Monday, December 14, 2009
Don't Overlook Any of Your Players
By Larry Cicchiello
As a baseball coach, I've always enjoyed watching my so called "superstars" perform. Hitting a "seed" up the gap or pitching six scoreless innings is lots of fun to watch. But I also enjoy a player who has been struggling and then overcomes any baseball struggles.
I've had my share of championships and have enjoyed them tremendously. After one of them, my 10-11-12 year old team doused me with many different colors of an athletic beverage. One of my player's mothers asked me if it feels terrible. I was sticky, slimy and multi-colored from head to toe, including my glasses. I looked at her in honest disbelief and replied "no not at all, it feels great." Being a very competitive coach, what mattered to me was my kids were celebrating their championship victory.
OK, so we all enjoy winning and I'll put myself at the top of the list.
Now I want to switch gears for a moment and let's forget about winning, home runs, shutouts and all the other things our outstanding players accomplish.
I want to share with you a story about Nick, a 12 year old I coached back in 2002.
I knew Nick off the baseball field and knew he was a great kid with great parents. That's why I drafted him that year and in future years as well. We went to the batting cages about three weeks before our season began. I had never seen several of the kids swing a bat, including Nick. I had my clip board in hand to jot down notes as to what I need to work on with certain players. I watched Nick and after only one or two of his swings, I saw a glaring weakness. Nick had this "long and looping" swing and was over matched by every pitch. Constantly late on every pitch. I jotted this down. I mentioned this to Nick, a very intelligent kid. We went to the cages a couple of more times and he is still "long and looping" to the baseball. I'm not getting through to Nick.
Our regular season begins and Nick is struggling big time. After about ten games Nick is hitless for the year. Hitless as in 0-20 for the year. I'm coaching third base and Nick is up. He has a count of 2-2. For about the hundredth time, I call out to Nick, "come on Nick, short to the ball." I then actually demonstrated it to him as if I were holding the bat.
Nick is a right-handed hitter and the pitcher throws him a fastball over the outside portion of the plate. With this lightning quick motion, Nick throws the head of the bat directly at the ball. It almost looked like a quick karate chop. He hits a seed into the right-center field gap and gets a stand up double. I can't describe the great feeling I had. Remember, this is a great kid who had been severely struggling at the plate. Nick is standing on second base and looking toward home plate in his usual humble fashion. I called out to Nick. Before he completely turned his head toward me, I could already see a very, very huge grin. When we are making eye contact, I wave my right fist in the air at about head height. Nick, who is usually refined and quiet, shakes his fist back at me so aggressively that I honestly thought he could have injured his right shoulder. Really.
Sure, I remember many details of playoff victories and championship victories. Who got the big hits, who pitched great, who made game saving defensive plays, etc.
But I remember Nick's seed to right-center like it happened five minutes ago and not seven years ago. If you are into baseball coaching, maybe you have a player similar to Nick on your team. Helping that player will be at least as rewarding as any playoff or championship victory. And believe me, I love to win.
Once in a while, it's good to take a step back and not just focus on baseball tips on hitting, baseball pitching tips, etc. Occasionally looking at baseball from a different point of view is very healthy.
Larry is the president of Larwenty Online EnterprisesInc. and also the author of "Excellent Baseball Coaching: 30 Seconds Away." If you are a baseball player or are involved in baseball coaching at any level of play or a parent who wants to help your child improve, you will be fully equipped! His baseball website offers several FREE baseball tips from his very informative and very fairly priced eBooks.
Larry's baseball website is http://www.larrybaseball.com/.
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