Saturday, October 15, 2011

The $5 Piece Of Plastic

We had interesting responses from a couple of readers on yesterdays post. We like interaction and we are going to break the comments down...It can be read below the posting...just click on comments.

The basic ideas for our anonymous responders, was that high school and college baseball is straying away from it's priorities on education. It's more about the trophy...or as we like to call it..the $5 piece of plastic. Generally, we would say we agree, but after some research, we have a different take...and there are some surprises as well. In bold are their comments and our response is below that.

" After over 50 years in sports what has changed tremendously is that youth sports and HS sports are now run by non-teachers. There are two components to high school - the first is education, classwork. Look at how many select teams have people who make a living from baseball academies and so forth. Historically, youth sports has become a big business."

We don't disagree with this statement as it pertains to education. Education should be first. In high school, many but not all coaches are also teachers. And with the travel teams we know, they all preach that good grades and talent is the only way to get a college scholarship. Many of the top travel teams that we have talked about for the past three months will not take a player if their grade point isn't at the very least, a 2.8...many won't take below a 3.0. Yes, youth sports may be a big business, but it wouldn't be a big business if their wasn't some success associated with it.

Now as it pertains to college, it's becomes a bit more complicated. A player should play college ball to go to college, but sometimes, if a player is very good, the pro scouts can get in the way of graduation. Good players get drafted after their junior season...and there are literally hundreds more opportunities to play professionally in baseball than in any other sport period. Look at the draft board...Look how many eligible juniors are in the top rounds. Hundreds...

This year and beyond, there are a whole new set of problems...time. Since the NCAA has shortened the season without cutting the number of games that need to be played, teams have less time in the classroom and less hours to take during the season. That has a direct affect with on-time graduation. And, unlike football and basketball which give 100% scholarships which includes an opportunity to make up their classess and required hours in the summer, baseball players are lucky to get 50% scholarships. And, because baseball get assigned to summer leagues too, there's not an oportunity to make up for lost hours in the summer like football and many basketball players can. We would like to see more players graduate on time, but the NCAA is making it harder and harder. Many do graduate unless they have a long career in the professional ranks. They just don't always graduate in the NCAA allotted time frame.

"Look at the players who go on to play at some level in college and do not graduate. Why does baseball have the lowest APR of all sports in the NCAA. How many baseball players are working in the real world in a job that does not involve baseball?"

That statement is unfair and false. First, baseball does not have the lowest APR of all the sports. According to the NCAA web site he directs us to, the average APR's by sport for men's teams has baseball ahead of basketball and football. Baseball has an average APR of 934, football is 931 and basketball is 927. They are all below the other men's sports like golf, tennis, track and wrestling...mainly because there are very few opportunities to play professionally in those other sports. The big three have many opportunities, both here in America and abroad. And how many baseball players are working in the real world that does not involve baseball? Who cares? How many non-athletes are working in the field that they majored in? Scott Boras, the super agent has two post graduate and medical...He also played baseball in college and the passion was so intense, he couldn't stay away from it. It worked out quite well for him. The thing about baseball is that it is a real passion for many, many what is wrong with working in baseball after college...especially if baseball was the real passion?

"One critical question that coaches should ask is when a player is done (they all reach the end sooner or later) will they be able to go out and work for a living outside of baseball. Will they be successful and will their experience in HS be a positive one or one where the player looks back and wonders what did I learn?"

We don't know where he is going with this. Of course, high school experiences are all about graduating and getting good grades if one wants to play in college. And, if this is achieved, the high school experience should be great and the lesson learned is that if they have a passion for the game and are good enough, they join the elite club of student athlete.

"There is always another game. It is not about the program with the most trophies. It is about the learning. Find quality people not quality baseball people to help your child learn and grow. They are not mutually exculsive"

Amen. That we totally agree with. It's not about the $5 trophy. It's about learning, discipline, leadership, responsibility and mental maturity. But we do know many quality baseball people that are not only quality people, but incredibly passionate human beings that will bend over backwards to help their players learn the life lessons necessary to succeed at any level and any career.

"Is baseball, basketball or even football not just another honors class?Thank God I no longer have kids in High School."

Thank goodness we still do have kids in high school. While there are problems with some sports in some areas of many cities, for the most part, high school sports is more focused, and in todays world, we don't see the stereotypical "dumb jock" type that we may have seen in the 60's and 70's....we are a generation that is way too hands on to let that happen to our kid...especially in baseball.

RT Staff

Friday, October 14, 2011

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 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!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Baseball Exercises

RT Staff Note: We are busier than ever and sometimes we rely on others to do our work for us. Todays article is from Jon Doyle of Baseball Training Secrets. Enjoy.

By Jon Doyle, MA, CSCS

While you search around the Internet for baseball exercises, you no doubt come across some odd and strange looking exercises. The problem is a great deal of these "exercises" is not only worthless, but potentially dangerous. So I figured I'd write up a quick article so you can determine if an exercise you come across is worthy of you adding to your program.

1. Ground-based Exercises - Not all baseball drills need to be "ground-based" or standing up with your feet in contact with the ground, but 99% of the good ones are. Baseball is played standing up. So you should workout that way. Nuff said.

2. No Machines - If an exercise is done on a machine you can kiss it goodbye like an Adam Dunn bomb. You should focus on free weights, body weight and medicine ball -related exercises. Cables are ok, but if it's a machine it won't help your baseball performance and may even hinder it due to lack of stabilizer muscle working and improper execution of range of motion.

3. Explode - Baseball happens at lightning speeds and so should your training. Now, this does not mean exercising out of control, what it means it learning how to properly execute each exercise in a very explosive and controlled manner, just like you do with a bat and ball.

4. Posture - As soon as you lose posture, whether it's in your swing, your throw or when you run, you lose the majority of your strength and power. Same goes in the weight room. Make sure all of your baseball exercises not only maintain proper posture, but they should help build it as well.

5. Similar Joint Movements, Not Exact - This may be the biggest rule broken when it comes to baseball exercises. Don't try and replicate a throwing motion or swinging motion with an object a lot heavier than your game-used equipment. For example, if you use a 30 ounce bat, don't swing a 45-60 ounce bat thinking it will make you a better hitter.

In fact, it will make you worse. Studies prove that any implement over 15% heavier or lighter than your normal piece of equipment will alter your mechanics significantly. If you swing a heavy bat you're practicing a different swing! Same goes with throwing a ball. Drop the weighted balls. It's too much of an injury risk and virtually impossible to maintain your mechanics when you use them.

Same goes in the weight room. Don't use a baseball exercise that tries to mimic a specific movement on the field. This is NOT baseball-specific and stems from the brains (or lack there of) of idiot strength coaches who have no clue what they're doing and, most likely, have never worked with a real athlete in their life. Or in other words they are an Internet Hero. Be wary, they are everywhere trying to steal your money.

Stick to these five basic rules and you will eliminate most, if not all of the terrible exercises floating around the Internet. And you will have a program comprising of many very good baseball exercises to help you become the best possible player you can be!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Prove It!

RT Staff Note: The following is the third in a series of Monday Morning articles from Carmen Bucci, President of The Complete Athlete. Carmen teaches high school athletes how to communicate better with their current coaches, college coaches and/or professional scouts. Since our theme for the past several weeks has been about communication, we welcome Carmen as a RT contributor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ask Coach Taylor

Coach Taylor, when sending highlight videos to colleges you’re interested in, should a cover letter be enclosed or just a note stating my interest. If so, what exactly should it state besides my desire to play for their organization?

I would definitely recommend including a cover letter. The only reason you might not include a cover letter with your video is if you already have sent one to this particular coach. It is a good idea to keep track of what you send to each coach.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when constructing your cover letter to coaches:

1. Most every coach now relies on e-mail to both contact and receive contact from potential recruits. That is the preferred method of communication. To find out the e-mail addresses for the coaches you are looking to contact, simply go to the college’s athletic website and look for a staff listing of names and e-mails or ask your Recruiting Coach.

2. Be brief. Coaches at all levels receive dozens and dozens of e-mails/letters from high school-aged players. All you are trying to do is show you have interest, pass along all of your contact information, your resume, and provide each coach with an upcoming schedule of your matches so he can see you play.

3. NEVER HAVE ONE OF YOUR PARENTS WRITE TO A COACH. You are the one the coach might be recruiting, so he/she wants to hear from you directly. (If the relationship develops and it appears that you might be attending that college, they’ll be plenty of time for your parents to have contact with the coaching staff.)

4. Provide contact information for yourself and your coaches. Nothing is worse for a college coach than to have to track down your coach’s e-mail or phone number. By having both an e-mail address and a phone number listed after his/her name, it allows for the college coach to quickly e-mail or call your private and/or high school coach to follow up.

5. Always include basic information about yourself such as grad year, high school, athletic history, GPA, SAT/ACT scores. Tell the coach why you are a good fit for their program.

6. Do not send a form letter that starts out with “Dear Coach” and does not mention anything specific about his/her program and school. The bulk of your e-mail will be kept the same for correspondence you send out to various coaching staff; however a portion of it should be personalized. Bring in something specific about it that you learned by going through the website. State your interest in the school and specific reasons (like “my Dad went to Madison and I want to carry on the tradition” or whatever fits you personally)

7. Detail is important! Be sure that you use spell check and proper English. This is a reflection of your ability. You may send your letter to NCSA to revise.

8. If you are emailing rather than regular mail, DO NOT mass email a bunch of coaches. This comes across as lazy and shows the coach that you didn’t take your time to personalize for them. Make sure to address the letter Dear Coach [[last name]].

Send your recruiting questions to

You can also get your questions answered directly by contacting an NCSA Recruiting Coordinator at 866-579-6272.

Read more: Ask Coach Taylor – What Should I Include In My Cover Letter? | College Recruiting Blog - Athletic Scholarships Blog | NCSA

NCSA Athletic Recruiting changes lives by building leaders through sports and connecting four key communities involved in the college athletic recruitment process: qualified high school student-athletes and their families, high school coaches and athletic directors, college coaches, and professional partners such as the NFLPA, ESPN, and more. NCSA is the leading collegiate recruiting source for more than 200,00 student-athletes and 35,000 college coaches across the country.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Cost of Youth College Development Programs

This post isn't just about dollars and cents, it's about how we have altered our lifestyles, to give our sons a chance to be the best they can be at baseball. The questions that we always hear are, after all of the travel and nights away from the rest of the family, work, friends, costly lessons, tournament fees, coaches per diems and $400 bats, are our sons better baseball players? Do they understand and love the game more? And, is it their passion or ours?

It's unanimous here at Rounding Third. It definitely was well worth the experience. All of our sons are playing D-1 college ball. We think that if they had taken the route that most of their friends took, and had relied on their high school coaches and the local leagues to get them to the next level, our sons would not have had the offers or the opportunities to play D-1. Now we know that there are exceptions. Some of our sons friends may get a chance to play JC ball and if they step up their routines and become more serious about the game, they could get a chance to play at the next level.

