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There is something very interesting going on in Montreal this year with our hockey team - the NHL Montreal Canadiens. The Montreal team has a rich history much like the NY Yankees with 24 Stanley Cups wins (championships wins) in 100 years. The team is going to be celebrating its 100th anniversary next season. The fans are just crazy about their team. The whole city is behind this team. It's really THE team in town. Minimum 5-10 pages in the newspaper every day. The enthusiasm for the team is similar to college towns supporting their local college football teams. The whole city lives and dies for that team (think Lincoln Nebraska for the Huskers). Anyhow, the team is doing surprisingly very well this year and after over 15 years of so-so performances, they are back at the top this year with a young, talented, and energetic team. You just can imagine the buzz the city is going through right now. Montreal can be the best and the worst play to play hockey on the planet. The arena is close to exploding when the team is doing well but the fans can also be ruthless for players who are not delivering the merchandise. A good example is Alex Kovalev - our Russian superstar. Last year, he had the worst season of his career often delivering a good performance or showing up one game out of four. The fans would have crucified him. They would have traded him for a couple of hockey sticks. He was considered a prima-donna only playing for himself whose only interest was fattening his wallet. This year - he's greater than god. He's literally the king in town. Nobody would ever even consider trading him. He's playing his best hockey in years and he is literally the inspiration and the leader of this team. He is consistent and shows up to play every game. He's like reborn. It’s funny how things can change within a few months. He has always been considered a tough player to coach - one of those players that need’s special treatment. So what happened exactly for that 180-degree transformation to happen considering we have the exact same coaching staff as last year and more than 80% of the team members are still the same? Nobody really knows. Here a couple of possible explanation. Alex grew in Russia during the communist era (he's 35 years old) and he grew up used to be "the man" on his team and being considered special. Last year, we had a rookie coach that came in and treated everybody the same. Things didn't gowell at all with Alex. We know that the management had a discussion with the athlete during the off-season. I think the coaching staff got to know who Alex really was and instead of working against him, decided to work with him. He is given more consideration and Alex started to feel more appreciated, more important. He has found back that feeling of being "special" and has responded wonderfully. He is a leader and an inspiration to our other young Russian talent enjoying his role as a leader and a mentor on the team. So what is the lesson here? I am not saying that you should give a special treatment to all your superstar players. What I am saying is that you should look where they are coming from and what kind of environment they've success in. Get to know them. Work with them and empower them. Humans have a unique need to feel important, useful, appreciated. They will respond like nobody when they feel they got the confidence of the coach. Our friend Cindy Bristow from often says that girls especially feel the need to please. They will do whatever it takes to please their coach. For those of you who are new to coaching girls coming from coaching males, coaching girls is like coaching superstars in the sense that you must get to know them, understand them and know what they respond to - just like Alex Kovalev. A few pointers for dealing with especially difficult talented players: 1. They need attention - they need that extra attention. How can you give it without it affecting the rest of the team? 2. Find the key - find their internal motivations and what they respond to. If you do so, they will respond well to you and they can often make the difference between losing and winning. 3. Put them to work - They know they are good. Acknowledge it and give them special responsibilities so that can feel appreciated and that they put their 4. Check the heart - check if they are committed to the group. If not, their presence might be destructive. Do they want to be part of the team? If so, they can really help. If not, they are your worst nightmare. 5. Make them accountable - greater responsibilities and greater talent means greater performances. Make them accountable for it. I could go on and on and on. As coaches, we all had the experience of dealing with such players. My last word of wisdom would be this: softball is team sport first and foremost. The team must be the priority at all time. No individual is more important than the group. However, within a team-oriented approach, there is room for individualization of your coaching with all of the athletes, which will benefit the team. Get to know your players and find what they respond to, what button to push. Out coach your opponents. Marc Dagenais"Your Softball Peak Performance Coach" For more tips, go to my website:





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You Doing This?

Posted by SoftballPerformance_com Feb 15, 2008

A few months ago, I was working with a struggling batter and ICould not figure out what was the problem with her. Nothingseemed to be wrong with her.. good swing, great work ethic,coach able, strong and powerful, motivated and confident, etc. So I decided to spend some time investigating her thought process byasking her questions. What I found out is that she often tried to guess pitches. Inother words, she was picturing in her mind a certain pitch, thuspreparing her body for something specific and most of the time,something else shows (a different pitch). That obviously creates a problem. Guessing is NOT effective. If you are guessing, you have to guess what the pitcher willthrow and where. The odds are against you. And once you guess something, you make-up your mind about itand if you are thrown something else, you are left totallyunprepared. Guess pitches is NOT effective. Instead, you must learn how to read and react quickly and adequately to whatever is thrown your way. Basically, you must read what pitch it is, its location andreact automatically by either letting go or swinging the rightway adjusting to speed, movement and location. How do you do that? It takes experience - at bats in games and live pitchingin practices. You have to train your eyes and your brain to recognize pitches. So, stop guessing, start reading and reacting instead. Guessing kills your ability to react appropriately to whatever is thrown to you. Marc Dagenais"Your Personal Softball Peak Performance Coach" For more tips, go to my website: [|]





