Archive for Baseball Life

Temporary

Truth is, as coaches and teachers, we will most likely never become permanent fixtures in our players and students lives. Some we may meet once while others we may get to spent years in front of but bottom line, we are not permanent.

With that said, we should always be striving to make a permanent impact. We should always be leading by example. We should always have a vision for preparing them for THEIR future. We should ALWAYS be making our decisions based on what will give them the best possible chance for success as they maneuver through life.

Here are a few ways to ensure you leave a positive, and hopefully permanent, impact on those young developing minds looking up at you…

Perseverance:
Adversity is, and will always be, a fixture in life. Using this game to help them learn how to handle it is an invaluable lesson that can be worked on nearly every day. They will fail out there. They will have bad days. They will have poor attitudes. Help them learn from these mistakes, how to remain in control when they occur and give them opportunity to redeem themselves. When a child learns to move on from failure in one moment and then recover a moment later and succeed, that’s where exponential growth happens. Help them learn how to believe and be confident when everything around them is telling them to not be.

Humility:
Be confident, not arrogant. The game is easy for some, especially when they are younger. Confidence often gets so high that when the failure inevitably hits, many of those ultra talented will fail at failure simply because they have never been challenged by it. Praise and rehearse success while always preparing how to mentally handle failure. When we think, and act like, we are bigger than the game, we are doomed. Help them learn from each others victories and each others mistakes. Prepare them as a whole for the ups and downs of this game and life.

Respect:
Your handshake, how you relate to the umpires, how you react in moments of failure, how you treat them…ALL OF THEM. These are all examples that you will show on a daily basis when around them. They know we are watching them but we must never forget that they are watching us too. At the end of the day a question we should always be asking ourselves is “Did we lead by example?” We strive to develop respectful people and the best way to do that is to be a respectful human being ourselves.

Integrity:
To be trustworthy, reliable and someone others look to for truth. Unfortunately, they will come across many people in their lives who they will come to learn simply say what they think others want to hear so they can get what they desire. Take it upon yourself to help them learn about this. Don’t allow them to give you an answer that you know is not true but is said because they think it’s what you want to hear. Help them stay away from developing this habit. Help them understand what it means to be a person of their word. To keep commitments. To be honest.

Selflessness:
Acts of kindness, putting the needs of others first. Finding ways to give back and bringing focus to the team. Teach them to lift one another up, to give their best at all times because that is what their team needs. Never allow selfish behavior and if it persists, it’s time for a break (on the bench) no matter their talent. Great leaders are always looking to create more leaders and great leaders understand the importance of WE and not ME. Selfishness should always be replaced with lessons of Selflessness.

Professionalism:
How we handle ourselves. How we dress. How we walk. How we win. How we lose. How we handle adversity. How we talk to them, the officials, their parents and their opponents. Our language and OUR BODY LANGUAGE. Developing quality, and trustworthy, people starts from day one. No matter their age, be the example they will need for long term success. One day they will be a professional at something so find ways to help them create habits that will make that transition a little easier.

This is a game, keep it fun, keep it loose but ALWAYS remember that there are developing minds and bodies standing before us that are learning how to live. Learning how to be an adult. Developing habits that will carry them through life. If you keep this in perspective, you WILL be the example they need.

Make a POSITIVE permanent impact.

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Sportsmanship is…

– Knowing that the best team doesn’t always win, but the team that plays the best that day, did.
– Knowing that it’s OK to lose, strike out, make an error or get knocked around on the mound (as long as you learn from it).
– Picking up a teammate that had a bad game (or didn’t get in) and sharing a similar past experience.
– Leading by example with quality attitude & effort.
– Giving credit to your teammates for their effort on the field, even when you were a big part of the win.
– Not talking about how good you think you are, but letting your performance prove it.
– When you beat another team and they talk highly of you.
– When umpires and other teams are happy to see you succeed because of the type of person and team(mate) you are.
– Respecting everyone.
– Sincerely shaking hands with the umpires after the game, even when they make mistakes that may have cost your team the game.
– Keeping your composure when you are pitching a no hitter.
– Keeping your composure when you are getting smacked all over the field and walking batters.
– Staying positive when your team is about to lose.
– Showing class regardless of the outcome.
– Jogging around the bases at a good pace when hitting one out of the park.
– Not showing someone up because they make an error or strikeout in a big situation.
– Never making excuses, blaming coaches, teammates, the mound, umpires, the ball, fans, etc, even if it may have been their fault.
– Being sincere while going through the sportsmanship line after the game.
– The joy of competing, not just winning.
– Never complaining.
– Showing compassion when a teammate makes an error and having a mindset of wanting to personally be better and help pick the team up.
– Feeling great after playing well and winning OR losing to a better team 2-1.
– What you can give to your team, not what your team can give to you.
– Respecting your opponents, even when they aren’t showing respect to you and your team, because it’s the right way to act. Be the better person.

It’s NOT poor language, playing dirty, running up the score, disrespecting the umpires, delaying the game on purpose, standing at home plate or walking up the line when smashing a home run, bat flips, staring down the hitter after striking them out, staring down the umpire when you think he made a mistake, yelling at the umpire from the dugout or the stands, yelling at your opponents from the dugout to distract and embarrass them or pouting when you fail but wanting to be everyones friend when you see success.

