How A Young Ballplayer Can Make A Big Jump In His Career

Apr 18, 2019 by Nick Rotola CEO of American Baseball Camps in  baseball camps Youth Baseball Advice

How to Improve in Baseball

Introduction

From weighted balls to exit velocity, everyone has their gimmick that will get your son to the next level. But they are missing something, an “X-Factor” that current MLB players are recommending as the difference maker in a young ballplayer’s journey to Big League Fame.

A quick backstory. My name is Nick Rotola, I founded American Baseball Camps at age 22 and had to proxy business ownership to my brother because running a baseball camp company while playing Division 1 Baseball is “deemed illegal by the NCAA.” –> Trust me those guys are a little much but that’s a conversation for another day.

While at Oral Roberts University I got my Masters in Business Administration. After that I played my first season of professional baseball as a part of the Wichita Wingnuts, and like many ballplayers I love the game and will play until they tell me I can’t play anymore. Anyways, that’s enough of that, let’s get to what you came for…

Precursor #1: Make The Data Sing

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association releases a report every year showing the rise or decline of participation in each youth sport. Here’s the link to their report but you should know that it costs $600 to purchase so #buyerbeware.

What they found is that Baseball & Softball participation is on a rapid rise due to its popularity within the parents that are as conscious about their children’s health and well-being as any generation of parents to date.



Many parents have their kid in baseball because they feel their use of technology needs to be mitigated, while others are in baseball because its a non-contact sport and concussions are really starting to scare people. (Not to say you can’t get concussions in Baseball).

With that being said, there are more youth ballplayers than ever before. This, as with any rise in competition in business or in baseball, brings an inherent need to stand out. Ballplayers’ parents are shelling out thousands of dollars a year for showcase teams which are shouting: “We’ll help you get your kid to the next level.”

But, as someone that’s recently been to the next level – and as a ballplayer that has “actually read a book once” as Bull Durham depicts – I feel that I may have some insights that could save a lot of Ballplayer Parents a lot of time and money over the duration of their kid’s career.

Precursor #2: Let Him Play As Much As He Wants

Every parent should understand this one because it is the case in every single profession in the world, it takes repetition to become an expert. In fact, it takes a person 30,000 hours of doing something to be considered an “expert” in their field. This lines up nicely with the 27-30-year-old “prime” that they tag on ballplayers.

With this in mind, we learn two things for your young ballplayer.

The first is that the more he plays the better he will become. It’s not saying that he’ll get better from a benchmarking perspective so don’t go comparing your son to the coaches’ son Shortstop just yet. It means that every time he puts on his cleats, in theory, he’ll be a better ballplayer than the time before.

The second thing we learn from the expert analogy is that your son won’t be in his prime for a long time. Stop fussing if he went 1 for 4 and he should have went 2 for 4, its baseball, you have to be process oriented not results oriented.

Precursor #3: Don’t Be That Parent

Limit Screentime. Kids are on their screens an average of 6.5 hours per day, time that does almost nothing for them in their baseball career, and probably pumps enough endorphins in their bodies that they have a tough time appreciating and loving the game of baseball like they could.

Set Goals. It wasn’t until I saw a Division 1 Baseball game that I decided in my head as an 8th grader that I could do it. This is what it took me to reach “success,” and you can inspire the same goals in your kid. Whether it’s going to the High School he’d go to, or the College you’d love him to go to, get him to see with his eyes and imagine himself there.

Don’t Bring The Game Up On The Car Ride Home. No one likes that pushy salesman in life, and your kid doesn’t want it in his baseball career.

No Instant Gratification. Parents of top athletes exhibit positive emotions with their kid(s). In baseball, that means highlighting the positive and forgetting the negative. In baseball those great days don’t come that often, and if they do, they probably haven’t started throwing your kid sliders yet.



 

The X Factor: Confidence


You don’t have to pay for it, it’s not a gimmick or an Instagram Ad promising improvement, it’s just confidence. When you ask an MLB player what he would recommend to a young player he says “play with confidence.” When you talk to a sports psychologist like Brian Cain about how to perform better at the plate they’ll say “walk to the plate with confidence.”

Confidence is the key, and there are many things that you can implement as a parent to achieve tremendous confidence in your ballplayer over time.

To illustrate to parents how you can get your kid to make a big jump in his young career by improving his confidence, I’m going to yield to a staple in Management Theory’s “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.”

