Blog

 Infield Miscommunication
(12/5/2022)
 
 
   

Infield Miscommunication


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow identifies a lapse of defensive coverage when the shift leaves third base uncovered, resulting in a double-steal by the away team.


Tom Succow is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 Psychology of the Injured Athlete
(11/16/2022)
 
 
   

Psychology of the Injured Athlete


Mental strategies that can help athletes overcome some of the challenges associated with injury rehabilitation.


Injuries are just as much a part of the game as batting practice and playing “pickle”. They can range from minor sliding rashes and bruises to career-threatening injuries. When your child is injured, they often experience a wide variety of emotions- perhaps denial, anger, or depression. You recognize these stages, often associated with the Grief process, and you’re right for doing so!

The injury can represent a true loss for an athlete and really, it’s quite common. The full 5 Stages of Grief are, denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. The length of time it takes the athlete to move through each stage depends on several factors, including emotional stability, type, and severity, of the injury, and the overall outlook of the injured athlete. Understanding this mindset is important for preparing an athlete for their road ahead to recovery.

The mind may recover slower than the body, and as rehab progresses, it’s common for an athlete to be physically ready for competition, but not psychologically ready in these cases. The psychological state of the athlete is as important as the athlete’s physical state, and his or her mental state can influence physiological function. Today sports psychologists are linking positive psychological strategies with a faster return to sport. So, as a parent what can you do? Here are several mental strategies that can help your child overcome some of the challenges associated with injury rehabilitation and decrease the time away from the field:

Psychological Intervention Strategies for Injury Rehab

Goal setting

Goal setting provides the athlete with a sense of control, persistence, and commitment rather than an over-reliance on their doctor or therapist/athletic trainer. In fact, the more problematic the injury and the greater the athlete’s commitment to their sport, the more intense the approach to goal setting should be. Writing down goals and planning a rehab strategy helps keep the athlete focused on healing. It’s very important, however, to set modest short-term goals since athletes can often interpret small improvements as no or insufficient improvement.

Self-talk

Injured athletes can struggle to stay positive about themselves and their injury to dwell on negative and irrational thoughts about themselves, their injury, and their return to performance, creating emotional states such as fear, anxiety, and depression – emotions shown to impair athletic performance and interfere with a successful rehabilitation. Reframing negative statements into more optimistic positive ones that are rehearsed and spoken by the athlete as part of his or her own internal dialogue can lead to more positive approaches to rehabilitation. Goal setting and self-talk are two of the most important techniques in the rehabilitation process.

Social support

In many cases in athletic situations, friendships may be suddenly changed because of the occurrence of an injury. Rehab can be a lonely place. Injured athletes may no longer see themselves as contributors, especially when they’re away from the sport. Therefore, it’s important to keep them engaged with teammates throughout their rehab. Support from significant others can contribute most to the differentiation between adherers and non-adherers of a sport injury rehabilitation – athletes are more likely to keep a commitment to another person than to themselves. It may also be a good idea to introduce the injured athlete to an injury support group which involves meeting regularly with a coach and other injured athletes to talk through their thoughts and emotions.

Imagery

According to the theories of imagery, the muscles being imagined become slightly stimulated during imagery practice, like nerve connections experienced during actual performance, meaning improved skills development. Also, according to imagery theory, since the systems of the body consist of biological, psychological, and social components, when two or more components interact, they regulate each other. It’s through these regulations that systems become interconnected. Impairment of body processes at the physiological level can disrupt the psychological level and impairment at the psychological level can disrupt the physiological level. A major objective of healing imagery is to improve the connections between these two.

It has been suggested that positive visualization can eliminate the destructive panic-stress images in the mind which can cause closing of blood vessels and reduced blood flow to the injured area. This is important because decreased blood flow is thought to be a precursor for muscle tension, a negative outcome within rehabilitation.



Injuries are part of the game, but if you’re prepared for them when they do happen, your kids will thank you! Remember, athletes who recover most quickly from injury tend to be highly motivated, take an active role in their recovery and adhere to their rehabilitation protocols. Goal-setting techniques, healing imagery, positive self-statements and stress-management techniques have all been associated with a quicker recovery from injury and gets your child back to what they enjoy!


www.journey-through-grief.com/kubler-ross-stages-of-grief.html

https://www.ncaa.org/sports/2015/2/10/the-psychology-of-sports-injuries.aspx

https://onlinemasters.ohio.edu/blog/the-psychology-of-sports-injury-and-rehabilitation/  

https://natmedworld.com/psychology-injured-athlete/




The U.S. Council for Athletes' Health (USCAH) was founded upon the need for trusted, independent athletic health care partners with the experience and expertise to advise and consult with organizations regarding their healthcare delivery system. This is why USCAH is committed to providing independent and unbiased medical expertise to organizations and individuals dedicated to the optimal health and safety for the athletes they serve. You can find out more about USCAH at www.uscah.com or by reaching out to [email protected]


 9 Surprising Things You Need to Know About Inflammation
(11/24/2022)
 
 
   

9 Surprising Things You Need to Know About Inflammation


What inflammation really means for an athlete, why it’s not always a bad thing, and how to naturally lower levels of chronic inflammation.



You may have heard of inflammation in popular news media lately and wondered if it could impact your athlete. Or maybe your athlete has been feeling more sore than usual and you’re not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Inflammation sounds scary, but for athletes, it’s a natural part of the training and competition process. Here, TrueSport Expert Stephanie Miezin, MS, RD, CSSD, explains what inflammation really means for an athlete, why it’s not always a bad thing, and how to naturally lower levels of chronic inflammation.

Inflammation isn’t a bad thing
Inflammation is the natural and necessary process of the body trying to deal with an issue. It can come from many things: exercise, muscle damage or trauma, and the immune system removing pathogens in the body. We all think that inflammation is inherently bad, but it’s happening for a reason.

You may not want to decrease inflammation
Everyone wants to decrease inflammation, but there is a purpose for it. For things to heal and get better, inflammation needs to occur. For athletes, muscle damage occurs naturally through physical activity and the body's repair process will generally include some sort of inflammatory process.

Your goals matter
If an athlete is training frequently and needs to recover quickly, decreasing some inflammation is useful. On the other hand, if somebody is prioritizing adaptation to exercise (lifting heavy at the gym, for example), that means letting that inflammatory process take its course, so it may be better to skip anti-inflammatory strategies.

Skip anti-inflammatory supplements
There are a lot of anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, tart cherry juice, and antioxidant-rich foods that have been shown to decrease different markers of inflammation. When it comes to antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods, ‘food first’ is recommended. We’ve seen that with supplements, some research has found that increased inflammation or increased oxidation can occur, so the supplements are backfiring.

It’s also important to remember that foods that are high in anti-inflammatories and antioxidants are generally good to eat regardless. For instance, foods that naturally contain the antioxidant vitamin C, like oranges, berries, or red peppers, contain so much more than just that one vitamin. They have beta carotene, which turns into vitamin A, and they have fiber and other phytonutrients.

Food can also cause inflammation
While some foods can help lower inflammation, other foods can exacerbate it. Refined sugar—that’s added sugar, not natural sugar from fruit or grains—can increase inflammation. More specifically, the high glucose load that comes in when an athlete eats a lot of refined sugar can lead to increased oxidation, which can harm cells and lead to inflammation. If blood glucose is going out of a healthy range frequently, that can lead to inflammation that builds up over time. Saturated fat is also associated with increased inflammation, as are fried foods, particularly those fried in oil that’s been heated and cooled multiple times.