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Opportunity: Given vs. Earned

Had a conversation with a friend recently who wanted to share his situation and was looking for some advice. We have actually spoke on this topic often before and he has read most of what I have written on it. It’s that topic that seems to always be an issue of concern amongst the adults. Playing time and what’s deserving of it.

As the convo went on and he explained his current situation, the topic came up of when do they, the players, need to start realizing that their ability and performance will be what determines how much, if any, time they will see on the field? At what age? Who helps them become aware of this truth?

Such a sensitive topic. You have two sides to this with the adults opinions and emotions being so deeply involved in this kids game.

One side is of the families of the players who have the ability, never see the bench which often comes with adults who want to win so badly, often more than their kids even care, and routinely fail to even notice the kids who are constantly on the bench, whose development is being ignored leading to passion and love for the game to diminish. And the other side is the families of those kids who are being left behind because they are late developers and the adults have deemed them not good enough or deserving of opportunity and the emotions that come with seeing their childs self esteem deteriorate before their eyes.

Parents are often blind to what is going on with anyone else besides their own child. That’s just human nature. I refer to it as being “Blinded by Love.” Thinking your kid is Gods gift to the game when in reality their talent is currently no different then many others. Not SEEING the big picture of a team and how you make 12-15 pieces fit as they only see 1. A parent/coach being so much in their own world and believing the team revolves around their kid who they continually put ahead of all of the other players on the team even though, again, their talent is no better than many others on the TEAM. Or on the flip side, a coach being infatuated with talent and obsessed with the “W” that they focus so much on results and continually fail to recognize those who need them, and Opportunity, the most.

I could go on and on with that topic but you get the point. Love is blinding and when we lose sight of the big picture and fail to see everything and everyone in front of us, we will without a doubt miss something.

So when is the right time? When should the game go from everyone getting opportunity to performance earning opportunity? For me it seems around the early teen years is a good time. This is also when they meet the big field. This is when the game will weed out many who won’t see the same success. Be it because they physically haven’t developed yet and are simply too weak for those dimensions or they are being coached by someone other than Dad now and aren’t getting the same opportunity which reveals their true love for the game or life is changing and they just don’t enjoy the game the way they used to.

My message to him was that in a perfect world, the game weeds them out. The game has become bigger than their talent and their heart and they simply can’t produce consistently. Many youth ball players never become HS ball players and for me it should be their talent and level of determination which decides that, not by someone two or three times their size and four times their age.

With that said, there needs to be someone in their lives who helps them understand this reality. The tricky part though is that someone, coach or parent, having feel for reality. Not being “Blinded by Love” and helping the player understand that the higher you get in this game and in life you will need to perform to see opportunity and you will have to keep performing to keep seeing consistent opportunity. Again, for me, this is a convo that should happen around twelve to maybe fourteen years old. I’m sure there are many who see that as too late but again, this is where I am at.

How I got here: I played with guys who were late draft picks who battled and proved themselves to become big leaguers while seeing guys who were what we call a “can’t miss talent” who simply couldn’t make it on the higher stage. I coached players who were the 25th man on the roster who are now star big leaguers and guys who received multi million dollar signing bonuses who never proved deserving of a gift like that. I’ve trained kids who were absolute stud youth players who never played above HS ball and I’ve trained kids whose deliveries and swings were so off that you would think there is no way they will make it on the big field yet they turned into college athletes. The point is, YOU NEVER KNOW! We are not God and we do not know what they will be like next month, next year or five years from now. Too often we become so obsessed with NOW that we forget this is all just a small piece to a bigger picture. Our job is to teach them, all of them, and help them figure this thing out. Honestly, it’s not about us adults. In no way is it about us. Many out there need to be much more careful, slow it down, and think twice about the choices they are making. Think about the team AND each individual. Remember that 20 years from now they will most likely not remember any of these moments, wins or loses, but the opportunities that they are given, or the ones that are taken away, WILL be what helps mold them into the person they will one day be.

Bottom line, I think it’s ALWAYS important to remember that for growth in anything opportunity is needed. And when you completely take away opportunity, no matter the age, there will be ZERO growth. Until you get to the big leagues it should always be about development. How can we help THEM get better? How can we prepare them for the next level? What do we need to do to make sure they grow physically and mentally as an athlete AND as a person?

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Photographs

As I sat at home surrounded by my own flesh and blood watching the new Wonder Woman movie, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with emotions when at the end of the movie WW approaches a wall of Photographs of the fallen. She finds the photo of what the movie leads us to believe may have been her first love, and proceeds to run her fingers over his face. And just as the movie began with photo, it ended with a photo.

One day, all that will be left is memories and photographs. Those images may be all someone will has of those that meant/mean so much to them. They will be reminders of special moments. Keepsakes that will mean more to them then all the money in the world. Objects so precious that life would feel empty without them.

Tomorrow is NEVER promised and we MUST SEE what’s going on around us. WHO is with us. WHAT stands before us.

