Thursday, October 27, 2016

Offseason Lesson and Clinic Schedule

My schedule for the rest of 2016 is below. This is typically a time for players coming off the fall season to rest their arms. So there will be minimal throwing for most players. But we can certainly hit and work on throwing mechanics with light throwing if needed. Email me at brandon.merchant@yahoo.com if interested.

For players who are motivated to get better, the offseason can be a great time to correct flaws because there are no games, where players often revert to old mechanics while trying to "perform" under stress. Others may need a mental break from baseball, which I totally support. Either way, I hope many of them will play another sport this winter. Basketball especially is great for their athleticism. And it's fun. 

I will be offering some clinics over the next few months that will focus primarily on hitting and off-season strength conditioning. The conditioning will be important for these guys as they get older, as it can improve performance and provide an important support system for their arms. So I want to promote that to our youth players. The Halloween Clinic will include an introduction to that, and it will be an important part of my Holiday Season Clinic as well.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Jose Fernandez Showed Us How to Enjoy the Game

The death of Jose Fernandez was a shock. Not just because he was a great pitcher and a rising star in Major League Baseball. But Fernandez showed what could be great about baseball and was such a good example for young players watching. He really loved the game and enjoyed playing it. He smiled on the mound. Think about that - how many pro pitchers do you see who are so happy and comfortable in their own skin that they smile on the mound? 

I think that's how the game should be. I think the fans would prefer it. I think players perform better when they relax and enjoy it. Every pitch is a challenge, not a threat to your well-being. Fernandez was the greatest example of that perspective on the game. His death is a huge loss for many reasons. But it's particularly sad to think that a generation of kids won't see a shining star like Jose openly enjoying the game like he did.

Too many young players carry the weight of their world on their shoulders when they play. It's all or nothing. They succeed and everything is great. They fail and it's all over - tears, anger, tension. I'm sick of it. We've created a culture in youth baseball filled with pressure - as if what happens in a 12-year-old game really matters. Guys like Fernandez showed that it's okay to relax and have fun, and take it for what it is - a game. 

So I hope we never forget Jose Fernandez. He was a big kid with amazing talent who competed fiercely - but enjoyed competing fiercely. And he wasn't afraid to show it. What a sad day. But when the sadness eases, let's remember that smile.