Learn how you can have a more positive impact on each of your players in The Confident Baseball Coach course.

  

Explore different resources to ensure your children are having positive experiences within the game in The Play Ball Parent course.

 

Discover basic procedures and standards within the game and effective communication in the Introduction to Umpiring course.

EDUCATION

Education is one of the fundamental building blocks of the game. As such, USA Baseball’s educational resources emphasize a culture of development, safety and fun within the sport through free online training courses and programs focused for players, parents, coaches, and umpires. Content is available in both English and Spanish.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

USA Baseball is passionate about protecting the health and safety of all constituents within the game. Through the BASE, SafeSport, and Pitch Smart, and other health and safety initiatives, USA Baseball is working to make the game of baseball a positive and safe experience at all levels of play.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

USA Baseball strives to be a steward of the amateur game through offering cutting edge sport performance analysis and player development. With a focus on physical literacy, fundamental movement skills and advanced performance metrics, the analysis of athletic abilities can help prepare players for their next level of play, wherever that may be.

BLOG

 Invest in Others the Way Others Have Invested in You
(11/18/2022)
 
 
   

Invest in Others the Way Others Have Invested in You


FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster


Everyone wants to feel like they matter. We all wish to have a voice that is heard, and people innately desire to be seen by others. There are few things more deflating than being made to feel like you’re invisible, muted, or insignificant. Sadly, in sport, the latter is far too common of an occurrence within the dynamic of many teams. It’s one of a leader’s primary jobs to make sure that doesn’t happen.

---

Back in the spring of 1997, as a freshman playing at Rutgers University, I was taught a vital lesson that would later become the core of who I am now, as a coach. About ten games into my first season, Central Florida crushed us one night, behind what seemed like 15 pull-side hits down the left field line past our third baseman. As our shortstop, I was responsible for telling our third baseman when off-speed pitches were coming, so he could anticipate when the ball may be hit his way- a responsibility given to me by our head coach, Fred Hill. I didn’t relay a single pitch the entire game.

After the game, in front of half the team, Coach Hill ripped me for not doing my job. I was embarrassed. I was upset. I was mad. I was mad and upset at Coach Hill for embarrassing me. Literally in tears on the bus ride back to the hotel, I was ready to transfer. When we arrived at the hotel, he was waiting for me to get off the bus and asked me to come back with him to his room. It was there when he said this: “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but the reason I’m riding you so hard about every little thing is because I think you have a chance to be a great player for us. You shouldn’t be upset when I get on you; you should get worried when I’m not.”

From that day forward, I my ability to handle criticism was completely transformed. No matter how loud these messages came, I knew they were coming from someone who not only believed in me and what I could become, but more importantly, was willing to invest his time and energy in helping me reach my potential.

---

In the world of professional baseball, and specifically in an organization’s Minor Leagues, high-profile prospects and big money signees generally get the bulk of the spotlight from the outside. Future Major League stars grab the headlines from the media and, in many cases, often grab the attention from their coaches as they work their way through the farm system. The running joke was that you were either a prospect or a suspect. In that light, as an undersized, under-tooled, middle infielder who couldn’t really hit or run, I was by all means a suspect as a Minor Leaguer coming up with the Kansas City Royals.

Two years into my professional career, made evident by the nature of interaction with some coaches were the prospect/suspect classes of players, and they were clear as day to me. That was until I got to Wilmington, Delaware in 2002, where I would play for a manager named Jeff Garber. He was different. In his eyes- at least to the player version of myself- there was no prospect/suspect status. To him, if you had a uniform, you were going to get coached. And if he was going to coach you, if didn’t matter if you signed for $1,000,000 or $100, he was going to coach you as if you were going to be a Big Leaguer one day.

It wasn’t about what Garbs taught me as a player that got me better. Sure, that helped, but it was far more how he made me feel in his approach to doing so. He made me feel like a prospect. He made me feel like I mattered. Because of the attention he always gave me, he always had mine. THAT is the power of investment. While I didn’t realize it at the time, now in his shoes as a Minor League coach myself, with the Red Sox, I know how truly special that was. In large part because of feeling like I always got the very best from Jeff Garber, I make constant effort to give every player the very best from me.

---

The Cape Cod League is the preeminent summer circuit for college players. It’s a proving ground for the best in America to play one another and permits the cream of that crop to typically find itself atop Major League clubs’ draft boards the following year. Since 2001, Kelly Nicholson has spent his summers coaching in Orleans, the last 17 seasons as the team’s head coach. In 2008, based solely on the recommendation of a mutual friend, Kelly offered me the opportunity to join his staff that summer in what, still today, I consider one of the most impactful breaks of my coaching career.

Put simply, with this role, Kelly gave me the opportunity to think. Still at the infancy of my own coaching career, which had begun just two years prior, I knew baseball, but didn’t know the nuances behind coaching it. At the time, I was on Coach Hill’s staff at Rutgers, so my approach to helping our players there was to be an extension of him and his thoughts and his beliefs. While in Orleans, I didn’t have to play to Coach Hill, and Kelly didn’t want me to play to him either; he encouraged me to think for myself. In charge of making our lineup, running our offense, and coaching third base, I was given responsibilities that forced me to think for myself, and often, on the spot. I got some things right and some things wrong, but regardless, every day, I had him there for support, insight, and encouragement.

