Blog

 What's the Call? Calling Time
(12/1/2021)
 
 
   

Calling Time


What's the Call
Presented with Umpires Media


There are no outs, and there is a runner on second base. The batter fouls pitch off behind the plate, and the umpire throws a new ball to the pitcher, who is standing off of the rubber. The pitcher is rubbing the ball in his bare hands when the runner from second base attempts to steal third base, but is thrown out by the pitcher.

The umpire threw the ball back to the pitcher, so the ball is now in play. Is the runner out?

For more What's the Call videos, click here.

Umpires Media is a leading provider of video-based sports rules explanations, maker of the world’s first digital baseball rulebook and the Baseball Rules Explorer.


 Lead Off Backside Single
(12/5/2021)
 
 
   

Leadoff Backside Single


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow reviews a lead off backside single and the role of a leadoff hitter.


Tom Succow is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 6 Things To Do When Coaching Your Own Child
(11/25/2021)
 
 
   

6 Things To Do When Coaching Your Own Child


Best advice for what to do when coaching your own child


Many parents get into coaching because they have a child in the sport. It can be a fun, rewarding experience for both of you, but as you might have realized, it can also be a challenge. As a parent and a coach, it can be difficult to establish expectations and boundaries that keep everyone happy, including you, your athlete, and the other parents and athletes on the team. Here, several TrueSport experts share their best advice for what to do when coaching your own child.

Find your why
While coaching your child can deepen and enhance your relationship, it can also strain it if you’re not mindful. “A good starting point is to reflect on why you are coaching this team in the first place,” says TrueSport Expert Nadia Kyba, a social worker and expert in conflict resolution. “Is it because volunteerism is one of your core values? Are you hoping to give your child their best shot at an athletic scholarship? Is it to become closer with your child by spending more time together? There are no right or wrong answers, but the key is to be aware of the reasons and to ensure that your actions as a coach are reflecting that purpose.”

Establish clear boundaries
Before the season begins, create a set of rules for yourself that break up your coach role and your parent role—you can even ask your student-athlete for his or her input. “Remember, whether your child performs well or poorly, your relationship with them shouldn’t be impacted,” Kyba says. One way to navigate this is to have set times that you will talk about the sport with your child. Your athlete may also have some rules for you, like not using their nickname in front of the team.

Focus on positive reinforcement
“As parents, our children can often be the targets of criticism since it is easy to point out their negative behaviors,” says TrueSport Expert Kevin Chapman, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. But as a coach, rather than punishing an athlete for a mistake, reward them with positive reinforcement when something goes well. “Remember reinforcement is meant to increase behavior whereas punishment is designed to decrease behavior,” he adds. “Reinforcement is always more powerful than punishment."

Open communication with the team (and other parents)
As a parent-coach, you can expect parents of other athletes on the team to occasionally question your choices: If your child is always in the starting lineup, for instance, you might deal with a parent who feels that starting position is a result of favoritism rather than skill. Because of this—whether the complaints are perceived or based in reality—it’s important to open lines of communication between yourself, the athletes, and their parents. Kyba suggests holding bi-weekly team meetings with this format:
1. What is working well
2. Issues/Concerns
3. Ideas/Options
4. Action plan for going forward

“These meetings give athletes and parents an opportunity to have open conversations if they have concerns,” Kyba explains. “This is the time to be transparent about your decision-making and to allay any concerns about bias. Have an awareness of the power you hold as a coach and what barriers that brings to athletes and parents coming forward to ask questions or voice concerns about bias. Communicating an acknowledgment of this power and how you work to mitigate the problems it can create is so important!”

Frame feedback positively
Try to keep feedback positive, highlighting things that your athlete did right, rather than phrasing it as ‘constructive criticism.’ Then, add what they can try in the future. Kyba shares two examples of good feedback: "I noticed when you made a second pass, the team was able to score more often than when you took the shot off the dribble. I’d love to see you try a similar strategy during the game. What do you think?" or "I saw that when you stood up and cheered from the bench Lucy started to run faster and made a great pass. That type of energy can go a long way when we are down. When you’re quieter on the bench, I don’t see the same immediate impact. Thanks for contributing!”

Adopt a “What did you learn?” mentality
Chapman believes that as coaches, parents need to help their student-athletes adopt a process-oriented mentality. “Asking your child after competition, ‘What did you learn?’ is one of the most powerful questions to ask, since it will assist your child with a focus on the process of competing as opposed to the outcome of competition,” Chapman adds. “This will also build rapport with your child  and allow you to avoid criticizing poor performances.”

