Sport Development Blog

 Coach To Win Life, Not Games
(4/19/2019)
 
 
   

Coach To Win Life, Not Games


FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster


Last month, a legend was laid to rest.  

A legend whose impact goes far beyond words; a legend who, through countless others, has impacted people he never even had a chance to meet. 

A couple years ago, a friend of mine had a pretty profound thought about what life was all about. He said, “we spend our entire lives selling tickets to our funeral.” Let that sink in for a second. For as somber as death can be, a funeral shows the lasting impact of how someone lived, through those to attend the services to pay their respects to the family.

Well, last month, Fred Hill sold out his funeral. 

-----

In September of 1996, I set foot on the Rutgers campus as an immature freshman baseball player who thought he had the game of baseball and the game of life both figured out. And then I started being around Fred Hill just about every day for the next four years who made sure, many days louder than others, that I got to know how much I truly didn't know.

When I had originally committed to go to Rutgers and to play for Coach Hill, I did so without really having any idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea that I was going to embark on a life-shaping journey with a man who, aside from my parents, would have the greatest influence on my life. He was a second father to me.

Over the past month since his passing, my mind has been flooded with the memories of the twenty-plus years that I was blessed to have this man in my life. Some have me laughing out loud just as easily as others bring tears to my eyes, knowing how much of his life he invested, in mine. What all of these memories had in common was how he was teaching us life through the game. He was ALWAYS teaching us life. And we didn’t even know it. 

When he was always on our case about this or that, he was teaching us the importance of always doing things the right way.  Every time it was above 32 degrees and he had us playing an intersquad game in the University’s basketball arena parking lot, he was teaching us to take advantage of what we had, rather than complaining about what we didn’t.  When he kicked someone out of practice for showing up on time, he was teaching us accountability… and to always be early! When he benched someone for not hustling, he was teaching us that we owed it to ourselves and our team to give our best effort, all the time, in everything we do. 

When he would be the last one to leave the field because he was picking up garbage in the dugout he was actually teaching us how to be humble without ever feeling like we were too good to do something. And every time this ridiculously successful guy who won championships, coached All-Americans, and developed Major Leaguers asked US questions about the game and how HE could get better, he taught us how we should always be learning, no matter how much we knew. 

He is THE reason why I am a coach today. Coach Hill saw something in me before I was even ready to see it in myself upon the sudden end to my playing career. He gave me a second life in baseball, but more importantly, he gave me purpose to my life beyond baseball. If I can have just a tiny fraction of the impact on others that Fred Hill has had on me, my life will be a resounding success.

-----

 
Fred Hill turned me into a decent baseball player. And Fred Hill mentored me to become a pretty good baseball coach. But above all else, Fred Hill took me in as an immature 17 year-old kid, and over the course of the next 23 years right up until his passing, helped shape me into the man I am today.

Coach Hill may no longer be with us physically, but he will forever live inside of me, and countless other former players, coaches, friends, colleagues, and most importantly, family members whose lives he profoundly impacted, just by being Moose. While his coaching tree is impressive, it pales in comparison to the size of his life tree which has roots that go deep into the center of the earth and branches that can be seen for miles.

Over the course of his Hall of Fame coaching career, Fred Hill picked up over 1,000 victories on the diamond.  Without question, he taught us how to win games.  But for as successful he was as a coach; his true measure can be found in how well he taught us how to win life.


Darren Fenster is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the Manager of the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. A former player in the Kansas City Royals minor league system, Fenster joined the Red Sox organization in 2012 after filling various roles on the Rutgers University Baseball staff, where he was a two-time All-American for the Scarlet Knights. Fenster is also Founder and CEO of Coaching Your Kids, LLC, and can be found on Twitter @CoachYourKids.


 Training and Transfer (Part II)
(4/17/2019)
 
 
   

Training and Transfer (Part II) 


Coaching Absolutes
By Dave Turgeon


In Training and Transfer Part I, we discussed simple applications on how to improve how we carry our practice into the games effectively to perform and how competing makes players respect the game. In this part, we will discuss adding layers to the simple applications to take your on-field training to another level.

Train to the Truth 

The expression TRAIN TO THE TRUTH is simply doing things at game speed in our training with game-like focus and intent on all reps. We partly hit it already with our challenging and competitive hitting practice. We can now expand our focus to team fundamentals blended with hitting, defense and baserunning. We call this segment of practice a couple of different things. Sometimes we refer to it as the Jungle. Trevor Regan hits the analogy well and I use it in my thinking constantly. If you train at the zoo all day but have to perform in the Jungle at night, you are in for a hard time. Think about a lion who is born and raised in the zoo where everything is given to him daily. He never taps into or trains his speed, hunting, and aggression instincts. If that lion is put out into the Jungle after being brought up in the zoo, he is not going to perform or live long for that matter! If your training is more zoo than jungle, re-evaluate it. The speed of the Jungle will overwhelm your players if they have not been there. The other word we use when blending our work is our Fundamedley. This is a simple set up that starts with an I-screen or an L-screen. We have 2 groups of defense and offense, and a coach pitching behind the screen with a pitcher on the mound. This is a live scrimmage that is scripted out on paper but the action it produces is all unpredictable like the game is. For example, inning 1 may begin with a runner on second base and 0 outs and let the inning run from there. We are now situationally hitting, defending, and baserunning with whatever happens. The coach is using a full mix of pitches from up close to simulate reaction times of high velocity. Inning 2 may start with runners on first and second and no outs. Again, the coach will then run his defense, the other coach will run the offense and play it live from there. The beauty of the Fundamedley is the coaches are getting game speed reps also. Adding layers to all this, we will use a scoreboard to give the inning and score and counts, which is the information that dictates our decision making on the field. This GRILL (GAME LIKE DRILL) can be used in endless ways. And most importantly, the environment we have set up has again forced players to RESPECT THE REP. Get out of the ZOO and start living in the JUNGLE in your training. The transfer and performance come game time will reflect more and more where you live the most! Warning: the action that takes place in the Jungle may be messy at times. This is good! Learning is messy and recognizing when a group/individual is learning and allow this messiness to take place is showing maturity as a coach. When your work is clean it is telling you that players have learned this already and they need more. Be prepared to add layers to whatever they do because they learn at an incredible rate of speed! 

