A Late Night Reflection

Since we started this little Compete project a year ago, I’ve kept a weekly journal. For me, reflecting on the week – the good, the bad, the ugly – and questioning everything we do to help student-athletes grow is an invaluable tool. More importantly, it has become part of my process. This weeks journal was noteworthy to me; because it is a years worth of journal entries. So I figured I’d share my birthday journal. I usually provide action points for myself; but in this post I’ll slant it towards our student-athletes. Let me know your thoughts!

REFLECTION: CONVERSATION

Admittedly, I’ve never been good at pricing our program. This week, I was forced to analyze what our Futures program (9u-12u) received for $150/mo this year. Here’s my quick list I thought up on the spot:
15 Outdoor Fall practices
Weekly Indoor Fall practices
10 Fall Ball Games
3 Former Professional Baseball Players and several former D1 players as coaches
Access to the Compete Academy facility daily
Access to weekly Defensive classes
Weekly team practices at the Compete Academy
A Strength and Speed program run by one of the most respected coaches in the state (who trains multiple MLB and college players)
Weekly pitching program developed and run by two former MLB pitchers
A summer hitting camp
A summer defensive camp
5 Spring Tournaments
Estimated 10 outdoor Spring Practices
Estimated 15-20 outdoor Summer Practices
A custom uniform from Under Armour (hat, stirrups, pants, jersey, practice shirt)

After jotting that down, I laughed (I’m broke).

Let me state this though: I’m unequivocally proud of what we have built in the year we’ve been open.

With that said, I’ve studied growth in student-athletes my entire professional career. I continually read every piece of literature I can; I’ve been fortunate enough to study the training and process of current MLB players and world class athletes; and I’ve been able to pick the brain of professionals a lot more knowledgeable than myself. After reflecting on the above, I’m excited because I know that this is only the beginning. We are just stretching our legs on what we can and will provide.

ACTION POINTS:

Continually provide as much value as possible
Be confident in our process

REFLECTION: PROCESS

In athletics and life, successful people have fully defined processes that serve as their foundation. Most kids have no idea what a process is. Because of the modern day school environment, the continual hand holding, helicopter parenting, constant coaching/teaching – today’s kids have become so engrained with someone else being responsible for their learning (the “Lesson Scam”) that they have no autonomy over their own growth. In order to grow, we must have a self-created process – something that is unique to us. Due to this, the COMPETE ACADEMY FORCES KIDS TO DEVELOP A PROCESS. We are not a subordinate based organization in which there is a student and teacher and it is up to the teacher to teach and student to learn. Rather, we provide a system founded on a community. We are ALL students, we are ALL teachers. We all can look over video, question, introspect, grow. And by doing that, members can develop a sense of autonomy and self-discover their process. Our coaches are here to provide a visual representation and advice for student-athletes to find their path. We then serve as athletically intellectual guides in which we continually question, while providing insight and analysis to keep student-athletes on the right track.

ACTION POINTS:

Keep a journal
Question, introspect, reflect
Seek out the process of others. For example, below is the on deck process of Ichiro. What are his movements suggesting? What “feel” is he trying to get? All professional players have some sort of process; whether that is on deck, in the dugout, hours before the game, in the cage, etc. Search, analyze, grow.

REFLECTION: OVERCOACHED

I watched this insane video of Steph Curry hitting 77 3 point shots in a row at practice. I noticed that he brings his legs close together and has a very slight off-center angle of his hips (his right foot is in front of his left). Ironically, as a kid, I had a similar lower half as a basketball player. I went to a basketball camp and the coaches told me to widen my base and “square up” more. “You shouldn’t land with your right foot in front of your left.” They even put tape down on the floor to “fix” all of the shooters who had this “flaw.”

In my experience and research, the thing about mechanics is they are wholly unique. There are laws of physics that athletes must maximize to perform; but we all have variations in our mechanical movements because we all have differing athletic backgrounds. The coaches at the basketball camp may have been correct – this mechanical movement may have been a flaw FOR ME, but obviously they aren’t for Steph. And thankfully, he didn’t attend the same camp as me or maybe Steph Curry would be a failed athlete / current teacher writing a blog post for the Compete Academy right now.