Takeaway
“Just enjoy it, because it goes by so fast,” hockey coach Greg Krahn, the latest TrueSport Coach Award winner, reminds parents. As Kyba said earlier, many parents choose to get into coaching to have quality time with their athlete, so make sure that your coaching is enhancing the relationship, and that you’re both having fun.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Are We Coaching the Athleticism Out of Our Athletes?
(12/8/2021)
 
   

Are We Coaching the Athleticism Out of Our Athletes?


By Jim Koerner


Throughout our country, baseball practice is taking place nearly every day. You can go to almost any area and find a field where players are being run through a series of defensive and pitching drills, base running, and batting practice. Well-intentioned coaches from the little league level on up are instructing our young players on the proper ways to play the game. These coaches from various backgrounds are applying methods mostly learned from either playing, watching, or reading about baseball. These methods are inducing a positive or negative response in each athlete, directly affecting the confidence level at which these athletes perform. How can we ensure that we are building these young athletes into instinctively driven, confident players that can maximize their athleticism? The answer is easy, but the implementation will be challenging.

Coaches will need to rewire some of their own belief systems, temper some of their own importance in the game's outcome, or even how the game is played. They will have to suppress their own impulse to over coach and direct every movement as well as how they potentially react to the result of a certain plays. In some cases we may even have to redefine why we are coaching. Is it for personal gain, where we are looking to pad our winning percentage, or is it truly for the betterment of the athlete? Movement restrictive drill sequencing, restrictive verbal cueing, reactionary coaching habits, and the inability to simply let players fail all lead to robotic, tentative and scared athletes.

Imagine a scene where all the neighborhood kids get together to play baseball. They improvise for bases, bats, and balls. They separate teams on their own, and most importantly, there are no adults to interfere. If done consistently, besides the occasional argument, what do you think would happen over time? It is my belief that the kids would begin to make intuitive and instinctual based adjustments on their own. Players would figure out such things as how big a lead they can take, how and when to go first to third on a single, when and when not to take an extra-base, how to position against certain hitters, and what pitches to call, among numerous other advantages. Personal limits would be pushed without fear of repercussion from a pre-programmed coach.

Now, if we can incorporate this type of mindset into a structured practice routine, a lot can be accomplished that will positively affect the overall development of our players.

Let's examine what a movement restrictive drill looks like. In its simplest form it's any drill that puts a limitation on a player's ability to move a body part. For example, let's look at all the hitting, throwing, and fielding drills we've seen over the years that have our athletes move in compartmentalized progressive steps.

Each step cuts the kinetic chain and forces the body to restart while losing feel, athleticism, and adjustability.

The result in a lot of situations is a stiff and robotic athlete. Drills that promote adjustability and free flowing energy transfer are more likely to allow your athlete to gain the "feel" that they are looking for and the ability to organize their body for the desired result. Other examples of movement restrictive drills that are less obvious happen during base running every day.

From a very young age, kids are taught that the third base coach directs all the traffic on the bases. Kids are more worried about "picking up" their coach than watching the ball and reacting to what they see. In most cases, if a coach has to direct a player to advance a base or go first to third on a single, the delay in reaction will cause the runner to be out. Instead of forcing these players to pick up the coach, why don't we teach them to read a defense by judging the depth of the outfield and their positioning? Let's teach how the speed of the batted ball will affect how far the runner can advance and define how the different angles an outfielder can take to a ball will determine whether or not advancement is possible. By doing so, we are allowing our athletes to trust what they see, rely on their own instincts, and play the game at a faster level.

Our cueing as coaches also has the potential to be a detriment to how a player performs. It's imperative that our players fully understand what we as coaches are trying to convey when using certain terms. Among others, phrases like "stay back" or "get on top" can cause a great deal of mechanical failure when misinterpreted. We also need to understand that these cues can be interpreted completely differently from one player to another. That is why it is important to have an individualized understanding of each player's needs. What works for one may not work for another. Consistency in how we communicate these terms and in what context can also help establish an understanding of the feel we are trying to create. Wrongly interpreted cueing can make the most athletic player look lost. Coaches must also avoid using the words always and never. I can still hear coaches telling me to always use two hands in the outfield or never swing at a 3-0 pitch. Over the years, I've found that the best outfielders I've coached primarily caught the ball with one hand. Why?

Because it is a less restrictive movement, and ultimately more athletic than when reaching with two hands, again allowing athletes to be athletes. As we've seen over the last several Major League Baseball seasons, depending on the situation, the 3-0 pitch might be the best pitch of the at-bat. Instead of coaching our hitters to always take that pitch, let's coach them to better understand their strengths and weaknesses, so they're prepared to hit every pitch.