The Gap 

The messiness of learning we are talking about was described by our Mental Conditioning Director, Bernie Holliday as The Gap. The Gap is that area just beyond their current abilities. Go beyond The Gap and you are killing confidence. Push ‘em into that gap and there is stretching and growing that is happening. Players are figuring it out. Whether it is a new mechanic or a decision-making play, there is sure to be messiness involved here. That is the art of coaching, knowing where they are as a group and as individuals and pushing them just beyond. The analogy to learning may be lifting weights with a partner and having him help you through those last 2 reps. The last 2 reps got you into the gap and got you stronger. Getting players into the Gap = Learning = Transfer!

Training Beyond the Truth 

Daniel Coyle’s book entitled “The Talent Code” inspired this next segment of training several years back. In the book, he studied how the Brazilians had so consistently dominated the soccer world, discovered the game of futsal, and how it became a breeding ground for super skilled soccer players. Futsal is essentially the game of soccer played on a much smaller field. Everything happens much faster (decision-making and skills) than on a bigger field so that when they go back to the big field, the game is slowed down while actually playing and thinking at a greater speed. I ended up thinking about doing the fundamedley of bunting on it with 70-foot bases. The results were amazing. The field was so messy and fast (learning is messy!!!) but in just a short time it got cleaner as players learned quickly. This shrunken game of bunt defense created some challenging skill work, decision-making, and helped them slow the game down come game time. It’s okay to make the training even more challenging than what they may face because now we are building real confidence. Training beyond the truth = faster processing = transfer! Another example of this is the use of handballs (not to be confused with racquet balls) with infielders. While coaching at Duke back in 2006, Sean McNally used handballs to sharpen the skills of infielders. The handballs training (done with and without a glove) was actually hop reading and decision making on steroids as it was beyond the speed of the game they would face. Once the defenders were recalibrated to normal game speed and space, the common feedback that we would get from players was how much slower the game was to them. The handball work is not limited to the infielders. Handballs infiltrated our big-league camp last year and were used in the pitchers fielding practice (pfp) development of the pitchers. They have been used in the catching and outfield areas as well. Warning: the use of handballs can be messy at times. That is okay, they are learning! 

Expecting to Teach and Teaching Creates More Transfer 

Friend and colleague Andy Bass shared a study with me by Daou, Lohse, and Miller in 2016 entitled “Expecting To Teach Enhances Motor Learning and Information Processing During Practice.” It was done with a large number of golfers and the premise of the study was to determine or measure the transfer benefits of having to teach a skill and then perform it. The interesting twist, however, was that when the players who were told they were going to have to teach putting and its details the following day they then were told they did not have to. Remarkably the group who were told they were going to have to teach putting far outperformed the other group in terms of learning and transfer. The act of preparing to teach a skill deepened the learning and led to greater transfer when performing the skill. I have used this method with my players but have allowed them to actually teach. Now the phenomenon that was exposed in this study is real, but I believe the actual teaching aspect takes it to another level. I have found that the player or players doing the teaching are completely engaged, and witnessing players teaching players is a wonderful thing. I have done this in all phases of the game and also including some culture building exercises. A great example of this on the baseball side is using the players to teach a fundamental and give them a one-day advance to prepare. I will usually have gone through all the fundamentals and training once before turning it over to the players. They will be required to give the explanation verbally and then show it using either whiteboard or video. I have also used the players to teach Pirates core convictions with explanations and videos and preparation all left to them. Generally, the players will knock it out of the park and the other byproduct of using this method is more ownership of their development. Along the same lines of teaching and expecting to teach, I have assigned players to break down different areas of the game postgame, letting them know beforehand to be ready to debrief post game what they have seen. The amount of engagement of the players is phenomenal as they are now watching intensely and learning as well. If you find the feedback lacks certain things, then we as coaches can fill in the cracks when needed. Players will astound you as to what they see and know if we allow it. Most importantly, we have found out exactly where they are and where we can now take them. Allowing players to teach one another = deeper learning = more ownership = transfer! Warning: If you choose to allow the players into the teaching you and your staff will also be learning! Players see things we do not and if we do not show them, we learn from them we have not truly given them permission to learn from us! 




Turgeon is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is the Coordinator of Instruction for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Turgeon played in the New York Yankees farm system from 1987-1990 under Stump Merrill and Buck Showalter after being drafted out of Davidson College. Before playing for the Baltimore Orioles’ AAA affiliate in 1998 he spent eight years playing abroad. From 2000-2001 Turgeon began coaching in the Cleveland Indians organization before entering the college ranks where he coached with Boston College, the University of Connecticut, Duke University and Virginia Tech.


 Preparación Antes del Lanzamiento para los Bateadores
(4/18/2019)
 
   

Una filosofía de entrenamiento de béisbol


USA Baseball


El éxito de un bateador es íntimamente relacionado con el nivel de confianza que siente al plato. Igual que cualquier otro aspecto del deporte, la preparación mental contribuye mucho al resultado de cualquier turno al bate. Antes de entrar en la caja de bateo, el jugador debe saber la situación en la que se encuentra para que esté preparado mentalmente para lograr éxito. Aún más importante, el bateador debe creer en sus habilidades como jugador, y los entrenadores pueden ayudar con eso.

RUTINAS MENTALES

 ANTES DEL PARTIDO
Averiguar quién va a lanzar
Visualizar golpear sus lanzamientos
Observar al lanzador cuando está calentándose para ver el movimiento y la locación de los lanzamientos

 EN LA CASETA

Observar al lanzador
Hablar con bateadores previos
Buscar patrones
Buscar señales y cualquier cosa que hace el lanzador cuando tira lanzamientos diferentes

EN EL CÍRCULO DE ESPERA


Formular un plan para el turno al bate
Saber la situación
Anticipar los lanzamientos
Controlar las emociones

EN EL CAMINO AL PLATO

Mantener una actitud positiva
Creer que su preparación va a dar buenos resultados
No tener ninguna duda en sus habilidades
 RUTINAS FÍSICAS

EN EL CÍRCULO DE ESPERA


Relajarse
Lograr sincronización con el lanzador
Ver el punto de soltar y seguir la pelota
Enfocarse en la carga temprana (empezar antes del punto de soltar)
Respirar

EN LA CAJA DE BATEO


Usar la misma rutina para cada lanzamiento
Vaciar la mente (despejar todos los pensamientos después de cada lanzamiento)
Piloto Automático (dejar que los ojos tomen el control)
Confiar en si mismo
Acordarse de respirar

Como entrenador, debes reconocer las señales de alerta de cada bateador y ayudarles a enfocarse en los pensamientos positivos si empiezan a dudarse. Enseñar durante los partidos requiere reforzamiento positivo, nunca más que con los bateadores.


