Like what you see on this site? Help us keep it going. Donate the amount you feel it was worth to you via PayPal.
Board of Directors
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!
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!
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.
Junior, Senior & Big League Baseball (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The results are in and it is official! There will now be an official 50/70
Little League division with a World Series Champion! However, they set it up w/ an odd age breakdown of 11-13. This creates challenges across the board. Before I get to that, here are the rule changes for the league found at this link:
1. Implementation of a new division in baseball, the 50/70 division.
2. Junior Softball division to pitch from 43′
3. Senior All-Star teams can have 16 players and Big League All-Star teams 17.
4. Tournament team names can be released June 15th or 2 weeks before first scheduled game, whichever is sooner.
5. Players who do not meet the 60% minimum play for tournament teams because of illness or injury can be eligible with doctor’s excuse.
6. Tryouts and practices for tournament teams can be held starting June 15th or two weeks prior to the first scheduled game.
None of these rules are really all that significant other than the grandaddy of them all, the 50-70 rule! This creates a dilemma for all leagues. How to structure your league? My first thought is this way:
Senior Division 13-16
Junior Division 13-14
50/70 Division 11-13
Major Division 9-12
Minor Division 7-11
But this creates a conundrum for smaller leagues. Smaller leagues don’t have enough players for a 50/70 AND a major’s division. It is also my believe that Little League wants the major’s division to go away and be replaced w/ the 50/70 division. The 13yo stud can move up to the seniors, but smaller leagues like the one I am part of would essentially have to do away w/ the juniors division at this point if they want a 50/70 division. Would this cause many of the 13yo’s to leave and go play in leagues that allow 13′s to play on 90′ bases? I don’t know.
My next question is, must a league still charter a
Major League division IF they are chartering 50/70 divisions? I don’t know. As of now you MUST have a major’s team chartered or have a waiver. I presume you do not. So where does this leave the 12 year old’s at this point come tournament time?
Imagine this scenario which was my first instinct on this one:
Senior 13-16 (Only stud 13′s allowed to move up)
In this scenario you would have the following potential all-star teams:
Seniors, Juniors, 50/70, Minors
Anyone who played seniors would be eligible for the Seniors and Juniors team. However, ONLY those who played 50/70 are eligible for the 50/70 all-star team. So presume that the all-star team is comprised of all 13′s, now where do the 12′s play? The 11′s can move down the the 10/11 team, but the 12′s are left w/o a team, even though that had been the marquee age for Little League for all of eternity!
Why Little League allowed the 13′s to play down is beyond me, but a league that doesn’t have their 13′s on the 50/70 team does not stand a chance against a team of all 13′s they are destined to encounter in tournament play. This forces the board to either create a team that will never have a chance or create a major’s division as well! A substantial challenge for any organization large or small.
So, at this point, I really don’t know how I would recommend structuring a league that offered a 50/70 program. Do any of you have any suggestions? Certainly together we can figure this out. What do you think? How would you, or how are you planning to structure your programs? I would love to know.
So, I am sitting in the parking lot after practice tonight and up pulls a kid in a little white car. I hear, “is that Mr. McBride”. After confirming my presence, a proud voice announces, “thought you would like to know that a DeBary Little League Alum just got an offer for a scholarship today”. Upon further investigation, I learned that the scholarship was from a quality mid-major school in South Florida and the scout had seen him play this last weekend in a tournament game.
He went on to tell me that he chose not to play high school baseball this year because he felt he had a better opportunity playing on a showcase tournament team than on a high school team. I don’t know, don’t really care either way, that is an argument for another time not fit for an article really, but more a four-hour debate at Mickey Finns.
What did I take from this interaction? First, the kid sought me out because he was PROUD of what he had accomplished. Second, the kid was only a junior! Third, he carved out his own path. He has no idea if he will accept this offer or if he will pursue other offers, but he knows whatever he does, it will be done on his terms, not on anyone else’s! We should all learn a life lesson from this young man!
Every day I hear “you have to do this to get on the high school team” or “you have to do that to get into college” or “you have to play on this team to get onto high school” or “if you don’t play on that team you don’t have a chance to do this or that or the other”. Know what they all are? EXCUSES!
