Thursday, September 30, 2010

What were they thinking?

When a school cuts a sports program like gymnastics and rugby, there will be a few cries and protests from those sports faithful following those sports...But when you cut a BIG 3 sport like baseball...America's past time, from a program...a program that has been at a school for 120 years...there will be a national outrage...And tehre has been from baseball broadcasters on ESPN to national dailies like the NY Times or USA Today.

What was Sandy Barbour and her band of cut throats thinking? Gymnastics...I get it...Don't like it...but I get it. Rugby was a cult sport at Cal with 25 National Chamionships and gets to stay as a club team....I get that...But baseball? Are you kidding me?

What gets me is the hubris of stating that there's no chance of saving don't try. Many MLB alumni and present players and parents of players have come forth and have offered to donate millions to save the program...Nope!...Not Interested...says the Athletic Department. What?'s time to protest. This is a major PAC 10 school in a baseball rich state. How would fans in North Carolina or Tennessee feel if UNC or Vanderbilt dropping their baseball program? You'd be mad right? Wouldn't make sense right? So write Sandy Barbour. Tell her that we forgive her temporary insanity and to please undo her mistake....or something like that.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sad Day For College Baseball

It was announced yesterday that the University of California Berkeley (Cal) baseball will be eliminated. This is a PAC 10 school folks, not a small Northeastern snowbelt college. This is a HUGE dissapointment. That said, I can't say I haven't warned Californians.

Outside of Fullerton, Fresno State and to an extent, the Friday night Mike Krukow beer bashes at Cal Poly, California collegiate baseball attendance is a major embarrassment. Some of the best baseball in the country is played in the Golden State. Two dozen D-I universities play here...all of whom could beat anybody on any given day outside of this state. But nobody seems to care.

I can't say I blame Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour that much. Cal averages maybe 300 fans a game...most of them friends and family. The three major dailies in the Bay Area (San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune and San Jose Mercury News) don't cover or even make a mention of college baseball games. So, if they don't know...people won't show.

I have been writing all of the major dailies to cover the college game, but only get lame excuses as to why they can't or won't cover college baseball. The one time a college game was highly promoted in the media was a San Diego State/Santa Clara game that featured Steven Stassburg. It was the first and only sell-out in Santa Clara baseball history.

(By the way, I am listening to the San Francisco Giants game as I write this and brodcasting greats Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper are devastated that Cal is eliminating it's baseball program. They stated that they find it very disturbing. Where have you guys been during the season? Problem is...this is probably the only time a Bay Area college baseball program has been mentioned on a TV broadcast. More mentions...more fans...)

Here's the release by the Cal AD:

From: Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Athletic Director Sandy Barbour
Date: Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 2:19 PM
Subject: Important Announcement Regarding Future of Cal Athletics

Dear Cal Supporters,

Of the many communications which we are sending out today regarding our plan for Cal Athletics’ future, this letter, to our loyal fans and alumni, is among the most difficult. Your passion for and belief in the Cal Athletics program are not and never will be taken for granted: we have to earn it every day. Although we know that our decisions will be cause for concern and difficult for a number of you, we are confident that we have worked out a plan that will guarantee the preeminence of Intercollegiate Athletics at Berkeley while simultaneously helping address the serious financial challenges that our campus is facing.

We have made a set of decisions that will meet our goal to have a sustainable, financially responsible program that will remain broad based and fully capable of continuing to support our commitment to excellence in the university’s every endeavor. We are committed to maintaining the indispensable role that Athletics plays as a vehicle for community building and an engine of philanthropy for the whole campus.

The status quo is simply unsustainable. Given the economic environment, the campus cannot continue to provide Cal Athletics with recent levels of annual financial support that exceeded $12 million during the last fiscal year. After an exhaustive consideration of every reasonable option, it became clear to us that the only credible way to balance our twin objectives of financial sustainability and continued excellence is through a reduction in the program’s scope, along with new steps to contain costs and increase revenues. At the end of this academic year, baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, and women’s lacrosse will no longer represent the university in varsity intercollegiate competition. In addition one team, rugby, will be transitioned to a newly created varsity club status. The team’s history indicates that this change should not affect its competitive opportunities or abilities, and the varsity club status will allow us to maintain rugby’s unsurpassed excellence with continued campus support in terms of admissions, sports medicine and access to training facilities. Rugby was a club sport at Cal from the 1950’s to the early 1990’s, and is today the only remaining varsity team in Division 1 of the NCAA.

We will do everything in our power to help student-athletes, coaches and staff successfully manage the challenges of this transition. We will honor scholarship commitments for all student-athletes who choose to remain at Berkeley, and assist those who may wish to explore the possibility of continuing to compete at another institution.

Together, these steps will save an estimated $4 million in direct and indirect costs beginning in the next fiscal year and bring down institutional support to a level that we can sustain. Factoring in reasonable estimates of increased revenues, including funds we expect to receive from a new Pac-12 media contract, annual institutional support for Athletics will be reduced to approximately $5 million a year by FY 2014. We anticipate that this support will represent about one-half of the cost of athletics scholarships at that time and recognizes that our intercollegiate athletes are students first and athletes second.

We will retain, at 24 teams, one of the larger programs in the country at an annual cost that is consistent with the level of support provided to athletics by our peer institutions. This country’s best universities have long understood the value of high-quality athletics programs and the extent to which they are an integral part of what defines institutional character and identity. To ensure this tradition continues at Cal, we will protect and preserve the essential attributes that distinguish our program: a rare combination of competitive excellence, academic achievement and broad-based engagement with the campus and neighboring communities.

We examined three possible options for Cal Athletics’ future that would allow us to maintain the campus support to Intercollegiate Athletics at approximately $5 million annually, after taking into account our obligations to gender equity, plans to increase revenue and aggressive steps that we will take to contain costs.

The first option entailed extensive cuts across the board that would have damaged the competitive abilities of every single team and provided sub-standard support for our student-athletes. The second option would have called for a larger reduction in the number of teams ? a completely unsatisfactory alternative given our conviction that the campus greatly benefits from a broad based program. The third and best option, the middle ground, is the one that we selected: a hybrid strategy that combines a moderate reduction in scope; limiting operational costs; and targeted investment and operational changes that will enhance philanthropy and other new and existing sources of revenue.

We came to these conclusions very reluctantly, and the decisions were as painful as they were unavoidable. We realize that this plan will not please everyone; some will say that we have gone too far, other will insist that it is not far enough. Many on the Chancellor’s Advisory Council were opposed to any reduction in teams, and some on the Academic Senate Task Force advocated for even lower or non-existent institutional support, in contrast to the situation at virtually all of our peer institutions.

Decisions of this nature are complex, multifaceted and always difficult. As an institution we looked at a myriad of criteria once it became clear that we could no longer support 29 teams. Factors such as net cost, donor impact, maximizing student opportunity, existence of national/regional varsity competition, contribution to diversity, impact on our ability to comply with Title IX, opportunity for NCAA and Pac 10 success, utilization of support services and history of competitive excellence were among the factors considered. The broad excellence of our program made the decisions all the more difficult. Virtually every intercollegiate program at Cal has a rich tradition of competitive success and a community of fervent backers who surround and support the team. Our decisions mark the end of this process and, hopefully, will reduce the uncertainty and anxiety in our community.