 Los Básicos Fundamentales de Aguantar al Corredor
(4/16/2019)
 
   

Los Básicos Fundamentales de Aguantar al Corredor y la Jugada de Sorpresa 


USA Baseball

Algunas de las medidas las más eficaces que un lanzador puede tomar cuando aguanta a corredores pueden cumplirse aún sin tirar la pelota. El objetivo primario del lanzador cuando aguanta a corredores es lanzarles de ritmo y mantenerles incómodo, no realizar una jugada de sorpresa. Tumbar la cadencia y la comodidad de un corredor puede reducir en gran medida la probabilidad de que el corredor robe bases, tome bases extras y esté en posiciones para interrumpir jugadas defensivas. A continuación se ven algunas técnicas que un lanzador puede utilizar para lograr esto:

Variar la cantidad de tiempo que el lanzador agarra la pelota cuando se prepara antes de enviar el lanzamiento.
El lanzador debe tener un tiempo rápido de envío al plato – unos 1.4 segundos o menos.
Para corredores que representan una amenaza de robar las bases, puede que el lanzador quiera llegar a agarres prolongados y bajarse sin tirar.

Hay varias razones por las cuales un lanzador puede querer intentar una jugada de sorpresa. La más obvia es una tentativa de conseguir un out o por tocar al corredor o por atraparlo en un corre-corre. Sin embargo, se pueden intentar jugadas de sorpresa por otras razones también, tal como intentar hacer que el ataque señale una jugada de toque. Las jugadas de sorpresa en estas situaciones a menudo se señalan por un entrenador.

JUGADA DE SORPRESA DIESTRA A LA PRIMERA BASE:

Por regla general, el lanzador tiene que “ganar terreno” hacia la primera base.
La implementación del “giro de brinco” es el uso el más eficiente de tiempo y energía. 
El lanzador hace un brinco pequeño con ambos pies al mismo tiempo y usa el pie derecho para pivotar hacia la primera base.
Luego, el lanzador da un paso corto hacia la primera base con el pie izquierdo, mientras hace simultáneamente un tiro corto y rápido al primera base.
Una vez que se desvincule de la goma, el lanzador tiene que hacer el tiro, o se castigará con un balk. Debe caminar hacia la primera base después de hacer el tiro para seguir “ganando terreno” a los ojos del árbitro.

JUGADA DE SORPRESA ZURDA A LA PRIMERA BASE:

Por regla general, el lanzador tiene que “ganar terreno” hacia la primera base.
Los lanzadores zurdos pueden tirar a la primera base fuera de su envío, es decir, imitar una patada de pierna al plato y después tirar la pelota a la primera base para intentar la jugada de sorpresa.
La patada del lanzador durante una jugada de sorpresa debe parecer a su envío natural al plato tanto como sea posible.
El lanzador continúa el movimiento de la patada y dar un paso hacia la primera base, seguido por un tiro rápido al primera base.
Mientras el lanzador se hace más cómodo con su movimiento de sorpresa, puede trabajar en variar los vistazos entre el plato y la primera base para confundir al corredor.

JUGADA DE SORPRESA A LA SEGUNDA BASE:

Un lanzador puede usar dos movimientos diferentes a la segunda base. 
Con un movimiento de reverso, el lanzador ejecuta un giro de brinco de 180 grados hacia la segunda base. Mientras que este movimiento permita rapidez y sorpresa, requiere el atletismo o como alternativa es propenso a un tiro errante.
El lanzador ejecuta un giro de brinco parecido a la jugada de sorpresa del lanzador diestro a la primera base. No obstante, el brinco-reverso aquí es un giro de 180 grados, no de 90 grados.
El lanzador debe usar la mano de no tirar en acuerdo con las piernas para permitir que pase el lado frontal y haga un tiro preciso.
Otro movimiento de sorpresa a la segunda base es un movimiento de reverso desde la patada de pierna natural del envío del lanzador.
El lanzador empieza su envío al plato. Una vez que llegue a la patada de pierna, pivota el pie que está engranado con la goma y gira hacia la segunda base para hacer el tiro.
El lanzador tiene que ganar terreno hacia la segunda base cuando hace el tiro.
Igual que una jugada de sorpresa zurda en la primera base, la patada de pierna del lanzador durante esta jugada de sorpresa debe parecer a su envío natural al plato tanto como sea posible.

CORREDOR EN LA TERCERA BASE

Los intentos de hacer una jugada de sorpresa en la tercera base son rarísimos. El lanzador quiere estar consciente del corredor en caso de una jugada de cuña o un robo directo (si trabaja desde el wind-up). Muchas veces, el receptor puede controlar a corredores que muestran la intención de robar en la tercera base (o todas las otras bases) con una sorpresa al revés propia.


 Goal-Setting
(4/10/2019)
 
   

Goal-Setting 


Cuddyer's Corner
By Michael Cuddyer


Former Major Leaguer Michael Cuddyer explains why it is important to set goals at the long-term, intermediate and immediate levels in order to accomplish what you want to achieve. To have your questions answered by Michael Cuddyer, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Michael Cuddyer is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development blog, and is a 15-year MLB veteran and two-time All-Star, spending his career playing for the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets. A member of the USA Baseball 18U National Team in 1996 and 1997, Cuddyer was then named the 1997 Virginia Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, and was a member of USA Today’s All-Star team. He was selected ninth overall in the 1997 MLB Amateur Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins.


