Limiting Beliefs – Don’t Believe the Lies

I was recently working with kids (ages 8-12) on the basics of the game.  These are kids who haven’t been exposed much to proper coaching; so we need to focus on the simple things.  We were working on catching a ball, a skill too many youth today struggle with for the simple reason that kids do not play much catch.  One boy kept dropping the ball.  After dropping several in a row, he blurted out (with a smile), “I’m not good at catching a baseball.”  

I immediately broke into a rant on the power of the word ‘YET”.  It’s something I’ve written about many times now and one I will continue to hammer home into the thick skulls of our youth.  When a child blurts out a limiting belief like “I’m not good at catching a baseball”, I immediately say the word “YET”.  Then I make the kids repeat their statement, but this time adding in the word “YET”.  The idea is to get kids, like this little boy to understand that he cannot catch a ball now; but he will be able to catch a ball in the future.  He just needs to work at it.

Limiting beliefs are things that we perceive as being true that keep us from doing things, or limit our skills in certain ways.  They are created in childhood and can arise through interactions or experiences with family or friends.  In the case of baseball, young children may begin to compare their skills with those of their teammates.  If a child drops more balls than others; or swings and misses at a much higher rate, they may develop a belief that they will never be able to play as good as others.  The more they have these experiences, the more they believe them to be true.

It is our responsibility as coaches or as parents to help guide our children away from these limiting beliefs.  When working with children, it’s important to inform them that their skill level today represents how good they are at that particular moment.  Anyone can get better at anything.  Saying that you will never be a good baseball player because you can’t hit well right now is a lie!  It is not a factual statement.

When working with kids that hold these limiting beliefs, and express them aloud, it’s important that we do acknowledge them; but equally more important is that we address the FACTS with our kids.  The FACTS are that they do have the chance to get better and the decision for them as to whether they do get better is theirs to make.  The kids ultimately hold the power as to whether they want to allow those beliefs to become an actual reality. 

Limiting beliefs at such an early age will often lead an individual to lead a more cautious life, never challenging themselves to get more from their life.  Challenge your kids to see through the ‘lies’ they are telling themselves and be the person they want to become.  You will have to help them.  You’ll need to push them in the right direction.  You’ll need to be that reassuring voice in their head.  But, in the end, they will be forever grateful that you never allowed them to let their limiting beliefs become a reality. 

Jason Aquilante

Angels Baseball

Nurturing a Culture of Excellence

Never Lower the Bar

Many that know me know that Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of Quest Nutrition and Impact Theory, is someone that I closely follow. He is a modern-day Dale Carnegie and someone that I consider a mentor (even though I have never met him). As I reflect on 2019, I feel obligated to share one of Tom’s Newsletters from back in May.
The following excerpt is one that I have printed and carry with me every day. We at Angels Baseball have set a high bar for ourselves. Throughout 2019, we have seen successes and we have encountered many obstacles. I’ve had to read Tom’s writing below many times over the past 6.5 months.
I would strongly encourage everyone to print this out and keep on your person. Dare to dream big dreams. And as Tom says…NEVER LOWER THE BAR!

“Never lower the bar. When it’s obvious that your goal cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goal. Adjust your action steps.  Change your path.  Figure out a new way to get what you set out for. That may be the single best piece of advice you’re going to get.  Tattoo it on your soul.  Do whatever you have to do to remember it.  Once you set a goal – and you’ve decided that your’e going to make something come true, don’t let anything stop you. At the same time, acknowledge the reality that you are going to face obstacles.  And these obstacles will seem insurmountable.  But it doesn’t matter.  You’ll keep going…Even when you realize the path you’re on is not going to take you to where you want to go, you won’t give up. You will find a different path and double down on your commitment to achieving your goal. Make that the cornerstone of your identity.  When you face a challenge, you don’t give up.  You don’t break.  You rise to those challenges and do whatever you have to.  Will there be self doubt along the way?  Of course.  The way you conquer self doubt is by doing things that make you uncomfortable. By facing down challenges and finding a way through, under and around them. But you won’t lower the bar for yourself.
The reason people lower the bar and make things easier is because they’re afraid. They’re afraid of what it says about them and that they’re not going to be able to accomplish it. They’re afraid to tell people what they’re up to. They’re afraid to even dream big because they don’t know if they’re going to make it. They don’t know if they have inside what it takes to persevere.  But if you build into your identity that you are the type of person who doesn’t give up, you will make the impossible possible. You will get better.  You will grow and become capable of more.  And you will come to find the only difference between what’s possible and impossible is your willingness to acquire skills and put them to the test. Remember that.  And make these insights the pillar on which your identity stands:
Acquire the skills.  
Believe in yourself.  
And never give up.
Be legendary,
Tom”