How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs works, is that you have to solve the first layer before you can move on to the next, then the second before the third, and so on. So if you want your kid to increase in confidence let’s map out a plan to solve those bottom three layers.

1st Layer: Physiological Needs

We already talked about playing as much baseball as possible this contributes to his physical and psychological needs as well. Now let’s look a litter deeper at getting your kid prepared from a physiological perspective.

Brian Cain one of the worlds’ leading baseball psychologists recommends 9 hours and 15 minutes of sleep every night – not just the nights of competition. Studies show that increased sleep relates to better reaction times, more accurate reactions, and better able to handle stress.

Studies also show that its not only the length of sleep but the quality of sleep that leads to better athletic performance. Did you know that the blue light emitted from that screen that your kid is staring at for 6.5 hours per day watching YouTube videos could be ruining his quality of sleep and in turn his baseball performance? It does, and it is, and it needs to be reduced if you want this layer of the period to be met.

With regards to nutrition: studies say that an ounce of water for every pound of weight for people and then about 1.5 for every pound for athletes. Remove sugary drinks and add more water and you are off to a great start in helping him gain confidence. His mood will be better, skin, sleep, everything.

 

2nd Layer: Safety

The game has changed, you can’t coach kids like you as a parent were coached. Negative reinforcement has officially been trumped by positive reinforcement. If you want more on this from a big-time coach -> Listen to Head Coach Chad Holbrook of the University of South Carolina talk about safety and positive talk while playing.

How would you feel if your kid came into your workplace and was shouting at you telling you what to do as you were trying to do your job? Would you produce? Probably not.

This is an exaggerated example, but I believe it accurately describes how difficult it is to hit a baseball when you can hear your dad or mom shouting instructions from the stands. Cut it out, and allow your kid to play.

 

3rd Layer: Love/Belongingness

As noted earlier, don’t talk about the game on the drive home. Your kid needs to feel that he is loved and that he belongs in your family apart from his baseball success. It’s hard to believe that this is a big confidence factor but it absolutely is.

One of my best friends had a dad that only loved his son when he was playing baseball and playing well and I’m telling you from first-hand experience that it is a confidence destroyer.

Love on your ballplayer, regardless of the results. You are doing your part already by getting him to the 100 games a year, making sure he sleeps and eats right, and that your talk is positive. Now make him feel like you love him and that he belongs despite his success on the field. It’s hard to believe but many parents send this message of “we love you, but we love and praise you if you win.” It’s awful, get rid of it.

In conclusion… Kids are flooding into baseball like never before. If you want your kid’s next season to be his best season we’ve laid out tons of good tips on how you can do that. Here is our summary:

  1. Take care of his physiological needs first. Research says that parents of elite athletes limit screen time. We know that excess screentime can limit sleep and quality of sleep, we know that limiting screentime is easier said than done but trust us – it’s a great start. On top of that, replace water with tons of sugary drinks and you should be good to go for this one.
  2. Safety through positive talk. Be steadfast as a baseball parent! Kids will perform better if you can act as a positive safety net in a very tough game.
  3. Let him know that his success, and the way you treat and love him, are not related. Many parents have a tough time separating their kid’s success on the field from how they treat him, don’t do it, it’s only going to make the problem worse!

 

Thanks for reading! If you need any youth baseball advice we are always available to help at americanbaseballcamps@gmail.com, and we’ll do our best to respond quickly.

If your kid wants more baseball – we’ve got great low-cost camp options in many US cities. For Winter 2018 we have camps from Wichita KS to West Covina CA. Next summer we will have camps in many US Cities –> All camp registration is done online, you can find out more about our camps on our camps page.

– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player

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This blog was written by Nick Rotola of the American Baseball Camps team. Nick owns and operates Harvest Marketing Company, a digital marketing company offering Website, SEO, Google & Facebook Ad services. 




Nick Rotola

Camp Instructor

Nick is a Professional Baseball Player with the Cleburne Railroaders and American Baseball Camps Coach.

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American Baseball Camps — Five Ways to Build Your Young Slugger Up

Mar 04, 2019

“Do you realize your son is playing the biggest self esteem destroying sport in the world” – Steve Springer

This couldn’t be more true, this game will knock your child down enough. Baseball parents! You have to find a way to build your kids up, trust us we’re active D1 players at big time programs and we STILL need encouragement from our parents! You love your son more than anything, here are 5 ways we think will really give him that confidence he needs to be successful in Baseball.

