It’s great to be able to run like the wind, have a rocket arm, and hit the crap out of the ball. But baseball is one of those sports where the physical gifts are a bit less emphasized. A bit less important. In a way. In a way? In this way… You don’t want to be be playing basketball with a bunch of dudes that are much taller, quicker, and can jump higher than you. Just the same, you don’t want to line up in football against a bunch of animals that are bigger, stronger, faster, and uglier than you. Why? Cause they will most always win. When your bigger, stronger, and faster than your opponent you usually almost always win. Baseball has much less to do with this. Don’t get me wrong, athleticism is important to becoming an elite baseball player. BUT. Being a freak athlete, isn’t going to make you a better hitter. There’s a lot of SKILL involved. A lot of UNDERSTANDING, TECHNIQUE, and LEARNING involved in becoming a good hitter and ultimately a well rounded ball player. I advise you to force upon yourself good habits and a good understanding of the mechanics of the art of hitting. You can also learn a lot about a hitters approach (the steps taken prior to executing a great at-bat). What I’m saying is that there is much more of an education involved in the sport of baseball than most others. Learning about the importance of correct technique and approach in regards to hitting, and baseball in general, is what’s important. Remember: It’s a process, and the development of a complete ball player takes time, commitment, discipline, and a lot of hard work. If you always want to be moving forward in your development as a player, you will seek this out. It’s never-ending.
I love this blog and I’m grateful for those that read it and support me. I’m always hopeful of impacting someone’s baseball career in a positive manner. It’s what I do. I could care less about the team and winning games, raising money, holding a trophy, looking cool, or saying the right things at the right times. I do care about teaching effective techniques that can gain the individual an advantage in competition, developing athleticism within the individual, and creating an attitude that exudes confidence at all times. I truly believe that learning and understanding the game from the physical to the mental is the key to success. Also, understanding that baseball is an individual sport and your success will be defined by your individual performance in the long run. You will not be judged on what team you are on but how you perform as an individual when it is your time to perform. People spend too much time complaining about a negative than they do exploring ways to create a consistent positive. What I just said, means this: Too often we want success without putting in the work, effort, and understanding. When you see success in a game as hard as baseball, you can rest assure that it’s the result of hard work, training, learning, and understanding the technique that has made you successful. Of course this means nothing unless we do it on a consistent basis. After all, in baseball we are judged on averages, consistency, and the ability to persevere amongst all the failure that we encounter. The best baseball players fail the least, when we truly understand what that means we can develop and prosper.
Grateful for the continued support I get down at the Cage that allows me to continue to do what I love: TEACH, TRAIN, and DEVELOP baseball players physically and mentally to prepare them best for the next level. OK……. I’m done being nice. I have an important message for players and parents of the serious baseball player and it is this: An idiot can pick a team, fill out a lineup card, or yell and scream at a kid for NO reason. This guy is who we usually call coach. Well, coach, or whoever is deciding how good my kid is, don’t flatter yourself. They invented a stopwatch to determine who can run fast. Someone invented a radar gun to determine how hard somebody throws, and anybody with sense can tell you what a hard hit ball sounds and looks like off a hitters bat. So basically, it’s obvious who is good and who is not. I could go on and on but I’m gonna wrap with this. If you can’t teach and develop, than what are you doing out there? What are your intentions? Are you qualified? Are those your working with getting better and learning lessons? I can only hope so. What inspired me to write about this topic is the lack of guidance and teaching youth baseball players are granted by the traditional system. What is the system? Little League, club baseball, legion baseball, high school baseball. Where and when does the individual player LEARN, TRAIN, and ultimately DEVELOP? Hopefully they get lucky and get someone who cares, can teach (or at least point them in the right direction), train, and develop them. If not than you best seek out the best way to LEARN, TRAIN, and DEVELOP as a player.
