Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Social Media Revolution

RT Staff Note: NCSA College Athletic Scholarships Blog is a great resource for baseball players wanting to know more about the college recruitment process. This is a short article from their web site.

The University of Michigan offering Aundrey Walker a full-athletic isn’t ground-breaking news. The 6′5″ 355 offensive tackle has been receiving offers from colleges across the country. What is ground-breaking is the manner in which he heard from Michigan Coach Rick Rodriguez on his Facebook page.

“I just checked out my Facebook page and Coach [Rich] Rodriguez just sent me a message that I had an offer from them,” Walker reported. “I’m blessed and honored, but at the same time I am staying humble because it can be taken away from me at any time.”

Walker replied to Coach Rodriguez with his home address so he can receive the official offer from the Wolverines in the mail. He said it is likely he will make an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor on Feb. 20 for Michigan’s Junior Day so he can learn more about what they have to offer.

“I’m interested in anybody who is interested in me,” Walker said. “Now that [Michigan] has offered me and shown me that they love me, my interest level is medium to high.”

College Coaches are now actively using Social Media to contact recruits in a meaningful and personal way. Recruits would be wise to:

1) Create Recruiting Specific Social Media Sites, so coaches can easily contact them.

2) Make sure to monitor everything that goes up on the page to ensure it is always professional.

Read more: The Social Media Revolution Continues | NCAA Recruiting http://www.ncsasports.org/blog/2010/02/05/the-social-media-revolution-continues/#ixzz0jcLRsmsl

Monday, March 29, 2010

Aluminum Vs. Wood

RT Staff Note: Great Web Site called Baseball Savvy...I found this article on the very hot topic of metal vs. wood bats...Go wood bats!!!

If you've been following the news or baseball or both recently in Northern California you probably heard about Marin Catholic pitcher Gunnar Sandberg who has been in a medically induced coma at Marin General Hospital after suffering a skull fracture when he was hit in the head by a line drive during a scrimmage in Kentfield March 11. Sandberg, a junior from Kentfield, was pitching against De La Salle High School of Concord when the incident occurred at 5:20 p.m. He was taken to the emergency room at the hospital where he was assessed overnight, and he was put in a temporary coma because of swelling of the brain.

Students and staff at Marin Catholic High School on Monday prayed in a morning Mass for 16-year-old Gunnar Sandberg, the Kentfield baseball pitcher who remained in critical condition after he was struck in the head by a line drive March 11.

Family and members of the school community continued to await results of a brain scan conducted on Sandberg.

The Mass, held in the school's gymnasium and led by the school president, the Rev. Thomas Daly, followed a candlelight vigil Sunday evening near Marin General Hospital, where Sandberg remains in a coma. Members of the De La Salle baseball team attended the vigil where close to 1,000 people attended.
First and foremost my my heart and prayers and thoughts go out to the Sandberg family. There is a large community of players, parents, families and coaches who are thinking and praying for your family every day.

Since this tragedy the topic of Aluminum vs. Wood bats has been a hot stove topic for the last week in this area with coaches entering the discussion whether or not we should be using aluminum bats.

The exclusive use of metal bats in amateur and youth baseball has been an issue concerning players' safety for several years. The North Dakota High School Activities Association has banned non-wood bats, according to a New York Times report from March 2007. New York City followed North Dakota's example, banning metal bats in August of that year, according to USA Today.

Little League, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the American Baseball Coaches Association are opposed to banning metal bats, saying the injury rate is not discernibly different than from wooden bats.

Metal bats have been in use since the 1920s, as a cost-effective solution to wooden bats occasionally snapping during games. By the 1970s they were in widespread use in high schools, and today they're used in nearly all youth baseball.

The North Coast Section, the umbrella group overseeing high school sports in much of the Bay Area, including Marin Catholic, follows national high school guidelines regulating bat safety, said commissioner Gil Lemmon.

Two studies have shown that balls hit by metal bats travel 4 mph faster than those hit by wooden bats, he said.
An email has gone out to all the coaches in our area asking for their input and whether they would support a ban or not. In the Marin County Athletic League where Marin Catholic plays in 7 out of the 10 coaches support metal bats.

Where do you stand on this issue?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Qualities of a Great Coach

We were discussing the virtues of a good baseball coach high school and up, with a group of friends a while back and the topic got a little heated. Our definition of a good coach is one that is:

A good coach should not be afraid to throw a few F-bombs (emphasis on few) around here and there to show who's in charge. We feel that a tough coach is the best coach and is paramount to a players success. Baseball is a game of mental toughness because it's a game of failure. A Hall of Fame player will have failed 7 out of 10 times at the plate over his career. One bad pitch by a pitcher that throws over 90 pitches a game can mean the difference between a win or a loss. It's a grueling game. As a result, players will be better served to have a coach that is tough to the extent and for the purpose of making his players even tougher.

A good coach should always teach and never assume that his players know the game. No matter how many years a players has played, there's always something new to learn. A great coach has to be a student and a teacher at the same time. He must keep in touch with new practice techniques and better ways to hone his players skills.

There's a difference between teacher and mentor. A teacher shows you the fundamentals...A mentor shows a player how to process that information and become a mature and mentally sound baseball player and person. A good mentor will show a player how a great work ethic can result into a great player.

Organizer and Time Management Expert
To become a great baseball player, you need to have a plan and stick to that plan. Good coaches will give you a pre-game, post game and off-season schedule to help make each player the best that he can be. I know many coaches that keep a daily log to make sure their players are sticking to those schedules. These guys know who the talented players are and want to make sure that they stay on top of that talent and never get complacent. If a team has the goal to maintain its winning ways, then the coach has to manage the time of all of its players. It's not considered a control issue...it's just good common sense..especially if that player is in college on scholarship. Young players are just months removed from being kids and a great coach must hold these very young adults accountable for their actions and teach them the consequences of not staying on track.

Situational Master
This is part of the teacher grouping, but great coaches grill and pound into the minds of their players how to react to the multitude of situations a player will encounter during games. This includes drills upon drills...handouts upon handouts and tests upon tests to make sure his players don't get that occasional brain freeze during a crucial inning.

Mechanical Genius
Proper mechanics are the bread and butter of a great baseball player. A great coach will identify a players mechanics as a hitter, infielder, pitcher, catcher outfielder etc. Every position has it's unique mechanical criteria. Every hitter has a different approach to every pitch in the count. Every infielder has a spot to cover and a stance to emulate based on outs, pitch count and situation. Every outfielder has to have perfect catch and throw mechanics to be able to make those plays to a base or the cut-off.

A coach that is tough may not get the respect of the players at the outset of the player/coach relationship, but over time and after the fruits of all of that coaching are seen in the stats and win-loss column, that respect will be recognized. We know of several old school coaches that were hated by parents and young players at the beginning...but over time, the good players always realized the sacrifices and the end game that the coach was trying to mold out of his players. Sometimes it is during the season and sometimes it's after the end of a season...but players that take this game seriously will always have respect for that coach that pushed and pushed to get the most out of his players.