Our sports culture tends to put a game, and the outcome, before this very thing. Too many lose feel for the ultimate goal of raising people who are compassionate, morally courageous, mentally tough, compassionate, hard working and who will be quality members of their community. In turn we see adults with poor attitudes rubbing off on the children around them. Adults, parents and coaches, berating and belittling children for not being able to perform like adults. We see young people behave with entitlement which is breed by the message they receive at home. We witness whole families talk down about the athletic ability of others when reality is one day EVERYONES athleticism will be gone and all that will be left are those relationships and ones character. We are constantly overwhelmed with stories and videos of people treating people in such brutal ways and all for what? Sports…Ego…Pride…Money?

Have we gone so low that we put more importance on having/being on the best youth sports team that wins the most games and displays the most trophies that we have forgotten what life is really all about? It’s time to get a grip on this. What we allow, the way many behave and the way we go about youth sports is mind boggling on many levels. So much of it just doesn’t make sense in the big picture yet so many choose to be, and place themselves, in the middle of this constant drama and place their attention on things that will have no longterm impact on life yet seem to ignore, and miss, the most import moments that WILL have an impact.

It’s time to slow down, step back for a moment and really SEE what’s going on, put life in order of priorities and remember that one day all that will be left are Photographs. The question is, what memories will be attached to those…PHOTOGRAPHS?

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Arm Care

Arm Care has become a hot topic. With more and more information out there on why and how kids are getting hurt, why too many never get a chance reach their full potential, many are looking for answers. Looking for ways to help their young ones maybe take better care of their arms. Here are a few ideas for you and some thoughts for those out there with busy schedules coming up with the weather getting warmer.

1) Let’s start with icing. When I was young (I’m nearly 40 now), we did it. When I was a young professional, everyone did it. But as the years went on we saw less and less of it. More information came out that it actually slowed the healing process and many, if not all, organizations have moved towards using different arm care methods and exercises to encourage new blood flow to the areas of the arm that were just worked, while pitching, to speed up the recovery and strengthen those areas. Icing is now seen more of something you do with an injury. For me personally, I stopped icing around year 7 of my career and never used it during the last 7 unless I had a little tendonitis flair up.

2) Resistance Bands. There are multiple products out there. Many ideas and routines on how to use them. We use the Jaeger J-Bands with our students and have implemented their routine as a warm up and a cool down for their upper body, before and after throwing. It is a simple routine which can be completed within about 5 minutes. It’s effective but as with anything, attention to detail is necessary. You can find the Jaeger J-Bands at your local Dick’s Sporting Goods, on their website or in our store.

Here is the J-Band Routine…

Here is the routine I used as a player…

3) Arm Circles. Another simple and effective way to encourage blood flow. These can be done during your warm ups and quickly done before they go home. Have them hold a ball or two in each hand and follow a simple routine. Here’s an example…
20-25 small arm circles forwards
20-25 small arm circles backwards
15 big arm circles forwards (slow)
15 big arm circles backwards (slow)
20-25 small up downs (think arms out to the sides flapping like wings)
15 double 90’s (forearm up at a 90 degree angle. Shoulder to elbow parallel to the ground/flat with elbow to hand up to the sky. Move hand down, forwards, to parallel and then up again.)
15 reverse flies (while bent over with back flat, move hands up to parallel with shoulders and back down.)
That’s a simple routine that will encourage blood flow and should be easy to implement into any routine. They will definitely feel the burn with this routine.

4) Proper rest. Rest may be the most vital part to recovery. Establish and implement rest periods for pitches thrown. There are multiple pitch count charts/guidelines out there. Some conservative, like ours, and then others that allow young arms to be used for upwards of 250 pitches in a four day period. Our opinion is with how many more games our pre-pubescent arms are playing these days, why wouldn’t you be a little more careful? While most pitch count charts call for days rest for pitches thrown, there are also numbers out there for hours of rest per pitches thrown. For example, if a player threw 25 pitches, they shouldn’t pitch again until 25 hours later, or the next day. If a player threw 100 pitches, they need 100 hours to recover and prepare for their next outing. That comes out giving that arm at least 4 days of rest. Both kinds of charts mean the same thing and are there for the same purpose, to make sure you have a plan for recovery.

5) Listen to those arms. If they are feeling the effects of dead arm, shut it down for at least 24 hours. If you see body language telling you that something is not right, find out what is going on. Ignoring signs because you need that arm or because this is a “big” game is a BIG mistake. Never forget this is youth baseball. These kids don’t get paid to play and youth coaches don’t get paid to win.

6) Research and educate. I encourage you to take some time to read up on this topic. Like I mentioned there is a ton of information out there and it has become a topic which should not be ignored. To be ignorant on this topic in this generation is inexcusable especially if you are a family that is neck deep in the world of 50+ games every season as a pre-teen.

We could get a lot deeper into this topic but this should give you a few good ideas. Listen, learn and understand right from wrong. Count pitches and count innings. Establish routines and communicate with your players coach. Don’t let your child become victim to arm abuse. The biggest regrets from those who have a player who has been injured from over use are…They wish they had learned more, they wish they were more involved up and they wish they hadn’t allowed it to happen.

Take care of and respect those arms!

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


When Good is not Enough

So much negativity…

Is the glass is half empty or half full? In a game where mental toughness, consistency and having the ability to move on from both adversity and success as quick as possible are absolutes for success, understanding what a negative mindset is and what a positive mindset is are absolutes in relation to the skills listed above.

