Looking back it has been quite and eventful year! You never really realize how much you write until you have to review it all! Anyway, these are the best articles I wrote this year. (In my humble opinion, of course.)
23. Hello World
My first post. How far we have come.
I try to do this all the time but I am only human and fail often.
One of my best put together articles
Positive reinforcement is the key.
19. Playing Time
This controversial article lead to the most comments of the year.
This is one of my major pet peeves.
How to tear a group down, bring them back together, and move forward.
This article is disgusting.
Leadership comes first in my book.
I hate replay.
An often overlooked part of the game.
No real reason other than we get to look at Kerry Walsh and Misty May in their bikinis again.
The title say it all.
Not so much the article itself, but the fact that I am going to be published in print is great!
Every facet of our life includes conflict, how we handle and resolve it is what defines our character.
Not so much because of the post, but because I was able to upload and integrate all the videos into the post! I hope to do more of this in 2009 as it makes things more interesting.
One of the few times I actually took a political stand. See how a little bailout can cost a small league like ours $75,000!
Just when you are about to give up, all your hard work pays off.
Again, not so much for the journalistic portion of it but for the content and the life changing nature it shows.
A fail safe, and parent protective, way to create your line-up.
What this blog is all about.
Why parents lose their mind when you walk their kid.
I have no idea why Little League Umpires can’t get this right, but it is very frustrating.
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Last night I submitted my first article for the Flagler Parent Magazine. I was selected as the Youth Sports Expert and will have a monthly column in the magazine that focuses on how youth sports help children develop. This is a very exciting opportunity for me because the magazine is distributed directly to parents though the school system.
This, in addition to my mytopiacafe.com coverage, I guess officially makes me a journalist. The world has come a long way when I can call myself a journalist! Everyone who reads this blog cringes on a regular basis at my butchering of the language, but I try my best, and I hope to at least have a few endearing qualities. (Though my wife may tell you differently).
The first issue comes out in January when the kids return to school I will update you when it does. This is a major step for me to enter the paper print media. I am very excited and look forward to where it leads me.
Thank you to Charlie and Brady Publishing for believing in me.
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I am putting this out there to try and determine how to overcome issues that come up all the time. At all levels of ball there is always more than one way to skin a cat. Different techniques for accomplishing this task, different ways to attack a situation, or different solutions to a problem that may exist. It seems everyone knows how to do this-or-that and everyone has a way to fix something. Often, there is more than one way to do something, and a conflict exists at the coaching level. How do we overcome this?
One of the most common things I hear parents and less experienced coaches tell their kids is to “keep your elbow up”. I used this only as an example, while this is not the worst advice in the world, it is wrong. The elbows should be relaxed and the hands high. Raising the elbow simple increases the swing plane and increases the time from the point the hands release to the point of contact with the ball. What we really want is hands to the ball as fast as we can with the most possible bat speed. This is accomplished by having the hands high, pulling with the lead elbow, and whipping the bat through the zone. Having the elbows relaxed facilitates this.
Another point of contention is the bunt, how to stand, should the batter square up? How should the feet be positioned, should they be running at contact? There are a number of ways to teach this, none in necessarily wrong, but everyone, including myself, thinks they know the perfect way to do this. I still see old school high school coaches to this day having their batters square all the way around and face the pitcher to bunt, this is wrong, but I see it daily.
But what do we do when there is a conflict between the coaches? The worst case is that one coach teaches it one way, and the other another. Then the kid is all confused. Should a coach who feels strongly about their position teach it w/o regard to the other coach? That seems counterproductive. Hopefully a strong manager will step in and make a ruling, but what if they don’t know for sure either?
I once had a 9/10 all-star team comprised of about 75% of players from my team. They were very good, they knew what to do and had been coached by me for 3 months. I had an assistant from another team who taught hitting differently than me. He was teaching an advanced method of hitting that I did not teach until the kids got to 11/12. Most of the 9/10′s had just started playing, so the goal was to keep them still and have them turn into the pitch. He wanted to teach them to rotate and explode right away, they couldn’t handle that yet, they weren’t at that skill level yet.
Even though I asked him not to continue it, he decided it was his job to teach every girl on the team a new way to hit in less than two weeks. Asinine. He screwed up every girl on the team’s swing and we went from scoring 20 runs a game to 3 or 4. Needless to say, we didn’t win the tournament. This is a tough situation to be in and one that often arises at All-Star time. Hell, I have daily battles w/ my regular season assistants, but that’s just it, we have battles, sometimes arguments even, but we work it out and everyone respects the other’s position, then we move forward.