…But athletes still need to eat
While refined sugars and fried foods might add to inflammation, it’s critical not to undereat to avoid extra sugar. Instead, try to eat healthfully with whole foods—including plenty of unrefined or less refined carbohydrates—80 percent of the time. For young athletes who are active, it might be difficult to meet all their energy needs with ultra-healthy foods, so focus on nutrient-dense sources like vegetables, protein, and whole grains in the appropriate quantities. If athletes are under-fueling, that’s going to lead to low energy availability and potentially poor immune system function and increased risk of infections. Inflammation can’t be “cured” with food Instead of looking to food to cure suspected inflammation issues, consider first where that inflammation may be coming from. For athletes, high training volume and intensity, especially for prolonged periods, could be the root of excessive inflammation. While dietary strategies may be able to help, they very likely won’t be as effective as focusing on adjusting training to better manage inflammation.

Inflammation is a moving target
Testing for inflammation, or even what the appropriate inflammation levels are, is difficult. There are some blood markers like C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and interleukin proteins 6, 8, and 10 that are used for research purposes, but even those are only part of the picture, and the ‘right’ level for people will vary. And even symptoms aren’t perfect indicators. Feeling sore is the obvious one for athletes, but even that might be related to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) rather than systemic inflammation.

Inflammation shouldn’t be your focus
Ultimately, the best offense for inflammation is a good defense. Rather than stressing about testing certain blood markers, take control of your training and fueling before it becomes a concern. Avoid overtraining and build your diet from colorful fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants and fiber. Overall, people don't need to be worrying about inflammation as much as they might think.

Takeaway
To prevent inflammation, athletes should avoid overtraining and eat a whole food-based diet that contains plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, protein, and whole grains. And remember: some inflammation is a good thing.



TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.

For more expert-driven articles and materials, visit TrueSport’s comprehensive collection of resources . This content was reproduced in partnership with TrueSport. Any content copied or reproduced without TrueSport and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s express written permission would be in violation of our copyright, and subject to legal recourse. To learn more or request permission to reproduce content, click here .


 What's the Call? Option Play
(12/1/2022)
 
   

What's the Call? Option Play


What's the Call
Presented with Umpires Media


There is one out and a runner on third base. The batter swings at the pitch, makes contact with the catcher’s glove on the swing, but still manages to hit a fly ball into left field. The runner at third tags up and scores on the play. Does the run count?

For more What's the Call videos, click here.  

Umpires Media is a leading provider of video-based sports rules explanations, maker of the world’s first digital baseball rulebook and the Baseball Rules Explorer.


 Invest in Others the Way Others Have Invested in You
(11/18/2022)
 
   

Invest in Others the Way Others Have Invested in You


FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster


Everyone wants to feel like they matter. We all wish to have a voice that is heard, and people innately desire to be seen by others. There are few things more deflating than being made to feel like you’re invisible, muted, or insignificant. Sadly, in sport, the latter is far too common of an occurrence within the dynamic of many teams. It’s one of a leader’s primary jobs to make sure that doesn’t happen.

---

Back in the spring of 1997, as a freshman playing at Rutgers University, I was taught a vital lesson that would later become the core of who I am now, as a coach. About ten games into my first season, Central Florida crushed us one night, behind what seemed like 15 pull-side hits down the left field line past our third baseman. As our shortstop, I was responsible for telling our third baseman when off-speed pitches were coming, so he could anticipate when the ball may be hit his way- a responsibility given to me by our head coach, Fred Hill. I didn’t relay a single pitch the entire game.

After the game, in front of half the team, Coach Hill ripped me for not doing my job. I was embarrassed. I was upset. I was mad. I was mad and upset at Coach Hill for embarrassing me. Literally in tears on the bus ride back to the hotel, I was ready to transfer. When we arrived at the hotel, he was waiting for me to get off the bus and asked me to come back with him to his room. It was there when he said this: “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but the reason I’m riding you so hard about every little thing is because I think you have a chance to be a great player for us. You shouldn’t be upset when I get on you; you should get worried when I’m not.”

From that day forward, I my ability to handle criticism was completely transformed. No matter how loud these messages came, I knew they were coming from someone who not only believed in me and what I could become, but more importantly, was willing to invest his time and energy in helping me reach my potential.

---

In the world of professional baseball, and specifically in an organization’s Minor Leagues, high-profile prospects and big money signees generally get the bulk of the spotlight from the outside. Future Major League stars grab the headlines from the media and, in many cases, often grab the attention from their coaches as they work their way through the farm system. The running joke was that you were either a prospect or a suspect. In that light, as an undersized, under-tooled, middle infielder who couldn’t really hit or run, I was by all means a suspect as a Minor Leaguer coming up with the Kansas City Royals.

Two years into my professional career, made evident by the nature of interaction with some coaches were the prospect/suspect classes of players, and they were clear as day to me. That was until I got to Wilmington, Delaware in 2002, where I would play for a manager named Jeff Garber. He was different. In his eyes- at least to the player version of myself- there was no prospect/suspect status. To him, if you had a uniform, you were going to get coached. And if he was going to coach you, if didn’t matter if you signed for $1,000,000 or $100, he was going to coach you as if you were going to be a Big Leaguer one day.

It wasn’t about what Garbs taught me as a player that got me better. Sure, that helped, but it was far more how he made me feel in his approach to doing so. He made me feel like a prospect. He made me feel like I mattered. Because of the attention he always gave me, he always had mine. THAT is the power of investment. While I didn’t realize it at the time, now in his shoes as a Minor League coach myself, with the Red Sox, I know how truly special that was. In large part because of feeling like I always got the very best from Jeff Garber, I make constant effort to give every player the very best from me.

---

The Cape Cod League is the preeminent summer circuit for college players. It’s a proving ground for the best in America to play one another and permits the cream of that crop to typically find itself atop Major League clubs’ draft boards the following year. Since 2001, Kelly Nicholson has spent his summers coaching in Orleans, the last 17 seasons as the team’s head coach. In 2008, based solely on the recommendation of a mutual friend, Kelly offered me the opportunity to join his staff that summer in what, still today, I consider one of the most impactful breaks of my coaching career.

Put simply, with this role, Kelly gave me the opportunity to think. Still at the infancy of my own coaching career, which had begun just two years prior, I knew baseball, but didn’t know the nuances behind coaching it. At the time, I was on Coach Hill’s staff at Rutgers, so my approach to helping our players there was to be an extension of him and his thoughts and his beliefs. While in Orleans, I didn’t have to play to Coach Hill, and Kelly didn’t want me to play to him either; he encouraged me to think for myself. In charge of making our lineup, running our offense, and coaching third base, I was given responsibilities that forced me to think for myself, and often, on the spot. I got some things right and some things wrong, but regardless, every day, I had him there for support, insight, and encouragement.

Kelly took a chance on me when he offered me the job- a stranger at the time without an interview- and spent the entire summer pouring into me, because, well, that’s what he does. His Orleans coaching tree has branches that run high and wide into all levels of the game, from high school all the way up to the Big Leagues. As one of those proud branches, I feel a sense of duty to plant seeds in other coaches the same way he planted seeds in me.

