Archive for Coaching

45 Days

Everything happens the exact way it’s meant to happen.

I spent the first 6 years of my career working my way up the Cubs minor league system finally reaching AAA in that 6th season. I was 23 years old at the time and one step away from the big leagues. They asked me to return for a 7th season but I was now a minor league free agent so I chose to give another organization a shot.

That off season I signed with the Astros but was let go with a few days left in minor league spring training. Through contacts I ended up signing with the Rockies a few days later and was assigned to their AAA team and made it there for opening day. This was when I met the coach whose approach would change my career and life. I learned more that year than I remember in all the years prior. I do believe timing and maturity played a part in that. I went on to have the best year of my career but still no call from the big league team.

After the season I became a free agent again and signed with the Giants. I went with their AAA team to start the season but was once again let go before the season even started. I spent the next month at home waiting for the next opportunity which ended up coming from my former organization, the Rockies. Within a week I was back with their AAA team and somehow ended up having an even better season than the one before. I finished that season in the big leagues where I ended up with “45 days” of MLB service time.

That’s not a substantial number in comparison to many of the guys I got to play with and compete against but it was life changing and the result of patience and a lot of work.

After that season they did not offer me a contract making me a free agent once again. That winter the Cardinals called and the next season I was assigned to their AAA team and went on to have a strong season, was in the top 5 in the league in multiple categories and the starting pitcher for the all star game. Though most likely deserved, no call came from the big league team that year either.

That winter came a call we never expected. An offer from a team in Japan. After weeks of negotiation, we agreed on life changing terms. I spent the next two years playing for the Seibu Lions of Japans version of our Major Leagues. What an experience!

After those two years I played for two more seasons, won the AAA championship with the Sacramento Rivercats (AAA for the Athletics) and walked away on my terms.

Though my career didn’t play out as I thought and hoped it would it played out exactly how it was suppose to. From the phone calls that didn’t come to the days where I was the worst player on the field to the moments I got to spend with men who were true leaders and pioneers in the game, I’ll forever be grateful for those 45 days but even more thankful for what those 14 years gave me.

Life challenges us all in different ways. Take it all in, be in the moment and trust the process.

Chris Gissell (147 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 Son,

I love you. There are some things my father taught me growing up that I have the honor of now passing down to you. Below is a list of life lessons he taught me mixed with other lessons my path has given me. Read them, think about them and use them to help guide you through your life…

– The golden rule “Treat others how you would want them to treat you and your loved ones.”
– Our actions will always speak louder than our words. We must be an example of what we say.
– Give. Give as much as you can. Give from your heart. Give without the need for recognition.
– Be Humble. Let others talk about your success, not you. People appreciate Humble. Being Humble will make it much easier to handle the ups and downs life will give you.
– Girls are special. Treat them with respect at all times. Open doors for them. Pull out the chair for them. Give them flowers just because. NEVER forget special occasions!
– No matter someones ethnicity, gender, athletic abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, where they live, what they wear or what they look like, they are people. Treat them with respect.
– Surround yourself with people of integrity.
– Be a leader. Be an example. Always use your critical thinking skills to come to your own conclusions.
– You will come across many different attitudes in your life. Learn from them about the type of person you want to be and the type you don’t want to be. They all have a purpose.
– Find ways to make a difference in the lives of others. Lift them up. Help them believe in themselves and remember a thousand words of encouragement can be ruined by one belittling comment.
– Beware of your pride and ego. You must control them and not let them control you.
– Take charge, don’t wait for others to do things for you. Success is dependent on YOUR attitude, effort, creativeness, consistency, work ethic, perseverance/grit and trustworthiness.
– When you fail, and you will fail, don’t get bitter, find ways to get better.
– When problems occur, before blaming and making excuses, you must look in the mirror first. Evaluate your actions and choices with sincere honesty. Be accountable for your actions and decisions.
– When everything around you is chaotic, you must be able to keep a clear mind to make the right educated decisions. Practice this often. Breathe.
– Hate will take years off your life. It clouds our judgement and prevents us from seeing the whole picture. Beware of this powerful emotion.
– Be fearless, be thoughtful, be kind, be passionate and be grateful everyday as tomorrow is NEVER promised.
– When you speak, speak with compassion AND brutal honesty. Sometimes it’s hard to do and difficult for others to hear but necessary for transparency and sincere relationships.
– Stay off your phone while driving. NEVER follow the car in front of you too close and always be aware of what others are doing around you.
– Your mother loves you more than you can imagine. Never fail to realize how much she has done, and does, for you and your brother and sister. When you are out on your own, make sure to be in touch with her often.
– The biggest test for you one day will be when your own child is born. It will test your mental toughness. It will test your relationship. It will force you to really grow up.
– Clean up after yourself, take care of yourself, eat right, make exercise a part of your life, do household chores and push your chair in.
– Never underestimate a firm handshake and eye contact.
– THE most important and toughest job you will have in life will be raising another human being. You will make mistakes but the most important part is learning from them so you can one day teach your own children from those lessons.