I don’t have the answer to this situation. It happens in life every day. How many times have you been at work, come up with a plan, assigned tasks, and a week later, everyone shows up w/ whatever they felt like doing, or felt was best to do, rather than what the plan originally called for? You see this in the NFL all the time. When a team is winning they seem to flow like a well oiled machine, but when they are losing it seems the parts are fighting each other.
I guess this is what makes great leaders. Creating an objective, defining success, mapping a plan that offers the best path to success, and getting everyone on the team to buy into it. I have a friend who is a master at this, he is always positive, always encouraging, and always letting everyone know what they are supposed to be doing to achieve success. He is clear, simple to understand, and very motivational. Care to guess where his teams always finish?
Anyway, I guess my solution to any conflict resolution is listening and understanding, but making sure never to stray from the stated objectives. Where most coaches and leaders break down is never having clearly defined objectives in the first place. If we don’t know what we are striving for, how can we work to attain it?
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I have always loved grandfather clocks. As a child I remember the one that sat in our living room. It was built by Dee-Daddy, my grandfather, in his wood shop. Every hour on the hour it would chime and ever so often we had to go in and wind it up. It had a big heavy pendulum and the effort he put into the detail showed the love he had for our family.
Today I discovered this Grandfather Clock online and it reminded me of home. My father passed just after Christmas last year so I have been thinking of him a lot lately. This clock resembles the one we had so it got me thinking of home again.
All this reminising got me thinking about how cool grandfather clocks are and I came across this blog post about shopping for grandfather clocks w/ your grandfather. It said some of the same things I felt about the subject, my grandfather had to love the things because he made one for each of his children and then a few more after that, never for sale though.
It seems that all of these sites are tied together and part of 1-800-4CLOCKS.com. It is a great site with everything clocks. Did you know that they have atomic grandfather clocks now? That’s progress! No more winding! The nicest line they had seemed to be the Howard Miller, the detailing is exquisite.
Nothing really says home to me like a grandfather clock, do you have anything that when you see it reminds you of home?
Jon Doyle from BaseballTrainingSecrets.com sent me a copy of his DVD “7 Minute Dynamic Baseball Warm-up”. (Yeah, yeah, I know Something about Mary fans, what happens if somebody puts out a 6 Minute Dynamic Baseball Warm-up video). That’s actually what caught my attention about the video.
Doyle had been advertising on our site for a long time via google adworks and I kept seeing the ad. It caught my attention. I am always looking for new and exciting warm-up routines and drills, so I decided to review this DVD. The package arrived in a padded envelope, a professional cover, and well designed artwork featuring a baseball on turf.
The video features Jon Doyle MCing and Giles Wiley and Mike Ranfone performing the stretches. The credits and number of commas after these guys names are impressive, they are obviously professionals with experience and training to back them.
The video is pretty much what you would expect. It is not a professionally produced product, it is done in a training facility with a standard video camera, but video quality isn’t what’s for sale, what is for sale is a stretching warm-up exercise, and there it delivers.
At times the video is hard to discern, one thing I wish they had done is used a remote microphone, but that can be forgiven based on the quality of content. The premise of the video is that dynamic stretching targeting those muscles most often used during baseball practice and games helps prevent injuries and strengthens the muscles most often used.
Doyle contends that “traditional” warm-ups of taking a lap around the field and doing a few basic stretches can actually prove harmful, he has a point. Followers of this blog will know that I am a huge opponent of any type of weight or strength training for those that have not reached puberty. This was beat into our heads by the strength and conditioning coach of the Washington Redskins when I lived in Virginia, this video borders on that so I don’t know that I would recommend it for younger ones. I think Doyle would agree.
For those in Juniors up, that have reached puberty, this is a great quick workout that won’t cut into your precious practice time. Another of my pet peeves about warm-ups is how much time they cut out of your limited practice time, this workout overcomes that challenge. For the younger kids, I would pick and choose a few of these workouts and incorporate them into a warm up that focuses more on muscle memory routines and motor skills, but for older kids, this is a very good warm up routine.
The video walks you through about nine stretches, my favorite of which is the “inch worm”, and then moves to hurdles. Rather than expensive hurdles, he chooses to use chairs, buckets or tees would work as well, the point isn’t the equipment, but the stretching out of the hips and hip-flexors. The duo ends with broomstick drills that focus on limbering up the upper body, especially the shoulders, vital for baseball and softball players.