---

The most valuable commodity in the world is time. It’s the ONE thing that every single one of us have but will eventually run out of. We show what we value in the time we invest. And when we invest time in those we are charged to lead, they feel valued. When people feel valued, the possibilities for what they may become are boundless. As leaders, we are in our positions because someone gave us their time, as Fred Hill, Jeff Garber, and Kelly Nicholson did for me. Now it’s our time to do the same for many others.



Darren Fenster is currently the Minor League Infield Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox. In addition to being the Third Base Coach for the 2020 US Olympic Team, Fenster was previously Manager of the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. A former player in the Kansas City Royals minor league system, Fenster joined the Red Sox organization in 2012 after filling various roles on the Rutgers University Baseball staff, where he was a two-time All-American for the Scarlet Knights. Fenster is also Founder and CEO of Coaching Your Kids, LLC, and can be found on Twitter @CoachYourKids.


 Hamate Fracture Prevention and Treatment
(11/15/2022)
 
   

Hamate Fracture Prevention and Treatment


Diamond Doc
By Dr. Marc Richard


Dr. Marc Richard, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Duke University, discusses a common wrist injury and how to prevent it. To have your questions answered by Dr. Richard, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Marc Richard, MD, is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University, specializing in elbow, wrist and hand injuries. Dr. Richard’s research evaluates the clinical outcomes of fractures of the upper extremity, with a particular interest in wrist and elbow fractures and improving ways to treat elbow arthritis in young patients. He also has a clinical and research interest in adolescent elbow throwing injuries.


 Are Different Cooking Oils Actually Better for You?
(11/10/2022)
 
   

Are Different Cooking Oils Actually Better For You?


9 Things You Should Know About Oil Selection


There are so many different cooking oils on the market, and it can be difficult to know which oil is the healthiest to use when cooking or baking for your young athletes. A high-quality oil can provide vital nutrition, and here, TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, is breaking down what you need to know about oil selection and how to pick the right type for any meal.  

Don’t Be Afraid of Oil
For many of us who had our formative years in the 80s and 90s, ‘fat’ was a bad word. Salad dressings that were fat-free were the healthy option and adding oil to a dish rather than coating a pan with non-stick spray was heresy for the health-minded. But we’ve since learned that certain fats aren’t just flavor-enhancing, they’re also essential to our overall health.

So, before we discuss which oils to use, Ziesmer urges parents to get rid of any misconceptions about oil being a bad thing. Especially for young athletes who are training hard, the extra calories from oil in addition to the essential nutrients it provides can be game-changing.

All Oil Isn’t Created Equal
While the caloric content of any oil is going to be very nearly even—about 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon—they aren’t all the exact same nutritionally. While all oil is composed entirely of fat, the type of fat in each will differ. It may seem confusing, but there are different types of fats: saturated fats, trans fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Ideally, a healthy diet eliminates trans fats entirely, since trans fats have no positive benefits and can raise bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol. Saturated fats should generally be eaten in moderation, while mono and poly-unsaturated fats are important for a healthy diet. Different oils will have different fat profiles: For instance, while olive oil only has two grams of saturated fat in that tablespoon, coconut oil will have 13 grams of saturated fat in the same serving.

Keep it Simple, Opt for Olive Oil
To simplify things immensely, a high-quality extra virgin olive oil is your best bet when it comes to oil consumption, says Ziesmer. Olive oil is made up of primarily mono and poly-unsaturated fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are critical for brain health. “It’s also rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, especially when you’re using extra-virgin olive oil rather than regular or virgin olive oil,” she adds.

Quality Matters
If your olive oil comes in a clear plastic jug, that’s typically a sign that it’s not the best quality, says Ziesmer. Look for dark green glass bottles—and store them in a cool, dark place instead of sitting right on the stove where it gets hot. “Avoid leaving it out in the sun, since that light can break down the antioxidants,” she adds. Sometimes, companies mix other oils in with their olive oil to cut costs.

Ziesmer recommends choosing brands that have been third-party tested for purity—look for the North American Olive Oil Seal when purchasing your olive oil. Can’t pull that list up at the store? Ziesmer’s quick tip is that high quality olive oil will cost more than $10 per liter. If it’s cheaper than that, you’re likely buying a blend.

Pay Attention to Smoke Point
You may have heard that olive oil has a low smoke point compared to other oils, and that’s true, relatively speaking. But the smoke point is still 410 degrees F for a quality extra-virgin olive oil, which means it can stand up to most cooking and baking applications. Just avoid cooking on extremely high heat or baking with it when a recipe calls for high heat in the oven. Once an oil is taken beyond its smoke point, Ziesmer says, it changes structurally, and goes from being a healthy oil to one that’s not so healthy. (Note: Virgin olive oil’s smoke point is considerably lower, so if you’re prone to turning up the heat, make sure you’re using a higher quality extra-virgin oil!)

Experiment With Other Oils
If you enjoy the taste of coconut oil, it’s a great option when roasting vegetables. But because it’s primarily made up of saturated fat, Ziesmer warns that it shouldn’t be used exclusively. There are plenty of other tasty oils available now that add flavor and healthy fats, though typically, they’re not suited for more casual cooking purposes. Sesame and walnut oils can be great additions for a salad or when lightly sautéing vegetables, but have distinct flavors. Avocado oil is another option with a mild flavor, but it has a very low smoke point and shouldn’t be used for anything other than a very light sauté. Feel free to experiment with some of these other oils, since they all have slightly different fat profiles and contain different antioxidants.

Steer Clear of These Oils
Except for coconut oil, Ziesmer suggests avoiding oils that are in solid form at room temperature, since they’re high in saturated fat. This includes shortening and lard, as well as palm oil (which she notes also has environmental problems). “These oils raise inflammation in the body, so not only are they not great from a health standpoint, they also aren’t helping an athlete recover,” she adds. Skip deep-fried foods as well. In addition to being heavily processed, high in calories, and low in nutrient density, they’re also typically packed with trans fats—especially when something is fried in re-used oil. As oil is re-heated, the chemical structure changes and the trans-fats in it increase.

Avoid Spray Cans—Make Your Own!
Not only are sprays packed with extra chemicals and preservatives (even the sprays labeled ‘olive oil’ contain ingredients like soy lecithin and dimethyl silicone), they’re also pricey. And while they may be convenient, they don’t provide the good quality fats and the extra calories that your athlete needs. However, sometimes, you do want to keep the oil light. If you’re just hoping to coat a pan to cook up some scrambled eggs, grease a waffle maker, or quickly spritz a salad, Ziesmer suggests getting a small glass spray bottle (available in any kitchen store) and decanting olive oil into that. You’ll not only save money by not needing to buy new spray cans every time you run out, but you’ll also be using a small amount of healthy olive oil instead.

Add Fat in the Form of Whole Foods
While adding fat in the form of oil is great, remember that whole foods are the best sources for fats since they provide more micronutrients, as well as fiber. Avocados and olives are two great examples of nutrient-dense fruits that make great oils but are arguably even better when eaten whole. Both contain plenty of fiber in addition to a variety of vitamins and antioxidants—plus they’re delicious and much more filling than a drizzle of oil! “Eating olives post-workout is a great way to get some extra salt,” says Ziesmer. “And of course, nuts are another great option for eating satisfying foods that are packed with healthy fats. A mix of nuts that includes walnuts is a great source of ALA, an important omega-3, plus you’re getting some protein. Chia and flax are also great additions.”


Takeaway
Don’t be afraid to use oil in your cooking, especially when preparing meals for active young athletes. In addition to offering antioxidants and healthy fat, high-quality extra virgin olive oil is the simplest and most cost-effective choice when it comes to selecting an oil to use. Skip aerosol sprays in favor of simply getting a glass spray bottle to fill with olive oil.




TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.

For more expert-driven articles and materials, visit TrueSport’s comprehensive collection of resources. This content was reproduced in partnership with TrueSport. Any content copied or reproduced without TrueSport and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s express written permission would be in violation of our copyright, and subject to legal recourse. To learn more or request permission to reproduce content, click here .


 Homerun to Deep Left Field
(11/7/2022)
 
   

Homerun to Deep Left Field


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow reviews a homerun hit far into left field in the first inning of the Collegiate National Team vs. the 2020 Olympic Team game.


Tom Succow is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 Why and How Athletes Can Have Tough Talks with their Coaches
(10/27/2022)
 
   

Why and How Athletes Can Have Tough Talks with their Coaches


9 Simple Steps for When It's Time to Talk to Your Coach


Having a tough talk with your coach doesn't have to be a stressful, scary thing. Whether you want advice on how to get more playing time or you're having a hard time with a teammate, these conversations might feel like a train wreck in the making, but they can go smoothly with a little thought  and preparation.

Here's what TrueSport Expert  and President of Now What Facilitation, Nadia Kyba, MSW, wants you to do to have a great talk with your coach.

Do it yourself
It's tempting to have your parents or caregiver call your coach for you but learning to talk to adults about tough topics is important and sport is a great testing ground. A trusted adult or your parents can still help  you work through what you want to say, but you should be the one asking the coach for a meeting. Of course, if you feel in any way unsafe around your coach or are uncomfortable with something happening on the team, you should tell your parents or another adult!

Make a plan
You can always ask your coach for a meeting via email, but specify that you'd like to meet in person or talk on the phone. One sentence about why you want to meet is plenty—save the specific details for your talk so you don't accidentally end up having your tough conversation via email. Face to face or over the phone is better. Say something like, 'I'm hoping to get some feedback, can we meet to talk about it?' in your message.

Plan your 'ask'
Think through what you want to say to your coach. Do you have examples you want to bring up, or certain questions you want to ask? What are you hoping to achieve by having this meeting? Often, we skip this planning stage and end up in meetings unsure of what to say. Write your thoughts down and bring the notebook to the meeting. Not only will you be prepared and less likely to forget anything important, the notebook shows your coach that you're taking the meeting seriously. It also gives you a prop: When you're nervous, you can pause for a few breaths and collect yourself by glancing at your notes!

For even more success, think about what you want for yourself—like more playing time—but also think about what that would mean for the team. Your coach will appreciate that you're thinking about the good of the team, not just your own interests.

Practice!
This is where your parents or a friend come in: Practice having your talk and test the different ways your coach might respond so you're ready for it. Practicing is especially helpful if you know you tend to get angry or upset  when you're having tough talks. If you can practice your conversation ahead of time, you're going to get out some of the emotion that might be building up, so you can go into your real talk with your coach feeling confident and calm.

Take a breath before going in
These meetings tend to take place after practice. And that's great, unless you're feeling gross, sweaty, and hungry. Take five minutes to hit the locker room and clean up, get changed, and have a quick snack. You'll feel more in control.

Ask open questions
Try to avoid asking your coach questions that can be answered with a yes or no. So instead of saying "Can I have more playing time?" consider asking, "What can I do to earn more playing time?" With an open-ended question, your coach will be required to provide a more specific answer, such as next steps regarding your practice, your personal development, and your contributions on the court to earn more playing time. If the answer you get isn't clear, you should always feel free to simply say, "Tell me more" or "Can you elaborate on that?"

It's OK to pause
Taking a break during the conversation to check your notes or gather your thoughts is completely acceptable. Pausing can help you settle your emotions , and it gives you a chance to rethink any of the questions you were hoping to ask.

Agree on next steps
Every conversation should close with a follow-up plan: How will progress be assessed? What are our next steps? Will we meet again? When will more feedback be provided? Ask your coach to recap their takeaways from the conversation. It's tough to do, but this is the most important part of the conversation. If you don't make a plan, the odds are good that this conversation will repeat itself in a few weeks.

Follow up
After you leave, take a few minutes to type up what you discussed and email it, along with a thank you, to your coach. This way, you're able to double-check that you understood what was discussed and the steps are in writing. Remember that your coach is just as busy as you are, and if you don't follow up, they may forget what they agreed to!

Takeaway
Tough talks are never easy, but they can be less difficult with some preparation and practice.



TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Work: All Ways and Always
(10/21/2022)
 
   

Work: All Ways and Always


FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster



Flashback to 2013. The player thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread even though he had yet to play a single game of professional baseball. The second he heard his name called in the Major League Baseball draft was the moment- in his mind- that he made it. To be clear, this was surely a significant moment in life, but for those who do find Big League stardom, getting selected by a club is merely one of many steps within the journey. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for this player of mine who I was set to manage as a part of our Gulf Coast League Red Sox team that season.

Instead of looking at his entry into rookie ball- the lowest level of professional baseball- as getting on the freeway to Boston, this player behaved as if he was parking his car in the first row in Cooperstown. Never had I seen a player more disconnected from the reality of a situation than this one. Despite our best efforts to acclimate him to professional baseball and equip him with the mindset he needed to have to get to where he thought he already was, he never ‘got it’. He didn’t work, he remained unmotivated, and he wasn’t getting better.

He was out of baseball just two years later.

Fast forward to present day. With the 2022 MLB draft in the books, we have a whole new crop of players who dream of one day making their mark at Fenway Park in Boston. Most of those newly signed draftees recently participated in our first-year player mini-camp at our Spring Training complex in Fort Myers. Essentially during this week-long introduction to our organization and professional baseball, players not only participated in physical activity on the diamond, but also in educational sessions off the field.

Infielders were introduced to our staple drill routines. Pitchers learned the details behind our throwing program. Hitters got a crash course on our overall developmental plan and the kind of work needed to see it come to fruition. In addition to all the baseball work, we wanted to also familiarize them with things like the importance of nutrition and sleep, mental skills, and strength and conditioning.

The common theme throughout the week and in all these areas: work. Work at your best, in everything you do.

“Always and all ways” is an expression I learned as a first year Minor League player back in 2000 and is something I still use often when it comes to not only the work, but also in terms of what it means to truly be a professional. In every aspect of life, and at all times, you are representing yourself, your family, your friends, teammates, and coaches. How you do anything is how you do everything. Habits off the field- in the gym, the kitchen, at night, in the morning- will indicate your habits on it.

Being a professional baseball player here in 2022 goes far beyond just baseball. While it is at the center of everything we do, there are many parts of our days that epitomize the holistic development of our players. Time spent in the weight room is not meant to look good at the beach but to make our players stronger on the field. Getting a good night’s sleep and a better day’s meal will play directly into the energy we have in the tank to do what we need to do on diamond. Being mentally strong can only help us manage the ups and downs in this game of failure we play.

Everyone loves to hit, but will they take the same pride in their baserunning? Everyone loves baseball, but will you be as dedicated to the non-baseball parts of the profession that will make the baseball that much better? Those who are the most dedicated to all parts of professional baseball are the ones who put themselves in the best position to advance.

August is a very exciting month on the baseball calendar. Hundreds of players will lace up their spikes for the first time as professionals. College programs are also welcoming their freshmen and transfers to campus for the first time, with fall practice soon to follow. Many minor leaguers are moving on up and earning promotions to higher levels that will give them a head start on next year. And a select few will be playing in the Major Leagues for the very first time with the goal of staying under those bright lights for the foreseeable future.