But the one thing our sons have that their other friends do not, is a passion, self discipline and serious attitude about baseball and the knowledge that the game requires a devoted work ethic both in the off season and in pre-game preparations that we have witnessed many rec ball athletes do not have. It's not their friends fault. That's the way they were taught. There are distinct philosophical differences in the way a travel ball coach develops his players and a Babe Ruth coach develops his.

Nevertheless, below we have listed some characteristics of a traveling College Development Program (CDP) to look for and even some things we would have done differently based upon our last 6-7 years of CDP ball.

What is a good CDP? Our definition is a team that has it's total focus on the development of the players and not just on winning that $5 piece of plastic for the sake of the coaches egos. The costs of a good CDP can be daunting, but make sure that your team is going to the right tournaments and showcases that will:

1) Get exposure for the players first and foremost. Many of the top high school tournaments will have scouts in attendance and you want your team to be there. There are many so called "travel teams" that beat their chest because they win a lot of local and regional tournaments. While it's great that they are playing good ball that is probably a step up from the rec alternatives, when you weigh the costs versus benefits, what was accomplished by winning that trophy that's bound for an old box in the garage?

2) Works with the tournament organizers to make sure your team is playing against the best competition. While winning is great for the psyche of the team as a whole, it's not always going to benefit them if they are playing patsies to get to the championship round. Some people will disagree with us on this, but we strongly feel that your sons will gain more grit playing the good teams early. And, if your CDP has a great reputation, you'll get more scouts at those early games against the better competition.

3)Be Organized! Be wary of the "travel programs" that don't have their summer of 2011 schedule completed by January...Yes that's right...January!!! Many of the top tournaments and showcases like the Junior Olympics are invitation only and if a newer organization wants in, they will have to campaign to get their team in the tournament early in the year. Other showcases tournaments have deadlines and they are usually very early. A lot of planning and logistics go into these national tournaments and they usually don't accept late entries unless there is a cancellation.

4)Have 90% of their roster in place by December of 2011. Many of the top clubs have already had their try-outs this fall. Some in the Sun Belt are still amidst the try-out process via fall ball. It's important that a club knows it's roster so that it can have the spring to create their own player profiles to send out to college recruiters. This does not negate your sons efforts to send out letters and profiles however. Your son needs to do his own marketing on top of what his coaches are executing. (Refer to our post from October 22, 2008...I AM GETTING LETTERS FROM COLLEGE BASEBALL COACHES)

5) Has a reputation as a winning, professional organization with the college and pro scouts. Look at the CDP's web site and look at their alumni page. Many of the better organizations will have a section of their web site dedicated to former players that have gone on to college or even the pros. That says volumes about their dedication to player development. Many college coaches look to these organizations for help and player profiles. Also, ask them if they are communicating with college coaches and where they feel your son fits in with the type of colleges they will be contacting.

6)A payment plan that precedes the season. It is our experience that if a club has a payment plan that is paid prior to the season, then that team gets 100% participation with its players. These payment plans are usually monthly and more reasonable to budget for. These clubs also have travel agencies that they work with and their web site is like a one stop shop. If you have a good, competitive club and they don't have this set-up...have the coaches get it done this way. It's easy and web site set-up costs are usually free or very inexpensive. There are other clubs that have a pay as you go policy and they are the ones that usually are scrambling for players before every tournament. Those type of clubs are usually very frustrating and costly experiences.

7)Coaches as teachers. The best organizations have coaches that work with each individual player to help make him a better player. They are also the teams that gather as a group every inning before their at bats, going over the decisions that the players made in the field, talking about adjustments that need to be made at the plate and getting them in the right frame of mind. Most of these coaches really know the game and love spreading that knowledge to their players. That's the type of added value that makes a good CDP team worth the investment for your son.

We have heard time and time again that travel ball is for rich dads that want to live vicariously through their kids. Not true! Yes, there may be a good number of parents that fall into this category and a good number of "travel clubs" that will accept any ones money to feed that parents desire. But, for the most part, good CDP's are about developing and giving players the opportunity to take their game to the next level. And, those top CDP's have a cost. And, we as parents are whipping out that check book like it was a sure stock tip.

The one thing we would have done differently, would have been to get our kids way more involved in the fund-raising aspect of their travel team. Many of these kids have it too easy and we as parents are guilty of making it easy for them. I know of several Georgia, Florida and Texas teams that raise 100% of their travel costs and coaches fees through candy drives, car washes, raffles and bake sales. Their kids are a part of that fund raising process. There's nothing wrong with parents bringing those candy bars to the office...that's usually pretty easy money...but so is a group of athletic looking kids in baseball caps going door to door or sitting up at the grocery store selling cookies, candy, and raffle tickets to help pay for that trip to East Cobb, Orlando or San Diego. This discipline also gives them ownership of their team and their accomplishments. It also keeps costs down for you, because depending on the organization, the total summer expenses for a high school CDP that is entered into all of the top tournaments and showcases can run in excess of $7,000.