We hope that you will take the time to read through the details of the plan in the online FAQ. You will find that while financial issues were at the heart of our analysis, they could not be addressed in isolation or solely on a team-by-team basis. Addressing the funding needs of any particular team through additional philanthropy would have only pushed the problem onto another squad due to our obligation to comply with Title IX and to ensure that, going forward, Athletics has the capacity to support and service excellence among our student athletes.

We hope that this outcome will have your broad support. With a new, strong financial foundation, the Athletics program will be better positioned to provide support for the members of its community. In some key areas, Athletics has been stretched thin in terms of human resources and services that exist to support our student-athletes. For example, on a per student-athlete basis, we are currently at or near the bottom of the Pac-10 in terms of sports medicine and strength training resources. Once this plan is implemented, we will be in the upper half of the conference in terms of our ability to provide all that our student athletes need to succeed and excel on and off the field.

We deeply regret the human toll that these decisions will take and the impact that they will have on valued members of our community who were in no way responsible for the challenges that we face. We also hope and believe that the entire Cal Athletics family will pull together in support of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. Their long-standing and well-known passion, commitment and determination to overcome adversity demand our respect and reciprocity.


Robert J. Birgeneau Sandy Barbour
Chancellor Director of Athletics

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More On Bat-testing Regulations Being Modified

RT Staff Note...This makes no sense to me. Why not just use wood?

No more BESR, but now something called BBCOR?
From and The NCAA News

The NCAA will test a baseball's liveliness off the bat rather than its speed to determine whether the bat meets performance standards.

With almost all Division I programs using metal bats, the organization wants to make sure the power produced by the bat-ball contact is no greater than that produced by wood, the NCAA's Ty Halpin said Wednesday.

"The test we had previously gave us a pretty good reading on wood versus non-wood, and we still feel like that's the case, but we have found a few pieces where there seems to be some difference here for whatever reason," said Halpin, the NCAA associate director of playing rules administration.

Previously, non-wood bats had to meet a BESR or "ball exit ratio speed" performance standard based on the length and weight of the bat to produce a certain ball speed after contact. Now, the test will be a BBCOR "ball-bat coefficient of restitution," which eliminates discrepancies with different length bats and is a more direct measure of bat performance.

"Basically, it's how springy the ball is, how bouncy," he said. "What the BBCOR is measuring is how lively that collision is. It's not an exit speed; it's measuring what the bat and the ball do together."

Halpin said the change was not prompted by any concern for safety.

"From our perspective, it's a continued effort to refine the standard as we go along and continue to tie ourselves to wood (standards).

"We've seen some discrepancies that could allow manufacturers to maybe make a little more of a powerful bat. We just don't want that to happen," he said. "We don't believe that's happened, and the manufacturers have been with us every step of the way as we've refined the standards, so they're well aware of what's happening here and why we're doing it."

Bats used by NCAA schools must meet the BBCOR standards by Jan. 1, 2011.

"So it's not a surprise to anybody," Halpin said. "The manufacturers actually already have some prototypes that they'd like to start testing now for the new standards, so we don't think there's going to be any sort of transition for our schools or for the manufacturers."

The following excerpts from a story released by NCAA news also mentioned that the new BBCOR measure is designed to have bats mimic the perfromance of wood and that they have a motive of reducing offensive production:

The committee and the research panel found that for a given bat length, batted-ball speed is a near-perfect correlation with BBCOR – that is, a bat’s BBCOR will predict the speed with which the ball will leave the bat. Because wood and non-wood bats with the same BBCOR produce essentially the same batted-ball speeds, it is relatively easy to relate a non-wood bat’s performance to that of a similarly sized wood bat.

The panel believes most bat designers are more familiar with the BBCOR than with the previous standard, which should help them create bats that meet NCAA performance standards.

The rules committee made the change in part because of NCAA Division I baseball statistics that indicate increased offensive performance, particularly in home runs and runs scored. The committee believes the rise is due, in part, to the kind of bats in use today.

“But the modification in the measure of performance doesn’t mean that the testing process itself has changed,” said the NCAA’s Ty Halpin, associate director of playing rules administration and staff liaison to the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee.

The rules committee has determined, based on a large sample of wood bats tested in the same manner, that an appropriate maximum standard for BBCOR is 0.50. Halpin said that satisfies the NCAA’s intention to maintain its non-wood standard using available scientific data and – as nearly as possible – achieving wood-like performance in non-wood bats.

“The 0.50 standard sets the performance line slightly higher than the best available wood bats in our database,” he said. “This will ensure that all wood bats continue to be legal under the new standard.”

The NCAA will maintain other standards, such as the current length-to-weight difference, the “moment-of-inertia” (MOI) standard and bat-diameter limit. No “sliding scale” will be associated with the new BBCOR standard; thus, all bats must meet the 0.50 limit regardless of length. The new standard is likely to require an adjustment in the design of all bats currently legal under the BESR.

To allow manufacturers sufficient time to adjust, the NCAA will enforce this standard beginning January 1, 2011, and will allow only BBCOR-certified bats in the 2011 season and beyond. There will be no opportunity for “grandfathering” old bats.

Halpin said the change does mean that existing bats will need to be tested again, and that by 2011, bats will be required to be designated with a BBCOR certification mark to be considered legal.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Keep Up The Conditioning

In a bout a month, fall work-outs will be winding down, but that doesn't mean that baseball players stop working out. It's time to step up the work-outs to avoid injury. The most common complaints when spring comes around are shoulder and elbow soreness and if you don't follow our suggestion to long toss and build arm strength this winter season, you increase the risk of injury.

In addition to long toss and other arm drills, we have found that the Jaeger bands and similar band work is a sure way to strengthen that arm to limit any soreness or injury. A site that we really like and can give you a quick tutorial on what to do to strengthen your shoulders and arms between now and January 15th can be found at the aforementioned Jaeger Sports and at these links at or

Good baseball players don't crash course their work-outs, and the only sure way to decrease the risk of injury is to work out and strengthen your core and the rest of your body year round. But if you didn't have a year round program, starting now, while not ideal, is better than risking injury the first few weeks of practice...the most common time of arm soreness.

Good luck guys. Work Hard!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Deadly Misconceptions About Baseball Hitting Drills

RT Staff Note: I usually don't promote particular commercial interests on this blog, but I do like what these guys have to say about hitting technique. It's called the Super 8 hitting System Click on this link to learn more. Here's an article from their blog....

This is one of many baseball hitting drills coaches teach —“Get the bat off your shoulder!”

It is a common phrase used by fans, coaches, parents, and players.

The question is “Why is that so bad?”

Here is what happens when a player moves his bat away from his body in his hitting stance. As the batter does this, consequently separating the batter’s hands from his body. A hitter’s hands will more often than not be out over home plate right at contact. This will produce an arm swing with no balance in your body.

So why is that a problem? Let’s look at it this way. If you were to are wrestle someone, would you want your hands away from your frame? Or would you want your hands close to the body for support?

If you had to throw the best punch you could, would you hold your hands away from the body? No, you shouldn’t. You would want to have them by your shoulder to increase power.

If you had to push an automobile, would you want your hands at your side, or would you want them in front of you? Your body increases power to the hands. And so naturally, keep your hands in front of you.

Now, stand up like you’re at home plate with your bat out over the plate like it is in contact with the ball. What’s behind your grip? Nothing! What MLB players.

You might say…”I’ve seen major leaguers start with their hands away from their bodies. This has a tendency to be good.”

