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In today’s consumer culture, we are drowned in advertising for products and services that are guaranteed to give you the life you’ve always dreamed of almost instantly.  Want more money?  Just buy this program and you’ll be drowning in financial success!  Want a better body? Take this pill once a day and you’re on the fast track to a six pack!  Want more fastball velocity? Just go to this pitching guru and he’ll share mechanical secrets to get you lighting up radar guns in less than two weeks!  

While no sole person or company is the culprit of this movement, I believe a multitude of factors have created what people have coined “The Quick Fix Myth”.  Quick fixes are essentially synonyms for shortcuts.  It is the expectation that the least amount of work should yield the greatest results.  People who seek quick fixes just don’t have the time, energy, or motivation to get things done like the rest of us.  They want the gold at the end of the rainbow, but the trail to get there is just not worth their time.

In terms of training, these athletes are the ones who are always looking for that one thing that’ll transform them into the player they crave to become.  Examples of these could be a mechanical breakthrough, a specific drill, or a cunning training program that is guaranteed to add 5-10 mph to their exit speed.  If it’ll make them a better player, they want it - just without any real effort or hard work.  Oh, and they want it now.    

Swing feels a little off?  Nothing a quick 30-minute lesson can’t fix.  I mean, who has the time to actually hit three to four times per week?  Having issues with your command? Just get to your balance point and you’ll be painting corners in no time!  It can’t and be because you barely touch a baseball outside practice.

Sure - making small mechanical tweaks can be a difference maker for athletes at times, but is it the entire picture?  Is showing up for a half hour lesson once a month really going to do anything to help make significant long term changes?  Is your back elbow really the culprit for lack of success at the plate, or is it because you’re not hitting at all outside of games?  Is searching for that perfect supplement really going to help take your workouts to the next level?  Or is actually working out?

In life, there are no shortcuts to success.  Quick fixes don’t exist.  John Wooden didn’t win his first national championship at UCLA until his sixteenth year as head coach.  Steve Jobs had to get fired from his own company before he was able to take Apple to unprecedented heights.  Milton Hershey ran three different candy companies into the ground before eventually building one that stayed afloat (I don’t think I need to tell you what it’s called).  What is the common denominator in all of these stories? It’s simple: These guys showed up every day, embraced the challenges before them, and worked.        

As you can see from above, putting in work isn’t always going to get you the immediate results you want.  Thirty minutes of cage time isn’t going to transform you from the nine batter in your lineup to the three hole - but thirty minutes three times per week over the course of twelve months might.  Progress requires consistent, deliberate hard work over a long period of time.  Those who are willing to invest the necessary time, attack weaknesses, and constantly find ways to improve will eventually be rewarded for their efforts.  Those who want the glory without the blood, sweat, and tears will always seek the shortcuts - and hard work always beats shortcuts.  Quick fixes may help you feel good now, but they will never be a substitute for hard work.

This is one of the sole reasons why Carmen created a year-round training program for baseball and softball athletes in central PA.  Maintaining and refining your craft requires much more than just a ten lesson package. Through the year plan, we are able to offer kids an incredible deal where they can train and receive professional level information up to seven days per week over the course of an entire year!

If you’re serious about your development as a player, get in contact with us and we can get you scheduled for your free assessment.  We understand what it takes to become the player you want to be, and we’re willing to create every opportunity for you to make it happen.     

If you want to work hard, crush goals, and take your skills to levels you’ve never seen, we can help you.  If you’re looking for a quick fix for the reasons why you can’t get it done, you’ve found the wrong place.

Until then, keep working, learning, and growing.  

This article was written by staff member Andrew Parks.  

As a staff, we held and ran our second coaches clinic Saturday, January 12.  Over the course of 100 minutes, Carmen and I offered ideas to a panel of coaches who were interested in taking their practices to the next level.  It was a great event and we plan on resuming these on a monthly basis starting in May!

For those of you who couldn’t attend, I wanted to share some of the main points we discussed throughout the clinic.  Everything we talked about ultimately came down to two main ideas: catch play and the mindset.

Throughout Carmen’s time in collegiate and professional baseball, he learned that he is able to determine the quality of a player by simply looking at how they play catch.  Why?  Well if you think about it, everything done from a defensive standpoint involves a throw and a catch!  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a pitcher, catcher, shortstop, or center fielder - playing catch is the basic fundamental of defense.  As coaches, it is our responsibility to put a premium on catch play so it can eventually be done at a high level on a consistent basis!

