It’s been a long time

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything about baseball or youth sports in general. Several years ago I made a promise to myself to stand aside and keep my mouth shut as my kids entered their high school programs. That was four years ago and for the most part I stopped posting much of anything, instead I focused on supporting their teams using what I know about photography and video production.

For those of you who know me or read much of anything on this site – none of this should come as a surprise. I think parents get way too involved in youth sports, and when it comes to high school – how do I put this politely? Well, it’s time for the kids to learn how to do it “without” you.

I think for the most part I kept my promise. Admittedly I got involved a couple of times when I saw my son’s catching skills going down hill, I don’t mind telling you that was a struggle for me. I watch and waited for his technique to be corrected, but when that wasn’t happening, I knew it was time to offer some advice and point out a few things. I did that by showing him some video I had shot of him and pointing out a few things. Occasionally, offering a bit of advice on his swing, but generally trying to keep it very low key. After that he pretty much knew what to do to fix things.

All-in-all I know it was the right decision. Yes, I missed actively coaching them the way I did when they were younger, but I’m not going to college with them. For me it was more important for them to develop their own style, their own ability to correct themselves, and their own mentors who can help carry them forward. Sorta like the mother bird kicking baby out of the nest so it can learn to fly. I’m happy to say, both my kids are flying on their own these days. They no longer rely on me like they did when they were younger – which is both wonderfully fulfilling and sad at the same time.

Kirk Cousins Keynote

Kirk Cousins give a great and inspirational speech to those of “privilege”.  Having a couple of budding athletes, this is something Sheri and I have worked hard to instill in our kids.  Truth told, everyone is at some level of privilege and has a debt to pay no matter your income level or experience.  Absolutely everyone is capable of serving one another in some fashion.

http://www.msuspartans.com/allaccess/?media=251268

Do the right thing.

Tony Horton nails it again this month and this month “Fail and try again”, along with “Persevere” mean something to me.  Vacation, baseball, softball, etc., have all gotten in the way of my exercising and eating right in recent weeks.  I guess that’s to be expected at times, but there’s also been an attitude of “Ah screw it,” too.  It’s been so freakin’ hot, get up at 5 am and it’s already 80 degrees with 80% humidity or more and go run 4 miles then stairs. COME ON!?!?  Excuses – that’s all when it really comes down to it, a bunch of reason to not do the right thing.

So this week, I’ve been getting back into the game.  If it’s too hot outside – then P90x routines inside.  Don’t want to do that?  Then get your butt out in the heat and run and stop being such a baby about it.  So far it’s working and honestly it’s been interesting doing some of the P90x routines after taking about a month off.  Mix and match – different, that’s the key to staying motivated and engaged.

We have become the United States of Quick Fixes.

Why are we so addicted to shortcuts, tricks, and magic potions? Far too many people in this country live in some kind of wannabe fantasyland. We’re trying to keep up with the Joneses without working as hard as they do. This bigger, badder, and faster world doesn’t give us an opportunity to stop and look at real and authentic ways to achieve greatness.

How many people have you talked to about Power 90® who, when they find out they have to exercise and eat right say, “Forget it!” There are millions of people in this country who have absolutely no clue that you have to work hard, take risks, and be willing to fail over and over again to earn what’s worth having. Hard work, risk, and failure . . . “Forget it!”

This is a very sad commentary that reveals what we’ve become in this country. We have the best of the best in the U.S. of A., but we hold the record for the highest percentage of fat people. Why do we reach for drugs, alcohol, sex, food, lies, blame, anger, hate, guilt, and self-pity far more often than power, courage, discipline, forgiveness, wisdom, and self-reliance? We’ve become a bunch of crybabies, filled with excuses, blaming everyone else for our problems!

You can read Tony’s full article here >>

Stress

I hadn’t really come to think of Tony Horton (P90x guru) as a philosopher, but his words about stress in this weeks newsletter are spot on and worth a post.  I especially liked the responsibility angle… so few folks today accept that they are responsible for their actions.  Sure, we all have bad days, bad moods, unexpected things happen to us and the list goes on and on, but at the end of the day, how we react and what we do is our choice.  We’re (you are) responsible for how we (you) treat others, the things we say and what we do or don’t.  The rest is an excuse and a pitiful way to try and deflect responsibility.  The choice is yours.

Stress management. Do you realize that if you took the fear, worry, and anxiety out of every “stressful” situations in your life, the end result of that situation would still occur? You can panic and freak out all you want, but time will still pass and the end of that moment will still happen, whether you freak out or not. So why not choose something different? When do fear, worry, and anxiety ever really help a situation?

So what is stress? It’s the inability to move through a situation logically, peacefully, positively, productively, and gracefully. To be stressed out takes lots of ENERGY. Being stressed out can severely affect how well you’ll sleep at night. Stress is when you assess blame and don’t take responsibility. (“I’m stressed out because of______, and that’s why I can’t______.”) Don’t let stress be your scapegoat.

