Youth Baseball Lessons to Reach Potential
Unfortunately, we only get one go around at most things, including our individual sports careers. The good thing is that my biggest regrets have led to the youth baseball lessons I pass on these days.
I’ve heard many former professional athletes say, “I wouldn’t have done anything different,” when asked about their career choices. They intimate that they have no regrets. I am not one of them, as time has built up a number of disappointments. It took years of introspection to arrive at the things I would have done different. I think those regrets have made me a good youth baseball coach and instructor, having learned the hard way from my mistakes. These are the baseball lessons I pass on to youth ballplayers, in the hopes they avoid my mistakes and reach their baseball potential.
Most people that knew me as a youth ballplayer would say that I got the most out of my ability and overachieved by making it to the big leagues. That makes me feel good, but now I look back and do not feel I was close to reaching my potential. “I wish I knew then what I knew now,” swirls in my head as does, “Why did I not stay with what was working.” I honestly believe I would have been a consistent big league player for a number of years if I hadn’t been so stupid. Forest Gump was ever so right in saying, “Stupid is as stupid does,” but of course, my decisions didn’t seem so wrong at the time.
Youth baseball lessons I impress upon ball players.
Baseball Lessons to Reach Potential
Maintain Strength – I drifted in and out of strength training during my career, as early life messages were that strength training was not good for baseball players. In hindsight, I should have stayed with it on a regular basis. Baseball is not as overtly physically taxing as many of the other sports, but the daily grind and amount of necessary repetition takes a toll. Players should do two things, be careful of working too hard, especially at struggling times, and strength train during the season, too. Those may seem like opposites, but reasonable strength training revive tired muscles and tired minds quicker than just plain rest and often helps more than practice of the baseball skills.
Know where confidence comes from – I lacked baseball confidence, especially once reaching the big leagues because I did not know the relationship between knowing-the-fundamentals and self-confidence. Confidence comes from being in control, and players will not be in control when they do not know the fundamentals enough to make adjustments. I did not know the intricate fundamentals. If I could do it all again, I would have sought out the few available hitting gurus truly to learn what I needed to do for success, which leads me to the next of my baseball lessons.
Ask Questions – Video analysis was just coming into play back in the day, but as mentioned, I didn’t know enough fundamentals to decipher good from bad. Players should learn and be encouraged to ask questions whenever they lose confidence and feel out of control. I wish I had asked more questions of my coaches, leading to the next of the crucial youth baseball lessons.
Work smarter – Hard work is always commendable, but working just to work just leads to tiredness with no guarantee of improvement. Having a better idea of what to work on would have saved me from hours of useless practice and sleepless nights. Players should practice specifics with the aim of quality over quantity.
Versatility – I wish I had practiced at different baseball positions more often at a young age. If I had learned to judge a fly ball then it could have opened doors at some point later in my career. Often, kids and parents do not understand the value in having versatility as they move up the baseball ladder.
Concentration overcomes all – The ability to focus and clear the mind in games is invaluable. This ability came too late in my major league career. Often, youth coaches over teach during games, leading to players who cannot react in an instinctual manner. Players who can out -concentrate other players succeed more often than the others.
As implied, many of these baseball lessons seem obvious to me now, but for whatever reasons, they eluded me back in the day, leading to the big regrets. Finally, the advanced levels of baseball require a focus and work ethic beyond normal, but players of all levels need these lessons to reach their potential.