“All-Star” Events

I am amazed with the number and variety of “all-star” events that select level players get invited to.   Every year, it grows and grows and grows.  Soon, everyone will be an “all-star”— just sign-up early before the spots sell out.  

Parents and player are now asking “should I do this event or that event”.  It is crazy.  I am not talking about showcase events — which serve a recruiting purpose and can be great events.  I am talking about 10-15u “all-star” events that are devoid of any pretense of development, college recruiting or scouting.  Just pay some money and you are an “all-star”.

For all the players and parents asking me, here is the answer:

USA Baseball NTIS events are the only “all-star” type events worth doing.  The reasons are simple.  First, it is THE USA Baseball — you know, the one that competes in the World Baseball Classic and all the USA National Teams from professional down to 12u.  Second, the USA Baseball NTIS process is an important part of the National Team selection process and the BEST players in the country participate in these events.    

Want proof?  — just check out the Twitter stream at @USABaseballNTIS for all the highlights of NTIS alumni.  It is incredibly impressive.  And, here is a stat — since 2008, 263 NTIS alumni have been drafted by MLB, with 23 First Round Picks.  This is the best of the best, including #2 overall pick Alex Bergman in 2015.  No other even series in the country come close to this.

If you have discretionary cash and want to spend it on a baseball weekend for your son, then maybe you should consider the multitudes of “all-star” events.  Just recognize that this event will have little meaning once it is over.  

USA Baseball NTIS events offer much more meaning.  If you get a chance to represent your Region in Cary, NC, it is an incredible honor and a great baseball experience.  After all, this is USA Baseball and you are on the field with the top players in the country.  And if you get a chance to be invited to a National Team trial, or get named to a National Team … that is an experience of a lifetime.

CcgNTJuW0AA8CzZ

 

Thoughts on Freshman and Sophomore HS Baseball

This is a post sent on April 1st for the past 6 years.

This posting is primarily directed to 15u and 16u Gamers .

We have now had hundreds of players go through high school baseball as freshmen and sophomores. Some have had great experiences. Others had bad experiences. It is important to have your expectations set properly and go into the high school baseball experience with the right mindset.

First a little grounding in reality. Of the Gamers playing college baseball right now, here is what they did during their freshman and sophomore years in high school:

  • During their freshmen year, 40% played freshman ball, 40% played JV and 20% played varsity
  • During their sophomore years, 60% played JV and 40% played varsity.

Every situation is different. Some of our players go to huge high schools, some to small high schools. Some high school coaches push younger players to play “up”, while other coaches have firm policies to play juniors and seniors.

So, don’t get too caught up on whether you play freshman, JV or varsity baseball. Obviously, we would like you to play at the varsity level and hope that you get that opportunity to face better competition on better fields, etc..

But, we have had a number of players go on to play D1 college baseball that never played “up” in high school and did not even start as juniors. High school baseball is not necessarily a good indicator of college baseball potential or opportunities.

The opportunity to play “up” depends on a lot of factors, many of which are entirely outside of your control. My observation is that the process of selecting players to play “up” is not necessarily based on a players’ baseball talent, skill or attitude. Other factors clearly come into play, making the process seem almost random.

This randomness can be quite frustrating for high school athletes and parents. But, it is outside of your control.

So, if you are selected to play “up”, congratulations. You need to work hard, continue to improve, earn playing time, be a leader and play like a Gamer.

Your challenge is to get pick up good habits from older teammates, and not pick up bad habits. I have seen too many freshmen play at the varsity level for all four years, and never get significantly better. By the time they are juniors, they start getting passed by. It happens all the time…don’t let it happen to you.

If you are not lucky enough to be selected to play “up”, just relax and focus on the things that can control. You need to do the same things as the players that are playing “up” — work hard, continue to improve, earn playing time, be a leader and play like a Gamer.

Your challenge is to overcome lower quality competition, fields and umpires to use the high school experience to improve your game, develop your skills and prepare you for the summer. With the right mindset, you can have a very successful and productive high school season without playing “up”.

This is what “pursuing excellence” is all about. You compete against yourself to get better, day by day, regardless of the level of competition you are facing. This is how you can take control of your high school baseball experience.

Remember John Wooden’s definition of success — “Success is the peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming“.