That $7,000 is broken down as follows:
1) $1,500-$2,000 coaches fee/tourney fees. Fees vary by team and region.
2) $350 uniform and equipment costs
3) $2,500/Car Rental/Gas/Airfare for 2
4) $3,000+ (Two,1 Week Trips @ $85 a Night, Six 3 night Stays at $75 a Night) Plus../Food/Gate Fees/Entertainment For 2

These costs can be cut drastically if you room with another family and opt to go to the grocery store and barbeque by the hotel pool (much cheaper, healthier and more fun in our opinion)instead of eating out every night. Also, the advantage of having a travel team that plans ahead will allow you to shop for airfares and hotels well in advance and take advantage of discount rates.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Play The Best

bracket. Honestly, if you are a coach of a travel team with legitimate prospects and there are scouts at your tourney you should be very happy that you were placed in the tough bracket. How else are recruiters going to get a good gauge on the true talent of your players if they aren't playing against the best competition. As a coach, you should be requesting the toughest teams...At the 2013-14 graduating class level and above, it's not about just's about getting better and getting seen.

BTW, you should not be entering major tournaments that involve a good amount of out of pocket money for travel, hotel and meals out, if there are not at least some scouts and recruiters there. If your team has a local warm-up tourney to get ready for a big showcase event...fine...but if your team is consistently entering tournaments for the purpose of winning that $5.00 piece of plastic...shame on you.

Your players deserve to compete against the best players at any tournament you are playing in. Recruiters would rather see the best teams play each other as well. That way, they can scout and assess more promising prospects at one game. Economy of scale...everyone wins.

This is a short post today...Busy with my real job...but can't let down my readers.

RT Staff

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Big Things Can Happen At Small Colleges

We are a site dedicated to helping players play at the next level...period...Although we have mentioned the subject of today's post a few times over the last three months, it bears mentioning again, because now is the time to act!!! Senior players who aren't committed to a college yet...and aren't going to get an offer during the November initial signing period this year, there are hundreds of D-II's, D-III's, NAIA and JUCO's ready to add to their rosters from April 12th-August 1st, 2012...the next signing period.

So, get those letters written, profiles updated, send them your high school schedule (your coach should have that posted by now)and travel team coaches recommendation. More importantly, make sure all your transcripts, SAT's, SAT II's and/or ACT's are ready to send out with the school application. If you haven't applied to the college you are sending a letter to, do so now! Many schools have admissions deadlines for applications for the Fall 2011 session and that deadline is probably coming up soon. Ask the coaches of that school or an admissions administrator what their policy is. There's no cookie cutter answer to this issue. All schools have different policies.

Bottom line, these smaller colleges could be the best thing that ever happened to many young athletes...especially if they are still maturing as a baseball player, but have the talent to play at the next level. Yes, it takes talent...Collegiate baseball at any level is competitive and can lead to bigger opportunities just like the D-I's. And, many players have taken full advantage of the opportunity they recieved at the small colleges they attended. Did you know for example, that NCAA Division II schools had 48 players taken in the 2011 MLB draft and D-III schools have an average of 30 players taken each year? Our point is...There is great baseball at the small colleges and in many instances a more well rounded education as well.

While the smaller schools aren’t as loved by the national press, they are the darlings of the local media, especially in the smaller communities. Many of these small schools are the pride of the small towns they reside in and have a great fan base as well. (Not all small schools are in small towns, but many are) And many of these smaller schools have every bit as much tradition and history as the D-I’s too.

And here’s a couple of interesting facts…Did you know that while D-III doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, more athletes play in D-III than any other NCAA division? Another interesting note is that NAIA schools can actually offer more funded scholarships. (not a lot more…but more nevertheless) NAIA can give out 12 scholarships, while D-I is stuck at 11.7.

Many NAIA, D-II and D-III schools provide greater student-teacher ratios, attractive settings, and some of the best job placement opportunities in the nation after graduation.

High school student athletes who want to play sports in college, and are not being recruited by major college programs, may still have a chance to play baseball at NCAA Division II, III or NAIA colleges. Again, get those letters and school applications out now!!! In the right hand column of this site, you will find a list that includes all D-I, D-II, D-III and NAIA schools that offer baseball. Look at their sites and see which one may fit your goals academically, while satisfying that competitive urge to play a college sport. Good Luck..till next time..

RT Staff

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

7 Traits of a Successful Hitter

RT Staff Note: Jon Doyle's Baseball Training Secrets has numerous articles on Hitting, arm strength, speed training and strength and conditioning on his web site. He also has some of best video training programs in the business. Click the link above to view all of his articles and other offerings. The following is one of our favorite articles that he has written.
RT Staff

By Jon Doyle
As you may know there are numerous hitting methods and styles that exist in the world of baseball. They all claim the same thing: that they are the best. So who’s right and who’s wrong? They all are. Now you are probably saying, “This guy must be nuts. What the heck is he talking about? He doesn’t even make any sense.”

My point being is that if a certain hitting style works for a particular player then that style is the best for him. However, that same style won’t necessarily work for you. It may, but it may not. That is because if a certain style doesn’t work for you it’s not the best.

We must remember that hitting is an art. Trying to carbon copy hitters is the worst possible thing you can do. I encourage you to try different approaches, stances and follow throughs to see what works and doesn’t work for you. Let’s look at the 7 common traits shared among great hitters, no matter what hitting method is used.

1. Confidence

Believing in yourself and your ability is vital to becoming a great hitter. If you don’t believe in yourself who will? Questioning yourself on deck or in the batters box is pointless because it is way too late at that point to worry about anything. You must trust that the work you put in has gotten you ready to perform, no matter the pitcher or the situation. I firmly believe that most hitters get themselves out more often than the pitcher gets them out. Simply doing the correct preparation, both mentally and physically, can place you in the mind frame needed to be a great hitter.

