Smart phones, tablets, applications, online shopping and . . . dogwalkers? What do all these things have in common besides the fact that I use four out of the five almost daily? They were created to assist us in living a more convenient and timelier lifestyle.
It’s no secret that 2019 is a time for convenience and rapidity, and the mentality: What can you do for me RIGHT now? Entire companies and peoples’ careers are built on acquiring more efficient and convenient ways for people to go about their daily lives. While I’m all for getting a quick ride from Uber or utilizing the self-checkout at the grocery store to get the hell out of there, there are some facets of life that still require invested time and patience.
For example, I do not want my dentist giving me speedy check-up or my barber doing a negligent cut to quickly get to the next client (I know you would never do this, Walt). Most great things take time, and most often your patience will be rewarded. Remember, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything Is accomplished,” as stated by the legendary Chinese philosopher Laozi.
One area of life that I’m certain is worth taking your time for is your physical health. Rushing to grab fast food, neglecting to get an ample amount of sleep and being too busy for physical exercise are three phases of life that humans should allocate more time for. While there are some express restaurants that borderline “healthy” options and a number of workout programs and classes that do a great job of creating an efficient workout, majority of people don’t take their food, sleep or exercise seriously.
As contradictory as this sounds, the last thing I’m attempting to do is make you feel guilty or instruct you how to live your life. I know different circumstances arise, and time is always a hot commodity especially among parents and family-oriented people. Sometimes, you will be forced to rush through areas of life that need more attention, such as grabbing a quick meal or missing your workout to discuss a new business proposal, but it is the overall progression and tenacity to stick to the long-term goal that really matters. Each moment is a new opportunity to make the right choice, and each day will have variance.
As it turns out, this lengthy exposition was my way of introducing the actual topic of this piece which is . . . drumroll please! The time and effort an athlete puts into their daily regimen is a direct reflection of what they will get out of their physical performance and the on-field results that they want to see. Obviously, there are outliers to this mentality, as extremely gifted athletes won’t have to dedicate as much time to succeed at their craft. However, for the most part, our mantra will hold true.
I promise it was just a mere COINCIDENCE that this post about dedication and focus-invested time took seven paragraphs to introduce.
Although we definitely want everyone to be healthy and feel good every day, our main goal at Masterful Mechanics Baseball is for our athletes to prepare themselves for peak performance. With us, there are four aspects of training that are paramount to athletes’ success. Our four non-negotiables include instilling personal confidence from maximum preparation, repetitions producing muscle-memory mechanics, physical training to prevent injury and build strength/coordination and proper nutrition/sleep for full recovery.
Confidence in sports, as in life, is paramount to success. “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” Spoken by the great tennis star, Arthur Ashe, he laments that when an athlete is fully confident of their skills, they can accomplish amazing things. From personal experience, I have competed and been victorious against opponents with WAY more skills who should have taken my weak stuff out of the park. But, I believe because I was 100 percent confident that I was going to get them out, I did. The human brain has mind-blowing capabilities, but it can accomplish little without confidence.
That’s why every repetition that an athlete practices is of the utmost important. All the repetitions, practice and training will instill confidence in a ballplayer. This confidence alone can give them the upper-hand on an opponent. Like Yogi Berra said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.” Our athletes gain this mental edge by performing countless repetitions in our training, so this confidence will translate to the field.
Try it for yourself! The next time you go bowling, play pool/darts or any lawn game, execute a shot or throw while telling yourself with full confidence that you will succeed. Then, try to execute the same shot without instilling this confidence mid-turn. I’ll bet that your confidence-induced shot turned out better!
It’s no secret that baseball is a game of repetitions. A starting pitcher throws 100 pitches a game while trying to repeat the same mechanics each pitch. A patient hitter sees several pitches each at-bat from the same vantage point while trying to emulate the same swing they practiced over-and-over in the batting cage. Fielders need to receive the baseball with proper form each time to make the play. By now, you should get the picture! There are some variances, but baseball is the same thing on repeat. This is why some people don’t have patience for the game, and other people think baseball players are lunatics (which most are by the way!).
For this reason, our private lessons are filled with enough consistent repetitions to drive anyone crazy. Most of the time, we perform WAY more reps than a player will be subjected to in an actual game, because then the game will seem that much easier. During practice, each repetition must be performed with intent and to the best of the athlete’s ability. After all these mind-numbing repetitions in training, the body will perform these movements without even thinking about it. It’s an amazing thing! As the late Nipsey Hussle said, “Constant repetition is the path to progression.”
