coach

Baseball, a Game of Failure


-David S.-

Baseball = Failure

In response to a feature article on Bleacher Boy in the newspaper, The Journal Times, I am reposting a topic that was highlighted.

I am always reminded that baseball is a huge game of failure.  Great hitters hit a .300 average.  Look at it this way, it means you FAIL 70% of the time.  That’s a huge percentage.  You are guaranteed to fail.  If while at bat, you advance a runner and he gets into scoring position, but you get out, do you fail?  Absolutely not.  Your batting average will be lower, which may look bad on the surface.  However, you are part of a team whose goal is to score runs.  Let’s say the winning run is on third and you crush the ball to the outfield and the fielder makes an amazing play.   You don’t fail because your goal is to hit the ball solidly and you succeeded.  You tip your cap to the defender and try again.  This unfortunately is a scenario that’s happened to me many times.  Another scenario would be if there is a full count and bases are loaded in the last inning.  You strike out.  Yes, this is failing, but it’s part of the game.  It happens to everyone.   No matter how hard you try, the game of baseball will always win.  So you will always face adversity, but it is how you respond to it that makes the difference between good players and great ball players!

Negative Thinking = Contagion

On my traveling baseball team, many of the kids get very upset after committing an error or not batting well.  ( Parents, it doesn’t help if you’re screaming or putting pressure on your kid.)  If this ever happens to me, I just try my best to be positive and to keep my head up as well as encourage teammates.  Otherwise, this can cause you to play horribly because you are not in a good mental mood.  If one person starts having a bad attitude, it spreads like a disease.  Everyone starts getting upset and frustrated and the team starts to fade. The other team smells this frustration and  takes advantage of it and then uses it against you.  They will crush you to pieces.  I’ve seen this happen to my team numerous times.  Kids crying, helmets thrown, missed grounders, bad throws -it’s ugly.  I’ve heard that scouts hope to see errors when looking at players.  They want to see how a player handles mistakes mentally and how/if they can recover.  My advice:  Let it go!  Don’t  mix offense and defense.  Leave the error on the field.  Leave the strikeout in the batter’s box.   Each player needs to find what works for them – so learn to forgive yourself and move forward!!!  And “PLAY BALL!!”

Put Pitchers in the Derby!


-David Strobach-

Recently in the media there have been tons of buzz about a pitcher possibly being in the Home Run Derby. Specifically, a lot of talk about Madison Bumgarner . Noah Syndergaard, aka “Thor,” has expressed interest in this event as well as Jake Arrieta.  Also, Adam Wainwright wants a part in the derby.  Should the MLB have a pitcher’s Home Run Derby or let them hit with the big boppers?  The answer to either question is YES, absolutely.

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

This is something baseball needs.  It’s a breath of fresh air to the All-Star break and would be wildly entertaining. The new derby rules the MLB put into place were a fantastic addition last year, but this would make the event even better.  Having either a pitcher derby or throwing some in with everyone else would make the event must-see T.V.  The MLB has even discussed the possibility having a pitchers derby.  It would probably make more sense to only add a pitcher or two to the mix of all other players.

It is totally understandable for teams and managers to be worried about the health of the pitchers if they partook in this.  It’s the ony arguemnt on why pitchers shouldn’t be included.  It’s safe to to say all of Chicago would be furious if Arrieta went out there swinging out of his shoes, causing a severe oblique strain.  No team wants their ace going down for a fun little show.  It’s risk that has to be taken for every player that participates.

Out of all players, I truly believe MadBum could give everyone a run for their money in the derby.  Some players are mesmerized by his batting practice sessions.   He’s simply a BEAST or “ox-strong, farm-bred,” as Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson described him.  After all, he has homered twice off one of the greatest pitchers of our time, Clayton Kershaw.  Watch, in awe as MadBum drops two bombs off the star lefty.  If these two swings don’t influence you to put him in the derby, I don’t know what will.

 

 

Imagine MadBum sailing balls into the sand of Petco Park, Thor using his hammer to crush balls out and Arrieta hitting bombs off of Western Metal Supply Company in left field.  Talk about a the best All-Star event ever.  Baseball, it’s time for pitchers to be involved in the Home Run Derby!

 

What would you think of this?  Should they be included or have their own derby?

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Run or Slide to 1st? The Science Behind It


-David Strobach-

In many games this year, runners have been sliding to first on very close plays.  Every time the announcer is heard stating that it’s actually faster to not slide.  This sliding/diving into first has been occurring noticeably more to me this year, so I decided to research it.  Let’s see what the truth is in this scientific breakdown done by ESPN’s Sport Science to see if sliding or running is faster.

Moral of the story after watching the science, always make sure to run through first!