And the answer to that is –“Major leaguers make an adjustment. Prior to making contact with the ball, they quickly bring their hands back to the shoulder area. You have to watch it in slow-mo to catch it. But research shows that is exactly what they do.

Therefore, let us be clear. You’ll be in a better hitting position when you keep your grip close to your shoulder. Keep your hands near your shoulder as you release your hips to take you to the ball. You will make contact in the proper zone, not over home plate.

So if you want to learn how to hit a baseball, remember this rule: The only time separation of the hands from the body occurs is when they move forward to hit the ball.

These techniques are fully explained in the “Super 8 Hitting System”, completely demonstrated in a series of baseball hitting videos, which includes many baseball hitting drills.


Get the bat off the shoulder in the hitting stance? No.

Make contact over the plate? No.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Leaders chime in on potential of MLB Urban Youth Academy

By Stan Hochman
Daily News Sports Columnist

THE NEW indoor gym at the Marian Anderson rec center will be 85-by-115. So how will a kid catcher enrolled in the splendid, new Phillies Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy practice throwing a frozen rope to second base in the middle of a harsh winter when the distance from home to second is 127 feet, 3 3/8 inches?

"We'll do it this way," said Steve Bandura, thumping his index finger on a photo in an equipment catalog, and then dragging it on an angle from halfway across the short wall to the far corner of the long wall.

Yo, the sum of the squares of a right triangle's legs equals the square of its hypotenuse. Bingo! The kid catcher learns a fundamental of geometry while working on his throwing techniques. The best of all possible worlds.

Mike Nutter, the mayor; Mike DiBerardinis, the Recreation commissioner; Jimmie Lee Solomon, Major League Baseball's vice president of player development; Dave Montgomery, Phillies president; all made eloquent speeches to announce plans for the Urban Youth Academy, to be based at the Marian Anderson rec center, 17th and Fitzwater.

And then Bandura, the rec-center director who started dreaming this dream when Mitch Williams was the closer for the Phillies, dragged his index finger across that photo. Problem solved; let's talk about something other than that snug, new gym.

"No," he conceded, "it's not gonna be a brand-new, 5-million-dollar deal on 10 acres, but it's gonna be great."

It is gonna be great as long as Bandura is in charge, along with people who think the mission of the Urban Youth Academy is to give kids intensive baseball training to where they're good enough to get college scholarships. And, if the kids in that thin minority who own major league skills turn pro and make it to the Big Show, that's the cream in their coffee.

"Icing on the cake," said DiBerardinis, who thanked City Council President Anna Verna for finding $300,000 in her budget to help finance the project. "The emphasis is on getting the kids connected with baseball, while succeeding academically. If a pro career results, that's the icing."

Some quick arithmetic. Major League Baseball is putting up nearly $3 million, the city chips in with $300,000. The state antes up something, and a nice contribution comes from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund.

The Phillies will help with fundraising to maintain the academy, including a new "show" field in FDR Park. The club's groundskeepers can groom that field. And minor league personnel can help with the clinics the academy will conduct on a regular basis.

"The work Steve Bandura has been doing here is special," Montgomery said. "A few years ago, we looked at Scanlon [an ice rink in the Far Northeast] as a site. It didn't work out. And now, I'm glad it's going to be here, at Anderson rec center, where Bandura has done so much.

"You plant the seeds where you think they'll grow."

Solomon has been the driving force behind the RBI program, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. And a huge factor in picking Philadelphia as a site for the academy.

"Why Philadelphia?" he said, repeating a question. "Because of the passion of the Phillies, of Dave Montgomery, of the city. Commissioner [Bud] Selig wanted to reclaim urban America. The academy is not just to create major league players, although 50 kids have already signed out of Compton [in California, another academy site].

"But the number I'm proud of is the more than 150 kids in college on baseball or softball scholarships. And the really big number is the 2,500 kids who have been through that academy, that welcomes those kids in the hours after school and before Mom comes home."

You can't measure it by numbers alone.

"Youngsters need mentors," said Darrell Miller, vice president, youth and facility development. "Youngsters need leadership. They need someone to inspire them to do more than they ever thought they could do. The real mission of the academies is to teach kids about life."

Bandura said "Amen" under his breath.

"We're going to offer educational opportunities, tutoring, mentoring, SAT prep," he said out loud. "It's going to be an intervention in the lives of so many kids."

How many?

"We should be able to handle 270 kids, 180 boys, 90 girls, getting the full service, academic training, fitness center, the works. Add kids coming to clinics, to camps, we could impact 1500 kids yearly.

"The goal is to produce college graduates. The baseball side of it is to get those kids ready to play at the college level, whatever level it may be, D-I down to NAIA.

"Preparing them academically, socially, emotionally to graduate from college. Helping to market kids to colleges. Helping them choose the college. Too many kids pick a school without even seeing it.

"Our goal is to stay with these kids through their high school years, the definitive years, when you grow up in an area that's not good. Those are the years where the environment can take them away."

Is he the dean?

"Chief muckety-muck," he said, chuckling. "Actually, roles haven't been defined. But I plan to be here 7 days a week." *

Send e-mail to

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Right Time

Democrat or Republican, Conservative or Liberal, left or right, right or wrong and on and on and on. We live in a world separated by two poles and it seems at times they are pulling us apart, rather than pushing us together.

I received an e-mail from a father of an 11 year old and he asked me…”When is it the right time to play travel ball over rec ball”?

Ahhh…the age old question that polarizes Little Leagues from coast to coast. Little Leagues wished that Travel ball would go away and Travel Ball has no love for Little League. For the past two decades, the two have butted heads and every year, message boards get busy with pages of rants and parents get confused.

Our e-mailer went on to say that he feels the democratization of Little League holds his son back. For instance…His son can’t wait for practices to begin, yet he gets the same playing time as the dandelion picker who can’t wait for them to end. As a shortstop, he feels uneasy to let go of a throw to first, because one of the weaker athletes is there and doesn’t want him to get hurt. Even his own coach suggested that he bat lefty during practice because he hits it to hard from the right side and might hurt someone. ( Hmmm. Well there’s one advantage of rec ball I’ve never considered…honing your switch hitting skills.)

Now, we are not huge fans of Little League and their rules…That said, we are fans of kids having fun with their school friends for as long as they can and take advantage of the community pride and recognition that they get with these local rec teams. I do think that there can be a synergistic relationship between Little League and travel ball, as long as there is an understanding that the two must not interfere with each other.

The one big advantage that Little League has is that the community newspapers usually embrace their local teams. It’s fun to pick up the local coffee shop Journal and see your kids picture or name in the paper. That doesn’t happen as often with travel ball because the kids are from several communities. And as an 11 year old…there’s really no rush to make baseball all business, all the time anyway. Kids at that age should be mixing it up and playing basketball, football and other sports.

But, if your kid is one of those players that likes to hit on his free time in a cage, play catch with the neighbor kids and engage in some stick ball in the park, then after the Little League season is over in late June, it’s time to take that heart and desire to a travel team. Most of the better travel team tourneys at ages 11 and 12 are in July, August and September anyway…including that tournament every young aspiring baseball player must go to in Cooperstown.

After the age of 12 however, your big hearted son should never set his foot on a rec ball field again. That’s our take anyway. Because if he really does have Big League Dreams, he isn’t going to be satisfied playing with Dandelion Danny anymore. He will want to be challenged and learn more from experienced coaches that will make him a much better player than Danny’s dad ever could.