2. Comfort

If you are not comfortable you will not hit. Period. Yes, when first experimenting with a new stance or hand position or whatever you might feel a bit uncomfortable. However, this should soon disappear as you practice this new technique. If it doesn’t disappear it probably is a sign that it’s not the best for you. However, remember that you can come back to this at a later time and it might feel great. That is the beauty of the swing. It can be an ever changing art form. The bottom line is: find your comfort zone and work from there.

3. Baseball Specific Vision

The ability to recognize and react to pitches is evident in all great hitters. You have a miniscule amount of time to see the ball, recognize the pitch, its velocity and location and then have the ability to generate the mechanics to make hard contact. There is a specific way to develop the vision skills that great hitters possess. However, virtually nobody knows about it. Vision drills that use colored balls (Never quite understood this one as we all know a baseball is white with red stitches), video games and other wacky equipment may improve certain aspects of “vision”, but not the vision need to track and react to a baseball. I’ve tried them all on both myself and my students. I have tested them in the real world. I know what works and what doesn’t. This skill is obviously vital as the old saying goes “You can’t hit what you can’t see.”

4. Reactive Strength and Abilities

Your ability to react will determine how good, or bad, of a baseball player you are. The game is consistently challenging you on how quickly you react to different situations. For example do you know where to swing the bat before the pitch is thrown? Of course not. You have an idea of what you want to do with the pitch, but have no clue where it is going until it leaves the pitchers hand. In very simplistic terms you are reacting to the pitch. Great hitters react very well, bad hitter don’t really react much at all. For a deeper, more in depth explanation on this I will be releasing a three-part series titled “The Biggest Secret in Baseball.”

5. Triple Threat Torso – Quick, Powerful and Flexible

You must develop a torso that has the above three qualities. If you lack even one you are severely limiting your potential. Everything else happens as a result of the torso. Leg movement, path of the hands, contact position and follow through all are effected by the abilities of your torso, or core. By developing these abilities every aspect of your swing will improve. Trust me you won’t get the triple threat by training the core in a manner that is shown on late night television infomercials or by balancing on a wobble board. Baseball specific training with the correct exercises, weights and tempo can deliver a triple threat torso to die for.

6. Short Swing

We all know that you must keep your hands inside the ball in order to consistently make hard contact on the sweet spot, especially against a good fastball. No matter which hitting method you follow, a short, compact stroke is a major emphasis and is crucial to success. I like to say, “If you swing is long, your day will be as well.”

7. Balance

If you cannot maintain balance before, during and after the swing you are severely doomed to inconsistent and unimpressive performance. The better your balance the more consistent your swing will be. If you are falling in any direction you will not only make poor contact most of the time, but you will have a hard time putting anything behind the swing.

This does not mean standing on some sill wobble board or stability ball. It means the ability to maintain your equilibrium throughout your swing. This is swing-specific balance I’m talking about here. Don’t be fooled by a fitness and training industry that is riddled with low-level “trainers” who simply don’t understand your needs.

To become a flat out stud, you must be sure that your training is specific to the traits I have listed above. Bodybuilding routines and mindless batting practice will not do the trick.

There you have it, the 7 traits that are found in every great hitter. Experiment with what works for you and what you feel comfortable with. These traits can be developed, usually quicker than you think, with proper training. Develop the qualities that I spoke about and you will be on your way to complete and utter domination.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Game Day Fueling and Hydration

RT Staff Note: Julie Nicoletti B.S., 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 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

Friday, September 16, 2011

Begin With The End In Mind

RT Staff Note: Several months ago we came across an article posted on Norcal's web site. Although this is an older article, Norcal is constantly updating their web-site with new information and educational materials to better their players year round. They aren't the only team doing this, but there certainly should be more teams staying in-touch during the off-season. We encourage all youth teams to be as pro-active in posting new articles and information on their web sites all year...not just during the season. This article is from Doug Gardner of ThinkSport and he has given us permission via e-mail to re-run this article here on RT. Enjoy!

Begin with the End in Mind:
Reflections from 2007 to Create Focus for 2008

By Dr. Doug Gardner - ThinkSport

The end of the year is a great time to take a look back and think about the many things that happened to you during 2007 both academically and in terms of baseball.

Think back to January 1st of last year...How much have you grown up since then? Did you set any goals or New Year’s Resolutions last year? Did you meet these goals and your own personal expectations?

Transport yourself to one year from now...Where do you see yourself? Where do you want to be? What have you learned from this past year that you can apply in your work in 2008? What do you want to have accomplished one year from now?

The beginning of the calendar year is the perfect time to take a step back and reflect upon where you have been and utilize this information to better the path you will take in reaching your short-term and long-term goals.

No matter how talented of a baseball player you are, you can always get better and improve. Few athletes actually take the time to assess, critique and formulate improvement strategies in an objective, honest and constructive manner.

Most athletes spend their assessment time being too harsh on themselves when mistakes are made, performance is poor and when games are lost. When things go well, athletes often do not think too much as to why they are having the success they are having. People believe that thinking too much about their successes will lead to negative outcomes in the future.

This either-or syndrome often interferes with our ability to assess our preparation and performance objectively and rationally. If I do well? Great! Keep it going and don’t ask questions. If I do poorly? Well, open the flood gates and berate yourself.

To be objective, an athlete must create a standardized and systematic way to assess themselves. I suggest that athletes categorize their preparation and performance into three distinct areas:

• Physical - Cardiovascular fitness, strength/core training, diet & nutrition, injury prevention.

