It’s been several months since DK or DC published anything new. Preaching to the choir I know, but it was a tough Spring and there really wasn’t all that much to talk about. Slowly, I’ve been picking up momentum in the baseball world and loving the interaction with Team DC. We ran two weeks of summer camp and started doing some individual training. I figured I’d share a personal blog post and sincerely wish you and your family well.
WHAT’S YOUR SIDE GIG?
My “Quarantine-Side-Gig” has been working with my wife. She’s in sales for a great company (Business Innovations) that sells promotional products and logo’d merchandise to large-scale customers. Whether it’s a stadium give-away, a gift for prospective clients, or a best-selling idea for your store – my wife is great at finding unique and cool ideas that sell, sell, sell. Personally, I dig business, systems, and operations… and so I’ve had fun learning her business and with my new responsibilities. It’s long been a goal of mine to support my wife more, but I had (quite honestly) never MADE the time to do so. Well, the good Lord took away all of my baseball hours and said, “Now is the time kid!” So, I dove in headfirst and can see more clearly how I can support her long term in this area of our lives. If your company has promotional product needs or fresh ideas for items, email me 😉
A DOSE OF REALITY…
I started working kids out in late June. Lessons have been a great, great stress relief for all involved. Families are so very hungry for their kids to get out of the house – my family included. This was completely evident earlier this month, when we concluded two weeks of summer camp, more on that below.
Recently, I’ve had my own son come at the end of my training day to toss the ball around a bit. Doing my best to objectively compare him to the athletes I work with, I realized that I better get my act in gear. Losing this year has been a BIG challenge, as he really doesn’t catch or throw very well. IF we were to continue into fall soccer (assuming we play) and skip any sort of baseball development in 2020, I worry about what would happen to him come Spring 2021. That would be second-year-kid-pitch, where athletes can’t be scared of the ball and need to have the ability to play catch. My little dude isn’t particularly scared of the ball, but that’s because he hasn’t really played meaningful catch (or been hit by a ball). I worry that he would be in danger of getting hurt were we to roll into a more competitive baseball season next spring at his current skill-level.
Thus, my goal is to step up and support him getting reps! And I need to practice what I preach by (1) making my requests subtle and (2) making the “workouts” fun. At the end of the day, I know how much he improved the last time we had a good chunk of practice… and if he’s going to continue in baseball, we’ll need to improve once again.
A huge positive for Kobe was a week at Summer Camp. Amazingly, while “youth sports” was shut down… “day camps” were not. And so, we ran two weeks of a “youth-sports-day-camp.” Go figure. We took loads and loads of safety precautions: limited numbers, avoided dugouts, equipment-sharing, and eliminated all lines. It was literally amazing to get the kids back outside and onto a field to play. The smiles, the competition, the laughing… it was good therapy for athletes, coaches, and parents alike. With respect for all that is going on in our world, this was much needed for the kids.
I placed my son into another Coach’s group. That group was loaded with his buddies and so he enjoyed the week. Although he repeatedly told me that three hours is way too long for a practice, he never complained and seemed to genuinely enjoy being back on a field with other kids.
Most importantly, kids got to play. Here’s an email that came through from a friend and camp-mom that expresses my stance on athletics during such a challenging time:
“I just wanted to thank you and ALL of your coaches for proceeding with baseball camp despite the risk incurred. My son is typically a happy-go-lucky kid who is smart and thrives in school and has the most endearing love of baseball. He is not one of those naturally skilled kids and so he works hard at the sport. He researches the history of baseball regularly and is always telling me about the players who have impacted the game and their stats. During this time where life, school and baseball have been shut down he has become more withdrawn and I have observed heightened anxiety and a retreat to his room and video games (only sports games in our home!). As a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, I am probably over-aware of my children’s mental health and try to be as proactive as possible. Needless to say…as soon as I saw the Dan Keller camp email in my inbox, I registered immediately praying it would not be cancelled and would go on as planned. Thanks to you and your team, it did despite all little league being shut down for a second time. My son Dominick left for camp that first day excited but still withdrawn and beat down from this quarantine. Dan…he came home much differently….my happy go lucky kid came back to me…screaming through the door about his hits, his teammates and again re-citing all of his beloved baseball facts from the game he holds so dearly! While in previous years I have always loved your camp and found immense value in it…this year it meant even more. You and your team of coaches re-instilled something in my boy that I’m not even quite sure it is yet! All I know is you gave him an opportunity to do what he loves when most of the country is not. You allowed him to get dirty, play catch, slug a ball, and hang with peers. Thank you! This is essential! Our kids need this and I can’t thank you and your coaches enough for being our kiddos hero’s during this crazy time. As a mom, a psychologist, behavior analyst and your friend…I Cannot thank you enough and am eternally grateful. Please extend my sincerest gratitude to your entire team and play ball my friend! Much love and respect!”
As I wipe the tears away, let me continue with a bit more on AGGRESSION and then a quick business update.
I think the sign of a good coach is evolution. What worked 20 years ago might not be best today. I can wholeheartedly say that I’d be embarrassed to watch my 25-year old self coach pitchers. That said, I can humbly say that I’m getting better and better each and every day as a coach and won’t stop digesting information, experience, and instruction to improve.
Example, several years ago I was studying BREATH – the physiological benefits to a competing athlete simply by breathing better and more intentionally. Nowadays, I instruct pitchers that a deep breath is absolutely positively a mandatory part of the pre-pitch routine. This is non-negotiable and I only wish I had started this with my pitchers years ago.