You are a blessing. I am excited for what lies ahead for you. Life is precious and we never know how long we have. Make the most of what it and enjoy every minute.

Son…I Love You.
Love, Dad

Chris Gissell (147 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.

How Do I Help You Understand?

It just doesn’t matter. There is a GREAT chance they will never remember. It’s NEVER as bad as we think it is…The wins, the losses, being on a losing team, playing with what we believe to be talent below our child’s ability. It just doesn’t matter!!

I’ve been there. Blessed with the opportunity most will only get to dream of. Played with guys who came from NOTHING. Played on the worst team in the league. Played on the team that walked away with the ring. Had middle infielders who led the league in errors and had fielders who ended up being big league all stars. I played Little League, Babe Ruth and American Legion ball. Played no more than 2 to 3 dozen games in a season as a youth. Had coaches who were over the top, but cared. Played for coaches who had no sense being in the position they were in. Played for coaches who didn’t teach. You name it, there is a good chance I’ve been through it personally or have seen others go through it.

We have this obsession with playing on THE BEST team. We think being on a sub .500 team is a travesty. We think playing with and against average, or below average, talent will stunt our players growth. We think…

We think a little too much at times. We try to control everything a little too much at times. WE need to chill out.
I’m going to be honest and I know a lot won’t want to hear or admit this, but this is an adult issue. We get frustrated watching sloppy baseball. We lack patience for all of it. We drink the kool-aid and are sold on “this is what you should do” instead of taking the time to educate ourselves. SLOW DOWN!

That poor baseball, those L’s, those W’s…They just don’t matter. What does matter…Passion for the game, determination to get better, using the lessons, being a great teammate, raising leaders, how we behave as parents, how we behave as coaches, the example we give, what we talk about at home with our kids, how we help them deal with failure, how we help them handle success…What does matter is the people we are raising.

Adults, we must check ourselves. Stop making the GAME bigger than what it is. Help them get the most out of what God gave them. If they truly love the game, you will see it in their eyes. You will see it in how they work. You will see it when they are on a losing team just as you would if they were on a wining team, BECAUSE THEY LOVE THE GAME.

Wins, Losses, Trophies, Seeding…Nope, they just don’t matter. Mom, Dad, Coach, Grandpa, Grandma, your mindset matters. Your leadership matters. Their Character matters. Baseball is temporary, but the lessons are forever. Use the GAME to prepare them for LIFE. That’s what matters.

Chris Gissell (147 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.


No matter what level we are coaching at, we are developing minds. We are developing attitudes. We are teaching right from wrong. We are their leader and we are preparing them for life.

Having worked with, coached and trained, players ranging from 4 years old to 30 year old professionals, there’s one common theme with all of them. They need confidence. They will not be able to perform to their potential if they don’t have it. They need to believe and it’s hard to believe when they don’t have the support of those around them. Those being their teammates, coaches, parents, teachers, siblings, friends, etc.

The psyche is a fragile thing. When it breaks, by the players doing or by outside actions, the toughest part can often be putting it back together. This is where great leadership comes in. Just as a moment of poorly timed criticism can break a spirit, a moment of perfectly timed faith and uplifting words can bring ones attitude from the bottom to the top.