#5 Snap his slump by shaking things up.

We know from experience that the best way to get out of a slump is by shaking things up. Whether it’s getting him a new bat, his favorite seeds, or batting gloves, or even a new bat grip. Shaking things up always helped us feel fresh on the field. Mix up the way he prepares and practices. Maybe jam to his favorite songs on the way to the game. This also includes shaking up the way you talk to your kid during/after the game, which we cover in (#4).

#4 Adopt a “so what, next pitch” mentality



Never yell at him or show him up on the field. If he makes an error or strikes out in a big situation, the game is already beating him up enough. He doesn’t need you adding to the pressure. Teaching your child to have a short memory and turn the page after a mistake on the field will help him to not carry things over in life. You’re simply saying “so what” and moving on to the next pitch. There is no reason he should take a mistake into the next at bat or make an error in the field because he is thinking about his last strikeout. Teach him to say “so what.” He’s a kid and baseball is just a game. Keep it fun while he is young so you don’t run him out of the game. 

#3 Try focused drills and make them fun

“Be where your feet are” – Nick Saban

Inability to focus can hurt players and give away at bats. So try running drills that teach him to lock in and be in the moment. One of our favorite drills for this growing up was the “errors drill.” If you make an error your out and have to wait for the next game. This teaches focus and helped me lock in for every ground ball. Try fun incentives. If you can hit 3 balls in a row into the back net off of the tee we’ll get ice cream. Keep it fun and light and help him to play focused, and in the moment.

#2 Reward quality at-bats NOT hits

Steve Springer (mental game of baseball coach) is really the guy on this. If you are not following him yet on twitter as a baseball parent you should! We were required to listen to his audiobook at my division 1 program and it was huge for us! The idea of it is your child can’t control if he gets a hit or not, there are simply too many variables. So instead of rewarding hits (which are out of his control), try rewarding quality at-bats. So what does a quality at-bat consist of? Our D1 program considers the following a QUAB (Quality At-Bat).



Single 

Double

Triple

Home Run

Hit by Pitch

Catchers Interference

Walk

8 pitch at-bat 

Hard hit ball

Get him over

Sac Fly

Sac Bunt

RBI

So in a game where you have to stay positive, you can see that by rewarding quality at bats your slugger will be proud of himself MUCH more often! This will pay dividends for his play, trust us! 

#1 Keep the Game fun 

This game can beat you up and make you want to quit. But that didn’t exist in the sandlot/wiffle ball days when kids were just playing because they wanted to have fun and loved the game! Encourage your kid to play wiffle ball with his friends or try having a home run derby at the field he played at 2 years ago with a little shorter fence. Baseball parents have to make baseball fun again if they want their kid to be the best player he can possibly be!

     – Authors: Anonynous 1 & 2 (For NCAA reasons)

American Baseball Camps was created to make baseball fun again! It is ran by Division 1 players who know that having fun will heighten self- esteem and make kids play better on the field. Our camps feature slip n’ slide wiffle ball, pitching dunk tank, and campers’ choice baseball drills! Camp cities are: Wilmington NC, Phoenix, Wichita, KC, OKC, Tahlequah, & Tulsa.




American Baseball Camps — 3 Quick Tips For Baseball Parents

Apr 11, 2019

3 Quick Tips For Baseball Parents

#3 Help Build Good Nutrition Habits

One of the things that can set a great baseball player apart from the good ones is nutrition! Good eating habits can make a young ballplayer feel better and play better! (study) The best season I ever had in baseball was the one where I started eating right. They talk about it so much in Division 1 baseball, I really wish I would have known about it when I was a young player. That’s why we’re calling it “building” good nutrition habits. If you can teach your young ballplayer to eat right now, he won’t depart from it when he’s old.

#2 Watch Quality Baseball with your Kid

 



This is that “being a student of the game” thing that we’re always talking about. Every great baseball program in the country insists on its players that they watch MLB games. Why? It makes you a better ballplayer. Imagine your kid being the smartest baseball player with the highest baseball IQ on the field. Imagine how much better that will make him if he’s mentally one step ahead of the competition. How do you do that? You watch the best players play on the biggest stages. Go to a major league game if you can, or if you don’t want to spend big bucks, seek out college games in your area.