In the never-ending search to uncover the BEST ways to become a better baseball player I have come up with some thoughts that I want to share. I always ask myself: When is a player getting better? What setting is the best for making improvements? Before I start I want to make this statement: The Major League level is the only level of baseball where winning at all cost is the priority over everything else. Every other stage of a players baseball career is a developmental stage. Now, some coaches may disagree because their jobs may depend on wins and losses at the high school and college levels. Well, I guess you better start developing your players. I can tell you without a doubt that player development is more important to a professional baseball organization than wins and losses in their Minor League systems. Like I mentioned before, the Major League level is the only level where winning is the priority over everything else. So, if that’s the philosophy in professional baseball, than why isn’t that the philosophy at the lower levels (little league, club baseball, high school, college)? I’ve seemed to stump myself by my own question because I don’t know why we don’t put individual player development over EVERYTHING else in the game of baseball. Until your playing everyday in the major leagues…..I don’t want to hear it. Youth baseball has to get it together along with players, parents, and coaches to put the emphasis on individual player development. I work with a lot of kids. My goal for a kid 6-11 years old is to emphasizethe fundamentals (hitting, throwing, fielding) and start to introduce some of the physical actions of the body that will help you in the game (hand-eye-foot coordination, reaction time, awareness). 12-14 years old all I care about is you making the high school baseball team. Hitting, arm strength, fielding, and athleticism is where the emphasis is. It comes down to a 2-hour tryout for most that will either get you a spot on the team or END your baseball career. Your going to be judged more on the basics rather than the intangibles. Can you HIT, RUN, THROW, & FIELD? Start to specialize your training! Get individual about it! Take it upon yourself! Players get better when you put yourself in the best situation to LEARN. When is this? I believe it to be in an individual or small group setting where you learn and apply. Learn and apply without expectation until you find technique that works for you through practice sessions. Be relentless in your pursuit to execute that technique in game situations once your ready (most players don’t because they won’t allow themselves). LEARN—–APPLY—–EXECUTE. If there is a breakdown in any of the three than your game is not going to be successful. Execution is what ultimately separates the pack. Most everyone can learn and apply, if you don’t it’s usually because of either your stubbornness or your laziness. Your high school coach is not going to care how good your little league or club baseball team was. He’s going to want to SEE how good YOU are. If your lucky enough to get recruited by colleges to play baseball….those coaches won’t care about how good your high school baseball team is. They want to SEE how good YOU are. If your good enough to get drafted, the scouts are not going to be interested in how good your high school or college team is. They want to SEE how good YOU are. However far you advance in your baseball career will be because of YOU and how your parents and coaches went out of their way to put the individual player development ahead of everything else.
I have a few things on my list today. It’s been awhile. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the ability to learn and understand what you are being taught. Some of the most valuable learning lessons can be done without a baseball, bat, or glove in hand. Often you hear people say “Tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it”. It’s not that easy, is it? NO. If it was, there would be far more successful people in the world than there is today. That’s a dummies way to learn. Success is achieved through a good teacher and a good student. The student being able to understand that he will ultimately help himself more than any teacher could help him. What I mean by this is that there is a level of execution that has to take place when it matters most. This responsibility is the students. Take this for example: Your teacher cannot help you when it’s time to perform. You must execute the performance by yourself. It’s the teachers responsibility to understand why a student cannot perform to his abilities when it matters most (GAME TIME). In the meantime there is a training process. The level of concentration and ability to learn by the student during this time is of the utmost importance. It’s just not “doing it to do it”. You have to be able to understand what the teacher is teaching, how it is going to apply to your style, and how best your going to get a consistent result when it matters most. Teacher and student need to understand each other, It’s not a one-way street.
I want to talk about 3 topics that are very important to any ball players progression. First: Cause and Effect. Baseball is a brutal sport. One of the great things about baseball is that we can evaluate what happen and why it did happen. For every cause….there is an effect. Baseball speaking: If you swing and miss…there is a reason. If you make a throwing error….there is a reason. If you walk 3 batters in a row….there is a reason. See what I am saying? Put an emphasis on why you do wrong. What causes it? Maybe you pulled your head? Maybe you didn’t get your feet set for a throw? Maybe your over-throwing or aiming too much? Ask yourself, why do the bad things happen? Why do the bad habits continue? Second: Strengths and weaknesses: Quit wasting your time and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly your weaknesses! Be honest with yourself and identify what you are bad at. Work to get better. Have no shame in your game. Address the issue and improve on that issue. Finally, Don’t ever feel sorry for yourself. Baseball is a brutal sport. You know! Deal with it. Take the good with the bad. It’s a game of averages. DON’T EVER FEEL SORRY FOR YOURSELF. NO SYMPATHY! Concentrate more on how to improve rather than taking pitty on yourself. When it’s all said and done, no one will care why you failed, didn’t make the team, etc. Get over it and focus on what the next step is. Be a student of the game. Start to understand why bad results are happening. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and never feel bad for yourself. Move forward and execute to the best of your abilities.