A head coach can't do it all. He has to know how to identify other talented coaches that can execute his overall mission and plans to be a winning organization. That head coach has to be as tough to his assistants as he is to his players. Jobs and school revenue are on the line...especially in college and believe it or not at many high schools as well. Everyone has to be held accountable and the head coach has to know when and who to delegate those tasks to and get the desired results from his players.

Along with delegating...a great coach and his staff must be the ultimate communicators. No player should ever doubt their standing on the team or their role. Lack of ones standing on the team leads to low morale. If a player is just not living up to his expectation, a good coach will be in his grill to tell that player exactly what his standing on the team is. It's then, up to that player to take that information and process it to either sulk or improve his status on the team...but at least they were told the score...and the tough players (the type the coach wants on his team) will step it up and give the coach what he wants.

Talent Scout and Salesman
Above all, a good coach has to identify the athletes from the role players. College coaches have to know their future needs and what holes to fill. They need to manage that talent search...and develop a pitch to land that talent. Good coaches know all of the high tech social networking sites to communicate that level of interest and sell the program as if it was the only logical choice for that prospect.

There's more to great coaching we are sure. These are just our thoughts...Have any more virtues of a great coach that you'd like to share?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cardullo still delivering for Noles

RT Staff note: Talk about long shots and not giving up..here's a great story from ESPN writer Ivan Maisel

By Ivan Maisel

So a high school graduate shows up at Florida State coach Mike Martin's baseball camp in August 2006 and asks Martin to watch him play. Martin has 800 to 1,000 campers every summer. Maybe five of them are between high school and college. The camp is not for them. They are the naive, if not the desperate.

Stephen Cardullo had spent his senior year at St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., trying to get interest from a Division I team. Then a Division II team. Then a junior college. By August, he had sent in housing deposits to Florida State and Central Florida. He was one weekend away from hanging up his glove and becoming a college student.

"Orientation was the same weekend at both schools," Cardullo said. "Florida State happened to have a baseball camp the same weekend. I said, 'All right, I guess I'm going to go to Florida State because I could try to make the team.'"

Martin has won nearly 1,600 games in 31 seasons as the Seminoles' head coach. He knows a prospect when he sees one. He knows of every good high school player in Florida.

"I didn't even know who Stephen Cardullo was as a senior in high school," Martin said. "He was a kid that came to baseball camp. I had no idea who this kid was."

Cardullo had played fullback at Aquinas. He had played with Sam Young and Marcus Gilbert, offensive linemen who signed with Notre Dame and Florida, respectively.

"He's always been a hard worker," Gilbert said of Cardullo. "On and off the field, he strives. He was always determined to get better and be the greatest player he can be and always try to lead his team to victory. He took everything very seriously and he was always a competitor. … Blocking for him was a good thing. He was a tremendous athlete. He could make things happen."

On that August weekend four years ago, Martin saw something. To this day, he's not sure exactly what. On the last day of the camp, he brought Cardullo and his father, Stephen Sr., into the Seminoles' clubhouse.

"I told Stephen that he had earned an opportunity to try out for our team," Martin said. "Stephen didn't hide the tears. They rolled. I looked over at his dad, who could take me and stuff me in that trash can with no problem at all, and he is literally sobbing."

Martin appraised the situation and, on the inside, rolled his eyes.

"I said, 'Man, this guy probably can't play a lick, because I ain't had anybody do this,'" Martin said. "You don't see that! You see people that want to be a Seminole. But you don't see a grown man and his son both crying because the coach said, 'I'm gon' let you try out.'"

Cardullo made the team. He played a little bit as a freshman, a little bit more as a sophomore. Last year, as a junior, he began the season at first base, hitting seventh. When Florida State lost seven of 10 games in March, Martin came to Cardullo and asked him where he would like to play.

"Shortstop," Cardullo said.

Players move from short to first (think Ernie Banks, Nomar Garciaparra) when they lose a step. Nobody moves in the other direction. But Martin revamped the infield, moving Cardullo and also installing him in the No. 2 hole in the batting order.

The former walk-on, the unknown who begged Martin to keep on him at camp, the guy who moved to shortstop at midseason, finished 2009 as a first-team All-American. Cardullo hit .376 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs in 76 games.

In the record-breaking 37-6 victory over Ohio State that sent Florida State to the super regionals, Cardullo went 7-for-9 with three doubles, a triple, five runs and five RBIs.

This season, Cardullo (.324, 2 HR, 22 RBIs) is hitting third in the lineup for the fifth-ranked Seminoles. All he wanted was a chance.

"I've always been a hard worker," Cardullo said. "My parents instilled a great work ethic in me. I mean, I was just happy to be part of the team. I had to work to stay on the team. And I really didn't care much about playing time. I was just happy to be out there, happy to be getting a chance to play Division I baseball. Every day I worked hard, trying to make the most of it. I ended up being a full-time starter, making my family proud."

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com and hosts the ESPNU College Football podcast. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at Ivan.Maisel@ESPN3.com.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fan Of Wood

On the heels of yesterday's story, we are more convinced that wood bats would be better overall for the health of the game at all levels. Last year, a bill in Virginia was voted down that would have made wood bats law in that state for all high school programs. That bill was a safety oriented bill and there just wasn't enough evidence for the Virginia legislature to ban metal bats.

Whether or not there is a safety issue, we like wood because we have seen that training with wood bats can help make players much better hitters with metal bats. Wood is a true test of hitters ability because it eliminates the "mistake" hits. Unlike metal bats, using a wood bat requires the hitter to have quick bat speed and in order for the ball to jump off the bat, it must be hit on the "sweet" part of the bat...Good hitters won't see much of a difference in their batting average when using wood, but hitters with "flaws" will be a bit exposed with wood, especially when they are facing top pitching like at some of the top tournaments and showcases where wood bats are mandatory. It's no coincidence that the top events for scouts and recruiters is where they use only wood bats...the Perfect Game WWBA National Championships in East Cobb, GA and the Area Code Try-outs and Games.

How can wood help your metal bat swing? Most wood bats are top heavy and with repeated swinging, good contact hitters will build bat speed. The reason is that wood and aluminum bats are NOT swung at comparable speeds. Even for bats with the same weight, the weight distribution is generally very different for a wood and aluminum bat in that a typical wood bat has much more of its weight concentrated in the barrel and further from the hands. One way to characterize the weight distribution is the so-called moment of inertia (MOI), which is a measure of how far the weight is concentrated from the hands. A bat with a smaller MOI has the weight concentrated closer to the hands and will be easier to swing. Likewise, a bat with a larger MOI will have the weight further from the hands and will be harder to swing. Typically, aluminum bats of a given length and weight have a smaller MOI than a wood bat with the same length and weight.