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We all have dreams. We have things we want to accomplish. However, how many people really take action and get thingsdone? Not that many. If you have want to achieve - you gotta leavethe excuses behind, take responsibility for your success andtake action to get results. Do you ever make excuses? - I am too tired- I have no time- It's expensive- I have too many things to do- I can't afford it- It's not genetically possible for meEtc. Well - I think you ought to rethink this. You see, a couple of minutes ago, one of my fellow fitness professional sent me this video and it will takeaway every one of your excuses forever. Check it out:==> [ No more excuses. You can achieve anything. The sky is the limit. Get off your a** and make 2008 your best year ever. Dominate. Marc Dagenais P.S. You haven't gone to the video yet? You don't want to missthat. ==>  [] For more tips. Go to my website: [|]





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We all agree that to achieve sensational performances in softball, you need to be mentally tough. Softball is a game of errors and frustration. Mastering the mental part of the game is the key to success. A while back, I discovered a great book that deals withthe mental game called Fastpitch Focus. Since I did talk alot about the mental game recently, I thought I would sharethis great resource with you. Focused Fastpitch is the only softball-specific sport psychology book on the market. What's even better is it integrates mental training into real practice situations. This book presents a collection of over 80 drills to master the mental game quickly in softball-specific situations. I definitely recommend getting this book if you are serious about improving your mental game or if you want to integrate it into your program. I have used it regularly over the last few years to integratemental training directly into my practices, and as I mentioned last week, this is the best way to get the most out of your mental training. Check it out: [] Dominate your competition by being mentally tough. Marc Dagenais"Your Personal Softball Peak Performance Coach" P.S. It's the perfect time of the year to work on mentaltraining since we still have time before the season. [] For more tips, go to my website:[|]

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This weekend I am presenting at a major fitness conference inMontreal. It is a gathering of over 1000 fitness professionalsseeking professional development. I have been attending those conferences and presenting at themfor quite a few years now. Why do people go to conferences, clinics and seminars? 1) Learn and further their knowledge2) Hang out with like-minded individuals3) Network I love going to conferences. I attend a minimum of 6-8 every year (outside of the ones I speak at) and I do travel quite a bit to attend them. And I attend all kinds. I go to fitness/strength andconditioning conferences. I go to softball and coachingconferences and clinics. I go to business and entrepreneurshipconferences. I love to learn. I spent most of my 2 years at the doctorallevel studying expertise and success. Did you know that onecommon trait of very successful people in any field is thatthey are life-long learners. Successful people (including successful coaches) are alwayslooking to learn new things, new ways of doing things, etc.even though they are already experts in their field. The know that learning is the root of success. Do you do professional development as a coach? Do you buy books and videos? Do you go to clinics and seminars? Do you share information and experience with other coaches? Do you go online and read about softball and coaching? If so, congratulations - I would be ready to bet thatyou are an excellent and successful coach. If you don't do it enough, I encourage you to spend more timelearning about the game and coaching in general. That will certainly help become an even better coach. Be a lifelong learner. Marc Dagenais"Your Softball Peak Performance Coach" For more tips, go to my website: [|]





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What I love about watching international teams and serious


college programs is their level of professionalism.






While it is getting better all the time, our sport is not



always considered like a "real" sport. It is often

seen by



many people more like a fun activity that you practice



with out-of-shape friends at a camping while drinking beer!






So, when i watch top college programs or international teams



prepare seriously for a game and act with class and



professionalism - I love it.






I think that every organization, every coach, and every



player should act with class and professionalism.






What do I mean by that?






Many many things.






Show class on the field.






Prepare seriously for each game like elite athlete do.






Play the game hard. Take it seriously.






See yourself as a professional when you coach or compete.






Have the dugout neat and organized.






Stay focused and compete with all your hear (don't spend



the game talking to people in the bleachers).






No jeans on the field for coaches - wear team colors.






Say Please and Thank You.






Recognize contributions or efforts of others.












Here is an interesting article about how elite players are



taking pride in being role-models. I think you will



like it.