I have heard both sides of the story, some say stretch before you run, some say run before you stretch. I prefer a light jog before stretching to get the blood flowing and the muscles loose. I recommend doing that before jumping into these extreme stretches to avoid pulling muscles. I have no medical expertise to base this on though and recommend you consult a professional.
All in all, this is a great video for kids beyond puberty, but stick to agility and motor skills warm-ups for younger kids. The main focus in the younger kids is fundamentals and muscle memory. Strength training can damage growth plates and stretching isn’t as important for muscles that have not yet developed.
What warm-ups do you do before practice and a game?
Jon responded to my review and made some very good points in reference to the younger kids. Again, I am not the expert here, my opinion is based on experience and not research, I leave those things to the experts.
Here is what Jon said:
“I was surprised [sic], that [you] recommend it not be use for the younger guys. In fact, its perfect for them. If they can put their bodies through the stress of baseball, certainly this type of warm-up is safe and effective, from many angles. They are still developing overall body coordination and “balance” at this age. Most don’t realize this, but you cannot improve balance past puberty. You can improve your ability to right yourself in a specific skill, but not overall balance. The warm-up helps here.
Since the exercises are body weight, it will also increase strength & muscular endurance at that age. And since its not a lot of volume there’s little, if any, room for injury.
We have thousands of youth teams on the warm-up with nothing but great results.”
His point about the exercises being “body weight” seems to make sense. Quite frankly, I hadn’t considered that. I suppose that the training here is not so much “muscle” related as I initially thought. Also, the point he makes about balance is very true and relates directly to my agility point.
Again, I recommend purchasing 7 Minute Warm-up and incorporating it into your workout routines.
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In my lifetime I have seen many leagues come and go. Soccer seems to be the most difficult to implement in our country, but the old Amercan Football League, the Extreme Football League, and countless others have come and gone. Today, we lose the Arena Football League. (I know they say they aren’t folding, but we all know that is BS).
This has a direct impact on our league because we are fortunate enough to host a family with a coach from one of the teams. He is not only in our Little League, but the kid played on our travel team as well. It is a tough business he chose, and he makes no excuses for it, they apparently move often. I am not that close with them, but I have spoken on occasion to them about this subject.
I don’t know what will come of the AFL, quite frankly, I wasn’t that big of a fan. It wasn’t really football in my mind, it was more like sandlot stuff more closely related to flag football than the NFL. It makes me wonder though, what about the NBA? What about the NHL? Both of those leagues have a number of teams in very small markets and exorbitant payrolls. The AFL had minuscule payrolls relatively speaking.
Today, we have no real idea what we will be doing tomorrow. Will we have a house? Will we have a job? Where will we be in 10 years? I was fortunate enough to receive a quote today from justsell.com that sums this up. It reads:
“A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)
Irish playwright and critic
When I read it this morning, I figured it was just more ammunition for me to use w/ my wife about all my prior business screw-ups, applying it to the AFL anyone affiliated with the organization should be honored. I agree. I don’t care if you like it or not, they stuck their neck out and gave it everything they had, win or lose.
I haven’t talked to our friend yet, but I am certain he isn’t sitting around whining about losing his job today. I bet he is making calls, networking, and making sure his resume’ is up to date. As the quote states, mistakes are honorable. As I tell my players, striking out only means you are one swing closer to a hit.
How do you handle your mistakes? Do you learn from them? Are they opportunities?
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That time of the Year
Went to the Festival of Lights last night and between taking picture for MyTopiaCafe.com and walking two feet before running into someone I knew, I really didn’t get much done! I did have a chance to down a couple of the Four Townes Moose Lodge’s fantastic burgers and I am pretty sure my kids had a blast.
Then on to the parade
Then today was the Christmas Parade. I do love a parade! This year we had a ton of kids marching and we had them all stop at the judge’s booth and recite the pledge. Very loud and very cool!
Did you check out the reflexes on George Bush?
Those that don’t know, the President had a pair of shoes thrown at him today during a press conference. Great reflexes! If you see it on TV you can see him laughing while it is happening! Classic!
Isn’t it amazing that Caylee was less than 2 minutes away from the house the whole time? All the chaos, all the protesting, everything, they were right around the corner from where that poor little angel was dumped!
No gambling in my home town. That’s what city council decided. Don’t know how I feel about that, but they better come up w/ some commerce or our taxes will be shooting through the roof!
Know anyone that needs Payroll services? I am hiring Payroll Service Reps if you know anyone looking for a job. Lifetime residuals are available!