Another step towards building a confident and successful athlete is for the coach to avoid putting their players in a box. My interpretation of a box is when a coach has a preconceived view of what something should like and then works towards that desired result. Not all boxes are bad, but every coach must understand the difference between style and technique. Style has no bearing on performance, while the technique can and will affect the outcome. How a player stands in the batter's box, how a pitcher goes through the windup or how an infielder throws may all look a little different and shouldn't necessarily be coached. If we're spending time on coaching someone's style we again could be hindering the player's ability to configure his body into an athletic movement. There is an old adage that says don't fix what's not broken. To be fair, I will say that there are some circumstances where someone's style may affect their technique. In these cases, adjustments do need to be made.

We hear coaches at all levels frequently talk about being process-driven. We need to hold true to that philosophy. Let's briefly analyze a scenario when a coach exhibits two different reactions on two similar plays. In the top of the third inning, with a 2-0 lead, the runner at first base does a great job reading a dirtball out of the pitcher's hand. The throw by the catcher is high, and the runner is able to slide under the tag. The player is praised appropriately by the coach. In the very next inning, with his team still leading 2-0, a different player also does a nice job reading a dirtball out of the pitcher's hand. Only this time the catcher does a great job recovering and makes a perfect throw to the bag. The runner is out. The coach immediately drops his head and as the player jogs back to the dugout, you hear the coach say "you need to be smarter than that." This scenario consistently plays out throughout amateur baseball. It is this type of mixed messaging that can cause a player or team to lose aggressiveness or confidence in what they are doing. We as coaches need to understand that if it is a part of our system and we are allowing players to react to what they see, then there are going to be times when things don't work. We need to avoid responding to outcomes but be more in tune with processes.

If the player hesitated and was thrown out in the above situation, you can communicate where the process broke down. If the process is flawless, encourage your player to stay aggressive and keep trusting what he sees. The bigger issue may come from the coach not having a system at all. A coach that has strong situational and philosophical beliefs allows one to communicate expectations in a clear and concise way.

A strong belief system that is communicated properly doesn't just help your players with their performance, it also helps the coach with the consistency of their response.

Mistakes happen all over the field. Coaches need to be aware of their body language and how they respond to these mistakes. Negative reactions or the need to overcorrect can hinder the athlete's ability to perform at a high level. Ask yourself these questions. Does a player's failure on the field elicit a response in us that threatens our own coaching ability? Are we worried about what others will think? If you answer yes, you're letting your ego drive your reactions. It's not about us, it's about the reason for the player responding the way he did. I find it important to ask the player why. Instead of immediately telling a player what they should have done, or reprimanding him for the mistake, take a moment to ask "what did you see," or "why did you make that decision." If the player has sound reasoning for the decision, you might be more likely to move on. If the player's thought process wasn't correct, now you can coach them in a much more productive manner.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that baseball is a difficult game to play and becomes much more difficult if our players lack the confidence and freedom they need to be successful. Coaches, understand your role in the development process and how your words, actions, and beliefs play a role in how your players develop and perform.



Jim Koerner is currently the Director of Player Development at USA Baseball. Koerner has 21 years of college coaching experience, including 18 years at the D1 level. He spent 13 years as a college head coach, with ten as an NCAA D1 head coach. Koerner has coached over 30 MLB draft or professional Free Agent Signees, 11 All-Americans, 4 Conference Players of the Year, 4 Conference Rookies of the Year, 2 Conference Pitchers of the Year, and over 60 All-Conference selections. Additionally, Koerner is a 2x Conference Coach of the Year and 2021 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Southern Division Champion..

 


 Error Leads to Extra Run
(11/22/2021)
 
   

Error Leads to Extra Run


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow reviews an error that leads to an extra run.


Tom Succow is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 Strategies for Recovery After Pitching
(11/16/2021)
 
   

Strategies for Recovery After Pitching


Diamond Doc
By Dr. Marc Richard


Dr. Marc Richard, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Duke University, discusses recommendations for recovery after pitching. To have your questions answered by Dr. Richard, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Marc Richard, MD, is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University, specializing in elbow, wrist and hand injuries. Dr. Richard’s research evaluates the clinical outcomes of fractures of the upper extremity, with a particular interest in wrist and elbow fractures and improving ways to treat elbow arthritis in young patients. He also has a clinical and research interest in adolescent elbow throwing injuries.