Strong leadership understands the levels of mental toughness. They understand and never forget how tough this game is. Quality leadership will never raise it’s voice out of anger to make them feel better but will only raise their voice in a motivating manner. That is leadership. That is looking to bring the confidence out in everyone and not trying to make them feel bad for their shortcomings.

Berating, belittling, putting down, demoralizing, showing up and calling out does no good for anyone. All it will do is instill fear, hatred, anger and break trust. It can break a team. This is poor leadership and can shatter the one thing they need most, their confidence.

Good Leadership is compassionate. Strong Leadership speaks the truth, even when it’s hard to hear, but will always give a solution. Quality Leadership has trust where poor leadership will struggle to keep it. Great Leadership can relate to different ages and is never biased towards talent and ability. Servant Leadership speaks with confidence to build confidence in those around them and knows the impact their words can have in a moment of failure.
Confidence is key to success on and off the field.


Chris Gissell (147 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.

A Few Things…

A few things we’ve learned over the years:

• Baseball is a TOUGH game.
• Complainers are miserable to be around.
• Some talk while others do.
• We will spend more of our life not playing baseball than playing.
• Athleticism is temporary.
• Character is forever.
• Actions DO speak louder than words.
• The truth scares a lot of people so they choose to not listen at all.
• Entitlement is an adult issue that can go back generations. To help this generation get better, ours must get better first.
• Drama follows ego and pride. Stay away from it.
• Everyone is different and we must respect that even if we don’t see eye to eye.
• You can’t force passion for the game.
• The most important piece on the field is the leadership, no matter the level of ball.
• Development is simply impossible without opportunity.
• Puberty is the number one piece to player development, AND YOU CAN’T RUSH IT.
• The rush attached to winning often clouds judgement.
• There’s nothing better than seeing a kid listen, learn, apply and gain confidence.
• Strong leadership is the difference maker. Find it and hold onto it.
• No matter our age, we must become good self evaluators.
• No matter our age, we must be coachable.
• Coach = Teacher
• Teacher = Leader
• Leader = Difference Maker
• The goal is for kids to learn, grow confidence and be excited for the future.
• Accountability may be our weakest trait as humans. Let’s get better. Let’s be better.
• In the end, the difference we made in others lives is what will matter most, not our W/L record. REMEMBER THAT.

Chris Gissell (147 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 Matters Most

What’s the main objective? What’s the ultimate goal? What does this all lead to? Is it fame? Is it fortune? Is it success? Is it about us? Is it about them? What is it??

Let me give you a bit of my personal highs and lows in the game and as a person. But while I list them out, understand that these achievements and failures are not listed to say look at what I have done, they do not define me as a person, coach or athlete, but to show you the ups and downs I have experienced as a player and person and how they all played a part in who I am today.

– Played majors in LL as a 9 year old.
– Was a LL all star.
– Played LL as a 13 & 14 year old.
– Pitched from 46′ at 12 years old and then jumped to the big field as a 13 year old and didn’t start learning HS rules until then (have to mention this as so many these days think if you wait until this age you have no chance).
– Also played basketball and football as a youth.
– Moved to a new state before freshman year of HS.
– Had to convince HS coach to give me an opportunity as a freshman as to them I was just a new kid and they already had their starters picked out.
– Was NOT a four year varsity player (2 years).
– Was NOT a good student as a freshman and sophomore.
– Had a very rough patch as a person/son as a sophomore.
– Chose the wrong group of friends during those years.
– Did not get good SAT scores.
– Signed to attend a major college.
– Was drafted in the 4th round after being led to believe it would be the 1st.
– Had an up and down first half of my professional career.
– 1st child born in 7th year of career, 2nd in 9th year and 3rd during the 12th year.
– Was released twice before ever pitching in the big leagues.
– Right timing, right coach or a combination of the two, I started to finally figure it out as a 25 year old.
– Had multiple seasons where my performance was deserving of a call up to the big leagues that never came.
– Finished with 14 years pitched with roughly 1500 innings pitched, over 1200 strikeouts, 500+ walks allowed, 130+ HR’s allowed in my minor league career, lost many and won many with my fondest memory being giving up #160 to Pujols that went nearly 500 ft!
– Had plenty of days I was great and plenty of days where I was flat out awful. In the end, the days I sucked is why I was able to achieve what I did.
– Was a part of a failed indoor facility in my home town.
– Coached in the minor leagues with the Angels for 3 years, left on my own terms, and now get to follow at least a dozen former players now in the show.
– Now am blessed to mentor and work with many in our local community.

