- BE ACTIVE. (Player) Go outside and play with some sort of ball, bat, or glove. A lot of good habits can be obtained by catching bouncing balls with bare hands. Anything hand-eye coordination will help to build a solid foundation for the future. Home run derby, wiffle ball, the Tee, etc. When you go outside and play baseball or sport in general, you are getting better at something!
- GET INSTRUCTION. (Player & Parent) Seek out lessons from somebody in your area who is experienced as a player and teacher. Somebody who cannot only help your kid learn but also give you an honest evaluation of where your kid stands today. Deal with people in your “Baseball circle” that are honest, up front, and have good intentions. A good instructor will not only teach good lessons but also instill in your player the importance of self improvement.
- BE SUPPORTIVE. (Parent) “Fuel the Fire”, as I say. If he likes it than go out of your way to support it. As you get older you like to do fewer and fewer things. So, while the interest is there…..please!
- DO RESEARCH. (Player & Parent) You do on everything else. It’s easier now then ever to find quality teams, coaches, instructors, equipment, training etc. Products and services are heavily reviewed, if you can’t find the answer online than ask around. Word of mouth is usually the best way to find out the scoop.
- IMMERSE YOURSELF. (Player) Sorry, but it’s part of the process if you want to be good. You simply cannot be good at something if you don’t spend countless hours doing it. It’s a fact. It’s proven. So don’t just “say” you want to be good at something and don’t do anything about it.
- BE REALISTIC. (Player & Parent) Baseball is a terribly difficult sport. At the higher levels it literally revolves around how well you react and adjust to failure. It’s a long and slow process to get good. As long as the attitude, commitment, effort, and ability to learn is there…it’s just a matter of time. Easier said than done.
- DON’T FORCE IT. (Parent) If he doesn’t like it, he will never be good. Interest level is very important. Give it time and ample opportunity (see above) but it’s certainly not for everyone. Baseball is the most difficult sport there is.
One thing that I keep getting reminded of as I grow older and wiser (hopefully) is the fact that there is nothing normal about being excellent. My business is athletes and in particular training baseball players on how to improve their skills. I use my own experience as a former professional but I also observe what’s happening in the baseball community around me. I remember things I used to do, I hear things, I see things, and then I put my own spin on it. I teach it. I examine results, I adjust. I teach it. I tell my baseball player that your going to learn from me and then your going to put your own twist on it………………and that will be YOU. The player that you become.
Let me get back to the reason I write tonight: “There’s nothing normal about excellence.” To sustain a high level of performance in any arena you must do extraordinary things. Things like concentrating on what your trying to achieve. Dedicating more of your time to what you want to get better at. Dedication it takes. Sacrifice it takes. Long hours. Long hours of discipline to what your focus is on. The ability to say “no”. The ability to know “right” from “wrong”. The ability, want, and desire to stick with it and get through it. The motivation to want to learn.
I teach my athletes that they want to be doing two things at ALL times: “CATCHING UP TO THE COMPETITION or SEPARATING YOURSELF FROM THE COMPETITION.” Regardelss, your goal is everyday to be thinking about one or the other….or both! Have a plan. The plan is important. The motivation is important. The want is important. Those that want “IT”, are more likely to achieve it. Those are the ones doing big things.
ASPIRE: to direct one’s hopes or ambitions toward achieving something
Baseball is a never-ending game of adjustments and improvements on the part of the individual player. Without these adjustments and improvements it’s just a matter of time until our career comes to an end. When you stop improving everyone else is catching up. When you stop making the adjustments, your weaknesses are more and more exposed. Do something about it and never stop improving and forever be making adjustments to your game:
My son is not playing and he should be! Say what? Every parent thinks their kid should be playing OR playing more than they are. If you think this you probably fall into THREE categories. ONE: Your son sucks and needs a lot of work, you don’t yet realize what it takes to get good at baseball and most of the kids on the team are actually better than your son. As you read this you are getting angry because your starting to think you might fall into this category. TWO: Good old politics. Politics. Ha. Sad. But why? Politics are in every aspect of life. Even youth baseball. Here’s how it happens>>> Some guy thinks it would be good to volunteer to coach youth baseball. NOT out of the kindness of his heart. So he can manipulate who plays and who doesn’t. This usually happens because this guy needs a boost in confidence in his own life. You know what I’am saying? He is on a power-trip and it makes him feel good to decide who plays and who doesn’t based on who his drinking buddies are, or who his kids friends are, or maybe, someone who donated some extra money to the cause. This guy should be labeled as a buster and his greatest moments on a baseball diamond will end when they stop accepting him as a volunteer coach. My personal advice to this character would be: Your not teaching anyone a good lesson. Grow up and do what’s right. THREE: The coach doesn’t know how to evaluate talent and actually cannot judge for himself who the best players are, therefore, not choosing the best players to play each game. There are actually guys out there like this and it is sad. Most of them are good dudes and mean no harm. They just can’t judge talent and are not capable of deciding who should be doing what on their team. This is usually a good man that needs help….so, my advice to him would be to seek it out. Listen, it’s baseball, a game. Therefore none of this means much or none of this should be taken too seriously.?.? No, No…… I think it should be actually. What’s more important than our kids? What is more important than teaching our kids good lessons or setting a good example for our kids to follow? For the 2% of all parents out there that realize your son struggles and you are doing everything you can to get him the best resources possible to succeed…… I commend you as you are doing the right thing and I respectfully exclude you from the 3 options above.