Practicing with a wood bat can be frustrating for some at first, especially those players that have flaws in their swing...but with the proper training, a player will improve over time. There have been many studies that have proven that practicing with wood will improve your bat speed...and if a player consistently practices to improve their mechanics to concentrate on hitting the sweet spot, they will notice a considerable difference in their ability to drive the ball...and that can equate to better averages once the switch to metal is made. Players that are conditioning to prepare themselves for the rigors of every day practices, will benefit now by hitting the cages with wood...and as an added bonus, we just like hearing a "crack" of a bat over a "ping" anyday.

RT Staff

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Injury puts new focus on metal bats

RT Staff Note: This is in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

A day after he was hit in the head with a baseball, Gunnar Sandberg was in the hospital, shaking hands with nurses, visiting with friends and joyfully cracking his knuckles.

But Monday, the gregarious 16-year-old high school baseball player from Kentfield was clinging to life, and his school, Marin Catholic, was rethinking the use of metal baseball bats.

The school's baseball team switched from metal bats to wooden bats as a safety measure in Gunnar's honor after the March 11 practice game against De La Salle when a batter slammed a line drive into Gunnar's left temple. Gunnar, who usually plays second base, was on a temporary stint at pitcher when he was struck.

Players tend to hit harder with metal bats, which are lighter, and some coaches and parents argue that they've led to an increase in injuries. North Dakota and New York City have banned metal bats in youth baseball.

Gunnar was struck by a ball that was traveling at least 100 mph. He immediately collapsed on the pitching mound, tried to stand up, then fell again. He was transported to nearby Marin General Hospital, where he remained conscious for the next day or so, as he underwent brain scans and talked to family and friends, according to his sister, Kalli Sandberg.

Late March 12 his conditioned worsened, however, as his head began to swell and his movements slowed.

"He looked like a baby in a teenager's body," his sister wrote on a Web site. "His pupils were huge and unresponsive. ... It was so hard to see my little brother like this."

Doctors operated on his brain that night to alleviate the pressure and placed him in a chemical-induced coma.

On Thursday doctors stopped the chemicals, began another round of scans and are now awaiting his response.

His condition was described by his uncle, Chip Block, as "day to day, minute by minute."

Although family and friends are optimistic, the outlook is precarious, those familiar with the case said.

"They haven't gotten the signals from him they were hoping for," said Marin Catholic spokeswoman Becket Colombo. "But everyone's hopeful. Miracles happen."

More than 500 people attended a candlelight vigil for Gunnar on Sunday night at Creekside Park across from the hospital and adjacent to the high school.

Marin Catholic hosted a Mass in Gunnar's honor Monday, and students are wearing school colors, blue and white, today as a tribute.

"The mood here is hopeful, but very somber," Colombo said.

At a game last week, both Marin Catholic and Drake High School used wooden bats, and Marin Catholic plans to address the wooden-versus-metal bat issue on a game-by-game basis.
Opposed to bat ban

Little League, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the American Baseball Coaches Association are opposed to banning metal bats, saying the injury rate is not discernibly different than from wooden bats.

Metal bats have been in use since the 1920s, as a cost-effective solution to wooden bats occasionally snapping during games. By the 1970s they were in widespread use in high schools, and today they're used in nearly all youth baseball.

The North Coast Section, the umbrella group overseeing high school sports in much of the Bay Area, including Marin Catholic, follows national high school guidelines regulating bat safety, said commissioner Gil Lemmon.

Two studies have shown that balls hit by metal bats travel 4 mph faster than those hit by wooden bats, he said.

As far as he knows, Marin Catholic was in compliance with all safety regulations the day of the game, he said. Gunnar was not wearing a helmet, but pitchers are not required to do so, he said.
Playing since age 5

Gunnar has been playing baseball since he was 5, and is devoted to the sport, his uncle, Chip Block, said Monday.

Gunnar coaches youth baseball at St. Patrick's School in Larkspur and mentors dozens of kids on an informal basis, he said.

"He's a very giving, very funny, extremely sensitive, nice young man," Block said. "He's never said a bad word about anyone."

His family is enduring a roller coaster of tears, anger and hope, Block said.

"I tell Gunnar every day, my son wants to be just like him, so he can't go anywhere," Block said. "We need him to stick around. My kids love him too much."

E-mail Carolyn Jones at carolynjones@sfchronicle.com.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/03/23/MNBL1CJOT6.DTL#ixzz0j0hz3Rku

Monday, March 22, 2010

Be Ready To Compete

We have been receiving e-mails from high school seniors and their parents that have signed to play in college next year about what they should do this summer. Although we have touched upon this subject before, the best thing is to ask your future college coach.

That said, just be aware that the incoming college sophomores and juniors on those same college teams that your son will be competing for are all playing in summer leagues for the next few months. They won't be resting one bit. They certainly DO NOT want to lose a position in the line-up to the new incoming freshmen. Our suggestion is to approach this summer season with the intent to get in better shape, and work on your weaknesses. No matter how good you did this past high school season, college ball is a huge step up. You need to hook up with a team that plays a competitive schedule against top teams in the area. Travel ball teams are harder to find at the 19 and under level, but there are many Connie Mack teams that are comprised of JC players and small college freshman teams that could prove to be beneficial for many graduated seniors.

If many of you older parents remember the movie American Graffiti, it's all about the summer after graduation and the fun that ensues. Well, we are not asking seniors to give that up. It is an emotional thing to see an era like high school come to an end. Many of your sons will want to spend a lot of time with their good friends and girl friends as much as possible before they all move on to the next stages of their lives. If they are like me and some of my friends, many of them will hardly ever see each other again until a reunion or a trip home on holidays.

However, it is not wise to turn the baseball spiggot off either. This is a time to realize that all of you are legally adults. And it's time to take on the responibilities of adults. One thing to realize is that your future college coach made a huge investment in each of you. Depending on the cost of the school, that first year investment could approach $10,000 or more. To a baseball program, that is a lot of money and they want to make sure that they invested properly. And many of you parents invested a lot of money in travel ball, showcases, camps and tournaments, and with even more at stake than ever before, it would be a shame to get complacent now.

Time management this summer is really the key to your sons future success. He can have it all this summer if he has a plan. And, that plan is NOT sleeping in till noon and staying out till 2AM everynight. His plan should be an extensive strength and conditioning program this summer with a licensed trainer. He doesn't have to go to this trainer every day. Just get a work out plan from him once or twice and do his work-outs every day with a friend or...if dad or mom is in shape or wants to be, what a way to bond with your son before he leaves for school.

