Brewers Baseball Academy Skills Champion’s Day Wrap Up
If you’ll recall, this past season, we launched the Brewers Baseball Academy presented by Kwik Trip, eight separate week-long baseball/softball camps open to youth (ages 6-14) which were held in various cities across Wisconsin this summer.
All season, in addition to putting on the camps, executive director Tim Rappe provided some baseball tips here on John and Cait…Plus 9 as well. Read on for the latest installment from Coach Tim, a wrap up of the Brewers Baseball Academy Champions Day.
THE SECRET SAUCE IN EVERY CHAMPION’S RECIPE
At each Brewers Baseball Academy summer camp we have the kids participate in a Skills Competition that measures bat speed, running speed and field/throwing speed. We’ve found that breaking up the instruction with competitive events really spices up the day and the Skills Competition does the trick. Plus, it helps reinforce the very things that we are teaching the kids during the week.
A couple weeks ago, the top 70 scorers from the summer participated in Champions Day at Miller Park. In addition to the 70 competitors, there were another 300+ friends and family members in attendance. It was a gorgeous day, although I wished the grounds crew was preparing the infield for the playoffs rather than re-sodding…but that’s what next year is for.
The focus of this post is to ask whether or not placing kids in the cauldron of competition prepares them for what’s ahead. Trust me; the kids at Champions Day feel the pressure of competing for a trophy in front of a lot of people on the very field their baseball heroes perform. It’s only natural to feel that heart-pounding, sweaty palms, “where’s the restroom” sensation. The big question, of course, is whether or not the performer can park those feelings somewhere they won’t impede their physical and mental performance. Or do they give into them and essentially fall apart at the most critical time?
I submit that champions not only control those emotions but use them to propel his/her performance to new heights. That confidence, that belief in oneself, is the secret sauce in every winner’s recipe.
I think about all the travel tryouts that were conducted throughout Wisconsin in the last 60 days. We measure kids’ running speed. We hit them ground balls and watch the “carry” on their throws across the infield or outfield. We throw batting practice and watch their strokes. What we can’t do is put a dipstick in that part of the athlete that measures their ability to manage stress…to excel under pressure. If we could, I fear that many of us would come up a quart low.
Case in point. If you ever had the pleasure of standing in the third base coaching box you get a real sense of the kids who step into the batter’s box like they own it. It’s as though they lock the door behind them and nothing exists other than the next pitch. These kids will compete for me. On the other hand, I’ve had plenty of kids who stepped into the batter’s box in that same pressure cooker situation and looked as though there was a snake in it.
The remarkable “you can’t beat me” attitude is what separates good from great and it may very well be hard wired in the athlete’s DNA. Although, preparation, experience and multiple “learnable” techniques can make a huge difference. But the “will to win” that we see from the great ones may not be something we can teach. Then again, a few Sunday’s ago class was in session at Miller Park for 70 young athletes from the Brewers Baseball Academy…and they put on a show. You can click here to see the final rankings.
Until next time, “If you’re gonna swing, might as well swing hard.”