Cooper Gendason – First County Bank Athlete of the Month

Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for April is Cooper Gendason. Cooper is finishing up 7th grade at New Canaan Country School, where he has attended since he was in kindergarten. He has competed in both baseball and soccer since he was four years old, and combine that with having three siblings, safe to say Cooper is used to competition.

“Cooper gets it. He wants to train regardless of the results in his games. He has been doing nothing but hitting home runs these last few weeks, and he is still here at BVSA working on his swing constantly. He is an incredible athlete, and an amazing role model for his little brother, Peyton. He is an absolute joy to have around the facility, and so exciting to watch grow into the ballplayer and leader he is turning into.” – Joe Wanderlingh, Baseball Instructor

Baseball started for Cooper playing through Stamford North Little League, playing for both house teams and all-star teams. He currently is blasting home runs for the New Canaan 12U travel team, and he is really looking forward to upcoming summer trips to Aberdeen, Maryland and Cooperstown, New York. He’s going to be looking to make that place Cooper’s town (sorry, too good not to use).

When he isn’t playing baseball, Cooper is on the soccer field. It started with the New Canaan travel team, and then he joined the Chelsea Piers Shoreline premier team two years ago. He mostly plays midfield.

Cooper roots for New York for the most part, being a fan of the first place New York Yankees and the playoff bound New York Rangers. The one exception is in the NFL, where he is the biggest Denver Broncos fan you will ever meet. As if the Yankees and Rangers weren’t enough excitement for him, he gets to look forward to the Russell Wilson era beginning in a few months.

We here at BVSA want to congratulate Cooper once more on earning this honor of First County Bank Athlete of the Month for April. His work ethic and commitment to the game are amazing to see, and we are so excited to watch him continue to grow both on and off the field!

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure – Injury Prevention at BVT

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin

 

The benefits of resistance training in both athletics and training within the general public has been well studied and documented for years. Improvements in power and performance, as well as increased muscle size are always things that come to mind when thinking about the benefits of resistance training, but resistance training also has direct correlations to reduction of injuries. 

Studies have reported that the direct effect of resistance training helps physiological adaptations seen consequent to resistance training on bone, connective tissue and muscle to provide enhanced protection against injury for individuals who participate in such training programs. 

Effects on Bone: 

The bone is living tissue. This means it has the ability to remodel and adapt to physical stresses imposed on it. 

Individuals that are physically active have been shown to have greater bone mineral density than those who are sedentary. In general those that are active reduce risk for osteoporosis, fracture, or other ailments related to bone deterioration. 

Studies have found that through resistance training these effects are amplified. Resistance training provides greater osteopenia effects, increasing beneficial bone strength that will help reduce stress fractures. 

Overall this means that as muscular strength improves so does bone strength. 

Effects on Connective Tissue: 

Connective tissue is the framework of the body. It consists of cells and fibers embedded in a gel-like material containing tissue fluids and various metabolites. 

The primary fiber of connective tissue is collagen. Studies have found that resistance training has a direct effect on connective tissue adaptations, in addition to increasing both the size and strength of ligaments and tendons. 

Increasing the size of the connective tissue is thought to be a result of an increase in collagen content within the connective tissues sheaths. One study comparing body builders to untrained individuals suggested that increase in collagen content is proportional to the increase in muscle. 

Body builders seem to have greater absolute collagen content, but relative values are similar to untrained controls. This means that increases in muscle mass are likely met by increases in the size and strength of the connective tissue. 

Effects on Muscle: 

It’s no surprise that as we age, a decrease in muscle mass (sarcopenia) occurs. This means a subsequent reduction in muscle strength results in a loss of functional ability and also an increased risk for falls and fractures. 

When looking at the aging adult population, resistant training programs have benefits for increase in both strength and muscle size just like athletic training programs do. The functional ability to maintain and improve the risk of injury is significantly reduced when resistance training. 

