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A Conversation With Steve Nicollerat from CoachBaseballRight.com

STEVE NICOLLERAT coachbaseballright.com

I had the great pleasure to talk with Steve Nicollerat. I loved our conversation and I think you will too. When you look at Steve’s impressive 35-year baseball coaching resume, you might be quick to label him a “baseball guy.” But coach Nicollerat offers sports parents and other coaches a perspective that extend beyond his vast baseball knowledge.

There are some great, dedicated people leading youth sports organizations and teams. Steve Nicollerat is one of them. He sees the bigger picture and recognizes that athletics offer a fantastic opportunity to develop kids into great adults.

Steve is the Founder and Coach of CoachBaseballRight.com, a great resource for baseball coaches and baseball parents. The site has more than 250 videos that will help you coach baseball right. The membership area of the site is organized extremely well so that it’s easy to follow the progression of videos and practice plans in each area.

The philosophy at CoachBaseballRight.com is, “To equip coaches and parents with the right tools to engage and help kids develop athletically and personally through the game of baseball.”

MORE ABOUT STEVE NICOLLERAT

You may know Steve Nicollerat from the video of him addressing parents that went viral and has received millions of views.

You may know Steve Nicollerat from the video of him addressing parents that went viral and has received millions of views on Facebook.

Steve has been coaching baseball for more than 35 years at St. Louis University High School. He’s one of only six coaches chosen to be a nationally accredited Mike Epstein Hitting Coach. Steve’s system of teaching baseball emphasizes fundamentals and positive development, both athletically and personally.

“Sports are important, and everybody wants to win and you shouldn’t apologize for winning, but winning is not the most important part of coaching and what people should be after…you see sports give us the opportunity to use challenges and obstacles to help us all grow into better people…we just have to be smart enough to learn from the lessons the game provides.”
– Steve Nicollerat

Steve has raised and coached four children and now has beautiful grandchildren running all around. With all of these experiences, Steve thinks that he has been blessed to be able to grow and learn as an exceptional father, a caring and loving grandfather, a teacher, and as a coach.

SportsDadHub interview steve niccollerat

KEY POINTS FROM OUR CONVERSATION

Steve hits upon some awesome points during our conversation. Here are a few of the quotes and highlights:

  • Parents should have a vision and a plan that’s best for their kid.
    Too often sports parents allow a club or team to dictate what path their child takes. Parents need to be involved and have some self awareness about what’s in their kid’s best interest.
    “Today parents tend to let other people tell them what’s best for their own kid.”
  • In a perfect world kids would play multiple sports. They’d also be involved in music, theater and other activities.
    It’s OK if your child is only interested in one sport. Just make sure they have an off season.
    “Even if they’re only playing one sport, you have to always leave it to where they want more. If we give the kids what they tell us they want… which is a lot… then I’m afraid at times there won’t be any more left for them to want to go after.”
  • Just because kids want certain things, doesn’t mean that it’s OK for them to have it.
    When kids think that they need to spend all of their time working to get better at a sport, it stops being fun.
  • Games used to be special events.
    Kids are playing so many games today that the games just become something they do. One thing we’re missing today is practice so that the kids can learn.
    “What good is playing 60 games if you’re making the same mistakes 60 times?”

COMMON COACHING MISTAKES

Some of the most common mistakes a coach can make are:

  • Lacking communication with parents and players.
    Thinking everyone knows what you think. Little communication from a coach about everything from playing time to practice attendance will set up a season for failure. Parents have to know what to expect.
  • Thinking they know it all because they played the game.
    Not being open minded to new techniques or drills or how to run a practice. Coaches need to go beyond their comfort zone to constantly stretch themselves to get better & provide a better experience for the kids.

CBRCoachBaseballRight.com

This is an awesome resource for baseball coaches and involved baseball parents. There are 250+ videos that teach from the most basic skills to the advanced. The cool thing is that they’re progressive so you won’t get lost or overwhelmed. Each video builds upon the previous video.

