A little work can go a long way
I can remember a summer day when I was 14, walking off the field after a tough day behind the plate. I had probably the worst game of my life, as I couldn't stop anything thrown in the dirt. Around five runs scored on balls that I should have blocked and it cost my team the game. On the drive home my father made a very simple, but incredibly profound statement. "Jay, there is always going to be someone out there working harder, shooting for the same goals that you have set for yourself. So the question is how badly do you want it?"
I was a little put off by the comment, as I had been working on blocking during team practices every week, trying to get better. What was he trying to tell me? Didn't he see me working on this stuff? Then it hit me. It wasn't going to be enough just going through the motions during practice, I was going to need to put in some work on my own time if I ever wanted to get to the level I had dreamed of. That next fall, I worked a deal with the athletic director of my high school to allow me and my father access to the school gym at 5:00am each morning to do what I needed to do to get better.
After each and every camp, clinic or private lesson I run there is a concept I leave all of my students with. "How good you get will always be determined by the work you put in off the field or outside of the cage." It's not to say that those students in front of me failed to put forth an exceptional effort, but it is to say that if they don't work on what they learned at some point before the next practice, lesson or clinic, they won't see progress in their ability to play the position.
As a coach, one of the greatest things is to watch one of your players succeed on the field and in life. Many of these catchers have extremely high aspirations, but lack direction when it comes to pursuing those dreams. The work that is done outside of the private lesson or clinic, reinforcing what they have been taught, is what is going to set them apart from all the other catchers whose aspirations are just as high.
So how much time do we need to spend working on our drills to see significant improvement over the course of the offseason? Twenty additional minutes of focused purposeful work a day can have an incredible impact.
We can spend those 20 minutes working on our throwing footwork or exchange, constructing a proper blocking technique or learning how to read pitches in the dirt even in your own living room . It is that work that will begin to separate those catchers from their peers and allow them to reach the goals that they have set for themselves.
The question for those catchers is "how badly do you want it?"
Thank you for reading! Make sure you check out my new article on why rapid-fire blocking drills do not work and should never be apart of any catcher's training regimen!
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and keep an eye out for December's Tip of the Month!
From behind the mask,
Director of Operations