Ever hear from someone who didn’t make a team? Those with egos that don’t allow them to be responsible for their own failures usually say something along the lines of “you have to be friends with him or her to get on the team” or “you have to have played on this team to be on that team”. All wrong. Hell, there are people in our league who say the only way to get on the DeBary Little League All-Star team is to play on the DeBary Dynamite, our tournament team! Nonsense! You really think that the coaches of the all-star, high school, or college team care who or where you played before? They want the nine best players they can get! Period! End of story!
Now, you don’t have to agree with their choices. That is the great armchair debate, but don’t tell me you have to play somewhere to end up on a particular team. That is nonsense! All-star coaches aren’t even paid, so you are going to tell me that a paid high school or college coach cares about anything other than your skills? Their job is on the line! You think they are not going to teach you how to play the game the way they want the game played? One thing any good coach knows is give him an athlete and he will teach him how to play the game. So pick a coach you think will teach you the most where you enjoy playing and stick with that team!
If you want to play high school, play high school. If you want to play tournaments, play tournaments. If you want to play college, figure out how to get in front of the coaches. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do, do what you want! Nobody can be responsible for you but YOU! Why be miserable somewhere else when you can have fun playing where you want to and STILL get to where you want to go!
So from now on, don’t tell me you have to take a certain path to success. Figure out where you want to go, figure out how you will get there, then execute your plan flawlessly! Don’t let others intimidate or bully you, do it YOUR WAY. As
Frank Sinatra said, “I did it mmmmmyyyyyyyy wayyyyyyyyy”.
Image via Wikipedia
So our little guys had a minor machine pitch game today against a very good team. About half way through the game, I looked up and saw that the coach of the other team was operating the pitching machine, shagging the missed balls, running his batters, policing the dugout, and running the kids in the field. I asked him, “where is all your help?” figuring he was missing a few coaches. His reply, “I’m it”.
So I looked into his stands and there sat about 20 or so parents doing nothing. Could they not see he could use a hand? It was obvious to me. Maybe he is not the kind to ask for help, but if you are sitting there and a coach looks like he needs help, he does! Just ask, he or she will say, “sure, can you ……..”.
Even if you don’t know what you are doing, simply shagging the missed balls and getting them back to the machine would have been a great help to this coach, anyone could have done that. He obviously was a major benefit for their kids as they played very well. Why not repay the favor he is doing your children by giving him a hand?
By the way, at the end of the game, he packed up all his gear, cleaned up the trash after their kids, broke down the pitching machine and put it away, and carried all his gear to his car. Should we be surprised?
Off-Season clinics are a great way for your league to help hone skills. When I used to coach back in freezing cold Virginia (Yeah I know it was 27 here in FL last night, but you get it) we would have our teams together year round by renting indoor facilities. They were very often inexpensive and rather than rent the cages w/ machines we would rent a basic empty net and hold our own practices inside. As a league, you can often work deals with the indoor facility because they are happy to have so many kids in there, they will probably come back.
Fortunately, in Florida, we have warm enough weather year round to keep training. We hold a clinic once a week on Thursdays alternating hitting one week and fielding the next. Tomorrow we do hitting, last week it was fielding. This not only hones the kids skills, it keeps their interest in the game and keeps us in communication with the parents.
Remember, as with any practice or clinic, the focus must be on FUNdamentals and FUN. Otherwise, the kids won’t come back. They always remember the last thing they did, so end it with a game! We had the largest relay race in history last week w/ each team having over 20 players. Took probably 5 minutes, but you should have seen how they pulled together, cheered, and enjoyed the evening. Kids, parents, and coaches all left with smiles on our faces.
Oh, by the way, any comments on
Urban Meyer’s resignation today?
I will admit it! With my son making his first all-star team and my girls playing again on the Junior Softball All-Star team practices every night from 6PM to 10PM have completely exhausted me! I was ready for it to be over. I sat in my favorite watering hole last night and could barely hold my eyes open much less think of answers to the challenging trivia questions being posed!
Then came today. 100 degrees in the shade and I am in full umpire’s gear umping a Little League Division Softball All-Star game. The first of the international tournament that ends in late August with the crowning of the Champion of the World! You would think I was miserable wouldn’t you? Completely exhausted, nothing left, practice after grueling practice, but no! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Time to get fired up! Reinvigorated! This is what we work so hard all year for! So to every Little League team out there, GOOD LUCK! All your hard work has paid off and it is time to show your stuff! And to every Little League volunteer out there who thanklessly give of themselves so our children can enjoy this experience, THANK YOU!