Coach Jason
Angels Baseball
Nurturing a Culture of Excellence

Recommended Reading

Reading has been proven to improve one’s analytical skills, memory, focus, and concentration. Books are also a great way to increase our knowledge on a countless number of topics. Stop by a bookstore or go online and grab one of our recommended reads below for someone this holiday season. We’ve listed four of our top choices; but we could have easily listed a dozen more. We’ve included books for parents and kids. We work hard to train physically. Now it’s time to work on the mental part of the game!

Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins

I spend a lot of time in my car and rely on Audible to get me through the miles. I have listened to this book three or four times and project I will listen to it a few more times. I first learned of Goggins’ story watching him on an episode of Impact Theory. His story is incredible. He grew up in an abusive home; experienced racism throughout his childhood; cheated his way through school; and dealt with obesity as a young adult. Yet, he managed to turn his life around to become a Navy SEAL; graduated from Army Ranger School; and is a well-accomplished ultra-runner. The way he approaches life and its’ many obstacles is inspiring. There’s no BS with David and he tells it like it is. (Note: Recommended for Adults due to language).

Molina – Bengie Molina w/Joan Ryan

I was gifted this book a few years back and it still remains one of my favorites. Every family should own this book. Bengie Molina does a remarkable job honoring his father, and his family, in this well-written and easy to read book. This book is ideal for parents, coaches and players. You don’t need to have the state-of-the-art equipment; or access to the nicest facilities. You need to have a drive and a desire to learn the game. But, what helps a player find that drive is a coach that truly cares for you. And fortunately for the Molina brothers, that coach was also their father.

The Talent Code – Daniel Coyle

Coyle conducted extensive research into the secret of talent by journeying to various ‘talent hot-beds’ throughout the world, including baseball players in Curacao. You may want to adjust how you train (players) or how you train your players (coaches/parents) after reading this one. This book is perfect for this time of year as many players will look to get back into training after the 1st of the year. You may know the drills to perform; but how you execute them and where you place your focus is critical!

Way of the Warrior Kid: Marc’s Mission – Jocko Willink

Simply put, this book should be on every Summer Reading List for Middle Schools, and possibly even High Schools. The second installment in Jocko Willink’s Way of the Warrior Kid series, readers are taken through a series of life lessons. This book is not simply recommended for players; but for Coaches and Parents. We can all learn from the lessons taught throughout this book; from keeping our composure, to learning to stick up for others, taking greater responsibility in resolving issues, and being a valued leader. The list doesn’t end. You’ll fly through this book; not because it’s an easy read, but because you don’t want to stop reading it!

Happy Reading!

Angels Baseball
Nurturing a Culture of Excellence

Goal Setting – Do it Now

A month from now, everyone will be talking about New Year’s Resolutions. And in a little over two months from now, Forbes estimates that less than 25% of those that make their New Year’s Resolutions will actually still be committed to their goals. People may stray from their resolutions for a number of reasons. Maybe the resolution is too vague and really can’t be measured (ex. I’m gonna be happier); or they set a resolution they find is too difficult to achieve. Setting a goal is easy which is why 60% of people set resolutions. But, less than 8% of those that set goals actually achieve them. David Goggins, a retired Navy SEAL, ultra-runner, and Guinness World Record holder for completing 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours, said it best in an April CNBC interview, “The planning phase is a comfortable phase in your room, in your house, no judgment, no failure, no nothing. But the call to action is very uncomfortable. There’s pain, there’s suffering, there’s judgment, there’s failure.” It’s easy for me to say I want to lose 20 pounds. But, it becomes very difficult when I need to stop eating some of my favorite foods; or have to sweat off the pounds at 5:00 in the morning.