 Refining Pitching Mechanics
(4/16/2019)
 
   

Refining Pitching Mechanics 


Diamond Doc
By Dr. Marc Richard


Dr. Marc Richard, Orthopedic Surgeon at Duke University and USA Baseball Sport Development Contributor, shares how consistently utilizing the proper mechanics and components of throwing a successful pitch can be the key to avoiding injuries on the mound. To have your questions answered by Dr. Richard, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Marc Richard, MD, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University, specializing in elbow, wrist and hand injuries. Dr. Richard’s research evaluates the clinical outcomes of fractures of the upper extremity, with a particular interest in wrist and elbow fractures and improving ways to treat elbow arthritis in young patients. He also has a clinical and research interest in adolescent elbow throwing injuries.


 Sports Performance Anxiety in Youth Sports
(4/11/2019)
 
   

Sport Performance Anxiety


In youth sports


Youth sport advice tends to focus on improving athlete nutrition and training. But even in a “fun” league, sometimes the most harmful stressors aren’t in athlete’s bodies, but in their heads.

For many kids, sports provide their first taste of anxiety: the stress of taking a game-tying free throw, the tension of running the anchor leg of a relay, or just butterflies in the stomach before a big game.

Anyone who has played sports has probably experienced sport performance anxiety, sometimes called ‘choking,’ at one point or another. But with their brains and self-awareness still developing, sports can be particularly stressful on the minds of youth athletes. This also means it can be especially challenging for parents and coaches to try and soothe these nerves.

The most serious sport anxiety can also make kids lose interest in playing sports altogether. Thankfully, the growing field of sport psychology has given parents, coaches, and athletes ways to understand and calm the pre-game jitters.
 
What Causes Sport Performance Anxiety

Mental stress on gameday is typically rooted in at least one of several factors. Many of these have more to do with everything surrounding the game, before and after, than the actual game itself.

Having an audience (particularly one that is loving and supportive): Athletes can become overly self-aware of every decision and play they make when they’re on the athletic stage.

Fear of disappointing others: Even when a parent or coach is supportive, athletes may be anxious about disappointing them.

High expectations: Every athlete wants to do their best, but internal self-talk might create stress when they set expectations that anything less than a perfect play is failure.

Post-game analysis: Whether it is from a coach, parent, teammate, or themselves, the post-game analysis weighs on an athlete’s mindset.

Recovering from an injury: After an athlete gets hurt, it can take a long time to restore their confidence.

How Youth Athletes Can Cope

Sport anxiety’s kryptonite is preparation. Athletes should arrive early and go through the same warm-up routines they do in practice. During warm-ups, they should try and visualize themselves playing well while taking some deep, slow breaths. This will put their heads in a focused and relaxed place.

During the game, focusing on the next play, rather than the result, will help keep athletes in the moment. Another simple trick to stay relaxed, even in high-pressure moments, is to smile. If you go through the physical motions of having fun, the mind will follow!

What Coaches and Parents Can Do

Parents and coaches can help reduce sport performance anxiety with the language they use before, during, and after games. Be wary of only praising athletes when things go right – a good rule of thumb to avoid adding stress is to praise effort instead of the result. As a coach, it can help to avoid instruction that adds extra pressure to a game situation (e.g., “we have to score in this next inning!”).

Studies have shown that we stay out of our heads more when performing actions we might describe as “muscle memory.” At practice, having athletes do many repetitions of the movements they will be expected to do on gameday (e.g., fielding ground balls) is a good way to ensure they become second nature.

Coaches can also simulate game-type pressure in practice by playing music or recorded crowd noise, having parents stay to watch, or adding in other elements that will get athletes used to performing under stress. It’s important to make sure athletes are familiar with and confident in the strategies that are going to be used on gameday.

As a parent, be sure to keep specific post-game comments positive and remember that the time to make corrections is at the next practice, not immediately after a game in the car ride home.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Ground Ball to the Second Baseman
(4/15/2019)
 
   

Ground Ball to the Second Baseman 


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow shares the proper technique and timing when fielding a grounder at second base. 


Tom Succow, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 The Function of Prehab
(4/2/2019)
 
   

The Function of Prehab 


Diamond Doc
By Dr. Marc Richard


Dr. Marc Richard, Orthopedic Surgeon at Duke University and USA Baseball Sport Development Contributor, discusses how building a preseason foundation of good health via prehab helps prevent in-season injury. To have your questions answered by Dr. Richard, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Marc Richard, MD, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University, specializing in elbow, wrist and hand injuries. Dr. Richard’s research evaluates the clinical outcomes of fractures of the upper extremity, with a particular interest in wrist and elbow fractures and improving ways to treat elbow arthritis in young patients. He also has a clinical and research interest in adolescent elbow throwing injuries.


 Executing a Great Throw Down by the Catcher
(4/1/2019)
 
   

Executing a Great Throw Down by the Catcher 


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow notes the steps necessary to erase a stolen base attempt with a pinpoint throw from the catcher. 

Tom Succow, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 High-Performance Coaching
(4/9/2019)
 
   

High-Performance Coaching


Beyond the Diamond
By Dr. Anne Shadle


In this article, we will examine high-performance coaching. From here, we will look at specific coaching behaviors and how they affect performance. Today, we see the word “coaching” being used in many different fields. Whether you are a coach in sport, business or even in a leadership role, the word “coach” describes a way of interacting with people. Coaching is a specific type of behavior. Many leaders use coaching-type behaviors. We see these behaviors in leadership models such as transformational leadership theory (Wagstaff, Arthur, Hardy, 2017). The purpose of this article is to look deeper into specific high-performance coaching behaviors and how these coaching behaviors affect performance.

First, let’s look at the definition of COACHING and then HIGH-PERFORMANCE COACHING:

COACHING -> Leaders attempts to improve performance by facilitating the acquisition of new knowledge, skills, and competencies.

I have highlighted the words that I think are most important for us to examine for the purpose of this article. Please read through the entire definition and then take a second to reflect on the words highlighted. If we take the first definition of coaching, the keywords highlighted are knowledge, skills, and competencies. If you remember from the ABC’s of Self-Determination Theory, this theory says that the key elements needed in a person’s life to nurture intrinsic motivation are autonomy, belonging and competence. These elements lay the foundation for intrinsic motivation leading to a self-determined individual. The C within the ABC’s of Self-Determination Theory is competence when developing knowledge and skill.