At every level of the game, there is always that next level to reach. Even Mike Trout, who is arguably the best player in the game today, has another level that he wants to get to as a player. And when he gets there, he’ll want to take his game even higher. Whether it be that college freshman or the first time Big Leaguer, there is a funny thing about those who are consistently successful every time they arrive to the next level of the game: they approach their work every single day as if they never arrived.



Darren Fenster is currently the Minor League Infield Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox. In addition to being the Third Base Coach for the 2020 US Olympic Team, Fenster was previously Manager of the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. A former player in the Kansas City Royals minor league system, Fenster joined the Red Sox organization in 2012 after filling various roles on the Rutgers University Baseball staff, where he was a two-time All-American for the Scarlet Knights. Fenster is also Founder and CEO of Coaching Your Kids, LLC, and can be found on Twitter @CoachYourKids.


 What's the Call? Live Ball/Dead Play
(11/3/2022)
 
   

What's the Call? Live Ball/Dead Play


What's the Call
Presented with Umpires Media


There is one out, with a runner on second base and the count on the batter standing at 2-2. The batter swings and misses, but the ball gets caught in the catcher’s mask. Is the batter out? Can the runners advance? What's the Call?

For more What's the Call videos, click here.  

Umpires Media is a leading provider of video-based sports rules explanations, maker of the world’s first digital baseball rulebook and the Baseball Rules Explorer.


 How to Handle Bullying
(10/19/2022)
 
   

How to Handle Bullying


How parents can help if their athlete is being bullied


Unfortunately, we know that bullying is present in schools across the country and affects the lives of many children each day. When these aggressions cross into the youth sports environment, baseball fields can become places of intimidation and fear instead of safety, positivity, and growth. To maintain a suitable atmosphere in youth sports, everyone, including parents, should do their part to help make sure that a child’s experience is not negatively impacted by bullying.

“He’s just a tough, old-school coach”


What happens when your child comes home from practice and shares that his or her coach may be the one that’s doing the bullying? The coach/athlete relationship is inherently unbalanced, as there are differences in power, knowledge, and occupation, and this makes occurrences of this type of bullying complicated to handle. It can be a very difficult topic for children to bring up and talk about; therefore, if your child has experienced bullying, it’s important that you investigate it closely and reassure them that what they have experienced is not right.

Why It's Important to Recognize

If your child is experiencing this form of abuse, recognize that this type of bullying, while common, is not a normal part of youth sports and it is critical that you act. You are your child's advocate, and without your help and intervention, they are left alone to defend themselves in a situation in which they have little control.

Signs of a Bullying Coach

It can be far too easy to dismiss a coach’s bullying behavior. In fact, many parents overlook abusive behavior toward their child rather than ask the necessary questions. They accept that the coach is just “tough” or “old-school” and assume they shouldn’t intervene.
While it may sound difficult to tell the difference between the two, there are clear signs that can help parents and athletes distinguish a "tough" coach from a bullying coach. Here are some clues to look for:

1. Verbal Abuse
Verbal put-downs, mockery, and provoking from a coach, in front of others, are clear forms of verbal abuse. The coach may also shout, swear, or yell on a regular basis, as well as make offensive jokes at your child or another child's expense. Some coaches even engage in gaslighting.

2. Intimidation
If a coach intimidates your child (or other players) on a regular basis, this is a clear sign of abuse. Intimidating behavior may include threatening kids with severe consequences to maintain power and control over them. It may also include threatening gestures, frequent yelling or shouting, and/or making threats to harm them physically when they make a mistake.

3. Seeding Doubts
A bullying coach may exhibit control by questioning an athlete’s abilities or commitment to the team. A coach may question their players’ commitment if they miss practices due to school or family obligations. While you may empathize with a coach who wants to put the team first and requires the utmost commitment, keep in mind that even if your child puts in long hours and sacrifices personal time, it still may not be enough for a rigid coach with too high of expectations. In this case, belittling or making fun of their players is an unacceptable way for a coach to implement dedication.

4. Undermining Success
Bullying coaches also may undermine the success of a child. This is especially common among coaches who set unrealistic goals for their teams. Doing so increases the player's chance of failure. What’s more, this type of coach may bench your child if they know a scout is coming to watch or if you have a lot of family at the game. It's not that your child did anything wrong, it's simply a way for them to establish control and instill fear.

5. Trash-Talk or Gossip
If your child's coach trash-talks your child to other coaches or spreads rumors, open your eyes. Bullies often go to great lengths to make others look bad. As a result, they may gossip with others or spread rumors about your child’s performance, abilities, or future in the sport in effort to tarnish their reputation.

How to Respond

If your child has been bullied by a coach, you may hesitate to do anything out of worry that taking action will make you athlete’s life harder. As your child’s most dependable advocate, though, you have a responsibility to stand up for what’s right. If you’re concerned about speaking up, inquire about the level of concern other parents may have. Finding other families with similar concerns makes addressing the issue easier; however, if you are the only family experiencing this behavior, you still need to do something. Standing up for your child will not only let them know that you will go to bat for them, but also may spare other children from being similarly abused.

You can also help your child learn to recognize bullying for what it is, so that they don’t blame themselves for their coach's behavior. Remind them that bullying doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them or that they’ll never be a good player. Instead, discuss how bullying is a choice that is made only by the bully based on their own insecurities and shortcomings.

Listen deeply and respectfully gather more information. It is important to respond in a way that shows you care for your child’s safety and well-being. When they decide to confide in you, be sure to remain composed while asking thoughtful questions. It is also important that you begin a written account of what has happened with dates, times, and potential witnesses.

Stay calm. This is an opportunity to model thoughtful action for the child involved. Reacting quickly and out of anger will cause greater harm.

Ask the child’s opinion before acting. Remember, the child is the most at risk for further consequences, and it’s important to balance their concerns about the problem and allow them to be a part of the solution going forward.

Meet with the adult and their supervisor. Be prepared, respectful and clear. Before meeting with a coach and their staff or supervisor, be sure to reference the school/league handbook to determine if there is policy or code of conduct related to the observed behaviors. At the meeting, share what your child has reported to you and discuss how the behaviors relate to the policy. If the teacher/coach seems concerned, regretful, and apologetic, ask how they plan to follow up with your child. If your conversation and concerns are dismissed or not taken seriously, be prepared to take your concerns to the next level. Going to the league administrator or school board may be the best next steps to voice your concerns.


Remember, if it walks like a bully and talks like a bully…



The U.S. Council for Athletes' Health (USCAH) was founded upon the need for trusted, independent athletic health care partners with the experience and expertise to advise and consult with organizations regarding their healthcare delivery system. This is why USCAH is committed to providing independent and unbiased medical expertise to organizations and individuals dedicated to the optimal health and safety for the athletes they serve. You can find out more about USCAH at www.uscah.com or by reaching out to [email protected]


 5 Signs of Dehydration and How to Best Rehydrate
(10/13/2022)
 
   

5 Signs of Dehydration and How to Best Rehydrate


TrueSport Expert shares what you need to know to help athletes stay safe on the field.


Hot weather is coming, and that means your athletes are at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated during practices and games. And even mild dehydration can impact athletic performance , as well as an athlete’s general health. Losing just two percent of an athlete’s bodyweight through sweat loss can change how an athlete is feeling and performing, whether they are sprinting at a track meet or participating in a day-long volleyball tournament.