It’s also a perspective check for parents as well. As a parent, many of you will get to see if your son was really that good, or if the Little League competition was really that bad. For some it will be frustrating, and others, the type of challenge you were hoping your kid would get. Either way, it’s really better for the player if the coaches are the type that really want to develop and mentor.

The one thing travel ball does better than any other league is that it clearly defines where the players with heart and desire are. A good travel team will always challenge even the best players…and it’s the players that have that attitude of never wanting to quit that will separate the high school player from the future college player.

Your travel team player will always have to compete for any position he tries out for. There are no gimmies on travel ball teams. If you want to play shortstop on an exceptional travel team, you have to earn it. Other wise, you’d better give it your 110% to compete in left, right or second, because after the coaches pick their starting SS and pitching rotation, those positions will be hotly contested as well.

And it’s those players that compete hard to win a position in left, center or elsewhere that will make it to the next level. These are the kids that never give up. They may not have won the SS position, but by gosh, they aren't going to lose that third base spot. That’s character right there folks! Those kids will make it. They aren’t the type to whine about losing a spot…they are the type to pick it up and win another.

If your son is that guy…if you as parents embrace that type of life for your kid…then after the age of 12…hang up the rec stuff…Get into travel ball…and enjoy the ride.
RT Staff

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why It Is Wise To Use Wood

The NCAA just enacted new rules that states that NCAA bats must now be approved by BBCOR (Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) Protocol)and not BESR to make the bats more like wood bats. If I was a high school college prospect, I'd be swinging wood in practices and in fall leagues right now. Folks, he feedback I have heard on message boards in 3 different conferences was that wood outperforms these BBCOR bats.

That means no more 150lbs second baseman hitting opposite field HR's...which is a good thing...but it also means a closer scrutiny on how well a hitters mechanics are. You can call it the beginning of the College "Dead Bat" era, but the days of the .430 averages and record setting hitting streaks may be over. It will be interesting to see if the high schools follow suit.

Personally, I'd like to see wood or wood composites take over. That the way the game was intended to be played anyway. But, the point of this article is if you are a high school prospect using a minus 3 rocket launcher from DeMarini...stop using it and switch to wood...You will be a much better prospect to a college of you can show that you can hit for average with wood.

More later...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Evaluating "Pop Times"

A catcher's throw down to second base is usually evaluated by determining the elapsed time from the point the pitched ball hits the catcher's glove, until the ball hits the infielder's glove taking the throw at 2nd. This time is known as the "Pop Time."

Much emphasis has been put on this time when evaluating High School, College and Pro catchers. In my work with catchers I have found that just using this one measurement does not give a complete picture of a catcher's strengths and weaknesses as it relates to this throw.

I have found that the throw to 2nd is in essence a 3-part skill. Each part can be evaluated for strengths and weaknesses and improved. The three components are:

1. Ball Control and Release Efficiency
2. In-flight Velocity
3. Accuracy

On average, a professional catcher's success rate is just 25% and, at best, around 50%. Success rates for youth catchers have as wide a success rate as well. Each of the three components of the throw contributes to the success or failure of each throw down to 2nd. Without evaluating each part and just evaluating the entire throw using Pop Time readings, coaches may overlook areas needing improvement.

The following is the three part evaluation process I use to evaluate catchers' throws, presented in reverse order.

Accuracy is the easiest to evaluate and most observable component, irrespective of the other two parts. Rating a catcher on this portion is just a matter of noting whether or not the ball arrives at the target some 127 feet away. The target I instruct my catchers to throw to is a spot 24 inches to the 1st base side of 2nd, and 18 inches off the ground. Practice usually results in improvement unless the throwing mechanics are completely wrong. A simple observation of the act of throwing will tell you if the catcher is doing it right or wrong.

In-Flight Velocity
Velocity plays a big part in the results a catcher will see at the different levels of play. What is important is to see if the catcher employs a throwing technique that allows him to throw at a near 100% of the maximum velocity he is able to generate.

To do this I need to determine the catcher's maximum throwing velocity using 2 different throwing techniques. The first technique I will have him throw using is whatever technique the catcher feels he can generate the absolute maximum velocity with. For most of the catchers I evaluate, this is almost always an outfielder's crow hop. I will also take readings having him throw from his runners-on crouch.

Once I get the player's arm warmed up to game readiness I have him make a throw from a crow hop or whatever technique he likes to generate the maximum velocity with. I time that on the radar gun. I then have him get into his runners-on crouch. I throw him a pitch down the middle and have him throw down full speed. I again time the velocity of that throw with the radar gun. I will then alternate between the 2 throwing techniques for a total of 4 throws with each technique. I will average the 4 throws in each technique group and compare those 2 averages.

After timing over 1,500 catchers this way I have found that a drop in velocity of less then 3% from max velocity to out of crouch velocity is the goal. More of a drop then that and there is something in that player's mechanics of his throw to second base that is excessively "eating" velocity. At that point a close evaluation of those mechanics is needed.

Velocities tend to be varied when I look at the database of kids I have timed. When I look at the speeds for the throws out of crow hops for the different groups I have found the following:
# High School Max-velocity on the low side is in the low 60's. Good for HS would be low-mid 70's; excellent would be mid to upper 70's.
# In the College group the low side is 70-74, good would fall in 75-79, excellent would be 80-84, 85+ would be a serious prospect as far as velocity goes.

Ball Control & Release Efficiency
To evaluate this component I use the following technique. I position the player in front of the black tarp that hangs behind home plate in many batting cages. I measure out 10 feet and draw a line. It must always be 10 feet. The player puts his toes on the line facing the black screen. The coach kneels in front of the catcher, safely off center.

The player gets into his runner on base receiving position. The coach throws the "pitch." The catcher receives the pitch and executes a full speed throw into the screen. It is important that the catcher have the mind set that he is throwing 127 feet to 2nd and throw through the screen to get a reading that reflects his actual mechanics and quickness.

The stopwatch is started when the ball hits glove and stopped when the ball hits the screen. The player must sit on the strike and not move until the ball hits his glove as if it were an 0-2 count late in the game. Because the catcher is releasing the ball about 5 feet in front of the screen, arm strength and ball velocity have little to do with the time recorded on the stopwatch. The drill gives an accurate measurement of how fast the athlete gets the ball in the air. You can also have the catcher throw directly into the fence backstop, but I find the tarp makes a more precise sound when hit, making it easier to ensure a good clocking.

Average release times (times are given here in hundredths of a second) for High School players would be under .95 down to .89, good would be .88 down to .82, and excellent would be .79 and under. These are the times I would expect to find on players that have not had much specific instruction related to improving their release quickness.

I have many players I train that now routinely get the ball in the air in under 7/10 of a second. The fastest release I have ever timed at any age was a 14-year old that throws in the .49-.52 range. He is now 16-years old, has grown 6 inches, added 30 lbs, and can still get the ball in the air in under 6/10 of a second.

While some critics of this evaluation process mention that it does not incorporate all the variables of a game situation, it does give a good base for comparison between any groups of players. Using these measurement techniques allows me to break the throw down into its 3 different phases and better be able to attack the area of greatest weakness in any given player.