 Hydration Tips for Competing in Higher Altitudes
(11/11/2021)
 
   

Hydration Tips for Competing in Higher Altitudes


What you can do to ensure your athletes are prepared for altitude


If your team has a hefty travel schedule and you regularly compete in cities that are more than 3,000 feet above sea level, you may be concerned about how to ensure your sea-level-dwelling athletes are prepared for the higher altitudes. The good news is that you can mitigate some of the potential negative effects of altitude for your athletes so that they can focus on the game and not the thinner air. TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, explains what you can do to ensure your athletes are prepared for altitude.

Know your altitude
Most destinations for travel sport teams won't be at altitudes that will really affect your athletes' performance, says Ziesmer. But anything over 3,000 feet above sea level, such as Denver, Colorado, will start to shift their hydration and fueling needs, as well as their perceived exertion.

Pre-hydrate
"Make sure your athletes are well-fueled and well-hydrated before they go," says Ziesmer. "That really goes for any type of competition, but it's especially important at altitude. Have them up their drinking game the week before, aiming to drink between 25 and 50 percent more than they normally would."

... And keep hydrating
"The same thing applies once you're at altitude: Athletes should aim to drink about 25 to 50 percent more than they would drink normally,” says Ziesmer. “They should adjust their fluid intake based on the color of their urine—it should ideally be a lemonade-like pale yellow—and their weight. If they're gaining weight, they can cut back on water, but if they're losing weight, they should drink more."

Remember dehydration signs may change
At higher altitudes, it's easier to becoming dehydrated faster—and research has found that thirst cues are less reliable. "Your body is cycling through oxygen faster as altitude increases," Ziesmer explains. "Higher altitudes also tend to be really dry, so athletes will sweat more, which makes them dehydrate faster. Typically, people also urinate more at higher altitude, which can add to dehydration."

Check in on sweat rate
Keeping an eye on the scale while at altitude is important, and if your athletes have done calculations on their sweat rates in the past, they may need to retest their sweat rates while at altitude. "Some athletes respond differently to altitude and to different weather situations," says Ziesmer. "If an athlete is losing a lot of weight during exercise at altitude, then they need to adjust how much they're taking in in terms of fluid during practice. They also need to appropriately rehydrate and refuel afterwards."

Drink regularly, don't chug
Throughout the day, athletes should be steadily drinking. Dehydration at altitude isn't just happening from a lack of hydration during practice, it's happening because athletes aren't drinking enough during the rest of their day. "The best thing for an athlete to do is try to drink a little bit every 15 to 20 minutes, rather than just chugging a bunch of water when they have a break," says Ziesmer.

Add electrolytes
"At altitude, because you're sweating more, the body requires a bit higher electrolyte intake," says Ziesmer. Not every drink needs to be a sports drink or electrolyte-infused, but Ziesmer favors splitting drinks between water and an electrolyte-based drink.

Fuel appropriately
While hydration is critical, proper fueling matters too. Traveling for training or competition can shake up an athlete's eating routines and mealtimes, but because of the high energy output they'll be expending during training or competition, it's important that their carbohydrate stores are topped up. In fact, research has found that most issues related to altitude training are actually related to the increased training stress rather than the altitude itself. "Training camps and travel competitions mean that athletes need to be eating more, not less," says Ziesmer. "But weird schedules and less access to food can make eating enough difficult." Make sure your athletes have access to regular meals and healthy snacks that they can grab between practice sessions.

Takeaway
Coaches are often responsible for athletes’ health and wellbeing while traveling, and when competing at altitude, hydration is especially important. These tips will help keep your team hydrated, feeling good, and performing well.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Failure to Cover Second Leads to Extra Base
(11/8/2021)
 
   

Failure to Cover Second Leads to Extra Base


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow analyzes a player failing to cover second which then leads to an extra base.


Tom Succow is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 Coaches Clinic - November 17, 2021
(11/17/2021)
 
   

November 17, 2021


USA Baseball
Virtual Community Clinic


Community coaches clinics are an integral part of continuing education for coaches at any level. USA Baseball Community Clinics are held year-round at facilities nationwide, and provide coaches with the opportunity to learn and grow by networking with local coaches while participating in on-field demonstrations. The clinics are open to coaches at any level of the game, as well as any baseball parents or enthusiasts.

Dr. David Szymanski - Louisiana Tech University
Scott Emerson - Oakland A's
Jake Valentine - University of Portland
Jose Trevino - Texas Rangers    



 What's the Call? Batter Out on Feet Location
(11/3/2021)
 
   

Batter Out on Feet Location


What's the Call
Presented with Umpires Media


There are no outs, The batter squares around to bunt, with his right foot touching the right-side batter’s box line and the plate. He lays down a successful bunt, but he was technically not in the box. Is he out for an illegal batting position?

