“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: This was a tough weekend all around for the guys but despite all the adversity we faced, we got better and that is the biggest positive. Despite getting shut out on Saturday, we hit the ball well and guys were barreling balls up, unfortunately they were right at guys which is just the way the game goes. We had runners in scoring position a good amount we just missed that one big hit. The energy on this team is really special and it is starting to show now that everyone is getting more comfortable together. Sometimes you just don’t have your “A” game and that may have been the case, however, I have a lot of faith this weekend we will see a big difference!
Areas of Improvement: This past weekend I think we had opportunities to win every game, however, when adversity hit we seemed to crumble apart. Every game we played there was that one inning that got out of hand causing our pitchers to have to get six or even seven outs in an inning. So many runs could have been avoided by playing aggressive defense as we are making acrobatic plays in pregame but cannot charge a ball with two outs and runners in scoring position. The runs that were scored due to the lack of effort is what really took us out of those games, but the adjustment will be made and we will come back stronger this weekend.
Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 4
Attitude Explained: The guys all had energy the whole weekend and did a great job at holding each other accountable. Regardless of how the score looked they were all loud in the dugout and going a great job keeping teammates loud and engaged. The mental game of baseball is so hard, cheering for your guys and getting loud helps more than most really think. I believe the aggression on the defensive side of the ball could’ve really changed that rating to a 5 because if we make those plays the score is drastically different. We are a dangerous team when we steal the momentum…let’s keep it rolling!
Area of Focus For Next Week’s Practice: Fielding, Other
Area of Focus Explained: Making routine plays is going to be the most important thing for us in practice as that’s where we seem to struggle the most. Maybe our minds are working a little faster than our body and we shift our focus on a throw before we field or catch, but regardless of reason those plays really hurt us. The team who makes the least amount of errors always has the best chance to win we need to stay locked in with the fundamental aspect of the game. Bunting is also going to be in our plans because we miss out on so many opportunities to advance runners and score runs because we’re uncomfortable in those situations.
“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: I truly believe with every week, this team finds a way to bring more and more talent to the table which is why we find ourselves advancing in these tournaments so often. Of course, the final scores can say otherwise, but most of those games tend to come from one inning where everyone falls asleep. In this game, every single pitch matters and there is no time to take off, but we, as a group, find ourselves in a lot of nail-biting situations with teams that can out-pitch and out-hit us. Every single person on this roster cares about the game and respects it and believes they are capable. With some dedication and motivation great things can happen, which we saw. We absolutely crushed a team game one and gave them no reason to hang around with us. There was a moment where we fell silent and the second everyone was challenged great things happened. Again, the end result was not what we wanted but for that game two to be able to go up 7-1 in the first few innings against a dominant team that would eventually win the whole tournament is amazing. The bats and the energy were through the roof as things looked great for us for five of those six innings we had played. Gearing up for the last tournament of the spring I think we have made significant amounts of progress that will carry us through summer ball.
Areas of Improvement: This week’s negatives are going to be based on routine plays and our mental game. There were a lot of guys playing positions that they don’t normally find themselves in which is just how the cookie crumbles sometimes, but that is not an excuse to get nervous and play beneath your ability. Trying to move too fast before we have secured the ball or rushing a throw, causing it to get past first base, are things that not only hurt our mental game but also our pitchers. His job is to go out and compete for 3 outs every inning, asking him to get two or three EXTRA outs in an inning is unacceptable. Now it is clear errors are part of the game, you are human, but to carry the weight of that error with you and have it affect multiple parts of your game is so hard to come back from. We are a very talented team that is stacked with players who know the game and obsess over it. PLAY LIKE THAT!!! We run into an issue so often where we do not play with the same confidence we have in the facility and it shows on the field. Everyone here is capable of excellence, if we play like we practice and trust ourselves, great things will happen.
Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 3
Attitude Explained: The attitude rating is once again at a 3 because we are still enduring way too many situations of being the loudest team in the complex for one inning and then going completely silent after one error. That is how the negative energy sticks around. Like I stated earlier errors are part of the game. If we make one error and think this is the beginning of the end, rather than picking up our teammates and maintaining high energy, it is going to be so difficult to shut the door in close games. As well as on the hitting side, in no way am I saying we cannot rest and catch our breath but at the same time we should not have a situation where the go-ahead run is in scoring position and 7 guys are on the bench having a conversation that clearly is not about baseball. Staying locked in for all six or seven innings is what separates us most from winning games and losing games. Let’s build off this past weekend and steamroll through this weekend into summer ball.
Area of Focus For Next Week’s Practice: Pitching, Fielding
Area of Focus Explained: We need to focus on fielding and getting comfortable in positions, guys have been thrown into some new positions recently due to some lack of depth so do not be shy to ask for reps at a new place in case you are needed there. Getting comfortable in uncomfortable situations is guaranteed progress. Getting used to seeing fly balls in the outfield or turning double plays to get reps in case we need someone to fill a hole is how we become more diverse as a team and find ways to sneak farther and farther into tournaments. And flat-out pitching still needs to do a better job. Really emphasizing on throwing to batters in high-stress situations or implementing days in class where you have to get your job done because throwing without consequence in low-stress situations has not been translating for us. Being able to control our thoughts and also have the ability to coach ourselves on the mound is our biggest superpower. Nobody knows exactly what cue works for you, besides YOU. Pounding the strike zone is essential at this age because not too many teams are going to have multiple guys with homerun power, we give the batters too much credit and pitch around them. Trust yourself!
