The Next of A.J. Shannon Interviewed by Canadian

It’s something I’ve come to learn sort of. I’m not trying to knock the Americans, but they look at field as being their game and they’re not going to let a Canadian come in there and show em’ up. There’s sort of a clique down here, politics wise, kids from Baltimore and Long Island get a lot of attention no matter what. Where you’re from always seems to play a bit of a factor.

For All-Americans I got named honorable mention, which is just a real joke. I was pretty offended by that. It’s disappointing to see stuff like that. I don’t know if it’s really a Canadian thing. I think a lot of kids get flipped off while other players get all the recognition, a lot more than I ever saw back home (Whitby). They really hype some kids up to almost god like status here. I guess it’s kinda the American way to put some guys up on pedestals.

It’s kinda tough getting overlooked at and snubbed, but it’s a team game and I played on an amazing team, and in the end we won it all. If we hadn’t won it… well… maybe I’d be a little more upset with the honorable mention. I got a ring on my finger and that’s what matters.

Has playing so much field over the years affected your box game at all, as far as making you more of a complete athlete?

I find that over the past four years I’ve become a better athlete. I have a lot more agility. Going back and playing boxla after playing field is very tough. The two games are just so different. Boxla people can’t understand why it’s so tough to score on a 6×6 net in field, but it’s damn hard! It’s not like Canadian goalies where sometimes it’s like shooting at a piece of Swiss Cheese, American keepers are really good. Put most boxla goalies in a field net and it might as well be an open net.

But then again, it’s tough going back to indoor and shooting on those small nets and having guys pound on you. The two sports just have a different mentality but I enjoy both the games. I think I like boxla a little more because of the constant excitement but field is such a great game too.

You’ve been pumped into the Brooklin Redmen Senior lineup since the age of 18 while you were still winning Mintos with the Warriors, but this summer you’ll be playing your ball for the New Jersey Pride in the MLL, why the change?

I’m here this summer basically for the money. I’m making decent enough coin by just playing 12 games this year in the outdoor league. Also, I want to experience everything lacrosse has to offer. I kinda know what the Redmen are all about having played with them all season last year.

This league (MLL), I don’t know how long it’s gonna last. They have a good TV contract and have picked up some good sponsors but the attendance is pretty brutal most of the time. The support isn’t really there. I want to experiment with my lacrosse career.

I’d love to be back home to Canada, I’m getting’ a little home sick (AJ hasn’t been home since January, having only a week off from lifting the NCAA plaque over his head to pulling the Pride’s jersey on). Getting paid to play lacrosse in the summer is pretty amazing.

What’s your opinion of this year’s Brooklin team with all the turnover going on this summer?

Well having Gavin Prout come back will definitely be huge for them. My cousin Barry (Johnson) is the GM there and he tells me that they’re rebuilding there. And there always comes a time where you have to flush out the system and start from scratch. There’s a lot of old dudes in that system but with them leaving it gives a lot of the young up-and-comers a chance to see a lot of time.

They’re creating a new generation so to speak in Brooklin, and that’s tough to do in the Senior league. A lot guys try and buy each other out, like Coquitlam buying all these guys, it’s tough for a team like Brooklin to compete with such a small budget. Brampton’s gonna be unbelievable this year too. I think the Redmen will have a learning experience this year. Hopefully in August depending on what goes on in the MLL this summer I might be able to come up and help them out come playoff time.

What was it like last year being coached by somebody like Troy Cordingley in Brooklin. How intense is this guy behind closed doors? We can only imagine the horror he must have put you guys through after that locker room door slammed shut. Did he ever make you cry or threaten to kill you if you didn’t score five goals?

He’s a pretty intense fellow. I liked Troy a lot. He still has that edge of wanting to play out there. I’ve never seen a coach more riled up then him sometimes last year. You see Troy on the bench, and oh my god, he still wants to get on the floor and fight some of these guys. He’s a coach that brings that player attitude with him, which makes him a good coach in my opinion.

You’re eligible for the NLL next season, anywhere you’d like to see yourself playing specifically?