This habit in young people is formed by those around and in front of them. The voices they hear. The body language they see and the way they are treated.

When we as adults give more attention to the negative, even when it may outweigh the positive, we are 1000% instilling a negative mindset and creating an atmosphere where being afraid to fail will lead to more failure than success.

Let me give you an example…

I once had a player tell me about his weekend. His team played 4 games. They lost the first one and won the next three. His facial expression, the tone in his voice and body language expressed disappointment and failure. I stopped him right there. Something was wrong with this picture. Isn’t that a .750 winning percentage?? What is this young man being taught? What message is being sent to him to make him feel this way?

I had to give this young man a lesson in failure because he obviously had a distorted, adult driven, opinion on it.
“It is unrealistic to think you will win 100% of your games. It doesn’t matter how good you are and how good your team is, that’s not reality. I know you play on an exceptional team that rarely comes out on bottom, but one day you may be on a team that rarely comes out on top and you will need to be able to stay confident, be prepared and come to the field everyday focused and mentally ready to produce for your team no matter how good the talent around you is. That’s not a bad weekend Dude. In fact, that’s a great weekend!”

Come to find out, in this trophy driven generation, this is often the mindset. A mindset created by the pressures of the adults, parents and coaches, who have this distorted view on wins and losses and treat these tournaments like they are playing in the MLB World Series!

In professional baseball, we are taught this mentality…In a four game series at home, our goal is to take three of those games and on the road we strive to at least split the series. Anything more than that is gold. We do this and by the end of the season we will be where we want to be in the standings.

Professionals MUST learn how to fail to succeed. You will strike out. You will make an error. You will give up a grand slam. You will walk the bases loaded. You will hit into a double play. You will fall into a slump. YOU WILL FAIL and you must know how to DEAL WITH IT. If you can never come to terms with it, and you beat yourself up constantly, you will NEVER make it. That’s just simple fact.

Will these youth players become professionals, odds tell us no. Will they be a parent, teacher, coach, spouse or someone others look up to at some point in their lives, YES SIR.

With that said, my question to all the parents, teachers and coaches out there is, how are you helping those in front of you to learn how to deal with failure? Do you bombard them with a negative attitude relentlessly? Do you always make it a point to point out the positive? Does one or the other tend to outweigh the other? Sure there are parts of life that are tougher than others and raising and working with teenagers often proves to be a heavy task but I encourage you to find some way to shed a positive light on life. Take a deep breath. That less than an A grade is not the end. That loss is not the end. That poor choice is not the end. That rough day at the ball park is not the end. Turn that negative into a positive and see what we/they can learn from it.

For our youth to GET THEIR MINDS RIGHT, we adults must GET OUR MINDS RIGHT!! Stop being a downer and start being a leader.

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Bring on the Failure!

No one wants to fail. Failure is a negative, it’s embarrassing, it’s disappointing, it’s shameful, it’s downright unforgivable…Right??

Umm, I don’t think so! Remember that time when you failed a test because you didn’t study enough but put in extra study time for your re-take and passed it the second time? Or how about the mistakes we made as a parent with our first baby that we learned from to better raise our second and third. Or getting our butts spanked in a doubleheader because of fundamental mistakes that we hadn’t given much attention to but made some adjustments to our practice plans to ensure reps and proceeded to execute much better the rest of the season.

Life is a constant game of adjustments and learning. When we are young, we see failure as a bad thing. We would get visibly emotional when we lost or made a mistake. We would carry a bad day over into the next. We would allow a rough patch to turn into a prolonged slump because we hadn’t yet learned how to see the negatives as positives and that they were secretly moments that would make us stronger.

I spend a lot of time talking with my students on how to handle failure. How to deal with negativity, be it in their own mind or from others around them. How we need to view it and use it to help us become a better athlete and a better person.

It’s important as leaders to help them get a feel for failure to talk to them about our own failures. Give them some understanding of what led us to stand before them. I’ve often shared with students that in my career I lost nearly 100 games, gave up nearly 120 home runs, walked over 500 batters and twice never made it out of the first inning while giving up 5 and 6 runs with most of that happening before I ever got a shot in the big leagues.

Dudes, we MUST fail in order to become great. We must learn to acknowledge it in order to properly process it. If we as parents, coaches, teachers and leaders treat failure as only a negative, we are instilling that fear of failure. Then that fear festers into long term and prolonged mental weakness when adversity presents itself which makes the ultimate goal of success that much harder to repeat.

Help them learn to work through it. Learn to use it. Let them experience it WITHOUT your own negativity making it even worse. Be the voice of reason. Be the positive attitude needed and let it go the way they need to. You be the example and teach them how to use failures as moments that lead to greatness.

The most important lessons are hidden in each of our failures.

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


You threw how many pitches?!

When your arm is prepared and conditioned for it, absolutely! When you haven’t pitched competitively in a game much recently because of little to no opportunity relating to too many arms on the team, poor weather conditions canceling games or because the coach is only throwing the same few arms every week, there’s no way your arm was ready for that many pitches.

I absolutely believe pitch count guidelines need to be in place to protect the arms from the adults and for there to be a system in place to help the inexperienced manage, protect and build arms. Truth is arms aren’t prepared to throw, weekly bullpens don’t happen, daily throwing routines aren’t established, arm health is ignored while arm abuse is rampant.

