Where We Go From Here

Where We Go From Here

The "New Busy" Keeps Us Going.

Ruffnecks – The Game We Teach

Ruffnecks – The Game We Teach

Are we teaching Baseball as it is no longer played?

When We Next Take the Field – Rejoice!

When We Next Take the Field – Rejoice!

Diamonds Await A Return to Baseball

Where We Go From Here

When we meet again!

Sunday, April 12th… Easter… The world still remains “closed for business.”  The bases are empty.  No one is in the batter’s box or on the mound.  No seeds, gum chewing, and definitely no spitting!  So where do we go from here in our baseball lives?  There are some answers to that question.  And the answers depend upon which segment of the baseball universe and population we talk about.  As a program, we are in a “New Busy.”  We prepare for the day we can resume.  Contingencies warrant consideration and imagination.  We will be ready when the time comes to take the field again.  For Ruffnecks in the classes of 2021 and 2022 it has never been busier off the field in March and April.  Why?  Because the baseball universe has changed and continues to change.  There are more questions than answers for players who aspire to play in college.  And everyone has lost the high school season to a “season-ending calamity” no one expected.  So what do we do about it?

The Wise Player: Academic Performance Rewarded

The “New Busy” for Ruffnecks players turns to the classroom.  Many Ruffnecks players in the classes of 2021 and 2022 have reached out to arrange individual conference calls to review their personal profiles along with the developments in NCAA recruiting.  These are the most proactive players.  They are the wise players who ask questions, review their academic performance, and develop self-awareness.  They reconsider and search for colleges and universities where they can be competitive candidates without baseball. Why is this important?  Because the baseball snapshot is frozen in a state of suspended animation, but the academic profile is not!  Those with strong performances in the classroom will likely have more doors open to them.  No player has an opportunity to present himself on the field.  It does not matter if he is from Massachusetts or Texas.  But all players can hunker down, become better students, better writers, better readers, better communicators.  All players can take practice SAT or ACT tests, whether they can afford a tutor or not.  All players can move the needle on their academic performance and what they present to colleges as students.  And frankly, those who have been good students all along are better positioned because when Vanderbilt does not recruit them, there are plenty of schools at various competitive levels that may be options for admission with or without baseball.

The Dedicated Athlete

There are things to do to advance athletic fortunes as well.  Athletes have control of core strength and conditioning.  Access to a gym is not necessary.  There are hills to climb and run up.  There a flat distances over which to sprint.  There are videos of core strengthening techniques to learn from.  And Amazon still delivers bands, barbells, and other accoutrements to set up your own “gym” work area.  The dedicated athlete can get faster, get stronger, become more flexible.  Hitters will find a way to hit and swing a bat.  Pitchers and position players have every opportunity to develop arm strength during this period of suspended time.  Make your arm a stand-out tool! Keen-eyed coaches and college recruiters will see those who did the work during this time.  Pitchers who are “ready to go” will outshine those who ask out of a game because their arm is sore or not ready.  Injured players have time to heal.  There is no reason NOT to be ready!

Beware of False Promises

Players and families ask about the emails, offers, and enticements from baseball outfits, recruiting services, etc.  There are many opportunists seeking to profit from this disaster.  We get the emails too.  Organizations offer “free” info sessions that lead to the sales pitch for something else.  Others rush people to register for July and August events that claim to make up for the exposure lost in April and May.  Some even offer free tokens for their batting cages that are closed!!!  Beware!  Stay the course.  No one can see anyone play right now… and unfortunately, no one knows when or where baseball will resume.  So stay the course on what you can control.

What Ruffnecks Coaches & Program Counselors Are Doing

Virtual 13U Practice

Ruffnecks coaches continue to engage our players on the 13U and 14U roster.  We conduct virtual practices… who would have imagined?!  But we have fun and we see each other.  We fill in gaps of baseball knowledge, history, and provide direction to work on skills.  Players have direction to work individually or with siblings, parents, or a trusted friend with proper social distancing.

On the college recruiting front, we are busy keeping abreast of the changes in rules, guidelines, and general landscape with college coaches and conferences.  We continue to present our players to colleges and respond to those players who initiate conversations and seek guidance (See “The Wise Player”).  We maintain communication among our core of Ruffnecks coaches, many of whom are high school or prep coaches (also in a suspended baseball universe).  We share ideas, commiserate, but largely plan for the resumption of action, discussing how to help our players.  We love what we do.