Here, TrueSport Expert Stephanie Miezin, MS, RD, CSSD, is sharing what you need to know to help athletes stay safe on the field.

SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION

1. Don’t count on the scale
As we've mentioned , a loss of two percent of an athlete’s bodyweight due to sweat loss is a strong signal for dehydration. But in reality, that calculation is pretty complicated. Miezin explains that you would need to weigh an athlete immediately prior to practice—accounting for clothing—then account for all fluid lost through using the bathroom as well as all fluid gained from sipping water or a sports drink, or even including food eaten. “It’s usually impractical for athletes, and for coaches,” she adds. You need a smart scale, a food scale, and a degree in mathematics to keep track of that two percent loss! That’s why most research that cites the two percent statistic is done in controlled lab conditions. So, in real life, how do you know if an athlete is becoming dehydrated?

2. Pay attention to subtle cues
Rising irritation levels, increased fatigue, dizziness, and trouble paying attention are all early warning signs that an athlete may be becoming dehydrated, says Miezin. The biggest sign is a drop in energy levels, which can sometimes be attributed to calorie deficiency rather than dehydration. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course, so if you’re noticing any of these signs in an athlete, stopping for a sports drink or water plus a snack break is a smart idea.

3. Look for physical indicators
Loss of coordination, nausea, and cramping are all indicators of dehydration, though they all have other causes as well. An athlete who seems to be losing coordination may be in the early stages of dehydration or even heat exhaustion, says Miezin. Unfortunately, loss of coordination and nausea can also both be brought on by a concussion , so it’s important to make sure that an athlete didn’t suffer from a hit to the head. Cramping may be another indicator of dehydration, though it’s not a guarantee. “We still don’t know exactly what causes cramping for athletes,” she says. “But because it may be caused by a fluid and electrolyte imbalance, making sure that an athlete who is cramping is rehydrating properly may be helpful.”

4. Early dehydration doesn’t have obvious physical manifestations
“I remember having a coach who would take me out of games almost immediately when it was hot out, because my face would get very red, very easily,” Miezin recalls. A red face isn’t an indicator of dehydration or even heat exhaustion, though. Some people are just naturally more prone to flushing in higher temperatures. Some athletes are also heavier sweaters than others, and while it might look worrisome, it’s perfectly natural. For the heavier sweaters, do prioritize sports drinks or water with added electrolytes, as those athletes are losing more electrolytes and fluids at a higher rate than less sweaty athletes.

5. Educate your athletes
One of the common indicators of dehydration is urine color. Typically, the rule is that urine color should ideally look like ‘lemonade.’ “Apple juice color or darker can be a sign of dehydration,” Miezin says, but cautions that other factors can influence urine color. An athlete eating beets or taking certain vitamins or supplements may end up with brightly colored red or yellow urine, which can mask dehydration issues. Despite those variables, you can tell athletes to pay attention to urine color—and how often they need to pee—as potential warning signs for dehydration.

HOW TO REHYDRATE

1. Dehydration can happen even in short practices
If practices or games run over an hour, make sure you’re allowing athletes time for an electrolyte-infused water and/or snack break. If a session is particularly intense, especially in hot weather, you may need to break more often. While most short practices don’t require an athlete to take in extra water or calories, if the athlete is starting practice mildly dehydrated, even a 45-minute session can dehydrate them. As temperatures rise, recommend that athletes show up to practice with sports drink or water that has electrolytes  or a pinch of sea salt added. And never disallow an athlete from taking a break to hit the water fountain if they ask!

2. Rehydrate with electrolytes and water
You may be surprised to learn that dehydration isn’t just water depletion. Your athlete needs to replenish critical electrolytes along with water  in order to better absorb the water quickly. That means sports drinks are the best option for rehydration, rather than plain tap water, says Miezin. Adding a pinch of sea salt to regular water is another option , as is eating a salty snack while drinking water, especially if you don’t have access to a sports drink and you believe that an athlete is beginning to show signs of dehydration.

3. Don’t gulp gallons of water
When rehydrating an athlete, try to focus on slow and steady sipping. Sipping allows for better absorption of water rather than chugging. Drinking too much, too fast can have other potentially harmful effects other than needing to take more bathroom breaks. “It’s generally not ideal to encourage athletes to start chugging plain water,” says Miezin. “Water without electrolytes can lead to hyponatremia when consumed in large quantities, which is when the body’s sodium levels become dangerously low.” Unfortunately, hyponatremia can be deadly for young athletes , which makes following rehydration procedures even more critical. Water alone won’t rehydrate your athlete: A balance of electrolytes and water is necessary.

4. Take a break
If you suspect an athlete is becoming dangerously dehydrated—their mood or coordination is affected—it’s time for a break. That may mean a short break on the sidelines as they slowly sip a sports drink, or it may mean sitting out the rest of the game altogether, depending on how well they seem to bounce back. You’ll have to make a judgment call on whether they should return to play, says Miezin. (Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.) Additionally, make sure that the athlete is out of the sun and sitting or lying down to recover. Dehydration in hot, humid weather can cause an athlete to stop sweating, which can eventually lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke , so cooling them down is also important.

5. Dehydration is a year-round issue
In the summer, athletes are more likely to become dehydrated due to heat and humidity, but it can happen anytime during the year. Indoor practices are often pretty warm and busy lifestyles can lead to dehydration even on mild days. So, keep an eye out for these symptoms all the time, not just when summer hits.

Takeaway
Dehydration symptoms are hard to see, so pay close attention for signs like a loss of coordination, increased irritability, and fading energy. If you suspect an athlete is becoming dehydrated, ensure that they pause and sip a sports drink (ideally chilled), as well as allow their bodies to cool down.



TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 What's the Call? Pitching Prohibitions
(10/6/2022)
 
   

What's the Call? Pitching Prohibitions


What's the Call
Presented with Umpires Media


The batter squares around to sacrifice bunt, but changes his mind and pulls the bat back. The pitch hits his forearm, which is still over the plate in the strike zone. There are no outs. The pitcher is standing on the mound with their pivot foot off the rubber as he reaches up and touches his pitching hand to his mouth. Is this a balk?

For more What's the Call videos, click here.  

Umpires Media is a leading provider of video-based sports rules explanations, maker of the world’s first digital baseball rulebook and the Baseball Rules Explorer.


 Hit and Run Out at Third Base
(10/3/2022)
 
   

Hit and Run Out at Third Base


Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow reviews an excellent out at third base on a hit and run through left field in the Collegiate National Team vs. Olympic Team 2021 game.


Tom Succow is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 Helping Cultivate Healthy Social Media Use with Youth in Your Life
(9/20/2022)
 
   

Helping Cultivate Healthy Social Media Use with Youth in Your Life


How Coaches and Parents Can Support Them in Developing Healthy Social Media Behaviors.


Many of you remember the public service announcement from the 80’s, “It’s 10 PM, do you know where your children are?” If your kids are like most, they’re on their phone/computer checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, tiktok, or Snapchat. The age group between 13-17 often consumes 6-8 hours a day of social media and online content. While social media can certainly cause it’s share of problems, it’s here to stay. Young people are going to use it whether adults like it or not. Parents and coaches have a tough job—the goal isn’t to keep athletes off social media altogether, but to support them in developing healthy social media behaviors.