Kelly took a chance on me when he offered me the job- a stranger at the time without an interview- and spent the entire summer pouring into me, because, well, that’s what he does. His Orleans coaching tree has branches that run high and wide into all levels of the game, from high school all the way up to the Big Leagues. As one of those proud branches, I feel a sense of duty to plant seeds in other coaches the same way he planted seeds in me.

---

The most valuable commodity in the world is time. It’s the ONE thing that every single one of us have but will eventually run out of. We show what we value in the time we invest. And when we invest time in those we are charged to lead, they feel valued. When people feel valued, the possibilities for what they may become are boundless. As leaders, we are in our positions because someone gave us their time, as Fred Hill, Jeff Garber, and Kelly Nicholson did for me. Now it’s our time to do the same for many others.



Darren Fenster is currently the Minor League Infield Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox. In addition to being the Third Base Coach for the 2020 US Olympic Team, Fenster was previously 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.


 Hit and Run Out at Third Base
(10/3/2022)
 
 
   

Hit and Run Out at Third Base


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow reviews an excellent out at third base on a hit and run through left field in the Collegiate National Team vs. Olympic Team 2021 game.


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.


 Helping Cultivate Healthy Social Media Use with Youth in Your Life
(9/20/2022)
 
 
   

Helping Cultivate Healthy Social Media Use with Youth in Your Life


How Coaches and Parents Can Support Them in Developing Healthy Social Media Behaviors.


Many of you remember the public service announcement from the 80’s, “It’s 10 PM, do you know where your children are?” If your kids are like most, they’re on their phone/computer checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, tiktok, or Snapchat. The age group between 13-17 often consumes 6-8 hours a day of social media and online content. While social media can certainly cause it’s share of problems, it’s here to stay. Young people are going to use it whether adults like it or not. Parents and coaches have a tough job—the goal isn’t to keep athletes off social media altogether, but to support them in developing healthy social media behaviors.

Let’s examine both sides of the social media phenomenon:

Helpful Impacts on Mental Health:

• It can provide a wealth of information for athletes looking to improve themselves physically and mentally, usually free of charge
• Group support
• Some kids have more comfort reaching out in an online format
• Sharing their athletic achievements with a wide and diverse population
• A platform for them to develop their “Brand” and market themselves
• An escape from the daily routine and outside of their “normal”

Harmful Impacts on Mental Health:

• Individuals or groups can post or share information easily without regard for a specific individual or group. This allows the consumers to infer tone and intent and this is where bullying is born.
• Even in instances where negative information is shared and then removed, that moment can resurface at any time which may cause the individual or group to process the emotions and feelings time and time again.
• The negative emotions that can be created because of social media are far-reaching and can take over a large portion of your child’s time and energy.
• Too many late-night hours can negatively impact sleep and we know how important the proper amount of sleep is to overall positive mental health.

How can parents engage their children to harness the positives of social media

Ask questions. Let’s face it—most youths know way more about social media than the adults in their lives. And they know more about what exactly they’re doing online. Instead of starting conversations by talking about the harms or effects of social media, be open and curious about their unique experiences with it.

Celebrate the positives. When kids feel judged or misunderstood about their social media use, they’re likely to get defensive and shut down. Make sure to point out how great it is that they were able to connect with their friends and family who live far away, or comment on how helpful it must be to reach most of their teammates to discuss who’s signed up to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic!

Promote limiting screen time. Everything in moderation, right? Excessive time on the internet and social media has been linked to poorer mental health outcomes like depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Younger children will need more help with this—consider setting time limits or media-free zones. As children get older, support them in managing their own usage—encourage them to dedicate time to offline activities or help them update their phone settings to limit time on certain apps.

Model healthy use. This one is more important than you think. Young people notice what adults are doing more than we may think, including being told to get off their devices while the adults in their life seem just as obsessed. It can be tempting to try to manage their use, but you’re better off modeling healthy habits (age dependent, of course). Studies have shown that parental use of digital technology, rather than their attitudes toward it, determines how their children will engage with it.

Friend/follow your kids’ accounts. Your kids—especially teenagers—might resist you monitoring their social media, but it’s important that you’re (somewhat) informed of what’s happening in their online world. Explain your reasoning, listen to their hesitations, and let them set boundaries. Your virtual relationship with your child is an entirely new one, so be patient. Your best bet to build trust is to stay in the background: Don’t comment or like their posts unless they want you to, let the little things slide, and be ready to have offline conversations about the important things.

Social media can be a useful tool for development and distraction, but it can be a weapon of mental and athletic destruction in similar ways. The line between is often blurred.

“It’s 10 PM, do you know where your children are?”

https://mhanational.org/back-to-school/social-media-and-youth-mental-health

Youth and Social Media: Mental Health Effects and Healthy Use (healthline.com)

www.athleticshealthspace.com

Kevin Gorey is a Senior Director at the U.S. Council for Athletes’ Health (USCAH). Kevin brings extensive experience from both commercial health care and sports medicine to the USCAH team. His three-decades long professional experience has produced high-level results for the organizations he has had the privilege to work with.



The U.S. Council for Athletes' Health (USCAH) was founded upon the need for trusted, independent athletic health care partners with the experience and expertise to advise and consult with organizations regarding their healthcare delivery system. This is why USCAH is committed to providing independent and unbiased medical expertise to organizations and individuals dedicated to the optimal health and safety for the athletes they serve. You can find out more about USCAH at www.uscah.com or by reaching out to [email protected]


OUR PARTNERS


USA Baseball is proud to work with various partners within the amateur game.