I have a number of college players that have guns for arms, velocities out of crouch 85 MPH+ but have slower releases then a number of high school kids. The above evaluation technique has enabled me to isolate what section of their throw is the weakest and look for the flaws that are eating time. Likewise, I have some players that have lightning fast releases but 65 MPH velocity. Again, the evaluation process helps me direct their training efforts in the area of greatest weakness.

Dave Weaver founded The New England Catching Camp in 1994 after realizing that instruction for the toughest position on the diamond was generally unavailable. Coach Weaver teaches at numerous facilities throughout New England and conducts group clinics, team workshops, coaches clinics, as well as private sessions with catchers of all ages. Dave has coached athletes in a variety of sports for over 30 years, and has coached catchers youth through professional levels.

A Coaches Guide to Training Catchers by Dave Weaver Dave is also the author of the DVD A Coaches Guide To Training Catchers, which features over 2½ hours of demonstrations & drills that cover what catchers need to know about receiving, blocking, throwing and fielding.

"Dave takes the art of catching to a level few coaches are able to reach during their regular season," high school baseball coach Joe Lindley says about Coach Weaver's DVD. "His techniques not only teach players how to become great catchers, they teach catchers how to become great leaders."

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Future Is In Your Hands

Just about every college baseball team has started its fall work-outs. The NCAA allows 45 days of practice in the fall and many schools in the Midwest and Northeast are officially on the clock. Colleges run their practice as if it is pre-season, prior to a lengthy season. The practices are a benchmark for the spring season ahead. It's an opportunity to find out how the returners improved from the collegiate summer leagues and the freshmen and transfers fit into the equation. It's a dog fight. No roster spot is safe. And in the end, 35 will stay and the rest will move on.

The greatest thing about college is that there are no parents around to make comments in the stands about playing time or the way a coach manages the game. No e-mails are sent to college coaches from overzealous moms or dads about how great their son is. It's 100% up to the player to show his own mettle and make his own mark.

If a player doesn’t play, he becomes a team player and supports the coach’s decision. It’s his responsibility to compete and turn that status around. It’s always been that way for most players at the collegiate level. Not many Next Level baseball players ever had that kind of mom or dad that mingled in every decision a coach ever made when they were in high school. They had parents that knew that you had to earn the right to play. They were smart enough to understand that college coaches are petty savvy about ability and projectability. Some parents think they can pull the wool over some youth coach’s eyes, but it’s a little tougher higher in the chain.

This fall, all of the aspiring high school athletes out there should take a cue from their college baseball brothers and engage in some fall work-outs themselves…Make sure all of you are playing some additional high level ball, going to the Arizona Senior or Junior Classic, the Dessert Classic in Las Vegas, or the multitude of other great fall tourney’s nationwide that happens this time of year before the leaves turn brown and the ground a snowy white. (South Excluded).

The bottom line is…your baseball future is in YOUR hands…Not your parents…not an influential alumni…YOURS and YOURS alone. If any of you out there want to make a big impression on the baseball world, you need to make a big change in the way you approach the game and your work ethic.

Thousands of college athletes are grinding it out this fall to hopefully make their way to a spot in-between the lines this spring. It’s a dog eat dog battle devoid of politics and based solely on talent, results and the desire to compete hard. This is a great time to mentally prepare yourself for a similar battle. Ramp it up this fall. Go into your spring high school season in incredible shape and with loads of confidence. Create your own dog fight and you will be rewarded with your own spot in the line-up…devoid of politics, parents and solely based on your own efforts.

RT Staff

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mr. Personality

RT Staff Note: Here's an article from Carmen Bucci of the Complete Athlete.

Talking on the phone, or meeting face to face with a college coach is an important step in the college recruiting process. If you receive a phone call or are offered a visit by a college coach, it means that a coach likes your ability as a player, and is interested in learning more about you as a person.

Believe it or not, there’s more to you than just being a baseball player. You all have things about you that are interesting…things that make you unique. You may not think certain things about you are interesting, but others (college coach or professional scout) just might.

The more coaches or scouts know about you, your character, your background, your hobbies & interests, and your personality, the better they know you. In turn, the better they know you, the more they like you. And, finally, the more they like you, the better the chance you have to get recruited or drafted. Remember, when a college coach offers a scholarship or a chance to play at their school, and a professional team considers drafting you, they are making an investment in you.

Another reason to allow others to get to know you is that you just might find you have things in common. Finding things in common makes both of you more comfortable around each other and it makes a conversation go a little smoother. You’ll always have something to talk about with that person. Finally, if you don’t let people get to know you, they’re going to draw their own conclusions. And, those conclusions may not be right.

In my workshops, at the multiple Perfect Game Showcases, I had the pleasure of working with a number of dedicated baseball players. Before the workshop, they were each just 1 of the hundreds of players in attendance. While working together for only an hour, I was able to get to know them as more than just baseball players.

I found out that one of the players speaks Italian, another is interested in physiology, a few of them have traveled overseas, another lived in 6 different cities growing up, another had a great sense of humor, and another was cut from his freshman team, only to come home and begin to work on his hitting in the basement 2 hours later. Not only did he make the team his sophomore year, he started. Most of the players didn’t think that what they were telling me was interesting. However, by the end of the workshop, each player left some type of impression on me.

I had a chance to really get to know the players, and each left an impression on me. Getting to know their personalities, and getting to know each of them as people, led to me wanting to see them succeed. You can have the same effect on a coach or scout.

How do you do that? How do you show your character, your personality, or your confidence without bragging? Stay tuned for next month’s article. We’ll cover how to show vs. tell.

Carmen Bucci
Founder & President

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

There's Never an Off-Season

RT Staff Note: We received an e-mail from one of our readers that passed along a letter his son received 2 years ago from an "advisor" that saw his son play at some showcases and camps. He sent it to us because he reads our blog almost every day and our past posts were almost identical to the words of this "advisor". At the request of the parent, we omitted names and references to the specifics like names and locations of the particular showcases. For the record, the player that this letter was addressed to had over 6 college offers and is presently playing and starting at a major D-I. He listened to the constructive criticism he received and benefited greatly. Will many of you players out there do the same?

Dear (Player),
I am a (Baseball Advisor) and I saw you play at (some recent camps and showcases). I have also talked with a lot of other recruiters and scouts that seem to like your abilities a lot. You have the body type, athleticism and skills that scouts and recruiters are looking for. That's the good news and definitely something to build on.

My job as a (advisor) is to identify and critique players and to prepare them for their future as a potential draft pick whether it is next year or after your junior year in college. While you have the basic tools, I am going to brutally honest with you and say that you need some major adjustments in the attitude department. Let me explain. I have heard that you are very coachable. That is not the problem. However, a house pet is "coachable". I can get my dog to do whatever I tell him, if you get the analogy. You need to work on what every player in the Bigs has. You need to play and display your talents with a lot of extra heart at the plate, in the field and in the dug-out. You need to make quicker decisions, have better instincts and be aware of the situation around you. Let me see a more hard nosed approach and the sky is the limit for you.

For example, although this may seem minor, I have been watching your approach at the plate. You start off looking great. You look very confident until the pitcher gets into his wind-up and then your confidence takes a hit a bit. A good pitcher, catcher or coach will pick that up and start to challenge you more. As a result, that gives the pitcher the advantage. Also, you may have been nervous but, at the (XYZ Showcase) you took a lot of good pitches. You need to attack those pitches and take them to the opposite field. As you get older and the competition gets stiffer, you will not see many "wheelhouse fastballs". You need to have the confidence that you can hit ANY ball at ANY part of the strike zone to ANY part of the park.

