“If It Works For A Big Leaguer”

One of the coolest parts to an MLB game is the 90 minutes before the first pitch.  You see guys getting in extra work – infielders taking grounders, pitchers throwing flat grounds to each other, etc.  It’s cool to see that the way they prepare is the same as the way you prepare.  I remember one of the things that stood out to me the most in my first spring training with Colorado Rockies was when I saw Todd Helton hitting off a tee early in the morning.  The future HOF first baseman did it every morning.  I remember this not because it was Todd Helton, but because it was so contrary to what I thought took place at the highest level.  I thought drill work like the tee was reserved for lower levels but I was very wrong.  Whether it’s tee work or flat grounds, MLB players are constantly working to perfect their craft and keep their body and mind razor sharp.  If the greatest players in the world need to do that, how much more should you? The pursuit of greatness – the journey to the MLB – requires a passion and a competitiveness that cannot be shaken by ANY external forces.  You may be reading this and you are doing the right things – keep going! You may be reading this and you have gotten off track lately – rededicate your time and focus! You may be reading this and you cannot look in the mirror and honestly say you’re happy with the work you’ve put in – make today day 1 of your journey! Whether it’s mirror work, stretching, doing sprints, or even designing a weekly schedule for your training, make today count!

Here are the Coaches Notes from this past weekend:

Positives: CHAMPIONS! Clean sweep of the weekend. We finally as a group were able to put everything together. In the dugout we finally maintain a consistent level of energy. Played hard, fast, and aggressive all weekend long. Besides a couple of minor mistakes the defense was flawless all weekend doing a great job on making all routine plays and being aware of situations. Offense exploded this weekend scoring double digit runs in almost every single game, because of how good we were at playing situational baseball. Great job running the bases, hitting with two strikes, hitting with guys in scoring position. A lot of guys stepped up and had a big time weekend, Great job overall on the weekend.

Areas of Improvement: No negatives this weekend team was excellent.

Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 5

Attitude Explained: Great all weekend, maintained a high energy level throughout the weekend.

Area of Focus For Next Week’s Practice: Base Running, Hitting, Situational Awareness

Area of Focus Explained:  Last weeks situational practice seemed to have guys locked in and more prepared for the next play on defense.


“The Winning Recipe: Only ONE Ingredient”

If you want to win you have to do one thing: compete.  Oxford Languages defines the word “Compete” as strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same. That’s all you have to do.  Notice nothing in the definition of Compete speaks about mechanics, equipment, apparel, recognition, or any other thing that may be receiving undue attention and importance while we are performing.  Now, in order to be able to compete you have to train.  Training is where we work at tracing our mechanics, learn situational baseball, and become physically stronger and increase durability. Simply put:

You have to TRAIN in order to give yourself the best opportunity when you COMPETE to WIN.  TRAIN * COMPETE * WIN

Winning is not confined to a final score.  If you walk away from a game with a better understanding of the game and sharper plan on how be a stronger competitor then that is a win! Focusing on the final score is thinking small and greatness is never achieved by thinking small.

What next? For most of you the training part is set.  Looking across the board we have some of the best mechanics of any group we have seen to date.  Moving up the ladder we get to COMPETE.  That’s where we are struggling.  Well, let’s fix that by being a stronger competitor in all areas of our life.  Here are some examples BUT we encourage you to add to this list:

  • Read the question on your exam or homework more carefully, taking your time as to not miss a critical part of the problem
  • If mom or dad asks you to do something at home they get a point each time: Refuse to let them “score on you” by accomplishing household tasks before they ask
  • Make your bed first thing in the morning – track how many consecutive days can do it (hint: have more days than anyone else in your house, on your team, in your neighborhood, etc)
  • Trace your mechanics more at home than anyone else on your team (you won’t know how many they are doing so your amount will have to undoubtedly be more in your mind)
  • Be first to the team huddle when coach calls you in for a meeting
  • Get to the ball faster than any of your teammates at practice

Some or all of the above may get you to roll your eyes.  Maybe you don’t trust that it is relevant to your success.  Only one way to find out: try it! If you choose to compete in one area of your life, it’ll make it more likely that you will compete in other areas as well.  Remember, if you don’t compete you will never win!

