By Skyler Gurtler
From elementary through high school I played school and club volleyball.
I began on Varsity as a freshman in high school and competing in the 18u club as a 16-year-old.
I believe my greatest obstacle within sports, which overflowed into my everyday life,
was having confidence in myself.
I had a hard time believing I was “good” or “good enough”.
This doubt was completely fueled by self-doubt. Those around me whether it was parents, coaches, or recruiters always built me up, but it was hard for me to believe them because I didn’t believe in myself.
The first step was to overcome being shy.
I always struggled to be loud enough on the court. By being loud on the court it means calling your balls or what set you want.
I was an outside hitter so if I wanted to hit I would call out what set I wanted.
Another way you have to be loud is by calling out that you will be getting the ball. When the ball comes over the net to distinguish you will be receiving that ball you yell one of the following of your choice, “mine” “got it” “I go”.
Being loud enough on the court is much more than what it seems. The small talk that seems trivial on the court leads to many repercussions throughout life.
It correlates to being able to have great communication skills. You have to be loud so your team can hear you, so my struggle with being loud was then affecting my team.
I had to make the decision to overcome my personal discomfort for the benefit of my team.
Through doing this I gained many life skills. I gained the ability to speak up for myself in
times when needed. Not holding back my voice in situations where it needed to be used.
I built confidence in my communication skills, especially with important people such as my coaches and recruiters.
As I’ve gotten older this skill has been extremely beneficial in holding a job. I don’t shy away from authority and can show others I respect them with confident communication.
When being recruited no recruiter or college wants a player who doubts themselves because doubt within yourself affects the morale of your team.
I learned a deeper understanding of my job on the court and what impact my actions had upon my team.
The phrase “fake it until you make it” really does apply in the terms of confidence.
It is a mindset you have to put yourself into. You need to believe that you are worthy of playing where you are and worthy to be a part of your team.
Confidence is not putting others down to make yourself better, most people who do this are most likely insecure about themselves, so they rely on others.
If confidence doesn’t come from within yourself and you rely on the approval of others you will always end up crumbling.
True confidence comes from within and the belief you have in yourself.
Another important skill to have as an athlete is self-forgiveness.
Due to my lack of confidence at times when I made a mistake, I would correlate that to meaning I was a “bad player”. You have to have the strength of belief in yourself to understand that you are still human, and everyone makes mistakes.
A singular or few mistakes does not diminish your skills as a player or person.
The biggest lesson I learned was that confidence within yourself builds up the team.
In playing team sports there are times you have to sacrifice your own wants and comforts for the benefits of the bigger picture. In doing this I was pushed by my actions and teammates to
become a better version of myself each and every day.
Which is all sports is really about.
Addressing the Future of Baseball in 2021
QnA with 50 Year MLB Coach and Scouting Veteran, Jerry Weinstein.
This week I caught up with Jerry Weinstein, a long-time baseball buff, to say the very least. Jerry began his coaching career back in 1966 as a freshman coach at UCLA, and today, after an unprecedented coaching run that found him atop leading Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers, he now finds himself a part of The Colorado Rockies Player Development System as a Scouting Special Assistant.
With fifty-plus years of experience in the game of baseball at the highest level, I thank Jerry for answering our audience’s question amidst a time of significant adjustment for the game of baseball. Upon receiving this great opportunity, I wanted to hear from our audience and have their questions answered by Jerry. Dictated by your questions, this was the extent of our conversation:
What behavioral issues do you run into with players at the professional level, and what can we do as coaches when we have these players younger to foster better habits or character?
“We have fewer behavioral issues at the pro level because there is so much internal competition & there are really no fallback options. The organization has the leverage. With that being said, it’s all about choices & owning those choices realizing that there are consequences for poor choices. Transfer of blame is not an option. The key is establishing standards of behavior & consistently holding the athletes to those standards.”
What are we doing now in the industry that is hurting participation and the retention of good athletes in the game of baseball? As we witness, athletes to the likes of Kyler Murray choose not to pursue baseball professionally.
“Retention-Make it fun. Connect with the players as people & not just players. Be positive. Know what you are doing. Allow for individual differences. Be organized & have enough help to keep players moving in small groups. Short-tempo practices & games. Make it competitive. Player-centric environment. It’s more about them than the scoreboard. It’s a collaborative effort between players, coaches & parents.”
What are your thoughts on the game of baseball missing out on talented players with the shortened draft and college rosters overflowing? With 1,525 draft selections in 2010 and only 160 in 2020…
Professional baseball does not miss very often. Maybe they don’t get slotted the way they end up, but good players do not go unseen. If they are playing somewhere, they will be seen. It may be in an Indy League where many late bloomers & players from lower-profile programs thrive. If they have tools or are playing up to professional standards, they will be seen. The problem lies in the fact that we are losing a lot of the better athletes to other sports. We need to do a better job of attracting those athletes & retaining them. MLB is making a real effort in that area in the inner cities with its RBI program. I’m concerned that the current Travel Team movement has priced a lot of the economically challenged families out.
