Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Staying Closer 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 2010-11 fall/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.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Slow Down Time...With Your Mind


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

By Enoch Tan / Creator of Secrets of Mind and Reality

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

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

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

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

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

Be Fully Alive to This Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Experience Timelessness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Move Into the "Zone" of Higher Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slow Time Down and Stop the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enoch Tan is the creator of Secrets of Mind Reality.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Keep Up The Conditioning


Fall work-outs are 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 BaseballConditioning.net or BaseballFit.com

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!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More changes in baseball and the draft

I responded to the following response to Kendall Rodgers great article about changes the MLB draft needs.

The cure all for almost every problem with college baseball is more scholarships. Does softball get the same 11.7? they only use one pitcher all year, who said softball and baseball should be compared by title 9?

Here's my response....

Unfortunately, Title IX is not a sport by sport comparison. I wish it was. Softball programs only have rosters of 18 players...11.7 divided into 18 is a much higher percentage that they can offer their players...Doesn't seem fair.

Football with its 88 scholarships throws the equality way out of whack...that's why you have women's crew offering 18 scholarships and other fringe/country club sports offering more scholarships than their male counterparts....to even things out.

I have the following suggestions...

1. I think that in the fairness of the free enterprise system...MLB needs to have one all inclusive draft...just like the NBA...It can have it's free for all way up to the 8th round...but should include any and all foreign born players in that draft. The Carribean/Central, South American and Asian players are the wild card when a kid gets drafted out of high school. If I were a infielder coming out of high school, I would want to know how the scouts rate me as opposed to a similar and possibly older and more baseball mature Dominican infielder up front...and not later when I report to rookie league. That alone could determine whether or not college is the better option. After the 8th round...then I suggest a Hard Slot system.

2. Increase the scholarships to 20. This is especially important to those financially strapped families that may reluctantly choose to sign with a major league club because they don't have the money to subsidize the 50% gap that the scholarship doesn't cover. . If a kid is drafted in the 10th round...he will have a decision to make...take the recommended slot money or the equivalent of $20,000 a year in scholarship money and get a priceless education. It makes college look better...since most draftable players are getting the equivalent of $10-12,000 in scholarship money now.

3.Move the MLB signing deadline up to July 1. It's hard enough for college coaches to recruit as it is..Give them time to make some adjustments and even some late recruiting attempts.

4.Switch to wood bats...Since the new metal bat guidelines are supposed to be more similar to wood anyway...just switch to wood...make it identical to the pro game. Cost isn't an issue...bat companies usually subsidize the cost of bats to the schools anyway. Most kids I have talked to that play in the summer collegiate leagues prefer the wood bats anyway. Metal bats to them are like cheating...and nobody likes a cheat.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Life After the Pro's


RT Staff Note: We ran an article a month ago about the pros and cons of going pro after high school. Today's article is from Lori Gilbert and deals with issues of finding a career after sports are over. Our take on this subject is that if a high school star decided to go to college, get a degree, or at least completes 3 years of his college studies before he goes pro, he will have a better transition into the real world to find a job after the pro career is over. (MLB can only draft college baseball players after they finish their junior year in college.)

We aren't talking about A-Rods post career plans. He is an exception and represents only a small fraction of the pro baseball universe. He is set. We are talking about the 95% of the other athletes that infiltrate the minors that have their careers cut short due to on the field or off the field struggles, injury and the myriad of other reasons why the attrition in baseball is so high. Despite all of the economic benefits of going pro after high school, we could make a MasterCard commercial about all of the reasons why a college education is Priceless!

Now, as we have stated many times in the past... if only the NCAA would make baseball a higher priority and rule that college baseball can fund as many as 20 or more scholarships, then going to college to play ball, get an education and mature as a person in a more controlled environment would be the first choice of most high school stars. Every athlete should experience college period, get a degree, and acquire the building blocks necessary to seek a career as if sports were not part of the scenario. The problem with a player that signs out of high school is that he is forced to grow up in a hurry at 17 or 18 years old. Many players still need that transitional period as a buffer to the real world that college offers.

The following article is a glimpse of post professional life and the struggles and issues that athletes face after sports.


LORI GILBERT
Record Staff Writer

When the spotlight goes off, it's not easy finding a comfort role in society

Ed Sprague went to spring training with the Texas Rangers in 2002, and when a reporter asked him what he brought to the team, Sprague was stumped.

"I couldn't think of one thing," Sprague said.

After 11 years in the major leagues, he knew it was time to leave.

He returned to Stockton, to his home, to his wife and three kids, and moved on.

"I always knew I'd be a coach, but I didn't know at what level. Little League, high school, college," he said.

Sprague, who is finishing his (fifth) season as the head coach at University of the Pacific, is one of the lucky ones. Or at the very least, a rare exception.

If throwing a touchdown in the Super Bowl, sinking a free throw with the game on the line or hitting a 95 mph fastball is tough, athletes who have excelled at such feats will tell you that not being asked to do those things anymore is even tougher.

Living your life after a career in sports is one of the hardest professions out there.

"You put everything you have into it, all you have, and when it's gone, most guys at the end of their careers are being told, 'You're no longer useful,' " said Guy McIntyre, who played guard in the NFL for 13 years, 10 of them for the 49ers.

It goes beyond being told that, though.

"The hardest thing was that my whole identity was tied up in being a volleyball player," said Pacific graduate Elaina Oden, a two-time Olympian. "When volleyball wasn't there, it was hard to make the adjustment."

She's not alone.