• HIGH-PERFORMANCE COACHING -> A systematic application of collaborative, individualized, solution-focused psychological practices by leaders to enhance individual, group, or organizational performance. It is intended to support individuals in better regulating and directing their intrapersonal and interpersonal resources to attain goals and help individuals to maximize strengths through self-directed learning. (Wagstaff, Arthur, Hardy, 2017)

The words of importance highlighted here are: systematic application, enhance performance, support individuals, attain goals, help individuals, maximize strengths, self-directed learning. Out of these words, support, goals, help and self-directed learning are keywords/skills for our attention. These words speak to the A and B of the ABC’s within Self-Determination Theory which is the need for (A) - autonomy (goals, self-directed learning) and a sense of (B) - belonging (support individuals, help individuals).

In the field of psychology, we are interested in creating theories and frameworks from knowledge acquired that help us better understand and predict behavior. Keeping the Self-Determination Theory’s framework in mind, let’s next look into specific coaching behaviors.

Regardless of the employment area, the literature on all high-performance coaches has similar behaviors. Those behaviors are: observing and performance analysis, ask effective questions, facilitate goal setting, provide developmental feedback and motivational feedback (Wagstaff, Arthur, Hardy, 2017). These specific behaviors have been proven in research to offer psychometrically sound, brief, and easy ways to measure high-performance coaching behavior. This framework was developed through the workplace, leadership, and sport coaching literature (Wagstaff, Arthur, Hardy, 2017). What are these specific behaviors?

1. Observing and Performance Analysis
1. Plays close attention to what the athlete does
2. Carefully observes athlete’s skills
3. Carefully watches athlete doing the skills and drills
4. Analyzes athlete’s performance

Observation as a coaching behavior key. Try stepping back and taking a researcher’s eye to practice. Training as a researcher, one of my assignments in graduate school was to go into an environment that we were familiar with and sit back and observe. This allowed us to see the familiar environment through a different lens and from a different perspective. I challenge you to do the same. Step back, slow down and intentionally watch interactions and skills being practiced. What do you observe? Be specific on what you observe. Write down what you observe and think. Later allow yourself time to process what you have observed as it relates to performance analysis.

2. Effective Questioning
1. Encourages athlete to think about how they can improve performance
2. Encourages athlete to question the way they do things
3. Encourages athlete to make suggestions on how they think they can improve performance
4. Asks the athlete’s opinion on how they can improve performance

My graduate school professor would often remind us that, “It is twice as hard to LISTEN as it is to talk. This is why we have two ears and only one mouth.” Take the time to ask the right questions and then being PATIENT enough for the reply. PATIENCE can be very challenging yet extremely important and effective in helping our athletes perform. Coaches need to create space for their athletes to answer questions. Great teams I have been part of, have done this at team events, dinners and on bus rides when practice times did not allow for the time and attention needed. Effective questioning allows the athlete to understand and digest what they are learning. Effective questioning allows the development of a key piece of autonomy (ownership). Two challenges: 1. Think about a specific athlete and create a list of questions that get at helping them perform better. 2. Create a question list that addresses the four items listed above.

3. Goal Setting
1. Monitors athlete’s progress toward goals
2. Helps athlete set short-term goals
3. Helps athlete identify targets for attaining goals
4. Helps athlete set long-term goals
5. Provides support to an athlete to help attain goals

Coaches, hopefully, are usually pretty good at goal setting. They have meetings with their athletes at the beginning of the season, meetings (individual/team) throughout the season and reflection/summary/team input at the end of the season as well as setting goals for the off-season. I would encourage you to continue to improve on the five areas listed above. Continue to talk to your athletes about the process of success. Continue to build the vision for them on where we are going and how each individual in practice and training is responsible for helping us get closer to the end goal.

4. Developmental Feedback
1. Makes sure athlete understands what they need to do to improve
2. Gives athlete advice on how to improve their skills
3. Offers advice on what the athlete needs to do to improve
4. Shows the athlete how to improve their skills

Feedback is critical information that helps individuals understand how they are performing and what changes, if any, need to be made. Coaches have a lot of different ways in which they give feedback. Coaches employ different tools to give that feedback. Key factors for feedback are the development of skills and strategies that align with your athlete’s and team’s goals. Developmental feedback provides athletes with direction, builds self-awareness, allows for self- reflection, and performance improvement. In the organizational psychology literature, it has been found that developmental feedback is aligned with intrinsic motivation which enhances learning and improvement. What this is saying is that developmental feedback helps build intrinsic motivation in your athletes which helps them be more engaged in the learning and focused on improvement.

5. Motivational Feedback

1. Tells athlete when they do a particularly good job
2. Sees that the athlete is rewarded for good performance
3. Expresses appreciation when an athlete performs well
4. Gives athlete credit where credit is due
(The five topics listed above were adapted from Wagstaff, Arthur, Hardy, 2017).

There is a lot of research that highlights the importance of positive feedback and/or behavior that is reinforced or rewarded by the coach. Motivational feedback recognizes when the athlete performs well or does something well in training or competition. Providing genuine positive feedback about an athlete’s development and progress help coaches recognize improvement, build autonomy, and competence within their athletes. Coaching research shows that these autonomy-supported environments have been related to self-determination, persistence, and motivation. Autonomy-supportive coaching behaviors are important in helping our athletes perform and succeed (Wagstaff, Arthur, Hardy, 2017).

In closing, the purpose of this article was to look deeper into specific high-performance coaching behaviors and how those coaching behaviors affect performance. These behaviors are: Observing and Performance Analysis, Ask Effective Questions, Facilitate Goal Setting, Provide Developmental Feedback and Motivational Feedback (Wagstaff, Arthur, Hardy, 2017).

References:

Wagstaff, C., Arthur, C., Hardy, L. (2017). The development and initial validation of a measure of
coaching behaviors in a sample of army recruits. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 30: 341-357, 2018.

Deci, E.L. (1975). Intrinsic motivation. New York: Plenum.