Here are the Coaches Notes from this past weekend:

Positives: The final game of the weekend had a ton of positives, mostly being able to bounce back after a tough loss in game 1 of the day. The weekend overall showed a lot of bright spots in making big plays in certain situations whether it was picking a guy off or making a big play in a tough situation. Did a great job of executing a first and third play – was played perfectly all around. We did a great job this weekend on stealing outs and starting pitchers did a great job of maintain tempo and keeping hitters off balance.

Areas of Improvement: The negatives are the small mental mistakes that allow games to implode on us. Not being able to play lockdown defense late in games and giving good teams multiple opportunities will always come back to get you. Keeping ourselves in a 2–0 game going into the 7th inning is a big difference on being down 6-0. A couple small mental mistakes come back in a big way.

Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 3

Attitude Explained: Our attitude stays pretty neutral all game long, but at many times we have to be reminded to stay engaged in the game – too often when on offense.

Area of Focus For Next Week’s Practice: Hitting, Situational Awareness

Area of Focus Explained: Situational hitting, trying to force contact when in good counts to hit but taking terrible swings. Too many plus counts for hitters that lead to weak contact. Need to walk more and find more ways of getting on base.


Hotel Link


“Rest & Reset”

“Power it off and wait for three minutes – then turn it back on.”  This was advice I received one time from an internet technician when my wi-fi wasn’t working the way it should.  Once I turned it back on…boom!…it worked again!  The router need to reset, but first it needed to rest.  As athletes we need the same treatment, but how do we do it?

Resting: Resting can be laying on the couch after polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and spending three hours thumbing through Netflix.  That’s not the kind of rest we are looking at.  Our rest is very simple: stay away.  Staying away means turning your body and mind off from baseball for a set amount of time.  For one week you don’t put on a glove, don’t pick up a bat, and don’t do any mechanics work.  For one week you put the weights down and keep yourself from surpassing a light jog when traveling from point A to point B.  For one week you STOP!  It can be difficult because we are conditioned to believe “the more the better”.  But rest is a major component of becoming a superior athlete.  It’s right up there with skill work, exercise, and nutrition.  We should be mindful of rest on a daily basis – get a good # of hours of sleep each night and avoid electronics at least 30 minutes before bed.  But periodically it’s good to completely turn off and take ONE WEEK to let the past six-and-a-half months of work digest.  One week!

Reseting: To reset means to start up again without the negative component that was slowing you down or holding you back.  For some it’s physical and for others it’s mental…for some it’s both! When I turned that router back on I had done nothing other than plug it back in.  That was it.  Same will go for you.  You won’t have to do anything except to show up on Monday and get back to work.  That’s it! If you allowed yourself one week to rest then you can be confident in your reset.  If not you run the risk of burning out….either physical or mentally.  For some – both!

Enjoy your week off!

Here are the Coaches Notes from this past weekend:

Positives: First day was an excellent day overall, very clean performance on defense and even better starting pitching. All pitchers this weekend did a great job of filling up the zone and hitting there spots with multiple pitches. Pitchers also did a great job of keeping hitters off balance, keeping fielders active and the defense did a great job behind them. Some MAJOR improvements this weekend. Played the red birds (a team of mainly 8th graders) extremely tough, unfortunately feel a little short.

Areas of Improvement: Offense needs to be better at pushing runs across the board. We do a great job of developing innings with hits and working great at bats but we have really struggled with runners on base. We have to be better at situational hitting and understanding counts and maintaining our approach in the box.

Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 4

Attitude Explained: Played 3 great games kept the energy up the entire weekend and made some big timely plays.

Area of Focus For Next Week’s Practice: Hitting, Situational Awareness

Area of Focus Explained: Situational hitting needs to be better too many at bats given up with runners on base.