For more What's the Call videos, click here.

Umpires Media is a leading provider of video-based sports rules explanations, maker of the world’s first digital baseball rulebook and the Baseball Rules Explorer.


 How to Help Athletes Maintain a Positive Body Image After Sport
(10/27/2021)
 
   

How to Help Athletes Maintain a Positive Body Image After Sport


How parents can help guide athletes through this transition period


When a competitive athlete leaves sport, permanently or briefly to recover from an injury or pursue another activity, it's normal to feel a mixture of emotions. Even if the athlete is choosing to take a break from sport, issues surrounding body image, nutrition, and exercise outside of regimented practice can still come up.

Here, TrueSport Expert and licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Melissa Streno explains how parents can help guide athletes through this transition period while maintaining a positive body image.

Start before they finish
Parents should be helping athletes create an identity outside of sport and within other support systems even before an athlete is considering a break. Our interests contribute to how we define ourselves, so parents can help make their child's identity diverse by letting them choose many activities to try, and by role modeling and encouraging them with realistic, healthy expectations.

"This way, when sport does inevitably come to an end, they can feel there are other realms in their life where they're connected, comfortable, and accepted. Then it doesn't feel like their whole world is caving in after sport," says Streno. "And as a side note, diverse interests actually help us be more successful in sport anyway!"

Help them create new routines
"Many young athletes have followed a certain path that's centered around attaining or maintaining an appearance, often in a really detrimental way," Streno says. "They have very specific routines and behaviors, and they've been on autopilot. It's hard to change when that's all they've known. When redefining a relationship with food and exercise after sport, help them get the appropriate professional help to learn what their body really needs."

Finding a new way to move is important
Even if your child is leaving sport because he or she isn't enjoying it, movement is still important and healthy for any young person. Find exercise or movement that feels fun and not like training. This could be hiking, biking, strength training, yoga, or—depending on the situation—joining a recreational sport league. "Try to make sure that the urge to exercise is coming from a healthy place, not just being done to control what their body looks like," says Streno.

Understand what your child could be dealing with

"Any sort of shift in sport is significant because of the role this plays in our identity: not just the physical part, but also who we are," says Streno. "Struggling with the question of 'who we are' can lead somebody down a path of using food and exercise to maintain some sense of control when they feel everything else is shifting."

Encourage your child to dig into their identity
On a practical level, Streno recommends some journaling prompts for students struggling with identity beyond sport. Encourage your child to sit down and spend some time answering questions like:
• Who am I?
• Who am I without sport?
• What is important to me outside of sport?
• What have I gained from sport?
• Who I am because of sport?
• How do I use that in this next realm, this next endeavor, and this next challenge?

Prepare your athlete for changes
"After sport, there is going to be a transition period where your athlete likely experiences some body transformation," says Streno. "It's important to talk about the reality of what's going to happen. We're going to encounter physical changes throughout our entire life, so normalize that identity is not just how you look or how strong you are as an athlete."

"We also see a huge uptick in disordered eating and eating disorders post athletic career because it's the one thing that athletes feel they can control.” Learn more about disordered eating here.

Let your child grieve
Leaving sport for any reason can lead a child to feel a huge range of emotions. "I would encourage your child to wade through the really uncomfortable emotions. If they're not, that's actually riskier when it comes to eating disorders since coping with those feelings in private can become an avenue for disordered behavior," Streno says.

Takeaway
An athlete’s body image can be dramatically impacted when it’s time to move away from sport. Use this expert guidance to help your athlete navigate the transition and come out on the other side with a positive body image.



TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Hit and Run to Prevent the Double Play
(10/17/2021)
 
   

Hit and Run to Prevent the Double Play


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow analyzes a hit and run to prevent a double play.


Tom Succow is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 Hand Injuries While Sliding
(10/18/2021)
 
   

Hand Injuries While Sliding


Diamond Doc
By Dr. Marc Richard


Dr. Marc Richard, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Duke University, discusses hand injuries while sliding and how to prevent them. To have your questions answered by Dr. Richard, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Marc Richard, MD, is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University, specializing in elbow, wrist and hand injuries. Dr. Richard’s research evaluates the clinical outcomes of fractures of the upper extremity, with a particular interest in wrist and elbow fractures and improving ways to treat elbow arthritis in young patients. He also has a clinical and research interest in adolescent elbow throwing injuries.


