For the past 5 years, I have shown this graphic to our high school age baseball players:
The post below was made in 2012. I am still hearing some of these “mis-perceptions”, so I have revised and re-posted below.
Over the past weeks, several parents and players have asked me about certain things that have been posted on discussion forums and/or said by individuals regarding the Gamers program. So, I thought that I would just address them in a blog post.
Tournaments & Gamesv$850per player (entry fees only, we play EVERY weekend in high end tourneys)
2 paid coaches – $700
100 hours of instruction – $1500 (thats $15 per hour, including facility rentals, practice fields, coaching, etc..)
Younger teams are lower cost because tournament fees are lower and we us a combination of volunteer and paid coaches.
The myth that club baseball is “all about the money” is out of touch with reality. If you do it right, it costs a lot of money.
It is all about what you get for the money.
2. The Gamers promise kids a college scholarship
If your mission statement as a program focuses on freshman year of college baseball, then it is misguided.
We want our players to take baseball seriously. A second sport cannot be used as an excuse for not working hard at baseball.
These days, it takes an exceptional athlete to do well in multiple sports in high school. That it just the reality — football camps run all summer long, basketball and soccer are year round sports.
5. The Gamers are making money by charging parents to use Gamechanger.
6. The Gamers make money by charging players for bus trips.
I can say universally that none of our coaches, including me, enjoys traveling on summer weekends. It is costly and a major impact on our families. It is a sacrifice we make to ensure that our players are playing the right competition and are in an environment where they can be seen by college coaches.
We would love to stay in St. Louis 8 weekends a year. We have worked hard to bring tournament operations like Pastime tournaments and DiamondSports tournaments to St. Louis (before us, these tournaments organizations did not even operate in St. Louis). We continue to work on it.
There are enough good baseball players in the St. Louis area to host 2x the number of tournaments that are currently hosted here. But, there are parochial barriers to this happening.
So, until progress is made on this front, we will not take the easy way out and have our teams/players play in less competitive local events that are not exposure-oriented. Until we get more of these events into St. Louis, we will continue to be away from our families during the summer. Our players need to play against the top competition available. If that is not available in St. Louis, then we will travel.
Second, our program provides a lot of instruction that is already baked into the program fees. There is no requirement to add individual lessons on top of this. Some players do, because they are working hard to improve and want more direct one-on-one coaching from an instructor. But, it is not a requirement of the program.
Incredibly — 8 years ago now, I interviewed Brendan Sullivan from Headfirst Baseball about select baseball and academics. Great insights for any HS player that want to play college baseball.
Click Here to listen. It is a about 20 minutes long.
I spent the weekend looking at baseball through the lens of “measuring team performance”. There are a lot of individual measures in baseball to tell a player how well he is doing. Team measures, other than Wins/Loses are a lot harder to come by.
So, I am looking for some measures that look into the heart of a team. Does the team play hard and have the guts, courage and tenacity to compete. Nothing new here, but these are the measures that come closest for me (and pretty much directly relate to wins/loses, but are a lot more controllable to players):
Win 3 innings =>measures tenacity and persistence. John Wooden uses the term “intentness” for this. In a 7 inning game, if you win 3 innings, you will win 90+% of the time. If you don’t win the 3rd inning, it is up to luck.
But, inside of the “Win 3 innings story there are several subplots:
Prevent/Achieve a BIG Inning => string a series of Quality At Bats together to score 3 or more runs in an inning. From a defensive standpoint, prevent BIG innings by limiting walks, errors and extra bases (cutoff men, passed balls) and making routine plays. It takes courage to step up and limit damage after the other team scores. Weak team roll over and let 2 runs turn into 4.
Shutdown Inning => put up a zero immediately after we score. This is about focus and not letting up.
Answer Back Inning =>the other side of the Shutdown inning … answering back by scoring immediately after the opponent scores. This measures guts and courage to respond.
Extend the Lead Inning => this is adding on runs to an existing lead. Often over-looked, but goes hand in hand with winning 3 innings. This measures tenacity and persistence.
These are all team measures and provide a view directly into the heart of a team.
Four phrases comprise 90% of my coaching of hitters during games”
Let the ball travel
Attack the inside half
Keep your head still
I probably stay each of the above phrases 10+ times per game. Here is how these phrases all stick together:
Through 11 games this fall ….
When we put the ball in play to the pulls side, we are hitting .259
When we put the ball in play up the middle or oppo, we are hitting .456.
That is a really big range — 200 points of batting average. Most pitchers are throwing fastballs away and off speed. We cannot try to pull these pitches. If we do, we will hit .260 or less. Instead, if we take an up the middle/opp approach, we will hit .460. Eventually, if we keep hitting the ball oppo, pitchers will make adjustment and start pitching us inside. The we have them where we want them. But, if we keep rolling over on away pitches, we will never see inside pitches — pitchers will just keep pounding us away.
So, extending the work from 1-Pitch Warrior, this is how the 16 Blue team has done so far this weekend:
Which Gam Game1 Game 2 Game 3
Shutdown Inning 2 3 1
Big Inning 0 1 0
Answer Back 1 1 0
Extend Lead 2 2 0
Game Score 5-2W 16-2W 2-3L
There is a lot to this regarding how a team competes during the game. It a good measure of tenacity, intensity and focus.
Can we put a zero up after we score?
Can we strong good At-Bats together to create a Big Inning?
Can we answer back with a run after the opponent scores?
Can we extend the lead once we get it by adding on runs?
It is like turnovers and offensive rebounds in basketball. A direct measurement of competitive tenacity.
I have been doing some reading of the “1-Pitch Warrior” material at http://www.1pitchwarrior.com.
The approach has a lot of overlap with the Gamers approach, including:
QAB — Quality At-Bats, to measure hitter performance (instead of batting average)
First Pitch Strikes – our target is 67%
Overall Strikes – our target is >60%
Defensive Walks + Errors – less than 5 is target
Win three innings (if you do this, you win 90% of games)
In addition to these, 1-Pitch Warrior talks about some other team based measures such as:
Shutdown Inning — putting up a zero after your team scores
Big Inning — scoring 3 or more runs in an inning
Answer back inning — scoring immediately after the other team scores
Extend lead inning — score to extend the lead, adding on insurance runs
I like these measurements because they reflect the competitive ebb & flow of the game. Coach Dehmer has the same crazy stats as me — if you achieve just three of the above in 7 innings, you will win 90% of your games.
Going to start adding those to the Gamers vocabulary.