“A Perfect Circle”

A video we have been playing recently is a video with former MLB player, Jim Thome (link here). In this video Jim talks about the mental process and how it begins in the on-deck circle.  Leaving the on-deck circle a batter needs to embrace and exude confidence.  The batter has to believe, before he gets to the batter’s box, that he is “the man” and WILL produce! This belief has to be so strong that everyone between the lines and outside the lines also believes in the ability of this batter.  How are you leaving the on-deck circle?

The second part of the video talks about strategy.  Making sure you have plate coverage is an example of where your mind is on competing, not surviving.  Positioning yourself in the batter’s box is a strategic move – it’s chess whereas getting in there to try and hit a ball is low level checkers.  Thome also hits on two-strike approach/attitude at the end of the clip.  Ask yourself: are you playing chess at the game?

The on-deck circle is reserved for the batter, but the idea of approaching with confidence and playing a strategic game is not exclusive to hitting.  The pitcher has an on-deck circle (walking up to the rubber BEFORE getting your back foot set); the infielders have an on-deck circle (the time between pitches prior to the prep step); the base runner has an on-deck circle (standing on the base waiting for the coach to give a sign).  These are the moments we use to speak to ourselves and push our confidence to the highest level.  Then we step into our strategy: Pitchers (what pitcher and where do I want to throw it); Fielders (positioning and prep-step); and Base Runners (scan where the fielders are playing and take your lead).

Remember, it starts in the “on-deck circle”.  It is the perfect place for your first step towards excellence.

Here are the Coaches Notes from this past weekend:

Positives: The positive of the entire day in both games was showing the ability to fight back and get back into the game after putting ourselves in a hole after the first inning. We were able to string together a big rally with guys getting on and then some clutch hitting to tie the game at 7 showing fight until the end.

Areas of Improvement: The negatives from the games besides dealing with the extreme weather conditions, were having bad approaches at the plate. In the first half of the game too many guys were getting in good counts and would then get overly aggressive.This lead to a lot of bad swings with either soft contact or swings and misses. We have to show a little more discipline in those situations and not bail pitchers out of tough spots. Defensively we need to create better angels on balls in the infield/outfield. There are way to many ground balls that get through the infield which shouldn’t be, we have to have better footwork and more awareness on how to get to the ball.

Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 3

Attitude Explained: The attitudes this weekend were good even though we fell just a little short of two comebacks we stayed positive the entire day. Even with the terrible conditions throughout the day no one seemed to complain and we just kept on fighting.

Area of Focus For This Week’s Practice: Fielding, Pitching, Situational Awareness

Area of Focus Explained: Infielders footwork being more prepared for the ball and learning how to create angles in the infield. Pitchers holding on runners! Situational hitting!


“Building A Foundation Through Trials & Errors”

Win = Good, Loss = Bad.  Simple enough and widely accepted in the minds and hearts of athletes of all ages.  Doesn’t make it right, though.  The idea of looking at a stat sheet, or a scoreboard, and drawing conclusions about how you did is not only wrong – it’s destructive! When we talk about development we simply mean improvement and movement towards the the ultimate goal you have for yourself (college baseball, playing professionally, etc.).  Development starts with a solid foundation.  Your foundation is comprised of multiple parts:

  1. Mechanical
  2. Mental Fortitude
  3. Physical Strength
  4. Mental Awareness

I want to focus on #4, but let’s quickly examine the other 3.