Honor the sport - Be classy. Be professional. Be a










Marc Dagenais



"Your Softball Performance Coach"









For more tips, go to my website:



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Injury-Proof Catchers    I got a question from my good friend Stacie Mahoe from[|] asking me aboutpreventing knee injuries for catchers. I thought this is information you would like to get. Yes, catchers have a greater risk of developing kneeissues just because catching puts more stress on the kneesthan any other position. What can you do to prevent this? 1) Use the Knee Savers. These are support padding thatyou attach to your shin pads and that gives you goodsupport when squatting down. It takes away close to 85%of the stress when resting before you get into your catching position. Some people think it makes your catcher lazy. To me,you can't play with knee safety. However, I don't buythe laziness thing. A good coach will know how to properly train their catcher and if the catcheris hard-working, this is a non-issue. Now, it is not mandatory to wear them but it can reallyhelp to prevent a lot of the stress placed on the knees. 2) Do Hindu Squats - old, silly-looking, martial artexercise that many personal trainers would tell you"It's bad for the knees" exercise because the heelsare coming off the ground but guess what.. everycatcher has their heels coming off the ground. It is actually a great muscular endurance exercise forcatchers. I would do 50-100/day several days a week. After that, your catcher will have the best conditioned legs of any catcher in your league. Check this exercise:[] 3) I would also get them to do single-leg squats for strength and stability. They are killers but boy do they work. Check it out: [] 4) Make sure you teach proper catching techniques; especiallythe basic catching position. You want to make sure thattheir weight is well-distributed. Teach them good fundamentalsand you will take a lot of the stress away. From experience, most softball players with knee problems arenot catchers but former/current gymnasts, basketball or soccerplayers. Make your catchers injury-proof.  Marc"Your Personal Softball Peak Performance Coach" For more tips, go to my website: [|]





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I'm not a football expert. So I will not get into the exactreasons why the Giants Won. However, I think it's a great occasion to talk about some of the things that makes a championship team. According to author William Warren, Championship teams... - Have a common goal- Don't let temporary setbacks deter them- Work harder to achieve more- Don't blame others- Surround themselves with good people- Concentrate on priorities- Set realistic goals- Don't underestimate themselves- Have discipline- Build a sense of "teamness" in everything they do And you could probably double the number of items on that list. I think that there are three key lessons from that victory that wecan do that do apply to softball: 1. A game is played on the field; not on paper2. Defense wins championships (isn't that true in softball?)3. Preparation is key Play hard. Marc"Your Softball Peak Performance Coach" For more tips, go to my site:www.

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Should You Ice? I flew back from Vegas yesterday. It is always a pleasure to work with athletes that are motivated and comitted to getting better. I have to admit that the fact that the Olympics are just a few months away is a strong motivator in itself. I often get asked about icing and how it should be done. Let me first tell you that just about everybody at the elitelevel uses ice as a prevention mechanism. In other words, they use ice even when someone is not injuredto decrease potential swelling that comes from heavily usingone body part. Some people do question its effectiveness. However, one thingthat you should know: ice will not hurt you. In other words,it's more likely to help you than not. What you should ice? 1) Body parts that are fragile (previously injured or injured) 2) Body parts that were heavily used (arm, shoulder, knee, etc.) Who should ice? 1) Pitchers for sure. 2) Anybody else that has used a body part extensively. When should you ice? 1) After practice 2) After games 3) Even after workouts. How should you ice? - You apply ice for 20 minutes. If you play several games in one day, don't ice unless you havemore than 3-4 hours in between. If you have less than 3 hoursbetween games, you should not ice. Play hard. Marc Dagenais"Your Personal Softball Peak Performance Coach" For more tips, go to my website: [|]

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Following yesterday's email about mastering the mental game, Iwant to share with you an important concept for really masteringit. What is the best way to work on the mental game? - In a classroom with a coach or a mental training consultant talking about it?- Using small group discussions?- By reading books on the topic?- By filling up questionnaires?- By doing mental training exercises such as lying down onthe floor, lights turned off, and eyes closed vizualizing success or working on your deep breathing? Well, all of these methods are valid and can be useful to teachthe mental game. However, none of them are the best way to really master themental game. What is THE best way? Integrate it right into your practices. Nothing will ever beas effective as talking about, practicing it and implementingmental training techniques right on the field. Why? The more specific it is, the more realistic it is, the more successful it will be. I will give you an analogy - what is the best way to practicehitting; facing a pitching machine or live pitching? Of course, live pitching is much better because realistic. The same idea applies to mental training. If you only keepmental training for team meetings or out-of-practicecontext, you will not get the most bang for your buck. So, when you work on defense or on offense, also include thingslike what to think, how to react, how to behave, what to focuson, how to control emotion, how to manage stress, how tobreath, etc. in their specific context. This is how you will really be able to "master" the mental game. Play hard. Marc Dagenais"Your Personal Softball Peak Performance Coach" P.S.  Do you do any mental training at all despite the fact that you know that it is THE most important part of thegame or you leave it to chance?