I want to once again thank Jerry for his priceless insight and wisdom. His generosity in answering these questions I know will go a long way for our audience memebers. The game of baseball, perhaps having always faced unprecedented times, now faces reconstruction and rebranding efforts post pandemic. With the universal designated hitter (DH) now active in both the American and Nation League, the game of baseball now looks to another evolution in rules for greater growth amongst fan bases and most imporantly, youth. Baseball’s ability to keep promising athletes in the sport will set the horizon the future of baseball is destined for.
The Life of a Cheerleader – Grounded in Friendship
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my cheer career is that teammates are the most important part of cheerleading.
When I’m on the floor, what gets me through the routine is my teammates yelling, we got this; we’re almost done, keep going. When you put in the work for yourself and your teammates, the team’s success fills you with indescribable pride.
I’ve met some of my closest friends through cheer, and my teammates make even the most challenging practices enjoyable even when my body wants to give up.
My teammates are my family.
My base Abby who’s been with me for eight years is practically my sister; I can always count on my best friend since elementary school, Meghan, to do whatever it takes to make the stunt work; I love cracking jokes with my Backspot Zora and my flyer Presley, and my friend Emma I can always count on to get me through a challenging practice. Teammates make not only cheer but sports what they are.
Our teammates drive us.
When you spend the majority of your time with just these people, you create bonds that will last forever. Especially nowadays, where the headlines rarely include more than one, it is essential to remember how instrumental teammates are in our success and life. Make sure you make known how much you appreciate those around you that you go to the war and back with. Chances are, wherever you are today, a teammate or many teammates have helped support that success.
How to Become a Great Athlete
Elite, sports trainer, David Mariani, takes us through his life story until finding the work of training revolutionary, Ben Patrick
How do I get better?
Growing up not too far from Chicago, the Bulls last 3-peat sparked my love for the game of basketball.
I wanted to be a great basketball player like MJ, Scottie, and Rodman, BUT I had no clue how to get there.
I did know that I had a lot of work to do, so I headed outside to work on my game. Every day I got shots up and worked on my handles. The sun going down was the only thing that prevented me from being on the court all night. Working on my game for 6 hours in a single day was common for me. My parents led the example of working hard, but neither of them played basketball, so it was on me to find the answers on how to improve.
I didn’t know at the time, but 6 hours a day is a great way to overtrain and prevent yourself from improving at a fast rate. It did build mental strength, which is why I was able to get honors in high school for basketball, but it came at the expense of my athleticism. My collegiate coach called me “the most unathletic player he coached in 40 years,” and he wasn’t mean. It was very accurate. I shouldn’t have even played in college, but I wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I outworked everyone to build trust from my team and coaches.
College was when I started to lift weights to build strength and put on size for my 6’4 150 lb frame. I had no clue what I was doing, and my college didn’t have a strength program, so I spent hours researching how to get better. If I wasn’t on the court, I was studying and studying the greats. I even obtained my exercise science degree and CSCS cert. If someone said they were getting results, then I did everything in my power to learn from them. Not only was I very un-athletic, but I was also constantly getting injured. Spraining my ankles every week, shin splints, torn meniscus, Osgood Schlatter’s and patellar tendonitis, as well as a lower back fracture, was my reality upon graduating college. I tried to play lower-level pro, but I was too slow and too hurt to make any impact. After two years, I decided to use what I learned to help others, and I transitioned to training athletes full-time.
I always trained like I was still playing pro ball because I wanted to experience what I was telling my athletes to do. My athletes kept getting excellent results, but my injuries never fully healed. At one point, I had to take over a year off from playing basketball, even just shooting around. It was one of the most challenging times of my life. I told myself that I would do everything I could so no one would have to experience the pain and suffering I went through.
The darkest dark is proper before the light.
I was depressed, injured, and lonely in my quest to find the best ways to improve fast and safely. That was when I stumbled upon my brother Ben’s Instagram @kneesovertoesguy.
The truth was Ben was training his knees over his toes, something that my education told me not to do. I knew he was onto something by how he moved on the court after all of his injuries. I wasted no time and messaged him on Instagram, asking for his help.
This is something I’ve come to learn: if someone has real answers that can help others, they will gladly help you if you are respectful and show that you are willing to put in the work. I did exactly what Ben suggested. Within the first week of doing his ATG online program, Knee Ability, the pain started to go away. It was an unreal experience. I had gone the majority of my life moving with pain and had completely forgotten what it was like to move pain-free. I started using ATG methods with my athletes and despite them already getting good results, the results have never been. I even had an athlete go from a 20″ vertical to a 32″ in one off-season!
I might be the oldest athlete to get their first in-game dunk at the young age of 33! I always had the belief, and even though sometimes doubt would creep in, it never stopped me from relentlessly pursuing.
Now, I’m entirely pain-free and helping athletes around the world get pain-free themselves. “Pain-free sets the gains free” is something Ben has said that I’ve seen not only in myself but all the athletes we’ve trained.
YOUR POWER IS GREATER THAN EVEN YOU MAY REALIZE