Steve is a great communicator. He explains how and why to do each drill and describes details in a way that kids can understand and remember. One example of this comes from an infielder’s drill about circling and approaching a grounder. Steve wants the kids to work on having their glove fingers down with the glove open. He calls it “taking a picture of the ball.”

He tells the kids to imagine that there’s a camera in the pocket of the glove and they need to open their glove and hold it down and out in front of them so they can “take a picture” of the ball.

PLANS FOR PARENTS

CoachBaseballRight.com is an awesome resource if you’re a baseball dad or mom who enjoys fueling your child’s passion for baseball by working on some drills at home. CBR.com gives you a plan to follow. Instead of winging it and going on YouTube to search for random baseball drills, you can have a template to follow. It helps you make the most of the limited time you have to work with your kid. These programs will take you by the hand and guide you on what to do to help your child improve.

PLANS FOR COACHES:

As cool as CoachBaseballRight.com is for parents, let’s face it… Steve Nicollerat is a coach. The tools this site offers to baseball coaches is unlike anything I’ve seen. Fantastic videos that break down how to coach things like rundowns, bunt defenses, cut-offs and relays. Steve breaks down and communicates drills masterfully.

There’s nothing worse than getting to practice and just winging it because you ran out of time to create a practice plan. When you’re a member of CBR.com you can download full baseball practice plans. Save yourself time and aggravation.

If you’re a baseball coach and you take pride in constantly growing and evolving, you need to add CoachBaseballRight.com to your tool kit.

In addition to all of the drills and coaching instruction, you can find some great blogs and videos on bigger picture things too. Topics like “Why Do We Coach?” and “What Does Commitment Mean To A Parent?”

During our conversation, Steve shared a powerful story about the lesson he learned in a game while coaching his son. “What he needed was a dad and all he got was a selfish egotistical person that didn’t have any empathy.”

Like I said, it was a great conversation. I enjoyed it and I think you will too.

Check it out by clicking here or the bar below. And definitely check out everything that CoachBaseballRight.com has to offer you.

SportsDadHub interview steve niccollerat

Give Your Son Baseball Lessons From Former MLB Players

Up17 Sports Dad Hub Baseball Tips From Former Pros

How would you like to give your son baseball lessons from former MLB pros? I’m talking about personalized, one-on-one, focused attention on your son’s swing or pitching delivery.

That would be pretty cool, right?

Well a very cool batting and pitching app called UP17 provides just that. All you have to do is video a few of your son’s swings and/or pitches and upload the video into the app. In a matter of minutes the video will be in the hands of an UP17 hitting or pitching instructor – all of which are former Major League Baseball players.

When you upload a video you can either choose your son’s instructor or have one assigned to him. What I really like is that any time you upload another video, it will automatically go to your son’s designated instructor. So that gives his instruction continuity.

Who has time for private hitting sessions on top of team practices and games?

Up17 logoUP17 is the ideal baseball teaching tool for busy sports parents. We already have our schedules crammed full of team practices, games and other activities. Finding time for additional private baseball lessons on top of those things can be really tough.

With UP17, you can use your phone to film your son taking 5-7 hacks off a tee in your garage at 9:15 at night. How long would that take? Two minutes? 

Then you simply upload the video to the app and send it to your pro instructor. A few days later your video with professional hitting analysis will be waiting for you in the app.

My experience with UP17

A couple months ago former MLB player and current UP17 director of operations, Joe Mahoney, contacted me. He found the Sports Dad Hub blog and awesome Facebook community and knew that he could offer some help.

I was immediately intrigued. Right away I saw the value in having a former MLB player providing direct feedback on your son’s swing or pitching motion.

So I tried it out with my 10-year old son, Brayden.

The whole process is pretty simple. Setting up the app is easy. Once the app is downloaded and you’ve created a profile, all you need to do is decide how many tokens you’re going to buy. You can buy them in packs of one, three or ten at a time. Each session costs one token. When at least one token is loaded, it’s go time.