I’m really looking forward to that. I can’t really make that call or where I’ll be playing. Obviously Toronto’s a great place to play, an amazing organization that is close to home, but I can’t see that happening. It’s pretty likely I’ll end up in the States somewhere. Hopefully it’ll be a place where I’ll be working outside of lacrosse. San Jose might not be the best bet for me, it’d be a great experience, but the commute to get there would be murder.

I think the NLL is a great league that has really established itself. I think they’re making a lot smarter moves in where they’re putting teams, which should help them in the future. It’ll be great playing pro boxla and make a little coin doing it. I can’t say I’d be looking forward to go to the New York Saints, who have looked pretty horrible not just on the field.

It’d be great playing with Gavin and Gee (Nash) but from what I’ve heard about the ownership there it sounds pretty horrible. I’ve heard a lot of other owners want him (Mike Gongas) out of there, so I don’t know if that’s the place I’d want to be headed to.

Who are some of the American kids that we should look out for in September’s Entry Draft?

There’s a few guys I see that would be good. Kids that have best stick stills obviously. Sean Hartofilis (Princeton) would do well, but I can’t really see him playing boxla. My teammate at UVA, Chris Rotelli, contemplated playing pro boxla for about a second and then said he’d never play in that league.

They think it’s a little too rough. A lot of Americans just don’t want to get banged up like that. The way most Americans view the league is a lot of big, dumb, Canadians beating the hell out of each other.

The Americans have always kinda had this attitude that after college lacrosse you’re done. Most guys don’t look at the NLL as an option, which is too bad. Michael Springer (Syracuse) could probably do pretty well, he likes to shoot a lot, but then again I don’t know if he’d be willing to go. Hopefully with more American crowds coming on board it will make guys want to play, the league has certainly established itself as a good, solid organization.

A.J. Shannon Interviewed by Canadian Lax Site RudeBoys Lacrosse

This guy just scored 4 goals and led his team, the University of Virginia Cavillers to a National Championship in front of 37,944 spectators. Impressive to say the least.

Winning championships isn’t uncommon for this Whitby native. Tack on a few Mintos to the NCAA Championship and this guy has a serious reputation of winning the biggest games. A.J. is currently playing for the NewJersey Pride in the MLL and will soon unleash his arsenal in the NLL this winter.

If you know lacrosse then you know that A.J. Shannon will find his name on another championship trophy soon. It was a treat to sit with a guy that weeks before just tore it up and stole the show in front of the largest lacrosse crowd ever assembled!

RB – It seems you win at just about every level of ball; high school, JR, college, etc…. Some guys play just because they love the sport, win-or-lose, but how much does winning drive you?

AJ-It’s pretty important. I guess that drive comes from coach (Jim) Bishop, who instilled that kind of work ethic in us when we (Whitby Warriors JR A) were younger. The thought of winning a national championship at any level makes for such an amazing moment, it’s something you think about for the rest of your life.

The work you put into it might take up a big chunk of your social life, but winning it all makes up for that. We (Virginia) looked at this year by saying there would be no drinking and stuff like that and just took it right out of our plans.

We did what we had to do. You only get so many shots at winning something like a Minto or a National Championship. It’s just something you always look back on and having that ring on your hand will always remind you of it.

There was no Syracuse, no Princeton, it was Virginia in ’03. Did you ever imagine something like this happening to you when you came to UVA to play lacrosse?

It’s kinda neat, being a kid from Canada and winning a National title. Everybody thinks of boxla when it comes to Canada, but we can play field too. We came close in years before, actually we shoulda won it a few years back but messed it up.

This year we just looked at it as, “whatever it takes.” Whatever we gotta do, we were gonna make sure we did it. We didn’t leave any stones unturned. We had an amazing senior class and all the seniors knew that we were gonna have to be good leaders. We worked our butts off everyday.

We were so close in the past, so we thought that if we cut aside little things and really worked as a team we would come out victorious. It’ so tough to win because the tournament is single game elimination. One stupid mistake and you’re done. To finish off Hopkins the way we did, in front of 38,000 people, is a dream come true.

How many people do you think really gave you guys a shot at beating Hopkins in the final? It seemed as if Blue Jays is what most people were thinking.