Let’s examine both sides of the social media phenomenon:

Helpful Impacts on Mental Health:

• It can provide a wealth of information for athletes looking to improve themselves physically and mentally, usually free of charge
• Group support
• Some kids have more comfort reaching out in an online format
• Sharing their athletic achievements with a wide and diverse population
• A platform for them to develop their “Brand” and market themselves
• An escape from the daily routine and outside of their “normal”

Harmful Impacts on Mental Health:

• Individuals or groups can post or share information easily without regard for a specific individual or group. This allows the consumers to infer tone and intent and this is where bullying is born.
• Even in instances where negative information is shared and then removed, that moment can resurface at any time which may cause the individual or group to process the emotions and feelings time and time again.
• The negative emotions that can be created because of social media are far-reaching and can take over a large portion of your child’s time and energy.
• Too many late-night hours can negatively impact sleep and we know how important the proper amount of sleep is to overall positive mental health.

How can parents engage their children to harness the positives of social media

Ask questions. Let’s face it—most youths know way more about social media than the adults in their lives. And they know more about what exactly they’re doing online. Instead of starting conversations by talking about the harms or effects of social media, be open and curious about their unique experiences with it.

Celebrate the positives. When kids feel judged or misunderstood about their social media use, they’re likely to get defensive and shut down. Make sure to point out how great it is that they were able to connect with their friends and family who live far away, or comment on how helpful it must be to reach most of their teammates to discuss who’s signed up to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic!

Promote limiting screen time. Everything in moderation, right? Excessive time on the internet and social media has been linked to poorer mental health outcomes like depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Younger children will need more help with this—consider setting time limits or media-free zones. As children get older, support them in managing their own usage—encourage them to dedicate time to offline activities or help them update their phone settings to limit time on certain apps.

Model healthy use. This one is more important than you think. Young people notice what adults are doing more than we may think, including being told to get off their devices while the adults in their life seem just as obsessed. It can be tempting to try to manage their use, but you’re better off modeling healthy habits (age dependent, of course). Studies have shown that parental use of digital technology, rather than their attitudes toward it, determines how their children will engage with it.

Friend/follow your kids’ accounts. Your kids—especially teenagers—might resist you monitoring their social media, but it’s important that you’re (somewhat) informed of what’s happening in their online world. Explain your reasoning, listen to their hesitations, and let them set boundaries. Your virtual relationship with your child is an entirely new one, so be patient. Your best bet to build trust is to stay in the background: Don’t comment or like their posts unless they want you to, let the little things slide, and be ready to have offline conversations about the important things.

Social media can be a useful tool for development and distraction, but it can be a weapon of mental and athletic destruction in similar ways. The line between is often blurred.

“It’s 10 PM, do you know where your children are?”

https://mhanational.org/back-to-school/social-media-and-youth-mental-health

Youth and Social Media: Mental Health Effects and Healthy Use (healthline.com)

www.athleticshealthspace.com

Kevin Gorey is a Senior Director at the U.S. Council for Athletes’ Health (USCAH). Kevin brings extensive experience from both commercial health care and sports medicine to the USCAH team. His three-decades long professional experience has produced high-level results for the organizations he has had the privilege to work with.



The U.S. Council for Athletes' Health (USCAH) was founded upon the need for trusted, independent athletic health care partners with the experience and expertise to advise and consult with organizations regarding their healthcare delivery system. This is why USCAH is committed to providing independent and unbiased medical expertise to organizations and individuals dedicated to the optimal health and safety for the athletes they serve. You can find out more about USCAH at www.uscah.com or by reaching out to [email protected]


 Transfer Away from the Transfer Portal
(9/23/2022)
 
   

Transfer Away from the Transfer Portal


FUNdamental Skills
By Darren Fenster


If you’re an athlete, a parent of an athlete, or a coach and happen to scroll through social media on any day ending in the letter ‘Y,’ you are bound to come across something like the following post:

“Honored, blessed, and humbled to announce my commitment to attend The University of ABC to pursue my athletic and academic goals. I couldn’t be more excited to wear the XYZ’s uniform. Thanks to all who helped me along the way.”

High school kids cannot wait to announce their college commitment to the world. After years of the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears, it’s a proud life moment to be celebrated, as it should be. When athletes share their college plans with their followers, they do so while envisioning the perfect college experience. They see themselves in the starting lineup from day one as a freshman. They picture themselves leading their team to multiple championships. They finish their collegiate careers as high draft choices. They imagine all the good that they want to happen.

We always hear about the commitment. We rarely hear the times when it doesn’t work out. And more and more now, things aren’t working out at a rampant rate.

A month ago, there were more than 2,200 college baseball players in the transfer portal. TWENTY. TWO. HUNDRED. To understand how significant that number truly is, consider that the traditional Division I program carries 35 players on their roster. More than 60 entire rosters can be filled with players looking to transfer this summer.

That’s a lot of bad decision making.

That’s a lot of poor advice from “trusted” people.

That’s a lot of college programs and their coaches going back on their commitment.

Having spent six years on the Rutgers University baseball coaching staff from 2006-2011, I had a front row seat to see the depths of recruiting and everything that went into it from both the program’s perspective as well as the student-athletes’. Selecting a college to attend is arguably the most important decision teenagers will have to make up to that point in their lives, and it isn’t one that should be taken lightly. Understanding the significance of that decision as essentially being a four-year experience that sets someone up for the next forty years of their life, we, as a program, made the conscious effort to educate families on everything that should go into that college commitment, to make sure it was a good fit. Baseball was just one of those things, albeit a pretty essential one.

Our guidance with recruits and their families simply revolved around figuring out what things were important for them in their college experience, in all aspects of the college experience, not just baseball. We found that when decisions were made solely based on baseball, as they often were, things had to be perfect on the diamond for it to have a chance to work out, and even then, it wasn’t guaranteed.

First and foremost, academics had to be the priority; that is what college is all about, right? Good grades create options, while poor grades will limit them. If a kid had grades good enough to get into an Ivy League school but decided to go to a poorly regarded college just for baseball, he is sacrificing his academic prowess. There are good academic schools with baseball programs that attract some of the most talented players in the country. There are also some incredibly good academic colleges that are perfect for someone who may not be the cream of the baseball crop.

Naturally, baseball is the next piece of the puzzle. While the focus should always start on the educational side first, there is absolutely nothing wrong with investing a lot of time in finding the best fit on the diamond as well, especially for those who have a passion for the game and dream of playing in the Big Leagues. Different kids have different baseball goals. For those who aspire to play professional baseball, the opportunity to get significant at bats or meaningful innings then must play a part in the decision since few players will ever get drafted if they don’t ever play.

Some players love to play so much that they can’t stomach the thought of being redshirted or holding a backup role for a year or two. Well, then it’s important for that player to find a program where his talent would enable him to play right away. Often that opportunity is going to be found at a smaller school, possibly at a lower division. Conversely, others might feel the need to be a part of a big-time college program and would be perfectly happy being a role player for the duration of their playing career, some maybe even turning down a scholarship from a lesser program so they could walk-on at a major university.

The last major piece of choosing a school comes with the social aspect of the experience. Colleges and Universities come in all shapes and sizes. From vast campuses in the suburbs, to concrete blocks in the city; from small student bodies of a couple thousand, to huge enrollments that could fill football stadiums every Saturday, the options for campus life are almost endless. Much like finding the perfect fit in the classroom and on the baseball field, many should also consider what kind of campus life they would enjoy the most. Some might be completely overwhelmed by the enormity of a big-time ACC or SEC school by sheer numbers, just as others need to be at a place where half of the students don’t go home on the weekends. Is the campus a short drive from home or a long flight away? Do you have to be in warm weather year-round? Homebodies probably will be much better off at a school with closer vicinity to home, while those with a greater sense of independence will be fine farther away.