Deci, E.L. & Ryan, R.M. (2008). Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology, 49 (3), 182-185. Doi:10.1037/a0012801


Dr. Anne Shadle, Ph.D., is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, is a certified consultant in Sport Psychology CC-AASP and is a member of the United States Olympic Committee’s Sport Psychology registry. She also serves on the Athlete Advisory Committee for USA Track and Field (USATF) and currently is the President-appointed committee chair for Psychological Services for USATF. She is heavily involved with coaching education and certification for the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and USATF. Shadle received her Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences from the University of Nebraska, where she also ran track and field. She was a two-time National Champion in the mile and 1500 meter distances before going on to run professionally for Reebok and compete in the 2008 Olympic Trials.


 Setting the Stage
(3/28/2019)
 
   

Setting the Stage 


5 pre-game activities to boost sportsmanship 


Although some pre-game traditions have come under scrutiny in recent years, there is still no better time to set the tone for good sportsmanship in youth sports than in the minutes before a kick off, tip off, or first pitch.

The challenge, however, is to make this activity more engaging than a half-hearted cheer. Making pre-game acts of sportsmanship mandatory often diminishes genuine actions to something done just to appease parents and officials.

Pre-game rituals should go beyond just looking good to the adults in the stands; they should actually mean something to the kids on the field. Americans long for youth sports to teach values like honesty, fair play, and respect. Inspiring better behavior during the game begins by changing what is done before it.

Re-thinking the Pre-Game Greeting


While post-game handshake lines are a staple in most sports, having the entire teams greet each other prior to the game is less common, but perhaps more effective.

A pre-game greeting helps put names to faces and shows your athletes the other team is made up of kids just like them, rather than being some nameless ‘enemy.’ Even better is providing time for athletes from both teams to meet, chat, and goof off together for a few minutes before adults issue any formal statements of sportsmanship.

An easy way to accomplish this might be to have the athletes stand in alternating fashion (as opposed to being divided by team) a few minutes before the national anthem plays and during any other pre-game announcements.

As a coach, shaking hands and chatting with the officials and opposing coaches is also important for setting a good example for your team. Some coaches go so far as to have their players greet and thank officials and opposing coaches prior to the game. Not only does this encourage sportsmanship, it also helps younger athletes practice the components of a respectful greeting, including eye contact, a few polite words, and a firm handshake.

PA Announcer for A Day


Many (if not all) high school sports associations make a customary public address announcement about sportsmanship prior to a game, similar to this one from the Alabama High School Athletic Association:

“Good evening, (name of school) welcomes you to (name of field) for tonight’s game. We remind you that interscholastic events are an extension of the classroom, and that lessons are best learned when respect is shown to all. Please let your good sportsmanship show during the game.”

Unfortunately, announcements like these often fall on deaf ears amidst pre-game excitement. One solution to get more people to pay attention is to allow one athlete be the honorary PA speaker, similar to how Major League Baseball games have a young fan announce the first batter in the lineup. People pay attention when kids take on a role usually held by adults, and this way they (and their teammates and opponents) might actually listen to the message being communicated.

Cross-Sport Sportsmanship


In high school, sportsmanship should not only be encouraged between opposing teams, but also between athletes from different sports within the same school. Pairing up teams that have parallel seasons and having them support each other with pre-game activities (such as forming a tunnel) and then staying to act as a cheering section can help create a connection between athletes that might not otherwise interact or publicly support one another.

For instance, if a school’s baseball and softball teams are paired, the players attend each other’s home games, and vice versa. Some schools also pair up teams that have different seasons (e.g. boys’ basketball and girl’s tennis), if teams in the same season have too many coinciding game days.
While getting an entire team to attend every home game is likely impossible due to other sports, school, and life obligations, assigning a few team ‘ambassadors’ to each game can still provide some consistent representation. It could also be something done on a volunteer-basis, with a prize of some sort going to those who went out and supported their classmates the most.

Sportsmanship and Safety Huddles

Some youth sports leagues, like the Northwest Junior Football League in Washington, do a pre-game ‘safety huddle‘ with athletes, parents, coaches, and officials. During this time, officials and coaches deliver a message about sportsmanship to the group, in addition to covering rules and concussion symptoms and protocol.

Similar to the PA announcement example above, this idea could be taken a step further and given more meaning if athletes were somehow involved in the meeting beyond just listening to adults talk at them. While CTE is nothing to make light of, having a few athletes act out what concussion protocol and good sportsmanship looks like could be a better way to have the message actually paid attention to.

Pre-Pre-Game Sportsmanship

Many admire sport’s ability to reveal a person’s true character and the ways they respond to adversity. But, the foundation of character isn’t only formed during pre-game warm up or even in the locker room; it develops and grows at home, in school, and throughout everyday life.

Thinking of sportsmanship as something you can only teach in the context of sports is a quick way to deaden the message. Sportsmanship is learned inside and outside of sports. As a parent or coach, the way you treat other people and your attitude when things don’t go your way are ultimately going to have a bigger impact on your athletes than any pre-game speech, no matter how friendly you are to officials and the opposing team’s coach.

In order for young athletes to keep sportsmanship top of mind during the action and excitement of a competition, the message needs to be reinforced frequently, consistently, and in a variety of ways. Pre-game sportsmanship activities are a great way to make the message of sportsmanship more engaging and to set the right tone for the competition ahead.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Fake Bunt, Steal Third
(3/18/2019)
 
   

Fake Bunt, Steal Third


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow discusses a well-executed fake bunt steal situation with a runner on second base.


Tom Succow, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 Help Your Players Find Their Voice
(3/15/2019)
 
   

Help Your Players Find Their Voice 


FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster


Baseball is very much a game of routine ; those routines, an integral part of a player’s individual development as well as a team’s culture and environment. Hitters get in the cage every day to get their swings right.  Pitchers work in the bullpen every day to perfect their delivery.  Teams take batting practice, get defensive work in, and run the bases.  Every.  Single.  Day. 

Those routines become a habitual part of the professional player’s day .

Over the course of my six years managing at various levels of our minor league system, beginning in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2013, followed by four years in A-Ball, and finishing in AA last year before transitioning to my new role as our outfield and baserunning coordinator, I saw the value of using the previous day’s game as a teacher for our players to learn from.  When reviewing the games in my own mind, I knew what I saw, and the countless coaching points that could be taken from each contest.  But after discussing those points, almost like a teacher lecturing a class, I became curious to see what THEY actually saw.  So I changed my approach a few years ago.