They beat us the time before, 8-7, in what was probably the worst game I’ve ever seen us play. Then we lost to Maryland the next week. We all knew after that Maryland game that we played just the worst possible lacrosse ever.

We knew we were talented, maybe even more talented that any other team. That’s when we knew we had to play more as a team as opposed to single guys trying to do too much. I think going into that game, a lot of people thought Hopkins was gonna beat us, more for the fact that they were on a real roll.

Going in there we had a good game plan and we just executed it really well. I knew our defense was gonna hold them to under 10 goals, I knew we could score more than that.

At what point during the game did you say to yourself, “We’re gonna win this thing”?

I had a really good idea we were gonna win it when Tillman (Johnson) made this huge save in the first quarter. Tillman just stuffed Kyle Barrie on an open shot and at that point, I think we were only up like 2-0, I was just like, “This game is ours.”

It was the Tillman Johnson Show the rest of the way. When your keeper starts doing stuff like that to start the game it just gives the rest of the team so much confidence. He stole the game for us. It sounds weird but after that save I really did think we had it.

How big an impact do you think Canadian kids are having in the college game in recent years? Guys like Brodie Merrill and the Wrays, what kind of impact do these kids have on the US colligate game?

I think we’re gonna start seeing a lot more Canadian kids start making it to programs in the States. Guys like Jeff Zywicki at UMass and Sean Greenhalgh at Cornell are proof of that.

I don’t think it’s so much lacrosse ability but more about athleticism that US coaches may have doubts about. American kids are better athletes and runners, which seems to be Canadian’s great flaw. Then there’s guys like Brodie Merrill, who I think is the best long stick Canada has right now, who is doing a heck of a job at Georgetown right now.

Another thing you gotta look at is grades. It’s tough at high school to hit the books all the time, but that’s what helps you get into some of the top-flight schools. These are tough schools to go to academically. It’s not just all lacrosse all the time.

I think John Grant JR and Gavin Prout really made people step up and take notice. US schools are scouting Canadian boxla games a lot, which is something I’d never seen before, now there’s a whole pile of coaches up there looking around.

I was leafing through a copy of SI a few weeks ago and noticed the story about you guys winning it all. You scored 4 goals in that game against the Blue Jays, almost half of your team’s 9 markers, and the article didn’t once mention your name.

They mentioned Christmas and Johnson, two amazing ballers, but christ, you scored 4 freakin’ goals in a fairly low scoring final. Do you think yourself and even other Canadian kids are getting the recognition they deserve in the US?

Pitching Velocity and Pitch Count

Do you feel a loss or an increase in your pitching velocity this time of year? There are many factors that contribute to a loss of velocity at the end of the season.

Many pitchers throw too much all season and some pitchers just aren’t throwing enough. You need a happy medium. Unfortunately, coaches at many levels are to blame for pitchers arm soreness and lack of speed this time of year. Is it overthrowing or lack of pitching mechanics that causes this?

The answer is a little of both. If you are a coach or parent, are you allowing your pitchers to warm up (throw long toss) with the rest of the team the day after they throw a long game?

If they play other positions as well, are you monitoring how much they actually throw during the course of the week?

How many other teams do they pitch or play for?

If your pitcher throws in a game, how often do they get a chance to hit?

It’s important to know that if they pitch a lot they shouldn’t hit a lot and vise versa.

I have heard of pitchers, as young as 10 years old, that pitch up to three games a week because they pitch with more than one team.

Each team may pay attention to pitch count, but if a pitcher has maxed out their pitch count for two different teams, that’s a bit much for that week.

When a pitcher becomes fatigued, their mechanics go to pot. When that happens there is lack of control and velocity, not to mention a sore arm on top of that.

It is imperative that your pitchers use proper pitching mechanics when throwing. I feel coaches aren’t allowing their pitchers to succeed as much as they could because they haven’t taken the necessary time to learn about pitching mechanics.

Pitchers need that education or they are doing more harm than good. Not just to themselves, but their team. Learning proper pitching mechanics is imperative to your pitching success.

