I have found that coaching younger players helps me become a much better player myself. Every time I instruct a player to do something its like I’m telling myself to do the same. Many times I will tell one of my young pitchers to “check-in” on the mound before throwing a certain pitch. For example, what is the first thing we are going to think when we start throwing in the bullpen? Fastball command. This is easily the most important aspect of pitching at any level.
Command the fastball, work ahead, and work down. (We are thinking, just do the easy things we know we have to do) Those are three “check-in” points that we have to address before each and every single time we get on the mound. Curveball check-in points go as follows…try to hang the first couple and find your release point, don’t try to do too much, throw through catchers left shoulder(for a lefty) to throw for a strike. Boom, boom, boom. These check in points help us to maintain a heightened level of focus, and I teach them to all my guys….yet somehow I still manage to make the same mistakes of missing some of those check in points when I pitch. Why? How?
Simple human error always exists. The teacher must practice EVEryday if they are truly maintaining their peak level of expertise. Often times I find myself throwing a pitch and being like “really? did you seriously just do that?? What is this your 1,002,345 pitch of your career? Have you not learned by now??”…it has to make you laugh that you can still make mistakes in this game. It is the beauty of competition and the human element. And even though guys start getting to be what seems freakishly flawless as you move up the ranks, they still make the same errors all through out their careers.
Reminders help us check-in. They are tangible tools that help us propel through life zestfully opposed to just blandly. They give us jolts of happiness, even if subtle, as we see them in our paths. We can write reminders on our refrigerators, our mirrors, our car dashboards, our hats, our bodies(tattoos?), our notebooks, our calendars, our computer desktops, our computer cases, our phone screens, and anywhere else that our live’s paths cross…it is our choice.
Here are a couple that I use that genuinely help me in my day to day, not just to be a better more conscious and thankful person, but to also elevate my focus so as to be a better competitor when it is time to go to war…
Refrigerator on a sticky note: “Reminder: Giving > Receiving”(because we often forget)
Car dashboard: “Attitude of Gratitude, EVEryday.” and also “Breathe” (to remind me to take sets of quality and conscious breaths as I drive)
Bathroom mirror (I have 3 shorts statements on my bathroom mirror which I get to see EVEryday, why would we not advertise quality messages to ourselves?):
1) “Create” (because I am trying to create a company that will be providing quality baseball and mentorship services to youth ball players calledwww.madebaseball.com, even MADE itself stands for Motivation, Appreciation, Dedication…EVEryday…a brand that I believe will one day be massive shifter in lifestyles of many)
2) “NGU” (because I saw a story about 10 years ago about a guy that was determined to play football again after receiving a prosthetic leg! That dude had an impact on me! NGU = Never Give Up!
3) “TOOF” (because a great friend of mine just passed away, at his service his dad told everyone in an amazing speech that he always taught his children TOOF…or “Think of others First”….that one was new to me and will stay with me forever)
Normally, under the bill of my hat I write “GUAC”…it stands for “Give us a Chance.” That means no matter what happens out on the mound that day that you go out and give every bit that you possibly have in your heart to keep your team in the game and give them a chance to win. You don’t give up because of a bad inning, you stay focused on what you can control and trust that your team has your back.
These are just a few reminders that I currently use through out my day to stay on a clean and clear path to work towards what I am trying to achieve. Nothing ever goes to plan but we can still stay on a path that feels good and maintains an authentic appreciation for life. No matter what happens, if we wake up in the morning and remind ourselves to start our day with infinite thanks that we were granted the opportunity to open our eyes that day, then there is really nothing that can ever be that bad.
The key is practice, ruthlessness, and persistence….EVEryday.
Thanks for reading,