One of the highlights of my MLB career was hitting a game-winning sacrifice fly for the Seattle Mariners in the 17th inning in a game in old Yankee Stadium. So, I feel like I have a few of the secrets to success. Of course, it has taken me many years since my playing days to figure out what they were.
When an out of town driver stopped and asked a New Yorker how to get to Yankee Stadium? The answer was "Practice." Although a wise guy remark, a more accurate statement does not exist because, in one sense, there are no real secrets to success.
However, in either endeavor, playing ball or driving the New York streets, many twists, turns, and obstacles will appear on the route. But even before that, other things are necessary for achievement. Having the mental makeup to drive and practice is the critical start to finding one's way and becoming a major league player or at least reaching one's potential.
Along the same line as the above query, a superstar athlete said, "If they have to ask, it won't happen" to the question "How one reaches the pinnacle of sports like them?" That answer also has some merit. It takes a unique mindset to reach the top, and no one can just give them that. That exceptional mentality has to be within them. But it does not mean that every athlete cannot learn the secrets to success and develop an approach that puts them on the road to advancement.
Of all the sports, no game requires the skill development like baseball does. Hitting, pitching, fielding and base running demands a skill set that takes years of dedication to perfect, or at the least, to improve. Developing the correct techniques require determination and work ethic that most ballplayers are not willing to give. But, as mentioned, all players can develop the qualities to reach their potential. The best coaches can teach many of the secrets to success so players develop the mental attributes that will help them with success in all life endeavors.
Following are the things the best ballplayers do, the quotes I often use and some coaching tips to help unlock the enviable but elusive secrets to success.
"Don't only be out to prove what you can do, be out to improve."
Coaches should not push players to go beyond their comfort level but explain that success only comes with a daily focus on getting better. Coaches can coach a daily work ethic by keeping practice exiting with fun and drills that keep the monotony away. Boredom is an effort killer that prevents player development. When players find the desire to push themselves more, the coach has achieved their goal.
"The more and faster you do it in practice, the easier it is in games."
Coaches must insist that players do things quicker in practice, not safer. I often tell players that if they are not messing up a play or two in practice, they are not working fast enough. Playing it safe is not the way to improve the skills and advance to higher levels of play.
"There is a reason we warm up the same way each practice; it prepares us."
Coaches should help players understand the importance of correct repetition, consistent practice routines and the discipline it takes to do them.
"Winning the game is one measure of success, but the best measure is surpassing your expectations."
Youth sports focus should never be just about winning, but that does not mean playing to win is not one of the goals. Baseball is competition, and the definition of competing is a struggle with a winner and loser. Coaches should not let players think that losing is OK because winning is a measure of effort and preparation. It's the win at all cost mentality that is not appropriate at any level.
"I'm going to make it tougher for you because I know you are ready for it."
Coaches must not neglect the better players by thinking they already know how to do it. They should challenge each player according to their abilities, so the best players improve too and do not leave for other sports.
"Focus on the little things the game comes down to who can catch, hit and throw the baseball."
Coaches should not allow players to do things incorrectly just because they tire of telling them the same all the time. Coaches, who allow players to settle for mediocrity by doing the same, lose their coaching advantage.
"If you focus enough the ball and game slow down for you."
Coaches, who maintain a comfortable learning and playing environment, help players develop focus.
"I have seen you do it before with your work hard, now go out and trust it."
Coaches who believe in players foster composure in them. When players know the coaches are out for the players first, they have less fear of failure and trust their abilities.
"The definition of a team is, Together Everyone Achieves More."
Developing a team-first philosophy is one of the most vital goals of coaching. Having players learn to work and pull together helps players in their future careers in life.
"Baseball is a game of failure."
Coaches should allow players to play without making decisions for them. Players learn sooner from experience and post play coaching than during the action instructions.
"You cannot outrun the ball."
Coaches should help players know their speed, power, arm strength and athleticism. Players, who do not have an understanding of their abilities, make wrong decisions because of their lack of self-knowledge.
"Try it this way; I think you will notice a big difference."
Good coaches suggest changes instead of demanding them. When players have options, they are much more agreeable to change.
"It's not how good you are now; it's how good you can be."
Coaches who display patience set an excellent example for players. Patient coaches buy players time until improvement arrives.
"Believe me; your hard work will pay off, if not right away, soon."
Coaches must act as part-time psychologists by never letting players get a defeatist attitude. That is not easy with many athletes who mope and become negative the second things do not go their way. Never allowing players to say "I can't" is the sign of a good coach and the key to players reaching their goals.
"You should want to be the player up in that situation. You have little to lose and much to gain."
Coaches must put players in tight situations in practice as often as possible. Players develop a "been there" attitude in that way when in games. The more prepared players feel the more fearless they are in games, and it helps when coaches display the proper perspective.
"This slump will make you tougher the next time hard times come your way."
Coaches should use losing and sub-par play as teaching moments to help build resilient athletes and teams.
"You will never be perfect, and do not expect others to be either."
Coaches must develop the win and lose as a team philosophy, without accusing individuals of poor play as the reason for failing. Players pick up on the team philosophy in time and learn the value of taking responsibility for actions on and off the field.
"You are only as good as your last at-bat or game."
Coaches should always give honest evaluations to players, but in a compassionate way. Giving false praise to failing athletes does not spur them to keep working. Coaches should assign home practice ideas, so the passionate players have ways of practicing and improving.
"You will look back at these times as some of the best of your lives. Show it."
Coaches should display their joy of coaching and explain to teams the privilege it is to play sports. Enthusiasm has a way of rubbing off on others, and it helps others develop a love of the game.
"You can only achieve things you set out to achieve."
Coaches should talk about the importance of having no regrets someday, and that only occurs from
"Nothing will open doors for you in life than a smile and a thank you."
Coaches should encourage ballplayers to thank their parents and teachers at every opportunity for investing in them.
The best coaches understand that it is the daily process that helps athletes figure out the secrets of success. The result of that process is the development of pride, humbleness, and graciousness that makes coaches and players role models.
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Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years.Â His playing, coaching and parenting storiesÂ create betterÂ experiences forÂ athletes andÂ parents.Â Jack has writtenÂ over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports.Â Jack is the author of "The Making of a Hitter" now $5 and "Raising an Athlete." His third book "Creating a Season to Remember" is now available. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also findÂ Jack Perconte on YouTube withÂ over 120 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.Â
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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