Coaches and parents should be concerned how their athletes are throwing the ball. Not only will pitchers win more games, they will stay healthy throughout the course of the year if they apply proper throwing mechanics.

More importantly, they will maintain or increase their velocity at the end of the year. Most inexperienced or uninformed pitchers experience a decrease in velocity when it counts the most; championship games and tournaments.

If you are a pitcher who tends to lose some velocity at the end of the season, you need to make sure that you are rebuilding what you tear down on the mound.

For example, throwing on the mound is a tearing down process on the arm. Pitchers who work on elastic band training, light dumbbell exercises and core strength training, they are the ones that are going to continue to throw hard or even harder at the end of the year.

Tips on How to Avoid Your Fear of Being Hit by a Pitch

For some young players one of the largest troubles to overcome in baseball is the fear of being hit by a pitch while hitting. This fear is the reason for various technical flaws while batting, the biggest being “stepping in the bucket” where you step away from the plate as you swing.

It is pretty much impossible to be a good hitter when you’re scared of the ball. As former Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski said, “If you’re afraid of being hit, you might as well not bother going up to the plate at all. You can’t hit the ball if you’re afraid it will hit you.” While this is usually a big fear to conquer, with some persistence it is definitely possible.

The first thing you ought to do for you to cure your fear of being hit by a pitch should be to know why you’re afraid of it. You’re likely afraid of being hit by a pitch because you don’t want to be wounded or in pain.

Well, if you find out how to avoid being injured if a pitch is coming at you, you’ll likely be less frightened of the baseball hitting you.

If you’re going to get hit with a pitch, the best possible spot to get hit is on the back or side of your body.

So instead of stepping out and exposing the front of your body you want to turn towards the backstop in a clockwise direction (if you happen to be right handed) so your back is what gets hit. If you get hit in the back or side you won’t be in as much pain as you would be if you got hit somewhere else.

Now that you fully understand what to do if the pitch is coming towards you, you need to repair your confidence in realizing that if the baseball does hit you, it’s not going to hurt a great deal given that it will hit your back or side.

A terrific drill to perform will be to have someone kneel ten feet from the hitter and throw rolled up socks for the hitter to swing at (only if they’re strikes).

Occasionally throw a balled up sock at the hitter and have him turn away from the pitch the correct way rather than step away from the pitch. When the batter has got the hang of it using socks, progress to tennis balls, and after that soft tee-balls.

When the player feels safe knowing it does not hurt much if the baseball hits his back or side and he isn’t stepping in the bucket even with soft tee-balls, start using regular baseballs.

Setup a batting cage  and buying some of wooden bats for practice in cage (this help you don’t waste a lot of times during practice) and Pitch some batting practice as you would normally, but throw one or two pitches at him.

If he uses the correct approach to turning away from the pitch, he’ll quickly realize that it does not really hurt much to get hit in the back or side even with a typical baseball.

His overall confidence while at bat will improve and he’ll be able to hit the ball better than ever as he will be striding towards the pitch rather than away from it.

It’s really depressing that a lot of young baseball players with a lot of potential never flourish and sometimes stop playing all because they are afraid of being hit by a pitch.

All of us have fears and it’s necessary, regardless of whether we’re referring to baseball or life in general, to conquer those fears.

By working hard and digging deep, it will be possible to get over this fear with no issues and get back to your baseball workouts and doing your best at the game.

Ways To Improve Your Fastball

Knowing how to throw a good fastball is a very basic skill for any pitcher. There are many different skills and qualities that make up a good pitcher and being able to throw hard and fast is definitely one of them.

While the ability to throw with great velocity is very much a God given ability there are several practice techniques that will help improve a pitcher’s fastball.

Natural talent will only get you so far. Proper baseball training, physical conditioning and learning proven pitching techniques can greatly enhance your pitching ability.

Proper pitching mechanics are perhaps the most important factor when you throw a fastball, or any pitch for that matter. Good mechanics help you have an efficient throwing movement.

The right mechanics will also help reduce the risk of injury. You want to develop a smooth and relaxed pitching motion and practice that motion until it becomes second nature.