Resistance training has a huge role in reducing the risk for musculoskeletal injuries related to muscle imbalances, expressed as either agonist to antagonist ratios or as bilateral comparisons. Correction of these imbalances through resistance training is pivotal in reducing risk of muscular injury. 

Resistance training also has a positive effect on reducing lower back injuries by increasing strength in the lumbar extensors and lumbar vertebrae. This will shield your body from a multitude of muscular injuries that can occur with aging and sedentary lifestyles. 

In conclusion, resistance training is almost like the fountain of youth. 

As we age we lose the ability to produce power due to the decrease in muscle mass and bone density, which directly correlates to our connective tissue. 

Any individual that is in a properly progressed resistance training program will see drastic benefits in their everyday life performing functional movement patterns and the benefits of injury prevention. This means that.

Kylie O’Melia – First County Bank Athlete of the Month

Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for March is ten-year-old Kylie O’Melia. Kylie is currently in 4th grade at Strawberry Hill School in Stamford, and entering just her second season of playing softball. Despite it being her first full year of playing, she was able to make the Stamford Stars 10u travel softball team. How was she able to do this??…

“She is the most dedicated 4th grader we have in the facility. She is working hard to be the best she can be. She pushes herself to do better with each lesson. When she is not training with me, she is working with her dad here twice a week. The best three words to describe her are driven, dedicated and determined!” – Danielle Simoneau, Softball Instructor

In addition to her dedication, she is extremely versatile. She can be found all over the infield, from pitcher, to both corners, or even behind the dish. She always has a positive attitude, a smile on her face, and when you hear someone screaming from the dugout cheering on her teammates, that is Kylie you hear.

On the rare occasions when she is not playing softball, you can find her playing basketball or doing boxing training. You read that right, do not mess with Kylie! She also did gymnastics for years when she was younger, so it has always been nonstop sports for Kylie.

Kylie is all for new challenges, whether on the field or in the classroom. Her favorite subjects are math and science, and wants to be a scientist when she is older. That is of course after her collegiate career playing softball for the UCLA Bruins.

We here at BVSA want to congratulate Kylie once more on earning this honor of First County Bank Athlete of the Month for March. Her dedication and commitment to so many activities at such a young age is absolutely remarkable, and we are so excited to watch her continue to grow both on and off the field!

Intention

intention

 

Intention. 

Webster defines intention as a determination to act in a certain way.

Bobby Valentine’s Training Lab, also known as BVT, is not about running through hoops and ladders or dodging in and out of cones.  We are about producing athletes through proper principles of science to elevate performance. 

As many strength coaches realize very quickly, there are a ton of hours spent with sets, reps, exercise selection, the load, etc…the list goes on and on.  But coaches realize that none of this matters unless you have total buy-in from your athletes.  This “buy-in” is one of the most difficult things to achieve in all of sports, whether that be in the weight room or on the field.   At BVT, the buy-in starts on day one.   We strive to hold an extremely high standard not just through our programming and exercises, but also in the way we mentally prepare our athletes.  How do we do this?  It’s simple.  We take extra time to focus on not just the physical approach, but the mental approach as well. 

Unfortunately, as simple as it seems, it is one of the most difficult things and can often be overlooked.  It’s about doing the little things right through sacrifice and discipline and an extreme attention to detail.  We ask all of our athletes to hold that within themselves to truly elevate their performance and take them to the next level. 

Lewis Caralla, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Georgia Tech, says it best, “You don’t have to do anything that isn’t required for you, but you also don’t have to win.”  At BVT, we hold the same standard and believe this is what takes our athletes to the next level.  People become successful through discipline and that is how they achieve great things. What you do in the gym is what is reflected on the field.  

As coaches we commonly see two types of athletes. There are the compliant athletes, and then there are the competitive athletes. The compliant athletes come into the gym, put their bag down on the floor, look at his or her workout, then proceed to do the bare minimum and go through the motions the entire time. The competitive athlete comes in and does the same thing, but they mentally prepare.  They come up with a game plan and attack.  Every rep means something to them and you can see it through their intent. So how does a coaching staff get the competitive athlete everyday that puts intent into their workout?  