"My identity was always as Adrian the football player, Adrian the baseball player, Adrian the athlete," said Adrian McBride, a University of Missouri graduate who spent three years in the NFL "Since I was 10 years old, I was pushed to be the best. All of a sudden the (NFL) didn't need me. I was working in a meat factory and didn't like that. I thought it was beneath me. I was a bellman at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus. That was beneath me. It was devastating to me. They were paying me to carry other people's bags."

Life in the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball means someone carrying your bags. Elite athletes are accustomed to their every need being addressed.

"The hardest part was making the transition from a really controlled environment, all the time knowing what you're going to do next," champion Olympic swimmer Brad Schumacher said. "We planned two or three years out. It was easy to focus on a goal and a result. When I no longer had that obvious goal, the difficult part was figuring out what my new goal was going to be."

He swam his last competitive race at the 2004 Olympic trials. He played professional water polo in Australia and Greece. He also completed his master's degree in business administration at Pacific and teamed up with former teammate Wolf Wigo to form Kap7 Water Polo, a company that creates and sells water polo products and consults on new pool construction.

Oden eventually earned a master's degree, too, and works for New York Life as a financial consultant. Getting there from the disappointed 29-year-old who'd endured knee surgeries and cortisone injections only to see her team finish seventh in Atlanta after winning bronze in Barcelona was a long journey.

"The Olympics were on, and I couldn't watch,'' she said. "There was too much angst watching them try to do what I tried and failed to do. It was hard to watch them lose."

A weekend at a Landmark Forum, a motivational program, inspired her to put her frustration with the past behind her and focus on her future.

It's led her to financial planning, where 90 percent of her clients are athletes and former athletes.

"Eventually, I'd like to have nothing but athletes, to help them," Oden said.
Helping athletes is a path many former players have taken.

McIntyre works for the 49ers as the director of player development, implementing an NFL program begun in the '90s whose purpose is to prepare rookies for their careers and life after football.

McIntyre is in his third year with the program, so he doesn't know if the information provided on continuing education, financial education, offseason internships and personal assistance has helped.

"Very few guys have come back and said it's helped," McIntyre said.

One person who doesn't expect it to help is agent Bob Lamonte. "The NFL program is a Band-Aid solution," Lamonte said. A history teacher for 25 years, Lamonte used his education background to develop a program of his own to prepare athletes for their post-career lives.

It began with a personality test to determine interests and included a step-by-step program to prepare an athlete to move into that job upon retirement. The Toronto Blue Jays were one of the few professional teams to pay for the program for its players. It's how Lamonte met Sprague.

"Ed Sprague's a model for what to do when you retire," Lamonte said.

Sprague's model was his dad, Ed Sprague Sr., who played in the days when athletes worked in the offseason.

Those players were better prepared to move on to life after sports.

"You would try to become a spokesperson, or a (public relations) person for a brewery or soft drink firm," said R.C. "Alley Oop" Owens, who played pro football from 1957-64. "You'd beat the bushes looking for one of those jobs."

Owens worked as a recreation leader in Menlo Park in the offseason, then through his college football coach he landed a job with J.C. Penney giving motivational speeches across the country to youngsters. He earned more in the offseason than he earned playing football.

Athletes have always moved into roles as broadcasters, but those jobs are precious.

Some spend their retirement years giving back. Some enter politics.

Others serve as cautionary tales. From former Astros pitcher J.R. Richard, who was found homeless and sleeping under a bridge, to Dwight Gooden's recent return to prison for drug abuse, there are plenty of bad examples.

"Studies show 70 to 80 percent are bankrupt and/or divorced within five years of the end of their career," McBride said.

He never fell to those depths, but it took several years of meat-cutting, bag-carrying and employment recruiting before McBride found his niche.

"I was watching the NCAA basketball tournament in 2002, and they kept showing this NCAA commercial about 360,000 athletes all going pro in something other than sports," McBride said. "It was a great commercial, but extremely misleading to former athletes. The perception is they'll ride off into the sunset like any average student."

He and his wife, a former All-American gymnast, knew better.

They began a nonprofit program called Life After Sports and set up shop in the athletic department at Missouri.

Like Lamonte, they begin with assessment tests to determine athletes' interests. From there, they prepare them to be non-athletes.

McBride has run golf and tennis events, as well as dinners, to train them in proper decorum. He provides lessons on business etiquette and résumé writing. He's worked to get them internships, geared around their sports schedules.

"Slowly but surely, we're making a difference," McBride said.

He hopes eventually to spread his program across the country.

Women may have an easier time making the transition than men.

"For women, there aren't a lot of opportunities (in pro sports)," said former Pacific point guard Selena Ho, who dreamed of playing professionally but knew it was a long shot. She has stayed in the game as a coach, currently as an assistant at Oregon.

"They generally have the desire, but they are more honest with themselves, have a more honest assessment of what their capabilities are and can be."

Not so much with men, McBride said.

"Especially in the big sports - basketball, football, baseball - guys are here for one reason, to get to the NFL, NBA or major leagues. When I was playing 20 years ago, I don't remember talking about going to the NFL. That was something you kept to yourself."

Now, it's more of an expectation than a dream, which can make the disappointment of not making it even more devastating.

Helping athletes make the transition is now the work of McBride and McIntyre, among others, who understand that the toughest job an athlete will ever have is not being one anymore.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rise, Shine and Eat!


RT Staff Note: We have always thought that breakfast is a terrible word. It's neither a break or should it be fast. It's an integral part of a young athletes eating routine. The following article is from Julie Nicoletti of Kinetic Fuel. KN provides personalized nutritional education and counseling for serious individuals seeking improved performance, health and well being. Their unique advantage is their interactive, multi-level nutritional program targeted towards an athletes goals.

Some people wake up starving and can’t wait to have breakfast while others can’t even stand the thought of food in the morning. Then there are those who would rather sleep than take the time to eat. Consider this: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is an essential part of an athlete’s diet.

Eating breakfast fuels your metabolism, feeds your brain, improves concentration, lengthens attention span, decreases irritability and mid morning fatigue and helps accomplish weight goals. Convinced?

Eating breakfast is nonnegotiable. No excuses accepted.

Strategies for Eating Breakfast:
*Not your favorite? Eat healthy foods that appeal to you. You’ve heard of breakfast for dinner, you can also have dinner for breakfast.

*Rather sleep? Free up time for breakfast by doing some morning chores the night before. Plan, prepare and lay out whatever you can ahead of time. Take it to-go: make a smoothie or egg sandwich that is portable and can be eaten on the go.

*No appetite? Wake up a few minutes earlier to give your body time to feel hungry. Consider starting small~ a few bites and a few sips the first day and increase daily. Split it up: eat half at home and half on the road.

Ideas for breakfast:
*Egg whites, one whole egg veggie omelet on whole grain toast or bagel or as a wrap in a Joseph’s Oat Bran, Whole Wheat and Flax lavash, pita or tortilla, plus fruit, milk or yogurt. For variety, top omelet w/ salsa and add black beans OR fry egg whites using spray like Pam, OR eat hardboiled egg whites to go. Plan ahead. Make enough for a few days, place eggs in pita/tortilla, wrap in paper towel and then in a sandwich baggie. Microwave one each morning.

*Smoothie: blend ice, low fat yogurt, fruit or peanut butter with protein powder or cottage or ricotta cheese. Can take this to-go.

*Whole grain (Kashi) waffles or protein pancakes topped with nut butter and banana OR cottage cheese or yogurt with fruit like mixed berries or apple slices and cinnamon OR natural applesauce. Make into a sandwich if it’s to-go.

*Make the night before: mix ½ c. Old Fashioned Oats w/ 1 c skim or 1% milk and 1/8 c. unsalted sunflower seeds plus raisins or craisins. Add cinnamon to taste.

*Make the night before: mix together and chill~ 1 scoop whey protein powder with 6 oz. 1% milk and 1 tsp. sugar free jello pudding mix. (239 cal, 33g protein, 17g carb, 4g fat)

*Vanilla Chobani yogurt w/ oats, raisins or craisins, sunflower seeds, cinnamon mixed in. OR Hood fat free cottage cheese with diced apples and cinnamon or pineapple and walnuts or Friendship whipped cottage cheese or part skim ricotta on top of Ezekiel or whole grain bread plus fruit.

*Whole grain cereal w/ fiber and low sugar (Total, Kashi, Special K, Smart Start, organic choices – read labels) w/ skim or 1% milk, fruit, yogurt.

*Leftover dinner.

*Tuna melt or turkey, chicken breast on whole grain English muffin plus fruit and milk or yogurt.

*Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread and milk.

Whatever you decide, however creative you may be, decide to eat a healthy breakfast. It’s the best way to fuel your day.

Eat well. Play like a champion!

Monday, August 23, 2010

College Preview Mania

I love college sports and am a big fan of college football. This weekend, I watched all of the ESPN college previews....read the Sports Illustrated college football preview and listened to a college report on the radio and internet. You can't escape it. And...that's the way it should be.

I only wish that college baseball would get the same pre-season and in-season coverage. Some of the biggest names in baseball today are former college players. Steven Strasburg, Ryan Howard, Kevin Youkilis, Marlyn Byrd, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Pat Burrell, Brian Wilson, Aubrey Huff, Evan Longoria, Huston Street, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Dustin Padroia, Andre Ethier, Chase Utley, Clay Bucholtz, David Price and Tim Husdson to name just a few...there are literally hundreds.

There are enough great MLB players that have played college ball to justify to fans, the networks and advertisers that there are really future stars playing in college. That should make for great story lines...great theater and incredible baseball.

So....when is going to happen...When is College baseball going to get its prime time pre-season special????

Friday, August 20, 2010

Make The Most Of Your Opportunity


"You don't lose when you get knocked down, you lose when you decide to not get up."

I can't remember where I saw this quote or who said it. I'm not even sure I have the right words. It's just one of those thoughts that I recall from time to time and it gets me through a tough situation at work. I'm one of those odd parents that often see quotes that I think would inspire my kids. I usually print them out and lay them inconspicuously by the computer where they do their homework. They never acknowledge that they see any of these quotes and I never ask them if they saw it. The quote will just sit there for a few days and get tossed on weekends when my wife does her clean sweep of the house. But, I'm pretty sure they see it and think how weird their father is and then quickly move on to explore the wonders of Facebook or I-Tunes. Nevertheless, maybe it's one of those subliminal messages that just pop up in their mind when they need it the most. They have had tremendous success with baseball and have a pretty terrific attitude, so maybe....

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

First, just because a player is not starting or getting as much playing time as you, as a parent would like, doesn't mean that he is not learning, developing or a valuable asset to the team. Being on a baseball team is more than just playing or starting. Everyone on that roster has a role. Many high school teams have mid week scrimmages, and situational practices in which everyone participates. We talked about this in a a previous post. Those scrimmages and practices are just as important as the games to many coaches. If a player is good, then his skills may motivate someone else that doesn't want to lose their position to that underclassman. Many of you parents with bench sitting sons need to sit down with them and ask them what is their motivation? Is your son setting goals and working harder in practice to achieve those goals? Does he have the desire and the drive to want to be the first on the field and the last to leave? Does he hustle the most? Is he the most attentive when the coaches speak?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer Ball, Fall Ball Considerations

RT Staff Note: Here's an article on Steve Zawrotny's BASEBALL FIT Hitting & Pitching Conditioning - www.BaseballFit.com.

In most areas of the country, the regular season and high school playoffs are finished for both baseball and softball. We are just now getting into the College World Series for both sports. In line with this, I recently received this message from a concerned parent of a college baseball pitcher:

“I ordered your throwing velocity and strength/conditioning booklets along with a set of weighted baseballs hoping my son would follow your program this summer. He read the two booklets and is excited about following your guidelines.

“His problem is that he just finished his season and he will go back to college mid August to begin fall baseball. If he takes a few weeks off (which I think he should; he pitches) he will probably only have about 10 weeks to use your programs. Any advice you can give me will sure be appreciated.”

This illustrates the on-going conflict between practice, playing, and improving one’s skills. There is no question that the more one does a thing, the better they will be at it. This is why most (but not all!) of the best ball players come from warm-weather states. Warm weather is conducive to more game-like conditions for practice and playing.

But there are limits to this approach, of course. For some more thoughts on this concept, what business management guru Steve Covey calls, “Sharpening the Saw,” click here.

So what is to be done in the face of these seemingly reasonable but conflicting demands?

It is well known fact in the training community that upon making a significant change to mechanics, athletes in any sport usually experience a drop-off in performance. This decrement is then overcome as the new mechanics are learned and integrated, which takes time – often weeks to months. This is why it is usually not a good idea to make drastic mechanical or skill changes in-season.

A good example of this is with golfer Tiger Woods and the changes he has made to his swing over his career. Several years ago, he felt that he needed to do some things differently in order to achieve his goals. He was criticized in some quarters for this, as his swing seemed to be just fine at the time. Yet no one is critical of what he did now.

I have some thoughts regarding Summer Ball, Fall Ball, and getting better, from the perspective of players, parents, and coaches. At some point in my life, I have been in each of these positions – sometimes in more than one at a time.

PLAYER CONSIDERATIONS

I know as a player, you want to perform your best and please and impress your coaches. So when they ask you to play, you feel obligated to do so. Yet playing all the time may not always be in your best interests.

Playing and practicing all the time leaves little time to work on other things. So, you keep doing what you have been doing. If your skills are already at a sufficiently high level, this is not a problem. But if you need to make significant mechanical changes (as most players do), such as learning a new pitch or two, or improving some aspect of your conditioning, doing these things while competing is very difficult, if not impossible. You need some down time – the off season – to accomplish these important objectives.

Is it really a problem if you play Spring and Summer Ball, then take the Fall and Winter off to work on needed areas for improvement? The idea of taking one step back now in order to take two steps forward later is not only a good idea but is vital to your growth and progress as a player. Discussing this with your coach is key. Hopefully he’ll know what you need to work on and will be actively involved in your “improvement plan.” With this approach, both player and coach will benefit in the upcoming competitive season.

Consider undergoing “active rest.” Play another organized sport, or participate regularly in some activity other than baseball/softball. Don’t just lay around during the off-season, but do something different than your regular competitive season’s activities.

PARENTAL CONSIDERATIONS

Your primary job is to look out for your child’s best interests. Ideally you’re doing this in conjunction with his/her coach. Obviously, things will not go well if you try to tell the coach how to do his/her job. However, you do have the final say on how your child is “used” on a team. If you don’t like how a particular team/coach is doing things, find another program, if possible. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think something’s not right.

At the same time, DO NOT be one of those parents who questions or complains about every little thing a coach says or does. This is the quickest way to alienate a coach and perhaps send your child to the bench. If you feel you have a legitimate beef, say something to him/her respectfully in private. Otherwise, be supportive and allow the coach to do his job.

If you're the parent of a particularly gifted player, coaches will be tempted to “ride this horse” as long and as often as they can. For parents of pitchers. some good information you should be aware of and use is available courtesy of the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) and can be found here. If necessary, give the coach a copy of the info, and inform him that you will only allow your child to pitch under these guidelines. If the coach has a problem with that, find another team.

Doubtless your player needs some time off from playing games to actually work on their game. Fall/Winter is the best time to do this. Talk with the coach to get your and his ideas together to best advance your child’s skills.

COACHING CONSIDERATIONS

During the season, winning games is your primary goal and responsibility. You well know that it is difficult at best to implement changes to player mechanics during this time. The best time to do this is the off and pre-season. But if you’re playing year-round, when can your players make these key improvements?

My suggestion: play your regular spring competitive season, and another 50-60 summer/travel games. During these seasons, strive to be as successful as possible.

If you have a choice, do not participate in a competitive Fall season. Make this the time for player development all the way through Winter and the pre-season. Emphasize mechanical/skill and strength/conditioning improvements over competitive accomplishments. Go ahead and scrimmage, but make these scrimmages of a more controlled nature that allow you to create and observe the situations you want to develop and improve upon.

Evaluate players on how hard they work and the progress they make in both mechanics and strength/conditioning. You will likely find that players willing to work hard at this time will be your contributors in-season.

The bottom line is this: you can’t get better by simply playing all of the time. Take some time to do maintenance work. You will reap the benefits big-time next season!

YOUNG PLAYERS & BURNOUT

My definition of a “young” player for our discussion here is pre high school. Once a player gets to high school, they can get more serious about their sport, whatever that may be.

The way things are these days, players as young as six play on travel teams that are nationally “ranked” by some organization or another. I think this is ridiculous., but it is what it is. But my goodness, if you’ve been a “National Champ” a time or two by the time you get to high school, what do you have to look forward to? As a youngster, newspaper write-ups and awards become commonplace. Been there, done that.

No doubt you’ve noticed how many times, players who are phenoms when younger turn out to be pretty ordinary as everyone grows and matures. Suddenly the "phenom" has to work harder to keep up, and many kids don't want to do this. What was once fairly easy is now difficult.

So, when other things begin to show up to compete with this growing, maturing youngster’s time and interests, is it any wonder that many of these players quit and take up other activities?

Here’s the truth about youngsters and sports: they DO NOT have to begin when in diapers to excel and have an advantage over their peers! What a child is good at at age ten may well be very different from what they’re good at at age twenty. Certainly, many very good players begin playing organized sports at 10 or 12 years of age and go on to achieve at a very high level.

Parents, Players and Coaches: It is not necessary to start your child’s sports training out of the womb. It provides no significant advantage, yet offers the risk of burn-out. So let your children play in the streets and playgrounds to develop their skills and interests without the interference of organized leagues. If they show sufficient interest and ability, you will find this out in plenty of time for them to benefit.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(C) 2008 Baseball Fit, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Quotations with attribution permitted. Cite source as Steve Zawrotny's BASEBALL FIT Hitting & Pitching Conditioning - www.BaseballFit.com

The information contained herein 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 presented on this website.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nutrition and More


RT Staff Note: Julie Nicoletti B.S.,R.Ph.is a pharmacist, sports nutritionist, and co-founder of Kinetic Fuel, LLC, based in Massachusetts. She is also a faithful reader of Rounding Third and works in many capacities with the New England Ruffnecks as well. You can contact Julie at Julie@kineticfuel.net Enjoy!
RT Staff


The premise is simple. If you want to play a great game and be injury free over a long season, you need to think like an athlete and eat and drink properly. Baseball is as much a mental game as a physical one. You need to be alert and able to make split second decisions for the right play. Baseball games are frequent, without much time for rest during the season. They are mostly played in hot, humid weather, which makes hydration imperative. They can be long, and may include double headers, so fueling your body and your brain is a crucial factor in performance.

3 Simple Suggestions for Success

1. Plan ahead and pack a cooler with enough of the right food, drinks, and snacks.
2. Never skip breakfast. Bring it to go if you need to leave home early in the morning.
3. When traveling to tournaments, make the best possible choices when it comes to where to stop and what to order.

Pre game: Players should eat a carbohydrate rich, low fat meal including protein 3-4 hours before a game (for the high school season, that could be lunch) and a high carbohydrate snack 1 hour pre game. Players should drink about ½ liter of cold water up to 1 hour before.

Meal ideas:
Oatmeal w/ berries or cinnamon and apple, 1% or skim milk mixed w/ Ovaltine
Egg/egg whites, or tuna, cheese on wheat bagel or bread, fruit or juice
Protein pancakes, fruit, low fat chocolate milk
Protein shake or smoothie: yogurt, milk, berries, pro powder
Meatball, turkey or lean ham sandwich on whole grain bread w/ lettuce, tomato, fruit, yogurt
Pasta (Barilla Plus is a good choice) w/ red sauce, lean meatballs or baked chicken cutlet, milk
Peanut butter and banana sandwich on wheat, add agave/honey or raisins, yogurt
Turkey chili w/ crackers and Mexican cheese, water

Snack ideas:
banana, apple or orange and 8-12 oz Gatorade
oats or low fat granola (Bare Naked Fit) mixed into yogurt x 2, Gatorade
Raisins, apricots, banana chips, mixed w/ multigrain Cheerios/Chex cereal, G’rade
Clif bar, water or milk
Graham crackers, banana, Gatorade

During game:
Players should hydrate at every break in play, alternating between water and Gatorade. Drink as much as is tolerated. Use time in the dugout or between games to hydrate and refuel with a snack. Pitchers, because they expend more energy than other players and are in the sun longer, as well as catchers who wear heavy equipment, need to pay special attention to hydration. Muscle dehydration of 3% can cause about 10% loss of contractile strength and 8% loss of speed.

Between a Double Header:
Players need to replenish carbohydrate stores and fuel their bodies quickly and without stomach upset. Avoid fat because fat slows digestion and absorption of nutrients. That means grilled chicken breasts or extra lean ground beef or turkey burgers, fruit and water or Gatorade would be much better choices than hotdogs, chips and soda or pizza. Or bring a turkey sandwich, yogurt and fruit for between games. Choose from the list of pregame meals or snacks for additional options that would serve you well.

Recovery: For maximum benefit, you must eat a recovery snack/meal within 15-30 minutes after a game. Protein is used for repair and growth of muscle tissue. Carbohydrates replace used glycogen (stored energy). Recovery today is preparation for tomorrow.

Recovery ideas:
EAS Myoplex Ready to Drink protein shake, or 100% Whey protein powder mixed with water, plus 8-12 oz Gatorade, and either raisins, dried apricots or a piece of fruit
EAS Myoplex RTD protein shake or pro powder, string cheese, apple
Protein pancakes, banana w/ 1-2 TBSP natural peanut butter
Yogurt plus fruit
Turkey sandwich on wheat, fruit, Gatorade or low fat chocolate milk

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Minding Your Business


RT Staff Note: There's a book called Mind Gym, by Gary Mack that is a must read for every athlete that is interested in playing baseball at the next level. There's a lot of baseball references in this book, because baseball is one of the most mentally challenging sports on this planet. The foreword of this book is written by Alex Rodriguez. In addition to his phenomenal work habits and constant physical training, he is a big believer in mind training. This is what Alex has to say...

When I was nine years old growing up in Miami, I dreamed of being a major league baseball player someday. The dream was a little blurry back then, and it disappeared when I quit baseball and took up basketball. I wanted to become the next Magic Johnson or the next Larry Bird. Then one day I was talking with my mother and my older brother, and I realized that there aren't too many Dominicans playing in the NBA. So after a two-year layoff, I started playing baseball again, and that picture in my head, that dream, came back to me. That blurry image started taking focus.

I can tell you I wouldn't be where I am now, if I hadn't seen myself wearing a big league uniform long before it happened. I believe in the power of dreams.

I also believe mental preparation goes hand-in-hand with setting goals and hard work. The way I use my mind is the biggest reason I've been able to enjoy success and play at a high level in a game where you have to prove yourself everyday. In sports, as in life, talent will take you just so far. I try to attain goals mentally first. Let me give you an example. I don't want to sound cocky, but early in the 1996 season, I visualized winning the American League Most Valuable Player award and holding it above my head. I visioned winning the batting title and holding up that trophy too. I visioned a .380 batting average. In my mind I could see the number, flashing and blinking on exit signs....380....380....380.

That year I missed winning the MVP by three votes and won the batting title. Playing the game was the easy part. The real work was in the preparation. What I did in May paid off with rewards in November.

Just as I believe in dreams, I believe in the power of positive reinforcement and visualization. Some nights when I go to bed I will tell myself, maybe 150 times, "I hit the ball solid. I hit the ball solid. What do I do for a living? I hit the ball solid." I see the results from my minds eye out. I see myself from the fans perspective. From the managers view in the dugout. I picture myself on the field from different angles. I believe a champion wins in his mind first, then they play the game, not the other way around. It's powerful stuff.

My season is long, extending from spring training through 162 games and the playoffs. Every athlete in every sport experiences peaks and valleys. During tough times I don't worry. I don't judge my performance by results. Most important is my physical and mental preparation. The question I ask when I look in the mirror is "Am I ready to play?" If the answer is yes, I feel confident. Once the ball is thrown, or it's hit, the outcome is out of your control.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What To Do When You Receive A Letter From A College Coach


If you attended a recent WWBA tourney or another Perfect Game Showcase, then you may have already received that letter that reads...

"We saw you play at a recent showcase and have recognized you as one of the top players in your area"

Yes, this is sort of a standard letter that is sent out to just about every participant at a showcase. Part of the agreement of these showcases is the release of the database of the teams, players and coaches e-mails and home addresses. However, that doesn't mean that you ignore it. All of these coaches and organizers know that not every one is a talented prospect. However, not even every talented prospect can be a prospect if he doesn't respond to the questionnaires and letters that he receives from the college coach that sent the letter.

RESPOND
Bottom line, respond to every letter...Fill out every questionnaire...Get on their database...Because it will show that you are an interested athlete.

Why?

Well...one thing your son has that most baseball players that don't go to showcases and camps have is the desire to put their talent on display in front of the scouts. That says volumes about your sons character and desire for the game. That will make him a player to watch in future events. Now, it doesn't mean that they will recruit him. It just means that they will further evaluate him and see if the talent matches up to the desire and attitude. But, it's a start and a good position to be in.

ORGANIZE
Before we went to our first major camp (read my first post...we did some minor camps to get the kinks out first), my son and I sent out letters and e-mails to all of the colleges he thought he may want to go to school and play for and told them that he was attending the showcase. The letter and profile that we sent was very detailed. Below is a sample of the type of information you must put in a profile sheet. Include a good, "facing the camera" shot of your son...preferably torso up, so they can see his body type and frame.
_________________________________________________________
<Travel Team Name
Positions: OF
Uniform#: #23
Coach: All Coaches Named Here
Website: www.mytravelteam.com

Personal Information
Phone: 888-888-8888
Email: myemail@yahoo.com
Address: 888 Baseball Rd, Baseball City CA 88888
Date of Birth: 01/01/1991 Age: 16
Height: 6'4" Weight: 190
High School: My High School Class of 2010
League: AAAA
Phone / Web 888-999-0000 www.my highschool.org
HS Coach: Mr Coach (888) 777-8888
Positions: OF
Bats: R Throws:R
GPA: 3.8

Athletic Awards: Started Varsity as Freshman, All League 2nd team, County Times 2nd Team

Academic Awards: Frosh Deans List Honors Algebra Academic Award

Clubs/Activities: Freshman Class Treasurer

Hitting Coach: Coach Smith

Travel Baseball Background: 10U 7th Place USSSA Nationals, 11U 5th Place USSSA Nationals, 12U 2nd Place Cooperstown TOC, 13U USSSA 3rd Place Nationals, 14U National Champions USSSA, 15U National Champions Elite 16

Top Colleges Interested In: State U, State Tech, State A&M
______________________________________________________

ADDRESS EACH LETTER AND PERSONALIZE TO EACH INDIVIDUAL COACH AND MENTION THE COLLEGE AS WELL. NO SHORTCUTS!!!

PROVIDE AS MUCH INFO ABOUT YOUR SON AS POSSIBLE
As you can see from the profile info above, we included the following:

TRAVEL TEAM...This is important because the scouts and recruiters want to know how serious the players are about baseball and the way they challenge themselves against better competition. include your uniform number so they can spot you right away...this will vary...some showcases have pre-determined numbers that are given out...others will have the team just wear their travel ball uniforms. Also include your coaches phone number and e-mail so they can contact them with a profile of your abilities.

HIGH SCHOOL...High schools teams get the press, so if your player is on a high school team that gets a lot of local press, the scouts will know to look for you there. Also include the name, phone number and e-mail address of your high school coach. Depending on the league or the coaches reputation, they will contact that coach as well for an evaluation.

ACADEMICS...College baseball has always put more of an emphasis on grades than other sports...If a players grade point is above a 3.2, he will be recruited heavier than a student with a 2.8 or below...all things equal.

