“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: Pitching and defense this weekend were spectacular. The consistency of the plays made in the field, whether they were routine or the tough plays, was a big step in the right direction. The guys that started on the bump this weekend left it all out there and that made me incredibly proud. Offensively I loved the approach all around and was happy to see the guys adjust each at bat. The energy all weekend was the reason we showed what we are truly capable of. There was never a doubt that this team couldn’t go deep in each and every tournament and now you see it is not only possible but it can happen consistently. Extremely proud of the effort this weekend.

Areas of Improvement: Holding on runners, and controlling the run game was the biggest struggle this weekend. Being able to vary our looks, vary our timing to the plate to keep runners off balance, as well as throw guys out at a higher rate can limit big innings from the opposition. We also have to keep our offense rolling and not get complacent with “just a lead”. When you gain momentum in the first inning with a lead, but wait too long to jump on them again, you saw those leads quickly disappear.

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

Attitude Explained: We were energized at all times which is why we never really saw a huge deficit all weekend. Even in the last inning of the chip down 4 it was evident everyone still believed we could pull it off. You guys saw where high energy can get you and I believe next time we’re in a chip (and that will be soon) we will finish the job.

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

Area of Focus Explained:  Controlling the running game from all facets of defense is our next critical step along our development.  Being able to consistently cover both sides of the plate and have a stronger 2-strike approach will take more pressure off the 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: Offense bounced back exceptionally well from the last time we played. Guys having simpler approaches in the box was a key factor in the switch. Having the willingness to hit the ball the other way and letting the ball travel are how we should be approaching our at bats always! When we hit like we did in game 1 we’re going to make some noise in these tournaments. You have to believe that as much as I do if we want to see those results. Great swings all around! S Sunday workout went really well.  Defensively we gained a lot of ground and addressed areas of need before this week’s practice.

Areas of Improvement: Being able to put up zeros defensively will be key to closing out games. Pitchers need to do a better job competing in the zone and defensively we need to make plays for our pitchers. A confident defense will lead to a confident pitcher. Fly balls NEED to be caught. Routine plays NEED to be made. Pitchers NEED to be attack hitters. If you have the confidence that you are better than your position then you will compete with that attitude. If you’re scared you’re going to throw balls, you will find yourself struggling in the zone. If you’re scared you will drop a fly ball, then you will drop a fly ball. This is the mental part of the game that is so key to success. I’ve been saying it since the beginning. Confidence is KEY. We will see what we can really do once we get this part of the game down.

Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 2

Attitude Explained: We definitely seemed a bit flat with our energy. I brought it up in the moment but we’re on the middle of a comeback in the last inning, bases loaded, a struggling pitcher on the mound, and everyone’s silent in the dugout. You have to want to be here at all times. Whether the weather is bad, whether things are going bad, whatever is may be you have to WANT to be here and compete to win games. When that passion is evident your energy will come naturally.

Area of Focus For Next Week’s Practice: Pitching, Fielding

Area of Focus Explained:  We did a good job attacking our areas of need on Sunday. Pitchers continue to work on your mechanical needs as well as the mental aspect of sequencing and attacking certain locations.


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: Defensively there were a lot of improvements from previous tournaments. The outfield play was a clear and obvious improvement. Balls in the air were tracked down and played with good balance and footwork. It was great to see a previous negative become a positive. When you are signing up for classes putting the extra work in when you’re struggling and are able to translate that work onto the field you will see the results clearly.

Areas of Improvement: Offense was tough to come by this weekend. Our approaches at the plate will directly affect the outcome of the at bat. We are consistently jumping at balls and leaving the feet to try to reach for the ball and it resulted in a lot of weak contact over the course of 3 games. 5 runs over 3 games will rarely get the job done. We have to improve our mechanics and approaches and ensure we are working from the ground up. Long innings were a killer as well. Pitchers need to attack the zone with more intent. We are finding ourselves throwing around hitters who do not deserve to be thrown around to. Attack the zone and trust the guys around you. If they hit it they hit it – make the adjustment accordingly, but be willing to attack hitters and throw strikes more consistently.

Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 2

Attitude Explained: Energy going into day 1 was clear as day not where we needed to be. It was apparent from batting practice we were not energized or excited to be there. This can’t be a chore for anyone. This is the game we all love and we should be fired up to be playing at a complex as prestigious as Diamond Nation. You should be itching to get going at all times no matter who the opponent is or where we are playing. We have the privilege to play at high level tournaments with great facilities – we need to have our minds prepared to go out and make a statement. If you do not act like the aggressor at these tournaments then you will be the one that gets run over and we have learned that first hand. Have a clear cut motivation when you get in the car to come to these tournaments and bring out the fire. That energy is contagious and we need more of it on a consistent basis.

Area of Focus For Next Week’s Practice: Hitting

Area of Focus Explained: Offense needs to be able to put up 6+ runs a game. Putting that kind of pressure on the other team is paramount and will set you up for big time wins. Attacking the pitcher early and making him work hard for outs. We make it too easy for pitchers. Battle and be disciplined.


“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.


“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 offense has impressed since day 1. Guys are putting together competitive at bats and have been conscious of the situation at hand. The offensive contribution has kept us in most games which should bring a confidence to the team that they can hang in any game because of our offensive ability. Defensively there have been moments we can be really proud of. Double play turns in the infield as well as the outfield. We have to Remember these positives as they will give us the confidence to know we can play at a high level. We’ve shown the ability now we need to show the consistency.

Areas of Improvement: The mistakes in the field continue to pile up losses. The confidence factor is so vital in these moments. To have the thought process to tell yourself you can make any play at any time is something we need to work on heavily. The second guessing and shying away from balls will only continue to result in these errors. You have shown the ability to be a strong defensive team and then once things go wrong that same team turns into a different group. Mistakes will happen it’s inevitable in baseball, but how do you react to mistakes? Do you let them pile up and cause a domino effect? Or will YOU be the guy to put a stop to them and make a crucial and timely play for your pitcher? This is the difference between wins and losses for us right now.

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

Attitude Explained: Our attitudes reflect our performance. If we’re doing well our attitudes are good. If things are falling apart physically then we tend to fall apart mentally. I can’t continue to see guys sitting down on the bench. It takes you out of the game and it shows other players you’re not invested. Don’t be that teammate. Be the teammates that gets everyone up to keep the energy flowing from game start to end. Be encouraging do not shame others for their mistakes. Instead keep their confidence up and if you saw something they didn’t then tell them! We have to get in the habit of making adjustments without looking to me for help. That’s what the facility is for that’s what practice is for. When it’s Time to play you have to be in it mentally, you have to be vocal at all times and it will allow you to be ready and confident when the ball is hit your way. When we’re not vocal we are not focused and if we are not focused the ball will find you and we have seen the mistakes that can result. You have to WANT it. If you don’t have the WANT then you will not achieve the results.

Area of Focus For This Week’s Practice: Fielding

Area of Focus Explained: Routine plays turning into errors are our downfall. We need to catch fly balls at a high rate and we need to field and throw at a high level. I should be confident as a coach that when a ball is hit your way the play will be made with ease. If I have to hold my breath every time a ball is hit then we need to up our workload defensively. Give your coach the confidence to put you in a lineup.


“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: Starting Pitching and offense were strong points of the weekend. Getting runners in scoring position and driving them in resulted in 17 runs in two games. Guys staying simplified at the plate with their approach saw a lot of success this weekend. Also, if there was ANY doubt in your mind where you stand among the competition that should be put to rest.  While we didn’t walk away with the win, you showed everyone that you are the stronger, more dominant club. Make sure you remember that and believe it!

Areas of Improvement: Can’t get too comfortable. We learned the hard way. You could play flawless baseball and have it washed away in 1 inning by getting too complacent and not putting forth the same energy and focus at the previous innings. Guys need to have the confidence to come in the game and shut the door. Defense needs to pick up a struggling pitcher so they can know they have guys behind him he can trust. This is the difference between advancing and not advancing. You have to play start to finish. Once we get a lead the game does not end. If we learn to finish ball games and not feed our opponents to opportunity to stick around we will be very successful.

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

Attitude Explained: Even when things got rough we did not show any signs of quit which was a big step in the right direction.

Area of Focus For This Week’s Practice: Fielding

Area of Focus Explained: Routine fly balls need to be caught. We can’t give the opponent extra chances and we can’t make our pitchers throw extra pitches.


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