Learning and mastering this mental approach is 10x more important than whether or not you play “up” as a freshman or sophomore in high school baseball. This is the mental approach that will ultimately help you succeed at higher levels of baseball and other aspects of your life.

Freshman Grades – Remix

This is now the 8th year I have published this post for Freshman Gamers.  From what I am hearing — bad_report_cardseveral guys need to ready this a couple of times.

The transition to high school requires – Self Control” and “Intentness” from the Pyramid of Success.  Attend class, learn, hand in assignments and study for tests.

========================================================

This post is for all 15u (current high school freshmen).  Parents, please make sure that your son reads this. This is a friendly reminder from the Gamers program that care about you and your success.

Grades matter.  If you want to play college baseball, grades matter A LOT.   Time after time, we see that GPA’s and test scores make the the difference in the college recruiting process.

Now that you are a freshman, your grades now count toward your high school GPA.  Three years from now, you will be filling out college applications.  Every application will ask for your GPA and a copy of your high school transcript.

In baseball, your skill level and athleticism as a Freshman don’t matter a much as your skill & athleticism as a Junior.

Unfortunately, GPA’s are different — they are cumulative.  Sometimes, freshman do not realize this simple fact — your grades as a freshman count JUST AS MUCH as your grades as a junior or senior. 

Here is an example for you.

Say a player gets the following GPA’s:
Freshman – 3.6
Soph – 3.2
Junior – 3.6
Senior – 3.2

The result of this would be an overall GPA of 3.4.  Pretty good (our 15u-17u Gamers have an an average GPA of 3.6).

But, say that same player got a 2.2 GPA his freshman year instead of a 3.6.  (ALL C’s and a couple B’s)

Do you what he would have to achieve during his sophomore, junior and senior years to graduate with the same 3.4 GPA?

To overcome this bad start, he would have to achieve a 3.8 GPA for all three years to pull his overall GPA up to a 3.4 by the end of his senior year.

So, his grades would need to look like this:
Freshman – 2.2
Soph – 3.7
Junior – 3.8
Senior – 3.9

Which scenario looks easier to you?

Don’t put yourself in the situation of playing catch up.  It is hard to do.  Plus, freshman classes are a lot easier than junior and senior classes. It gets harder and harder every year to play catch up.

So, the point of this email is simple — Get off to a good start with grades during your freshman year. 

What are the common excuses that we hear about why players “mess up” during their freshman years?:

– They don’t hand in homework or “projects” (the easiest points to get).
– They procrastinate, waiting until the last minute for assignments and studying
– They have bad study habits (do not use their time efficiently)
– They spend more time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…. than on schoolwork
– The are not serious in the classroom, preferring to be the class clown

Essentially, they do not take school seriously and don’t put their best effort forward.  That is not consistent with being a Gamer.

It is now November  You are well into your first semester of high school.  If you are doing well, congratulations and keep up the good work!!

If you are not doing well so far, fix the problem RIGHT NOW.  Talk to guidance counselors, teachers and your parents.  Get a tutor.  Show that YOU CARE.  Fix the problem before it gets too late to impact first semester grades.  Your grades are not going to change unless you change something.  It is your responsibility.

Remember, these grades count and will be with you for the next 3 years. 

If the Gamers coaches or directors can help, let us know.  We see a lot of young men go through this process and know what works.  That is why I am sending out this email.

Getting off to a good start is one of the most important success factors in high school.  It is like throwing a first pitch strike.

Good luck,

Coach Gallion

Roster Size

So, hearing that other local programs are saying that “playing time” and “roster size” is an issue with the Gamers. Might as well address this real clearly.

First, many local baseball team “programs” would never turn away player/parents with a check in their hand.  So, regardless of what they may be saying, their rosters are only limited by people willing to pay.  That’s why they have dozens and dozens of teams.

Second, we have spent a lot of time figuring out the right roster size to insure a good baseball experience for players.  Too many players = not enough playing time.  Too few players = need to “fill-in” with pick-up players and perpetual tryouts.  Don’t be fooled — 9 times out of 10, small roster size on a competitive team means that they are using pick-up players and running perpetual tryouts.

Nothing against pick-up players.  But that is not what the Gamers do (or should be doing).  Many of the lessons from baseball come from being part of a team.  Those lessons are tossed out the window with pick-up players.  Also, it is impossible to teach or coach the Gamers style of play with pick-up players.