When his collegiate life begins this fall, the time management exercise he experienced this summer will have paid dividends, because he will be overwhelmed with activities once school starts. Most student athletes, if not all, have early morning work-outs, a full class schedule of 16 units, more work-out time or BP, dinner and mandatory study hall. That schedule takes them to about 10:30 or 11:00pm before they have to start that routine all over again the very next day. The fall school schedule will especially be rough because they will have to max out their units. In the spring, during the season, they can only take 12 units, due to the extensive and compacted schedule of 5 games a week. Either way, it will be taxing on the student athlete and practicing that schedule on a smaller scale this summer will at least lessen the learning curve they will most likely experience.

RT Staff

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let The Coaches Decide

It’s amazing to us the way news travels when there are issues like parental interference with coaches. The hits on our web site have quadrupled the past few days and that’s been an ominous sign that this issue is a bit more pervasive than we thought.

For the most part, coaches are thick skinned enough to handle all of the pressure. We were told a humorous story that kind of sums up the whole issue…

A college coach was being e-mailed to death by a raging father on the playing time of his son. The coach, after about 6 lengthy e-mails from the dad called him into his office. The dad arrived and the coach started off the conversation” Now let me get this straight. So what you want me to do is play my BEST 8 players...and then Your Son…Is that the message I’m getting from your e-mails?”

Well that’s the message we are hearing is going on in schools from coast to coast. The college coach’s response is what many wacky parents need to hear. I was told the meeting with the college coach was very short and the father quickly got the message. But will everyone get the message or are there some parents out there that really think that their opinion of their son is more accurate than the coaches?

Have you ever watched the first half dozen episodes of American Idol when they are auditioning the talent and the reactions of the contestants and their parents when they are told they are absolutely, no good? There must be a traveling gene that goes awry like that with baseball parents as well. Some of these parents are just living in a world of their own and oblivious to the realities of their sons talent. I mean, he is probably not a bad player, or he would not have made the team, but there are those that think that their son is the next A-Rod. Believe me, if he was, then he WOULD NOT be sitting the bench. No coach is that clueless.

There’s one player on a team we know whose son sits the bench, but he insists is better than the 3rd baseman that was first team all-league, all- section and verballed to a major D-I as a junior. Let’s try that college coach approach on this guy, shall we…”So, let me get this straight Mr. Father of the Son Who Is Sitting The Bench, you are telling me that everyone in the league, section and state has it all wrong…Do you mean the D-I University made an offer to the wrong guy???”

Yep, that’s how crazy it is out there folks. Cats and Dogs living together pandemonium. When will it all stop? Well, if one these genetic modification and altering companies can speed up the timetable on Flying Pigs, then maybe we can do something about it soon. In the meantime, it just takes a lot of education and we will be here to help anyway we can. It looks as if we have a good start. We know of at least three principals, 12 coaches and 85 parents from 37 states that are sending out copies of our first two articles. That’s us...Rounding Third...Changing the world one article at a time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Parents That Get It

We have a unique reader base. Our readers are the parents that get it and are constantly in search of more information and education about baseball for their son. They understand that there is only one way for their sons to achieve success and that’s through hard work, a great attitude and an undying passion for the sport. If they don’t have those three attributes, along with their talent, then their chances of success will be greatly diminished.

Most of our readers have sons that play travel ball and through that experience, they understand that there is always a better player ready to take their sons position…many parents want their son in that position…it’s an incredible life lesson…because in the real world, there are tons of obstacles, thousands of competitors, mounds of stress and grizzly, man eating bosses and executives ready to churn and burn your ego. My son loved those hard nosed coaches…still does. They motivate, exhilarate and create a desire to be better…not to mention make life very interesting.

The parents that need this the most don’t read this site. They don’t care to. They live in their overly protected world and create drama for those that dare trespass into it. They don’t want competition, they want democracy. They don’t want their son to have to put up with a grizzly coach…they want Ward Cleaver. They protect their son, but in the process leave him so vulnerable to the realities of the outside world. They only want to win, if their son is part of the victory..,otherwise, they are the type of parent that loves to see a .450 hitter strike out and then say. “See, he’s not that good, my son could do better than that.”

So send a copy of our articles to a parent that doesn’t care to read what we have to say, but has to…Who doesn’t think that what we say is of any importance, but is important for them to know that there are others who don’t agree with them…to a parent that will read this and feel real uncomfortable and hopefully find comfort in our message. Then send it to your coach and tell them that we have their backs…and so do you. More on this topic tomorrow.

RT Staff

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Don't Have to Believe in Mental Imagery. It Works Anyway.

RT Staff Note: There is a great site called MentalStrength.com. I encourage all of you to visit it and even use their products. Here is one of their sample articles.

By:Samuel F. Hirschberg, CEO, MentalStrength.com

Visualize itI read an interesting report by Dr. Jonathan Parker titled Visualization and Mental Imagery. It details three reasons why imagery works.

The full report is available for members, but below is the first one of the three reasons.

In my opinion this component is the most important of the three, but like anything else, for best results you should really get all the working parts.

Get my drift?

Anyway... Imagery works because images are events to the body.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
To the body, images created in the mind can
be almost as real as actual events.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

(I hope you just had an "AHA" moment.)

(If you didn't, read it again.)

In fact, the mind responds to imagery as if it were something REAL happening, especially when the images strongly evoke sensory memory and fantasy- that means sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feel.

* Recalling the smell and feel of the grass as you dove for a fly ball ... is an image.
* Remembering the sound and timbre of the coach, saying he's proud of you ... is an image.
* And recalling the internal bristle of energy in your body when you realize you are about to cross the finish line ... is also an image.

These sensory images are the true language of the body, the only language it understands immediately and without question. To the body, these images can be almost as real as actual events.

This is the first operating principle of imagery.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
You see, our bodies don't discriminate between
sensory images in the mind, and reality.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Once again, the more closely you can imagine what you want to happen, the more your body will go to work in attempt to make it a reality.

Be careful what you think about, because IT REALLY CAN happen.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sugar, Sugar

Last night I watched the movie "Sugar" on HBO...a baseball movie about a young Dominican player trying to make it in the bigs. I am not a movie critic, but I found a review from the Boston Globe that matched my sentiments...I highly recommend this movie.

"Sugar" asks us a favor, and it's this: The next time you cheer when Big Papi comes to bat, think about the hundreds of Dominican baseball players you'll never, ever hear about. Kids on whose sinewy shoulders the hopes of their families are piled. Young men who look across the ocean and see unimaginable fame hanging there like a slow, lazy meatball coming across the plate.

This beautifully observed drama, unerring in its details, tells of one such boy: Miguel Santos (Algenis Perez Soto), nicknamed "Sugar" for the sweetness of his delivery and his way with the girls. He's a pitching prospect at an American League training camp in the Dominican Republic, one of the many seeding grounds in Major League Baseball's vast farm system. Back in his shantytown neighborhood, Sugar's already a star - the kid with a ticket out of there. At the camp, he's just another hopeful with a good arm.