This brought me to an unnerving question: How many kids have have had beneficial movements removed because system type coaches (read “cookie cutter”) thought it was a flawed movement? How many kids had a uniquely athletic movement – that would have been a tremendous movement in the future – taught out of them by some “guru?”

I witnessed this exact thing this winter. A 9 year old was taking a massive swing. He would either crush a baseball; or he would swing and miss. The coach told him he was off balanced and swinging too hard. He made him widen his stance to the point he couldn’t have a stride (or forward move) and told him to not swing hard. I saw this kid two months later. The result of the coaching – a calmer swing with an increase in weak contact. After each contact – no matter where the ball went – the coach congratulated him. Jammed ground ball – “Good Job!” End of the bat pop up – “That’s it, stay balanced!” The player had the athleticism coached out of him. More importantly, the new swing is not his own. He doesn’t even know why he’s doing it – he’s simply following the instructions of a “teacher.” No autonomy, no introspection… no growth.

ACTION POINTS:

Allow student-athletes to find the process that works for them
Don’t teach the athleticism out of kids
A cookie cutter approach to instruction of mechanical movements is flawed.
Stop throwing money at “professionals” who teach to one philosophy

REFLECTION: MARK TWAIN


“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” I talk to parents and student-athletes constantly. It’s disheartening to hear the information being sold to them and misinformation that they believe in. People that run travel programs sell parents and student-athletes on a lie – that they are the vehicle to growth and college recruitment. Unfortunately, because of the asymmetry of information, parents and student-athletes tend to believe it. After having a fair amount of college commits in our two years, I can tell you this: nobody cares about your travel program, your .400 batting average in high school, your $2000 recruiting video, how much EvoShield swag you have. The only thing that matters at the next level: how good are your grades; how good of a player are you; how hard of worker are you; and how well you project at the next level.

ACTION POINTS:

Good is a subjective term for sure – some colleges value various tools over others. But the one thing that they always value – the type of person that you are.
Be a great person
Be a great teammate
Be so good that they can’t ignore you
Surround yourself with people who aren’t trying to sell you or your parents a dream.
Surround yourself with student-athletes who are willing to push you rather than break you down. Learn as much as you possibly can.

REFLECTION: READING

I like to read. In fact, I love reading. I started a book club with my best friend – a world class athlete and Notre Dame graduate. He’s a great thinker and has a unique perspective on most things. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read one thing on our list lately. I was going to leave it at that. “I simply don’t have the time.” Seriously?

Quite often, I catch myself with this ridiculous excuse. I think of all the wasted time (like writing a blog nobody will read) and I realize – it’s just a cop out. In athletics, it’s the intellectual equivalent of the player that hits a weak ground ball and gets thrown out at first on a close play. He looks at the ump in frustration with his arms spread. He comes to the dugout complaining that he was safe. His teammates back up his plea. He mopes at the end of the dugout and stares down the ump the next inning. Seriously? Instead of getting sawed off, split a gap. Take the ump out of the equation. Or, learn from the out you just made. There is ALWAYS a learning opportunity. Maximize them!

ACTION POINTS:

Get an audio book to listen to on the road.
Analyze pitch sequences and situations during the game.
Get a better game plan together for your at bat.
Train harder now to be a better hitter.
Train harder now to be a faster runner.
Be a better – and more supportive – teammate when you make an out.
Understand you will not be the beneficiary of every close play – the world is not against you. Learn as much as you can from the out that you just made.

And then smile… you’re playing the world’s greatest game.

Comments 3

  1. I’m 1of 10…I read the blog. Although the method may be called “unconventional ” by some, I see the method working. My son has had success at every level, and the improvement I’ve seen since he had the opportunity to join the Mavs is incredible. Looking forward to a great season. Keep up the good work!!

  2. Thanks Steve. I look forward to reading the blog. I too like to read and I can tell you are somebody who is continuing to learn while you teach. I like the unconventional approach you have about baseball and I suspect that same approach is applied to your life. Keep them coming.

    Bob Morris

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