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The Little League Mom
Today was one of those days. You know those days, one of those days when it’s all worth it! Today was one of those days. Why? One of my players hit her first home run today! Big deal you say right? Yeah, you are right! It is a big deal! Unlike baseball, where we see plenty of home runs, home runs in softball are far and few between. In fact, this is the first one I have ever had the privilege of being on the field as a coach to witness! We have given up a few, but never had one. And this one was extra special.
What made it so special? Well, the fact that I have been coaching this girl off and on since she was 7 years old during the years our daughter’s ages crossed. I coach her on every team she plays on and have been working on her swing for years. She is a strong girl, it was inevitable, but she has spent the last year dedicated to becoming a great hitter. And today she hit her first home run! It won’t be her last.
Don’t get me wrong, as with every player, I simply point, it is up to them to make the changes and do the work, and to quote her tonight, “I have been focusing really hard in practice to do that.” That is the understatement of the century! She was a long time coming and should be proud.
I won’t go into the details about how we had to completely change her entire swing, she had to work on getting through the ball, and she had to believe in and commit to her efforts. But know that she had a long way to go and she made sure to dedicate herself to success.
Today, I am a proud coach, and I know she is sitting at home with the ball in her hand and, as her mom puts it, “a glow about her.” And I have to admit, I kinda have one too!
Ok, so we all have heard about Pinterest right? The place where all the ladies hang out and swap recipes and pictures and apparently it is really addictive? I don’t know, not sure I understand, of course, I am not born with the proper equipment. I have however, found a site for guys!
Fishypic, yeah, that’s what I said, Fishypic. You know how you always want to swap your stories, brag about your latest catches, or share the latest image of your kid’s first catch! Well, this is the site to do it! Check it out! It’s a really cool site.
After hosting the Florida State Championships, there is no doubt in my mind that the Little League International tournament is the Granddaddy of them all. I know there are a number of other organizations out there, but none equal the Little League tournament. Let’s take a look at the other options.
First, there are other league options out there. I won’t list them by name, but we all know of another organization that offers children an option to play. They also have international tournaments of sorts, but nothing on the scale of the Little League tournament. However, the one thing that makes them less genuine than the Little League tournament is that there is no need to win to advance.
Teams that do not win their local tournaments are allowed to advance in other organizations. Hardly a reason to win any more is there? In Little League you have to win your District, then your Section, then your State, then your Region and THEN you are in the World Series! You have to perform to advance, not simply do “good enough.”
Ironic, that many call Little League “feel good” or “league ball.” First, you have to make the All-Star team in your LOCAL and WELL DEFINED AND ENFORCED league boundaries, and then you have to win to advance! While tournament organizations may offer better teams to compete against and I encourage everyone wishing to improve their game to play these tournaments, they are simply about the money, plain and simple, pay and you can play.
Want to make it to a state tournament in a tournament organization? Pay the fee, you are in. There is one organization that holds numerous state championships in the great state of Florida. Huh? Isn’t there supposed to be only one state champion? And the World Series? Same teams that compete in the local and state championships and every team has numerous “guest” players on their roster.
Again, I think you should play in these, but still no requirement to actually earn you way into them or win to advance. In fact, the same thing that these organizations say about Little League how it is “feel good” is practiced in these organizations as they have multiple levels of state champions! Good for us, for sure, we usually are in the silver bracket, but certainly nothing compared to the “win or go home” that exists at EVERY level of the Little League tournament.
Anybody can get a bunch of great players together and go win a tournament, not a real challenge there. But let’s see you accomplish the things our leagues have done here. In our league, we have only 300 kids yet we have 3 district champions, 1 runner up, and 2 sectional runner ups. Our neighboring league had 2 sectional champions AND a state championship runner up, they have about 120 kids or so. Now that is an accomplishment!
Meanwhile, next week we will all sit down to watch the ONLY true World Series Championship tournament on the planet. We can watch with confidence knowing EVERY team from 8 regions in the United States and 8 regions in the rest of the world will come from 1 local league, have won their district, section, state, and region, and will have worked to earn their position in the Little League World Series!
Now there is a true international tournament!
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I am all for online education. I received my associates, bachelors, and masters online. Some people don’t think you learn properly online, but I know better. Learning online you have to actually research all your information, learn it yourself, and then demonstrate that you do actually understand what you have learned. Most of the learning occurs in the journey.
However, sometimes we need a little extra help be it with online or traditional learning. This is where Tudorhub.com comes in by offering you a
tutor online. My daughter is now a senior in high school and my days of helping her with her math homework have long since passed. She can go to tudorhub.com and get the help she needs any time of the day or night. It is a wonderful thing!