“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: This weekend was undeniably the toughest competition we have seen on the diamond this year, and likely will be the toughest for the remainder of the 2023 season, so to go out there and stay competitive with three very high-level programs is a major positive alone. Once again our bats really showed they are big strengths as we did a much better job at stringing a few hits together to get runners in scoring position and capitalize ultimately shifting the momentum our way. Defensively we were very solid and for the most part, made all the plays that came our way. Our positive attitude this weekend was the biggest positive in my opinion because every team had an opportunity to bury us and despite what the scores say, I do not think that happened once. If we got quiet or down on ourselves it did not last long as it takes one swing or one pitch to get everybody jumping around in the dugout. This off week will be much needed for everybody to rest up take some time to make adjustments on our own time and show up in two weekends ready to compete our way to a championship!
Areas of Improvement: I believe the negatives are less physical and much more mental this weekend. To be honest, everybody did their jobs, and pitchers did their best to limit the free passes, but ultimately we left a few too many pitches over the middle of the plate that the opposing team did not miss. That is expected in a major tournament like this…these teams can hit fastballs and they do it very well so going forward sequencing will be something we work on to have a better grasp on what to throw and when. Mentally we need to do a better job at controlling emotions, some guys have been acting way too selfish and caring more about their hitting stats for the day than getting a win and that is never acceptable. Everyone has made this roster and gets innings because they put in the work to get to that position, one swing or one bad throw will not take all that hard work away so we need to stop acting like it is the end of the world. Stay composed on the field and respect the game and it will always respect you back.
Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best):3
Attitude Explained: Our attitude was definitely in the middle as again we had our moments of being the loudest team at the complex and in a matter of minutes we were dead silent. With how fast these games go we cannot afford to be so wishy-washy with our emotions. Two hours of being 110% locked in may not guarantee us a win but it will absolutely give us the best opportunity to come out on top. Enjoy the game is the biggest piece of advice I can give, the weather is getting nicer, the birds are chirping, and flowers are sprouting…take a minute to soak it all in next time we are out competing and realize how lucky we are to be playing such an amazing sport, I can assure there will be a shift in perspective. We have gotten better mentally and physically every single week, we need to continue doing our part to get 1% better every day and the results will speak for themselves.
Area of Focus For Next Week’s Practice: Pitching; Situational Awareness
Area of Focus Explained: Our pitchers definitely need to continue getting work in on the mound during practice as it is only giving them more opportunity to fine-tune before seeing live batters over the weekend. Only seeing guys in the box on game day inevitably makes it more intimidating. Along with that, working on bunting will absolutely be in the practice plan for us as I believe there have been too many occasions where we have an opportunity to steal a hit and a bag with a bunt but the guys are not confident enough in their ability to drop one down yet, but we will get there!
“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:
- Mental Fortitude
- Physical Strength
- Mental Awareness
I want to focus on #4, but let’s quickly examine the other 3.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: Overall, I think this weekend was a significant win for the team. There was dominance on the basepaths which helped us put our second game away before even throwing a pitch, good decision-making on the defensive side limiting the number of extra outs our pitchers had to get, and the bats came alive in the biggest way which we have been waiting so patiently for. Having confidence in ourselves and our style of play matters so much at this level because the amount of confidence and trust you have within yourself, the slower the game becomes making it easier to capitalize which showed for itself. Being able to get seven of our first eleven batters to cross the plate in the first frame not only instilled fear into our opponent, but it gave our guys the chip on our shoulder that was most needed, and I know it felt good for them to be on the good side of a high scoring game. I have all the faith in our guys that the same energy will come out the second we step on that field and we will have set the tone for the rest of our spring season.
Areas of Improvement: First and foremost, the negative that needs to be addressed before any other is the lack of composure I saw from guys in our second game of the day. On multiple occasions, we had players throwing equipment throughout the dugout after frustrating results. I understand how much passion we have for this game, but in order to be on that field doing what we love, we need to respect this game and there is no tolerance for that behavior in any setting… especially while we are about to mercy the other team. I hope this is the first and the last time I will have to bring this up because we are too talented to let out emotions take control of us. Going off of that game one was very tough on us mentally and physically, but the best thing to take from it is that we did not fold over and feel sorry for ourselves going into our second game of the day, which easily could have ended up as the first game did. At the end of the day, our pitchers need to do a better job at locating the zone in order to give us a chance to win. We are giving up far too many free passes and giving the other team opportunities to take control of the game without even having to swing the bat. Our bats were pretty alive in the first game of the weekend as guys were finding barrels throughout the lineup, however, it is incredibly difficult to gain momentum and make a comeback when we cannot dominate the strike zone. Having awareness of the batting order is so vital to this as have really struggled with getting out the guys at the bottom of the order, these batters we have faced in those lower slots have shown nothing competitive yet our pitchers are still throwing around them. We need to focus on controlling our mental game and attacking the zone so our pitchers do not have to rely on striking out all 21 batters; we have good fielders, use them!
Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 3
Attitude Explained: This past weekend our attitude was definitely more middle ground than last weekend. I felt as a team we were a bit too mixed with our emotions. As baseball players we need to do our best possible job at staying composed and level-headed at all times so we are never getting too high or too low depending on the game situation. For instance, two helmets were thrown in a game where we had a no-hitter going on and 10 runs scored is beyond selfish and unacceptable. Everyone needs to do a better job at putting the team first and being the loudest one at all times, the more we can intimidate our opponent, the faster we can take control of a game and step on that gas pedal. I think we did an awesome job at picking up our teammates this weekend and staying together for the most part, but when things get quiet or we feel ourselves dying out someone needs to step up and get the rest of the guys locked in and ready to compete. I honestly believe if we focus on enjoying the game and playing as our most confident selves, that score of 5 will undeniably earn itself.
Area of Focus For This Week’s Practice: Pitching, Hitting, Base Running
Area of Focus Explained: The biggest thing we need to work on this week in practice is having pitchers throw to batters in a live setting. Only getting live reps in the game does not help our progress as anybody can throw strikes when nobody is standing in the batter’s box. Giving our arms a chance to get live reps and make adjustments midweek set them up for success knowing what they should and should not prioritize in the coming days before making an appearance, we can only get better at these things by practicing them. Having a solid idea about situational base running is going to be vital for us as well because there were certainly a few situations where we could have scratched another few runs across. Hitting will of course be a focus because the more reps we get, the better we become we are still shaking some off-season rust off so getting live looks will not only help our pitchers but will greatly benefit our hitters as well!
“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: In week one, there were many positives to look at going forward. The team energy was high at almost every point this weekend with all 11 guys ready to jump on the field and make an impact. In our first game before the rain took over, we had completely shifted the momentum our way against a very good team that had scored 15 runs the game before. Up until the last inning of our second game, our defense did exactly what they needed to do with both of our catchers stepping up in a massive way. We very easily could have been down 7-1 but thanks to our guys behind the plate blocking everything, we were given a huge chance to steal the momentum and tie the score. The approaches at the plate overall looked good, Guys were taking aggressive swings at pitches they were looking to drive, both early in counts and with two strikes causing the opposing pitchers’ pitch count to jump. We have a lot of good momentum leading into next weekend’s tournament and I look forward to seeing what we can make happen.
Areas of Improvement: As I said previously, up until the last inning we looked very good, but when things started to take a turn it seemed as if the entire team shut off. Regardless of the situation, two dropped balls should never lead to a team shutting off and giving up 11 runs in a matter of four outs; especially when we had given up just 3 in the previous nine innings we had played. Our pitchers did their job for the most part, however, the biggest thing we need to prioritize going forward is dominating the strike zone. At times it looked like our guys were trying to pitch around batters too much in an attempt to avoid giving up a big hit regardless of where they were in the lineup. This ultimately led to our pitchers falling behind in most counts causing far too many free passes. We need to challenge hitters and attack with our fastball until the hitters prove they can do something with it, we have a great defense behind us, and we need to do a bit better job at utilizing them and not relying on striking out every guy. As far as offense goes, we need to improve stringing together hits and starting up rallies, there were a few too many times this weekend where we came off the field fired up and got the leadoff guy on base just for the next three batters to go three up three down. We have to look for our pitch and not get swing happy just because there is a runner on.
Overall Attitude Rating (1-5 with 5 being the best): 3
Attitude Explained: The attitudes were very good for week one and set a tone for what to expect going forward. I thought the energy was through the roof for the most part as it was evident when the guys would get fired up and their play-style showed for it. I would say the biggest thing that held the team back from that higher grade this week is that we are still looking for that voice, that player that hypes the team up in a big spot because they want to be a leader, not because the coach told them to get the guys going. I think just about anyone on this team can be that voice for us as everyone’s passion for this game is clear…now is just a matter of who is going to be that guy to step up and put the team on their back.
Area of Focus For This Week’s Practice: Hitting, Fielding
Area of Focus Explained: This week we need to get a bunch of reps on the field, a bunch of guys stepping up and playing new positions or ones that they have not been to in quite a while, so moving guys around so they can adapt to new places will ultimately bring them more confidence when the time comes to compete there. Playing with high intensity will be the goal for this as anybody can take reps in a new position, but how locked in and serious we take those reps will define how much progress we make. Hitting will also be something we work on as far as two-strike approaches, too many times this weekend I saw players take the exact same swing 0-0 as they did with two strikes which should almost never happen. shortening up with the bat and looking to fight off pitches until we get something to work with is vital not only for scoring runs but driving up pitch counts to get opposing starters out of games sooner.