Dec. 20 NLCA Catching Olympics

Merry Christmas to our NLCA Family.  Below are a few videos of our two sessions.  As always, we can take the good and be challenged to improve and develop.  You may also see a few areas that are highlighted as brief teaching moments and reminders to all of our catchers.

I also want to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of our catchers who are so respectful and appreciative.  These guys thank each and every one of us instructors at the conclusion of each event.  I usually receive texts and emails of appreciation from many of you and this event was no different.  There were a couple emails that came in that were very special to me, which creates a renewed excitement about the direction of the catching academy.   Thank you for your feedback.  Thank you for your dedication.

I absolutely love the camaraderie that has and is building between our guys.  I know that some of them have been playing against each other in high school and club team, but now we see more and more of them that will be seeing each other on a college baseball field….and so the fraternity continues to grow.

We have some really talented catchers that are working hard to reach their NEXT LEVEL, their next goal.  Press on in 2015!  Hit. Lift. Stretch. TRAIN NEXT LEVEL CATCHING ACADEMY!


I want to conclude by highlighting the email that was sent to each of our competing catchers as encouragement to prioritize and strive for the goals that lie ahead.

Wow…what an amazing way to end the 2014 year.  12 catching clinics, 2 Video Sessions, 2 PFA Showcases and incredible improvement from our dedicated catchers.  We have more and more catchers developing and joining our program that are college bound, with a talented group on the recruiting path.  Those committed catchers are working hard, improving and are a testament to our catching academy.  
The formula is simple; Purposeful training on a consistent basis, increases knowledge and muscle memory that leads to game changing moments.  It’s true for our program and true for any other area where skills drive performance.  Attached you will find the point totals for Saturday’s competitions and one of the things that jumps out to me is the level of the catchers who have either trained with us for at least 24 months and those who have consistently trained with us the past 5-6 months.  The beauty of these games is that it separates those catcher’s that possess skill and composure from those who are searching to add those elements to their game.  What I mean by this is that talent alone, isn’t enough.  This catching position is just as much about skill and composure as it is with natural talent (think arm strength or quickness).  One of my big picture goals is for those who need it to recognize their need for it.  And for those who -I write this hesitantly- “are there,” to remember the commitment it took to get them where they are.  All while, remembering that we are truly “never there.”  There is always someone better.  There is always an area that we can improve on…ALWAYS.  I recently spoke to one of my good friends Stephen Vogt (C-Oakland A’s/Azusa Pacific Univ.) a few days ago and as we spoke about catching his voice grows with enthusiasm as he talked about the area (back-picks) that he is excited to bare down on in spring training and in the 2015 season. I mean this is a big leaguer who is constantly pressing forward, looking for the next area that he wants to be great at.  He was like that when we worked in college and he doesn’t let up.  That’s the what it takes, and that is what excites me about him and about a lot of the catchers in our program.
I know that in this age of baseball there are a lot of things that can get in the way of training.  Some of those things may wear a promising mask and give hope to many, but often times don’t meet the needs of developing skills.  So, as we close out 2014 and look back to all that took place for you as a catcher.  All the high school games, showcases, college camps, travel ball tournaments, weekend travel games, scout ball, etc.  Think about all the opportunities that are available and ask yourself which opportunities meet the needs that you have most.  There is definitely a lot of good that those opportunities can bring, if you are ready to maximize that opportunity (with your skills and composure).  Too often, too many players are not quite ready to maximize opportunities at some of those events….and my response is, use us (NLCA) as the platform to get you ready to maximize your opportunities at those game-changing events.  Some of you might have played between 25-40 travel ball games from July-December, but only made it to zero or one training sessions in that time and the question to answer is… “How much better (as a catcher) did I get in those games, versus how much better would I have gotten if I would have trained at a few more clinics?”  It’s a question to answer honestly in order to identify if you are on the right path.     
For those catchers that have trained and made the commitment and have experienced the consistency in skill and performance, they are at a different level.  They are ready for the showcase tournaments, college camps, etc. and therefore have a lesser need for our consistent training.  For those advanced catchers, we (NLCA) attain another one of goals.  We train our catchers’ to not rely on us as much, to mature to a point where they ultimately become their catching coach…The emphasis shifts from “us” to “you.”  You guys work on our drills to stay sharp… you go kick butt and perform…you go make us proud.  Because the best testimonial you can possibly give about our catching program happens when others ask “How did he get so good back there?”  As you perform to your best, you make others want what you have, and that’s when we come in to serve the next catcher.  
Lastly, we had a few catchers show frustration, anxiousness or a tendency to rush.    This could have been due to the pressure they put on themselves or perhaps a poor throw, or bad block.  To those, we see the need for the development of increasing composure.  Think of the clutch situation.  The game that is on the line.  The showcase where 35 coaches are watching you.  This too is part of what we seek to help our catchers with and this is why we like to simulate game situations with the stop-watch and why we constantly teach the mental side of the game with the terms “Anticipation.” “Be aggressive, but under control.”  
So as you look at the point totals and the different areas, my hope is that you identify a few areas that you want to work on.  I hope there are some areas where you can celebrate success, even in small areas as you compare it to your previous performances.  My hope is for you to realize that you can still get better and that you can continue to make the effort to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish.  We will be here to support you reach your goals and more.  
I’ll be working on the video for this Catching Olympics (it could be a few days with Christmas upon us).  Please join us on twitter (NextLevelCA) and Facebook as we continue to take our successes to social media for you to share, like or comment on, etc.  
We’ll bring this event back next December and try to make it better each year.  
Merry Christmas to you all,
Justin Duarte

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