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Investing in your Teammates

Chad Moeller MLB with Brewers Teammates

In 1995, the UCLA Bruins won the NCAA basketball tournament and Ed O’Bannon was named the tournament MVP and was celebrated for his leadership on and off the court.  This post is not about the efforts of that team 20 years ago, but instead it is about a comment that I heard from radio host last week.

He stated that Ed O’Bannon recently told him that he keeps in contact with every one of his teammates from that team.  He said that at least once a month, he will exchange emails, text messages, or actually meet with every member from that team.  The only member that he does not keep in contact with is a player who now lives overseas.

He stated that every player from that team is still in contact with each other.  That statement floored me.  These teammates are now 40-years-old and that comradery is still there.

This made me think – are they still in contact with each other because they won a championship together or because their strong bond allowed them to achieve greatness and win a championship?

I came to the conclusion that it is probably a mix of both.

In this day and age where statistics and fantasy sports can often become overwhelming and players are seen as statistical machines instead of living breathing human beings, it is important to remember the importance of caring about your teammates.  By investing in your teammate’s life, the team bond becomes stronger and usually the effects are positive on the field.

The second conclusion is that winning together as a team forms a bond that cannot be erased by years.  Once a group shares something special, they are forever bonded.

The goals of sports are immeasurable and cannot be quantified by numbers and statistics.  The bond that sports create are a foundational piece for growing up and becoming a positive influence to society.

Invest in your teammates lives.  You never know, some of these guys you are playing with today will eventually become your life-long friends.

Success before Promotion

youth-athletic-success

In an age where colleges are looking at middle school athletes and getting verbal commitments from 13-year olds, I am reminded of a lesson my mother taught me at an early age.  She said that one needs to find success before they take the next step and expect success.  

Each step is essential and if we skip a step, it will come back to haunt us later in our life.  

I have heard and witnessed athletes who are already thinking about earning scholarships to college even though they had never had success in high school.

Freshman athletes wanting to have success at the varsity level before they have success at the freshman level.

There are rare occurrences that this can happen but rarely do we take an eighth grade student with a large intellect and throw him into a senior level high school class.  The eighth grader might have the intellect to accomplish the work but maybe the student does not have the emotional level to succeed in a senior classroom.

We seem to have missed this in many levels of athletics.  If we see an athlete with talent, we automatically let our minds run with possibilities.

We need to remember the importance of each step.  There is no step that is pointless.  There is no step that absolutely can be skipped.  Because we need that internal confidence of past success to get us through the failure.  We need the emotional backbone to pick us back up after we have fallen. 

A lot of these attributes are often unseen except in the athlete’s minds.

Don’t be in a hurry to get to our destination.  It is a journey and we need to prepare for each step of the way.

The Importance of Team Goals

team-goals-teamworkSetting team goals is not a new strategy.  In fact, setting team goals have been around since the Ancient Greeks and Romans fought for the city of Troy.  From the beginning of “team” coaches, leaders and generals have been setting team goals.

Team goals give a team a purpose.  An individual is concerned with his personal goals and individual goals are important and even vital to team’s success but sometimes, personal goals can be a hindrance to the team goal. 

First off, a team goal needs to be attainable and realistic.  Realistic and attainable to the team.  Obviously a little league team cannot set a team goal to win a high school league title because it is not realistic or attainable.  A team goal gives each individual a common purpose.

I recently asked a high school team to individually write down their team goal on a piece of paper and the results were astounding.  There were so many different goals that the individuals wrote down.

Examples included:  beat our rival, have more wins than losses, go undefeated, win a league title, win a state championship, be ranked in the top 10, have fun, etc.

None of these goals were wrong, all were positive and none of these goals were that unrealistic or unattainable but they were all over the map.  Only three players had written the same team goal.

The negative aspect of this is that when this team takes the field to practice or to play or a game, the players are trying to come together but all aiming towards a different destination.

The power of a team can only be harnessed when all the members of the team strive for the same basic goal.  A simple realistic, team goal is essential to get everyone on the same page.  So every member can metaphorically pull on the rope to get over the wall.

The team goal needs to be clearly defined and in most cases written down.  When a goal is written down, it becomes permanent.  It becomes real and then players can hold each other accountable.

For example, if a team goal is to win a league title.  Then every swing, practice, stolen base, bullpen can be done with the intention of that team reaching that ultimate team goal.  When an individual is sulking or is upset over an individual failure, then another player can come by and say that sulking or complaining is not going to help the team reach its ultimate team goal.

Joe Maddon, the manager of the Chicago Cubs has said that every year that he has been a manager in the big leagues, he has set one team goal that overrides all other goals; reach the postseason.

The goal might not always be reached and that is okay.  The importance of the team goal is that you don’t have twenty players reaching for different destinations and thus getting lost with no direction.

Whether you are a player or a coach – a clearly defined team goal is the first step towards reaching that goal.

More Weird Baseball Rules!

Catchers – don’t use your masks to retrieve the ball

weird-baseball-rules

As I have stated in a previous blog – If you play this game long enough, as announcers love to say, you will see something that you have never seen before. 

You can add, that if you watch this game long enough, you will see rules that you never knew were rules before. 

I stumbled upon this rule by accident in my playing days.  Yes, I am guilty of committing an infraction to this rule in a major league baseball game.  It is a rule that seems so miniscule and unimportant until a guilty party commits the infraction and the opposing team is given two bases.

Rule 7.05(d) states “if a fielder touches a thrown ball with detached equipment” then the base runner is awarded two bases.

How does this happen?  A pitcher throws a ball in the dirt when there is a base runner on and you properly block the ball.  The ball rolls a few feet from your body.  After blocking a ball, if you use the old school catcher’s masks, a catcher might quickly take off the mask.  The mask usually is thrown to the side as a catcher scrambles to his feet to stop the base runner from advancing to the next base.  But if the ball is close to you, and the runner is not advancing, then a catcher might simply outstretch his arm still holding the mask.  If the mask touches the ball with your attempt being to retrieve the ball, then the base runner is awarded two bases.

Yes – two bases.  So just remember – block the ball but don’t allow any detached equipment to help you retrieve the ball!

Until Next Time,

Chad

 

Weird Baseball Rules!

Don’t throw your glove at the ball

baseball-gloveIf you play this game long enough, as announcers love to say, you will see something that you have never seen before.

You can add, that if you watch this game long enough, you will see rules that you never knew were rules before.

Many of us have been involved in a game where a ball is hit over our head, and our first reaction is to throw your glove at the ball.  Rarely, if ever, does our glove hit the ball and thankfully it does not, because if it did, we would be breaking a major rule in the game of baseball.

Rule 7.05(c) states that if “a fielder deliberately throws a glove at and touches a fair ball” then “at the time of pitch, the batter-runner advances three bases.”

Wow!  Three bases for an instinctual play.  I believe every player, schoolyard or in actual game have thought about doing this.  Some of you reading this blog have actually tried this feat in a game.  If the umpire was well versed in the rules of the game, he would institute this three base rule.

Essentially, Major Leaguers can only catch the ball with their hands.  A glove is considered part of their hand if the glove is connected to the hand.  

This rule also extends to hats, shoes, and batting gloves.  So if you have ever considered, or have been quick enough, to rip off your cleat and fling it into the air and stop a line drive over your head; don’t do it.

Just another glimpse into this wonderful game of baseball.

Until Next Time,

Chad

 

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