 The Value of Baseball’s Currency Never Changes
(10/14/2021)
 
   

The Value of Baseball’s Currency Never Changes


FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster


As we entered the final weekend of the 2021 Major League Baseball regular season, the game’s best two records resided in the National League West. Both the Giants and the Dodgers had already won over 100 games, and they would probably be spending these last few days setting up their pitching and resting their hitters to be at their strongest in anticipation of a deep October run. But thanks to how baseball’s postseason is set up, neither team has been afforded that luxury because one of the two will find themselves playing in the one-shot, winner advance, loser-go-home, Wild Card Game next week. Anything can happen in just one game, so the stakes of winning the division are huge versus the risk of playing in a single-elimination game after such an incredible year. For both the Giants and the Dodgers, it is every bit a sprint to the finish.

There is a microscope in the National League West and on all of the other tight races here in the final week of the season. Everything seems to be heightened. Each game seems just that more important; each run scored or stranded, that much more vital to a club’s postseason chances. But the reality is that it was an entire body of work that got us to this very point. In the marathon that is a 162-game season, no one game counts any more than another. A win in April has the same exact value as a win in August. The same theory holds true within each game: despite the spotlight that shines in the final couple innings, a run in the 1st counts exactly the same as a run in the 9th. It’s the compilation of every inning that makes up the final score in the end.

Had either the Giants or Dodgers pulled out a win here or a win there earlier in the season, maybe they would be breathing just a bit easier this week. If the Red Sox or the Yankees took better advantage of some great scoring opportunities in a game or two back in the spring that they wound up losing, perhaps they would be sitting a bit prettier than they are right now.

The truth of the matter is that teams never know which run will be the game-winner, nor will they know which win will be the difference in their postseason fate. We figure both out after the fact. Because we don’t know in the heat of battle or the middle of the marathon, it cannot be understated for teams to truly understand the importance of every single run and every single win while in the moment.

“Get ‘em next time.”

“There’s always tomorrow.”

“We still have three at-bats to go.”

Become a fly on the wall in any baseball dugout throughout the spring and summer, and you’re guaranteed to hear one if not all of those phrases. They are all often uttered as a positive and upbeat reaction to missed opportunities. In this game, with so much failure, that type of encouragement is not only invaluable but necessary throughout a game and a season. But it is every bit a coachable mindset to breed amongst your teams and players a sense of urgency to get ‘em THIS time or to not wait for tomorrow and figure it out TODAY, or to take advantage of the FIRST at-bat to put runs up and to not wait for the last. When the collective attitude of a team is built from the foundation of understanding that the value of a run and the value of a win are the same no matter when they take place, that’s a team ready to take advantage of every opportunity, no matter when in the game or the season they are presented.


Darren Fenster is currently the Minor League Outfield and Baserunning Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox. Previously, Fenster was the Manager of the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. A former player in the Kansas City Royals minor league system, Fenster joined the Red Sox organization in 2012 after filling various roles on the Rutgers University Baseball staff, where he was a two-time All-American for the Scarlet Knights. Fenster is also Founder and CEO of Coaching Your Kids, LLC, and can be found on Twitter @CoachYourKids.


 Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt
(10/26/2021)
 
   

Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt


Mental Skills
By Andy Bass


Player: “Coach I’m really nervous to pitch in this game.”
Coach: “Don’t be nervous… just have fun!

Player: “Coach I feel so sad cause I let the team down.”
Coach: “You shouldn’t feel sad. We won the game anyway!”

Player: “Coach it frustrates me that I’m striking out a lot recently.”
Coach: “Why? Just work harder in practice.”

Although these conversations may be the extreme side of player/coach interaction, we have more than likely experienced a similar back and forth at some point in our careers as player or coach. What is the problem with these types of interactions though? We want our players to have fun. We want them to be happy that we won the game. We want them to work harder in practice. What is missing is the coach, first and foremost, validating the emotional state of the player—that is the problem. Consider these different responses:

“Sounds like this game really means something to you, and is making you nervous.”
“I understand you feel down about how you played, and you may feel you let the team down.”
“It is frustrating to strike out, and that’s a hard part of the game.”


What is so important about this process? (For more in-depth study, see Validating Emotions). For one—we should not disagree with an emotion that a person is feeling. If a person says they are “feeling embarrassed,” they feel embarrassed. We may disagree with the action they took to become embarrassed, or perhaps the way that they dealt with the embarrassment, but if they feel embarrassed, they are embarrassed. Second, when we validate a person’s emotional state, several physiological things happen. The validation itself has the effect of slowing down the heart rate, dilating veins, and calming down the amygdala (the fight or flight portion of our brain). All these physical responses are beneficial to performance and working through the emotion.