It's good enough, at least, to get him to a minor-league team in the States, and it's there, in an Iowa farming town, that "Sugar" begins to measure the profound dislocation professional sports asks of its young. We've seen the Dominican kids coached in English phrases back at the camp - "I got it," "Line drive," "Home runnnn!" - but none of this eases their loneliness in America. The locals are taciturn and often very kind; there's a funny, moving scene where a diner waitress teaches Sugar how to order eggs. More typical is a sequence at a church youth mixer where all the kids mean well and where the barriers of language and culture and race remain insurmountable.

So Sugar and his fellow Dominicans stay on the outside of America even as they're in it, and everything hangs on how well they play. A hot streak acquires monumental significance in "Sugar"; a slump is cataclysmic - this is how the scouts from the majors look at it, too. The temptation to experiment with performance boosters is immense - speed, not steroids, is the drug of choice - and frustration isn't allowed. "Life gives you plenty of opportunities," a coach says in the film. "Baseball only gives you one."

"Sugar" follows its title character's ups and downs with quiet empathy. Soto, a newcomer with natural cha risma, doesn't say much and doesn't have to; his watchful eyes register cockiness, bafflement, disappointment, and the slow gathering of a larger pride. There are other characters - a fellow Dominican pitcher (Kelvin Leonardo Garcia) who becomes a rival, an easygoing American-born minor leaguer (Andre Holland) who tutors Sugar in the legend of Roberto Clemente, an Iowa girl (Ellary Porterfield) whose flirtation with the hero unsettles them both. The film is told resolutely from Sugar's point of view, though. It's life seen anxiously from beneath the brim of a baseball cap.

The writer-directors are Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, whose debut was 2006's acclaimed "Half Nelson," about a high school teacher (Ryan Gosling) strung out on crack and uncertainty. Their sophomore outing is a quieter affair, but the duo's storytelling confidence is growing; if "Sugar" isn't flashy, neither does it put a single step wrong as it follows the hero from Caribbean poverty to Corn Belt alienation and ultimately to New York City for a confrontation with his own hopes and expectations.

It would have been easy to have turned the movie into a tract, but Boden and Fleck content themselves with smaller gestures. One shot of Sugar in an Iowa mall glancing at a shirt's "Made in the Dominican Republic" label says volumes. Of course the major-league sports machinery doesn't play fair by gifted, naïve Third World athletes; of course it spits out the majority and rewards the few. That's baseball, some would say; that's exploitation, others might respond.

The movie only watches and worries and waits for Sugar to make his own choices, which he does in a manner both deeply satisfying and a little sad. In its unhurried fashion, "Sugar" can take its place with the best baseball movies. Where most focus on the grand slam, this one's about the life that surrounds the game and everything that comes after.

Ty Burr can be reached at tburr@globe.com. For more on movies, go to www.boston.com/movienation.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Curing Communication Trepidation

RT Staff Note:
The following article is from Carmen Bucci, President of The Complete Athlete. Carmen will be contributing an article to Rounding Third every Monday throughout the rest of January. Carmen teaches high school athletes how to communicate better with their current coaches, college coaches and/or professional scouts. Since our theme for the past several weeks has been about communication, we welcome Carmen as a RT contributor.

By Carmen Bucci, The Complete Athlete
WARNING! What you are about to read is an actual conversation between a parent and their student-athlete.

Parent – “How was your day?”
Student-Athlete – “Fine.”
P – “How was the game?”
S-A – “Good.”
P – “What’s new at school?”
S-A – “Nothing.”

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. College coaches and scouts hear the same thing, day after day, while talking to potential recruits / draft picks. As frustrated as you may feel trying to communicate with your teenager, imagine what a coach or scout thinks when he has 10 or 15 minutes to get to know your son, either over the phone or in person. These valuable minutes could have an enormous impact on whether or not you’ll be recruited, or the round in which you’ll be drafted.

We’ve all heard the saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” As you’re reading this, ask yourself the question “Is my son prepared to communicate with a coach or scout, and make a great first impression?” I hope so. There’s a lot riding on how they are perceived by that college coach or professional scout. You have to remember that PERCEPTION IS REALITY.

When you take into account the money involved in recruiting / scouting, the jobs that are on the line, and the reputations at stake, it’s vital for college coaches or major league baseball teams to get to know as much as possible about a student-athlete before they make any type of offer. We’re talking about the physical skills, mental make up, leadership qualities, and character. Along with the proper physical conditioning, effective communication training is imperative for success in sports and life.

Why are so many of you confident in your son’s abilities on the baseball field, and not so confident in their communication skills? Because they develop their skills through practicing and playing. How many times does your son get together with his buddies and have a pick-up game in Public Speaking? Never. But, not working on your communication skills means you’re leaving out an essential part of becoming the complete athlete.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Write Your Local Papers

Folks, it's time to complain. The major daily newspapers in my major metro area are more interested in Justin Henin beating Magdalena Rybarikova (is that a man or woman?) in some Tennis match in Riverside, CA than covering the local 7 NCAA Division I baseball teams that are within a 30-40 minute drive of each other. They refuse to even mention the upcoming games in the daily calendar or the scoreboard section. Nobody knows that these games are even being played. It's not in the paper or on the papers on-line web site. Now that's just plain lazy and unacceptable.

So, here a plan...contact your local sports editors, TV newscasters, radio talk show hosts, and local cable sports shows and demand that they start covering what could possibly be the best kept secret in all of college sports. For some unknown reason, these sports guys treat college baseball like some weird fringe sport. They don't understand the connection between MLB and College baseball...and there is a huge connection. College players are pro prospects...and there are more pro prospects that play college baseball than their counterparts in basketball and football combined.

As I stated yesterday, we as sports fans understand the connection between the college game in basketball and football. We are attentive at how our local NBA and NFL team drafts promising college stars each year. When they introduce these players on TV and at games, we hear the announcer tell us what colleges they came from.

The connections between college baseball and MLB should be no different. But, for reasons only understood (or not understood) by uninformed sports editors, they choose to ignore college baseball altogether.

Fans...stand up for your teams...demand that they be covered...Show those sports writers that you want coverage and that there is a demand. Do it today...tomorrow and everyday until they start reporting. You can find most of their e-mails in the By-line or on the papers web site.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Can We Get A Mention?

The college baseball season is nearly a month old and I am still underwhelmed at the coverage that this game gets. Some say that the media won't cover college baseball now, because NCAA teams are in the middle of basketball play-offs and March Madness...but I can't accept that. Basketball coverage is as big now as it was in November during football season.

I just think that the media is lazy and very misinformed. They assume that nobody cares about college baseball and therefore, they don't cover it. When in fact, if they did cover college baseball, the interest would increase exponentially. They treat college baseball like some fringe sport like crew or women's field hockey. Of course it's neither...IT'S BASEBALL!