Results are hard to come by in this game and are only obtained through hours, weeks, months, and years of hard work, dedication, learning, applying what you learn, executing a correct approach to the game, and forever building a positive/confident attitude amongst your peers. I say forever cause that’s the process in this sometimes stupid game of failure. It will beat you down if you let it. DO NOT!!!!!!
Understand how to fight back, get better, and achieve. Be relentless but realistic. REALISTIC. Check it out, definition time, Realistic: Tending to or expressing an awareness of things as they really are. For example if your a pitcher and your E.R.A is 6.60, you really do give up 6.60 runs/9 innings pitched. Better yet, better yet……hitters, if you hit .200, you really only get a hit 20% of all your official at-bats. Realize when you suck and don’t sugar coat it or attempt to repeat it. Realize when you succeed and duplicate it. Understand what your weaknesses are and get to work. Don’t ignore them. Don’t ignore your weaknesses. Spend more time working on your weaknesses in practice than showing off your strengths. It will serve you better in the future. Develop a method that works for you, be consistent with it, and duplicate. Trust it thru what you accomplish in practice. Do not stray from. Do not fear. Trust it. Kids suck when they forget what they have learned or fail to apply it. Players succeed when they trust a good thing. Lose the bad things and accept what happens in between. Be constantly accepting, adjusting to, and working through your failures. Accept your situation! Adjust to failure! Work through them the correct way. Also, make sure it bothers you to fail. Take it personal……but understand it. If you don’t understand it you will continue to fail. If you don’t know the difference than ask somebody. Speak up.
What’s in a tryout? Well, Little League tryouts are a joke, so lets concentrate on when a tryout really matters. High School is usually when a tryout matters for the first time. What do they want to see? Ability. Obviously. In what form? In this form: HIT, RUN, THROW, FIELD. Again: HIT, RUN, THROW, FIELD. One more time for the non-believers: HIT, RUN, THROW, FIELD. Make it a point to be able to do all these well. Really well. If I were the authority I would replace RUN with ATHLETICISM. I seen runners who suck at baseball. Athletes are better. I shouldn’t have to explain ATHLETE. It’s super important. The X-Factor. An athlete usually hits, runs, throws, and fields better. A runner…….usually plays football better or track and field. Ha! Truth be told……..I just told it. Always be preparing for that tryout.
Asked a lot lately about innovative new coaching techniques or practices for teams. Fundamentals & repetition. Until your troops show you they can accomplish the fundamentals on a regular basis….keep it there, with the basics. You have to remember that the fundamentals of the game win and lose the world series at the major league level each year. Getting down a bunt, hitting the cut-off man, catching and throwing the ball, throwing strikes, and base running. Executing these fundamentals when it matters most. That’s it. If a team can accomplish all of this on a regular basis, they will win more than they lose. What does this mean? A lot of ground balls, fly balls, cut-offs and relays, knowing what to do when the ball is hit to you, executing the routine play, base running to the point where we know how to take a lead-off and a secondary lead, and anticipating on all levels. Do not compound mistakes. You see, there are a whole lot of mistakes an opposing team can capitalize on…….don’t let them. I speak of walks, hit batsmen, wild pitches, errors. Anytime an opposing team can advance a baserunner for free is a negative. Eliminate the free passes. The most basic fundamentals in baseball are actually quite difficult to perfect. Pitchers will walk hitters, fielders will make errors, hitters will strike out……the goal, to eliminate the amount of times we do this. THAT team wins. Thats the problem with baseball…..it’s inevitable that the mistakes will happen. Who will execute the fundamentals the best? That’s the team! Hard work and understanding will prevail.