Take a HS pitcher who has pitched no more than a scattered handful of innings over a 2 week period. In any of those appearances, he has thrown no more than 40 pitches with that highest pitch count outing happening at the beginning of that 2 week stretch. As those weeks went on, if his pitch count number didn’t climb each outing, then his arm will remain conditioned for 40-50 pitches. That arm is not ready for 70-80-90-100+ pitches!! When arms are pushed past what they are prepared for, the risk of injury sky rockets for not just that outing but for the weeks following too.

What happens too often out there though is “coach” finds himself in a jam because he has either run out of arms because he hasn’t developed and prepared more, he cares more about winning that game than respecting that kids arm or he sees his leagues, tournaments or states pitch count guidelines and all he knows is the kids age and what it says his max pitch count number is so he decides to ride that arm until it reaches that number…or worst of all, ALL OF THE ABOVE!! Uncle!!

Pitch count guidelines are great but a small step. Accountability, education for players, parents and coaches and A LOT more detail to these guidelines are needed. There needs to be a whole segment within these guidelines relating to arm conditioning and how to manage time between outings, a progressional chart that details out pitch count limits for those first few outings of the year and information on what happens to the arm when too much time off from competitive pitches is taken between appearances.

If you were to go out and run 5 miles once every 2 weeks (14 days apart) and only jog a lap a couple times between, that 5 mile run is going to be really hard on your body and put it in a state of fatigue for much longer during those days following where if you had trained better between, ran another 5 miles on day 7 with 2 miles runs on days 4 and 11, your recovery time would be much more normal.

We MUST get smarter! We MUST learn right from wrong! WE MUST STOP THE ARM ABUSE!! These kids aren’t hurting themselves, we are!!

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Thank You Coach

“Thank You Coach”

For helping me see the world a little clearer. For trying to use my talent to make a name for yourself. For giving me a chance when no one else would. For helping me see everyday why we need to continue to be a voice for todays youth. For treating me the same as the older more talented players even though I hadn’t yet proved my talent. For helping me become the parent, teacher and coach I am today.

We have all had coaches at some point in our lives. Those that made a positive impact and those that made a negative impact. But in the end, they all made an impact. It’s up to us how we decide to see and use those experiences. For example…

The coach who was my biggest fan and always friendly when I was having success but as a season full of adversity proved to be tough to overcome, he treated me as if I was the enemy.

The coach who welcomed me into the clubhouse, a new face with little experience. Gave me time to get comfortable, provided opportunity and treated us all as one, no matter our age, draft level, signing bonus or who we knew.

The coach who whispered in my ear, before doing a televised interview, asking for me to mention his name. The same coach who earlier in the season refused to have my back when it should have been so easy to.

The coach who would take time during our precious off days to meet us at the field if we needed to get in our throwing and bullpen sessions. Play long toss everyday with us and strap on the catchers gear whenever needed.

The coach who decided to join me, a 19 year old boy, on a run and proceed to let me know that I was letting HIM down with my performance.

The coach who would let me corner him in the coaches room and pick his brain whenever I had a chance. The same guy who who has pretty much held every position you can in this game.

The coaches who are in front of our youth everyday and decide to abuse arms, abuse bodies, belittle young minds, bench them for mistakes, yell at them out of anger, make the game about them, obsess over the early developers and turn away the late developers and fail daily at teaching the kids fundamentals that they will need at the next level because winning that nothing youth game/tournament is all that matters to THEM.

The coaches who relentlessly put the kids first, character first, development first and carry themselves with professionalism no matter what the situation is.

There are good coaches out there and there are some who have no business being in front of who they are. We MUST learn from all of them. Learn how we want to behave and how we don’t want to behave. We choose to either complain about it, or learn from it and turn a negative into a positive.

I encourage you to find the good in whatever situation you are in. Yes, in the moment it may seem as if there is nothing good to focus on but if you look close enough, I bet there is.

“Thank You Coach”

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


My Struggle with our Current Culture

In a game that started as a kids game. A game that is so fun to play and teach. A game which can lead to great things and a game which can teach us so much about ourselves and life, why is it so hard to find positive stories? Uplifting and motivating stories. They are out there but they seem to be buried by stories of neglect, abuse, greed and negativity. So frustrating!

Unfortunately, I feel we are in a cycle which will take YEARS for perspective to change. And truth is that the only way this will happen is if there are some serious changes made to the way major organizations like Little League, Cal Ripken, Babe Ruth, NFHS and everywhere in between go about selecting leadership. Who they choose to lead, how they train these leaders, the standards they demand, the principles and values they live and die by and their own moral courage to discipline in moments of failure.

Just as we speak often on how to handle poor attitudes from our youth, I fear we fail at holding our youth/amatuer leaders to the same standards. Most of the messages we receive do not relate to the game on the field but relate to seeking advice on how to handle situations pertaining to coaches and parents. From poor communicators, to coaches abusing players by catching them countless innings in one game and then pitching them in the next, to coaches verbally abusing and embarrassing children, to parents coaching from the stands and so on.