And this is my disconnect. College football thrives along with the NFL...College basketball is in many ways more popular than the NBA...Why wouldn't the very sport that defines America...Baseball...be as popular, or even more so than the Major League's? The logic is sound right? The game is not any different (except for the metal bats), the players are pro prospects, the teams that compete are in large conferences and many are in huge media markets. Sounds like a ratings dream right?

Funny...but when they do air college baseball, it does get good numbers. When the news media announce a weekend series, it boosts attendance. That media fueled attendance boost is an affirmation of a their effectiveness and subsequent ability to attract more media dollars. So why won't the media get involved? Why won't they announce an upcoming series. Why won't they promote the teams and the local players that make up the roster?

There is a built in fan base for most major baseball teams. Almost all the major market teams have many local high school players on their rosters. College teams from Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, L.A. Phoenix, Nashville, Memphis, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and many more have tens of thousands of high school alumni that would make at least one game a year if they knew about one or more of the players on that college team had a kid from their high school on it. The thing is, they don't know...and, because we get a lot of our sports information from the traditional media...the same media that barely knows college baseball exists.

When you factor in the other fan bases of the college teams alumni and the everyday baseball fan, you potentially can get thousands of fans at each game...And, they do that at LSU, Texas, Rice, Arkansas, Arizona State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Fresno State and many more. They engage their fans, keep them informed and get the entire community of sports fans up to date on their local favorite player. The 10,000 or so LSU fans that show up for each and every home game know each player's entire bio by heart. They know where he grew up, where he went to grade school and who is Little League coach was. They treat their college baseball team no different than their Top Ranked Football team. They realize that baseball is not a fringe sport...It is a MAJOR SPORT.

When will other markets across the country realize this...especially the California markets. It's a shame that the media fails to recognize college baseball. When the local L.A. media promoted the USC/UCLA contest the weekend before last, over 14,000 fans showed up at Dodger stadium. Without the promotion, only parents, friends and a few local students would have known about it. The California media and other states and markets around the country should take note...When you let them know...the fans will definitely show.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

College Baseball Hall Of Fame

Did you know there was a campaign to build and create a College Baseball Hall Of Fame? Read on...

In 2009, college baseball in the United States celebrated its 150th anniversary. Until recently, there was not a national entity in place to honor and showcase the game's rich past and to annually celebrate current collegiate baseball achievements.

The College Baseball Foundation, an established 501(c)(3), was created to become the founder of the National College Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame to distinguish this important and ongoing history.

The CBF will utilize charitable gifts for the construction of the National College Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas and also currently utilizes gifts to expand the awareness and visibility of college baseball's past, present and future.

The National College Baseball Hall of Fame inductions and College Baseball Awards Show honoring the nation's current top teams, individual players and coaches take place on consecutive evenings annually in order to connect significant contributions to the game. Both shows are broadcast nationally.

The capital campaign for the National College Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame totals $18 million to endow the project and and we are making substantial progress toward the goal.

The College Baseball Foundation welcomes and appreciates your consideration of a charitable gift. Federal 501(c)(3) documentation and other support documents are provided upon request.

Jana Howser
Executive Vice President Development
(214) 393 - 6344

Mike Gustafson
Executive Director
(806) 749 - 2233

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


RT Staff Note: Pete Toms is senior writer for the Business of Sports Network, most notably, The Biz of Baseball. He looks forward to your comments and can be contacted through The Biz of Baseball.

by Pete Toms

Last month LWIB reported on the speculation that drastic changes to the landscape of college baseball are in the offing. Buster Olney reported that MLB has a real interest in bolstering the college ranks in reaction to their need to develop a “feeder system” in the same manner that college football produces NFL players. Kiley McDaniel of Baseball Prospectus has argued that the introduction of mandatory slotting in the amateur draft (most pundits agree that it will be introduced in the next CBA) will result in an influx of high school talent to the college ranks.

LWIB John Manuel the Editor in Chief of Baseball America wrote that the actions of MLB in the near future will have a major impact on college baseball.

The next Collective Bargaining Agreement expires after the 2011 season, and because MLB and the players union have found some labor peace, they finally have pushed the draft and player procurement toward the top of the CBA agenda. Draft changes should have a profound effect on college baseball, and the range of changes could have unforeseen consequences.


MLB could make the draft shorter and incorporate international players into the draft. Both changes could lead to more players staying in college ball, rather than signing as de facto lower-minors roster filler.

Or MLB could adopt the National Hockey League's rule that allows teams to draft high school players and control their rights while they play in college. Think that would be good for the college game? I do, and I definitely could see players choosing the Southeastern Conference over, say, the South Atlantic or Gulf Coast leagues.

Or, MLB could sign more and more of the top prep players. The Tigers have seen early, obvious benefits from signing righty Rick Porcello away from his North Carolina scholarship, even if it cost them $7 million. He's a bargain at that price, and more teams have come to see high draft bonuses as an investment, rather than a sunk cost. The next decade could see talent dip in the college game as more teams get on the player-development train.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rewind...Everyone is Smarter than You

RT Staff Note: One of the best recruitment guides we have seen is from yesterdays contributor Jim Giles. The TeachDGame College Prep and Recruitment Guide is very detailed and we will add it as a resource on our side bar soon. On another note, we thought the following article from Jim was appropriate considering the e-mails we have been getting lately. Enjoy!

By Jim Giles...
As we move through the game of baseball and life, we learn by listening to coaches & people we trust, by doing, by watching others and many other methods. At some point, everyone seems to think they know it all. Sometimes this happens in our teenage years of high school, sometimes during our early 20’s as we move through college or for some after, as we enjoy our adult life. It is natural and hard to control our own Ego and basic human instincts. On the baseball field this can limit our potential or other devastating consequences.

The game of baseball on the surface is very simple, or so it would appear. While it has been 90 feet between the bases for over a century and many aspects of the game have not changed, there are many different methods and ways to get things done on the field.

As a player, you may constantly have coaches telling you to do it this way or that. At times this may contradict what you were taught before or that expert advice you are receiving from your “batting / pitching / baserunning / mental psychologist” trainer or advisor. Every time you play on a different team, you may find a coach who wants things accomplished differently. This is fine. You need to stay open to these idea’s because ultimately, how you are in the eyes of that coach, and how you approach the game from their perspective, will be the determining factor in the amount of time you spend on the field vs next to them on the bench. Sometime even whether you make the team or not.

As you moveup in the game, you continue to move up because of the success you have had. DO NOT BLIND YOURSELF BY THIS SUCCESS. Every step up the ladder, will be tougher than the last. You must continue to improve yourself every day or risk reaching your highest potential sooner than you like. You must search beyond yourself and often find that improvement beyond your normal comfort zone. As a coach, you have your ideals and beliefs about the way things need to be done. In many instances, this has been born possibly out of years of success.

DO NOT BLIND YOURSELF BY THIS SUCCESS. The biggest challenge for any coach is not just to win, but to KEEP WINNING. Anyone on any day can win any game. The truly great teams win over the long run. To do this, it is extremely difficult to accomplish without adapting and learning.

