Archive for Parents

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.


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 (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.


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 (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 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 (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.


Parents…STAY OUT OF IT!

“Let us do the coaching.” “Trust us.” “No parents allowed at practice.” “Don’t come to us with playing time concerns.” “I’ve dealt with parents like you.”

These are all terms used out there to send a direct message that the coaches will coach and the parents need to be fans.

Are there overbearing and controlling parents who coach from the bleachers? YES! Some just can’t help it. Do they make it tough for the coaches to do their job? ABSOLUTELY! Are they a problem in you and amateur sports? Without a doubt.

Coaches, here are a few why parents need to be more involved…

1) You are most often a temporary personality in their lives. If your choices and actions are causing mental harm and/or putting that child in a position where injury risks rise, then understand this, that person who gave birth to that child, raises them, spends every morning with them, spends every night with them, fixes them meals, does their homework with them and has heart to heart talks with them has some concerns, then guess what you need to do? Listen to their concerns, show them respect and you guys need to get on the same page. If you can’t make changes for the betterment of the children, don’t blame the parents when they remove their child from an abusive situation. There’s only one person to blame.

2) When amateur pitchers break, it’s a direct result of how their youth coaches handled them as pitchers. First problem here is that the coaches will do it, second problem is that the parents allow it. If a parent is on you about the amount of pitches you are throwing them, then there is obviously an issue. If they give you a number of pitches they will allow for their child to throw in a game, your answer should be “Okay”. Remember who that person is and who they are to that child. If you are out there doing things the right way, this wouldn’t be an issue in the first place.

3) Never forget you are a coach. Coach = Mentor, Role Model, Teacher and Leader. If how you relate to them as players, the umpires, your opponents and your players parents doesn’t resemble ALL of these roles and you have a difficult time leading by example, then stop blaming it on the parents for being the issue and take accountability for your actions and character. It’s time to make some changes.

If you are doing your job, helping kids get better and gain confidence. Providing opportunity for growth no matter age and ability. Holding poor attitudes accountable and teaching life lessons. Then you wouldn’t have any parents with concerns to begin with. When it’s laid out from the beginning and you stick to your word, there will never need to be any explaining. You either do your job with integrity or you don’t. One will come with complaints while the other won’t.

Coaches, stop complaining about parents who are looking out for their child. If you are finding that year after year you are having issues with parents, it’s time to realize that it may be you who needs to 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.


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.


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.


We Preach it, But We are NOT Teaching it!?

img_8098You won’t find a coach out there that doesn’t use the word “Development” when referring to their goals, approach or program. Here are 8 things we hear from across the country that completely contradict this important word…

1) Players are told to “Fake Bunt”, nearly every time, on the first pitch when a runner gets on 1B so they can steal second. These players who end the season with record setting SB numbers, are missing out on countless opportunities to learn how to run the bases and history is showing us that when the game catches up with their ability, they are proving to be underdeveloped on the base paths. This is when playing “real baseball” rules on a small field loses its genuine feel. It’s not realistic. So many development opportunities missed.

Development: Primary and secondary leads, read the ball angle out of the pitchers hand, hit and run, how to go first to third and how to read pick off attempts from righty and lefty pitchers.

2) Coach calls all of the pitches from the dugout. Often, this happens and the players have no option to shake it off and call something they feel more confident in. Even when they do have the option, they rarely will as the thinking part has been taken out of their hands. When they are trained to look to the dugout before every pitch to be told what to do, they become robots and stop thinking. They need to be given freedom and encouraged to think out there. Taught to observe and make educated decisions based on what they are seeing. There’s nothing better than a battery (pitcher & catcher) working together to keep the game moving quickly, keep the hitters off balance and to see them build confidence in themselves.

Development: Let them call what they want and go from there. Remember, any pitch in any count can be successful when executed. If they throw/call a pitch that may not have been the best option based on the situation, then talk about it in the dugout and see if they make a better choice next time. They will never learn to think if they aren’t allowed to.

3) Yanking a player off the field in the middle of an inning because of an error. Talk about a confidence killer! I can’t think of anything worse for confidence than this. They are embarrassed, scared to make a mistake and now losing trust in their coach because they talk about having confidence but then do this. This creates a culture of players playing scared because of what coach may do if they make a mistake.