A lot of hitting is more about the mental approach than the physical. You need to put yourself in the mindset that you are in control. You OWN that pitcher. I don't care if he is throwing 95 or 75. You OWN him. You have the tools. You are like a high tech race car that is capable of reaching speeds of up to 230 mph. But if you don't put your foot on the gas pedal, you won't go anywhere. Your brain and attitude is your gas pedal. Step on it and you will reach your potential.

From now until the beginning of your high school season is your time to concentrate on getting better. Are you doing that everyday? If not, you will not reach your potential or goals. The type of player we are looking for swings at least 5-600 times a day...everyday. The type of player we are looking for is working on his defense everyday with a fellow player, his father, brother or by himself. That is the most important thing of all.

You are at the stage of your life where as a position player, you will be playing over 100 ball games a year. You need to be in top physical condition to be able to withstand that kind of schedule. Whether you play infield or outfield at the next level, you need to strengthen your legs, your core, and turn your arm into an Iron Mike. You need to have a schedule and stick by that schedule everyday. I suggest mornings before lunch (follow that up with a big, hearty lunch) in the summer and once school starts, take advantage of your schools facilities and work out a good three hours a day everyday including Fridays with a different routine every other day.

(Player), we look at hundreds of ball players just like you each year. I am telling you all of this because most don't have the athleticism that you have, but they have the heart. If you could just work harder and smarter each and everyday, you will see unbelievable results. For instance, according to the XYZ Showcase), you ran a 7 second sixty. By the time your high school season starts, we would like you to run a 6.7 sixty. Again, you have the body to do that, you just need the desire, attitude and work ethic to make it happen.

I hope you take my advice seriously, because scouts will be watching and following you. Good luck the rest of your summer and fall. We will be seeing you this coming high school season. If you follow my advice, you will dominate your league and then, who knows what will happen next?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Putting Things Into Perspective

One of our contributors had a converstaion over the weekend about how ridiculous the lengths parents go in travel baseball. She went on to say that the money spent on travel, coaches, tournaments, was out of hand and that she would never do that for her son. Her son, although a good athlete, preferred music. My colleague then asked her how she supported her son's passion for music. She replied that there were music lessons, acoustic and electric guitar purchases, travel and fees to battle of the band contests, music camps and a college recruitment expert to help them apply for the right music scholarship. After her reply, she defended herself and sheepishly said..."But what we do is different". My colleague gave her a look and they both knew...There was absolutely no difference between what he contributed to his sons passion to what she contributed to hers.

Ask any parent that wants the best for their son. Whether it's entering their son in a Battle Bot Contest, golf tourney, tennis match, optimists clubs, debate teams, volleyball select teams, etc., We all want the best for our kids. Don't feel guilty that you are doing too much for your son. You are only doing too much, if your son never wanted to do what you signed him up for. In other words, if it's your passion and not his, you are wasting your money. Ask him what HE wants...and if it's to be a great baseball player then pursue that route. If it's to be an computer engineer, then pursue that.

Readers that regularly browse Rounding Third are baseball fanatics...Heck, the people that write this blog are baseball MANIACS...but we wouldn't have started this site if we didn't have sons that had an incredible passion for the sport. You probably wouldn't be reading this blog if we didn't have that in common with each other. Because our sons had that passion, it made us realize what it really takes to succeed, and we think you all should know as well.

It takes an incredible work ethic, a love for the sport, and a desire to be a winner to have a chance to play at the next level. If your son has all of these qualities, then investing in him is a must. You'd do the same if he was a math wiz, chess master, artist, musician, actor or computer programming genius. The parents of all of those kids will do what it takes to make sure their kid has a chance to succeed at the next level. So should the sons of baseball players.

Go back and read some of our older posts and you will see the lengths it takes to play at the next level. Yes, it is very involved...and all so very necessary. The camps, showcases, travel teams are part of the process and whether or not he has the chance to pursue baeball as a least he will know whatever road he takes post high school or college will require the same amount of work ethic and desire to suceed...and that will give him all the edge he needs to get ahead in life.

RT Staff

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stay Away From The Dark Side Of Attitude

We talk a lot 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.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Failure Is Part Of The Game...Adjust and Learn!

Baseball endures because its myth and statistics endure. It is constant. Winning 20 games as a pitcher or batting .300 is still the same measure of excellence today as it was before my grandfather was born.

Someone much wiser than I once wrote that whoever wants to know the heart, soul and mind of America had better learn baseball. How true. I doubt that many football fans can say how many touchdown passes Joe Montana threw, or the number of goals Michael Jordan scored. But all real baseball fans know that Ted Williams hit .400, Hank Aaron ended up with 755 home runs and broke Babe Ruth's record of 714 (sorry Barry, 762 hasn't quite sunk in yet) and Joltin Joe had a 56 game hitting streak.

In many ways, baseball is a simple game that anyone can follow and enjoy. It is also a complex game. I once read that somebody computed 18,000 different situations that players have to react to without having the time to think about it.

But like America and it's roller coaster history of stops and starts and ups and downs, failure is an acceptable norm. My former coach used to quote Confucius and state, "A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it is committing another mistake."

Babe Ruth struck out twice in one inning 32 times. Hank Aaron ground into more double plays than any other player. Nolan Ryan lost more games than all but 7 pitchers in major league history. Yet, they are all in the Hall of Fame.

That's the essence of baseball, of life and how you deal with failure. If any of you young men out there are having an off day or summer, learn from it and know that even the greats of this game had much, much worse games than you. They just worked harder and made the adjustments. The harder you work, the easier it can get. Work hard this summer boys and above all, have fun. It's a game, after all.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sharpening The Saw

RT Staff Note: The following Is from Baseball Fit, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Quotations with attribution permitted. Cite source as Steve Zawrotny's BASEBALL FIT Hitting & Pitching Academy -

Perhaps you have heard of a concept leadership and management guru Stephen Covey calls "Sharpening the Saw." While he was aiming this idea to the business world, it has applicability to those who coach and play sports as well.

Basically, the concept goes like this:

Don't get so busy sawing that you forget to sharpen the saw.

What happens to the saw while you are sawing?

It gets dull.

What happens when your saw becomes dull?

You can still saw, but the process becomes much less effective. The work is harder and takes longer - you just don't saw as well.

To bring this back to baseball and softball, I've noticed a trend that is not new, but may well be developing into a problem. The situation is the growing proliferation of travel teams at all age levels at nearly all times of the year. While things do slow down a bit in areas of the country with cold winters, in many places, baseball and softball are becoming nearly a year round activity.

First, there is the normal spring ball season. Practice for this may begin in January or February (in some places, even earlier), with games beginning in late March. The season continues until June, then summer league begins. This typically will run into August, and then school starts again.

In many areas of the country, this means Fall league ball. Practice for this often begins in August, and the Fall season can run into late October.

So, you have 10 or so months of 'sawing' with young ball players, leaving perhaps two months to 'sharpen the saw.' I wonder if this is enough time for players to work on new skills development, along with appropriate strength and conditioning.

No doubt that the best way to improve in baseball and softball is to play a lot. This is why many of the best (but not all!) players come from warm weather states - CA, TX, FL and others. They simply have better weather allowing them to play and practice more.