For teams that do not care about team lessons and style of play, then I understand why they would have short rosters and use the extra spots for fill-in players to perpetually tryout.  I am amazed by how many young players play for multiple baseball teams.  That’s OK.  But, it is not how the Gamers do it.

Our roster sizes at 14u and above are SMALLER than most nationally competitive teams.  They might be one player more than local teams or two players more than the “pick-up player” teams.  Why does this make sense?

1. We practice more — a lot more

2. We play more, especially at 14u and above

3. We strictly enforce pitch limits — and do not let kids pitch a complete game on Friday and come back and pitch on Sunday.  So, if you plan on playing 2-3 games on Sunday, you have a choice … hurt kids or add another pitcher to the roster.

We could add 3 more roster spots to our teams and Gamers players would still practice more, get better coaching/instruction through the pre-season and in-season program and learn what is means to be part of a team and at the same time develop individually as a player.

I am very comfortable that we have the correct balance on this.

How to Win in Youth Baseball (Hint – the answer is NOT on the scoreboard!)

The “How to Win” formula has been a work in progress for a decade. For a complete ebook on “HOW TO WIN IN YOUTH BASEBALL”, please visit http://gamersacademy.net/win.


We strongly believe that the most important element of youth baseball is teaching kids “how” to succeed. The Gamers program is built around this mission — teaching young men how to recognize and take responsibility for things they can control to be successful. The process of success on the baseball field pays direct dividends in success off the field and in 10 years when young men start making their way in life. Baseball is a PROCESS, not an EVENT.  Although the game seems random at the instance of action, over the long term a series of input factors will control the result.  So, the Formula for Winning is defining the process behind winning, focusing on inputs that are within the control of the player. eck-mainx Over the past 10 years, we have collected and analyzed lots of data and statistics on youth baseball – primarily 12-18u, literally thousands of games. And the introduction of Gamechanger a four years ago makes the collection and analysis of data even easier. To a lot of players, parents and coaches, winning or losing a baseball game seems like a random event, like playing roulette. Our mission has been to teach kids “how” to win – the process of winning. Winning is NOT a random event.


Here is the simple three- part recipe for winning baseball games at the youth level: Win 3 innings (you will win 90% of the game that you achieve this) Have 15 or more Quality At Bats (you will win 80% of the games that you achieve this). Limit Walks + Reached on Errors to 5 or less (you will win 80% of the games that you achieve this) In a single game, if you accomplish 2 of the three above, you will win >90% of the time. If you accomplish all 3 of the above, you will win 98% of the time. It is truly a recipe for winning. It has only happened to me in one in 10 years — where we have accomplished all three goals and lost the game.


I am pretty sure that the same factors hold true in college baseball and professional baseball, but the metrics are different due to 9 inning games and the level of talent. But, the concepts are directly applicable. These three factors give kids simple concepts to focus on. All three are within their immediate control. Winning a game is the result of winning individual battles – one inning at a time, one at bat at a time., one pitch at a time. Each inning, each at bat, each pitch is a battle. Win the individual battles and you will with the game. This is a breakthrough in teaching kids “how” to win a baseball game. And, this approach is directly related to success in life, which is a process that unfolds in a series of daily battles and does not just magically happen.

Click here to get the complete free ebook on How to Win in Youth Baseball.  If you like the ideas, please share with other coaches, parents and players.  The ebook goes through all aspects of the graphic below:

How To Win

How to Win in Youth Baseball (Hint – the answer is NOT on the scoreboard!)

The “How to Win” formula has been a work in progress for a decade. For a complete ebook on “HOW TO WIN IN YOUTH BASEBALL”, please visit http://gamersacademy.net/win.


We strongly believe that the most important element of youth baseball is teaching kids “how” to succeed. The Gamers program is built around this mission — teaching young men how to recognize and take responsibility for things they can control to be successful. The process of success on the baseball field pays direct dividends in success off the field and in 10 years when young men start making their way in life. Baseball is a PROCESS, not an EVENT.  Although the game seems random at the instance of action, over the long term a series of input factors will control the result.  So, the Formula for Winning is defining the process behind winning, focusing on inputs that are within the control of the player. eck-mainx Over the past 10 years, we have collected and analyzed lots of data and statistics on youth baseball – primarily 12-18u, literally thousands of games. And the introduction of Gamechanger a four years ago makes the collection and analysis of data even easier. To a lot of players, parents and coaches, winning or losing a baseball game seems like a random event, like playing roulette. Our mission has been to teach kids “how” to win – the process of winning. Winning is NOT a random event.