Everyone can set a goal. And yes, everyone can achieve their goals, even kids. But, it takes careful planning. The planning phase is incredibly important. That is why we encourage everyone to start NOW. Do not wait until January 1st. If you wait until January 1st, you will rush to set your goal because you will feel that it needs to be done by then and can’t wait. And when you rush in setting goals, you fail to properly plan. If you want to have your goal in place by the first of the year, act now. You will give yourself enough time to think through your goal and make sure you have the plan in place to achieve it.

When setting the goal, make sure it’s something that is of significant interest to you. You will have a difficult time achieving a goal if it’s not important to you. The goal also has to be measurable. You need to know, with 100% clarity, that you achieved it or failed to achieve it. Once you have your eye on what’s important to you, decide what resources you will need to get there. If a player wants to start on their Varsity team this Spring, but failed to start on JV last Spring, they obviously need some work on their skills. Start investigating Winter Camps (that have proven results). Go on social media and find quality individuals or businesses that offer content that can help improve your skills. Put yourself in a position so that you can hit the ground running with your training on January 1st, if not sooner. And once you believe you have the resources ready for you, set a schedule. Plan what you want to be doing each week in January and February (assuming your tryout is in March).

This next piece is important. WRITE YOUR GOAL DOWN AND TAPE IT TO THE WALL, AT EYE-LEVEL, NEXT TO YOUR BEDROOM DOOR. You want to see that goal every day. You want to see it when you go to bed every night and when you leave your room every morning. If a goal is important enough to you, you want it to be in your mind every day. You also want others to know of your goals. If you’re afraid to tell others of your plans, then you don’t truly believe in them yourself. Or you don’t believe you can achieve them. When others know of your intentions, they will remind you of them. This will help you maintain focus. And you may find that others can help you in your journey.

It’s also important that you place your focus on one day at a time. Many times people set goals and think too much about the end result. People trying to lose 20 pounds think too much about how hard it will be to lose 20 pounds instead of focusing on ‘TODAY’. If you put your focus on what is needed in the present moment, you are focusing on a much smaller piece of the puzzle. And a narrower focus is easier to manage. Like many people say, “Focus on the process and not the outcome.”

Ultimately, we are responsible for the end result. We can all achieve our goals. If we don’t, then we need to own it. We can’t blame others. It’s on us. People really need to understand that their success is up to them. Kids, especially teenagers, have a hard time understanding this fact. They feel that, since they are teenagers, they can’t control their situation. They use their age as an excuse. We can’t allow them to think in this way. They do control their situation and they do control whether they can achieve their goals. Yes, they will need help; but it’s on them to find the people that will help them.

So, don’t wait until January 1st to set your goals. If you’re thinking of it now, and it’s important to you, GO FOR IT! If you read this and still say “Ah, I’ll wait”; you are essentially saying that your goal is not that important to you and get ready to join the 92% club that never achieve their goals. Dare to be great and start your journey TODAY!

Equipment is not the Answer

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Lao Tzu

We at Angels Baseball are determined to provide kids from low income communities with education that benefits them both on the field and off the field. We want the physical and mental skills they learn from our programs to have lasting benefits that extend well beyond their playing days. Essentially, we want to ‘teach them how to fish.’ The image below is from a recent study from The Aspen Institute and illustrates the impact that one’s income has on their child’s participation in team sports. Angels Baseball has a goal to level the field and play a major role in getting these numbers to even out.

It’s not that we want more kids playing just for the sake of playing and being active. We want more kids playing because we believe they are missing out on the significant learning opportunities that sport has to offer. We also believe (and know) that some very good athletes are missing out on playing at high levels only because they cannot afford registration fees.