The BVT coaching staff does this through a few different methodologies. First, we make sure that our coaching staff is always supplying our athletes with the educational background as to why we do what we do.  As an athlete, if you do not understand the “why” behind what you’re doing, it’s extremely hard to put full intention into the act you’re trying to perform. An example of this can be something as easy as a Wall Drill exercise. From the outside looking in, it’s very simple to set up and perform. However, if the athlete is not educated on why we perform this, it can become repetitive and they won’t reap the benefits of the exercise. By taking the time to make it a learning experience, they understand the “why” and will put more effort into it resulting in a high-level of performance. 

Although measuring intent is difficult, we have found that following a few simple steps to mentally prepare our athletes for their workout helps as well. 

These steps include: 

  1. Preloading your workout mentally: What type of workout do I have today?  What does this require of me?  What will be challenging, and how will I fight that adversity? 
  2. Remember why you’re doing this type of work: What are my long term goals?  What are my short term goals?  What are my goals for today and how will I achieve them?  Why am I doing these exact exercises and how do they fit my goals? 
  3. How am I going to do this work?:   What will it take for me to achieve the questions above?  Will I be able to give enough effort and intent to achieve my goals, and if not how do I change that?  
  4. Put away your work:  Take a mental review everyday of your work.  Did I achieve what I set out to do?  Did I achieve my daily goals?  Did this chip away at the stone of my ultimate goals?  

At BVT, we’re constantly asking our athletes these questions. We’ve seen drastic improvements in performance when athletes take the time to mentally reflect through this process. When they mentally take charge of their actions, intent and attention to detail become second nature.

Attached here is a video of one of our athletes performing simple exercises.  What makes these exercises applicable is the passion and desire to get better combined with scientific principles that are proven to work. If you watch closely, you can see in the athlete’s intention how he asked the simple questions above in the steps. You can see through his aggression and violent intention in every step that he understands his ultimate goals.  He understands what type of work it’s going to get him there.  The purpose of the exercises and why we are doing them.  Most importantly he’s taken the time to improve on these exercises over time through mental reflection.  

Although not simple, this type of mental coaching applied to high-level athletic performance training can create the coveted “buy-in” that coaches work so hard to achieve.  At BVT, we pride ourselves in elevating performance physically and mentally. It’s these steps that separate us and our athletes from the rest of the pack.  

BVT coaching is about attention to detail, intentions in every step, combined with proper scientific principles in our training methodologies to elevate athletic performance.  

Sources

“Setting the Mind to Boost Athletic Performance.” TrainingPeaks, 3 Dec. 2021, https://www.trainingpeaks.com/coach-blog/setting-the-mind-to-boost-athletic-performance/.

Jack Conway – First County Bank Athlete of the Month

BVSA Athlete of the Month February 2022 - Jack Conway

Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for February is eighteen-year-old, Jack Conway. Baseball is not just a game for Jack, it is a lifestyle. You would have to go back 16 years (when BVSA first opened their doors) to where Jack first fell in love with the sport. All the way back from the age of two, Jack was hooked.

Jack plays the game with great passion and tenacity, while at the same time, spending hours and hours analyzing statistics, history, and current and former players alike. You could call Jack a utility player, but only in the greatest form of the phrase. He is a utility player in the sense that he plays numerous positions, and plays them extremely well. He is the definition of versatile. He wants to learn about every position, and thrives on getting better and better at each and every one.

When Jack was twelve years old, he realized he had a great opportunity to play this game at a high level. Since then, it’s been full steam ahead, working relentlessly to accomplish his goals. Coach Anthony Conte had this to say; “Jack and I had our first session on June 6, 2014 and WOW has it been such a fun journey watching him grow into the young man he’s become! Jack is one of those athletes that comes in, listens, applies, and works his tail off to achieve his goals. He’s one of the few local athletes I know who wakes up before school to hit the gym so he can dominate the rest of the day! Fun to work with someone who knows how to work, compete and still be one of the kindest people in the room.”

