Parents and Kids

February 27, 2009

So I’m getting a little opening day speach ready for the Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley Little Leagues. I’ve got to deliver one this weekend and one the next.  As part of the speech, I’m going to throw in my two cents on what I think the roles and responsibilities of the parent, coach, and player are.  So, since you probably won’t be at either of those opening days, here are a couple brief opinions/insights that might benefit you as the baseball season begins.

PLAYERS  -

1. Show up on time and work hard.  You’re part of a team and others are depending on you.

2. Play the game to the best of your ability and find a way to have fun that doesn’t depend on your results.  With so much failure in this game, if you’re only happy when you do well, you won’t be happy much and won’t be any fun to be around.

3. Make an effort to learn the game and pay attention. Learn something new everyday. Learn how to anticipate action and get your thinking done before or in between the action so that when the play happens you are free to “just do it”.

“You can’t think and (hit) play at the same time”  ~   Yogi Berra

COACHES AND PARENTS -

1. Educate yourself about the game and pass on the knowledge. Go to games with your kid. You don’t need to spend a lot of dough by going to a pro game, just seek out the Junior College or high school games. Analyze, dissect, pay attention, ask questions, discuss, share, grow together.

2. Encourage the kids.

3. Make sure they’re practicing correctly. This is a game of repetition. What you do the most is going to be what you do when the chips are down. Build strong habits in practice so in a game you can again, “just do it.”  You’ll enjoy the confidence that comes when you’ve practiced correctly and got the right mechanics. Remember, practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.

“Do it right or don’t do it at all”   ~  Mike Mayne

4. Help them understand this is a game of failure and help them persevere through the inevitable rough times.  The best players, more often than not, are the ones who fail the best. They don’t let negative results or mistakes get to them. They have a strong belief in themselves that isn’t tied into their results and have the ability to focus on the moment. If you get a hit 3 out of 10 times, you’re doing well. Thats failing 7 times!

“During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out 1,700 times and walked 1,800 times. That means I played 7 years without ever hitting the ball.”  ~   Mickey Mantle

5. For All Parties….understand full well the difference between practice and game time!

“When they start a game, they don’t say “work ball or practice ball”. They say “play ball”.  ~  Willie Stargell

Ideally when you play, you want that “zone” experience – a quiet, clear mind. You’re not worrying about mechanics or results, failures, or successes. Just complete focus on the task at hand. Devote !00% of your sense capability to “see ball hit ball”. By worrying about mechanics or by listening to what your coach/parent is saying while you’re trying to play, you’re fracturing your focus. You’ve got 20% of your energy going towards feeling where your hands are (mechanics), you’ve got 20% going towards listening to someone yell at you, and you’ve only got 60% left for the all important “see ball hit ball!” Learn how to shut off the noise and pinpoint your focus. Trust the skills that you’re bringing to the field that day and just play.

6. That being said, as a parent or coach understand that during the game the kids are trying to focus, play, and flow and need to take those couple of hours to perfect this most important part of the game. Encourage them but try not to instruct during this time. You’ve got all week to improve their mechanics. Leave em alone to play during the game.

THE BEST OF LUCK THIS SEASON…HAVE FUN, PLAY HARD, AND KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL.

Back to the Mayneland

February 24, 2009

I’m home from Hawaii and need to switch gears. Need to be more aggressive on the road and get the water out of my sinuses. Need to put the board up for a minute and get back into the baseball mindset….I think I’ll start tomorrow though. I’m gonna go check the surf right now.

Life will always throw you curves, just keep fouling them off… the right pitch will come, but when it does, be prepared to run the bases.  ~Rick Maksian

Less of this….                                                            

  

More of this…..

Pipeline

February 17, 2009

I’m in Hawaii with family enjoying some R & R. Well, it’s not all relaxation. This place is heavy. This ain’t no Newport Beach…this here’s the Big Leagues of surfing. This is baseball’s equivalent of Yankee Stadium. These are waves of consequence.

Here’s a sequence of me pulling in to a big backdoor Pipeline pit, taken from my balcony. Just kidding, it’s not me…I’m the guy around the corner on the waves I don’t have to risk my life on. Click on the image to get a perspective of how big these things are….the little specks are people.

Geez, Put Some Clothes On

February 16, 2009

What is it about doing steroids and taking your shirt off? Does the juice really overheat you or something? If you EVER see a ballplayer posing with his shirt off, a giant red flag should go up in your head. It’s pretty much a lock the guy is juicing. It’s just so wrong. Cases in point….