There’s a story about 10 people in line at a bank when three armed robbers come flying in, screaming and yelling and pointing guns. They terrorize everyone and steal all their money. The moral of the story is that these 10 people will be affected by this experience in 10 different ways. The two extremes range from one having a wild story to tell at work the next day to another being severely traumatized for the rest of his or her life. Where would you fall in that spectrum?

There’s a saying that there are three kinds of business: “God’s business”—things that happen in this world that are out of my control; “their business”—the choices other people make based on their life experiences so far; and “my business”—the choices I make that shape my life. If I focus on what I have to do to make my life the best it can be, and NOT on God’s and everyone else’s business, I will have less stress, which in turn will give me the ENERGY to live the life I’ve always wanted.

Don’t waste your time on gossip, ridicule, envy, self-pity, anger, guilt, arrogance, need, impatience, regret, manipulation, jealousy, fear, worry, and anxiety, because they’ll zap your ENERGY and cause you stress!

Choose understanding, truth, clarity, patience, devotion, gratitude, vulnerability, acceptance, wisdom, hope, forgiveness, empathy, discipline, perseverance, community, and peace. Because if you do, you will gladly kiss stress goodbye and say hello to all the ENERGY you’ll need.

– Tony Horton

Just for today

OK.  I guess I’m just a sucker for all these little inspirational tidbits and for some reason they always resonate with me.  One of my pals at work has the phrase “Thought – Word – Deed” on his screen saver and I’ve had something similar on a post-it note stuck to my monitor for the past 5-6 months; Priorities – People – Performance.  These little reminders are like a flashlight in the abyss of one’s day, week, and life.

The other day I ran across a whole sheet of these from another co-worker and I’m obviously not alone enjoying these so I thought I’d share them here.

  • Just for today:  I will try to live this day only and not tackle all my problems at once.
  • Just for today:  I will be happy.  Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
  • Just for today:  I will adjust myself to what is and not try to adjust everything to my own desires.  I will take my “luck” as it comes and I will fit myself into it.
  • Just for today:  I will strengthen my mind.  I will study.  I will not be a mental loafer.  I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
  • Just for today:  I will exercise my soul in three ways:  I will do a good turn for someone and not be found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count.  I will do at least two things I don’t want to do — just for the exercise.  And I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt today, but I will not show it.
  • Just for today:  I will be agreeable.  I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, keep my voice low, be courteous and not criticize one bit.  I won’t find fault in anything, nor try to improve or regulate anybody but myself.
  • Just for today:  I will have a plan.  I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it.  I will save myself from two pests; Hurry and Indecision.
  • Just for today:  I will have a quiet half hour all to myself and relax.  During this time I will try to gain a better perspective of my life.
  • Just for today:  I will be unafraid.  I will enjoy what is beautiful and believe that as I give to the world, the world gives back to me.

Well, there you go…  I’m not sure where this comes from, but I’m likely the millionth person to post about it.  If you created this, well, you’re a genius and must certainly have your life by the tail and a perspective about the world and self.  For me, it’s another reminder that no matter how much work you’ve done, there is always room to improve.

Softball banquet – celebration

What a wonderful evening last night at the softball banquet.  From one parent to another, well done junior parents, I know it was a ton of work and in the end it was executed with the same precision the Varsity team executed throughout their season!

It was a bit of an emotional night, as most of these events are, but there was something special in the air; no doubt brought about by 8 seniors who clinched JC’s first ever state softball title. But it wasn’t all about them or the title, and they’d be the first to tell you that.  All you had to do was look around a room full of folks: teammates, managers, coaches, childhood coaches, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, administration staff and the list goes on.  It was a team effort and and extended team at that.

As I sat in the back of the room, listening to the coaches, speakers and most importantly, the players; I couldn’t help but wish I had a group of up and coming 12 year old athletes listening to this.

Teams are family, close family, important family, involved family, the type of family you rely on, the kind of family you need to achieve a large goal.  Sometimes it just happens, but many coaches and teams often work at developing it.  It’s about far more than friendship and for those teams who achieve it, the rewards are priceless.

Reliance, work ethic, focus, and the list goes on.  To achieve big things is to dream big, work hard, stay the course, and rely on one another.  Do those things, do them everyday with purpose and the reward can be yours.

Congratulations everyone, it’s been a truly spectacular ride for all of you.

Coaching online

Imagine communicating and coaching your kids between practices and online…  that may take some getting used to, but its an interesting idea.  NYSCA recently launch a new tool, Shapestuff, that helps coaches do just that.