Not only is Jack a work horse on the field and in the cages, but he also is a tremendous student at Darien High School, where he will finish this past semester with a 4.0 GPA. He is still considering all of his college opportunities, but the plan is to major in Business. Wherever he ends up, he is confident that baseball will be in his future plans.

As a mentor and a role model to so many kids in his community, from baseball to church and town organizations, Jack continues to share his knowledge of the game, and the lessons he has learned throughout this journey. Baseball is so much more than just a game or a sport to Jack, it is something that has helped mold him into the outstanding young man he is today.

We here at BVSA want to congratulate Jack once more on earning this honor of First County Bank Athlete of the Month for February. His dedication and commitment to the sport speaks volumes, but the life lessons and the impact he is able to make on so many kids is truly remarkable, and why we all choose to be a part of this great game. We are beyond excited to see where Jack goes from here!

The BVSA Experience: 16 Years of Excellence

Sports-Academy-connecticut

As Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy enters its 16th year of training and educating young athletes in Fairfield County, we challenged ourselves to answer this question: what makes BVSA so special?

While our excellent team of coaches and expansive facility on Largo Drive in Stamford stand out among other baseball training facilities in the area, it all starts with the man whose name is on the front of our building. 

Bobby Valentine is recognized as one of the world’s brightest baseball minds, which has been developed over a storied history of playing and coaching baseball at the professional level. Bobby has interacted with and learned from many of baseball’s most iconic names at every level of the game throughout his career, yielding a plethora of knowledge that has helped shape the trajectory of professional athletes in both Major League Baseball and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League. 

In 2006, Bobby realized his dream to share this lifelong insight with the youth of his beloved hometown, opening the first Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy on 72 Camp Ave in Stamford. As Bobby opened his own training academy, his mission was to ensure that only the best knowledge and skills were passed down to the community’s athletes.

That mission led to the creation of BVSA’s unique curriculum, derived straight from Bobby’s lifelong experiences around the game of baseball and faithfully passed down to everyone who has entered our building ever since.

The purpose of this curriculum is to provide professional-level instruction that is unified across our brand, and having this system in place has made BVSA successful in maintaining a high level of instruction over the past 16 years.

Every BVSA coach has been educated in this curriculum and delivering Bobby’s distinctive knowledge along to our students. This means any time you step into the BVSA facility, you’ll receive the same high-quality instruction, whether you are working with Bobby himself or the most recent coach added to our staff.

Rather than an environment where each coach instructs his or her individual students using their own teaching methods, BVSA has created a team of unified coaches, which has helped us retain the highest level of coaching throughout our many years in business.

Most recently, our team first mentality has allowed us to persist through the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re proud to announce that despite shutting our doors for 3 months during the early days of the pandemic, we were able to retain all of our staff members and have been able to emerge stronger than ever.

Having this strong curriculum at our core has allowed us to easily adapt our methods of instruction to match these times. In the event that one player’s coach is unavailable, another coach is able to step in and easily provide the same high-quality instruction with which our students are very familiar. 

Additionally, as Bobby Valentine’s archive of baseball knowledge continues to grow, our curriculum evolves to stay ahead of the times. Each person who comes through our building has contributed something special to our program, and we value the ability to integrate our coaches’ unique experiences into the teachings of our entire staff.

Our team is also well versed in using advanced motion tracking technology and metrics to reinforce the concepts we teach. In our facility today, you’ll already find slow-motion video, radar guns, hitting performance metrics, and motion feedback programs. 

As the number of digital performance programs grows, we are continuing to research a variety of new technologies and are excited to continue implementing these state-of-the-art systems into our instruction.

While our curriculum has evolved over the course of 16 years, and will continue evolving in the future, our mission to provide the young athletes of Stamford and our surrounding area with professional-level instruction has stayed tried and true since we first opened our doors in 2006.