Coaching cue for the stance / set position: “Check feet, hands, eyes… deep breath!”
My most recent adjustment is a dedicated and intentional guidance to be aggressive. Confident, borderline cocky. Super aggressive, physically and mentally. Fail faster, learn quicker. I want to eliminate the need, and any expectation, to be perfect. I want to remove the fear of failing. I want to shorten the learning curve for ANYTHING! I can sincerely say that I wish a coach would have told me to take myself less seriously, to truly unleash physically, and to take more risks. I often use the analogy of asking “that girl” out (I’m dealing with high school and college males here!). The faster you can get good at being rejected, the closer you are to landing your dream girl. I tell the fellas that I wish I had cared less and asked more… and that while you fear being rejected, it’s a skill that is super valuable in the professional world. Helllllo cold calling! And all your friends won’t think you’re a loser for getting shot down. Rather, they’ll think you are awesome for having the stones to ask.
Examples of aggression:
One-Pitch Adjustments – If you’re learning the curveball and missing up, stop it! Miss down. And then we’ll figure it out. You decide if this adjustment takes 16 pitches or 3 pitches. Fail… make an adjustment… and let it rip. Then, go to school again on what you see and feel.
Physicality – Err on throwing too hard. Way better for a coach to have to tone you down, than have to try and light a fire underneath you.
Strike Zone – Pound. The. Zone. BELIEVE, truly believe, that it is HARD to score off of me. If I throw strikes and trust my defense, everything in the game of baseball favors me. All star hitters hit .300, that means they get out… you know how that one goes 😉 I tell my guys that a pitching machine could get on the hill with a decent fastball down in the zone and get outs!
Posture & Presence – While I do believe that confidence is earned through consistent and difficult work, I encourage athletes to take the mound prepared to compete and expecting to compete well. If you’ve worked responsibly, then the game is FUN. Get after it and don’t worry about anything mechanical at all!! Puff your chest out, stride confidently, and move with some swagger. Remember, confidence borderline cocky. Your teammates follow your lead. Heck, YOU follow your lead. So, act like you belong! Act like you expect to win. Act like you know this is about to be so much fun and you are so very blessed to be able to wear a uniform and compete. Make aggressive pitches, hold runners well, and force teams to beat your three times to score:
- Gotta get on – Those bastards have to first get a base hit.
- Gotta get over – Next dude has to move the baserunner over to second or third.
- Gotta get in – Third “thing” that has to happen is someone needs to drive that runner in.
And all of that has to happen before they make three outs. Like I said before, we could put a pitching machine on the mound with a full defense and the above 1, 2, 3 would only happen 2-3 innings per game. New motto: It’s really hard to score on me.
** I need more examples of Aggression with pitchers. Please, please, comment below and let’s get a string of examples going **
Here’s one from Coach Mike Ryan, a fantastic hitting coach who I first learned of from Paul Reddick and the Baseball Education Center:
If a hitter lacks aggressiveness in the game, I will encourage the hitter NOT to take a single called strike. Just swing.
I let hitters hit 3-0 most of the time…. Especially with runners in scoring position.
I let them know if you’re going to swing with less than 2 strikes, it better be your best and most aggressive swing.
I am not saying all of this makes you a great hitter.
But it’s a great place to start.
The single biggest mistake I see parents making is they are trying to get their kid to have a pretty swing without putting aggressiveness first.
Aggressiveness is first.
Efficiency is second.
Aggressiveness is the common trait among great hitters.
Without it, I don’t care how pretty your swing looks.
DC has continued steady growth while the premium, for-fee content at Inlyten.com returned really positive feedback. We had 50 coaches join last Fall, and then 100+ join this Spring. The most interesting aspect of the program that this shutdown really killed were bulk purchases (leagues and organizations). A big goal is to provide leagues with a win/win coaching clinic product that truly goes beyond what the youth organizations are making available. We had five large-scale organizations sign up, but with season getting cut short… I’m unsure of the effectiveness in reaching and impacting their coaches.
I’ve conducted in-person clinics for 20 years and poured my best stuff into the Inlyten Coaching Clinic product – way more instruction, much more thorough training plans, all available on-demand at your convenience. I’m really excited to see what the online training program can do in Spring 2021 (come ooooooon vaccine!!). Next, it’s on to pitching.
INLYTEN – COACHING PITCHERS
I’m working on a Pitching-Specific Training Course. If that fires you up, email me and I’ll put you on the super VIP list for first registration access this fall. If you are coaching your kid, plan to coach your kid, or want to get into giving pitching lessons – this is where we start! We’ll pour through the what/how/when to training pitchers and potentially create an ongoing coaching community. Would be amazing to share more intimately the tricks of the trade learned by working more than 20,000 individual pitching lessons and coaching teams over the last 20 years.
TRUE BATS – DEMO PROGRAM
Our partners at TRUE bats are offering a $30 demo program. And should you choose to buy, you can put that $30 towards the purchase of a bat. The data is supporting their technology: better bat performance across the board. Here’s a direct line from TRUE:
- The @truediamondscience team just launched their demo program. For $30, you can try a TRUE bat risk-free for 10 days. Text the team to get started — 925.403.4838
What in the baseball world do you want next? I’m all ears. (email me)
Pitching questions? In advance of my course on Coaching Pitchers @ Inlyten, what would you ask a pitching expert (email me)? I’ll go find one and pass them along 😉 !!!!
Play hard, have fun!