• Fundamental - Aspects related to the development of the many physical skills specifically related to the sport(s) you participate in.

• Mental - Focus, intensity, purpose, trust, strategy formulation, adversity and coping skills, decision-making capabilities.

Let us try a short exercise...

When answering the following questions, be as specific and detailed as possible in relation to the physical, fundamental and mental aspects of your preparation and performance.

1. What aspects of your performance were you pleased with last year?
2. What aspects of your performance were you NOT pleased with last year?
3. Did you prepare to the best of your abilities, on a day-to-day basis?
4. How can your commitment and preparation improve?
5. How have you matured as a person and as an athlete over the past twelve months?
6. What can you do right now to start working and improving areas of weakness?

Remember, this is not a test. Nobody else will see your answers and only you will know if you are truly being honest and objective with yourself. Please e-mail me with your critique of yourself and your performance if you would like some feedback.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Are Junior Colleges Right For You?

We have mostly talked on this site about how to go about getting recruited by 4 year colleges and little about Junior Colleges. We don’t mean to slight JC’s. In fact, Junior College baseball is in many cases a perfect fit for some high school players. And, like D-I, D-II and NAIA, JC’s offer scholarships at the NJCAA-I and NJCAA-II level.

There are many reasons to go to a JC, but like the four year colleges, we at Rounding Third stress that you go to a place of higher get an matter if it's a D-I or JC. If a player is going to a JC to improve his academic standing to get into a better four year college, then that needs to be the focus. While he is accomplishing that goal, he can also enjoy the great, competitive baseball environment that many JC’s offer. JC baseball is sort of a hybrid that combines the local schedule of high school ball with the rigors of long bus rides to other regional or cross state match-ups. This provides many young freshmen a chance to ease into what it would be like at a four year, while they concentrate on getting their academics in order at the same time.

Another reason to attend a JC is if certain players didn’t get accepted into their list of four year selections, due to size or developing ability. Many four year coaches and recruiters will tell a prospect with potential to use the Junior College to work with the strength and conditioning coaches to develop a stronger core, build more muscle and quickness. That alone, in many cases can build a players confidence as well. After that, it is up to the baseball coaches to develop the talent. Many JC’s have year round conditioning that include fall scrimmages and games, winter work-outs to get ready for the long season ahead. But more importantly, it gives that player a chance to play.

Let’s say a very good player gets a small offer from a D-I, but he has two established sophomores ahead of him in his primary and secondary positions. It may behoove that player to go to a JC to develop and play, rather than sit the bench his first two years in college. And yet another scenario involves enrolling in a four year college and playing for a close-by JC that is known to be a feeder to that school. That's a win-win for both the player and the 4 year coach, because the player gets a better chance to play and also enjoy the atmosphere of college life away from home. The 4 year coaches have the advantage of keeping close tabs on what could be their future player in their own backyard.

Finally, there are some players that may have been drafted in the later rounds (15th and higher) and choose to play at the JC to improve their draft status the following year. Unlike four year colleges, in which a player is not eligible for the draft until after his junior year, a JC player is eligible both years that he attends that JC. Including the year after high school, that player could possibly be drafted three times before his junior year. In some cases, a MLB team could draft a player and then hold the rights to that player until next year. That way, they have a full year to evaluate his progress throughout the summer. If into the fall and spring seasons, all goes well with the players progress, that MLB team could then exercise their right to sign him in the ten days prior to the next draft. This is called a “Draft and Follow”.

So we have covered D-I, small colleges and now JC’s and there are advantages to all. Bottom line, really study all of your options hard and do what is best for you and the career path you choose to follow in your adult life.

Rounding Third Staff

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Between The Ears

RT Staff Note: The following is from the book "Mind Gym" by Gary Mack. Gary is a leading sports psychology consultant and counselor who has worked with professional athletes in every major sport. He is president of two consulting firms, Sports Assist and Planning Solutions.

Like our beliefs and attitudes, our thinking can be a powerful ally. How we think affects how we feel, and how we feel affects how we perform. My job is to help athletes think clearly and use their minds effectively by teaching them to turn their negative critic into a positive coach.

One day, I was at Yale field in Connecticut, visiting the Mariners' Double A club, the New Haven Ravens. One of the young center fielders was struggling in the batting cage. "Mack, I'm never going to get this," he said between cuts. Her shook his head. "i don't have a clue." His negative critic was hard at work, shouting into his ear with a bullhorn.

"Let me ask you something,"I said. "If Ken Griffy Jr. thought like that, how good a batter do you think he would be?"

The question stopped the kid.

He knew that if Griffey thought the way the minor leaguer did, the Mariners' slugger wouldn't perform well either. The kid's thinking was hurting him more than his swing. He needed to change his thinking, or at least give his mind a rest. Ted Williams offered some sage advice: "if you don't think too good, then don't think too much."

Just as we have irrational and unrealistic beliefs, we all are guilty of distorted and dysfunctional thinking. Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine said, "I went through the 'Don't do this' syndrome at certain times in my career when facing certain batters. I told myself not to hang a curve ball. Sure enough, I did. Now I focus on 'Do this.' It's a significant difference."

Which voice do you hear? Which is louder, the negative critic or the positive coach. You can choose to listen to the voice that offers and reinforces positive thought. It has been said that thoughts become words. Words become actions. Actions become habits. Habits become character. Character becomes your destiny.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Importance Of Fall Practice

RT Staff Note: There was a good post on Rivals College Baseball about the importance of fall ball for collegiate athletes. The importance of working out a players game in the fall also extends to high school players as well. It's a good post with a good message.