We need for leadership up top to make some changes if we desire to see this culture change. Just because someone is a volunteer doesn’t mean we can’t hold them accountable. It doesn’t mean they should be able to lead by their own rules. This would take a major effort but if we truly care about all these kids, why would we not give that effort??
The game has turned into a battle of peacocks. Egos in the dugout and egos in the stands. Leadership needs to make changes. Rules and guidelines need to be established. Adults need to be held accountable. Standards need to be set. Messages need to be made loud and clear…

THIS IS THEIR GAME. THIS IS ABOUT THEIR LIFE. SUPPORT THEM. TEACH THEM THE GAME. TEACH THEM ABOUT LIFE. ENCOURAGE THEM. NEVER ALLOW POOR ATTITUDES WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY. BE A MENTOR. BE AN EXAMPLE. TEACH RESPECT. TEACH HUMILITY. TEACH COMPASSION. TEACH WORK ETHIC. TEACH RESPONSIBILITY. TEACH THEM TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES. TEACH THEM TO TAKE CHANCES. TEACH THEM WHAT IT MEANS TO GO ALL OUT AND TO NEVER FEAR FAILURE AND TEACH THEM HOW TO WIN WITH GRACE AND LOSE WITH DIGNITY.

For the current culture to change, leadership needs to re-evaluate and make some changes.

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Why are you YELLING?

Do we really forget that these are kids? That they are clumsy. That their hand eye coordination is so far from being mature. That they are playing a tough game. That their normal focus level is nowhere near what ours is as adults, BY NATURE.

What is yelling going to solve? You feeling better about yourself. You getting your aggression out. You getting your point across. You showing that you’re the boss.

It is…Making you look like a fool. Causing those before you to loose some trust in you. Making them afraid of you. Embarrassing them. Very harmful to that relationship.

As I was reminiscing with my father the other day about my youth years on the field, we quickly realized that there was very little I remembered from those years. In fact, the stuff I did remember didn’t even have to do with my performance on the field. I remembered things like playing pickle for hours with my buddies at the fields. I remember vaguely what the fields looked like. I remember the first time I threw from 60’6″ as a 13 year old. A few other things, but that’s about it.

For the past 15ish years I have been working with ball players from the tee ball age to players in their 30’s. Getting to know them. Getting to help them learn this game, how to use their bodies and how to use their minds. Too often I have to help players work through confidence issues. One, because the game is tough and they simply need to learn what they need to do with their bodies and how to prepare and two, because their confidence has been broken by how they have been treated as a player and person from those they are SUPPOSE to trust.

Psychology…The mental side of life. Of coaching. Of parenting. Of playing. The toughest part. The physical side, that’s the easy part. The mental side, now that’s getting real. That’s the part that will make or brake a child, an athlete, a coach, a parent, a leader.

When you raise your voice out of anger (raising your voice in a motivating and encouraging way is very different) and it comes out as hatred, we have a problem. That’s a relationship you are breaking. That’s a moment that child WILL remember. That’s a moment others WILL lose faith in you. That’s a moment that your true character is being reveled.

If you have a habit of behaving like this, to be blunt, you have no place leading (coaching). It’s time to walk away. If you are a parent and this is the norm, I beg you to make some changes NOW before your relationship with your child becomes broken to the point of no return. I have worked with older ball players who have broken relationships with a parent for this exact reason, please don’t make this YOUR reality.

Build them up, never break them down. Remember their age and the reality of that phase in life. Stop thinking that their performance is a reflection on you and your abilities and understand that everyone is different, even our own kids. Lead by example. Motivate, encourage and support them, no matter their journey in life.

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Released

“The manager wants to see you. Please come with me…”

“We’re letting you go.” “We’ve decided to go in a different direction.” “The trainer will have your plane ticket.” “Good luck.”

The meeting we all hear about. The words you dread one day hearing. You try not to think about it but it’s a true reality in professional baseball. Most will hear these words at some point in their career with a majority hearing it much sooner than they had ever hoped.

For me personally it happened 3 times.

The first time came in my 7th season. It was my first year as a free agent. After spending my first 6 seasons in the Cubs organization, I signed with the Astros. My big league camp performance left much to be desired with my minor league appearances being very average too. With three days left in camp, I received the message. “We’re letting you go.”

With the support of a local area scout for the Rockies, I found myself in their AAA clubhouse on opening day. For those that know me well, they know I feel everything happens for a reason. That day I found myself in front of the pitching coach who would later help change my career, Bob McClure. Without this opportunity handed to me, I honestly feel my career would have soon been over and who knows where I would be today.

I went on to have possibly the best season of my career to date while pitching it what many refer to as the best hitters ballpark in the nation. In my opinion, all because I was taught how to command the inside part of the plate, how it affected the hitters, how much they hatted it and how much it opened up the outside part of the plate.

The second time came the next spring training. The Rockies did not offer me a contract for the next season and I ended up signing a free agent contract with the Giants. From what I remember my spring training performance wasn’t anything spectacular. I went with the team to their AAA city where we had a practice the night before opening day. After the workout, I got that dreaded call into the managers office. “We’re letting you go.”

There isn’t a worst possible time to be let go. All teams have set their rosters and are ready to go. I proceeded to spend the next month at home and was just a few days away from going to play independent league baseball when I finally got the call from the Rockies I was hoping for. I finally joined their AAA team a week or so later and from there went on to have an even a better year than the previous even though missing the first month and a half of the season. Somehow the stars aligned and I got to spend the last month and a half in the big leagues. Talk about roller coaster season!