As proven over 16 years, BVSA’s curriculum and team first mentality has helped bring the best out of thousands of young baseball and softball players, and with these aspects of training at our core, we’re prepared to continue pushing the bar of athletic instruction for many years to come.

Connor King – First County Bank Athlete of the Month

“Connor is one of the most exuberant and fun kids to be around in any setting at BVSA. From baseball to our All Sports Clinic, nobody is ready to learn while at the same time having a blast doing so more so than Connor. To top it all off, he has such an unique personality that sets him apart from his peers. He really is a pleasure to coach and be around, and there is definitely a bright future ahead!”
Justin Virgulak, BVSA Facility Director

 

Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for January is nine-year-old Connor King. Connor is simply everywhere, constantly on the move. He started his 2021 playing for the BVSA Fury 9u team, and then continued into the summer with Darien Little League. He played for the Darien AA summer travel team in the Friendship League where he competed against teams throughout Fairfield County. Heading into 2022, he’ll be playing for the Darien Blue Hawks 9U-A team and he could not be more excited.

Connor throws lefty and hits both righty and lefty. You read that correctly. He is probably the first switch hitter in the history of little league. The craziest part about it is that when you watch him hit from the right side and then the left side, you would not be able to tell which side is his natural side. He is THAT good and THAT comfortable from both sides of the plate. He is definitely a must see at BVSA. When we asked him about how he got into switch hitting, he said one day he just simply mixed up his left and his right and accidentally started hitting the other way. If only it were that easy for the rest of us.

 

“Connor brings positive energy to every practice and game, and always puts in the maximum effort to improve. He has taken huge strides in all aspects of the game, especially with his must see switch-hitting ability.” 
Matt Diurno, Coach/Instructor

 

When Connor is not playing baseball, you can find him on the ice. He plays for the Connecticut Junior Rangers 2012 Elite team, competing against the best teams in the country all year round. If not on the ice, he is on the lacrosse field playing for 2Way and the Greenwich Warriors.

Across all three sports, Connor is known for his work ethic, his coachability, and his overall positive attitude. He prides himself on being a good teammate and a good playmaker, and his selflessness is remarkable to say the least, especially at such a young age.

 

“Connor gets it in a way I’ve never seen most high school players understand. What I mean by “it” is a couple of different things. He comes into BVSA wanting to improve in all aspects of the game, both as a player and as a teammate. He demonstrates to other nine year olds, as well as to his little brother, the near impossible balance of hard work, fun, and some messing around with friends and coaches, and then how to put all three together. He carries himself with such a high level of respect, kindness, and genuine happiness. He is always just smiling and happy to be a part of a game he so clearly loves.” 
Joe Wanderlingh, Instructor 

 

Connor’s favorite teams include the New York Yankees and the New York Rangers, and he particularly enjoys watching Aaron Judge take the field and Adam Fox on the ice. In the classroom, he loves reading and math. He somehow finds the time for hobbies on top of the three sports, and those hobbies include reading, fishing, and golf. When he grows up, his dream is to become a three sport professional athlete. If anyone can accomplish that, it is definitely Connor. 

We here at BVSA want to congratulate Connor once more on earning this honor of First County Bank Athlete of the Month for January. Both the commitment and the love for so many things at such a young age is impressive and flat out remarkable to say the least. Combine that with the respect and care Connor has for everyone, from his coaches, to teammates, to teachers, to his little brother, Chase, and it is safe to say we are beyond excited to watch Connor grow both on and off the field.  

December 22nd Mandate

Zack Ramppen

A Message From Frank

August 12th Mask Mandate

BVSA has been committed to running our facility with safety to all as the number one priority.  See below for updates about what to expect when you return to play BVSA.  Anything we have below is to be superseded by CDC(click here), OSHA(click here) and CT.Gov(click here) guidelines.

The information on any of these pages is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, links and information, are provided for general informational purposes only. The knowledge and circumstances around COVID-19 are changing constantly and, as such, BVSA makes no representation and assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of this information. Further, you should seek advice from medical professionals and/or public health officials if you have specific questions about your return to training and competition.