Here is the simple three- part recipe for winning baseball games at the youth level: Win 3 innings (you will win 90% of the game that you achieve this) Have 15 or more Quality At Bats (you will win 80% of the games that you achieve this). Limit Walks + Reached on Errors to 5 or less (you will win 80% of the games that you achieve this) In a single game, if you accomplish 2 of the three above, you will win >90% of the time. If you accomplish all 3 of the above, you will win 98% of the time. It is truly a recipe for winning. It has only happened to me in one in 10 years — where we have accomplished all three goals and lost the game.


I am pretty sure that the same factors hold true in college baseball and professional baseball, but the metrics are different due to 9 inning games and the level of talent. But, the concepts are directly applicable. These three factors give kids simple concepts to focus on. All three are within their immediate control. Winning a game is the result of winning individual battles – one inning at a time, one at bat at a time., one pitch at a time. Each inning, each at bat, each pitch is a battle. Win the individual battles and you will with the game. This is a breakthrough in teaching kids “how” to win a baseball game. And, this approach is directly related to success in life, which is a process that unfolds in a series of daily battles and does not just magically happen.

Click here to get the complete free ebook on How to Win in Youth Baseball.  If you like the ideas, please share with other coaches, parents and players.  The ebook goes through all aspects of the graphic below:

How To Win

Duck Dynasty Beards, Hair and Entertainers

Click on Image to Explore MLB and WWE Grooming

Click on Image to Explore MLB and WWE Grooming

Given the popularity of the MLB and associated video games, fantasy leagues and 24/7 coverage, baseball at that level is as much about entertainment as it is about the actual game.  If WWE is 100% entertainment, then NFL is 60% and MLB is now 50%.  There is nothing wrong with this, because MLB has been able to keep the game relatively pure and without a doubt puts the best players in the world on the field, competing very hard 162 games a year.  The quality of MLB baseball is lot better than the quality of WWE wrestling.

But, the 50% entertainment part is hard to miss:

– Crazy beards

– Crazy hair

– Full body tattoos, etc…

Players want to develop an image, be noticed and standout in the entertainment business.  Goofy hair and crazy beards is an easy way to stand out and establish your entertainment brand.  Hey, look at me.  It makes perfect sense and it works.  It always has worked — from 1960’s rock to the WWE and now to MLB players.  From Al Hrabosky to Brian Wilison — this is not new.

If I was being paid a lot of money to play baseball, and was focused on my personal entertainment brand, I would probably do the same thing.

But, if you are not in the entertainment business, if you are just playing baseball to compete and get better and have fun, it makes little sense to have long hair and Duck Dynasty beards.  It is a summer sport.  It is impractical and lacks common sense to have long hair and a DD beard when competing for 2 hours in 90+ degree sunshine.  Long hair in football may be OK for NFL players looking to standout on the field of entertainment and on Madden 2014, but long hair hanging out of a football helmet incredibly impractical and frankly stupid. DD beards and long hair in baseball are not much different.

So, here is the problem … I am starting to look around and see too many players and coaches in the amateur baseball world imitating MLB entertainers in the area of personal grooming.  Amateur baseball is not entertainment.  It is impractical to have long hair and crazy beards in an amateur dugout.  Seeds sticking in long beards just looks stupid.  When I see coaches wearing Evoshield wristbands, I laugh at them.  What’s the point?  Same thing goes for paid coaches with crazy beards and long hair.  If you are getting paid (anything) to be a baseball coach or are coaching baseball at a high level, there is no reason to have long hair and a crazy beard.

It sends the wrong message.  Amateur baseball is not about entertainment or personal branding.

Obviously, amateur baseball players/coaches will do whatever they want to do and I respect their right to do that.  But, if you want to standout and be noticed for personal grooming habits, you have to recognize that people are going to ask the “What’s the point”.  And, the answer is sometimes pretty obvious.