Your motion should include a strong leg drive, hip rotation, a smooth but explosive arm acceleration and a good follow through. Remember that your arm speed at the moment of release is directly related to the speed of the pitch.

Pitching fitness and conditioning is also very important. A good general conditioning program should be followed along with your baseball training. Running on a regular basis will help your general fitness and endurance.

Combining distance running and wind sprints will provide excellent conditioning. Weight training exercises for all your major muscle groups will improve muscle strength.

Do not be afraid of building some muscle and getting stronger with a moderate weight training routine. Stronger muscle will help you pitch better. Light stretching is also recommended particularly after pitching.

In between starts the long toss drill can be very helpful. Sessions of about 15 to 20 minutes will help with your ability to throw hard. Be sure to warm up gradually and then begin to increase your distance gradually.

During a long toss session remember that you want to throw hard, throw accurately and try to throw through your partner, not just reach him. Do NOT over do long toss as it can lead to a tired or sore arm.

Another important drill is simply to practice pitching as if your were actually pitching. Between starts you should be doing some throwing off a mound. Practice all your pitches.

Ideally you should have the confidence that you can throw any pitch for a strike at any time. Even on different types of pitches try to make your delivery appear the same so that you are not “tipping pitches” and giving your opponents an advantage. Use both a wind-up and a stretch position. Maintain focus on each and every pitch.

Remember these tips to help you throw an effective fastball:

  • Develop proper mechanics.
  • Develop stronger muscles.
  • Practice the long toss drill on a regular basis.
  • Concentrate on increasing your arm speed just prior to release of the ball.
    Remember that proper practice and proper training are both vital to improving your pitching performance.

Succeeding In Baseball and Softball Merely By Employing Your Head

It’s common knowledge that possessing a good mental attitude is crucial in sport. You can not only trust in your physical skills and your baseball and softball bats, you also require that the mind is in the game. This information will allow you to grow the desired mental abilities to triumph in your baseball games.

We all know that physical skills along with an excellent baseball bat much like the DeMarini CF9, is not every thing in sport. Everyone can be taught to hit a ball but not every body may turn into a genuine excellent hitter. You really will want a robust mindset to stand against the emotional stress along with the anxiety of failure. An remarkably big component connected with baseball is without a doubt mental focus.

In the event you like to take your sport towards the next stage you’ve got to learn easy methods to take control of your mind. In case you are in a situation when you are in serious pressure, you have got to learn to keep relaxed. An excellent way to remain relaxed is undoubtedly deep breathing.

In order to deep breathe begin by closing the eyes, and focus on your breathing. Let the air flow entirely down in the abdomen, it’s essential to truly feel the stomach fall and rise.

Do not allow your mind race, the best way to stop your thoughts from racing make an effort to count your breaths. Following roughly ten to twenty deep breaths you should be calm and also relaxed but still attentive.

Train deep breathing in the home prior to taking it to the game. It usually requires a few tries to get it perfect. After you have learned deep breathing, you will have ability throughout your lifetime.

Keep in mind deep breathing can be employed outside of baseball too, at any time when you really feel stressed just take a few deep inhales. When you perform deep breathing do not get angry at yourself in case it does not work properly in the beginning, and do not quit after just one or two attempts.

Another important aspect, to develop a powerful mentality is without question self-esteem. Without having a good self confidence you won’t ever turn into a superb player. To help increase your own self confidence exercise daily and stay in a top shape.

You need to be reassured that your physique can handle every scenario that it will end up being exposed to and that you have got the required abilities in order to play your level.

You also must be confident in your gear. You must know that the softball or baseball bats you have is the greatest you can get. You need to truly feel confident that after you strike the ball it’ll be a strike everyone around you is going to remember. I use the 2018 DeMarini. Which is a fantastic softball bat simply by holding the bat I really feel the self-confidence rise in me. After I got this bat my games have been fantastic.

In addition, when it comes to the bats that help you more confident. You should in-deep researching before getting any bats if choosing wrong bats then you will get big problem in match. There are many guides about pick a bat which made by wood, aluminum or composite just read through and pick the right bats. So, good lucky!