This mandate will stay in place until posted otherwise on the BVSA website.  This page was last updated on 10/01/2021.

BVSA Community,
 
Yesterday the City of Stamford reinstated the indoor mask mandate.  Although you may not agree with this mandate, we need to cooperate, therefore effective today, Wednesday December, 22 2021 the indoor mask mandate will take effect.  Regardless of vaccination status, all individuals are required to wear masks while in BVSA.
 
  • Masks must be worn regardless of vaccination status
  • Athletes participating in strenuous activity and capable of maintaining safe distance (6ft) may remove masks.  When activities end, masks must be worn.  If social distancing cannot be maintained, masks must be worn.
  • Rentals must police their groups
  • BVSA reserves the right to ask uncooperative individuals to remove themselves from the facility
  • Maintain social distancing at all times
  • If you do not feel well or have been in recent contact with someone with COVID, please stay home.
Happy Holidays, stay safe!
 
BVSA Staff

Competition Often Breaks Down Mechanics, But It Doesn’t Have To…

“Practice makes perfect” as the old saying goes. But practice and competition are two completely different ball games, and it’s important to understand the connection between the two in order to excel at both.

Athletes train all throughout their off-season to fine tune their strengths and work out the kinks in their game, but it’s easy to lose the momentum built from preparation when the lights come on. 

The difference is often in your mindset.

In order to be at your best during competition, you need to come into the game prepared, and then position yourself mentally to allow your raw talent and skills to take over.

At the end of the day, you can practice as much as Kobe Bryant, but if you don’t have that Mamba Mentality during the heat of competition, this can all be for naught.

Flow State

“Flow” is the feeling of excelling at something naturally, defined as occurring when “you’re so immersed and energized by an activity that the rest of the world seems to disappear.” (Psychology Today). This is often referred to as “being the zone.”

Flow state, while difficult to achieve, is optimal for allowing your abilities to shine through without overthinking, pressure, or stress holding you back.

Flow state occurs when the skills you’ve mastered before entering a game are matched with the adrenaline of the moment, combining to bring out the best in your abilities.

This happens effortlessly, but can be harshly contradicted by putting unnecessary pressure on yourself or feeling the need to do something extraordinary.

By positioning yourself for success mentally, your physical abilities should naturally follow suit.

Making the Mental Adjustment

The most important thing to understand is that if you’ve worked your absolute hardest, there’s no moment you don’t deserve to play in.

Your preparation justifies you being on the mound, in the field, or in the batter’s box at any given moment, and you should never feel like you have to be more than the player you are to seize the moment.

It’s often hard to handle the pressure of a big moment when you’re thinking about it. When you think too much you get tight, your heart rate goes up, your brain starts over analyzing, and you can’t get past your mistakes.

Instead, think back to all the swings you took in the cage, all the ground balls you’ve fielded in practice, all the bullpen sessions you’ve thrown. Reflecting on everything you’ve done up to that point will give you confidence, whereas focusing on what you need to do will increase the stress you put on yourself and can impair your performance.

It’s also important to understand that you will make mistakes.

Messing up is a natural part of life, but it’s how you bounce back from mistakes that will define you. It’s very easy for one mistake to compound into many if you let it get to your head. 

If you strike out or make an error, shake it off, it happens to everyone! Reset your mind, and think back to all those times you did it well in practice!

Just don’t let pressure and/or shame overpower your fundamentals.

While practice is a good time to be a perfectionist, game time is not. Analyzing your mechanics during practice will help you get better, but doing so in the heat of competition will only stress you out, without leading to a positive state of mind or any additional improvement.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and all the pressure you place on yourself at one moment in one game isn’t going to take away from the practice you have put in over the years. Positive thought can’t replace practice, but it can set you up for the success that a strong work ethic brings.

Practice Makes Perfect

Improvement is never ending. 

Every time you step on the field is an opportunity for improvement, games just aren’t the time to focus on that. Competition will make you better, but it’s not the time to focus on improving your skills, it’s the time to apply them. 

