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Archive for the ‘think about it’ Category

cincireds*Cincinnati Reds Scout* Andy Swenson shares his Top 5 ways for youth ballplayers to improve their mental approach.  Watch, Learn, Listen, Absorb, and Practice.

Blogger Bio

Andy Swenson

Andy Swenson brings a very impressive baseball resume to BaseballThink. He has scouted for five major league teams including the Pirates, Astros, Brewers, Padres, and currently with the Reds.  Andy has also served in various coaching and management positions in Idaho collegiate and amateur baseball.  Currently, he is the owner/operator of the Swenson Baseball Company. The Swenson glove line is used by professional and amateur players across the country.

Top 5 ways for youth ballplayers to improve their mental approach.

1. Watch– When attending higher level games (high school, college, professional), watch the player at the position you play and observe his actions and demeanor on and off the field.  Before and after each pitch, watch his preparation, what he does after each pitch, and how he communicates to his teammates.

2. Learn Observation from players older than yourself is the best way to learn how to play the game, talk the game, and respect the game.  No player is bigger than the game of baseball.  It has been around way before you were here and it will be around long after you are gone.

3. Listen– Listen to baseball discussions amongst coaches, players, announcers, and even parents as experience is key to growing as a player on and off the diamond.  Some of the best baseball experiences in my lifetime were sitting around and listening to my late grandfather and his friends talk about the game and how they approached certain situations in their professional playing days.

4. Absorb– Be a sponge to all things related to the game as it will only make you a better player as your skills expand and you get stronger as an individual player.  Not everything you hear will be correct as it relates to the game, but as you grow older you will be able to discern what is correct and what is not while making a decision for yourself based on what you believe in and have been taught.

5. Practice– Perform proper mechanics as often and intensely as you can for short durations of time.  Long practices with poor mechanics will only hammer the bad tendencies into a player’s arsenal and that is detrimental to the development of you as a player.  The phrase ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ is only true if the practice is with sound/solid/proper mechanics, otherwise practice with bad mechanics will only make perfect outcomes for the opposing teams as wins will be theirs and not yours.

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check swing

Did he go? The answer is simple. “No he did not” OR “Yes he did.” Never was there such a simple answer for such a complicated situation.

For such a difficult call, we players don’t have much sympathy for the umpire in this situation. The call is usually followed by remarks like, “You’ve got to be kidding me” OR “That’s terrible” OR (some things I choose not to mention in this blog).

Judging if a batters swings or does not swing is more of an art than a science. It is probably one of the toughest calls an umpire has to make. There are equally tough calls like determining if a lefty balks when crossing the invisible 45 degree line or determining if a ball was trapped or caught in the air. The difference is that check swings occur much more frequently. When it comes to determining if a batter offers at a pitch, all sorts of ambiguity enters the equation.

check swing argument

How does an umpire make this call? I’ve heard: “It is a swing if the batter’s wrists break.” I’ve heard: “It is a swing if the bat crosses an invisible plane that extends across the front of home plate.” Do we really expect our umpires to see these things? There must be a better way.

I took it upon myself to settle this argument, and checked the official major league baseball rules out of my local public library.  Surprisingly, there is no mention of a “check swing” anywhere in the official rules of baseball.  Rule 2.0 states that  “A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which is struck at by the batter and is missed.”  That’s what our umpires are working with. Did the batter strike at the ball or did he not strike at the ball? It’s a judgment call. And, it’s an even tougher judgment call for umpires standing behind the mound.

So…the next time an umpire in your game remarks “No he did not” when you think he should have yelled “Yes he did,” maybe you should respond with “Tough one to see” or “Your guess is as good as mine.”

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Cleveland Indians Scout, Phil Nicoletti gives some great insight into what he looks for in an aspiring major leaguer beyond baseball skills.

philnicoletti

Nick coaching the Atlantic City Surf

1. As a MLB scout when I attend a game I am not always looking for the potential prospect to shine. Yes, it is always nice to see a player that you are looking at go 4-4, but you already know this guy has tools or you would not be looking at him. But, how does he handle failure? I personally want to see a player fail before I make my final write-up on a guy. I want to see how a guy carries himself after going 0-4 with 3 K’s. Does he hang his head? Does his temper get the best of him? Does he take his failures at the plate with him to the field? All of these things are critical questions I ask myself before writing a final report on a guy.

2. One thing that I have always believed in, and one thing I have always been taught is RESPECT for the game… I have written off potential prospects on this factor alone… I do not care if a guy has all of the talent in the world… if he does not respect the game, his opponents, teammates, and umpires, I do not want him. Nobody is bigger than the game, and I always tell players, ” You can’t cheat, or disrespect the baseball Gods… they are always watching.”

3. Remember you never know who is watching from the stands. Nobody likes to go to a game and see a guy cursing, throwing their equipment, or bad-mouthing the other team. I tell guys to act on the field as if they were in their own homes. I do not care to see guys wearing jewelry, baggy uniforms, pants tucked into their cleats, or pulled over their cleats. It’s a privilege to wear the uniform, not a right!

4. Hustle is another key ingredient I look for in a player. When a guy dogs it down the baseline or walks off the field, I write this down as a red flag. There is no excuse to not hustle.  I never like to see a guy walking on the baseball field. My rule is my guys must always beat the other team onto and off of the field. It should take no more than 7 seconds to come off the field.

bc-vs-uva-011

5. Baseball Etiquette… I believe in baseball etiquette, and very much dislike seeing guys playing catch in front of the dugout, playing with un-tucked jerseys, crooked hats, or dirty uniforms. Using the right language when on the field.. Knowing baseball terminology.. Pitchers warming up in the bullpen with jackets on, wearing batting gloves on your throwing hand, etc.. All of these things make a huge impact on scouts.. And as an aspiring professional it’s important to remember you only have one chance to make a first impression on a scout.

Blogger Bio
Phil is in his third year as an Associate Area Scout for the Cleveland Indians Baseball Organization. He also runs a pitching academy out of El Paso Texas, where he is in his first year as assistant coach for the El Paso Diablos (an independent professional team). Originally from the East Coast, Phil grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts where he attended Lynn English High School. Phil still holds the school’s all-time record for strikeouts in a game and strikeouts in a single season.

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I attended the Mid Atlantic Championship game of the Little League World Series last night. The winner advanced to the main event in Williamsport, PA. One thing I took away from the game was the pure joy of the kids. They are out there playing for the love of the game. If you find yourself getting frustrated with the game because of personal or team struggles, I recommend taking in a little league game to make yourself realize why you are playing this great game.

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My amateur baseball team has had a number of rainouts in the past few weeks. Because the weather has been so unpredictable, we have actually made the trip to the field before the game has been postponed. With our whole team at the field and no game in sight, what should we do? Does anybody have any suggestions on productive ways a team can use this time?

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From little league to high school ball to college and beyond, I have observed a common trend. There IS such a thing as opening day butterflies. There is something about having a fresh beginning (a winter off from the game) that invokes anxiety during game 1.

The question is….Is there anything you can do to slow those heartbeats? Are there strategies you can take (particularly early in the game) to avoid nervous errors?

My best advice is to acknowledge the jitters. Talk with your team about how it is normal to be overly excited and how the other team is feeling the same way. Make it a team goal to take advantage of the fact that your opponents will be feeling this way.

Maybe you think this is psychobabble. What does everybody think?

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