But is there a point where the returns for all these games and travel diminish? Where it's time to stop and take some time to 'sharpen the saw?' I think there is. Consider the major league season: April - September, then the playoffs. Two teams go all the way to the World Series in October.

Therefore, the vast majority of big leaguers are playing about 5 months (admittedly, a LOT of games), not counting Spring training (pre season). And there are various winter leagues that certain players participate in for additional skill development.

But, while playing a lot of games in a relatively short period of time is physically demanding, the big boys have a LOT of down time with which to recover or Sharpen the Saw.

I submit that coaches and parents need to consider this idea carefully. It is well known that acquiring a new skill takes time, and that there is usually a decrement in performance as one learns and implements a new skill. That's why it's usually best to not make any major mechanical
adjustments during the regular season. And, with all the games and practices during the regular season, coaches know it's tougher to provide a lot of individual attention to their players.

This is becoming more apparent by the increasing number of questions I get about how to implement a good all around Strength & Conditioning program during the season. Or how to fit in arm strength or bat speed workouts between games and practices. It can be done, but it's not easy.

Here are some key points to consider:

1) In what areas does your player(s) need to improve? Prioritize them.

2) Take the first priority (let's say it's running speed improvement) and make it the first thing to work on after any skill work for that day. Skill work requires more precision as it is performed. For this to be most effective, one should not be tired or the skill work can suffer.

3) If your player has multiple areas where they need to improve, consider taking some time off from all the playing and games. Will missing Summer or Fall ball really hurt you, considering you'll be working on new skill development, along with S & C?

4) This brings us to the idea of 'active rest.' The athlete remains physically active, but in some other sport or activity than baseball or softball. Sort of the 'cross training' concept, which allows the ballplayer to recover physically and mentally from their regular routine. As long as the ball player is staying active, most any activity will suffice.

Here's a basic format for a well rounded off-season
S & C workout:

M - Strength, Flexibility work
T - Power work, Flexibility, Energy System conditioning
W - S, F
TH - P, F
F - S, F
Sat - ES, F

Do any hitting or pitching mechanical work before these workouts, e.g., skill work in the AM, S & C work in the PM.

5) Let the energy level of your player(s) be your guide. If s/he is having fun, is full of energy and enthusiasm about their workouts, is not feeling unduly sore, etc., then let them go. On days they may be feeling tired and worn down, it's time for a day off. Just pick up at the next day's workout - don't worry about making up for the missed work.

Remember, everyone needs to stop and 'Sharpen the Saw' at some point. If it means not playing as many games in order to do so, so be it. The idea of taking one step back in order to more quickly take two steps forward is very legitimate and worth making a part of your player development program.

(C) 2004 Baseball Fit, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Quotations with attribution permitted. Cite source as Steve Zawrotny's BASEBALL FIT Hitting & Pitching Academy -

The information contained in this newsletter is the opinion
of the author based on his personal observations and years
of experience. Neither Steve Zawrotny or Baseball Fit
assume any liability whatsoever for the use of or inability to
use any or all of the information contained in this newsletter.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

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.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

You can be one of the 10%

I was listening to a radio talk show program the other day on the economy and they were talking about how a overwhelming majority of the World's wealth lies in the hands of about 10% of the worlds population. And, even if all of the World's wealth were to be distributed evenly amongst each and every one of us on earth...within a few years, that money would end up in the hands of nearly the same 10% of the worlds population.

They stated that there have been actual studies to prove that this is beyond just a theory. Success breads success and magnetically attracts even more success. If you don't have a successful and positively driven attitude, you won't have positive outcomes.

Suddenly acquiring money doesn't ensure future success and prosperity either...It has to earned...programmed and a belief system in place to make it work. You need to have that positively driven mindset to hang on and grow your wealth. Look at many lottery winners. Most come from poor, downtrodden backgrounds, mired in negativity and despair. And nearly all of those winners lose that money in a very short period of time. They didn't have the winning formula, the positive and magnetic flow of energy needed to be successful.

Those 10% that have all of the wealth, love wealth and love to love their lifestyle. They have a passion, a desire and love to compete for the opportunity to make more money. Love attracts more love. Those lottery winners were full of despair, hatred for those who had money, and were dissatisfied with just about everything in their lives. When the money came, the hatred and dissatisfaction were still present and they tried to buy their way into a better life...But as the Beatles once sang..."Money Can't Buy You Love". They didn't embrace the money, they spent it...all of it.

The same could be said for baseball athletes. If you look up and down the stats for baseball, 10% of the players have a majority of the talent, money and fame along with truly remarkable, HOF worthy stats. Those 10% have a passion, a desire and love for the game. They live to work and work to live a great and successful life as a baseball player.

Yogi Berra had it right when he infamously stated that "Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical." Success is a mental state. Hall Of Fame type of players have the mental capacity to focus, and think a pitch or two ahead of everyone else. They play scenarios in their mind and visualize their success and the positive outcomes over and over in their sleep, and in their off-peak hours.

They don't think about striking out or errors. They think about hits, RBI's and Web Gem plays. They embrace the positive aspects of the game and don't give one nano-second of thought about anything negative.

The 90% of the other players think way too much about the 70-75% of the at bats they didn't succeed, rather than the 30% they did. Over time, they begin to embrace their failure and as a result more failure soon follows. The 70% failure rate becomes 80% and soon they are out of the game.

The 10% of successful players only think about the 30% success rate and how awesome it is to be in the company of the all-time greats of the game. Over time, those numbers become 31 or 32% and confidence swells. They relish in a 1% gain as if that was a gift from the heavens. In the field, they want the ball hit to them on every play.

Those 10% prepare physically and mentally 8-10 hours a day for their fame. They do it out a intense desire and love for the game. It is what separates the great players from the role players. Be one of the 10%...Love the game...respect the game and you will be at least on the right path to success.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Your Success Starts With A Daily Routine

In conversations with a few of our contributors, they have asked us to be a bit more detailed on the daily conditioning program during the school year, so that it can be applied to our popular 3-Part Series we published throughout this week.

Many strength and conditioning experts will have their own ideas and routines, and it would take three pages to give you all of the details...Plus, we are not licensed trainers...So, we have provided you an outline to use as a training template below. While you can do long toss, stretching, hitting, fielding and most core drills on your own, ask your conditioning coach at school or at the gym or a place like Velocity Training on the actual details as it relates to speed drills, equipment and amount of weight you should use. Or, just go to the right hand column of this site and click on the many different web sites that offer baseball training techniques and subscribe to their services.

Why is this important? Mostly to become a stronger player and above all to avoid injury...You are at the stage of your life as a High School Position Player or Two-Way Player, where you will be playing over 100 ball games a year, especially in the warm weather states where baseball is just about a year round activity. You need to be in top physical condition to be able to withstand that kind of schedule. Whether you pitch, play infield or outfield, you need to strengthen your legs, core, and turn your arm into an Iron Mike. You need to have a schedule and stick by that schedule everyday. As we mentioned in our 3-Part Series, take advantage of your schools facilities and work out at least two hours a day everyday with a different routine every other day. Also,it is very important that you eat a small snack prior to your school work-outs and then come home and eat a big, nutritious dinner. Consult your school trainer on the types and number of meals you should be eating every day. Because you are working out every day, be sure to drink at least 10 (8oz.)glasses of water everyday too..

