Hard Ball Talks
Date: October 12, 2015
Guest: Elliott Finkelstein, Director at Triple Crown Sports. You can learn more about Elliott and the professional events that Triple Crown Sports hosts at www.triplecrownsports.com.
Topic: With an increasing number of youth clubs forming, more and more tournaments and events popping up, it is critical for us coaches and parents to take a more active role in the assessment of finding the right experience for our athletes. Events have the ability to be a contributor to the right experience in youth sports or a deterrent. Elliott took some time with us to discuss sports events, tournament experiences, and his overall passion to improve the youth sports platform.
Part of the 3D Experience in youth sports is making sure that the expectations are set and the priorities are in place for players, coaches, and parents. One of the priorities within our Extreme Skills program is to implement our program’s philosophies to all teams in the Extreme organization. We know that if program philosophies are implemented then the outcomes take care of themselves. It’s the focus of process over outcomes that have the best impact on athletes. Many of our Program teams over our first 16 years as an organization have been focused on this team approach, but without program philosophies documented and transparent, the implementation has been inconsistent thus far.
We know that if you focus on the program philosophies at the age of 7 that may not mean a victory right then and there, we know that it may lead to an error or a mistake or blundered play, but the coaches, players, and families must have the priority set that implementing the philosophy is most important because the effort was there to execute a successful strategy or skill of the game. That effort has to be rewarded through appreciation and excitement for the kids! If we try and implement a bunt defense at the age of 10 and we see the kids working through that philosophy and implementing it and trying to achieve it, as players, parents and coaches we have to celebrate that because we know it is going to lead to great success, outcomes, and consistency throughout their playing career.
As a multi-team program, where graduation from year to year is expected we have to have a system and curriculum in place for team and athlete success. That system has been developed and prioritized by the veteran knowledge within the Extreme Network. Our system includes philosophies on pitching vertically, aggressive hitting counts, how to handle an inside pitch, short game skills, bunt defenses, etc. Part of our evolution as a program was spent researching and meeting the top programs in the nation that we compete against within our Elite teams to confirm and improve our program’s philosophies and the implementation plan within the program.
Through those meetings we developed our team development model along with our best practices & strategies that make them successful throughout our program. One meeting really stuck out to us was with an organization out of Texas. An example of their success lies in a philosophy around when they have a runner on first or a runner on first and second and there are no outs, they sacrifice bunt and move the runner over every time, regardless of score or who is up to bat. This philosophy is implemented all the way down the club into their 8, 9, & 10 year old players. By the time they reach the high school level and are competing on a national scale, there is no signal, no conversation, no timeout to discuss, the player is engrained to implement that program philosophy. We see players on teams in our region including many of our teams that have a very inconsistent approach about how to handle that same scenario – the best hitter never bunts, we only try to bunt the first pitch, we never bunt, etc. An inconsistent philosophy leads to inconsistent success.
Instead of leaving individual instructor philosophies to drive the successes or failures for our teams, we believe in the team development model that was used long before private instruction was such a big focus. We will be putting the Extreme Network to work to combat against the below examples within our teams.
- Pitching – we have kids who are inside of private instruction and their sequence on the mound in a game may be fastball, then to a curve ball or screw ball, and then to a change up. If our experience and philosophy is to go fastball, off speed, drop ball, secondary off speed, rise ball, and then start working into your horizontal breaks of curve and screw balls we have a hu
ge inconsistency throughout our system. We are working to have complete transparency for our coaches, players, and parents. By putting these program philosophies down on paper, implementing them through the Extreme Network, teaching them to our kids, coaches, and also giving that transparency to our families, there is more consistency in the program and a better experience.
- Throughout baseball nationwide, we have serious concern over arm health. As a program, we have to implement arm health check points and a development plan to decrease our risk of injuries in our youth. What pitches do they learn, how many pitches do they throw, at what point do I start throwing a breaking ball, when do I move from the stretch to the windup, when do I do a FLUSH after a start to help my arm recover, what is my arm health routine before a game? All these questions are out there and we have experience within our Network that has developed these answers.
Members of the Extreme Network have the experience and knowledge of how these concepts have been executed well and poorly. We can use that experience to roll it out to our youth through our playbook to bring consistency in development from our youth teams up through our high school system. We see teams in our region that do not have these philosophies in place and they are coached with the short term in mind. We have to be very careful and stay out of that danger zone and stay true to our long term philosophies that if a player does the process of a, b, and c that we will start to see the outcomes of x, y, z take shape. That is what a 3-dimensional experience is in the skill side of youth sports. It is being built on true experienced, seasoned, philosophies that have been around since the test of time and provide a very consistent experience in sports.
As we plan and execute our program philosophies inside our club, we will make those priorities public so that our families know what we are developing within our coaches and players. With that transparency, the physical side of the 3D experience becomes easier to understand and support your athlete and their team as they grow.