Hitting Adjustments

It is really hard to be a consistently good hitter.  At the 14-17u levels that our teams play at, the metrics for an elite hitter are >.450 OBP and >.350 batting average.  For a good hitter, it is >.400 OBP and >.300 batting average. Note — this is after about 100 plate appearances, so don’t freak out or celebrate for another 2 months.

To accomplish this level of performance requires consistent effort and competing in EVERY  at bat (i.e. not giving away at-bats).  If you give away at-bats when your team is up 6-1 or down 5-1, you are not going to achieve this level of performance.

Good hitters have a plan when they step into the batters box.  What is your plan?  In general, it should be “Get a good pitch and square it up”.   But, what is your hitting approach in more detail?

Well, the answer should be “it depends …. on the situation”.

Runner on 2nd, no outs => your job is to advance the runner unless you are getting paid to play baseball.

Runner on 3rd, less than 2 outs => your job is to to get a good pitch to hit and hammer it.

Two strikes => your job is to shorten up, let the ball travel and battle your butt off to eat up pitches or get the pitcher to make a mistake.

So, your detailed approach is that it “Depends on the situation”  

It also depends on the count.

Adjust to count

And, it depends on the type of pitcher you are facing.

Adjust to Pitchers

Here was a summary from a weekend this past summer:

In Game 1 this weekend, we faced two guys that were #1’s and we kept taking strike one fastballs.  We took 14 strike one fastballs.   You cannot do that against #1 guys. They have good stuff and they are not going to walk you. The strike 1 fastball is the best pitch you are going to see.  Sit on it and compete.  You need to take these match-ups personally as a hitter.  Your future in baseball depends on beating #1 guys.

In Game 3, we faced a struggling pitcher for 3 innings and scored only 6 runs.  In those situations, we need to step on the gas and relentlessly hit and walk our way to double digit runs.  But, we starting refusing to walk and got ourselves out by swinging at bad pitches.

Then, in Game 3, we faced a crafty pitcher who got ahead in the count and then made us look foolish.  We tried to hit the ball in the air with a 30mph wind blowing out.  Instead, we fouled balls off early in the count then chased bad pitches.  The result, was 3 innings and zero runs against a pitcher throwing 70 against the wind.

As the season progresses, we need to understand what kind of pitcher we are facing and how we need to adjust our approach immediately.  Let’s not wait until the post-game talk to discuss adjustments.

Working the Count

Below is a chart of data of MLB on-base percentage as hitters pass through different counts.  Of course, everyone starts at 0-0, so the MLB OB% average is .324 (note there are some quirks in this data and it is a couple decades old, but conclusions are right).

If the result of pitch 1 is a ball, then the batters on-base % goes to .387.  If the result is strike 1, then the on-base % goes to .256.  That is a HUGE DIFFERENCE and sets up the rest of the rest of the at-bat.  You can see how the results further diverge as the counts play out.

The different between the upper right 1/2 of the box and the lower left 1/2 of the box is the difference between scoring 2 runs a game or 7 runs a game.  Pitchers need to throw strikes early, hitters need to swing at strikes early.  That creates a perfect match-up!

OBP vs Count

Adjustments to 60/90 Fields — 4 Things That Work

One of the reasons I enjoy 14u baseball is watching the transition to a big diamond.  Compared to 13u baseball, pitchers are throwing 6 ft. further, bases are 10 ft. further and throws are 10-20 feet longer.  Then, you add -3 BBCOR bats to the mix.  A lot of things in flux.

Players need to get good at making adjustments at this age.

Here are four things that work in making this transition.

1, Pitchers need to challenge hitters to put the ball in play.  It is harder to get a hit at this age — fielders are fast and no one can outrun a baseball. Challenge hitters and see what happens.

2. Infielders need to move through the ball. Bad footwork will not work on a big field.

3. Hitters need to attack the inside half of the ball and go gap-t0-gap and opposite field.  You are going to be out front and rollover 10X more than you are going to get beat by a 14u fastball.

4. The value of speed and good base running just got amplified.  If that is part of your game, push things hard.  If speed is not part of your game, then get to at least average speed and quickness and become a great baserunner.  It makes a difference.

Good news is that the fields are not getting any bigger from now on.  This is it.  This is a good time to make the adjustments.