The easiest way to learn is to believe EVERYONE IS SMARTER THAN YOU. This is not to say you must sacrifice your own confidence and beliefs. You must be confident in your abilities, without being cocky. Regardless of who we are, or what we know, there is always someone around who might know a little more or something different than we do. EMBRACE THIS ! For us to seek greatness on our own is a sure fire way to fail. Look to everyone and anyone for additional knowledge. You may find this in places you have never imagined. It may be in a different sport, or different field of thought. It may be from that player or coach we can not stand. Watch them, study them. In doing this, we can obtain the experience and knowledge possibly without the pain of struggle.

Watch the GREAT ONE’s. There is a reason they are there. Find a way to adapt what they do to your own individuality. You can not merely copy them, because everyone is different. You must find a way to apply those aspects to your core beliefs and strengths.

Surround yourself with those that are smarter and better than you. As a player, do not seek an environment where you are the best. While this may drive your ego, it will not DRIVE YOU to accomplish greater things. Seek to surround yourself with those individuals you can learn from. For in doing this, you will push yourself to greater achievements in the long run. Yes, it is a long run. As a coach, seek knowledge and input from anyone who has something to say. You never know when that one thought or idea, combined with your existing beliefs and ideals might be the accelerator to greater achievements.

In closing, always keep your eyes wide open for learning opportunities. They may come from any source at any time. There may be ideas or thoughts related to other subjects or sports or even people you never imagined that can be adapted to your situation. For if you really embrace and believe that everyone is smarter than you, you might in the end, just be the smartest one of all.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Baseball Specific Training

The Truth (Part 3)
By Jon Doyle

Jon Doyle reveals the current state of baseball specific training, strength and conditioning information, explain what the baseball player needs and tell you how to get there…

Ok, now that you've learned why most baseball training programs are not designed properly in order to develop the athleticism and skills for drastically improving your game, I will take this time to explain how your workouts need to be structured in order to train optimally and get the results you desire.

The biggest mistake I see in the structure of baseball specific training programs (besides the wrong exercises and emphasis on "strengths") is how there's not a focus on building the complete athlete.

Most programs have a weak warm-up, then go straight into weight training and then throw some "abs" in at the end. That's it. No focus on baseball-specific movement patterns, joint angles or strength, speed and power that will transfer over to the field.

Well that's all about to change after you read these tips on what your baseball workouts need to look like…

1. Warm-up Dynamically with exercises such as hurdles, tumbling, spider lunges and inchworms.

2. Perform some type of active conditioning drills that will not only increase conditioning, but also develop coordination, balance, flexibility and baseball-specific endurance. Some examples of these drills are GPP, weighted GPP and speed ladder work.

3. Now it's time to move on to weight training. Rest time between sets should be very short, even in "strength" building phases. There's no point in sitting around. Force your body to replenish itself quickly and it will adapt. If you sit around for 2-5 minutes between sets you won't become a better athlete and you're probably using too much weight to begin with. There is rarely ever a need for the weight training portion of your workout to last more than 30 minutes. You can easily do 20-24 work sets in this time period.

Your weight training session should consist of large compound movements. We call these "Focus Lifts". Next, you should perform "supplemental Lifts" that focus on the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes and low back) as well as scapular and rotator cuff exercises.

4. Next "core" work should be done. Now this doesn't mean do a bunch of crunches. If you're familiar with my writings you know that crunches do very little for athletic development and core strength. Here is where you should perform movements from Unbreakable Abs and core postural holds such as planks, side planks, tables and bridges.

5. Finally, static stretching is done. Because your muscles are warm and your body temperature is elevated, static stretching is done to increase joint range of motion and facilitate recovery. This is the only time static stretching is effective.

So there you have it. How a world-class baseball specific training program should be structured. By following the above outline you will be able to perform extremely effective and efficient workouts. We get all of this done in just 45-50 minutes!

If you want to take all of the guesswork out of creating a program and have every single exercise, set, repetition, and structure laid out for you in a proven workout, check out my limited release Speed, Strength & Power baseball workout that has been used by my private youth, NCAA and MLB athletes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Staying Close To Home

As the economy continue to falter, more and more of the top College Development Programs are posting on their web sites and sending out e-mails to players and their families that their 2010 summer strategy is to stay a bit closer to home and battle it out with other local CDP's or play up in older age group tournaments to challenge their players.

Don't Play Rec Ball
In an economy like this, many families may forego the decision to play on a CDP team altogether and opt for their local Legion team. If your son is a player that has the aspirations of playing college ball, then he needs to be challenged at a higher level than the watered down recreational style of play that Legion offers.

Follow The Scouts
College recruiters are aware of the changes in travel plans by many of the top CDP's...and those scouts will follow them, not you and your son's decision to play lower level competition. The top CDP's talk, text or e-mail on a weekly basis with all of the college recruiters nationwide. It's their job and their reputation on the line. They care about their players and where they get placed. It's important to the CDP program that their games and local tournaments are teaming with college recruiters and pro scouts. It's also a scouts responsibility to get as much bang for their travel dollar as possible from each trip they take. These scouts know that programs like East Cobb, Norcal, Dallas Tigers, NE Ruffnecks and more are stacked with players that all have D-I potential and will play at that level. They are the the type of teams they will follow. They also know that these are the dedicated kids and parents that have stuck with these programs even in tough times. These are the players that want it the most and the type of players colleges desire. Part Time Legion Dad doesn't have the time, resources, relationship or the knowledge to do that for his players.

Fundraise, Payment Plans and Saving
Most clubs are now in the middle of major fundraising campaigns. This is important for the integrity of the the CDP. Get involved...raise money...and get a benefactor to donate soda, water, seeds, dogs and candy and set up concessions to continue to raise money throughout the season. Ask for a monthly payment plan. A 12 month plan of $150 a month will pay for 90% of all CDP fees in America this year. But don't give up. CDP's are important for the development of your son.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stay Away from The Dark Side Of Attitude

Now that the High School season is in full swing in many parts of the country, we want to reiterate about how having a great attitude about the game of baseball will go a long way to helping a player achieve their goals, impressing coaches and help making them a better person in life.

But, there is a different side of attitude that can have the opposite affect on a player, team and his relationship with his coach. Any player that thinks he is better than the coaches treatment of him has a bad attitude. A good coach will get in the face of any player that doesn’t live up to the expectations expected of that player during any given situation. Many coaches don’t care if a player is 3 for 4 in a game. If that player chases a bad pitch, misses a sign or makes a bonehead base running mistake, he WILL get reprimanded. And that player, if he is a great team mate and team player will take that criticism as a man and accept his coaches words as constructive criticism.

