OnDeck Newsletter Arrives Tomorrow!

Don’t miss this month’s OnDeck Newsletter! From Craig Sigl’s continued series coach communication to Brian Gotta’s first installment of his piece on the decline in youth sports participation and much more, you won’t want to miss it!

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Baseball cutoffs and relays – 3 simple tips for instantly faster relays

By Doug Bernier

In baseball cutoffs and relays, split seconds can mean a HUGE momentum shift in the game.

Get that out and now your team is energized. The game is shifting in your favor, and that attitude is contagious. It’s also contagious when that all out effort falls short and the runner is called safe.

It’s more than just one out. It’s the kind of play that can set the tone for the rest of the inning or even the rest of the game.

Every step counts. We can’t afford to waste time by being inefficient with our body movements.

So, thinking ahead and getting into a strategic relay position is a very easy way to see massive improvement in your relay time. Watch the video or read (below) to find out 3 easy ways to shave precious seconds off your baseball cuttoffs and relays.

Baseball cutoffs & relays – 3 Simple Tips for instantly faster relays
Cutoff Speed Tip 1 – Catch the ball on the glove-hand side of your body
Think ahead and get into position to cutoff the baseball by making the catch on your glove side. This will save you precious time and put you into a better position for the relay throw.

Cutoff Speed Tip 2 – Turn to your glove side, not the other way
Turning to the opposite side from your glove requires extra steps, which costs precious time in a cutoff situation. It also creates an awkward momentum that can lead to weaker and less accurate throws. So to be faster, stronger and more accurate, turn to your glove side to make the relay throw.

Cuttof Speed Tip 3 – Get into throwing position earlier
This is something to work up to (because first you have to have a good read on where the throw is going)… Get your body so you’re nearly in throwing position already before you even catch the ball.

All 3 of these tips are simple, but they require thinking ahead and getting into position. Practice them until they’re second nature, and you’ll never have to think about it again!

Use these 3 simple, strategic tips to eliminate inefficiencies in your baseball cutoffs and relays. You’ll have more success throwing out baserunners, and those exciting close plays will work in your favor instead of against you.

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After a 17-year pro career, Doug has officially retired from playing and is now a scout with the Colorado Rockies. You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier

Options for Choosing Little League All-Star Teams

Youth leagues around the country are deciding how to choose their all-star teams for the coming summer tournament. Below are some guidelines we suggested, originally published in 2010:

It can be one of the most difficult, controversial and emotional topics a youth league faces each year. How do we choose who makes the all-star teams and who coaches/manages them? There are always going to be many more kids and parents who believe themselves to be deserving than there are spots on the team. This leads to hurt feelings, accusations of cronyism, and animosity. Since Little League instituted an all-star level for 11 year-olds in 2003, to augment the traditional 9-10 and Majors levels,  even more debates have raged. Should the best 10 year-olds play in the 11 year-old division or stay in the 9-10? If a league has a lot of strong 11’s, should they stay together and compete in the 11 year-old tournament, or go up to Majors? Below is a guideline developed that addresses all of these topics. You may or may not agree with everything in this policy and may wish to adopt some parts, but not others. However, the result of having this document in place has been that nearly all arguments about the merits of players and coaches chosen for various teams have disappeared, due in part to a more transparent and objective selection process.

All-Star Selection Guidelines

The goal of ______________ Little League is to field the most competitive team in the Majors Division. Players for the Majors, 10-11 and 9-10 all-star teams will be selected in the following manner:

Majors: All players will vote for thirteen 11 and 12 year-old players in their respective leagues. Players will be allowed to vote for teammates and/or themselves if they wish. Instructions on the ballot, to be reinforced verbally by managers prior to voting, will be as follows:
Being selected to the ______________  All-Star Team is an honor and privilege. Select the 13 players on this list you believe to be most deserving of this honor based on their ability to help the team win. Ballots that the league feels are not taken seriously, (for instance: the majority of players you voted for are on one team, or most of the players you selected have not received votes from anyone else), may not be allowed.