Everyone knows an athlete’s worst enemy is injury. Injury has sidelined elite athletes in their prime for decades and once it happens, it is irreversible for the duration of the healing process. Yes, it can be sped up by proper sleep, nutrition, rest and most importantly MOVEMENT, but NO athlete wants to go through an injury setback. Of course, all setbacks prepare you for a comeback to level up, but let’s try to avoid missing playing time. So, what’s the best way to avoid injury to maximize your playing time and enhance skill training sessions?
The answer to the above question is MOVEMENT! But not just any movement. The right type of kinetic training specific to the sport you’re playing, in our case baseball or softball, is paramount to avoiding the injury epidemic among athletes, especially child-athletes, and maximizing your performance. So, for athletes to be well-rounded, they would not only work on skill-work with us, but they would also be given a customized training program to enable their bodies to perform how they want it to.
With us, movement is less about lifting heavy weights to build strength and more about mastering the moves associated with the game of baseball and life. For players to be at their best, it is imperative that they have trained their bodies pre-competition, so they can play unhindered by mental and physical limits. For the mental side, our training volume is intense enough that it creates mental discipline to complete the required number of sets and repetitions. With our preventive training techniques, we implore athletes to take the time to prepare months leading up to the season, as well as movement training in-season. These training regimens may differ slightly, but workouts need to continue with the same intent during the playing-season as they did in the winter months. When it is crunch time in the bottom of the 7th inning, and you’re closing out the championship game, your body and your teammates will be glad that you mastered your off-the-field training to become an absolute beast on the diamond.
Recovery is the last item on our list of four non-negotiables. It’s not last because it’s of least importance but has more to do with the fact that recovery is made easier by preparing the body properly pre-competition. Mastering the three non-negotiables leading up to recovery will ensure that it happens much easier and more efficiently. Most people are aware of the impact that sleep has on the body (especially the bodies of children). Getting restful sleep should be a top priority in everyone’s life and with athletes, it is a must. There is no way your body can perform how you want it to without recovering properly through sleep.
This topic is important enough to warrant its own blog post, but we will keep it short and simple. We urge our athletes to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night. This includes going to bed as early as possible, ideally before 10 PM, to ensure the body acquires REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. During REM, our bodies are best able to recover and recharge our muscles, including our brain, for the next day. It has also been found that avoiding technology (phones, tablets, computers, TV, etc.) at least an hour before bed allows the body to settle into REM quicker and for longer periods of time.
Nutrition is also a top priority for us and among elite athletes, but parents and youth athletes rarely think about the impact their diet has on their bodies. It’s so simple yet rarely mentioned, but your body really will output exactly what you are inputting into it. For example, a child will feel better and be stronger during a contest if they eat some nuts and fruits rather than a walking taco from the concession stand before the game. It’s so simple that it’s silly how people neglect this fact. Our bodies crave the simple and natural.
Our innate craving for clean foods dates back to the beginning of mankind. Our bodies were programmed to consume clean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. It is for this reason that processed and artificial foods are destroying our culture from the inside out. Our bodies are much more inclined to quickly digest a clean meal while also using less energy to do it. It is then, and only then, that our bodies will be able to perform to their maximum capabilities.
With our nutrition plans, athletes are given examples of approved meals with the approved ingredients. Then, families can purchase the ingredients and start making food that is going to actually supplement their athlete instead of just making them feel full. Our nutrition plans have no special secret. They are just littered with nautral foods and ingredients that I promise will make your athlete feel better in and out of competition. Child-athletes can still consume the tasty meals they love (if you don’t believe me, come over and I’ll cook a meal for you), but they need to be prepared with more time and effort to ensure their done so with natural ingredients.
Now that you are aware of our four non-negotiables, what is the next step in fully preparing your athlete for their full potential in baseball and life? By non-negotiables, we mean the four areas of an athlete’s life that must be paid attention to and cannot be compromised. There are more ways to ensure a healthy and happy life, but the ideas stated above are our daily commitments.
Obviously, immediately trying to change everything about a child’s baseball and, more importantly, life routine is going to throw them off. I suggest selecting one or two of our non-negotiables first and then trying to master them. As in life, some days will be better (and easier) than others to accomplish what you set out to do.
Try to have your child plan out their day to allot time for their daily non-negotiable. See if they can live each moment asking themselves, “Is what I’m doing going to be beneficial to my end goal?” Hell, you can try it too. I guarantee applying this theory with fortitude will change your life in a positive manner. If we can actually take the time to make a concentrated change, all else will fall into place. Even if it’s one tiny action in a day, it’s a step forward, and a bunch of steps forward is how people accomplish marathons. Take it from the badass Bruce Lee, “Patience is not passive, on the contrary, it is concentrated strength.”