Clinics are fun
My son said he didn’t want to play on his travel team Saturday Morning. Then, after reconsidering, he went to practice to try it one more time. When he left he said, “That is the most fun I have ever had playing baseball”. Just goes to show you that while they say they don’t want to go, and they would probably rather sit in front of the TV, once they get there, they usually have fun. Make them get off the couch!
Time to reflect and enjoy those around us
Many of us don’t have the budget we have had in the past for Christmas presents. I am one that falls into that category, but I refuse to let it get me down. For the next few weeks I plan to focus my energies and my passions on enjoying how blessed I am to have a healthy, beautiful family. I don’t care how many toys we have, though we still have too many, that is not relevant over holidays. What matters is making sure everyone in my family knows how much I love them.
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This is the first in a series of cool drills that I find that I am going to post. The first is a good double rotation drill in the infield that keeps everyone busy. The key to a successful practice is keeping everyone busy! If kids are standing around they get bored and practice is no fun.
No matter what the drill you are doing think of a way to get the kids moving and then they are conditioning and don’t even know it. For instance, on this drill I may have the kids rotate their positions every few rotations. In other words, 3B runs home and slides, catchers run through first and stop at first, ect. Of course, I do this more in the fall and w/ the younger kids that don’t have positions yet.
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For the first time in a long time we had the entire family together last week at Islands of Adventure. The flip mini and Utube are a lethal combination. Here are some videos:
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
Dueling Dragons Roller Coaster
Preparing to meet Spiderman
Incredible Hulk Coaster
Storm Force Accelatron Teacup Ride
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
The Cat in the Hat Ride
Obviously, a good time was had by all.
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I don’t usually like to get political or even serious in this blog, but I just received a news flash that the Federal Government (Read me and you) is going to give $25 Billion (that’s 25 thousand, million) to the auto companies. That’s our money, mine and yours. Personally that will cost me over $400!!!! It costs our league roughly $25,000 for the players alone, assume each has a mom and a dad and that means that the parents and kids of our league just paid $75,000 to bail out an industry that is completely responsible for their own demise!
Do you know what our tiny league of 300 players could do with $75,000!!!!! We could put lights on the field that doesn’t have them and host state tournaments that would bring INCOME into our league, our city, out county, and our state, because nobody visits the greater Orlando area without dropping a couple grand!
This is insane! As many of you know, I have been rich, I have been poor, and I have been in between. I will be that way all my life, it is the nature of my character. I have presided over failed businesses and successful ventures, that’s life. This shtick about the economy will collapse w/o the auto industry is total crap.
The fact is, they spend to much to produce a car, their benefits and pension plans are ridiculous, and they pay their workers too much. Did you know that I heard on the TV the other morning that it has $2,000 in costs in a car vs. their competitors because they have so much overhead! And we, the ones struggling and wondering if we can even afford to buy our kids Christmas presents are going to just give them $25,000,000,000!!!!! Insanity.
Want to bet me who has contributed most to all the campaigns of those in Washington?
Yeah, yeah, fill me up w/ BS about how we can’t exist w/o them.
Isn’t that what they said about Eastern Airlines?
Isn’t that what they said about General Electric?
Let me ask you something, has your life changed drastically since we stopped manufacturing television sets in the United States? My answer is YES! I can afford a BIGGER BETTER SET!
I don’t have the facts in front of me but I would hazard a very confident educated guess that a lot more money is spent on electronics than cars and they are ALL made outside of the United States. I would also bet that the electronics industry makes a TON more money now than they did when the product was manufactured here! Why? Because we ship the low pay jobs overseas, and we use the cheap products to turn ridiculous profits on things like service and programming!
Oh, that means the lower income worker has no jobs. What? You think that there are no construction or cleaning, or local assemble, or custom cabinet, or electrical jobs created though the service industry? How far do you have to drive to get to an AT&T or Sprint store? You think those buildings simply rose from the ground through divine intervention? It seems like it because we are SO DAMN GOOD AT BUILDING THEM! Why? Because we pay per job so people want to finish them fast! Not per hour so people want to move slower!
Obviously, I am very passionate about this. Maybe the auto dealers need to go bankrupt. Get rid of all their obligations, move down here to FL where labor is cheap, and compete like the rest of us have to do. Or maybe we can pass the BAIL EVERY BAD BUSINESSMAN ON THE PLANET OUT BILL and have a fund for everyone that fails in business. Hell, I will be the first in line!
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