Validating the emotions of our players does NOT mean they cannot also be disciplined, focused, and fiery competitors. Moreover, although we should not challenge the emotions that players are feeling, we can confront the actions/behaviors they take to deal with that emotion. If players slam their bats after a strikeout, or throw their gloves in disgust after giving up a homerun, we can discipline them for the way they dealt with the emotion. But we can also help them work through that emotion by acknowledging that we understand what they are experiencing (e.g. anger, frustration, sadness). Remember too that is often easier for players to deny the emotion, to put their heads down and pretend to “move past it.” It is actually more difficult to recognize the emotional space we are in, or to help someone recognize it. Do we want our athletes to take the easier route (deny what they feel and ignore it) or to take the more difficult route (engage with the emotion and work through it)?

The author would like to thank Jake Mencacci, Assistant- Coaching & Player Development, from the Pittsburgh Pirates for his input and edits to this article.


Andy Bass is currently a Mental Performance Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bass played college baseball at Davidson College and was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. He received his PhD in Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior from the University of Tennessee.


 Top 3 Nutrient Deficiencies in Teens
(10/13/2021)
 
   

Top 3 Nutrient Deficiencies in Teens


Most common nutrient deficiencies in teens


Your young athlete works hard on the field, at practice, in training, and at school—which means their bodies need proper nutrients and fuel to keep up. But with so much going on, it can be hard to prioritize a healthy nutrition plan and that can sometimes lead to certain nutrient deficiencies. Here, we're looking at a few of the most common nutrient deficiencies in teens.

Before we dive in, though, it's important to note that generally, these deficiencies can be fixed with real, whole foods versus supplements. If you believe your athlete needs a supplement, it's a good idea to check with your family doctor, get screened for deficiencies, and determine the best course of action before adding supplements. Remember: Food first whenever possible!

Iron
Teens, especially those who are opting to eat less meat—or who truly hate their dark leafy greens—while still training at a high level, may find that they're deficient in iron. This is a problem worldwide, researchers have found. In 2016, researchers noted that for preteens and teens aged 10 to 14, iron deficiency is the leading cause of "ill health." And overall, females face more health issues due to iron deficiency, which is often tied to iron loss during menstruation.

According to the American Society of Hematology, iron deficiency (also referred to as anemia) can lead to fatigue, headaches, unexplained weakness, rapid heartbeat, and brittle nails or hair loss.

Iron levels can be raised by adding iron-rich foods into an athlete's diet. The Mayo Clinic lists the obvious red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood as the easiest ways to get iron, but your teen could also add beans, dark leafy greens, and even dried fruit and iron-fortified cereals into their diet.

Vitamin D
Since most young athletes get their vitamin D largely from sunlight, it's common to see deficiencies in teens—one study found nearly a quarter of teens surveyed were severely deficient. Wintertime for outdoor athletes, and anytime for indoor-sport athletes who spend most of their sunny hours inside for school and practice, means less vitamin D from the sun. However, food can also help supplement vitamin D for adolescents, who need around 600 IUs per day.

Vitamin D deficiency can be hard for an athlete, since symptoms include fatigue and weakness in addition to bone pain and even depression, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

To boost vitamin D through food, think dairy products, eggs, and seafood. The easiest way to hit your daily dose? A single tablespoon of cod liver oil contains 1360 IUs of vitamin D.

Protein
While most research is based on specific micronutrient deficiencies, many teens—especially those who are extremely active athletes—may be missing enough of the macronutrient protein. Since protein is vital for not only muscle building, but also for repair and recovery, it's critical that young athletes are eating enough of it throughout the day. Often, children will have a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast like cereal, followed by a carbohydrate-heavy lunch like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bagel, then another serving of carbohydrate around practice, so it's not until dinner that they're eating a solid serving of protein in the form of meat or fish. But young athletes should be prioritizing protein throughout the day for optimal benefits. Add eggs or Greek yogurt to breakfast, consider adding a low-fat milk to the side of a sandwich at lunch, and keep that healthy protein at dinner.

Other micronutrients teens tend to miss out on
Zinc and calcium are less common deficiencies but still are important for immunity and bone health, respectively. Research has shown that these are common micronutrients that get missed—but they aren't too hard to add back in. Zinc can be easily found in whole grains, dairy, red meat, poultry, and oysters (if you have a teen with an adventurous palate). Calcium can also be found in dairy. For vegetarian and vegan athletes, vitamin B12 deficiency can also be a problem, as can calcium for vegans. For a vegan athlete needing B12, consider adding nutritional yeast on top of meals (it has a tasty, cheesy flavor) or simply opt for plant-based milks that are fortified with B12 as well as calcium.