  1. Mechanical – The proper movements will allow you to do more on the field and stay on the field.  Throwing a ball with later movement and higher speeds; Controlling runners with a pick-off move; Covering the strike zone with the barrel of your bat; Hitting a high/low and off-speed pitches; Cleaning fielding a ball and having enough time to throw a runner out, Stealing a base; Cutting off a ball hit in the gap from an outfield position; Blocking a pitch in the dirt – this is a sample of the things you are able to because your body moves properly.  This is taught by your coach then traced over and over, by you, to make it a natural movement in competition.
  2. Mental Fortitude – Baseball is a game of failure.  True and False.  It’s true because the statement refers to failure the way we naturally think it (swing and miss = failure). It’s false once you realize swinging and missing doesn’t constitute failure – it’s part of the game.  The problem with believing in the “failure” part of the game as negative is that you will spend the majority of your time in….you guessed it….negativity!! Strengthening our perspective and understanding the game will help strengthen our response to what a typical person sees as “failure“. Only then can you learn to thrive and truly succeed.
  3. Physical Strength – You cannot perform without your body.  Your body needs to be strong enough and pliable enough to handle the repeated stress it faces on a daily, weekly, monthly, and season long basis.  Endurance and durability is one side of the coin.  The other side is about being strong enough to manufacture positive results.  The difference between a ball that reaches the gap versus one that does not can come down to physical strength.  The difference between a runner being called out vs safe on a throw from the left side of the infield can come down to physical strength.  Working out to become stronger and more explosive is crucial to sustained playing time and advancement in this game.
  4. Mental Awareness – I can spend hours on each one of these, but this is the one that is the most difficult for players in the long run.  Mental awareness can be taught, but other parts have to be experienced.  Sometimes both! Example: Teach a pitcher that a fastball left over the middle around belt-high is at a high risk of being hit hard.  Few, if any, pitchers will reject that teaching.  But, the same pitcher who was taught that, understands that, and believes that just faced a really good team for the first time and experienced something he has only seen others experience: he got LIT UP! While the conscious part of his brain knew to not throw the ball there, he still made the mistakes because he never learned to not do it from an experiential standpoint.  In baseball, and in life, sometimes the only way to grow is to experience something.  It will have a much more profound impact on the person than if they had just read/heard about it.  A sunrise can be described in many different ways on paper, but those all pale in comparison to seeing it in person at the beach. In our practices and workouts we cover mental awareness (IQ) all the time.  Things such as:
    • Backing up bases
    • Cut-off situations
    • Base running dos and don’ts
    • Moving runners over on offense
    • Pitch sequencing bother defensively and offensively
    • …and more

Now, to the things you can only truly know by experiencing them is:

    • Your range in the field to a batted fall
    • Whether your lead is big enough/too big
    • What speed fastball you can catch up to
    • The quality of your off-speed pitches that day
    • Where you stand among other players your age
    • …and more

Mental Awareness takes Time! It takes Patience!! It takes Hard Work!!! It takes a POSITIVE ATTITUDE! The wrong attitude towards your development is the equivalent to laying down a slab of concrete then jackhammering it into pieces.  You’re left with a bigger mess than when you started.  For your final list let’s look at ways we can destroy the foundation that is being built in our lives, both personal and athletic:

    • Not being mentally/physically prepared for the ball to be hit to you prior to the pitch
    • Putting your head down
    • Focusing on a negative prior to stating three positives
    • Pointing fingers
    • Not being accountable
    • …and more

Throughout the Colonials program there are stronger foundations than ever before.  Celebrate the victories – Embrace the “failures” because they aren’t failures!! They are necessary bricks along the path to your ultimate goal.

Here are the Coaches Notes from this past weekend:

Positives: The pitchers kept us engaged and filled up the zone well. Tempo was great on the mound.  Attacked the zone and did not shy away from hitters.  For the most part did a good job of pitch selection to keep guys off balance, but we learned that they will hit mistakes over the middle of the plate.  Defensively you put yourself in good spots based on the situation, including the field and the environment (wind).  Awareness was strong.  Offensively we were aggressive even when it didn’t result in our favor.

Areas of Improvement: Both games we struggled with putting ourselves in a hole in the first inning. We struggled getting out of the first inning due to pitches pining up after a mistakes. On the field physical mistakes are acceptable but we can’t let them compound. Someone needs to step up and be a leader to keep the guys in the field engaged. Our situational hitting also needs to be better, moving guys over and getting them and understanding situation. Pitching we have to identify the opponent’s approach and not pitch in a pattern.  If the opponent is overly aggressive use that against them and start with off-speed.

Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 3

Attitude Explained: Attitude remained high even after struggling early in the game. The energy level in the dugout remained high no matter the outcome.  Seeing competition like this for the first time could scare guys off but each player continued to battle and remain aggressive.  This team absolutely belongs at these events. You are the first 13u team to compete at PG and Diamond Nation events this early in the season, but we will have to learn how compete and get over these tough schedules.

Area of Focus For This Week’s Practice: Pitching, Hitting, Situational Awareness

Area of Focus Explained: Situational hitting needs to improve.  The players need to be able to manufacture runs with the bat and with our legs.  We cannot go out there and expect to overpower teams.  We will be able to win games and events by getting on – moving runners over – and getting them in.


“Finding Your Way Through The Maze”

If you have ever done a maze, which I am sure all of you have at one point, you were probably less than satisfied if you were able to travel from start to finish without any hiccups.  That maze they give you on your placemat at Chili’s isn’t the most challenging, which is why it’s probably reserved for people 5 years old and under.  At our age we want to be challenged – we want a maze that is more difficult and causes us to think and problem solve.  We can all agree the end result of the challenging maze is much more satisfying than the simple maze we see small children complete.

But, and this is something we often don’t want to admit and accept, the process from start to finish on the more difficult, more satisfying maze is much messier!! The reason is because we hit dead ends – we try to go in directions that don’t lead to success.  But, it’s those dead ends that contribute to us finding our way to the finish line.  Your journey in this sport, and in life, is a mirror image to your journey through that difficult maze.  While we all want to get to that finish line we have to admit, and accept, that in order to accomplish a goal that’s rewarding we are going to have to hit some dead ends.  We need them! Think about this for a second:

  • To become a dominant pitcher you will have to have to get lit up
  • To become a formidable hitter you will have to get dominated by high velocity and late breaking off-speed
  • To become a reliable fielder you will have to boot the ball, misjudge a play, and throw it away
  • To become dangerous on the base paths you will have to get thrown out
  • To become a winner you will have to be on the wrong side of the final score, both at the the hands of your opponent (getting beat) and your own hands (losing)

Becoming dominant, formidable, reliable, dangerous, and a winner is not simply because these things happen.  They happen to everyone who plays the game.  No, to become the person and player you want to become is going to require a successful RESPONSE to the “dead ends” in our life.  You can be frustrated – you can be angry – you can get in the car and cry your eyes out – but you are only allowed to be those things for a very short while. Then you take a deep breath and focus on “what next?”. You pick up your pencil, learn from your mistake, and continue on in your pursuit of the finish line.

I cannot tell you how many dead ends you will run into, but I can tell you that if you try to avoid them you will end up stuck and watching others reach the goals you had for yourself. However, if you have the right attitude, the dead ends will be the reason you reached the finish line.  When you look back it’ll be the moments you perceived as “the worst” that led to you becoming your best.  This isn’t a pep talk – it’s the truth!  Embrace the dead ends – embrace the “failures” – because they aren’t road blocks….they are directional signs pointing you to where you DO want to be.

Here are the Coaches Notes from this past weekend:

Positives: Many positives from the weekend. For the most part some great defense all around, great job of executing relays and cutting off runners attempting to take an extra base. Excellent job at making the routine play and when we didn’t we saw how quickly an inning can blow up on you. Pitchers did a great job of filling up the zone and allowing the defense to make plays behind them.

Areas of Improvement: One blow up inning in the second game which got out of hand because we couldn’t make some simple plays. We dealt with the adversity of a bad call and some terrible weather which makes it understandable, but we need to remember the other team played in the same weather. We have to be better at finishing our innings and helping our pitcher out when they are struggling.

Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 3

Attitude Explained: The attitude was not a loud rowdy attitude but we did seem locked into the game. Still need to be better at maintaining energy throughout the game and not die out in the later innings.

Area of Focus For This Week’s Practice: Hitting, Situational Awareness

Area of Focus Explained: Need to be better at holding runners on! Catchers don’t stand a chance throwing anyone out. Situational hitting needs to be a bit better as well to manufacture runs.


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