For any of you who are related to or know of any players or family members of players, this post may be of some importance, especially as it relates to the minimal scholarship recruit, or the invited walk-on.

Every year at this time, the coaching staffs around the nation prepare with great expectation and enthusiasm for the up-coming season, with the first major step being "Fall Practice" (hereinafter referred to as FP).

If you are not one of the top recruits on your team, your performance will actually be followed much more closely. FP is all about competition, and a chance for those lesser-known players to become the next All-Americans of an unsuspecting program. If you perform against the top players of your program, and you are successful. . .you will play, and that is exactly what your coaches want to see. They already know that the best players (irrespective of recruitment popularity) are born out of competition.

Every player invited to play for a college program, regardless of your level of recruitment, has the ability to be a everyday player, as some level of talent has already been recognized by your coaches. I have found that three certain major character traits, or the lacking thereof, will either benefit or burden, ANY recruited individual: work ethic, hustle (or better put, a sincere demonstrated physical and emotional passion in every aspect of performance at FP), and a belief that your teammates are your brothers.

One does not have to be the best skilled (talent-wise) to win in these three areas; however, if you do adopt and perform the best in those three areas, heads will turn, and your talent-level will be perceived at a more favorable level. That's when the chances open-up.

FULL commitment and success to those "three", collectively, will also build the greatest skill enhancer of all. . .confidence.

Whatever one's skill level is at that point will increase as will the perceptions of same in the coach's eyes. Also, the talent-level will increase as well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer Ball, Fall Ball and Other Considerations

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

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.


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.


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.


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!


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 -

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.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Don't Fall Back!

Just because it is nearing Fall, doesn't mean that baseball players that want to play at the next level fall back on their daily routines. In fact...this is the time to move forward and step up the conditioning and hone your skills for some of the best showcases this country has to offer.

The Arizona Senior, Junior and Sophomore Classic are the most important showcases that players will attend this year. Literally hundreds of scouts from all NCAA divisions will converge on the spread-out Peoria, AZ complex, home of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners Spring training camps next month. The complex is comprised of the main stadium and twelve perfectly manicured practice fields. The Senior Classic is October 13-16th. The Junior Classic is October 20-23rd. The Sophomore Classic is October 27t-30th.

The format of the "games" are designed to showcase players and pitchers only. No real scores are tallied, (they keep score, but it's not recorded) and teams play until time runs out. However, scouts do keep stats of the players individual performances. Teams from New York to Alaska are pitted up against each other in predetermined contests.

The ideal player that the scouts are looking for are Juniors that have just completed their summer seasons and showcase circuit. For many scouts, this is a time to do their follow up on what they saw this summer. There have been many cases where a college scout will use this venue to narrow down his choices and to ramp up the interest in their prospects. Many players even will give their verbal commitments to colleges a few months after this event.

College scouts also use the Senior Classic to look for high school seniors that haven't committed or may have been under the radar all summer. Many 2012 graduates have already verballed by this time, but not all colleges get the players that they made offers to. This is the college scouts opportunity to fill those holes left by MLB signees and other needs and hopefully get the right uncommited senior for his college program to sign an NLI on November 9th.

Which event should your son attend? Many 2013 and uncommitted 2012 graduates will go to the Senior Classic. Both the Senior and Junior Classic are well attended by scouts, but many of the top travel programs choose to send their 2013's to the Senior Classic and then have a younger 2014 team with a few 2015's at the Junior Classic.

For 2013 players, the Junior Classic is a great kick-off event to get seen. Some 2011's may have participated in some regional showcases this summer, but this event is the best national event in our opinion. A good showing in this event will put your son on the radar and set him up for a more extensive schedule in the 2012 summer season of showcases and camps.

For teams from the cold weather states, this is a great opportunity to extend your season with 5-6 additional games and a lot of reps at the plate. Pitchers are rotated every two innings and will have an opportunity to pitch two-three games. For everyone else, the competition will be fierce. Just because they aren't counting scores in the games, doesn't mean that players don't want to win and compete. The scouts come to this event for one thing find players with the heart, drive and talent needed to play at the next level.

So players, don't fall back. There will be hundreds of serious players in Arizona in October that will be competing for the same roster spot on the same college you desire to go to. The fact that they are in Arizona in late October shows the scouts that they know what it takes to get to the next level. DO YOU? These players know baseball is a 12 month commitment and will never fall back...neither should you.

RT Staff

Thursday, September 8, 2011

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?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Future Is In YOUR Hands!!!

Just about every college baseball team is getting ready to start 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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Travel/College Development Ball...A High School Coach's Perspective

RT Staff Note: Every year, message boards nationwide always discuss the cost, necessity and role of travel ball teams. One of those boards is our personal favorite High School Baseball Web. One of the most honest and reasonable contributors to HSBW is Coach May. We e-mailed him for permission to re-print one of his posts. As a High School Coach, he brings a very refreshing perspective to the benefits and added value of travel ball. Enjoy!

In my community there is one rec league. They have teams from 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-15 and 16-18. There are around 400 kids that play in this rec league in any given year. All of these players attend the same Middle School and High School.

The five 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12 leagues are full every year. The 13-15 and 16-18 struggle to have 5 teams each year. The league has around 400 kids playing in it each year. Each year we (our High School Team) have around 10-15 freshman come out for baseball. I do not believe these guys leave the game because of travel ball. They leave the game because they move on to other things that are just more fun to them.