Again, this list is to give you a better understanding of what I have personally experienced, gone through as an athlete, person and coach and to hopefully really help you understand that when I say this matters or that matters, it’s not just smoke. Not just something I have read about in a book. Not just something out of a story someone told me, it’s ALL from personal experience, from working with others and helping/teaching them how to grow and maneuver this crazy sports world.

So now let’s talk about this a bit. What matters most? Is it being an all star? Is it playing with and against the best talent? Is it playing for the so called “best” organization? Is it traveling all over the country to play? Is it committing to a D1 school? Is it being drafted? Is it playing in the big leagues?

All tremendous achievements and all goals attained BUT what if none of these things happen for you or your child? Be it because of not developing early, not being able to afford the travel and fees associated with the “best” program or not having the talent to play college baseball or reach the big leagues. Does that mean you are a failure? If you are so consumed with the thought that these are the only definitions of success, then yes, in YOUR mind you are a failure. If you let these ideas define you, you will behave like a failure.

Coming from someone who was blessed to accomplish what most will not, please take my word for this, IT’S NOT WHAT MATTERS MOST!

Who you become as a person, MATTERS MOST. The people you raise as a parent, MATTERS MOST. The people you help along your way, MATTERS MOST. The difference you make in the lives of others, MATTERS MOST…The energy you put out there, MATTER MOST. PERIOD!!

**The PROCESS that each success and failure requires, the lessons you have learned and will learn, how you grow as a person and the characteristic traits you will develop, the toughness and compassion, the determination and will, the grit and perseverance, the me attitude that transforms into a you attitude, IS WHAT MATTERS MOST.

Achievements are goals attained. We all have our own talents, our own goals, our own dreams. As you work towards each and every one of them, pay attention to the PROCESS. The work ethic you are acquiring, the lessons you are learning, the person you are becoming, the type of leader you are growing into because…THIS IS WHAT MATTERS MOST.

Chris Gissell (147 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.

Conditioning…Distance Running

Day 1 = 20-30 minute run
Day 2 = 10-12 poles
Day 3 = 8-10 half pole sprints
Day 4 = 8-10 30 yard sprints
Day 5 = Game

That’s an example of what my generation of starting pitchers would do for conditioning (just the running part) between starts. Boy have times changed! For the last half of my career, I would include sprint work with the distance work on days 1 & 2 simply because I felt I would benefit from it.

Towards the end of my career, we started to see some changes in the approach to distance running and the benefits, or lack of benefits as many argue, pertaining to baseball players and more specifically, pitchers.

When you think about it, if a pitcher were to throw 100 pitches and their delivery took 1-2 seconds to complete from start to release, you’re looking at between 2-3 minutes of combined physical exertion for that athlete. Doesn’t seem like a lot I know, but take my word for it, 100 pitches thrown with max effort and max focus over the course of a 2-3 hour game can be extremely exhausting, especially during a day game in the mid west in August!

With that in mind, this is the reason for a shift in thinking and getting away from distance training and spending more time on quick/short burst training. A starters conditioning routine these days may look something like this…

Day 1 = 10-12 sprint poles
Day 2 = 10-12 60 yard sprints
Day 3 = Agility Work
Day 4 = 8-10 30 yard sprints
Day 5 = Game

As a player, I loved the sprint work and grew to enjoy, and look forward to, those distance days. Maybe the distance work contradicts the explosive fast twitch way of playing the game BUT there is one major thing that was very hard for us former players to get the trainers and strength and conditioning coaches to realize…The mental piece. The time to reflect on our performance. The mental toughness you develop when needing to push through that last 5-10 minutes when you would love to stop. The mental & physical stamina you are developing, very similar to competing and when your tank is starting to run out but your team needs you for another 1-2 innings.

It’s definitely a tough argument were both sides feel very strongly about their beliefs. You have the player side who performed, relied on and saw distance running as a piece to their success and then the other side which never performed for a living but has all the science based research and information to back their side of the argument.

