team mates than anyone else. He never even thought about quitting or giving up. He was having fun just being on the team, with his friends and for the love of the game. At the end of the season, the coach gave him a special award for being the most inspirational player on the team. He never played much, but I guarantee that he learned and developed in many ways other than just baseball.

Players, if you are sitting the bench, try something new and turn it up a notch and see what happens. The coach hasn't cut you. You ARE on the roster and he must see something in you right? Even if things still don't change then at least you can hold your head high and be very proud that you gave it your all and played the best of your ability day in and day out. You may not have a career in baseball, but that work ethic that you learned between the lines will pay you HUGE dividends later in your adult life.