Takeaway
While nutrient deficiencies seem like a daunting challenge to parents of a picky eater, consider this: a bowl of cereal that's fortified with iron and zinc, plus a handful of raisins, with milk that's rich in calcium, vitamins D and B12, and protein covers most of these deficiencies. And for most teen athletes, cereal isn't exactly a tough sell.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 What's the Call? Balks2
(10/6/2021)
 
   

What's the Call? Balks


What's the Call
Presented with Umpires Media


There are two outs, the count is 2-2 on the batter and there is a runner on third base. The runner on third attempts to steal home. The catcher jumps on to home plate, the pitcher tosses a pitch, the catcher catches the pitch, and applies the tag to the advancing runner. What's the Call?

For more What's the Call videos, click here.

Umpires Media is a leading provider of video-based sports rules explanations, maker of the world’s first digital baseball rulebook and the Baseball Rules Explorer.


 Fly out at the Warning Track
(10/3/2021)
 
   

Fly out at the Warning Track


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow breaks down a fly out at the warning track.


Tom Succow is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 Minute Details
(10/5/2021)
 
   

Minute Details


Cuddyer's Corner
By Michael Cuddyer


Former Major Leaguer Michael Cuddyer discusses the importance of recognizing the minute details in practicing, work ethic, and coaching. To have your questions answered by Michael Cuddyer, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Michael Cuddyer is a 15-year MLB veteran and two-time All-Star, spending his career playing for the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets. A member of the USA Baseball 18U National Team in 1996 and 1997, Cuddyer was then named the 1997 Virginia Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, and was a member of USA Today’s All-Star team. He was selected ninth overall in the 1997 MLB Amateur Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins.


 Mental Breaks- In Game and Out of Season
(10/11/2021)
 
   

Mental Breaks- In Game and Out of Season


Mental Skills
By Andy Bass


Focus and concentration are crucial to success in baseball and softball. We need to be locked in on every pitch and every at bat. How often have we heard coaches or players say that the reason they lost the game, or made a costly mistake, was due to lack of focus or concentration? It is ironic that in order to maintain focus and concentration in the moment (i.e. pitch to pitch) or long term (i.e. high school, college, professional) we actually need to take time NOT to focus and concentrate.

Roughly ten years ago a study was conducted on elite tennis players and their physiological arousal levels (how locked in they were at any given time) during the entirety of a match. What the researchers found was that the most successful players, and those who were better able to keep their endurance focus up at the end of matches, were able to “switch off” their focus between points. They went into an idle state in the seconds between each point, and the minutes between each game. They weren’t even thinking about the game and were actually allowing their minds and bodies to go elsewhere. The players who were able to engage in this idle state were the ones who were most energized and focused when the game was on the line.

Is there a good time for an idle state in baseball and softball? Even a few seconds between pitches may trigger a renewed focus on the next pitch. Instead of clinching your teeth when you hear “idle” chat in the dugout about a non-baseball event, relish it. These mental breaks are not mutually exclusive from focus on the game. They do not affect the player’s ability to recognize and appreciate the count, the situation, and the propensities of the batter at the plate. To restate: There is nothing wrong with allowing the mind to wander during breaks in the action of the game. In fact, allowing our minds to wander, and not focus on the game, might be the best way to STAY focused on the critical moments of the game itself.

Let’s take this a step further. We want our players to stay motivated and dedicate the offseason to working on their craft when others will not. But should there be mental breaks during the offseason, comparable to the idle state during the game? Definitely. We know that an over-commitment to one sport can lead to physical and psychological burnout. But it is also true that over-commitment can lead to reduced focus and concentration. Encourage your players to take time out of season NOT to work on baseball or softball. Just like taking breaks between pitches not to focus on baseball or softball, we also need time out of season to take weeks to not focus on baseball or softball (NOTE: This is why this ad campaign may do more harm than good to our young ball players). Our athletes should take time away. Go play another sport. Go on a vacation. Try other creative outlets like theater or music. The best way to maintain focus and discipline toward a sport? Spend time doing things that are not that sport.

Our mind and bodies were not designed to stay mentally focused on one thing. We crave stimulation and variety. To ask our athletes to stay locked in on baseball or softball at all times during a game, or at all times during a year, is not simply impossible—it is also an ineffective to help them maintain focus during a game—and, unfortunately, an effective way to deplete their desire to continue playing at all.



Andy Bass is currently a Mental Performance Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bass played college baseball at Davidson College and was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. He received his PhD in Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior from the University of Tennessee.