“ShapeStuff is an easy-to-use tool that enables youth sports coaches to create skill-building exercises for their players to use between practices. Coaches quickly create short, customized skill-building programs on their PCs.
Programs can contain any combination of video clips and interactive exercises supplied by NYSCA, as well as anything on their own computer – even personalized audio or video messages. A push of a button then sends the skill-building exercise to players’ personal computer and even cellular phone.”

You can read the entire article here: http://nays.org/fullstory.cfm?articleid=10221

I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t say much about it.  I can visualize many examples where this could be helpful tool, but I do wonder a bit about getting even further involved and consuming even more of a child’s time, especially for competitive teams who already push the envelope in that area.  Anyway, it’s and interesting idea and a communications tool that certainly seems to fit today’s youth.  I’m gonna have to check it out.

10 things that can help your season

I realize I shouldn’t shares these, but here’s a list of the top 10 things that helped us this season.

  1. Never wear a white uniform, not only does it get dirty, but it’s bad karma –burn it instead.
  2. Everyone and I mean everyone needs a lucky penny.
  3. Never wash your cap.
  4. Never drink from the water cooler without examining the cup for holes.  You bunch of smart-asses.
  5. Between innings, never allow the baseball outside the lines — NEVER!
  6. If you find a lucky tent stake, toss it out the window on the way to the ball bark, then go back and find it.  It doubles your luck.
  7. Warming up before the game — never step on the line.
  8. Rally caps are for sissies, instead hum and wiggle your fingers.  It works much better and you don’t look as stupid.
  9. Don’t let the kids play with your fungo.
  10. And finally, a trip to Hooters can’t hurt.

An approach to baseball

Another tough game this Sunday, you might say another in a long line of anothers this season.

I’ve been reading and referring to The Mental Game of Baseball, a lot this season.  It’s a great book, chocked full of “what it takes” and then backing it up with several stories from the pro’s who’ve been there.  Most of this I’ve been attempting to teach my son and daughter since they were about seven and for the most part I think they get it, though being only fourteen, they’ll sometimes fall short.  How you attempt to convey this and more to a ball team in six months has proven difficult, but I guess it’s better to try and fail than to have failed to try.

One part of the book deals with preparation, and specifically in this example, one’s attitude and how that impacts preparation and thus performance on the field (and beyond).

Ozzie Smith is thought by some to be the best fielding shortstop in baseball history.  His numerous Gold Gloves, his soaring, spinning, whirling, diving plays have certainly impressed all who have watched him.  Second baseman Tommy Herr was most impressed by Smith’s consistency.

“What is overlooked about Ozzie,” Herr said before the 1985 World Series, “is that he always makes the routine plays.  Most guys can make a lot of good plays, and a lot of guys can sometimes make a great play, but they’ll blow the easy ones, and that hurts a team.  But Ozzie has tremendous powers of concentration.  He won’t take the easy ones for granted.”

Smith responded to Herr’s assessment:  “Because I wasn’t born with a lot of size, I’ve had to maybe work harder than some others.  Or concentrate harder.  You play the way you practice, and so I just don’t go out in infield practice for the sake of taking some ground balls.  I have a purpose in what I’m doing out there — testing the infield bounces, working on my moves.”

Smith gives complete attention to every ground ball hit to him in practice.  There are many infielders not “born with a lot of size,” who don’t practice the way Smith does.  And some are born with a lot of size.  Physical size isn’t the issue.  Smith and others like him are giants.  They’re the “big men” in the league of the mental game.

“My mother told me that if you don’t put anything into something, you won’t get anything out,” Smith explained.  “I want to look back and say, ‘I got everything out of all I had.'”

No one can have a higher goal.  It’s difficult to know if we ever attain it.  But we are successful if we can honestly say, “I did everything I could to get there…”  We then have no regrets, and we don’t have to mouth the familiar phrase of failure, “If only I would have …”

WE vs. YOU

I spent this past weekend in Kansas City along with another 217 (some odd) girl softball teams and their parents. And I gotta admit, it’s sorta nice being on the other side of the fence for a change.

One game in particular I was watching caught my attention.  It was a heated and close game — the kind where both the parents and coaches get, in my opinion, overly involved. Anyway, after the team had won the game, the kids came running to the dugout as the coaches ran onto the field screaming, “WE DID IT!”  And as the euphoria took root, I sat there somewhat stunned in silence thinking WE?  What do the coaches mean by WE?  Did they (the coaches) just make the diving catch to save the game?  Did they strike out the previous two batters?  Did they score a single run? Again, WE????

Coaches are teachers, they either sit in the dugout or stand outside the lines.  Think about that for a second, outside the lines…  We (coaches) aren’t and don’t play the game, the kids do.  They (YOU) DID IT.  Think about that next time you run onto the field to celebrate with your team and this time scream “YOU DID IT!” Not only is it more accurate, it’s more powerful.