All official league coaches and managers will also vote. The Player Agent will, with the President, tally the three sets of votes. Players will then be ranked from highest (most votes) to lowest. The committee recommends that this data be used by the President when making his decisions on manager slates. For instance, if a potential manager’s son or daughter is clearly in the top echelon after all voting is tabulated, it is very likely that the player will make the team when the final selection process occurs. However, if a potential manager’s child is “on the bubble” or not in the top 13, the President may wish to take into consideration the fact that this player may not warrant all-star status when formulating his slate.

The President will present his slate of managers and coaches to the board at the June BOD meeting. Once the slate is approved, the Majors Coordinator will schedule a meeting of the league’s managers to select the team. The five managers from each division, (and the manager of the all-star team if he is not one of the five managers), will select 13 players at that meeting, considering the votes of the players, coaches and themselves to be a guideline.

After the first vote, any players tied for the final spots on the roster will be voted upon again until a consensus has been reached and 13 players have been chosen. If two players are deadlocked for a 13th spot, the manager may, at his discretion, opt to carry a 14th player on the roster. If the final roster spot comes down to two players, one of whom is 12 and the other 11, the 12 year-old should be given the spot as it is assumed the 11 year-old will have the chance to play on the team next year.

It is possible that an 11 year-old player who is good enough to make the Majors team may wish to stay instead with the 11 year-old team. If this player is a “difference-maker” (was in the top 5-6 of the player/coach/manager voting), and is selected to the team by the managers, he must play with that team.

It is the recommendation of the committee that the team is comprised of 13-14 players, one manager and two coaches, and that the selection of the manager of the team is given equal importance to the selection of the players.

After the Majors team is finalized, the remaining eligible players from the Majors Division pool will be picked by the manager of the 10-11’s, along with the other league managers. It is the committee’s position that these will be primarily, if not exclusively, 11 year-old players.

The selection of the 9-10 all-star team will be conducted via tryout of between 18 and 22 players. Tryouts shall not be held prior to June 15, or two weeks prior to the start of the tournament, whichever is earliest. Every 10 year-old who played in Majors will automatically be invited to the tryout, which will be at least two days. Each team in Minors will submit up to 2 players, (3 if all agree), at a meeting arranged by the Minors Coordinator. After factoring in the number of Majors players invited to the tryout, the remaining invitees will be selected from Minors. If a tie between a 9 and 10 year-old player needs to be broken, it is recommended that consideration be given to the 10 year-old as the 9 will likely have the opportunity to play on the team next year. After the tryout, the Manager of the team will choose 13-14 players. It is recommended that a large portion of the tryout be comprised of a “live scrimmage game” between a team consisting of all Majors’ players against a team of the remaining players. A score book should be kept to assist the manager who is selecting the team in his decision-making process and to help make the process less subjective. Players who cannot attend either of the tryout dates will not be eligible to play. All-star hats will be ordered for all players attending the tryout, whether they make the team or not.

What will we do now?

The NCAA Tournament, our self-proclaimed best three weeks in sports, is over. Yes, the MLB is here and that’s great, but what’s the next BIG thing?. Well, beginning tomorrow the biggest golf tournament of the year begins and then a week from today one our favorite month-long sporting events, the NHL playoffs drop the puck! It’s always a great time to be a sports fan!

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Tomorrow’s issue and every issue past and future are yours for the taking here. You’ll love Bruce Brownlee’s message to soccer parents and Brian Gotta’s news about Baseball Safety. Sign up and never miss another issue!

Sports alive and well in the United States

There are some doom and gloom prognostications about the state of professional sports in the United States. Football has a concussion problem. Parents are no longer allowing their children to play. Baseball has a millennial issue. The game is too slow for the new, “I need to know everything now” generation. Pro basketball does not relate to the common fan.

Well, over 100 million people watched the Super Bowl, Major League revenues continue to soar, and the NBA’s ratings are up 30% this year. What is America’s pastime? Watching sports, enjoying our teams, and rooting for athletes. We believe it always will be.

Yep. You missed it

The June OnDeck Newsletter has gone out and is full of entertaining and helpful articles for coaches, parents and players. But we’ll let you in on a little secret. You can check it out here, and view all previous editions as well! And why not sign up to get all future issues so we don’t have to go through this again!