The third and final release came in my 13th, and final, spring training as a player. In minor league camp I put up zero’s across the board. I got to pitch in a few games in big league camp but didn’t do much to impress. With a few days left in camp, I got the call. “We’re letting you go.”

With the writing on the wall, three children and a new business at home, I decided that was enough. I have no doubt I could have kept going but it was just time. I wouldn’t change my journey for the world.

I wanted to share this with you to tell my story of being told I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t have what they were looking for. I didn’t fit into their plans. It didn’t matter where I had been, what I had accomplished or what I thought they should do, they didn’t need, nor want, my skill set.

Did I go home a whine and complain to anyone who would listen about how I think they screwed me, nope! Did I give up and quit, nope! Did I see this as the end, nope! Did I find someway to keep believing in myself and what I could do, yep! Did I keep working hard, yep! Did I use this as motivation to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do it, you better believe it!

I was “Released” twice before I got that call to the big leagues. I was told I wasn’t good enough multiple times before I was offered a life changing contract from a team in Japan. I was given a plane ticket home before the season even started two different times before the best years of my career.

NEVER give up! If you want it bad enough, the sky is the limit. You MUST believe more than anyone else does. Keep working hard. Keep learning. Keep pushing even though others may be telling you to stop. If you want it, GO GET IT!

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Video Analysis…

Video Analysis and over thinking/over coaching…

To be smart in this game is important. To know your body better than anyone else is a must. To know what adjustments you need to make physically or mentally, in the moment, are skills you MUST develop for long term success. This is one layer of Mental Toughness.

If you work hard at perfecting your swing or delivery then it’s certain that you know more than many about the mechanics of the game. You most likely watch video and probably spend a lot of time breaking down your own mechanics and comparing them to the great ones and look for similarities and differences. That’s great! You are becoming a student of the game and developing a work ethic needed for that long term success. You are learning to pay attention to those small details which is a skill you will undoubtedly need at some point later in life.

Here are a few things we ALL need to keep in mind when working with video analysis…

Getting “In the Zone”:
You will find that your best performances will occur when you are “In the Zone.” When the only thoughts going on in your mind are what you want to do on the next pitch. They are all forward focused. Your instincts are taking over and all that preparation you have done is going to work.

Often though players who train a lot and give so much focus on the mechanic side of the game have a hard time getting into these grooves as their minds have become so focused on breaking down each delivery or swing. The competitor in them is being held back as they are almost competing against themselves instead of their opponent.

Focus on the Good:
Watch video of success. Break down the GOOD swings. Analyze your delivery on those great days. And when things are off, something just doesn’t feel right, you need to compare yourself to those days.

Often players only want to watch video when things are going bad. If you are a video guy, I suggest you focus on those great moments. Ingrain those images and feelings in your head as much as possible.

Less talking, more working:
Every player is different. Some like constant feedback while most excel when allowed to get into that groove. When a player is working and things are going well, throwing strikes, executing pitches, repeating their swing, let them work. Don’t say a word. An “Atta’boy” is all that is necessary. And if they may be struggling to execute, encourage them to stop thinking and to work quicker to possibly get into that groove.

I strongly suggest not being that coach/parent who feels they need to say something after each rep. As a former player there was nothing worse than being interrupted while I was working.

“Stop thinking, visualize success and let it happen”:
Let your instincts take over. You have put in a lot of work NOW let it work. Train yourself to visualize success before each pitch, whether in the box, on the mound or in the field, learn to trust yourself. And when you make a mistake, move on as quickly as possible, visualize success as quickly as possible and trust yourself.

When a player starts talking mechanics while working, though I am happy they are thinking, they are often over thinking and they don’t even realize it. They are failing not because of a physical flaw but a mental flaw. We must help snap them out of that thought process and help them change their mindset by putting good words and thoughts in their mind. It’s always amazing what some positive vibes can do for an athlete.

Video Analysis is a great tool and a big reason why we are able to help more players get the most out of their body. Personally I use it often with my students but it’s not a staple each time we work. More like on a when needed basis.

In conclusion, be a student of the game, know yourself better than anyone else. The ultimate goal is for players to become their own coaches and to know their own adjustments. But understand this certain truth, those adjustments will more often than not need to be mental adjustments rather than physical adjustments. ALWAYS focus on your mindset. The prettiest swing or the smoothest delivery won’t mean much if your mental toughness lacks. Train to trust yourself, let your instincts take over and COMPETE!

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


What’s Best & Common Sense

IMG_6460What’s best for their safety? What’s best for their development? What’s best for their future? What’s best for the athlete? What’s best for their character? Ask 100 different grown men and you are likely to get 100 different opinions. And with those 100 opinions, you will too often find no plan or wiggle room for adjustment in those beliefs.

Here we are, not even to mid March yet, and the messages and stories have started rolling in. With our followers who have been with us from the beginning, you all know our feeling on Development. You know our passion behind what we feel should come first. You know how we feel about how young pitchers need to be handled. You know our approach to developing and maintaining confident and HEALTHY young men on the mound.

After receiving multiple messages and hearing multiple stories already, I feel it’s necessary to bring this to the attention of everyone again.

As I have spoke on before, tournament baseball is a great situation for hitters to see a ton of pitches and get in a lot of reps. On the flip side, it may be the worst possible situation I can think of for Pitchers and Catchers who are in a situation where those in charge lack a feel for the demand on a players body while playing a full game, let alone 4-5 games over a two day period. **There are some out there who know how to do it right and will do everything possible to take care of their players arms and bodies.**

A pitcher going out and throwing 30-40 pitches in their first game of the year is a reasonable number. If they have trained to be able to throw more than that, great! Truth is, most have not. Most have not been built up to that number. And no matter the age, pitching back to back days is a no brainer, shouldn’t happen until we are deeper into the season, and even then, it should NEVER happen on a regular basis and shouldn’t happen unless they are at least a mature teenager. These are kids, not professionals who have trained their bodies and arms for this amount of work.

Let me add that an amateur pitcher going out and throwing nearly 100 pitches in their first outing of the season, (yes, multiple stories have been shared with me in the last week on this) is just absurd! This should be common sense coaching. Unfortunately, it seems that most tournaments do nothing to protect the pitchers from coaches who lack that common sense in these situations. **There are youth leagues that do though!!**

And let’s not ever forget about that kid behind the plate. For every pitch made in a game, he throws the ball back to the pitcher and he squats that many times. One game is enough for the day. A team headed into a tournament needs a least 3 catchers to share the time back there, it should NEVER be put on one player to squat and throw for every pitch made over the course of a tournament over a 2-3 day period!!

It seems the desire to win leads to poor choices when it comes to what’s best for that child, their safety and their development.

As always, I will end with, Parents, this is on you to educate yourself between right and wrong. Do some research and see what is happening out there with the rest of the baseball world right now. We are in the middle of an epidemic right now and it stuff like this that is the leading cause.

NO ONE is immune to this. NO ONE is bullet proof. NO ONE is un-touchable. It’s time to wake up everyone. It’s time to get our minds right and stop these habits and foolish decisions.

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


5 Observations & Perspective

As I reflect on life, as I hope you all do often, the future is always a focus. Be it family, business, our students or those that follow us, the idea is always, “How can we get better?” “What do they need?” “How can we help them?”

My personal, life, business and baseball experiences have taught me a lot. From work ethic, to reality, to perseverance, to the value of relationships and to the one thing that matters most “Character”, I feel we as adults need to get a better grip on “Perspective” and the reality of life and the young ones in front of us.

Here are a few things I am seeing we ALL need to be better at realizing…

1) The relationships we have with our children are precious. And when we push our personal desires and unrealistic ideals onto them, we very easily may be creating tension, stress, resentment, anger and pain that could lead to a lifetime of heartache in your relationship. And all because we couldn’t control ourselves and tried to force something on them that they simply didn’t have a passion for but we, their mentor, couldn’t accept that.

2) Making an impact on young lives should be our number one goal. I may be mistaken, but in the end, I feel most of us would feel much more joy in thinking about all those that we helped rather than how many games we won during our time as a coach. I think this is an important question that all teachers and coaches should frequently ask themselves. “Am I giving them what they need or are my actions and thoughts geared towards making me feel and look better?”

3) A group of talent is awesome. They may see a lot of result oriented success. Lots of oohs and aahs! Building a superstar team may make for a tremendously successful season on paper but as we see too often, these teams fall apart because of poor leadership. BE CAREFUL of looking to be a part of that team that’s going to win 90% of their games. Take 1st or 2nd in every tournament they play in. We must learn from others mistakes and choose the coach. That one person, or persons, and their approach is the difference maker. Sub .500 season or winning season, your ball player learning baseball skills and, more importantly, life skills IS what matters most.

4) One day these kids will be parents, leaders, business owners, employees, teachers and possibly serve our country. THAT is their future and THAT is what we are helping them prepare for. All of these people need to be able to think for themselves. Problem solve. Have mental toughness. Have leadership skills and have people skills. My question is, is our approach preparing them for all of these? Are we encouraging our players to think and observe, or do they look to us for some sort of sign before every pitch? Are we allowing selfishness and poor sportsmanship, or are we helping them improve on these flaws with the best teacher of all, “The Bench”? Are we teaching them how to handle adversity with our attitude of moving on or are we behaving in a manner of complaining and poor sportsmanship? We are their leaders, it’s time to lead them.

5) Smarts vs. Instincts. Too much talking and not enough working. Instincts are developed with reps. We most definitely will see more reps in practice than we do in games when it comes to the fundamentals of the game that lead to better fundamentally played games. Young players need at least a 1:1 ratio of practices vs. games if not more practices. But what we see are older teenage players who have acquired smarts, they know what to do in this situation or that because of what they have been told to do, but lack instincts in game speed situations because as a youth player, games played out numbered their practice time. Games are fun, they take less planning and quite frankly, less effort on the adults part. Our goal should be to prepare them for HS baseball. Practice, Practice, Game. Practice, Practice, Game. Practice, Practice, Game. Parents, find these situations and realize that more games does not mean better when it comes to their future.

We must ALL be looking to get better. To help them learn, improve and be prepared, we must first learn, improve and become prepared.

Chris Gissell (135 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.