Between Division I, II, and III, not to mention NAIA schools and junior colleges, there is assuredly a fit for everyone who wants to play a sport beyond high school. To find the best fit, recruits and their families need to do their due diligence. It is clear, with more than 2,200 baseball players registering in the transfer portal, that many do not. Time after time, while I was coaching in college, we watched countless recruits commit to other schools where we had a pretty good idea that things were not going to work out. Sadly, we were right far more than we wanted to be. The perfect fit is there; it’s just a matter of you taking the time to find it. Do that, and the only place you’ll be transferring is away from the transfer portal.


Darren Fenster is currently the Minor League Infield Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox. In addition to being the Third Base Coach for the 2020 US Olympic Team, Fenster was previously Manager of the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. A former player in the Kansas City Royals minor league system, Fenster joined the Red Sox organization in 2012 after filling various roles on the Rutgers University Baseball staff, where he was a two-time All-American for the Scarlet Knights. Fenster is also Founder and CEO of Coaching Your Kids, LLC, and can be found on Twitter @CoachYourKids.


 How Parents Can Manage their Own Sport Anxiety
(9/22/2022)
 
   

How Parents Can Manage their Own Sport Anxiety


How your anxiety can impact your athlete and 5 ways to handle it in an honest, thoughtful way.

If you’re an athlete’s parent or guardian, you likely feel the same pre-competition nerves and jitters that your athlete does. You may notice that in the minute before the competition starts, your heart beats just a bit faster, or you struggle to sleep soundly the night before Nationals. That’s normal, but your anxiety can unfortunately have negative impacts on your young athlete if you don’t find ways to regulate it.

Here, TrueSport Expert  Kevin Chapman, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, explains how your anxiety can impact your athlete, and how to best handle it in an honest, thoughtful way.

Why your anxiety matters
“First and foremost, a parent needs to know that what they model and communicate to their athlete is what is important,” says Chapman. That means your anxious behaviors can make your athlete feel more anxious. “Unfortunately, children with an anxious parent are up to seven times more likely  than a child of a non-anxious parent to develop an anxiety disorder,” he adds. “But anxiety itself is not transmitted to a child genetically. Rather, the predisposition to respond to emotions in a dysregulated way is what is being modeled to that child in these formative years. That’s how the anxiety is transmitted from parent to child."

How to handle your anxiety

1. Pre-Game: Talk to your athlete
If you’re nervous about your athlete’s big game, they may be nervous as well, and that’s okay. In addition to understanding how your anxiety impacts your athlete, you can also focus on how nerves and anxiety are, in fact, completely normal feelings to have. “Successful athletes recognize that anxiety is normal,” says Chapman. “Anxiety is a normal part of competition. So it's not a matter of not being anxious when you compete. It's about normalizing the anxiety and understanding that it’s there to prepare you for the future threat, in this case, of not performing well. But there is an optimal level of anxiety that will help you, so regulating it and putting it in an optimal range is going to be what's important.”

Have a conversation with your athlete about how they’re feeling —and how you’re feeling! Let them know that it’s okay to be anxious, and that anxiety is there to help them prepare for competition. Often, that conversation helps them feel less anxious about their anxiety!

Need a quick catchphrase to give your athlete? Try telling them that the only difference between anxiety and excitement is their interpretation of the situation.

2. During the Game: Relax

It comes as no surprise that during the game, the best thing that you can do as a parent is to relax and try to stay calm and positive. Remember, as Chapman says, young people are incredibly skilled at picking up on the emotions of the people around them, especially the people who matter most to them. So if you’re on the sidelines  hiding your face, frowning, shaking your head, yelling, or looking horrified, they’re going to notice. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths to stay calm, and try to develop positive habits to keep you busy, like taking photos of the game (if that’s allowed). You can also task yourself with writing down five things your athlete does well in the game, which will force you to focus on the positive.

3. Post-Game: Don’t assume you know what your athlete is thinking
If a game didn’t go well, you might assume that your athlete is devastated, and that might make you feel anxious. But before you panic, remember that your athlete’s interpretation of the game could be completely different. Maybe you didn’t realize that he actually made a shot that he’s really proud of, or that she ran a personal best time. “Do not fall victim to catastrophizing and blowing mistakes out of proportion,” says Chapman.

“Parents need to remember that that process leads to outcomes . And if they can help their athlete recognize the process—things like learning skills, mechanics, technique, tactics, and strategy—then that's going to be the most important thing to be thinking about after a game,” he adds. "For example, my daughter was in the middle of a volleyball tournament and they lost a set. She was pretty upset about it, and as a parent, it’s easy to just try to empathize with her instead of helping her. But I told her, ‘I understand why you’re upset, but what did you learn?’ That’s a process question, and it took her out of that emotional state and back to thinking about what she needed to do to improve in the next set. She won the next match.”

4. Reward your athlete
Reinforcement is meant to increase a behavior, while punishment is meant to decrease a behavior. “Because of this, reinforcement is always more powerful than punishment  when we're looking for behavioral change,” says Chapman. “So, it's super important to reward yourself after spectacular performances. But you also need to avoid punishing your athlete for a performance that wasn’t the best.” His advice? Find something fun you can do with your athlete after every competition, like renting a new movie, and have an extra special reward for extraordinary performances, like actually going out to the movies.

5. Handling extreme anxiety
While avoidance is something that Chapman doesn’t typically recommend, if your presence at a game makes you anxious and that negatively affects your athlete, you may need to avoid being at the competitions. You could also consider driving separately and ensuring that you sit out of sight of your athlete. "I'm not a fan of avoidance, but if a parent is going to be so emotionally dysregulated that they're going to do themselves not only a disservice but they're also going to do the athlete a disservice, staying home might be the best thing,” Chapman says. “But ultimately, the goal should be to learn to regulate your emotions so you can be a part of your athlete’s sporting life.”

To manage these feelings of anxiety, ask yourself why you feel this way. Is it because typically, you only show up for the biggest games of the season and there’s a lot at stake? If that’s the case, consider trying to attend some practices or smaller competitions to see if lower stress settings ease your nerves. You can also seek expert help for yourself, says Chapman. Talking to a therapist about your anxiety will not only be good for your mental health, it may benefit your young athlete as well.

Takeaway
Your anxiety around your athlete’s competition and performance can translate to your athlete, so it’s important for you to address it and ensure that it doesn’t negatively impact your athlete’s performance or mental health. Nervous feelings around competition are natural, but if you do struggle with anxiety, consider sitting out of sight of your athlete during competitions and even driving separately if it’s a problem.



TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Double Down the Third Base Line
(9/5/2022)
 
   

Double Down the Third Base Line

Monday Manager
By Tom Succow


In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow reviews a stand-up double that puts the runner in scoring position with one away for the US Olympic team.


Tom Succow is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.


 What's the Call? Interference
(9/1/2022)
 
   

What's the Call? Interference


What's the Call
Presented with Umpires Media


There are runners on first and third. The batter hits a soft fly ball to the third baseman. The runner on third races back to the bag to tag up when they collide with the third baseman, who is then unable to field the ball. What’s the ruling?

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