Too often in youth sports, coaches have total control of the game. When a ball is hit to the short stop, who yells the loudest? The coach. This is where the Extreme Baseball and Softball Club wants to improve the game with a new defensive mindset called “Create a Play Sequence”. In this blog, you will see three examples of our “Create a Play” idea; 1st & 3rd’s, bunt situations, and one step further. Our goal is to see players execute defense at a high Ball IQ level, always one step ahead of the game looking towards the next play, and making the play without the coach telling them what to do.
A constant critique of youth baseball and softball is that players are becoming too robotic, relying so much on the coach to call a play. For example, 1st and 3rd situations, who do you hear call out a play? The catcher who receives a play from the coach. Again, the call comes from the coach. Imagine if the call came from the Shortstop or Catcher who recognized the situation independently of the coach. Instead of a coach calling out a play, we are encouraging players to recognize the situation on their own, have the confidence and Ball IQ to call a play based on the situation, and finally execute the play. It should be every coach’s wish to watch their team execute and make the correct decision without being told what to do.
Another example we are using to open up the minds and creativity of the players is through bunt situations. Do we run a wheel or basic bunt crash defense? This call currently comes from most coaches, instead of the players. Again, we want to be one step ahead of the opponent. For example, bunt situation with a runner on 2nd base, instead of just throwing a pitch and wondering if the other team will bunt or swing away, we encourage our players to make the other team “show their hand” before we even throw a pitch. One way to do this on the baseball side is by running an inside move pick off. Most fans and parents watching may think that the only purpose is to pick the runner off at second, when in reality, the goal is to see what the batter does with his hands. Don’t get me wrong, if we can pick off the runner at 2nd base, we will definitely take that. But again, the ultimate goal is to determine if the batter is bunting or swinging away in this bunt scenario. This also could lead to a pitch out, snap throw behind a runner at 2nd, opening up other avenues of getting the lead runner out. Our goal isn’t necessarily that they can execute a designed play, but that their Ball IQ and instincts allow them to see opportunities to get outs.
The last example of Create a Play is encouraging our athletes to be one step ahead. Players are learning how to set up a play with a previous pitch, learning how to lull a runner to sleep on the bases, which leads to getting those tougher outs other than your volume outs (K’s, fly balls, ground outs). One tactic our athletes use is visualization before every pitch. We want them to know what they are doing with the ball before it is even hit to them. Nobody should be surprised when the ball is hit their way. This reemphasizes our players to be “One Step Ahead” so when they have the opportunity to make a play, they execute with confidence without second guessing themselves.
When introducing this concept to our athletes for the first time, the reaction was deer in the head lights. We are now 2 months into this process and the improvements being made have been significant and very unique. Most training, rather individual or team, is focused on the physical movements of a player. This Create a Play Sequence is very unique in the fact that it is predominately mental, with the physical being execution of the play. The biggest improvement we want to see from players is their communication skills and being confident in what they are communicating. The Extreme highly encourages players to “get out of their bubble” during a practice, since after all, it is called practice for a reason. Too many times, a player shuts down and does not communicate at practice in fear or being wrong or the repercussions of being wrong from coaches and other players. With that said, the mistake is made in practice, but come game time, players are confident in their communication. Needless to say, we are encouraged by the current progress and potential opportunity that will come from the Create a Play Sequence training.
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.
The discussion around youth sports continues to heat up. Our society is STRESSED and our youth sports culture is no different. Much of the stress comes from youth sports not being transparent. Where is the plan? What are we doing this year, and the next? Coaches are not intending to withhold that information, the honesty is most don’t know how to look that far out in advance and plan everything it takes to develop their team and the costs that go along with that. The Extreme Way was created to effectively and openly communicate to the parents upfront what this year would look like for their kid and what each year after that would look like as they grow and mature in sports. By creating a roadmap the Extreme Way helps coaches navigate the progress of their team year in and year out making transparency a top priority for the parents.
- Allow parents to see when the increased commitments around time and finances will occur so they are prepared for it.
- Eliminates reactionary responses, last minute decisions, and lowers stress.
- Eliminates Parent Peer Pressure – that need to say yes to everything until you have to say no to even a small thing. No more worry of your child being left out or their development not being the caliber of other kids on the team.
- Less financial worries
- Transparency around your kid and their path through youth sports
- Calendar of events that supports the kids to plan and participate in multi-sports activities
- Diversification by being active in other school functions and activities
- Fight against burnout in sports with age appropriate commitments that increase as the get older.
- Playing for coaches who have a plan and who can focus on a deeper relationship with your kid and supporting their youth sports experience.
- Sports Injury prevention by having professionals oversee their development in key areas of the game.
Transparency solves many problems for a team. The Extreme Way is our commitment to the families that your kids development is being considered from all angles. We will not operate a week at a time, we know what a great 3D athlete looks like at the end of their youth sports experience and we are committed to helping our coaches put in a progression that gives each kid a chance to develop and fall in love with the game.