I filmed Brayden taking a few swings while he warmed up playing soft toss before a game one Saturday morning. It literally took about a minute.

I attempted to upload the video to the app on the spot. It seemed like it worked, but later I got an email saying that it failed to upload. I think it was because the tournament fields were in somewhat of a rural area and I didn’t have the best cell signal.

The video loaded in no time and without a problem later from my home wifi.

Up17 Nick Green Sports Dad HubOur professional hitting instructor

A few days later, I had a notification from the app that Brayden’s swing analysis video was ready. Nick Green was the former MLB player assigned to Brayden.

Nick did an awesome job making a connection with Brayden and providing feedback and instruction that made it simple for a 10-year old to understand. Brayden got a kick out of Nick using his name. He had a funny smile on his face every time he watched his video review.

Now, remember how I said filming Brayden took about a minute? Well the video swing analysis we got back was more than eight minutes long. Nick really dissected Brayden’s swing without getting too technical or confusing. He reinforced the good things he saw and then provided positive suggestions for areas that Brayden can work on.

Nick’s instruction was very actionable. It’s all stuff Brayden can work on when he practices. And Nick even included some additional videos of hitting drills that will help Brayden improve in the areas covered in his swing analysis. The additional videos also live within the app. 

Awesome baseball instruction for visual learners

Throughout the video analysis Nick drew on the screen to illustrate what he was talking about. He paused the video numerous times so that he could break down specific parts of Brayden’s swing. While he talked, he drew on the screen to help communicate his points. That was huge for Brayden because he’s a visual learner.

And since this video lives on the app, Brayden can go back and watch it as many times as he wants as often as he wants. If I took him to a live hitting instructor here in town, Bray would probably forget half the things his coach told him to work on. With video instruction, forgetting isn’t an issue.

up17 baseball sports dad hub Up17 swing analysis sports dad hub

Is UP17 the future of private baseball lessons?

This app was so easy and convenient to use and the instruction was top notch. I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the future of private baseball lessons.

Where else are you going to get your son private access to coaching from former Major League Baseball players?

And everything is on your schedule. No setting appointments and driving across town for hitting sessions.

It’s awesome for busy sports parents like you and me.  Plus, there’s tremendous value in having a video recording of your son’s instruction. It’s so awesome that kids have the ability to go back to watch and absorb the knowledge over and over. The continuity of having the same coach every time is also a great thing.

Overall, I’m a big fan of this app. And after talking to Joe Mahoney a few times now, I’m a big fan of the company. I love their mission to get unmatched professional hitting and pitching instruction into the hands of as many kids as possible.

If you’re looking for a simple, convenient way to get your son baseball coaching from former Major League players, who are also good guys, I highly recommend you check out UP17.

Click the link below to listen to the phone conversation I had with Joe Mahoney. He shares some very cool insights about the app and the company’s philosophies. 

Practice the Habit of Helping

JBM BookAs a parent, you know all about habits–good and bad. You see it as your child practices habits at home, in school and even in sports.

As parents, you also have habits. And if your child plays youth sports, you will make choices in how you parent that will become habits. Those habits will affect your child’s youth sports experience. In my new booklet 11 Habits of Happy and Positive Sports Parents, I talk about habits that will make you and your child’s experience in youth sports much more enjoyable.

I want to share one of those habits with you now: The habit of helping.

We tell our kids over and over that in order to win they must work together as a team. A great way for you to show them how this works is by working with other parents on the team to get things done.

The team parent or manager should oversee and delegate to other parents on the team, but should never be stuck doing all the work. Neither should 2 or 3 very involved parents. I have seen this happen way too often: one or two parents do all the work while other parents do nothing.

No excuses, parents. Everyone should help; no matter how busy you are, there is some way that you can get involved.
You see, when parents don’t help out, it’s easy for them to find things to get critical about.