#1 Understand That During The Game is Not The Right Time

I was watching a my 13 year old cousin play the other day and he popped up to center field. Sitting by his mom she asked me if I thought his elbow was raised and that’s why he popped it up. BASEBALL PARENTS, I’ll tell you the same thing my division 1 coach tells us players, 99% of the time its not mechanical. Baseball lessons and an excessively growing industry of “hitting coaches” has got kids and parents thinking way too much about mechanics.

Even if it is mechanical, during the game is the last time he should be thinking about something like his elbow placement at contact. Save that stuff for when he is working off a tee in practice or in the off season. Trust me on this one, those are the times for mechanical adjustments. The only in-game adjustments he should be making are timing and confidence adjustments. What those might look like are as follows:

Timing adjustments – This should be the primary purpose of the on-deck circle. If you were out front your last at bat (like my cousin was when he popped up), you should try to start your load later. Differences in velocity on the mound should dictate when you start your load. If your kid is consistently out in front or late on fast balls, just encourage him to start earlier or start later. Timing adjustments are the most effective, and easiest ways to not make the same mistake twice in baseball.



Confidence adjustments – If your young slugger is lacking confidence, consider something different. At my D1 program they teach us the “octagon walk.” This is where you walk up to the plate with the biggest chest in the room and you hold the bat by the barrel as you walk. It is all about walking up to the plate with as much confidence as possible. Also look at helping him with his self-talk. Bad self-talk can be one of the biggest self-esteem destroyers for a young player. Build him up, and teach him to build himself up.

Just remember, good nutrition will make your little leaguer feel better and play better. Watching high-level baseball will teach him Baseball IQ that will take away many of the mental mistakes that plague young players. And finally, encourage the right kind of adjustments during the game. Mechanical overload will kill a young hitter and it will fill his mind with the wrong thoughts. Instead, encourage him to walk to the plate with confidence, and focus on timing up the pitcher, rather than the mechanics of his young/unrefined swing.

 

Blog provided by American Baseball Camps — ABC’s mission is to make baseball fun again so they provide great summer fun camps for kids ages 12 and under. If you will share this blog post and use coupon code: “blog” at checkout, you can receive 20% off your order!

– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player

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American Baseball Camps — 5 Ways to Encourage in a Game of Failure

Apr 18, 2019

5 Ways To Encourage In A Game Of Failure

 

#1 Build Self-Esteem

In D1 Baseball we learn about the importance of self-talk and how it can translate into better success on the field. This is something I wish I would have known when I was growing up in youth sports. Self talk is so important — Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake.

It is important in self-esteem building to not compare yourself to others in baseball! So many of the complaints we hear from baseball parents have something to do with some other player on their team and “special treatment.” Jealousy and comparisons with teammates are not healthy thought to be going through a youth baseball players’ head. Parents don’t compare your kid to others on the team.



 #2 The Power of the Bribe

A great way to encourage in youth baseball is with the good old-fashioned bribe. Coaches and parents, pick up a pack of helmet stickers at a local sporting goods store for around $5-10. With these stickers you can interchange hits or home runs with numbers on the back of his helmet. This way you can encourage his success while incentivizing him to be successful.

#3 Positive Reinforcement > Negative Reinforcement

In an already negative game (especially when you get older) extra negativity should be avoided. We already talked about negative thoughts and comparisons with teammates. But there are other areas where positivism and encouragement can overcome negativity. Smiles are better than stern looks when a child looks at you during a game. Smiles are so powerful. They always tend to make others smile. Rather than getting on to your kid when he messes up in baseball try phrases like: “so what” or “get em next time.”



After all, it is just a game. A game that is much more fun when you are encouraged along the way!

#4 Seek Encouraging Instruction

There are two types of coaches out there, the one that encourages, and the one that screams at kids because he’s stuck in 1997 when he played. Seek out those coaches that are knowledgeable enough to know that kids play the best when they have high self-esteem and believe in themselves. Find coaches that cultivate that kind of mindset at the baseball field.

#5 Sign up for a Fun Baseball Camp

The best and most encouraging baseball summer camps in the country are American Baseball Camps. D1 instruction from the D1 Players with an emphasis on encouragement: Phoenix AZ | Wichita KS | Kansas City MO| Tulsa OK

 

– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player

Shop Upcoming Youth Baseball Camps (Ages 6-12)

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