Development: They need to be able to fail with confidence and know that their leader has their back and will be there for them to help them learn. Learn how to move on quickly so they can be fully focused for the next pitch. This breeds fear, the exact opposite of confidence.

4) Pigeon holing players to 1 or 2 positions all season. Great players have game awareness. Complete game awareness can only be developed when you see action from all over the field. Now, not every player can pitch, catch and there are safety concerns sometimes with infield positions, but when there isn’t and the same kid is at SS or 1B all season, not only are they not learning the game, but neither are their teammates. Needless to say, you are setting the team up for failure when those players are absent, or unable to play, and you haven’t developed anyone else to play those positions.

Development: The goal is for them to be able to go into HS and be able to say, with confidence, that they can play wherever they need them to. Chances are that there will be multiple players vying for the same positions. DEVELOP OPTIONS!

5) Pitching and defense is known to be what wins ball games. Yet, from LL to HS baseball, coaches don’t have pitchers throw bullpens and players consistently don’t get enough work on fielding the baseball and learning how to move around the field. Believe it though, everyone is taking batting practice. Sure, everyone loves to go out and mash but if the goal is to develop good ball players and play fundamentally sound baseball, we need to work on taking care of the baseball. When your pitchers are walking too many batters and leaving too many pitches up in the zone and your fielders are constantly having trouble doing their job, it may be time to adjust your priorities and routines.

Development: Pitchers should never go more than 3 days without getting on the mound, in a game or for a bullpen session. Their delivery and feel for that delivery is who they are. Feel and arm strength can go very quickly when you go beyond that number of days without work. Maintain a routine that allows for consistent high intensity mound work. Reps, reps, reps! Practice on fielding, backing up bases, cut off positions, PFP, receiving and blocking balls behind the plate. The list goes on and on. Put the bats down and focus on some defense.

6) All games, no practice. When do we get to work on the mistakes we are making on the field. Talking about them after the game is great, but we are foolish to think that will fix the issues. You need reps. You need to work on it over and over and over. Often, there is too much talking but not enough work.

Development: Better programs have regularly scheduled practices. It’s very hard to work on things in a competitive setting. Practice is where you can recreate the situation, slow it down, discuss it, work on it and put your team in a better spot to succeed when the opportunity arrises again, because you know it will.

7) No individual feedback. No evaluation. When a pitcher’s done, there’s no coach discussing how it went. When a player makes a mistake, there’s no coach explaining what went wrong. When a hitter has a rough day, there’s no coach helping to keep their spirits up.

Development: Coaches, this is in our job title. Evaluate and give feedback. See where their mind is at and go from there. Good day or bad day, what can we learn from it? The teaching should never end.

8) Rewarding poor sportsmanship and poor attitudes with playing time. This may be the biggest one for me. This comes down to developing qualities and characteristics in a person that will carry them through life. Pouting, sitting on the bench while everyone else is on the fence, disrespecting umpires, talking trash to opponents, disrespecting teammates and coaches and poor decisions off the field. Letting it slide because they are one of the better players and then treating the less talented players differently when doing the same things. This may be leadership at it’s worst. Ignoring the behavior by giving playing time because there is no one else to play that position is a horrible excuse. All that means is we didn’t do our job in developing others for that position.

Development: Focus on developing quality people. What we allow in these situations is what we are teaching. Realize it or not, you are developing entitlement in that child. One day, that kids’ actions and selfishness will come back and bite them. We are setting them up for failure by allowing it now, and all for what?

When we accept the position as “Coach”, we are accepting the position as a motivator, an encourager, a leader, a mentor and a teacher. Teach them the game. Be more focused on developing and preparing them for their future. These are kids and too often we see, and hear about, adults treating them like they are adults. They are kids who are trying to figure out life. When the game is over and they are at home, they want to watch cartoons and play “I spy” or some silly video game. We are more than a baseball coach, we are a life coach. I beg you to please take it seriously. Understand your role and never forget how old they are, how fragile their minds are, no matter how big and strong they appear, and be a compassionate leader.

Development…What does this word mean to you?

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.