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
This post sponsored through the pepperjamNETWORK by:
Shop Now for Official Star Trek XI Action Figures
I received a letter today from Anthony Gonzalez, the Acting City Manager of the City of DeBary. The letter is welcoming me to the “DeBary Strategic Planning Steering Committee”. As a member of the committee we will help the city council and mayor determine their strategic planning for the city. The first meeting will be held Saturday the 20th, at 9AM. I guess I am about to get an education in local politics!
From the Little League’s perspective, the number one priority in my mind is making sure that the new parking lot gets built at Sullivan Park. Do you have any ideas for what direction the city should be steered into? I would love to hear about it.
This post sponsored through the pepperjamNETWORK by:
Let Ricky Martin tell your sister that she is the best! Visit Post Cards From The Stars Today!
I was reading an article the other day on a girls fast-pitch website that was discussing the options for a player, boy or girl, once the
Little League spring season was over. The article, titled That Time of Year, told the plight of a parent who was looking for options once the spring season of Little League ended. He went on to tell about finding a fall program that was less than stellar and then discovering the hyper-competitive, and VERY expensive travel ball. Unfortunately, he says, there is no “middle ground”.
I have discussed this with many friends on a regular basis, and he (Dave) is dead on here. There are no middle options. Don’t get me wrong, travel programs have their place, and as kids get older and are serious about their careers showcase teams are a must, but for everyone 12 and under, why do they have to end their life for the game?
My 9 year old son this year kept a schedule that every week included 2 Little League games, one Little League practice, one pitcher-catcher practice, one travel ball practice, and a travel ball double header on Sunday. And our travel team wasn’t really all that active compared to the others!
Why do we do this? Because we want more than Little League and travel ball is the only option. Don’t get me wrong, I bleed red and blue of Little League. My son had way more fun playing against his friends in Little League than against strangers in travel ball. Even though the talent level was much less.
But how about creating a middle ground? I hear about parents not wanting to leave on Friday night for a tournament and return Sunday evening every weekend. Little League is uniquely positioned to offer a solution that suits the middle ground kids.
Face it, the extreme kids that love the game and are potential college or professional players are going to play extreme level travel ball, as they should. But in any Little League, those kids comprise less than 1% of the players at most. Little League cannot meet their needs, if they play, that is a bonus, but there is no way to offer a solution to them, they are where they want and need to be.
But, what about the stars that don’t want to play baseball or softball 7 days a week and twice on Sunday? Where do they turn? Right now, the answer really is nowhere, that’s where Little League comes in. Little League can fix this problem!
Currently for 12 and unders, Little League offers their competitive program, Majors, an instructional program, Minors, and a t-ball program. After the season ends, most District managers hold some version of a Tournament of Champions, and then on June 15th All-Stars are announced and begin practicing.
Why not add one more division? Call it “elite”. In my Little League hometown of
Sterling, VA, where I cut my teeth, they have one of the best softball programs in the country. But it is Pony League. Or at least it was when I lived there over 10 years ago. They actually host the Pony National Tournament and World Series there, or they did then.
The structure of their league is a majors/minors equivalent, with a travel program as well. The top players in the league play on one team and travel and play against other teams in the area, while the rest of the kids play in the local version of the league. Additionally, the travel players are spread amongst the local teams and play there as well. Bingo, problem solved!
What positions Little League uniquely to accomplish this, and better than any other program in the world, is their District alignment setup. They already have hundreds, if not thousands, of districts set up all over the world that include 10 or so teams in them. It is the first level of play during the all-stars.
Why not have each league put together an “elite” team that plays against all the other league’s “elite” teams during the season? This provides the league structure that travel programs lack, the ability to still play with all your friends, a truly competitive environment, and a commitment that doesn’t cost you $10,000 a year or your entire life!
Little League could impliment this next year if they wanted. They have the structures in place and the lines of communication from Williamsport to the local leagues are impecable.
So what do you say Little League International? How about an “Elite” division for the spring of 2010?
Next Page »
s="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" class="ie8 wp-toolbar" lang="en-US">
Edit Themes ‹ The Little League Coach — WordPress