Monday, July 18, 2016

Success in Summer Ball


                                                                                               (photo credit: photos.oregonlive.com)

It's July 18th, and summer ball is all around. I mean, it's everywhere. Travel ball has 18u, 17u, 16u...heck they go all the way down to 8u. Little Johnny and Tommy are getting shuttled all around the country to play the best teams their tournament fees can buy.

At the collegiate level, summer wood bat leagues are knee deep into the hot summer grind. While some hitters try to continue their hot streak from their spring seasons, others were happy to have a second Opening Day.

Let's get this straight: the summer is about development. 

No matter what age you are, it's not about as much about winning a summer championship (those are nice, too), as it is about personal development of your skills, your craft and developing committed hitting approaches.

Summer ball often provides an opportunity to see better pitching. Whatever league you are invited to play in will have an assembly line of pitchers who were among the best on their respective high school or collegiate teams. If you're a travel baller or high school hitter, you're likely seeing pitchers who have been bused or flown in just to face your team in pool play.

Facing pitchers that you have no scouting report on, in sizzling hot and muggy climates where exhaustion can creep in, with new teammates and coaches to prove yourself in front of, and a high school or college to represent...can create a lot of challenges and pressures. And as a collegian, your coaches have asked for you to improve on a skill or approach over the summer. Whew.

If you want to dominate this summer, heed this advice.

1.) Show up early. Earlier than everyone. Every day. Get better in the cages before the coaches ever show up for BP.

2.) Be process oriented. Focus on seeing the ball well and getting good pitches to hit.

3.) Play aggressively. No one plays well when timid or passive, especially against better competition.

4.) Develop self-awareness. The summer provides a more relaxed atmosphere for focusing on your thoughts, making adjustments and finding a way to improve. No one has homework in July. Become your own best teacher. If you can teach a skill, you can master it.

5.) Invest your time. Buy a couple of good books. Buy a notebook and take notes on your at bats, pre-game and during game thoughts, etc. There are a lot of long road trips in the summer, and an iPhone, Xbox or Men's Fitness magazine are really just a short-sighted waste of time. Everyone should have some down time, but summer ball provides an enormous amount of down time. Invest that time into something that will give you dividends upon your return to school ball.

6.) Work out. Hard. So many players waste their opportunity to improve their strength, flexibility and athleticism because they are afraid of playing sore or just flat can't get off the couch. You should be sore while playing in summer ball, that means you're lifting hard, too. Great achievement requires great sacrifice. Set a plan into action with an aggressive growth goal and attack the weights or yoga !

7.) Have fun! Everyone wants an opportunity to play pro ball, and this is as close to playing every day as many will get. Enjoy the opportunity to play in front of big crowds at night, meet new teammates, invent new rain delay antics and learn more about this beautiful game and about yourself!

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