Below are some tips on how you can improve how your team executes catch play:

  1. Emphasize it! What you place your importance on is where you will see the majority of your improvement.  How you execute catch play will determine the quality of practice that follows.
  2. Make sure kids are getting a good 4 seam grip on the baseball before they throw.  As Carmen likes to say: “Go in the glove with 5 fingers, come out with 3.”
  3. Have kids present a clear target in the middle of their chest. Players need to be locked in on a specific target before every throw they make.  Confident players play with their eyes, so it is important that we teach them how to do so!
  4. Make a firm throw through the player’s target.  
  5. Catch in front of your eyes! Don’t let the glove drift behind their body when they catch.  After all, you can’t catch what you can’t see!  
  6. Catch with your feet!  Don’t let the feet become stagnant during catch play.  Good footwork is a prerequisite for catching and making strong, accurate throws!
  7. If it touches your glove, you own it!  Keep track of drops, reward partners with the least amount of them.  

We recommend playing catch anywhere from 10-15 minutes to start practice.  Some guys like playing catch for longer/shorter periods of time, but building a solid base of catch play is crucial to improving an athlete’s work capacity.  

We understand that the idea of playing catch can become monotonous and grow old.  Below are some ideas to help keep catch play fresh:

  1. Give a different target every three throws.  
  2. Utilize long toss!  It’s a great tool to help build optimal mechanics for arm health, velocity, and command.  If you’re inside, you can practice this by throwing it into a net at different angles and intensities.  
    1. Alan Jaeger of Jaeger Sports has some excellent content on this kind of stuff (see his blog at JaegerSports U).  
  3. Pair position players together (middle infielders with middle infielders, pitchers with pitchers, etc.).  Have these players work on skills more specific to their position
    1. Ex: middle infielders could practice fast catch, pitchers could practice their secondary pitches, catchers could practice throw downs
  4. Use games!  One of our favorites is 21, where players earn 3 points for a hit target and 1 point for a hit target lane.  The first to 21 (win by 2) wins the game. Come up with different challenges and see what the kids enjoy. Be creative!

The second theme we discussed was creating a winning mindset.  As Carmen likes to say, baseball is played from the neck up.  Failure and adversity are an inevitable part about being an athlete, let alone in a sport where failing 7 out of 10 times makes you a Hall of Famer!  I don’t think we need to argue how important the mental game is, but the point becomes: How often do we really practice it?  If 90 percent of this game is mental, why do 100 percent of our practices focus on the physical part?     

Below are some ideas we came up with to help incorporate the mental game into your practices:

    1. Spend 5-10 minutes before practice to teach the mental game.  Ken Ravizza and Harvey Dorfman are two great resources to get you started here.  
    2. Breathe!  Breathing gets oxygen to the brain which helps athletes think more clearly, slow their heart rate, demonstrate positive body language, release the last pitch, and get focused on the next pitch.  When the game speeds up, get kids to breathe!
    3. Develop routines!  Teach them how to do things like stepping into the box, tapping the plate, creating rhythm, picking up the pitcher, and stepping into a good pre-pitch position.  We’ll post more content about this eventually, but creating good habits is crucial to developing a strong mental game.
    4. Teach hitters an approach! (See last blog post for more info)
    5. Develop a release!  This might be the most important skill a player can learn when it comes to dealing with failure.  Some examples include grabbing a handful of dirt, wiping away the rubber, looking at a letter on your bat, picking out a focal point at the field, walking behind the mound, unstrapping batting gloves, or taking off your hat/glove.  
      1. These are most effective when utilized with a deep breath.
    6. Compete!  Mechanics don’t win baseball games.  Teach kids how to compete with 100% of what they have to win the next pitch!  It doesn’t matter if you have your A, B, or C game - how you feel is no excuse for your inability to compete!  
      1. Get creative with this! Create team/individual challenges that have a winner and a loser.  Losers must have a consequence - just like a game. Competitions are a great way to heighten focus, improve performance, and build teamwork.  Utilize them to your advantage!

      At the end of the day, you can’t expect your kids to perform skills they don’t practice.  If you don’t police catch play, why should you be upset when your pitcher can’t throw strikes? Why should you be upset when your shortstop boots one and throws one into the bleachers when you haven’t taught him how to regroup on a bobbled ball?  Why should you expect your kids to move on from their last strike out when you haven’t given them any skills to do so?

      For more information on future clinics, follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@CFProBaseball), and Instagram (@carmenfuscoacademy).  

      Keep on getting after it!  

      This article was written by staff member Andrew Parks.  