We received an e-mail from a young player down in the Southeast about the way his friend reacted to a coach after he struck out on a bad pitch in a close game. This player had already gotten a few hits in the game and when he struck out, the coach yelled at him for chasing a bad pitch above the strike zone. The player talked back and told the coach to cool down and told him that he "already had his two hits and that it was OK to strike out"…..HMMMMM. Let’s just say, that young player should be thankful that any of us here at Rounding Third weren’t coaching. That’s not tolerated in our neck of the woods. The coach ended up benching the young lad for the rest of the game. He got off easy.

Except in this case, the players stood up for the coach and told the player that he got what he deserved. Any player that scoffs or talks back to his coach has a bad attitude. A player that puts his self interests ahead of his team is not a team mate. A good, competitive coach only cares about your stats when he makes up the line-up. During a game, it’s just like another try-out. Each at bat is a whole different set of rules and circumstances…especially during close games. We don’t care if a player is 5 for 5 with 3 home runs that game, if a coach yells at a player for swinging at a bad third strike in a very close game, that player needs to nod at the coach and say, ”You are right coach, I’m sorry…I won’t do it again”.

It’s still a team sport and the coach will always know more about the game than his players. A player may not like the treatment, but the real world will treat them about a hundred times worse. So, suck it up guys and learn from your mistakes. It’s the only way to learn.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Be Real

Is marketing your kid going to give you the desired outcome of a scholarship…My answer is…there is no magic formula. But, if you want to know what the outcome will be…then just be realistic. For a lot of parents that is a very hard thing to do. Personally, I think that showcases and College development programs for an underclassman can only provide a great benchmark for the development of a good, but physically growing player….nothing more. Too many variables to consider to be more than that.

Unfortunately, some parents jump ahead of themselves, panic and push their kids “marketing” way too hard get just because they disagreed with the assessment of their son’s performance and the lack of attention he received from college coaches after the summer showcase circuit was completed.

If there is one tidbit of advice that we would like to share with everyone that has experienced similar feelings, that advice comes from a quote by Norman Vincent Peale: “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 the coaches, instructors and showcase scouts say. Parents…I’ll say this again…at that age it’s just a benchmark…something to build on…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. (It’s becoming harder and harder to delineate the good from the bad these days) 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.

If your son received a poor report card at school, do you criticize the school, or would you have a plan in place for your son to develop better study habits and seek out tutoring if necessary? Of course, most of us would enforce the latter because school grades are with him for the rest of his life and will dictate his future. Likewise, if your son received a less than stellar player evaluation, you should also develop a plan that will help him improve those weaknesses.

Showcases should be an ongoing process for developing players. If it’s one thing a recruiter or scout loves to see, is that player that falls into the category of most improved. It’s those players that have the attitude, desire and heart that teams fight over. Players that defy their “perceived” abilities have gone on to become fan and clubhouse favorites. Look at David Eckstein or Dustin Pedroia. In fact, pick up the book Have Heart, by David Eckstein and you will understand what we are trying to convey here.

For some players, it works out and for others it doesn’t, but at least for those who may not make it, they (and their parents) should hold their head up high and be proud that they at least tried their best against the best.

For those that have son’s with the “it factor” already, don’t get too caught up in the accolades…there will be others that will eventually catch up to him… he needs to just listen and learn from those invaluable experiences. He needs to continue to work even harder…and if it is his big dream to play baseball at the next level, then help him understand that like school, baseball has homework too and that by hard work and determination their dreams could be a realistic outcome.

Monday, March 1, 2010

You Have One Message...Return it.

We have become a sounding board for disgruntled families as of late and we received another e-mail from a friend of a friend. It's always suspicious when someone says, "I have this friend with a problem". That usually implies that the problem is a lot closer to that person than his or hers friend. But, we digress.

This friend has an issue that we have heard happens a lot in the world of travel ball and we thought we would address it and set some ground rules for future travel ball organizers.

The issue is communicating to the player the progress of the recruiting process. We have heard many instances where a big time travel team that places 10 or more players into college each year has those one or two players that just can't get placed. But, rather than address it with the player and his parents, the travel team organizers walk away or ignore the player that has no college callers. In our friends, friends instance, the parents and the player himself called the travel team organizer and received no phone calls back. That's unacceptable.

Here's the deal travel team directors. Parents pay good money to play on your teams. In many instances it adds up to more than a few thousand dollars. We don't expect for 100% of every travel teams roster to get placed, but the parents and players would at the very least like to be told the truth.

For instance, would it hurt to have a sit down with the entire family and tell them the reasons why their kid can't get placed? There are reasons...we know that for sure. The very best travel team directors have a goal to get all of their players placed and shop every kid to every scout and recruiter they know. And, the recruiter will respond with an answer. If the answer is no, the travel team director will ask why and that answer should be chronicled and put into a report and sent to the parents. That's what we all pay for guys. That's the very least you directors can do. You owe that to the parents. That's what they paid for. They can't get angry if they have documentation on the reason why colleges don't want their kid.

However, no response and ignoring the issue will create huge animosity and anger towards your club. I had a boss that once said about the dynamics and success of service companies..."If you do a good job, two people will hear about your company...if you do an outstanding job, 8 people will hear about your company...but, if you do a lousy job, 100 people will hear about your company."

The reason many travel clubs get a bad reputation is because they do a lousy job of communicating the truth to their paying customers. In the case of the friends, friend...evidently the kid is a good impact type of player, but has size issues...yet still has the ability at the very least to play a small D-I, D-II or make a name for himself at the JC ranks. If only that information was put in writing and presented in person to the player and his parents, they could have prepared themselves and sought out more options. If only a status report was submitted to the players on the colleges that were contacted, the parents wouldn't be so angry. Now in fairness to the club, their web site shows that they consistently help place 15 or more players each year. But, that doesn't mean you quit when the quota is met. The job is done when 100% of the players are satisfied...placed or not.

Here's a list of materials a travel ball director should provide every player that plays for his program...

1. A complete schedule and the significance of each tournament or game...such as the historical attendance of scouts, and types of colleges that attend.

2. A profile sheet that should be seen and approved by the parents and player before it is sent out.

3. A list of colleges that best fit the talents of the players, along with the players preferences.

4. Colleges that have specific needs, due to graduated or drafted players..ie. MIF's, OF, LHP' etc. and how their players can fill that void.

5. A ongoing call sheet..Hey, for those of you readers in sales, this is Standard Operating Procedure...The call sheet should detail that a college coach or assistant was called and what the results of that call were.

6. A list of colleges that profile sheets were sent out to.

7. An entire timeline of the responsibilities of the parent and players and the steps they need to take to ensure that the player is on the colleges radar. This is important. Players have to write and e-mail stuff too. In fact, that's how a player gets invited to camps and individual try-outs.

8. Return phone calls. If a player calls you. Call him back. Do not ignore him. It took a lot for that player to pick up the phone in the first place. He's already feeling neglected by the colleges. Don't make it worse by YOU neglecting him too!!!

RT Staff