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What Makes Baseball The “Mental Game”


-David Strobach-

 

Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical,” to explain how valuable the mental side of the game is.  What makes baseball the “mental game?”

There’s a nice amount of time in between each pitch whether you are hitting or fielding.  When you are fielding, you can think about what you’ll do with the ball if it’s hit at you.  Then, when the ball is hit, the reaction has to be within a split second.  If you make an error in those few seconds– everyone knows you’re the one who screwed up.  Baseball isolates you when you fail.  With all the time in between pitches, negative thoughts start creeping into your mind.  “How did I miss that?  What did I do wrong?  Was it my mechanics?  Did I misjudge it?”  Then, another ball is hit in your direction and you airmail it over first base.  “Jeez, 2 errors in the same inning.  What is wrong with me!?!!  What am I doing?”  An inning can feel like an eternity as you stand at your position, internalize the error and start to second guess everything. The fact that baseball gives you time to think and analyze before every pitch should be a positive attribute of the game. Unfortunately, for some, it can also be its most negative and self defeating attribute.

A sort of fear can build up inside of you, and you begin to hope that you don’t get the ball so you don’t mess up again.  You have already lost, if you have the fear of opportunity and fear of failure.   This dead time can kill you mentally.  As you start to second guess everything, you start to lose focus and perform even worse. Everything becomes very forced. Yogi Berra also said, “A full mind is an empty bat,” which exemplifies exactly what I’m trying to say.  The more you think, the worse the outcome.  It is fine to think about the situations in the game, but never to think about personal failure.   There’s even a medical term for this, “paralysis by analysis.”  By over analyzing yourself, it will paralyze your results. Clear your mind and visualize yourself succeeding, the results can be amazing by simply not overthinking.

Instead of  fear of another failure, a great player wants another opportunity to show they can get the job done.  If they make an error, or strike out, they look forward to the next time.  Self-confidence, is the common trait in all great players.  They know and believe in their abilities.  If you don’t believe in yourself, how are you supposed to ever succeed in anything?  The greats know they can hit and field-they’ve been training their whole lives.  During a slump, they just have to work through it.  You have to have the mental toughness to understand failure and how to over come it.  When I make an error at third base, I always think to myself that my favorite player, David Wright, who is a fantastic defender even makes errors.  He knows how to recover and make the next play. Self-confidence, not cockiness is key.  You have to trust yourself.

What makes baseball the “mental game” is the time it gives you to think.  Those who succeed have the self-confidence to overcome any obstacle.  It’s an amazing thought that a game can be won or lost in your head.  The most athletically gifted person in the world may lose to an average athlete because of a lack of mental toughness.  So, get out there, play ball, and don’t think too much!

 

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Share Your Crazy Coach/Parent Story


-David Strobach-

Everyone knows that one “crazy” coach or parent on their youth sports team.  Before I share some of my crazy coach stories (trust me, it won’t disappoint), I’d like to ask you all to submit your crazy coach or parent stories to me.  I would like to share some of your stories right here on Bleacher Boy.  I’d prefer baseball related, but feel free to submit any sport. Please leave real names out to protect privacy and not ruin someone’s reputation.

Suggestion:

You may want to start your story by saying……

You know your coach is crazy when____________________

For example, I knew my coach was crazy when he came to practice one day and decided to take on the persona of an alter ego in order to “reach” the boys. He proceeded to call himself, Ichiro, and took on the roll of an eager little Japanese kid. Instead of coaching, he took the field like a kid hyped up on Mt. Dew and gummie bears. He stayed in character as Ichiro, and the parents began to question his sanity as they tried to step in and help with practice.  That was only the beginning of crazy………………..(I have many more)

 

Submit your story to:

  • thebleacherboy@yahoo.com
  • Put “Crazy Coach Story” or “Crazy Parent Story” as the subject.

 

 

Good Coaches Make All The Difference


-David S.-

Baseball is a kid’s sport as well as a sport that makes grown men feel like a kid again.   It should be fun to play all the time.  Sadly, I believe some deficiencies in youth baseball have the potential to ruin this beautiful game and may contribute to the decreasing interest in the game.  One problem is securing good coaching for kids.  It seems that there are two main opposing coaching styles effecting how baseball is being played today.  One is that some coaches care so much about winning that it’s more about them than the players.  We all know that “crazy” coach.  The other is that certain coaches are just “there” and don’t do much of anything.  These two common coaching types seem to kill kid’s interest in the game at a young age.  Unfortunately, these opposing approaches end up having the same outcome…kids quit the game.