TRAVEL TEAM SUCCESS...While it doesn't matter what kind of success you had as a 10 year old, the fact that a player has had the discipline and desire to play those 100+ games and travel around the country for years, will help the coaches understand that you can handle the rigors of collegiate ball better than most.

LIST ALL COLLEGES YOU ARE INTERESTED IN...Don't be shy here..You will not make the coaches mad if their school is one of 10 listed. In fact, it shows that you have confidence in your ability to play there.

When we went through this process, we bought big 3" binders with the names of every college we sent letters and e-mails to and received letters from and organized the names on tabbed separators. We also wrote down notes of each and every showcase he attended and we did our own analysis of his performance....i.e. hits, plays made...60 yard time...SPARQ score etc.

This is just scratching the surface. There will be more on this subject later.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No B.S. Grip Strength


By Jon Doyle

Note: The following is an excerpt from the best selling baseball training book “Diamonds” concerning grip training and baseball.

To be rather blunt, grip, wrist and forearm strength training for baseball is severely misunderstood. If need be, I will be the one to tell you that wimpy wrist and forearm curls and rotations will not do anything except make your forearms burn. To this point almost everyone has told you this works.

Well, they were dead wrong! They have very little carryover onto the baseball diamond and are simply a waste of time. As is my mission on every piece of advice I give, I am here to cut through the BS and provide you with the truth about how to develop strong, ripped forearms that won’t quit and will skyrocket your performance on the baseball field, fast.

Ok, so now that you have tossed the muscle magazines that are simply a waste of time, let’s get down to business. If you want strong forearms you need to overload them with exercises that force the body to handle very heavy loads. Now that does not mean you have to load the Smith Machine with 7 plates on each side. It means you must use gravity and imperfect object to stimulate the forearms and wrists in unique and effective ways.

During certain Focus Lifts the forearms get a tremendous amount of stimulus that actually carries over to the field. Power Cleans, Power Snatches and Deadlifts all rely heavily on the forearms as part of the chain.

That point if key. When you swing a bat, you swing with more than your forearms and wrists. They are part of the whole “chain.” It should be this way in your training as well.

If you are isolating the forearms you are missing the boat. Just like isolation training doesn’t work for making you a stronger, more explosive athlete, forearms training is no different.

In my opinion, one of the quickest ways to increase grip and forearm strength is by climbing or pulling a thick rope. Doing so will literally force your forearm muscles to respond with a grip that won’t quit.

Ropes used to be in every gym class in the country, but are now very hard to find. In fact, the only one I have seen in an educational facility in the last ten years was at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Chances are you are going to have to set up your own if you want to reap the benefits of this tremendous drill.

Another very useful tool is towels. Towels placed over a barbell can prove to be a tremendous tool for increasing forearm and grip strength. Deadlifts, rows and pull-ups can all be performed with towels.

Another section that should be referenced in this book is the “Weighted GPP” portion. Exercises such as Wheelbarrow Walks and Farmers’ Walks will not only do wonders for your overall conditioning, they will also provide a tremendous stimulus for the forearms.

To recap simply drop the isolation work for your forearms and train them along with the other aspects of your training.

If you are interested in learning more about grip strength and baseball drills in general be sure to check out “Diamonds”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Read About The Next Level Too


Our articles and resources help players in many ways. Our strength and conditioning tips will help you develop a stronger core. Our guest articles from people like Carmen Bucci will help you communicate to future college coaches. Our timelines help parents organize their sons summers and off seasons. We give opinions that many agree with and many don't.

There are other resources out there that are helpful in preparing players and parents for college too. If you want to prepare yourself for college ball, it really can be a benefit to learn about it via the many great college web sites available. Here is a list of our favorites.

College Baseball on Rivals.com
Ever since Yahoo bought Rivals, there has been a visible commitment to everyday articles and information that is extremely helpful when it comes to learning about specific programs and the college game in general. Managing editor, Kendall Rogers does a fantastic job of moderating the content and giving their message board some real life, no matter what month or what time of season. There's insight on fall work-outs, NCAA rules and regs, interviews with college coaches and more. If your son is on the track to college ball and you want to know more about the college game...you'll get a lot of your answers here.

The College Baseball Blog
Like Rivals, this blog is very informative and acts as a portal of sorts for college press releases and some good commentary too. This site has become the Ultimate Source for College Baseball News and Notes around the nation. The staff of the blog attends in excess of 100 baseball games during the College season and many College summer league games. There's a lot to like about this site and Brian Foley and staff stay on top of all of the hot topics surrounding the college game.

Baseball America
If you value player rankings and draft prospects, no one does it better than Baseball America. The only downside is that the real good information is only available on a subscription basis and can be costly to those that are on a budget. But, since BA also ranks high school prospects, they can provide a double bonus of those that want both.

College Baseball Insider
We like this site a lot. Sean Ryan is co-founder and editor of CollegeBaseballInsider.com. He spends his days working at The Hodges Partnership (www.hodgespart.com), a public relations firm in Richmond, Va. After work, he takes to the diamond as the head varsity baseball coach at Benedictine High School. Phil Stanton is the other co-founder and editor for CollegeBaseballInsider.com. Phil is now concentrating full-time on CBI after working four years as director of athletic communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.

CBS Sports College Baseball
More of a seasonal site and they seem to be on hiatus in the off-season despite the activity of fall work-outs and scrimmages. Not a bad resource during the season though.

College Summer Ball
A part of the College experience is the summer leagues that players get assigned to by the college coaches. If you want to follow your local player to the Cape Cod, Northwoods, Alaskan, Cal Ripken Sr. leagues and more, this is a good site to follow.