The coach doesn’t communicate enough.

The snack bar is unorganized.

The time-keeper keeps messing up.

The ump continually makes bad calls.

The longer you sit on the bench as a sports parent, without serving or volunteering, the more likely it is that you will become critical of others who are doing the work. It’s so easy to sit in the stands and watch how everyone else is making mistakes. But I guarantee that if you dive in and find a way to help, you will find it much harder to stand back and criticize others who are serving too.

If the coach has poor communication skills, offer to help him contact parents via email or text, or help him get set up with an online organizational tool.

If the snack bar is chaotic, step in to help and look for ways to make it run smoothly.

If the time-keeper keeps messing up, offer to learn how to do the job yourself. If the official keeps making poor calls, try taking the training and becoming an official yourself. I guarantee that you will be less likely to yell at an official ever again!

Volunteering to do even a small job can curb your critical spirit. Get off the bench, parents, and start helping. If you sit long without serving, you become a critic.

In this list of jobs to be done for a youth sports team, find one that fits your schedule and help out.

  • Set up the team roster
  • Order the team banner
  • Schedule picture day
  • Oversee & set up fundraisers
  • Set up an email distribution list or texting group or FB page for communication
  • Send out welcome email
  • Keep registration information
  • Order/pickup uniforms and give to players
  • Set up snack schedule
  • Before each practice or game, send out reminder emails
  • Order trophies
  • Schedule and plan parties, mid-season or end-of-year gatherings
  • Organize snack-bar duty
  • Call to remind snack bar workers
  • Order coaches’ gifts
  • Keep stat books
  • Control scoreboard
  • Drive for away games or tournaments
  • Organize and/or cook for team meals

Find something you can do to help the team, no matter how minor you think it is. If enough parents do this, things will get done without overloading one parent.

Learn about the other 10 Habits of Happy and Positive Sports Parents in Janis’ new book 11 Habits of Healthy and Positive Sports Parents. You can order the book on Amazon.

This has been a guest post from Janis Meredith. Janis helps sports parents guide their children to get the most of their sports experience. “Sports should be more than just a game. More than wins and losses. More than stats and scholarships.”

Top Ten Posts On Sports Dad Hub

Top-10-Posts-On-Sports-Dad-HubThere have been quite a few new subscribers to SportsDadHub.com over the last few months. I thought this would be a good time to compile a quick reference guide to the top ten most read posts. Now that there are more than 80 posts on the site, it can be a bit overwhelming if you’re new here. And even if you’ve been a subscriber for a while, there’s a good chance you may have missed some of these posts too.

I love it when we generate some conversation around a topic. So feel free to add to the comments if you have anything to contribute or ask.

This would be a great post to share with other Sports Dads who may not know about the awesome community we’re building here.

Thanks so much for helping the SportsDadHub.com community grow. We’re in this crazy world of youth sports together. Sometimes it feels like a runaway train that can easily take us down the wrong track. We need to stick together to keep everything under control and in the proper perspective. The more like-minded Sports Dads we can involve, the better. Let’s continue to learn from each other and continue to give youth sports back to our kids.

OK. My mini rant is over. Now on to the top ten posts…

#10. How To Help Your Son Improve His Game, Without Criticism

#9. Home Run Robber: A Fun Baseball Drill For Young Outfielders

#8. The Most Important Soccer Skill For Kids To Develop

#7. The Hockey Dad I Wanted To Punch In The Mouth

#6. Water Balloon Ball: A Fun Way For Kids To Beat The Heat

#5. Kids Playing Multiple Sports: Too Much Of A Fun Thing?

#4. A New Ice Hockey Dad’s Guide To Your First Season

#3. The 8 Most Annoying Sports Parents

#2. Why All Hockey Dads Should Love The Pre-Dawn Practices

#1. 7 Things Every Sports Dad Can Learn From Richard Verlander

As always, thanks for reading and sharing!