Some coaches are so blinded by winning some little tournament or every game that they don’t realize the affect it has on the kids.  The coach may be a big screamer…scaring away the nervous, shy, yet talented kid.  This coach may also over play his “star” players, leaving the others to rot on the bench.  If these kids never get to play at a young age, why even play at all? So they quit.  The coach only wants to get  “his” trophy (how amazing….a youth trophy) to show the guys at the office, instead of what he should be doing.  The coach should be developing all players to the best of their ability, increasing their self confidence, instilling respect and good work habits, and most importantly keeping the fun in baseball.

The other type of coach is one that just stands there and does nothing at all during practices and games.  No coaching or instruction at all.  This is usually the dad that doesn’t take a step back when volunteers are called for.   You may hear the obvious, “Let’s get a hit,” from them during a game while they lean and hold up the fence.  Thanks genius, “a hit” – wow, I was thinking that too.  Although, they deserve credit for sticken it out and “volunteering,” they tend not to truly know what they are doing.  Kids with this type of coach generally learn no discipline, no skills and run wild.  At practices, the ballplayers get bored by just standing around doing nothing watching the never ending little league BP sessions.  These young kids also lose  interest in this disorganized chaotic atmosphere.  If you get bored with baseball, why play, right?

There is a third type of coach, the one that has to coach because his son is on the team and if he doesn’t coach, his son will be kicked off the team because he’s a jackwagon! You all know what I’m talking about here- but that is a whole blog in itself!

No coaches are perfect and I am truly grateful to those that volunteer because coaching is a lot of work under the best circumstances.  A coach that “yells” or is stearn for the right reasons is definitely needed. But a good coach will also step back, not say anything, and let the kids play.  Coaching is an honor and a huge responsibility……Please, go to seminars, coaching clinics, or get a mentor and don’t ever be a kid’s last coach!

The 3 P’s of Baseball: Patience, Persistence, and Paying Your Dues


-David S.-

This spring I was busy everyday with a brand new experience, division 1 high school baseball. In all my years playing baseball,  I would start at third base, bat somewhere in the middle of the lineup, and play the whole game.  High School baseball, however, would be something totally new and foreign to me.  After breaking my back last year, my initial goal was to make the team where many guys end up being cut. Mission accomplished – but it was bittersweet. Seeing 19 freshman and sophomores on the roster,  I knew instantly that playing time would be rough. I had two complete “studs” blocking me at my two positions, first and third.  They were older, stronger and simply better and deserved to be played ahead of me.  I recognized this and asked coach if I could move to the outfield, but he wanted to keep me where I was to develop me for next year.  As it turned out, I would not start this year and barely saw any playing time.  I learned how frustrating baseball can be when you are blocked by someone ahead of you.  Most importantly, I learned how to work through it with patience, persistence and paying my dues.

Patience/Paying Your Dues

Patience is vital to a ballplayer to stop frustration from creeping into your head if you are not seeing playing time. An opportunity has to come eventually for you to show what your worth.  No one wants to sit the bench, but you can’t sit and pout about it, and for God’s sake don’t have your mom complain to the coach.  You must simply understand that the person that is playing instead of you is better and it is not personal. You just have to accept it and pay your dues.  This is just another part of mentally handling the game in a way I have not experienced before.  Be patient and the time will come for you to prove yourself.  It may not be next game or the game after that.  It could very well be next year when your shot comes.  I know mine is next year because my coach came and shook my hand at the end of the season and said, “Next year will be your year Dave.”  While you are paying your dues on the bench take time to observe and learn more about the game.  Don’t sit and watch the game aimlessly. Analyze counts to predict the next pitch, understand the situation going on in the field and the possible outcomes so when you do get in a game you’ll know what to do.  Patience will pay off if you stay persistent.

Persistence

Once I realized that I wouldn’t be starting, I knew I would have to work extra hard.  This means, you go to practice every single day after school and bust your tail.  By practicing everyday, I have noticed that I have improved more this year than ever before without playing much.  In high school, I have noticed coaches value hustle and heart over anything else.  Show your coach how much you love the game by giving it your all. Get there early! Stay late! And work your hardest even when the coach isn’t looking.  Always sprint to anywhere you are going on the field.  Believe me, your coach will start to notice you more if you persistently hustle and work hard.  I could tell my coach saw hustle and heart in me because he took me off to the side multiple times to tell me that I was doing everything right and that he couldn’t get me in because of the stud in front of me who will be on Varsity next year.  You can be persistent in the off season by practicing and getting stronger.  In addition to playing ball all summer, I signed up to go to a weight lifting and conditioning camp  every day this summer to become stronger and be in the best shape I can possibly be in by next year.  There is no way I want to be beat out.  You need to work harder than your competiton.  I hope this time next year I am talking about how I won the starting job, hit dingers, and had a great season.  I would then credit my patience, persistence and smile, knowing that I paid my dues.

 

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