You can also submit your final projects to them and they will review and point out your deficiencies. It is the easiest way to gain access to a bunch of knowledgeable people to help you with your school work. So next time you get stuck on that math problem or need that essay reviewed, check out tudorhub.com. Their experts will be happy to help you!
Hideki Matsui catching a fly ball during the Yankees game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is such a difficult
game to play. It is a game of failures where if you succeed 3 out of 10 times you can earn millions of dollars! That is one of the hardest things to teach young players. That they have to let the game come to them, they cannot force it. In fact, the more they do force it, the worse they get!
I see this most often when learning to catch fly balls and learning to hit. They lunge forward trying to hit the ball before it gets to them. What they really need to do is sit back and let the ball get deep into their driving zone. The other thing they do, and this is mainly the younger players, is immediately run forward on a fly ball, every time the ball drops behind them.
To counteract overrunning the fly ball, have the player take one step back immediately at contact. It is much easier to get a feel for where it is going to land and the player can come forward much faster than they move backwards. Every time the ball lands behind a player I say, “where was your first step?” they answer, “forward.” I say, “where did the ball land?” they answer, “Behind me.” After about the millionth time they almost get it.
So make sure you are always preaching to your players to sit back and let the game come to them. Success in this sport takes time, patience, and persistence. Character traits anyone would love to develop.
I used to be pretty good at golf, had my handicap down to 9, was MVP on the “B” team at Stoneleigh Golf Club in Round Hill, VA and held “executive staff meetings” every Friday morning on the course. Paid for by a vendor of course! Then I had kids! And poof, no time for golf, I discovered coaching!
My parents raised me on the golf course. From the age of 5 I was thrown on the back of the cart, given a sawed off club, and told to keep up. See, I was a pleasant surprise, my parents were supposed to be done raising kids and, “poof”, there I was! This turned out to be a great thing for my golf game as learning at an early age is truly the best way.
Another thing that can make your game great is good
Golf Clubs. Some of my favorite clubs are Cleveland golf wedges. I love flying high over a trap and sticking the ball right next to a pin. And the once a year I do it, it is the greatest feeling in the world! No matter what degree wedge you are looking for, you won’t find one better than Clevelands. They also have a full line of putters, drivers, and hybrids.
So, I continue to count the bittersweet days until I have more time to work my golf game. This time I am getting the handicap to 5 with Cleveland at my side!
Softball (Photo credit: borisvolodnikov)
You hear life coaches talk about it all the time. “Get out of your comfort zone, the good stuff makes you nervous” etc and it is true. But in baseball/softball there is an addition dimension to this expression. Don’t be afraid to succeed!
See, the harder you work at this game, the harder it becomes. “It’s not football” said
Jessica Mendoza during the regionals in the College World Series last weekend. She said this in reference to a player who was in a bit of a slump and had been pressing. Only pressing in softball just makes it harder! Her point was, if it was football you could just play harder, exert more energy and run over your opponent, but trying that in softball simply makes it harder.
At the younger ages I see kids so afraid to fail that they don’t give themselves a chance to succeed. You see it all the time, Johnny is so afraid of striking out that he doesn’t even swing hoping for a walk and then he ends up striking out anyway. Jenny is so afraid of not making contact that instead of taking a rip and driving the ball she just makes a weak effort that doesn’t even get past the pitcher, 1-3, easy out.
So how do we as coaches encourage them to overcome this fear? Well, the answer is simple actually. Make it OK to fail! If the kid isn’t afraid to fail, they will inevitably succeed! It is almost magic. As they learn to succeed, suddenly they swing with power, make plays with confidence, and begin to win on a regular basis. All because you made it ok to fail in the first place.
Ok, I admit it, I have never ridden a horse! I had a great softball player one time who decided she wanted to lead the
Equestrian Life, but I never really got it. I know on my favorite show Mad Men Donald Draper’s wife was hanging out riding with her friends, they seemed to enjoy it.
If I did right, I think I would be a major customer of the Manhatten Saddlery company thought. You can
get riding apparel here. It appears they have everything the avid equestrian would need including boots, chaps, tack and saddles. They have some really cool new pics for Manhattan Saddlery as well.
I do admit I watch the equestrian events in the Olympics and act like I am a pro. I actually enjoy the steeple chase events and I always watch the Kentucky Derby. This year we have a triple crown contender as well, so I believe the sport is alive and well. So if you ride, make sure you visit Manhattan Saddlery.
Found this on ESPN. Not big on trick plays, but in a key situation, you never know!
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