Practice is about working towards the bigger picture of improving yourself as a player, which is done through creating an actionable plan for growth and working hard towards it. But competition is about that exact moment, the little picture that means the world when you’re immersed within it. 

By working hard in practice, you’ll trust yourself and be more confident to excel in big moments than you will from stacking up unnecessary pressure on yourself all at once.

Excelling in competition is a culmination of preparation, which comes from your hard work, and then allowing this to flow through you when it matters most, which will ultimately boost your chances of success.

Work SMARTer and Harder

Goal-setting is something we all do, and it is essential to success in anything. Whether it be for a big dream such as a future career or a small choice like maintaining a healthy diet, goals have always been at the core of individual improvement. 

But you know what’s more important than establishing goals? 

ACCOMPLISHING THEM!

It’s easy to say you want to do something, but simply saying this doesn’t give you any direction into how you’re actually going to get it done. In order to accomplish the goals you set for yourself, you need to be focused and create an actionable plan.

That’s where the acronym SMART comes in, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Looking at your big picture ambitions through the SMART goal lens will help provide direction for getting there, allowing you to better channel your efforts to ensure you’re getting the most return out of your hard work!

Let’s take a look at how this is done.

Specific

Of course you want to be a better baseball or softball player, everyone does, but if this is the only direction you have for improvement you’re going to get lost along the way.

Broad goals are overwhelming, which is why it’s important to evaluate your game and identify actionable steps you can take towards improving a specific area of it. 

Pick a weakness you’d like to fix or a strength you want to build on, and ask your coaches what drills and exercises they recommend to improve your skills in this specific area. Once improvement in this area is satisfactory, move on to a different element of your game.

The more you accumulate skill in a variety of areas of your game, the closer you will be to accomplishing the overarching goal of becoming the best ball player you can be!

Measurable

When creating goals, it’s important to establish what accomplishment of the goal will look like so you know when to move on to your next one. 

If you find yourself struggling, you may find it necessary to lower your expectations or move in a new direction, but if you aren’t keeping track of your progress you won’t know whether or not this is beneficial. 

Some goals, such as committing fewer errors or lifting a heavier weight, can be measured easily with a number. 

This is important feedback, but numbers don’t always tell the complete story. To be a well-rounded baseball/softball player, it’s important to find the intangible elements of your game that need improvement as well, such as putting together more quality at-bats or being a smarter player.

Attainable

Your goal should challenge you to push yourself while also being attainable given your age and physical abilities. Different players are capable of attaining different feats, and it’s important to understand who you are as a player when determining if your goal is a realistic expectation.

For example, don’t expect to hit a homerun your first year playing with 90 foot bases, but if you were used to crushing balls on the little league fields, learn how to drive the ball to different parts of the significantly expanded outfield.

If you realize along the way that something isn’t as attainable as you thought it was initially, don’t be afraid to pivot!

Relevant

Obviously your goal should be relevant to improving your game, but more specifically your goals should be relevant to getting you where you want to be as a player.

Every player has different strengths and weaknesses, and what you choose to work on will shape you into a certain style of player.

Many people assume that goal-setting revolves around fixing your weaknesses, but building on what you’re already good at should be worked for as well. 

For example, if you’re naturally slow, running a few extra suicides after practice probably isn’t going to convince coach to give you the steal sign. But if you have a great eye at the plate and get on base a lot, get in the batting cage at a higher speed than usual to get even better at what you’re already good at and stay ahead of the pack as you move to higher levels of play.

Timely

It’s important to hold yourself accountable when working on a goal, and a great way to do this is to give yourself a deadline, or multiple if you have a multi-step plan.

Wholistic improvement is an ongoing process, but we recommend that you limit your deadlines to at most one season or offseason. That way, you’ll be free to explore a variety of aspects that contribute to your game rather than putting all your time and effort into one particular skill.

Remember to be ambitious with this. It’s ok not to accomplish every goal you make, but you should always be pushing yourself to achieve more!