  

Spring Training Tips

February 12, 2009

I received this note yesterday.

“Suggestion: for me, and your other loyal readers, can you give us a list of best exercises to get ready for the season?”

Best, Bill G.

Alright catchers throughout the world, here are my “get-ready-for-spring-training tips”.

1.  Stop partying. You need to get into some good sleeping habits and you’re gonna get drug tested when you walk in the door. Clean up your act and get your priorities straight!

2.  Come the first of the year, you should be in the weight room less and on the field more. Not completely out of the weight room, just tapering it down slightly, spending more time doing baseball specific activities.

3.  You should be running about 3 miles at least 4 days a week. Every spring training involves some kind of endurance training and testing. Trust me, just do it. Plus, your legs will get strong. (I never did, but YOU should). 

4.  It’s a long season filled with marginal clubhouse food (especially if you’re in the minor leagues). Make a commitment to spending the time and energy to eat healthily. It will pay off in the later parts of the season.

5.  For arm strength, endurance, and overall health make sure you’re playing long toss at least 5 days a week. Realistically, God either blessed you with a good arm or not. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it. Your arm strength can be improved a tiny bit, but for the most part, it is what it is. That being said, long toss is the best way I know of to maximize and build upon what you’ve got. Use your legs to drive and make the majority of the throw (not all arm) and only go as far as you can throw it with some arc and one hop your partner. Throw about 10 at that distance and then move it slowly in.

6.  Here’s one thing you can control – your level of flexibility. Do yoga or learn yoga now. Period. You’re not going to make any money on the DL with two pulled hamstrings.

7.  If you are new into pro ball, learn how to do your own laundry, grocery shop, speak spanish, and sleep in a chair or bus seat. Buy some ear plugs. While you’re at it, learn how to ice yourself at home or from the     hotel ice machine. You DON’T want to be that guy who lives in the training room. Take care of your injuries but only see the trainer if something is really wrong. Remember, they have to write daily reports and no matter what level your playing, you don’t need to get labeled as anything other than a gamer.

8.  As far as hitting goes, make sure that you have the ability to turn off the mental chatter. What I mean by that is this. You’ve been working on mechanics all off season (or at least since January). When you go into the batting box during a game, you want to just see-ball-hit-ball, right? Ideally when you step into the box you step into a vacuum where you’re completely focused and not worrying about your hands or stride or whatever.

     We all know how we practice is how we’ll play, right? So, if you’re taking 100 swings a day working on some mechanical issue the whole time, guess what you’re gonna do come game time. It’s gonna be real hard to stop the thinking and noise because that is all you ever practice. You don’t know how to do it any other way.

     You need to take at least 51 of those 100 swings trusting what you’ve got, mentally quiet, just seeing the ball and hitting the ball. Since you’re going to be playing games soon, you need to practice doing nothing. Got it? 

9.  As a catcher you’re going to be severely sore for about the first 2 weeks of spring training. Deal with it. There’s no way around it. You can try to catch every kid in your county for the month leading up to spring training, but why? You’re either gonna be sore then or sore the first few weeks of spring. Take the later.

    There’s really nothing you can do to prepare yourself for the 12 bullpens a day your going to have to catch. It’s like surfing. There’s nothing you can do to get yourself in paddling shape except by surfing. In baseball, there’s nothing you can really do to get yourself in catching shape except catching. Trust me, after the first few weeks of spring training, you’ll be able to squat on the toilet without pain again. I promise.

10.  On that note, if you’re married and she’s coming to spring training, tell her that for the first few weeks, you are just going to come home and go to sleep. If she can feed you that would be great. Pay her back later.

11.  You should be throwing to the bases with gear on at least 3-4 days a week. Effectively throwing base stealers out is VERY timing dependent. It’s very similar to hitting. And just as you take daily batting practice to perfect your timing and rhythm, same goes for your footwork and throwing rhythm from behind the plate. I’m not saying blow it out. I’m just saying 10 or so throws 4 days a week going about 85-90% with a guy catching the ball at second. You’ll never be a consistent thrower if you don’t practice it and stay on it.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for you. There’s really no way I can describe the grind you’re about ready to enter. Do you’re best, and take it one day at a time. Forget the past, be it good or bad, and focus on the moment. It’s an endurance race and there’s always tomorrow in baseball. Do not get too high or too low…that roller coaster ride will prematurely wear you out. Be an entertainer, be a team player, play the game hard, and most importantly, find a way to have fun. Good luck soldier.