Here's a sample schedule:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Stretch, band work, core conditioning....20 minutes
Long Toss....20 minutes
Hitting...200 swings Wood bat only
Speed conditioning...30 minutes
Weights...Upper body...30 minutes

Tuesday, Thursday
Stretch, band work, core conditioning....30 minutes
Fielding drills...30 minutes
Hitting...300 swings Wood bat only
Weights...Lower Body...30 minutes

Saturday, Sunday
Games, fall, winter ball wood bat only even in games when they use metal, you should use only wood and work on hitting the ball in the sweet spot.

We hope this helps...Trainers, specialists are welcome to comment on this post.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Senior Year Timeline...It's Not Too Late!

The early signing period is coming in November and many of the top players that were recognized earlier in the year will sign. That doesn’t mean that all of the best players will sign. Inevitably, a number of quality players will remain unsigned until the next signing period in April of 2011. Some players will remain unsigned because of a lack of exposure, others because their body, skills, talent, speed and abilities have developed later, and others may have been just lost in the shuffle…Bottom line…DON’T GIVE UP!!! There is a reason the NCAA has two signing periods.

Now, if you are not signed and fall into one of the reasons stated above then read below. You still have a lot of the timeline left to finish. (SEE PARTS ONE AND TWO OF THE TIMELINE IN THE PRIOR POSTS)

However, if you are already set to sign your NLI, (National Letter of Intent) you can’t give up either!!!!! Continue and step up your daily work-outs even more. Too many athletes get complacent after they have committed to their college and therefore end up having less than stellar Senior seasons. Don’t let that happen to you! That includes your grades. Don’t get a case of senior-itus and let your grades suffer in the process! From this point on, baseball, school and life in general becomes more challenging and the challengers more competitive. Work hard and set yourself up to have the season and school year of your life.

For those that have not committed, relax…There are many out there that think that if you haven’t committed to a college by the fall of your senior year, then your chances of getting a college scholarship are slim. That’s not so. While many of the high profile players have committed early, there are still a lot of colleges throughout the country still recruiting. The questions are…Are you still trying hard to get noticed? Are you still sending out letters? Are you making visits and enrolling in the fall college camps?

Go to the links I have supplied you in the right column of this site and find out which organizations are offering showcases for “Uncommitted Seniors”.

One event out west is the Perfect Game 2010 West Uncommitted Showcase Click on the Perfect Game link to the right.

There are other things you can also do:
· Send out your schedules for fall leagues, camps and showcases to all coaches
· Call the coaches…Remember, after July 1, you can now talk to them. You can contact college coaches by phone at any time.
· Step up your work out schedule.
· Have your fall and high school coaches start to make more calls on your behalf.
· Schedule official visits with your targeted schools and meet the coaches and staff.
· Send out Skills videos to those coaches that haven’t seen you play enough.

Bottom line...don't get discouraged. If you have a desire to play at the next level and the D-1 route isn't working for you, Try a D-2, D-3 ot NAIA school. Many JC's offer great academics and very competitive baseball programs, especially in the southern states. If you are still growing and maturing as a player, you may be told by coaches to develop your strength and game at a JC first anyway. Look at the rosters of your target colleges and you will see that many four year colleges recruit JC players to fill roster spots.

I hope that this three part series has helped you. Underclassmen, print these posts out and use it as your guide throughout high school. Upperclassmen, it's not too late. Remember, whatever age you are, there is never a substitute for hard work and discipline...Those that make that their daily mantra, will have success in their lives...whether that life includes baseball or not!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sophomre and Junior Years are the Most Important

We continue our timeline through the sophomore and junior years. If you followed the plan that we detailed for you in our last post in your freshman year, you are used to the drill. This time however, you are playing for keeps, because sophomore and juniors ARE looked at by college and pro scouts alike...Follow this timeline and you may get what you want.

· How did you do academically your freshman year? If the answer was great, then continue with the same routine of conditioning and work-outs you had as a freshman. Most of you are first timers to this site, so look at the last post and follow the same routine as we outlined for freshman.
* Now if your grades weren't so hot, then you need to plan your day better and make sure that you are carrying a 3.3 or higher. High school will get harder as you progress, so buckle down and get into a disciplined routine that includes the aforemnentioned work-outs AND will allow you at least 3 hours of studying (not in front of TV) a night. Sit down with your high school counselor and tell him your goals and make sure you are taking the curriculum necessary to get into the colleges you are targeting. As hard as maintaining grades and playing a varsity sport at the same time may seem to you now, wait until you go to college. A college student/athlete is a high school student athlete times 10! We will discuss this in another post, but the demands in college are far greater than what you think you are experiencing now...So our advice is to get yourself disciplined now, so you can transition to college more smoothly.

January-May· Enjoy your high school baseball season. Whether or not you are on varsity or JV, play hard and smart. If you think you are good enough to be on varsity, don’t worry, many high school coaches will favor their upperclassmen. If you are good, you will get your shot next year. Be thankful that you get to play everyday on JV.
· Summer travel ball is more important than ever…There are never too many games in travel ball. The more reps against the best, the better you will get.

July-August· Attend an Area Code Camp in your region or state – Log onto Area Codes web site…(Listed in the right green column).
· Scour the web sites to the right about the many showcases offered in your area. The summer of your sophomore year is when college scouts get serious. Start sending your profile sheets and letters with more frequency before every showcase and camp or tournament you attend and personalize the letters to each coach.
· If there is a Perfect Game or Team One in your area attend those. They will prove invaluable to your reputation as a player. If they don’t have a showcase, there are many more. Look to the right for the showcases in your area.
· If you get more letters back, respond to every one, no matter if they are not in your top 10. Leave all doors wide open.

· Register for the fall SAT standardized tests ...We suggest the SAT because it is accepted by most all of the top schools and it is a bit harder. You should want the harder test right? Hopefully most you took yours in October as well.
· Get the best score that you can. Take it two to three times if necessary even if you qualified for the target schools minimum requirement the first time. Always strive to do better than what is required. You wouldn’t do the minimum required of you in a baseball game would you???
· Register for the NCAA Clearinghouse. The link is to the right.
· Step up your work-outs from the previous years work-outs. You are starting to mature and you are able to take more on physically.
· Double check if you are NCAA eligible with your counselor.

Feb -May· Send out your high school schedule to all of your contacts. Find out what local paper covers your team frequently and send a link to each coach so that they can follow you. If your high school web site is up to date on the daily box scores and news, send them that link as well.
· Go visit the schools of your choice when you have time. Many have "Junior Days" during the spring, usually on Sundays. GO TO THEM!! THEY ARE IMPORTANT!! These are all “unofficial visits” and the bill will be on you.
· Plan your summer schedule!!! This is when the rubber hits the road…Attend all the important showcases. Go to the WWBA in Atlanta. Work to get invited to the Area Code try-outs and a USA Baseball try-out as an example. Have a plan in place and work towards getting as many phone calls as possible on July 1…the day when you can be officially contacted.

Summer· June and July are the primary showcase and camp months. If you followed the timeline, you will have gotten invitations to the camps of the schools of your choice, and to the invitation-only showcases. Continue sending out your letters and tell them of your successful Junior year on varsity. If you received any local awards such as first team in league or metro honors, tell them that up front!
· This is by far the most important time of a player’s baseball life. For instance, many of the better players will have received offers by the middle of the summer.


· The NCAA allows phone contact after July 1 of your Junior year.