As college baseball becomes more popular, there will be more web sites to follow we are sure. For now, these are some of the best.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pre-At Bat Prep


By Jalal Leach

Over my 15 year career, I was very good at preparing both mentally and physically before my games and my at bats. When facing an opposing pitcher, I really wasn't too concerned about what he did over the course of the season, or even his last start.

See I'm old school, and I knew every pitcher had some days better than others.

In my final year of Spring Training with the Cubs, I had an opportunity to be in the same hitting group as the future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux. One thing I heard him say was over the course of the season his arm really only feels good one start per month. Now for those of you just getting started in the game of hitting and baseball in general, what he said next is all that really matters when you are playing this game.

Heck, one of my BMP Trainees, Logan James used a quote from Yogi Berra that really explains it all. Baseball quote to live by: Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical. See Greg Maddux and any other good player are tremendous competitors. Before the game, the only way I knew I had a chance to hit was to compete. I didn't care who was pitching. I told myself I was going to get him. In all honesty, I had my times when I was intimidated (like when I got a start against Randy Johnson one Spring Training game. Remember the game when he hit the bird? I started in RF) He quickly disposed of me in 3 pitches. I was all caught up in the Big Unit throwing 100 mph thing. But I got mad at myself and brought out the competitor in myself and my next 2 at bats were solid. A line-out to center and I just missed hitting a homer to right-center on a hanging slider.

Throughout my playing career, I was an outstanding fastball hitter. That means, I could turn on just about anybody's heater. During the World Series I was telling someone about Damasco Garcia, one of the hard-throwing relievers for the White Sox. In one game when we were in Trips, I hit a ball so hard back up the middle towards him, that I yelled, "look out!" Remember when a pitcher is throwing hard, all you have to do is touch it, because he's supplying all the power. That's why hard throwers give up a lot of long homers.

Well getting back to the pre-hitting preparation.. whoever I was facing, I liked to get a birds-eye view of him when they were warming-up. I would run out to centerfield with my bat in hand, and time my opponent. Now you might ask what was I looking for?

Basically 2 things, release point and how does he make the ball spin.

Man, I've been fortunate! No lying, but I got to hit one spring training with Pete Rose.

All he talked about was seeing the ball. What he meant was release point and how does the guy make the ball spin. Hitters - if you can pick this up from a couple hundred feet away, imagine how you will own him when he's 60' 6".

For me, if he couldn't get his breaking ball over in the bullpen, I wasn't going to look for it in the game. I would eliminate pitches before the game even started. Some time this plan could backfire because I've seen guy's warm-up horribly and come out and deal. Does that sound familiar hitters?.....You take perfect batting practice, and then in the game you go 0 for 4!!!

As my college coach, Andy Lopez use to say, "is it lack of effort or concentration?" More times than not, it's concentration.

See as I got older and wiser, I had a "Leachy" preparation time, which started some 30 minutes before the game. When my alarm went off all I would do is sit-in my locker and get my head right!! I would visualize myself hitting an assortment of pitches to all fields.

Hitters if you don't do this I totally recommend you do. I don't know how many times I sat on the bench for several days, then I was able to jump back in there and hit like I didn't miss a beat.

Once I went out to the field I performed my routine of stretches, sprints, and tracking the opposing pitcher. After that I would stand in on my own pitcher to see velocity.

Hitters I totally recommend this, but don't get too close (because the pitcher is warming-up) and you may get hit like I did on several occasions. Oh, and wear a helmet!

Also, I would recommend asking your starting pitcher if it's ok, because frankly some pitchers don't like it, and don't get too close to the plate. A little story, in 2002, when I was in Spring Training with the Yankees, I asked Roger Clemens if I could stand in on him. See for those of you who don't know, I'm good friends with Derek Jeter and he told me Rocket would be cool with it, but you need to ask him really early, because this guy goes to a whole new level when he's preparing for his starts. I totally know why he's able to still dominate at his age. He wants it more than anyone else!! Well, Rocket said no problem, so before the game I trotted down to the bullpen and assumed my position. When Roger Clemens warms-up, he warms-up almost like he's going to war. I mean he had the "look", grunting and so. While standing there I gave my usual distance off the plate. Rocket didn't like that, he yelled this at me, "Hey Leachy if you are going to stand in on me, get in there like it's the game!"

Man I jumped in there kind of taken off guard; also, I was a little concerned, because the bullpen area of the Toronto Blue Jays' was a very tight quarter. If one would have got away from Rocket, I was toast because the fence was right behind me. Remember what I said earlier about pitchers warming-up. Not Rocket!! Jorge Posada said, "don't worry he rarely misses". Man, he hit every spot perfectly. Now I know why he's a first ballot Hall-of Famer.

Hitters, just like any other pitcher I've ever stood in on, I was looking for his release point and how he made the ball spin. I firmly believe the sooner you figure out the opposing pitcher the easier it will be to hit him. Hitters, have you ever asked yourself why you hit a certain pitcher better than others?

HITTERS GO OUT AND FIND THAT PITCHER'S RELEASE POINT AND HOW HE MAKES THE BALL SPIN, AND I GUARANTEE YOU'LL HAVE SOME GOOD AT BATS AGAINST HIM!!

Jalal Leach, a former SF Giant, has recently retired from professional baseball to pursue a career mentoring youth in the game of baseball.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Labor Of Love


RT Staff Note: The labor of school will soon start in a week or so for many high schools and some colleges and Labor Day is around the corner...so, we thought we would introduce another article about another kind of labor...working out, from Jon Doyle. If you want to see more articles on Jon Doyle, go to his web site at Baseball Training Secrets

By Jon Doyle - MA, CSCS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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