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Advice from a former Big Leaguer – Greg Litton

Jon Gregory Litton is a former infielder-outfielder in Major League Baseball drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 1st round (10th pick) of the 1984 amateur draft. He played for the San Francisco Giants (1989-1992), Seattle Mariners (1993), and Boston Red Sox (1994).

Litton was a versatile utility man. The positions he played most often were second base, the outfield, and third base. He also played shortstop, first base, and catcher, and even made one appearance as a pitcher. His personal high for playing time was during the 1990 season, when he was in 93 games and made 220 plate appearances.

1. What was it like playing in the big leagues?
It was a dream come true. It was literally like living out a dream. It was fun, challenging, frustrating and exciting all at the same time.

2. What was it like playing in the minors?
Confusing would be a good word. Every level creates it’s own challenges and they were very different. From dealing with more talented team-mates and opponents to the mental challenges that grew the closer I got to the Major Leagues. Which I think was the toughest, but it was also a blast.

3.What were some major obstacles that you experienced during the course of your
career?

Dealing with a different team attitude at every level was probably one of the hardest things. Playing as a team made it easier but the higher you go, the less team it becomes and selfish players trying to get themselves to the big leagues.

4.What do you think separates average players from great players more? Physical ability or Mental / Emotional ability.
With out a doubt it is Mental ability and toughness. Only a handful of players had enough ability to overcome the mental aspect of baseball, all the rest there was not enough difference in talent so it became the one that wanted it the most or worked the hardest.

5.Do you think there is a limit to a baseball players potential?
Maybe, but the longer you play, the better you get so I don’t believe anybody ever reaches his limit.

6. What was the greatest lessons you learned playing baseball, and think every
player should understand?

That baseball is the greatest sport because it allows someone like me (moderately talented) to compete at the highest level against much more physically talented players because baseball is much more mental then the other sports.

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Indoor baseball drill # 1- Hands inside the ball drill.

One of the most important habits you can incorporate into your swing is the ability to keep your hands inside of the baseball. For a hitter mastering the ability to hit the inner half of the ball will allow him to do some very important things like seeing the ball longer.

The better your able to stay inside, the longer you can wait. The longer you can wait, the less strike outs you will have, the higher batting average you will have, and ultimately the better situational hitter you will become. When I think of who was the best example of someone who consistently stays inside the ball, I think Derek Jeter. And here, he gives a great example of staying inside the ball.

So how can you incorporate hitting inside the baseball consistently? Take a look at this video by Jason Giambi which illustrates the basics of the “inside out swing” with a simple indoor baseball drill.

Also you can check another important video that showcases other drills that help with staying inside the ball.

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Failure in baseball part II

Baseball is a game of failure.

If your having trouble with failure, watch this for some useful perspective!

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How to raise a Hard-Working little leaguer

I have met plenty of parents that are raising a child athlete.

What they all have in common is this inate desire for their child to be┬átruly successful. Their only hope is that one day they will be able to live their dreams through their child, and in my opinion this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The key is trying to establish core values that will be a foundation for the childs future and if fate should see it fit, your child will have the internal tools to accomplish anything that is asked of a special person.

I have written in other articles about the importance of hard work and the benifits of learning this virtue at an early Age.

For parents, when raising a child who is constantly influenced by external factors, creating a foundation for them that will serve as an effective recipe for growth and success will be a very challenging as well as frustrating thing.

Teach him focus

A lot will be asked of a parent so that their child will succeed. For me- when I was young, despite the strong interest I had inbaseball, distractions were still present. Video games,friends, the lack of understanding of priorities were a foriegn concept to grasp at the time ,but the trick is to capture their attention.

You have to show them that working hard is not a chore but a way of life, and can be just as fun as it is challenging. In regards to baseball, working hard is very similiar to playing hard.

Which is always fun!

What’s most important is that while guiding your child in the right direction, you are simultaniously, preparing them to be a responsible adult who understands the balance of having fun while taking on resposibility.

Playing baseball is in many ways a privilege and for most kids, a shortlived career. So if as a parent you are able to instill into your child that taking this game for granted is not only unbecoming of a true player but will rob him of the opportunity to pursue his passion, whatever it may be.

Teach him to dream

Instilling a sence of wonder into a child is just as important. Promote your kid’s innocence. His ability to use his imgination will only provide him with what he needs to get through the tougher more mudane experiences in baseball.

You would be surprised at how ressiliant kids are. If a kid feels like he is able to one day be a sports hero, something admirable, he can withstand anything.

When I was a kid growing up, I would imagine playing in the MLB at turner field with the braves. Not a day whent by when just the thought of playing baseball would make my hands sweaty before bed. Children need this kind of stimulation. It’s the kind of fuel that made this a kids game in the first place.

If a child is fortunate enough to have developed a dream, it’s important to have someone guide that dream. To nurture it with love and care.