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.

Monday, September 5, 2011

If You Are Not Over The Top, You Will Be Under The Radar

RT Staff Note: This is a rewind from a few years ago.

I was chatting with a parent at a Labor Day Weekend party about our sons baseball schedules the past several years. We talked about the hundreds of games, the travel, the cost and the commitment it takes to play at the next level. He gave me a look like I was from another planet. So I asked him, "You have this incredulous look on your face. You think I'm over the top don't you"?

He paused for a moment and said. "No, it just hit me what it's going to take for my son (an 11 year old) to play at that level."

We also talked about the excitement and high ratings of this years CWS in Omaha. I reminded him that all of those players that were in the College Baseball World Series have what many not familiar with our world would call "over the top parents". And every day, those players are extremely thankful that their parents had the vision, patience, dedication and extra money in the cookie jar to help them realize that dream of playing Next Level Baseball.

We touched upon Olympic athletes too. The one message that has been loud and clear during any past Olympics was that each and every athlete at those events had an "Over The Top" work ethic and were supported by parents that knew what it took to succeed at that level. We all know how dedicated Michael Phelps mom had been. But, the countless of other athletes from track and field, softball, volleyball, fencing, rowing, tennis and even some sports I had never heard of before, had that same support group at home.

These parents are all very aware of the sacrifices it takes to play at a higher level and to succeed as an elite athlete. Is it over the top? Well, since the Olympics in Beijing were the most watched in Olympic history, I think the world has spoken that they at least appreciate the results they saw from the athletes. Most people are just unaware of the road it takes to get there.

That's why the parent I was talking to at the party had that look on his face. He had never put an elite athletes preparation and schedule into perspective before. He began the conversation by asking about my son who is competing at the collegiate level and the year round commitment he spent on reaching that goal was way more than he thought it would be. But, he now realizes that all Next Level athletes are elite athletes. They must compete with and against other elite athletes, whether it's in their region, conference, NCAA Division or on the world stage. The hard work to get to any next level requires a special desire and attitude, incredible work ethic, a wad of mom and dads money and of course, a good dose of talent helps too.

Sports parents are no different than the parent that pays for extra educational tutoring for their child, or music, dance and art lessons. Thank goodness for parents that care enough for their children to want to give them more opportunities to succeed.

So, if you have a son that wants to play next level baseball, both of you need to start thinking a bit over the top, out of the box and into the next level of your previous routines. That's what college coaches are looking for and it's the only thing that will make your son that elite athlete that will be in their radar not under it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Senior Timeline...It is Not Too Late...Part Three

The early signing period is coming November 9, 2011 and many of the top players that were recognized earlier in the year will sign. That doesn’t mean that all of the best players will sign. Inevitably, a number of quality players will remain unsigned until the next signing period in April 11 of 2012. Some players will remain unsigned because of a lack of exposure, others because their body, skills, talent, speed and abilities have developed later, and others may have been just lost in the shuffle…Bottom line…DON’T GIVE UP!!! There is a reason the NCAA has two signing periods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sophomore And Junior Years Are the Most Important...Part Two

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

· How did you do academically your freshman year? If the answer was great, then continue with the same routine of conditioning and work-outs you had as a freshman. Most of you are first timers to this site, so look at the last post and follow the same routine as we outlined for freshman.

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

January-May· Enjoy your high school baseball season. Whether or not you are on varsity or JV, play hard and smart. If you think you are good enough to be on varsity, don’t worry, many high school coaches will favor their upperclassmen. If you are good, you will get your shot next year. Be thankful that you get to play everyday on JV.

· Summer travel ball is more important than ever…There are never too many games in travel ball. The more reps against the best, the better you will get.

July-August· Attend an Area Code Camp in your region or state – Log onto Area Codes web site…(Listed in the right green column).

· Scour the web sites to the right about the many showcases offered in your area. The summer of your sophomore year is when college scouts get serious. Start sending your profile sheets and letters with more frequency before every showcase and camp or tournament you attend and personalize the letters to each coach.

· If there is a Perfect Game event in your area attend those. They will prove invaluable to your reputation as a player. If they don’t have a showcase, there are many more. Look to the right for the showcases in your area.

· If you get more letters back, respond to every one, no matter if they are not in your top 10. Leave all doors wide open.

· Register for the fall SAT standardized tests ...We suggest the SAT because it is accepted by most all of the top schools and it is a bit harder. You should want the harder test right? Hopefully most you took yours in last year as well.

· Get the best score that you can. Take it two to three times if necessary even if you qualified for the target schools minimum requirement the first time. Always strive to do better than what is required. You wouldn’t do the minimum required of you in a baseball game would you???

· Register for the NCAA Clearinghouse. The link is to the right.

· Step up your work-outs from the previous years work-outs. You are starting to mature and you are able to take more on physically.

· Double check if you are NCAA eligible with your counselor.


Feb -May· Send out your high school schedule to all of your contacts. Find out what local paper covers your team frequently and send a link to each coach so that they can follow you. If your high school web site is up to date on the daily box scores and news, send them that link as well.

· Go visit the schools of your choice when you have time. Many have "Junior Days" during the spring, usually on Sundays. GO TO THEM!! THEY ARE IMPORTANT!! These are all “unofficial visits” and the bill will be on you.

· Plan your summer schedule!!! This is when the rubber hits the road…Attend all the important showcases. Go to the WWBA in Atlanta. Work to get invited to the Area Code try-outs and a USA Baseball try-out as an example. Have a plan in place and work towards getting as many phone calls as possible on July 1…the day when you can be officially contacted.

Summer· June and July are the primary showcase and camp months. If you followed the timeline, you will have gotten invitations to the camps of the schools of your choice, and to the invitation-only showcases. Continue sending out your letters and tell them of your successful Junior year on varsity. If you received any local awards such as first team in league or metro honors, tell them that up front!

· This is by far the most important time of a player’s baseball life. For instance, many of the better players will have received offers by the middle of the summer.

More later.