For more tips, go to my website.



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Do You Master the Mental Game? Today, Ken Ravizza arrived in Vegas for a few days to work withthe team. He is the mental training consultant for the CanadianOlympic Team. For those of you who don't know who Ken Ravizza is, he is considered by most to be the leading sports psychologyconsultant for baseball and softball. He has been around a longtime. He has also co-authored the best-selling book "Heads-UpBaseball" which by the way EVERY softball player and coachshould have. It's THE bible of sports psychology for baseballand softball. To read more about Ken Ravizza, go to:[] So, he came in late afternoon and ran a session with the teamtonight. While the players where working on a team missionstatement, he sat down with the coaching staff for more thanan hour. After the session, we were dropped off at our hotel (playersand coaches are staying in rented houses) but consultants likehim and I that are only here for a couple of days are stayingat a hotel across the UNLV softball field. As we were both hungry, we went to a Mexican cafe and had a quick bite and chatted for another hour. It was great toexchange with a master of the mental game specialized inour game. I thought I would share of the key messages that came throughhis sessions with the team, the discussions with the coachingstaff and our diner together. - You have to train "competitiveness" in practices throughdrills and game simulations - Players have to take ownership of the values, the goals, andthe mission statement of the team. If it only comes from thecoaches, their not as likely to buy into it. - Holding each accountable for achieving our common goals andmake sure every body works hard and has the right attitudeis very important. - You have to learn how to win and take control of the field - Your thinking must be about "achieving something, not aboutavoiding something". For example, you want to hit the ballhard and select the right pitch and NOT thinking avoidinga strikeout or not swinging a bad pitch. - Players need to learn how "verbalize" what they feel andlive inside - You can't maintain a 100% intensity and focus all the timeat practice; it's not humanly possible. - You have to learn when to be in "game on" mode and be reallyfocused and when to be more relaxed and focusing on learning. - A positive training environment is required for the playersto feel like they try and fail which is the part of thelearning process. If the environment doesn't give them"permission to fail" in order to learn, then they willdevelop a fear of failure and will do things with a mindsetof "not screwing up" rather than accomplishing exceptionalthings. - Guessing pitches at the plate is one of the worst thing youcan do and is often a sign of slump. You can look for pitchesbut not guess them. - Every failure must be a learning experience. You learn a lotmore from losing and failing than you do from winning becausewhen you win, you tend to sweep under the carpet the thingsthat didn't well or you don't pay as much attention to whatneeds to be improved. I will try share more with you over the next few days. Play hard. Marc Dagenais"Your Personal Softball Peak Performance Coach"  For more tips, go to my website: [|]


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Today I would like to share a reflection about coaching withyou. I think most club team coaches have a tough job. You see, I have been watching and working with gifted athletesfor the last few days in Vegas working with the CanadianOlympic Team. These athletes are stand out players at their respectivecolleges. Some of them have mind-blowing numbers in college. You know what? They're easy to work with. You explain something once and most likely, you don't have torepeat it.  They are committed. They are motivated. They are coachable. They want to learn. They want to get better. They only live for softball. They are athletic. They are fast learner. They do softball full-time right now. They are technically sound. What else do you want? How easier can it get for a coach? Top coaches that work in elite programs (national teams, bestcollege programs, top travel programs) have it a lot easierthan most other coaches. Why? They get athletes that are easy to work with. Don't get me wrong - if these coaches that work with topathletes are successful, that's because they know how toattract quality players and coach them to success and theydeserve a lot of credit for that. But I will give an example... Take Mike Candrea - perceived by many to be one of the best hitting instructors in the game of softball...and give him: a) the best HS recruit available and b) a 12-year-old with average talent and bad mechanics Which of these two do do you think Coach Candrea will findeasier to work with in order to achieve the perfect swing? Of course - the 12-year old would be a much bigger challenge. I think you get my point. Volunteer coaches deal with athletes that are often lesstalented, less committed, that have less time, that have a lotmore technical flaws in their skills, etc. So that's why I'm saying that coaching at the younger levelis a tough job. It's a lot harder to teach and instruct the game with younger,less talented athletes than it is to do it with Olympicathletes. However, it doesn't matter what level you coach at, whetherbe international, college, HS, travel ball or rec ball, everycoach deserves a lot of credits for helping these playersgrow both as athletes and as people. "Good job Coach!" Marc Dagenais"Your Softball Peak Performance Coach" For more tips, go to my site. [|]





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