-Kevin

The Best FREE Pitch Count App for 2013

Best Pitch Count App iPhone - Sports Dad HubNew, free pitch count apps have launched since I reviewed and recommended the best free pitch count app last baseball season. I’m glad I decided to do this again, because there’s a new champ in the clubhouse this year.

If your son is a pitcher and you haven’t tried using a good pitch count app, I highly recommend it. It’s our responsibility as dads to monitor our sons’ pitches. We’ve got to make sure they don’t put dangerous and unnecessary wear and tear on their arms. After giving a few of the new apps a test spin, I’m ready to share the best ones with you. That way you won’t have to waste your time trying to figure out which free pitch count app is worth a damn.

Last Year’s Pick For Best Free Pitch Count App: 

Pitch Count App - Power ChalkPower Chalk Pitch Count 2.2 

Even though the Power Chalk Pitch Count 2.2 didn’t repeat as the best free pitch count app for 2013, it’s still a great app that can serve you well.

What’s cool about this app:

  • It’s a comprehensive app, but it’s extremely easy to use.
  • Nice big “Ball” and “Strike” buttons to tap.
  • The “Pitcher Database” allows you to create and save multiple pitchers for tracking. (Great for coaches)
  • The “Game Database” lets you save every game. If you can’t remember how many pitches your son threw in his last game, just pull up the saved file and look.
  • The Pitcher Database also allows you to track the total number of pitches your son has thrown during the season. Seasons aren’t getting any shorter, so it’s up to you to know when his arm has tossed enough innings. (Check out the pitch limit for a season later in this post.) This is especially important if your son plays both summer and fall ball.
The only thing that’s not so cool about this app:
  • No sound effects. An identifiable sound effect, or vibration when you tap “Balls” or “Strikes” would be nice so you know for certain if you tapped it or not.

Get this free app at your phone’s app store or click one of these links:

Best Free Pitch Count App 2013 - Sports Dad HubThe Best Free Pitch Count App for 2013

HT Pitch Counter Free from Handtechnics Sports

This app offers everything last year’s champ does and more.

What’s cool about this app:

  • Very comprehensive app, yet a simple interface is easy to use.
  • Allows you to track a variety of pitches (fastball, curve ball, change up, sinker, other). This feature isn’t relevant if your son is younger. But it’s a great tool to help identify if an older kid is having trouble throwing a specific pitch for a strike.
  • The “Pitcher Database” allows you to create and save multiple pitchers for tracking. (Great for coaches)
  • The Pitcher Database also allows you to track the total number of pitches your son has thrown during the season.
  • The “Game Database” let’s you save every game. If you can’t remember how many pitches your son threw in his last game, just pull up the saved file and look.
  • Easy to subtract a pitch if you accidentally tap the wrong button.Best Free Pitch Count App 2013
  • Fun Radar Gun feature that allows you to get a general idea of how fast your son is throwing.
  • Ability to email stats to yourself with one click.
  • Integrated with Facebook and Twitter so you can share your son’s stats with his biggest fans.

Get the Best Free Pitch Count App for 2013 inside the iTunes App store or follow this link:

How These Cool Apps Could Get Even Cooler

Even though the other apps out there didn’t make the cut for my recommendation, a couple of them had some cool features. If the developers for the HT Pitch Counter and Power Chalk Pitch Count 2.2 add these two features with their next update, they will create even further separation from the competition.

  • Set Pitch Count Limits
    An app titled My Pitch Count allowed you to set a pitch count limit. When the pitch count got within five pitches of the limit, a pop-up notified you that the pitcher had “5 pitches left.”
  • Pitching Guidelines
    The app Pitch Count App from Claude Keswani Sports comes with pitching guidelines. It provides safe pitch counts by age and how many days kids of all ages need to rest their arm after pitching.

Safe Pitch Counts and Limits For Kids

If you’re not sure what the pitch limit is for your son or how long he should rest between pitching in games, jot down these safe limits recommended by USA Baseball.

