“You’re not Jose Bautista”

As a player, I had a difficult time listening to anyone about anything because I was “good.” I had a D1 scholarship, I set some meaningless records, and my teams rarely lost. But, I wasn’t “good.” And unfortunately, I never learned how to learn and I failed too late to succeed. In my coaching and professional life, I’m trying to make up for that. I’m constantly questioning my beliefs and teaching philosophies in order to be a better coach than I was player. To that end, I consume any and all (good and bad) literature on a subject; and, I love hearing counterarguments to my philosophies while dissecting various opinions. I try to comprehend these positions; analyze their foundational philosophies; find any video or literature I can find; and try to assess the probabilities of success. I then compare and contrast it to my own belief system. It may not be for everyone, but this is my process as a coach.

Unfortunately, there are pseudo-intellectuals that take up a lot of space and offer a lot of misinformation. Sometimes, they are very good former players that truly get it but are too lazy to be effective. But many times, they are former players that remember how good they were and teach solely based on how they did it.

(I seem to use a lot of Napoleon Dynamite videos in my blog posts… but look at the two seem action on that steak!)

I’m not smart enough to quantify whether these people advance student-athletes or not; but I know for sure they don’t provide much to my growth. Which brings us to a conversation I had yesterday with one of my former players. A division 1 commit, the player was discussing hitting with his teacher (who is not his baseball coach). The teacher discussed the pointlessness of the “Leg Kick.” If you’re unfamiliar of what a leg kick is:

The irony is I’ve also had this conversation with the same teacher/coach. In our discussion, the teacher used an anecdotal example of a player that works out at our facility that used a leg kick and didn’t have a “good” batting average versus another kid who “gets his foot down early, and his hands work in a karate chopping manner.” (His quote) When pressed for what defines “good” and why a batting average is the sole indicator of success, the teacher presented a solid straw-man argument that the kid isn’t “Jose Bautista.” Although his powers of observation are without question, it frustrates me that this teacher/coach can’t present a cogent argument to support his grossly generalized leg kick objection and provide some level of biomechanical support for his belief in “chopping wood” (his quote) so that I can potentially learn. If he had studied the swing, watched video of the two players he was referencing, and put the time and effort to formulate an opinion; I would respect it and would derive value discussing hitting with him. Instead, he’s just another coach not advancing his student-athletes (or helping me improve as a coach) because he has chosen to not grow himself.

With that said, his comments are not completely neglected. In my experience, the leg kick isn’t for everyone. And it shouldn’t be. Not everyone is Jose Bautista, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, etc. In fact, nobody is! Because ultimately, the journey that Bautista/Harper/etc. took to find their swings is diametrically opposed to the journey that our student-athletes will take. That’s the beauty of baseball (and sports). We all have different mechanical patterns based on efficient muscle movements. Our philosophy, therefore, is to provide a visualization of an end product and have our student-athletes find their own style by implementing efficient mechanical patterns that work for them. The leg kick is simply one mechanical piece among several movements that provide efficiency in a swing. If a player wants to leg kick, fantastic. But the player has to understand and believe in his/her own journey. And they have to understand that the journey towards success is long and exhaustive – and cannot be fully encapsulated by a good or bad 40 AB high school season. If our student-athletes can trust and own the journey; and become students of the game and students of their own biomechanical movements; the misinformation out there will be seen as what it truly is – noise.

Comments 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *