Archive for Dudes Blog

Change-Up Development

As a young player with an over-powering fastball, why would you throw a Change-Up in a game? You would be throwing it right into the hitters bat speed and be giving him a better chance of getting a hit so it wouldn’t make any sense…RIGHT??

This is a trap, one that I fell into as a young player also. I worked on one in practice and remember having a decent one, but didn’t throw it often in games for the reason stated above. After I graduated HS, and moved on in Baseball, it became very apparent that my fastball wasn’t over powering anymore! So began the process of trying to find a change up that was comfortable in my hand, I could command and I had confidence in to throw in any count. This proved to not be an easy task as it took roughly 6-7 years to finally perfect it.

Fast forward to now, all young pitchers I work with, 9 years old to college, Change-Up Development is a part of each session and practice. Some make quick strides while others take a little longer. In season sessions always start with discussion about how their last game went. We discuss command, how they did with first pitch strikes, how many Change-Ups they threw with confidence and command, among other things. Most of the answers I get are either “None” or “A few.” When I ask why so few, the answers are usually either “They weren’t on my Fastball” or “I was behind in the count too much.”

Like I said, I fell into this same trap as a youth and found it difficult to overcome later in my baseball career. Now the question is, “How do we throw more in a game?” Communication and a belief in and commitment to development. The player and parents need to relay this message to their coach. The goal is to throw 2-3 maybe even 4 Change-Ups per inning (assuming they throw 15 pitches an inning). Pick pre determined counts that they will throw them in. Maybe an 0-0 count second time through the line up. Maybe you decide that each time, in a certain inning, they will throw a Change-Up every time they throw a strike with the first pitch. Maybe every time they get into a 1-1 count they throw a Change-Up. There are many options you can choose but the point is, there needs to be a plan. If you just say before the game starts that you want them to throw 10 change ups in a game, but lack a plan for how to make those 10 happen, the odds are that when that game is over, they will have not accomplished that goal.

Developing a Change-Up should be a high priority for all youth pitchers who have goals of playing beyond youth baseball. I know we are out there pitching to help our team win but we also need to keep in mind what our long term goals are. In a perfect world, the player, parents and coaches are all on the same page with this and work together to help our Dudes prepare for their future.

Chris Gissell (130 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 (130 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 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.

In professional baseball, we are taught this mentality…In a four game series at home, our goal is to take three of those 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 (130 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 (130 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 (130 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 (130 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 (130 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.


Paralysis by 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 (130 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 (130 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 Ways we are Failing to Prepare THEM

Raising and developing people…

THIS is what our job is as adults. Realize it or not, most everything that happens on a ball field can be related to life in some way. The problem is, most are failing to see what this is all about. We have become obsessed with the outcome and fail to recognize and believe in the process. We often hear “The Process” referred to but then find that those that frequently use this term simply do not understand what it really means.

“The Process” requires patience. It calls for us knowing what the end goal is. It takes us ADULTS teaching, then stepping back and letting them figure it out while resisting the urge to step in at the sign of failure. Failure is THE key to long term success. They are moments disguised as disappointment and embarrassment but are actually blessings in disguise. The problem though lies with how us adults lack patience for failure and see our players and children’s failures as a reflection of our ability to teach and lead. That’s when we see the adults making it about them when we all should know what this is really all about…THE KIDS.

Here are 5 things that are happening on fields across the nation that are stunting player and individual growth…

Pigeon Holing Players:
We need to stop viewing them as “The Shortstop” or “The Center Fielder”. They are Baseball players. They are “Athletes”. The goal is for them to be able to confidently tell their HS coach at their freshman year tryouts that they can play any position they need them at. A player who played only SS his whole youth life is limited. Sure not everyone can pitch or catch but know this, we are not helping them develop “Options” when we develop them as a one dimensional player. Teach them and help them learn the game from multiple angles on the field.

Calling Pitches:
Robots don’t think, they wait for commands. Why do we feel the need to call pitches from the dugout? I congratulate you that you know how to get youth hitters out but that’s not your job. The ball is not in your hand. Relinquish control, teach them how to observe the situation and the hitter AND LET THEM PLAY SOME BASEBALL. Will they make some poor choices on pitch selection…You bet! That’s where we help them between innings to learn so they are better prepared for the next time that situation comes up. Not only is this not good for them to develop as thinkers and observers, it’s horrible for the pace of a game. Talk about a tempo killer. Teach them to work together, work fast and get their boys back in the dugout as soon as possible. Bosses tell people what to do, leaders teach people what to do. Which one are you?

Undeserved Playing Time:
When a player is involved in too many things at once and continually fails to attend team practices…When a player continually displays poor body language…When a player is disrespectful towards the umpires, their teammates or coaches…Playing time is NOT deserved. By rewarding these behaviors with the privilege of seeing the ball field, we are making a huge mistake. Talent shouldn’t matter…Opponent shouldn’t matter…The importance of the game shouldn’t matter…RAISING AND DEVELOPING THAT PERSON MATTERS. You ARE instilling ego and entitlement and you may not even realize it. Many things are bigger than the game and this may be the biggest of all. The greed of wanting to win is taking over common sense and blinding many to what this is really all about.

Ignoring Defensive Fundamentals:
Knowing how to read the play. Knowing what their job is. Knowing where to back up and where to throw the ball. Knowing how to properly run and rundown. Developing instincts through repetitions. Too many games and not enough practice. Many HS players know what they should do on a play but when it comes down to it, in the moment, they have underdeveloped instincts as they simply have not practiced these fundamentals enough. Pitchers working on their craft is often ignored because “It takes too much time”. The fact is, pitching and defense is what wins ball games. If you can’t take care of the ball (throw strikes, field and catch the ball) the other team will make their way around the bases whether they are a good hitting team or not. There should be just as much defensive work as there is offensive work, if not more.

Instilling Ego, Entitlement and Un-Coachable Attitudes:
Help them develop confidence but keep them humble. Take ability out of the picture and treat them all as people. Help them understand there are many ways to be successful in this game (and in life) and for them to grow as much as possible, they must look for as much information as possible, ask questions whenever possible and NEVER go into a situation of opportunity with a closed mind. Talking down about their teammates and coaches is a HUGE parenting mistake. It’s the good old fashioned term, “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all!” Realize it or not, you are teaching the skill of gossip, you are instilling a sense of being better than everyone else and you are instilling habits that WILL get them in trouble at some point later in life. Lastly, teach them that success is earned. Find different ways to make them earn their keep. Teach them that talent will only get them so far, that their work ethic, their character, their dedication and perseverance will all be the deciding factor as they grow.

ALL of these things happen on and off a field during a baseball season. Some may read this and take it personal, that’s fine. Some may read this and feel pain as they have, or are, living this. I’m nearly 40 years old, have been blessed with a life where I got to play and now teach the game of baseball. I understand I have been able to experience things that most will never get to and that keeps me humble. Now I have the privilege to teach what I have learned, and am still learning, every day. It’s up to you if you want to be coachable (yes adults should be coachable too), or if you read these words and disagree. However you take it is fine with me. I’m here to help and teach from what I have experienced, that’s it.

I’ll end with this…”The Big Picture”…Our one purpose as adults is to provide for the young. This happens in many different ways. PLEASE don’t ever let pride and greed blur your thoughts and cause you to miss out on the countless character development moments that happen on a daily basis. Lead by example, pour into THEM and help them prepare for LIFE.

Chris Gissell (130 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.


Dear Coach,

Baseball Dudes FriendsIf a 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 year old shows respect, works his butt off, loves the game, has tremendous character, is a great teammate, has a great attitude BUT hasn’t yet hit the growth spurt his teammates have, is a bit slower and his hand/eye coordination is a bit off with a growth spurt and/or puberty immanent, why would you not give him every possible opportunity??

In this “Me” world and constant “What have you done for me lately” attitude, let me remind you of a few truths…

1. That kid very well could grow 4-6 inches in the next year, put on 20 pounds, grow into his feet and develop his fast twitch muscles, but the way you treated him, the way you ignored him and pushed him to the side, he no longer loves the game because you, his coach/leader, told him (with your actions) that he was no good and that it doesn’t matter what type of person you are or how hard you work, all that matters is your talent. Now he doesn’t play the game any longer and has a bitter taste towards the game and other coaches.

2. By sitting this kid but giving all of the playing time to the kids who have attitude & effort issues, you are instilling that “Me” attitude and entitlement in those poorly led kids you are giving the opportunities to.
3. You are showing your true colors. As all coaches do, you love to use the word “Development”. When you treat players different based on their talent level, who their parents are or whose parents donated the most time and money, you are not a developer.

4. Stop it with the attitude that you are “Teaching them what real life is all about!” Just because you had a hard nosed coach that yelled at everyone and used running as punishment, doesn’t mean you have to be that guy too. It’s time to stop that cycle. These are kids, some not even teenagers, yet you expect them to walk, talk, act, behave and perform like a man. They will get there, let it happen and stop trying to be that tough guy who thinks they can force it.

5. Just because you show compassion, give the underdog the same playing time and treat them all with respect, it doesn’t mean you are soft or developing soft people. This actually means that you have respect for the people in front of you, all of them. You are conscious of their emotions and considerate of their age and aptitude. You are the type of coach who will most likely have the biggest positive impact on them, in their lives. When they are done playing Baseball and reflect on their time playing, your name will be remembered in a positive light.

6. Little League, Pony, Elite, Travel, Tournament, Babe Ruth, etc…It’s youth Baseball, not the big leagues. Let them enjoy the game. Be more serious about development and less focused on winning being the end all. Stop being so cut throat. Be the coach you would want to have. Be as coachable as you want them to be, if not more and lead by example by being the best person you can possibly be.

We are there to serve THEM. Provide them with the knowledge, opportunity and experience they deserve. This is our OPPORTUNITY to be a part of a young life and affect them in a positive way for their future. And sometimes that positive impact may be calling them out for their bad attitude and poor effort.

Be the LEADER they need!!

Chris Gissell (130 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.


Free Bases

946540_10201244063286790_1901679264_nWe would keep track of these every game. FREE BASES. Our goal was to have 5 or less per game. If we did this we had a 72% chance of winning that game. FREE BASES are…

Walks
Balks
Wild Pitches
Passed Balls
Errors
Stolen Bases
HBP (Hit By Pitch)

The best way to accomplish this goal game after game is to slow the game down mentally. “You control the game, don’t let it control you”.

Walks: Whether there is no runners on or the bases are loaded, slow it down, analyze the situation you are in and execute a quality pitch. Make them earn their way on base, give them something to hit and don’t GIVE them that FREE BASE!

Balks: Again, slow the game down. Balks usually happen when we let things speed up on us. Make sure you are ready before you put your foot on that rubber. Develop a relaxed intensity that allows for you to be locked in and focused but also prepared for chaos. Don’t panic when your opponent tries to get in your head.

Wild Pitches: To prevent these, it takes two players. As pitchers, first we need a controlled consistent delivery that allows for a consistent release point. As a catcher, we need to be confident in our ability to block the baseball. Work hard and become one of the best at it. It does a lot mentally for a pitcher knowing that they can throw an 0-2 breaking ball in the dirt and their backstop has their back and will do their part.

Passed Balls: Catchers, this is on you. Focus on every pitch. Watch the ball all the way to your glove. Give hard focus when catching bullpens. Focus on receiving. Develop your fast twitch.

Errors: The more we limit these as a team, we will always have a better chance at getting that W. Work your butt off to be a fundamentally sound player! Coaches, never ignore the importance of your team being able to take care of the baseball. Defensive fundamentals must be a weekly focus.

Stolen Bases: This is on the pitchers. We NEED to be experts at controlling the running game. Learn what counts they like to run in. Vary your hold times. Don’t get into patterns (don’t hold for the same count every pitch). Have a good pick off move. Have a good inside move to second. These all take practice. This is a must if you want to be the best at this game!!

HBP: For me, this one could go both ways. Yes it is counted as a FREE BASE but this FREE BASE can work for us as pitchers too. If we are good at pitching inside, this WILL happen. When this does happen, not only will that hitter remember that the next time they come up but when we pitch in (and happen to hit a couple batters), every guy in the other dugout will start to notice. They all might start backing off the plate opening up the outer half for us. Pitchers, develop confidence on pitching inside. That is YOUR plate!!

Limit the FREE BASES we allow as a team and our odds of winning that game go way up!!

Chris Gissell (130 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.


13 Ways to Protect Your Pitchers From Injury…

img_9877First, let’s be real, injuries happen. Throwing something overhand puts a lot of stress on the shoulder and elbow joints. Coordination and genetics often play a role in a sore arm.

With that, there are things we can do to promote healthy arms and put them in a position to be strong from the beginning to the end of a season. Dedication and commitment to arm health needs to be taken seriously, especially in this generation with so much baseball being played.

1) Core strength. Baseball is a rotational sport. Developing and maintaining the strength of your core, front and back, puts the body in a position to use your whole frame to create power. Develop a daily routine that includes multiple core strengthening exercises.

2) Lower half strength. Power, power, power. Most of a pitchers power will be determined in how they move down the mound. From the glutes, to the quads, to the hammies, become a beast.

3) Hand and wrist strength. How strong is their grip? Every time they throw a baseball, they are using all these muscles. Develop these to protect all the tendons and ligaments underneath. Use a hand gripper, racquet ball, rice bucket, gyro ball exerciser, etc.

4) Shoulder and elbow strength. Resistance bands, light weights, body weight movements. There are lots of different products and routines out there. Many different exercises. I don’t care which one you do, just do something! Find something you enjoy. Develop stability in these joints. Develop and maintain strength and endurance in those decelerator muscles.

5) STAY CLOSED! It doesn’t matter how good you are in the areas listed above, if you start to rotate open too soon in your delivery, you will lose momentum and lack torque which in turn will put all the pressure on your arm joints to try and create power. Momentum all the way down the mound and late turn/torque creates most of the power and takes the strain off the arm.

6) Learn proper mechanics. Everyone looks different and some can get away with not being perfect. Focus on stride length, body position at front foot contact, body movements from there to release and what happens after release (aka, how does your body decelerate).

7) Listen to your body/arm. If it needs a break, then give it a day off. Twenty-four hours can do wonders. This can take years to fully understand but when it comes to endurance and being able to finish the season just as strong as you were when it started, this is a major key.

8) Tendonitis and dead arm is fatigue. These happen when your body wasn’t prepared for the amount you have been putting on it. Getting through a whole season at the professional level without coming down with either of these at some point is pretty much impossible, simply because it is so much, no matter how well you are prepared. With the demand at that level, it’s inevitable. If a youth player is experiencing these, there are most likely issues in the areas listed above and there needs to be adjustments made to their non-competitive and competitive workload.

9) Develop routines. Catch, long toss, bullpen, arm care, core work, strength training, speed training. Strengths and weaknesses are determined in the strengths and weaknesses of our routines. Thoughtout and detailed routines make sure that everything that needs attention, gets the attention it requires.

10) THROW MORE! Condition the arm for the demand. “Saving bullets” by taking it easy on your non pitching days and never throwing bullpens at near game speed, is putting your arm in a weaker position in regards to strength, stamina and endurance. Thus when you go out and demand 70-100 pitches from it, and it’s essentially been hibernating for the past however many days, it won’t be fully prepared for what you are about to put it through. Don’t be afraid of throwing the rock daily. Never go more than three days without getting on the mound to refine your delivery and continue to develop feel for your pitches. Throw your changeup daily, spin the baseball daily (if you are there in development).

11) Establish limits. Once a player hits their threshold of reps in a game that they are conditioned for, each rep from there on out puts them in a weaker position thus elevating the risk for injury. Understand progression when it comes to pitch counts. And when there has been too much time between competitive pitches, stamina and endurance is lost quickly and you need to back track a little in the workload that arm will see in their next game pitched.

12) Put your pitchers on a rotation. Allow for consistent work. You should know right now who will start that game that you have three weeks from now. Development is in consistency and we are here to help them develop…PERIOD!

13) Play multiple sports. Take AT LEAST 12 weeks off in the winter from throwing. Take time to focus on overall strength and develop an active rest routine for your throwing arm. Put the gloves down, put the baseballs down. Read a book on mental toughness. Read articles on how big leaguers achieve their success. Train your mind. Sit down and write out some new routines. Evaluate your season and determine weaknesses and strengths and make a plan to improve on them and perfect them. Establish goals.

Most have a goal to play this game beyond high school. The question is, are we hindering their chances of achieving those goals with the way we are using them, or not using them? Are we putting them in a position to succeed or are we risking their future by with the decisions we keep making?

Injury is the number one cause for players never reaching their full potential. Let’s do a better job at making decisions that put them in a better position to not become a statistic.

Chris Gissell (130 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.


Manipulating The Baseball

img_6987Four seam fastball, two seam fastball, cut fastball, curveball, slider, slurve, splitter, forkball, knuckleball, changeup and a cut changeup. I’m sure there are others I am not thinking about.

One thing these all have in common is that there are multiple grips for each one of these. It’s up to each player to figure out which ones work best in their repertoire. Figure out which ones give them the best late movement and most importantly, the ones you can command the best.

When young players are mature enough and have shown the ability to command their fastball and a changeup, it may be time to start to add to their mix. I strongly suggest finding someone who knows what to look for in the spin of the baseball. Someone who has experience, understands different grips and finger pressures. There is definitely a right way to spin it and a wrong way and without an experienced eye, most won’t be able to see the difference.

Remember, when learning to Manipulate the Baseball, you are adding a new element to their arm/hand action at release. Most will want to start experimenting with this before they are a teenager (I started throwing a breaking ball when I was 11 or 12 back around 1990) which is a completely normal thing for them at that age with them starting to talk more and more about them with their buddies.

Many will have added a breaking ball to their pitch selection by the time they do become a teenager but my recommendation is that you keep a close eye on them not overusing it at this delicate age. Stress Fastball and Changeup confidence. If they are throwing the breaking ball properly, the strain on the arm is minimal. The extra strain comes when they are doing the wrong things with their hand at release, poor mechanics and overusing it in a competitive atmosphere.

This is for sure a sensitive subject and there is my take. Be smart with it. Find someone to help that knows what they are teaching and talking about. They are out there.

**If you can hold them off until they are 13-15 years old, that would be ideal. If you see them messing with it before then and hear them talking about it, then they are most likely throwing it with their buddies so you might as well make sure they are doing it properly.

Chris Gissell (130 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.


10 Keys to Development…

IMG_80911. Provide players with playing time at multiple positions throughout the season. DON’T play them at just 1 or 2 positions all season.

2. Dedicate practice time each week to continuously work on the little things. DON’T only play games once the games start.

3. Take away playing time for poor sportsmanship, disrespect, lack of attendance due to commitment, selfishness and poor choices. DON’T turn a blind eye because it’s your more talented players but follow through only when it’s a player with lesser talent.

4. Allow and encourage pitchers and catchers to call their own pitches while teaching them to observe and evaluate each situation to make better and more thought out choices. DON’T call each pitch from the dugout and even worse, with a message that they are not allowed to shake you off.

5. Promote thought and encourage aggressiveness. DON’T dictate as to say it’s your way or no way.

6. Constantly promote self evaluation, ask them questions and force them to think. DON’T solely speak at them without ever looking for feedback.

7. Have pitchers on a rotation for consistent time on the mound in games and between games to continually refine and develop consistent feel for their delivery and pitches. DON’T let it go more than three or four days without them getting on a mound or only pitch them in games without ever providing time for them to work on their weaknesses and maintain their strengths.

8. When a player makes a mistake, coach them up, rebuild their confidence and let them go back out there. DON’T take away playing time immediately or even worse, yank them off the field in the middle of an inning simply because you, the adult, have seen enough.

9. Create a team atmosphere and camaraderie through sportsmanship, respect, compassion, leadership and positivity where everyone supports and believes in each other because they all see each other as equal. DON’T create a division amongst players, parents and coaches because one group of players is treated differently than another group of players because of talent, skill and who their parents are.

10. Create a team full of leaders by leading by example and motivating, inspiring and encouraging them to act as leaders amongst themselves, towards their opponents, towards the umpires, towards their fans AND away from the field. DON’T be a poor example of how to carry yourself in moments of adversity, play favorites based on ability and talk down to them in a belittling manner because things aren’t going the way you think they should.

Development is such an important word when it comes to our youth and their leadership. As adults, at home and on the field, we must keep refining our leadership, evaluating our ways and understanding the big picture. This is all so much bigger than Baseball. This game, when viewed correctly, can be one of the most amazing life coaches there is.

Let’s stop being blinded by the “WIN” and start adjusting our thought process to focus on DEVELOPING PEOPLE through Baseball.

Chris Gissell (130 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.