Competitive Tournament Value

Written By Robb Behymer


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Traditionally in Fastpitch softball; February and March is the period of the season that each team is adding final preparations to a rock solid line-up and preparing for the sprint to Fall.. Schedules are being tweaked to add this showcase or that qualifier. The tournament line-up has to be perfect to develop a pitchers new pitch, or sync the catcher and the pitcher, or build team esteem. There seems to be a mad-dash to become the “best” tournament in the United States this year. Three parts of a tournament, value, competition, and exposure need to fit your teams’ goals and commitment level, to be beneficial to the success of your team.

Value can be assessed in different categories. The obvious is the amount of money. This is only a question you as a head coach or team manager can answer. There are many factors to consider, when analyzing a tournament fee. Will there be additional costs with travel fees, lodging fees, umpire fees, or gate fees? Do you have to pay for any specialty events at the tournament? Each tournament is different and unique, so ask the questions. The value in the cost really boils down to two factors: Can your team afford this tournament and will it be beneficial to your team.

Competition is probably the main factor to consider when researching your schedule. The first question (and most important) to ask and answer is what level is your team playing at now? Seek out tournaments that have competition slightly above your teams’ abilities. Two of the worst choices, you can make for your team, is to commit to a tournament that is either below your level or way above your level. All caliber of tournaments are being offered these days. Will the athletes you coach, have the opportunity to show their particular skill set? Some of the upper level tournaments are extremely difficult to enter, for a plethora of reasons. Some may not entertain your application because you are not part of a club system, or you played at a lower level the previous season, or you did not place in an “A” level nationals. This is OK because each team is different and unique. There are plenty of teams out there that offer your team the ability to improve and build confidence. There are benefits in choosing the correct competition level.

Exposure tournaments is another part of the equation, you need to consider in the 14U thru 18U age groups. Exposure will afford your athletes the ability to possibly pursue a college degree. One of the key elements of exposure is college coaches want to see the athletes skill set, being used under duress. This is difficult to attain if you are playing in a 5 game round robin tournament with no competitive side of the tournament. Showcase tournaments are migrating to a poll play into bracket play scenario. Identify showcase tournaments, that offer this type of play. This offers you the ability to showcase the talent on your team and allows the athletes to play for goal. Exposure tournaments become beneficial when the correct level and style are matched to your team.

Remember there are many tournaments out there with varying levels of cost, competition and exposure. The challenge is to correctly identify the proper tournament for your team and the value that is added to your team.

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Recruitment Season

Written By Rob Behymer

Recruitment Season


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The travel ball season is now upon us. The John Dakes Invitational (AZ), USA Elite Select 18 Gold Invitational (MO), Diamond Nine Showcase (FL), have all been played. It has not been that long ago, that the season literally did not start until April, and ended in August. The start of these tournaments also means the new recruiting year has started. The pressure to perform, and end up being noticed is always a topic around these parts of the country. I by no means am a recruiting expert but I do know three things that will get an athlete recruited – talent, communications, and honesty.

I would like to start with talent. Talent is either God-given or developed. In my opinion, there is no way to teach speed. Speed is in demand, but an athlete can develop other desirable talents, such as hitting, pitching, or catching. These talents can be developed and there just seems to always be a place for these talents. Talent also incorporates academics. A dedicated and talented student-athlete is also desirable on the college level. A commitment to academic talent shows a willingness to expand on natural abilities. Talent opens the door to the recruiting process.

Honesty is another factor of recruitment that needs to be embraced. An athlete needs to be honest with themselves about their commitment and talents. A coach, recruiting a showcase tournament, told me that less than 1% of all competitive softball players make it to the Division I level. The majority of athletes will receive their scholarship at other universities. Parents and coaches need to be honest and help the athlete pursue their dreams in accordance with their commitment and talents. Once an athlete is honest about their abilities and commitment level then true enjoyment of the game can begin.

Communications is of the utmost importance in the recruitment process. Communications is a collective effort of the coach, recruiting coordinator, and the athlete. A good communication plan is literally relationship building. Honesty and Integrity should be the focus of the communication plan . The recruiting coordinator is the person that most colleges initially meet. They need to be a champion of the team first and foremost. The recruiting coordinator needs to work diligently, at distributing the team’s schedule. The coordinator should convey the college needs to the competitive team’s coach. The coordinator should relay the athlete’s needs to the college coach. They need to be able to develop relationships with colleges and maintain the relationship with the comp-ball coach. The head coach needs to be able to build on the work of the recruiter. They need to be a champion of the athletes first and foremost. They have to be able to communicate an honest assessment of an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, to the college coaches, and coordinate the college needs with the athlete’s needs and abilities. And finally the athlete needs to be able to develop a relationship with the college coach. The use of email is the preferred method. Updating the coach of game highlights, academic honors, and general interest on a regular basis is imperative in the recruiting process. Communications closes the deal on the recruiting process.

The recruitment of a fastpitch softball player is a process, a process that takes patience and perseverance. It should not be hurried. Take time to enjoy the journey. At the end of the day, college recruitment is about earning a degree to prepare for life’s journey. the best place on the web for bat grips, bat tape, & bat wraps!