Prior to giving any of my own thoughts, I’d survey the group, “Alright guys… whatdya got from last night?”

The first few times I did this, as I looked across the fifteen or so position players gathered in the group, I was surrounded by blank stares. Heads down. Crickets. No one saying a word. No one wanting to be called on.

Our team environment , at that time, was not one that encouraged input from players.  So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that these players- who we had good relationships with mind you- were apprehensive to speak in front of the group.  Some were timid to open up for fear of saying something wrong, while others wouldn’t open their mouths perhaps they were too cool to do so.  

Slowly but surely, as we changed the approach, we were able to create an environment where giving our players a voice became the norm, and they became more comfortable in talking the game, and using one another as an additional way to get better.  Even in A-ball with those inexperienced kids who truly didn’t know the game. 

In 2018, I managed the Portland Sea Dogs, our Double-A, Eastern League affiliate. Coming on the heels of my previous experience largely with inexperienced players, last year represented my first opportunity to work with guys who had a career under their belt and knew what it meant to be a professional.  We had a good sense of what made them tick individually, and they had a pretty good feel for the game at that point.  Additionally, the majority of them had played for me at some point and time previously, and were familiar with my style of engagement.  That combination, while being at a point in the careers where they were comfortable in their own skin and their understanding of our organizational standards embraced this style of coaching as a conversation.

Part of managing at the Double-A level last year included spending a week with our Major League team in September as a means to get a feel for how our staff and players were doing things in Boston, and figuring out what exactly we can mirror in the Minor Leagues to best prepare our guys for when their time comes.  What blew me away far more than anything else was the interaction between players and the manner by which there was non-stop communication about the game. Coaches would start our advance meetings, and then the players would essentially take over.  Then later, in the cage, around the dugout, or out in the bullpen, there were constant conversations that were completely player driven, a clear part of the culture that helped us win the World Series in October.  Some of our most inquisitive players, not coincidentally, were also some of our biggest stars.

For players, it’s OK to ask questions.  It’s OK to give feedback.  It’s OK to talk the game.  It’s all in reality, a necessary part of development.  We need to embrace the input from our players to know what they actually know, which in turn will help us learn what they don’t.  By encouraging questions, feedback, and game-talk, we can make coaching a conversation, not a lecture.  For coaches, it’s up to us to help our players find their own voice so they can develop in their own game. 


Darren Fenster is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and currently serves as the Minor League Outfield and Baserunning Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox. In 2012 he launched Coaching Your Kids LLC, an organization dedicated to assisting coaches, parents and leagues in developing young players and improving their experience within the game. Previously, Fenster served as the Manager for the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Fenster is a two-time All-America from Rutgers University where he established school records in hits, doubles and at-bats. He was selected in the 12th round of the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft by the Kansas City Royals and played in the minor leagues for seven years. 


 Bad Calls
(3/14/2019)
 
   

Bad Calls 


The best ways for coaches and parents to respond to bad calls  


Bad calls happen. They happen in youth sports, high school sports, professional sports, and the Olympics. Of all the places where officiating mistakes happen, youth sports are probably where they matter the least. But, it’s on the sidelines of kids’ games that we often see parents and coaches losing their cool.

Before we look at three categories of bad calls and how to deal with them, it is crucial for all parents and coaches to remember that the referees in youth sports are often volunteers. Even those who are paid are likely refereeing out of their love of the sport rather than the compensation. They are human. They make mistakes. They have feelings.

Making accurate calls is important, but if we are looking to youth sports to teach kids valuable lessons about sportsmanship, responsibility, competition, and handling adversity, then it is important to realize that missed calls play a necessary role in teaching those lessons.

Let’s look at three categories of officiating errors and how parents and coaches can best respond to them.
 
The Official Missed It

An official can’t be everywhere at once, and there is no instant replay in youth sports. Sometimes things like a handball in soccer, a travel in basketball, or an out-of-bounds in field hockey simply get missed because the referee wasn’t in a position to be able to see it. Play continues with this type of error even though the correct call would have resulted in a stoppage of play. The players involved often know the error occurred, and parents and coaches who happened to be in the right position to see the foul know it occurred. So, what should happen next?

Coaches:


Don’t overreact to individual instances of missed calls due to unseen infractions. If it’s becoming a consistent problem, either in your team’s favor or not, have a calm conversation with the official during a stoppage in play. Officials want to perform as well as they can, and pointing out a consistent problem can help the official address it.

Your players’ attitudes and actions will reflect your response to missed calls. If you express anger or frustration, they are likely to respond that way as well, on the sidelines and on the field.

When talking to your players, use this type of missed call as an opportunity to point out that things don’t always go your way, but you have to keep playing and focus on what you can control. Another way to approach it is to encourage players to perform their best so the game is not close enough that a missed call would affect the outcome.

Parents:


Try not to worry about it and absolutely don’t yell about it. Your job on the sideline is to encourage your athlete and all the athletes on the field or court. You’re there to enjoy watching your child. You’ll probably notice missed calls, but let the coaches and officials handle it.

When your child expresses frustration about missed calls, either during a break in play or after the game, you have the same opportunity as the coach to reinforce the notion that life isn’t always fair, things don’t always go your way, and you can only control your own play.
 
The Official Misjudged it


This category of officiating errors focuses on infractions the official sees, but misjudges in terms of severity. For instance, a shove, kick to the shins, or elbow to the ribs might look pretty benign from one angle, but very rough from another. Compared to missed calls, misjudged calls often have an impact on player safety.

In some cases, officials may be too lenient and allow rougher play that endangers athletes. In other cases, officials are hypersensitive to contact and call fouls that seem unnecessary.

Coaches:

If the official is being too permissive of rough play and your players are at risk, speak to the official immediately to encourage them to be more proactive about controlling aggressive play. You can also adjust your player matchups or game strategy, if possible, to reduce the frequency of contact with players who are being aggressive.

On the other hand, if the official is highly sensitive to infractions, work with your players to be even more conscious of how they’re playing. This can be a useful lesson on adapting to the situation.

Parents:

Watching someone be rough with your kid is hard to handle calmly, but losing your temper isn’t going to help either. Let the coaches and officials handle it on the field, and if you feel the need to make your voice heard, talk to your team’s coach. Avoid the urge to yell at the official, and absolutely refrain from yelling directly at the opposing player.