When they get to HS for the first time in many of their lives they have to compete to make the team. Many have never had to compete for a jersey in anything in their life. Some have never had to compete for anything in their life. They are told that they can not miss a practice and they have to be on time. They are on the field with players that are so much better than them it is intimidating to say the least. They bring a rec ball mentality to the ball field around serious baseball guys and it just does not mix. You already know what can happen to these guys when they find themselves in this type of situation.

Players move on. Some love it , breathe it , sleep it and want to be the best they can be. Some just want to play some ball if its "FUN" and then move on to something else. And some are not going to put any work into a "game". Add in Cars , Girls and all the other things that are coming into their focus at these ages.

Travel baseball started because some peoples kids wanted more than the local rec league afforded. Some wanted to get better coaching than the local rec league afforded. Some wanted to compete at a higher level than the local league afforded them. Some kids get frustrated by not having but one practice a week for one hour and half that time is taken up in the parking lot walking up to the field and half the kids don't even show up.

I know one thing a lot of people are spending a whole lot more than I ever had to spend on showcase baseball. The cost was $500.00 if you made the team. The tourneys were all in state except for East Cobb and Jupiter. Instead of going to the coast or the lake for vacations we just did baseball because that's what our kids wanted to do. We sacrificed some things to allow our kids to have some things they wanted to do. The other kids did as well. Instead of working at baseball and being good at it they decided they would rather hang out with friends , go to the lake , go to the coast , have a ATV etc etc. My kids got new bats and new gloves. Their friends got ATV's and fancy clothes.

If the local league does not provide for your son what he is looking for in the game and then a parent decides to go find it for him I don't have any problem with it. No more than I would have a problem with a kid moving from a public HS to a private HS to get a better education if that school did in fact provide a better education.

I tried the local league thing. I just got tired of kids that did not want to practice. Showed up late for practice and then the parents got mad when you said something to them. "We don't want to burn him out. After all coach its just a game. And we have other things in our life we do." Yeah I know its tough to make a practice each week. And I got tired of the better players being penalized for being better. The hard throwers strike zone was legit. The kid that couldn't get it to the plates strike zone was huge. On and on I could give examples of why some people move on.

I believe that if your son is a kid that is very competitive and really loves the game you need to get him in an environment with like minded players. If he is better its probably because when he is at home he is wanting to throw , catch and hit and someone is taking the time to do it with him. When you put these kids in a league with players that are bored by the game , don't want to practice , can not catch or throw it just doesnt mix. It does not hurt the kids that can not play and do not have the desire to get better. It hurts the ones that do.

The best thing IMO you can do as a parent if your child wants to be the best he can be and loves the game is get him around coaches that want to teach and love the game. And get him around players that feel like him about the game. If not he will not have any fun. And he will be frustrated. And I do not believe he will reach his full potential.

When people say "If he had played rec ball he would have still been the player he is today." How do you know? I believe you are wrong. Why? Because the players that I have had in HS over the years that have been my best players and my players to get scholleys have been the ones that got very good coaching before they got to HS. They were the ones that played at a high level before coming to HS. The other ones were playing catch up for four years. When you are used to hitting legit pitching and facing legit hitters all the way up to HS you are not overwhelmed by the competition.

I have guys that are out classed by 75 mph fastballs in JV games. Then I have guys that it is just plain meat to them. On and on I could go. Rec Ball is the problem not the players who seek out the best baseball. The fact is there are two types of players. Rec Ball minded players and players that want to compete , learn and be the best they can be. The fact is they do not mix. And they never will.

Are there guys that have played rec ball and moved on to being great baseball players? Of course there are. The thing is they are few and far between. And they will continue to be few and far between. The the gap will continue to widen. It does not take any money to get out in the yard and work at the game. It does not take any money to get better at baseball. It takes a desire and a work ethic. That can not be bought. The thing is the players that are giving up their weekends and sacrificing to play travel ball are the ones with the desire and work ethic.

It kills me when I hear someone say "We just can not afford to do it its just too expensive." Yeah but that Lexus sure is nice. And that ATV sure is nice. How was your vacation at the coast? And man that sure is a nice car you just bought your son. Wow those rims are killer dude. Nice stereo system Jimmy! Yeah its just too expensive when its really not that important.

My rooms are free when I travel. My meals are too. I make sure any kid that can not truly afford to play in fact plays. They stay with me. I hook them up with what they need. I find someone to give up some cash for the ones that need it. No one is going to be turned down. If you want something you can find a way to get it. The fact is parents will do what they have to do if its important enough to their kids. Could it be its just not important enough to the kid? Too many excuses for me.

My son cut grass during the summer to pay his way to every PG event he ever went to. He weed eated and put up hay for the neighbors. I have not cut the grass in years. No, you want it find a way to make it happen. I tell all my players if you want to go call me. You want to go to a showcase and Pops won't foot the bill what are you doing to pay for it? You can get those CD's right? You can take that sweety on that date right? You can pay for that prom right? No, cut the BS don't want it bad enough.

I know many here will say "Coach May is a nut." Well I am. But I keep it real. All I know is a person that really wants something will find a way to make it happen. And when people see that he is doing everything he can do to make it happen they will step in and help him make it happen.

The problem today is people want someone to give it to them. Rec ball players are doing exactly what they want to do. Other players are going to do what they have to do.

OK I'm done. Bash the hell out of me. I can take it. It will not be the first or the last time that's for sure.