      I recently attended the 2019 ABCA Convention in Dallas, TX from January 3-6 (It is a wonderful event and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in coaching!). At the convention I was able to listen to Steve Springer speak about hitting.  Springer enjoyed a 14-year career in professional baseball amassing 1,592 hits in 1,591 games with six different organizations. He previously worked as a performance coach for the Toronto Blue Jays where he instructed players about the mental game.  Some of Springer’s clientele include MLB All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollack, Mark Trumbo, and Nolan Arenado.

      Throughout the talk, Springer emphasized the importance for a hitter to have an approach.  In his opinion, it is the most important part about hitting!  He teaches the approach through a few simple ideas that kids can start implementing immediately in their game.  Like any physical skill, they need to be worked on and practiced so they can transfer to games.  

      The first point Springer made was 90% of a hitter’s success is about walking up to the plate with confidence.  This is so hard for a lot of kids because they constantly beat themselves up over things they do not have any control over!  The biggest culprit of these is their most recent game performance. It’s easy to feel confident when you’re 4-4, but it’s very hard to feel good when you haven’t had a hit in your last 10 at-bats! This becomes the ultimate challenge: How do you consistently walk to the plate with confidence regardless of the score, your stats, or the guy on the mound?

      Springer believes it begins with adopting what he calls an “Opening Day” mindset.  No hitter on Opening Day has ever walked to the plate without any confidence.  Why? Because they don’t have yesterday to beat them up!  It’s easier said than done, but walking to the plate feeling the same way when you’re 4-4 or 0-4 is critical for consistent performance.  When you don’t have the weight of your stats beating you down, you’re free to play the game focused on the most important pitch out there - the one you’re about to see!

      Second, Springer believes kids need to change their goal when they walk to the plate.  Instead of trying to get a hit, Springer believes kids need to go to the plate with “an attainable goal to hit the ball hard and help their team win.”  Of course it’s important for hitters to get their knocks, but sometimes getting to first base depends on a little bit of luck.  Jonny can dribble a ball down the third base line, turn it into an infield single, and then smoke one at center fielder his next at-bat - only to be caught!

      This is why Springer dislikes using batting average to measure the success of players.  Instead, he likes to use quality at-bats.  Some examples of quality at-bats include hitting the ball hard, drawing a walk, seeing a lot of pitches in an at-bat, laying down a sacrifice bunt, or scoring a run through a ground ball or fly ball.  All of these have one big theme in common - helping your team win the game! For these reasons, Springer believes hitters need to forget about getting base hits and instead focus on what they can control - hitting the ball hard and helping their team win!  By committing to a consistent, attainable goal with your focus on the good of the team, your stats will take care of themselves.

      In the batter’s box, Springer talks about “hunting speeds”.  These speeds (pitches) should be determined by what the pitcher is throwing and when.  As Springer likes to say, “Should you look for what you want to get? Or what you’re going to get?”  This involves the hitter dialing in on a specific pitch and a location on the plate (in, middle, out) for every count that they’re in.  By creating a narrow focus, the hitter is going to be more prepared for what’s to come by anticipating a likely outcome.

      To summarize Springer’s thoughts on approach:

      1. 90% of a hitter’s success is walking to the plate with confidence. Believe in your abilities, you are a good hitter!  
      2. Adopt an “Opening Day mindset” - no pitch is more important than the pitch you are about to see! There’s no sense in letting yesterday beat you up when yesterday doesn’t win the today’s games!
      3. Go to the plate with an attainable goal to hit the ball hard and help your team win the game.  You create pressure on yourself when you make it about yourself and your statistics. Focus on being a great teammate!   
      4. Look for what you’re going to get, not what you want to get!   
      5. Hunt one speed in a specific part of the plate.  It’s hard to hit 95 and 79 at the same time!

      For more information about Steve Springer, you can visit his website at or follow him on Twitter @qualityatbats.  Reach out to us with any questions or concerns. Keep on getting after it!

      This article was written by staff member Andrew Parks.  

      *This article is from a Facebook post from Ken Koenen, we do not own the rights to its content.*

      Twenty years ago, in Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA's convention.

      "While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

      Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there.

      In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

      Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

      After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage. Then, finally …

      “You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

      Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

      After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer.

      “That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?” Another long pause.

      “Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.

      “That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

      “Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

      “You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

      “Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

      “Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”............“Seventeen inches!”

      “RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?

      “Seventeen inches!”

      “SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. If you can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”

      Pause. “Coaches… what do we do when your best player shows up late to practice? or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate? "

      The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline.

      We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!”

      Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

      Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

      “And the same is true with our government. Our so-called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.”

      I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.

      From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

      “If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: "If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

      With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “…We have dark days ahead!.”

      Note: Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches."

      And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and now go out there and fix it!

      "Don't widen the plate."

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