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Last night I had the opportunity to work with two ball players. The first one has feet that sound similar to mine. Wide, tall, and unstable, with high arches and tremendous forefoot pressure. This particular player is powerful and compact with feet that overlap the soles of his cleats. He has a lot of foot, but he's not using the majority of it which interferes with his ability to roll through his stride. He rides his bike about ten miles a day, and around mile seven he develops pain above his right knee cap.

My theory is that because his foot is wide, his shoes are long enough, but he can't get enough width for his feet to fully relax. I'm guessing that he has light heel pressure on his left side, and a heat map of his right foot would be mostly red indicating that he's depending on the right side of his body to carry most of his body weight a majority of the time. Strategies for him include yoga postures that challenge him to balance his weight over both of his feet, and postures that elongate him, with particular attention paid to the right side of his body. I would also like to know whether he swims laps as that core body rotation will be good for him.

He has a pair of leather Reebok cleats, and a pair of Asics that he says are very comfortable. The Asics are an E width, he has no additional support in them at this time, but I believe that he would benefit from greater longitudinal and metatarsal arch support. I recommended that he try on a pair of Birkenstocks to get a feel for that footbed which I think would really help him for several reasons. The cork based footbed forms to feet as it heats up beneath a foot, the heel is neutral, and this encourages the backs of the legs to lengthen.

If he is as tight as I suspect that he is, he should gradually work his way into shoes that are more supportive. He mentioned that he walks with his head down, I'd like to have him work on raising it, and engaging his core more throughout his day. Since his swing is level, and he fields well, I don't expect much to change there, however I think his ability to get out of the batter's box after a hit is going to be a game changer for him. He probably has untapped speed, but because his cleats are longer than they need to be, he isn't able to overcome that length.

Custom cleats would be ideal for him, if those aren't an option, perhaps a New Balance cleat if they are available in the width category that he needs. Over time he should rely less heavily on his right side. This will create a more balanced approach at the plate. I believe that he could be converted to a switch hitter who is a legitimate power threat from both sides of the plate, but this will depend on his ability to clear his mind from the idea that he can't hit from the left side of the plate. Reversing the way that he does many things will be awkward and uncomfortable at first, however he has relied on the right side of him for too long.

Currently he's a four corner player, and I think he enjoys viewing things from different angles. An intelligent player with an admirable economy of speech, he's able to convey technical information accurately without sounding condescending. I think he would really enjoy catching and calling games, but this would increase his forefoot pressure, and I wouldn't want to do that to him despite the accuracy of his throws to second. It sounds as if he enjoys working with pitchers, and can probably tell them how to pitch to him, but I doubt they'll be able to make him look foolish very often.

I would expect this type of a player to have high walk, and low strikeout numbers, and excel anytime power and precision are required. Boredom is his enemy. I think he would have fun managing a bullpen or starting rotation. He's cool, collected, and he seems easy going, but I would be careful about pairing him with people who are less intelligent than he is as they will frustrate and annoy him. I would classify him as something of a lone wolf who uses humor as a social buffer. In my opinion he's capable of both leading and following when the situation calls for it, but he also needs alone time to think, anaylze, and observe.

The second player I spoke with is a sixteen year old teenager from New Jersey who is 6'1', and weighs 175 pounds. He's currently wearing high Nike cleats that I suspect are too short, too narrow, and the wrong shape for his foot. A picture of his right foot showed redness and swelling on the outer margin of his great toe. There's a reddened area on his second toe, and his third, fourth, and fifth toes are redder than I would like them to be as well. It doesn't appear that his foot is either wide, or narrow so I don't think finding a cleat that fits him well is going to present much of a challenge unless his heel is very narrow.

Like my first player, he plays a variety of positions including 3B, SS, P, and OF. To me this indicates a degree of athleticism and talent that will be virtually unstoppable once he settles into a position, and really starts honing his skills there. Mature for his age, he recognizes that safety and health drive performance. We discussed cleat shape, and I wasn't surprised when he picked things up quickly as players who can learn a variety of positions are typically quick to grasp new concepts.

Since he is still growing, shoes are going to be a temporary investment, but well worth it because his shoes are currently limiting him, and I would guess that they are affecting his ability to turn DP's at short, I think his stride will lengthen as his footwear does, and I'd like to get a full length picture of him to see what percentage of his body is legs, and what is torso. I'd also like to watch him batting, and determine if the shoes he wears in the cage now are appropriate. My belief is that this is going to be a fun player to watch as he continues to learn and play. He has everything he needs to be successful, and like the first player I spoke with, he has the drive, determination, and curiosity to propel him further than others.

Were I to manage him, I would experiment with him at SS as I believe that's his natural role where he will shine once his cleats start cooperating with his feet instead of limiting him. If both of these men were on my roster, I would pair him at SS with my first player at 1B, and despite their differences, I believe that they would work very well together. He's extremely coachable, and working with a more veteran player will give him some extra reassurance that I think would benefit both players. He has a tendency to be hard on himself, and my first player will be able to see his strengths.

I would encourage him to do things that strengthen his verbal skills as I think that he may have a tendency to come across as less intelligent than he really is because to me, he is a classic big picture thinker. My first player builds a larger picture out of pieces that he gathers while this player sees the big picture first, and then has to break the pieces down into their individual components. I think he intuitively knows things, but has difficulty conveying certain types of information to others. As much as I love baseball, I think he would be a great quarterback, and I think that he will emerge as a leader regardless of where he plays, but anything other than SS or P isn't going to be enough of a challenge for him, and won't utilize his talents to their fullest extent. 

While playing a variety of positions is probably fun for him, and he's learning how different positions track and field the ball, I think that shuffling him around is robbing him of the focus that he needs to make him a star. He's popular, and social, but I would watch for signs of self doubt, and dole out heavy doses of encouragement once he's off the field. This is the player that I want to go out and have a good time being a kid because he's capable of handling responsibility, but he needs fun to balance him or he'll start taking everything too seriously.

Passionate, aggressive, and playful, he may occasionally have a bit too much fun, but his inner wild child needs to come out periodically or his outlook will become bleak. Both of these players are perfectionists, and the first one won't crack under heavy duty pressure, but he'll withdraw into himself, and become moody and bitter if he believes there is no point in chasing excellence. The second player will probably throw himself into the grind so he can try to escape those inner voices that are telling him that he isn't as good as he needs to be.

He'll burn out before he rusts out, and he should be carefully monitored to avoid overuse injuries that accompany a sledgehammer approach to training. I would like to see him make an effort to be alone and learn how to enjoy his own company as much as he enjoys talking and working with others. Any non-judgmental artistic mediums are going to help him; painting, drawing, singing, music, and I would prescribe gentle flowing yoga sequences that allow him to express himself while he relaxes and unwinds.

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