9-10 year old pitchers:
50 pitches per game
75 pitches per week
1000 pitches per season
2000 pitches per year

11-12 year old pitchers:
75 pitches per game
100 pitches per week
1000 pitches per season
3000 pitches per year

13-14 year old pitchers:
75 pitches per game
125 pitches per week
1000 pitches per season
3000 pitches per year

If your son is a pitcher, you need to read this section

This USA Baseball post had so much great information that I decided to include an excerpt here:

Pitch count limits pertain to pitches thrown in games only. These limits do not include throws from other positions, instructional pitching during practice sessions, and throwing drills, which are important for the development of technique and strength. Backyard pitching practice after a pitched game is strongly discouraged.

  • Pitchers should not throw breaking pitches (curveballs, sliders, etc.) in competition until their bones have matured (indicated by puberty) – typically about 13 years of age. In order to succeed, a youth pitcher should focus on good mechanics, a fast fastball, a good change-up, and good control.
  • Pitchers should develop proper mechanics as early as possible and include more year-round physical conditioning as their body develops.
  • A Pitcher returning to the mound in a game once he/she has been removed as the pitcher is strongly discouraged.
  • Baseball players – especially pitchers – are discouraged from participating in showcases due to the risk of injury. The importance of
  • showcases should be de-emphasized, and at the least, pitchers should be permitted time to appropriately prepare.
  • Baseball pitchers are discouraged from pitching for more than one team in overlapping seasons.
  • Baseball pitchers should not compete in baseball more than nine months in any given year, as periodization is needed to give the pitcher’s body time to rest and recover. For at least three months a year, a baseball pitcher should not play any baseball, participate in throwing drills, or participate in other stressful overhead activities (javelin throwing, football quarterback, softball, competitive swimming, etc.).

Do you use and like a different free pitch count app? Share it in the comments or on the SportsDadHub Facebook page.

Thank for reading,
-Kevin

TEAM TOONS: Unique Gift For Kids and Coaches

How many team photos and individual trading cards of your son or daughter have you ordered in the past? Team photos make decent keepsakes, but they haven’t changed since we were kids. Here’s what they’ve looked like for the past 30 years: A flimsy cardboard frame and stand with a big team photo on the bottom and individual, generic, posed shot in an oval shape in the upper right corner. Am I right? Year after year it’s the same boring thing. My boys don’t even get excited about them any more.

Individual trading cards of your kids are cool, but what usually happens to them? My kids give them all out to friends and lose or ruin the one they keep for themselves.

This Season, Make It Team Toons

I’d like to introduce you to a truly unique keepsake for your all star’s season, a Team Toons Caricature.

Months ago I stumbled across a very talented caricature artist on Twitter. His name is Michael Voogd of VoogDesigns, creator of Team Toons. After getting to know Michael and seeing the awesome work he does, I had to share his talents with you.

Kids love these cool cartoon version of themselves. A framed piece of Team Toon art  makes an awesome addition to a kids’ bedroom. It’s a great keepsake for years to come.

Cool Gift For Coaches 

I really like the idea of having a Team Toon of your kid’s coach created and giving it to him as an end of the season gift. I guarantee that the coach won’t have anything else like it. And I bet he’ll appreciate and treasure a Team Toon over something like a gift card to a sporting goods store. Suggest the idea to the other parents on your son’s team and see what they think.

Order your Team Toon in 3 Easy Steps:

  1. Take a high resolution PHOTO of the Player or Coach
  2. E-MAIL the photo with the Team Information to VoogDesigns@gmail.com
  3. RECEIVE the Digital Artwork in 7-10 days to Print-to-Size and Frame!

Learn more on the Voog Designs website.

If you order a Team Toon for your son or his coach, let me know how they like it.

*Full disclosure: I was NOT compensated for this post. I simply think it’s a cool gift idea for any young athlete and/or coach and wanted to pass it along to you.

Thanks for reading.

-Kevin