In the end, I think they both should be, and can be, incorporated into weekly conditioning routines. They all have their PHYSICAL & MENTAL benefits. It’s arrogant to ignore either side of the argument. Players who end up playing the game for a long time will end up developing their own routine that they enjoy and works for them.

Conditioning is a part of the game. It’s a part of being a well rounded athlete. Develop, set a routine and make it a habit! Enjoy!!

Chris Gissell (147 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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just because we may be TEMPORARY, that doesn’t mean we can’t make a positive PERMANENT impact. Every decision and choice we make needs to be forward focused with being an example in mind. Relentless Leadership leads to positive habits.

Chris Gissell (147 Posts)

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

Sportsmanship is…

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

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

Chris Gissell (147 Posts)

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

Opportunity: Given vs. Earned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Gissell (147 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.

Our False View of Failure

I’ve recently started to notice a trend amongst my students which is honestly a little disturbing. Now, this has probably been happening since time began but once I noticed it and started to pay attention to it, I realized I may have been missing something with all of them pertaining this important life lesson.

A couple months ago I was with a couple students and we were discussing their weekend of baseball. Their description…”Not Good!” I thought…”Well that doesn’t sound good!”

As we got further into it and went game by game discussing team and individual performance, it became very apparent, TO ME, that they had a GREAT weekend but unfortunately lost in the championship game of the local tournament they were playing in. They won 3 and lost 1. If my math is correct, that is a .750 winning percentage!! We do that for a whole season and we have a great shot at finishing at the top of the standings and making the post-season. In this generation though we are constantly in sprint mode and seem to forget about the process of the marathon thus treating a 2-3 day tournament like it’s a big league playoff series and your season is on the line. And then doing this a dozen times, sometimes more, over the course of a season.

In this situation, these young men failed to recognize their teams success over that weekend and were only focused on that last game. From there we discussed why they were seeing the game that way, how that attitude affects performance and then talked about the process of getting better by how we view failure. I went on to share with them how at the higher levels of this game we always had a goal of splitting the series on the road and winning it at home. So in a four game series in our opponents park taking two and while at home taking three. Anything more than that was bonus. We did that for a whole season and again, we will finish in the standings where we want to be and get to play a little longer that season.

As parents and coaches, when we put so much emphasis on those failures and fail to recognize success, WE are instilling an attitude of being afraid of failure versus an attitude of embracing failure and all the lessons that come from them. We don’t grow without failure. We don’t figure things out without failure. We don’t develop mental toughness without failure. We don’t become great without failure.

One of our most important jobs, which is often missed, is preparing them to fail. The great ones fail very well. They process it very well. They are the ones who bounce back quicker and are ready to take advantage of those who crumble at the sign of adversity when their back is against the wall. There is so much failure in this game that if we are so consumed with that negative stuff, and as coach or parent that is what we give most of our attention to, we will never be fully prepared to succeed. Sure, we may talk a big game, have all the right things to say, work really hard and hustle consistently BUT that negative mindset, instilled by those around us/them, will be our/their demise!

Going 0-4 at the plate with 3 line drive outs and a strike out looks like a bad day to many because there is a zero in the hit column, but in my book that’s a solid day at the plate. Learn about “Quality At-Bats” and you will instantly look at the game a little different. Pitching 6 innings, giving up 2 earned runs with a few hits allowed and a couple walks along with a handful of strikeouts but getting tagged with the “L” is a great day on the mound but too many focus on that “L”. It sucks that the team lost but you controlled what you could control and for individual confidence, that’s what we need to recognize.

This is a team game but also a very individual game at the same time. For us to contribute to our team the best we possibly can, we must be individually prepared and confident at all times.

Yes, success breeds confidence but we will all fail at some point and the great ones are always prepared to fail while always having a way of putting a positive spin on those moments.

Chris Gissell (147 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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Gissell (147 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.

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 (147 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…

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. With that said, if a player feels it helps them, then by all means let them ice. It definitely won’t hurt them.

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 (147 Posts)

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

When Good is not Enough

So much negativity…

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

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

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

Let me give you an example…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Gissell (147 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.