Travel Ball

Written By Robb Behymer

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If you are like me, you grew up at ball diamonds. Some of my earliest memories are times spent at ball fields during the summer. Softball is a part of my genetics. “Ball” as it was referred to in my family, was the focus of all we did. Ball kept us occupied and engaged.

It was the early 80s and travel ball teams really didn’t exist except in some rare cases. I happened to be blessed to have been on one of those teams. We traveled around our state playing in different tournaments. We even played our national tournament (AAU/USA Jr. Olympic) at the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, IN. The one thing I remember the most about travel ball was the time spent with my family and friends. This was a time that all differences was put to the side and we simply enjoyed each other.

We as a community have a way of forgetting that competition softball is a journey. We look at it as a means to an end. Our daughters play at high levels in the quest to earn a softball scholarship. They are pushed to their limits to be sitting at the table on “signing day”. Sometimes the most important aspect of this quest is lost, the journey. We forget that each of these athletes are developing on their level and that they will remember the journey more than the accomplishments. The majority of these athletes have an internal drive and passion for the game of softball. They realize when they play well and they realize when they need additional practice. Most will remember and they realize when they need additional practice. Most will remember the moments they look over and see you cheering them on.

Over and over I have heard college and adult athletes talk about the time spent with parents. I heard Jennie Finch speak about how her dad still caught her to that day. How Monica Abbott’s mom caught her for 1 hour every day. I did not hear them speak about big games won. I did not hear them speak how great it was to be on the Olympics teams. They unanimously referenced the journey. It caught my attention, as they spoke, how their families were their biggest supporters, how their parents are still Walking Beside them daily.

The journey is where the passion begins. The journey is where the memories begin. The journey is where the accomplishments are anchored. The journey becomes the motivator. The Journey is the important part of the quest. The wins and losses are not the important part of softball careers, the journey is. My youthful journey has resulted in my love of softball. It has resulted in my ability to give back to the game. It has started to make a difference in young athletes lives.

As we go forward in this crazy softball world, I ask you to remember that you and your daughters are on a journey together. Jeremy McDowell, from Midwest Sports Productions gave his daughter one of the best compliments, I have ever heard a parent give, he simply said “I enjoy watching you play ”

My question, do you ENJOY watching your child play? I encourage you to ENJOY the journey because it is gone before you know it.

Let Passion Drive You

Written By Robb Behymer

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In 2010 my dad, Bill Behymer, passed away after battling Asbestos poisoning. As my brother and I stood in the receiving line at his funeral I remember thinking of all the good times we had, the majority of which were spent at the ball fields. We stood in that line for over two hours as 600 people, including many of his former athletes, filed through the doorways to pay their respects. They traveled for hours on a cold, blustery December night to say thank you. That night opened my eyes to true passion. My dad coached youth sports for over 40 years. It was the night of his funeral I truly realized the kind of impact he made on young lives. His ability to show compassion and caring was shown through actions such as picking up players for practices and games on a regular basis and taking in players to live with us that needed help. His passion and true motivation in life was to make a difference; he did this without regret or reservation.

I walked out of the funeral that night realizing I had done nothing to make a difference. This was the night that motivated me to begin to make an impact. Growing up I was raised in a home that had a passion for sports. My siblings and I played different sports and have gone on to achieve successful careers. Now don't get me wrong, I am not blessed with coaching talent. As a matter of fact I possess zero coaching talent. With that being said, I dove head first into developing a Fastpitch softball tournament called the Top Gun Invitational. This event has become a passion for me and a way to give back to the young athletes. I decided money was not going to be a motivator for me. I developed the Top Gun Scholarship Fund as well as the Top Gun All-American Awards to give something back to the athletes at my event. It was my goal to provide the maximum number of games and playing time that we could accommodate to provide the best experience possible for those participating. This tournament has opened the door for me to be a part of additional tournaments and for the development of a series of events called the USA Elite Select Series. (More on that in later articles).

Passion is defined as “a strong liking or enthusiasm for a subject or activity”

Passion is a motivator like nothing else; true passion comes from within. Passion is an internal drive to develop, plan, pass on, promote, labor for, wake up to, talk about and love. Recently I had the honor to meet with the USSSA Pride (NPF Team). This group of athletes has a passion for the sport they love that is very apparent, and projected. Meeting with USSSA Pride justified my passion. Witnessing the success of these professional athletes motivated me to the next level to continue giving back to young athletes and providing opportunities for them to follow their dreams.

Over the past year I have met many passionate people within the Fastpitch softball community. It is a game that demands dedication, quick plays, fast thinking, hours of practice and most of all, passion. Sport offers a unique opportunity to impact lives. Success is inevitable if your passion is to improve the community through your time and efforts. I applaud the men and women in America who dedicate their time to the youth of America. You are changing lives some of which you will never know.

Whether you have a goal to win a national championship, help all your athletes receive scholarships, develop the next great pitcher, or simply to just give your best to the kids in your area, I urge you to do it with passion. We have the opportunity to use our passion to “pay-it-forward” to the next generation. We have the opportunity to make a difference in an athlete's life. Use your passion to make an impact. Softball & Baseball Catchers Gear!