Ruffnecks – The Game We Teach

The year is 2020, and quakes and tremors in Major League Baseball awaken us.  We are shaken to consider and question several things about our game and national pastime.  What game we are teaching to Ruffnecks players from 13 years old to 18 years old?  Do we teach the game the way it is no longer played?  Is it even the national pastime anymore?  Let us begin by examining what the Ruffnecks program is doing in the coming months.

Winter Workouts

Harvard Bubble

The Ruffnecks program conducted organizational Winter Workouts in February.  For our players, especially the high school players, this was “Spring Training” for a high school season that may not happen.  Sessions are repetition-oriented skill and drill work.  We conduct full field workouts in the spacious facilities of two prestigious Division I programs in New England:  Boston College and Harvard University.  Our sessions begin at 6 o’clock in the morning on Sunday mornings.  Once a week from February to March.  When they are over, our players have a solid foundation.  Along the way, we gather as a program, “kick the dust off,” and get to work on positional preparation and skill work.  Younger Ruffnecks (13U and 14U) integrate into the drill work at the speed and intensity of the older players for several of the sessions.  The 13s and 14s also have their own TEAM session on select Saturdays.  We allocate considerable financial resources to our Winter Workouts.  Some outsiders may believe it is not necessary.  We consider it a cultural and developmental opportunity to do something relevant and special.

Between a dozen and twenty Ruffnecks coaches and adjunct coaches attend our Winter Workouts.  They instruct, hit fungos, banter, and join in the preparation for a baseball season that runs from March until August… almost 6 months.  We have great admiration and respect for the Ruffnecks players who get up early on Sunday mornings (some as early as 4am) to get to Boston College or Harvard to work on baseball skills.  A great many of these athletes play multiple sports, including winter sports.  Some may have had a basketball game or a hockey game on Saturday.  Yet they show up to Sunday workouts.  Inherent in the experience is what college baseball might be like for those who aspire to play at that level: Early morning lifting sessions; early morning or late night practices using indoor facilities; planning schedules around academic obligations.  This is at the heart of the Ruffnecks experience

What We Teach

To Play the Summer Game!

We teach that there is no substitution for regular work and repetitions.  There is no way to get better at the skills required for baseball than by practicing baseball skills.  Of course focused players use strength training, speed training, nutrition, and more to become better, stronger athletes.  But baseball skills are honed by baseball activity. It helps to conduct that activity under the close watch of sound coaches who are willing to work, help, critique, challenge, and more.  What we try to build is a baseball mind-set, a culture where baseball is spoken, observed, and shared.

What else do we teach?  Well everything we do is aimed at building a mindset that baseball success is built on doing little things well.  “Make the routine plays routinely.”  When we get into our seasons we teach to move runners over.  We teach that playing for one run is just as valuable as hitting a 3 run home run because it helps the team in the moment.  We teach that hitting the ball hard is important.  We teach that bunting is good… that there are several ways to score runners from third base with less than two outs… just do your job.

Relevancy

Baseball in general, and our world of youth, travel baseball, is in a state where we must determine what is relevant.  The Major League product is not the game we teach, even though the analytics filter into batting cages, clinics, showcases, and more.  Replay reviews and the slow pace of the MLB game are simply not relevant to what we teach.  Frankly, neither are analytics, though they can be a useful tool.  Umpires are actually pretty fair, and try to be good, so why argue about the strike zone?  Nothing beats a skilled player who “makes the plays.”  The game is supposed to be a great sport to pass the time.  We can play it almost every day (when the weather is good).  We do not need to analyze every aspect of spin or exit velocity.  And we certainly should not be using technology to steal signs.  Picking up signs and sharing with teammates is part of the game, but that leads back to talking, thinking, observing, and understanding the game, opponents’ tendencies, along with doing your part as a player.

So beginning in February, Ruffnecks players get up early, take reps, get through that pre-season arm soreness, and ready themselves for their school and summer seasons.  For the coaches, it is time to work on fungo calluses and talking the game with the kids who want to be good at it.

The Week Ahead - Notices

(Updated Saturday, May 30)

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS:

The NEBC is closed to all indoor and outdoor activity until further notice.

17U Team Meeting
Monday, June 1
6:30pm

16U Team Meeting
Tuesday, June 2
6:30pm

15U Team Meeting
Wednesday, June 3
6:30pm

13U Team "Practice"
Thursday, June 4
5:30pm

13U Team "Practice"
Thursday, June 4
6:30pm

Please be well!

Ruffnecks FanWear Store by ScotTees

Gate Passes Available - 2020 Season


NEBC Store Open in Northboro & Online!

Sweatshirts, Shorts, Optional Practice Wear

 

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