If your player or team is getting called for infractions based on a highly sensitive official, use the opportunity to reinforce the idea that you have to learn how to adapt to the situation and find a way to perform your best.
 
The Official Got Mixed Up

Sometimes officials make mistakes, like losing track of the number of players on the field, counting the incorrect number of strikes or balls, or giving the ball to the wrong team. It happens. This is when the old adage, “It takes a village…” comes into play.

Coaches:

If you notice the error, bring it to the official’s attention so it can be corrected. Particularly in youth sports, these situations are best handled with a sense of humor. In competitive club and school sports, there may be a more formal process for correcting officiating errors.

Parents:

If you notice the error, bring it to the coach’s attention instead of directly confronting the officials. The coach is the person designated to speak and make decisions on the team’s behalf. And in a loud environment with voices coming from all directions, the coach is the person an official will pay attention to.

 Takeaway

Youth sports, even competitive youth sports, are supposed to be a positive experience for young players. Accurate officiating is important, but the big picture lessons that can be learned through youth sports participation are achieved through wins and losses, good calls and bad.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 The Names on a Jersey
(3/13/2019)
 
   

The Names on a Jersey 


Cuddyer's Corner
By Michael Cuddyer


Former Major Leaguer Michael Cuddyer reflects upon the significance of the names on the front and the back of baseball jerseys. To have your questions answered by Michael Cuddyer, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Michael Cuddyer is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development blog, and is a 15-year MLB veteran and two-time All-Star, spending his career playing for the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets. A member of the USA Baseball 18U National Team in 1996 and 1997, Cuddyer was then named the 1997 Virginia Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, and was a member of USA Today’s All-Star team. He was selected ninth overall in the 1997 MLB Amateur Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins.


 Managing Workload
(3/5/2019)
 
   

Managing Workload


Diamond Doc
By Dr. Marc Richard


Dr. Marc Richard, Orthopedic Surgeon at Duke University and USA Baseball Sport Development Contributor, talks about ways to manage workload early in the season. To have your questions answered by Dr. Richard, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Marc Richard, MD, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University, specializing in elbow, wrist and hand injuries. Dr. Richard’s research evaluates the clinical outcomes of fractures of the upper extremity, with a particular interest in wrist and elbow fractures and improving ways to treat elbow arthritis in young patients. He also has a clinical and research interest in adolescent elbow throwing injuries.


 Double off the Wall
(3/4/2019)
 
   

Double Off the Wall


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow discusses a great baserunning and defensive play on a double off of the wall.


Tom Succow, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 Grit: How to Get Back up After Failure
(2/28/2019)
 
   

Grit: How to Get Back Up After Failure


How to help athletes learn from setbacks and fail forward


Failures are guaranteed in life and in sport, but often times, the way coaches and parents respond to failure will either crush a young athlete’s confidence or inspire them to take advantage of a valuable learning moment.

To help kids develop greater resilience, perseverance, and grit, it is important to incorporate the following practices to encourage young athletes to fail forward and use failures as a catalyst for learning and positive change.
 
Support an Athlete’s Passion

Angela Duckworth, New York Times best-selling author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, and Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, define grit as “passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals.”

So, in order for your athlete to stick with a difficult activity, it has to be personally valuable. This means when your young athlete shows passion for an activity, encourage them to pursue it. If they are playing a sport they are not passionate about just to please parents, coaches, or peers, they are more likely to quit in response to minor failures.

When athletes ask Coach Bill Curry, a 4-time NFL Champion and former Head Football Coach at the University of Alabama, about whether to stick with football, he asks, “What’s in your heart?”

Grit, he also reasons, starts with passion. If a young athlete is passionate and ready to work hard, he should stick with it. In some cases, perseverance pays off. Even when it doesn’t, athletes still learn valuable lessons – about themselves, teamwork, relationships, and more.
 
Help Athletes Honor Commitments

When kids struggle to learn a new sport or fail to meet expectations, they sometimes want to quit mid-season.
Coach Curry advises parents to help kids develop grit by encouraging them to finish out the season and honor the commitment they made to themselves and their teammates. “My first season of football I wanted to quit, but my father said I had to finish what I started,” he remembers. “By the end of the season, it was the relationships with my teammates that made me fall in love with football.”

Honoring commitments is an important life lesson that will benefit kids in all areas of life, and sticking it out for a season provides enough time to overcome initial hurdles to discover the aspects of a sport that do ignite an athlete’s passion.
 
Don’t Rush to the Rescue

Youth sports provide a great environment to learn how to deal with failure, but parents can hinder that process by rushing to rescue their child from adversity. It is important to help kids talk through problems and discuss potential solutions, but don’t just tell them what they should do. Let them figure it out and do the work.

Duckworth states, “A degree of autonomy during the early years is also important. Longitudinal studies tracking learners confirm that overbearing parents and teachers erode intrinsic motivation.”

She adds that “grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment, and learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-level goals that demand more tenacity. The maturation story is that we develop the capacity for long-term passion and perseverance as we get older.”
 
Give Constructive Feedback

Coach Curry emphasizes that supporting a player doesn’t mean a coach or parent can’t call athletes out for failing.

“Everything starts with relationships,” Curry says. “When you have a trusting and caring relationship with a person, you can push them hard and they know it’s because you believe in them. Those players will give you all they have.”

But, he adds, “Negative responses to negative performances can crush a kid when it comes from a coach or parent who hasn’t built a strong relationship first. And those kids never forget it.”
 ___

Failing is part of life. It’s our job to encourage grit as a character strength in developing athletes.

Watching your young athletes fail is challenging, but stepping into your support role as coaches and parents to turn that failure into a teachable moment is the most beneficial thing you can do for your athlete.

“I’m an expert at failing. I’ve done lots of it as an athlete, a coach, and a person,” Curry summarized. “But every failure makes you better, and a big part of our jobs as coaches and parents is to help kids turn failures into successes.”

References:
Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (New York: Scribner, 2016).



TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Dive into First Base
(2/18/2019)
 
   

Dive into First Base


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow analyses a hitter diving head first into first base to try to avoid being tagged out.


Tom Succow, is a contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, and is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.