The registration fees continue to climb (which is a separate topic we need to cover) and will continue to push more kids away from team sports. So, we either lower the fees; or find a way to supplement the fees with donations. If costs climb, then the former is a tough sell. Gaining access to funds to cover the registration fees may not be as difficult of a task.

Zach Ertz, Tight End for the Philadelphia Eagles, was recently in the news for donating $30,000 worth of sports gear to kids from a low income community. In 2011 Ryan Howard, former first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, donated $1.2 million in sports equipment to Philadelphia Public Schools. These are incredible gestures by these individuals. The recipients clearly have a need for the sports gear; and individuals that can fill those needs stepped up and made generous donations.

Instead of using this money to purchase sports gear, we should be encouraging these individuals to donate their money towards registration fees so that kids can register for teams or participate in camps. Equipment is temporary. The lessons these kids will learn from participating on teams would extend way beyond the shelf-life of the equipment (assuming they are placed on teams where the coach truly cares about the player). In order for this to work, we need to get away from the mindset of trying to help as many people as possible. $30,000 buys equipment for a LOT of kids. $30,000 does not help as many kids when you apply that money to registration fees. My response? SO WHAT! We need to get away from the ‘band-aid’ approach and start making impacts one kid at a time. Find the kids that truly want to be helped and begin to invest in them. A long term investment in a child will last much longer than an investment in a pair of shoes.

Lao Tzu’s quote is one that many people know; but the message is not one that many people practice. We need to migrate away from being a culture of ‘giving someone a fish.’ When the shoes these kids receive no longer fit; or get holes in them, will someone give them another pair? Again, these are great gestures from incredible individuals. But, it’s not solving the problem. The problem will only be solved when we invest for the long term. And spending thousands of dollars on equipment; or multi-million dollar sports complexes will not solve the problem. In fact, all one needs is a field, some balls, a bat and a glove.

Until we start changing our approach to solving the problem, we will continue to see family income play a HUGE role in whether kids can participate in Sports.

Failure is a Learning Tool

There are many stories on how individuals worked through failures to ultimately achieve success. Go online and search for ‘famous failures’ and you’ll be handed plenty of stories that can help motivate you as you try to push past the negatives of any struggle you are trying to overcome. But there is one story that truly baffles me. And that is the story of Sir James Dyson, the British founder of the Dyson Company.

Dyson’s first Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner was sold in stores back in 1993. But, that was only after he had been working on it for 15 years. Yes, 15 years! Even more astonishing is the fact that he had previously attempted 5,126 versions before finding the one that worked. 15 years and 5,126 attempts before he finally delivered on what he had originally sought out to do. Dyson is a global brand, operating out of 49 countries and has produced bladeless fans, energy efficient hand dryers and other products that we use in our everyday lives. The success of the Dyson company and the 8,500 jobs created by Dyson were only made possible because of one man’s refusal to quit after being met by failure.

In a 2012 article in Entrepreneur magazine, James Dyson said that ” Failure is interesting — it’s part of making progress. You never learn from success, but you do learn from failure.” But, in order for this to be true, we have to be willing to face our failures. Many people want to turn away from their failures. They may pick themselves up and move on; but they never spend the time to do an analysis on why they failed.

And in other cases, people may avoid placing themselves in a position where failure is a possible outcome.

We wrapped up our Fall Youth Developmental Program this past weekend with two intersquad games.  Following the second game, I had to address something that stood out during that game; but is also a common theme among many youth baseball players.  Youth players tend to be more of a spectator than a participant.  During the game, there were several plays where the defensive players were too hesitant in their reaction to the ball.  They either approached the ball with caution; or barely moved at all, expecting another player to make the play.  I told the players that “Fear is crippling”.  Fear was driving their behavior.  In their minds they have the mindset that you don’t miss any fly balls that you don’t attempt to catch.  You don’t miss any groundballs that you don’t go after.  You don’t overthrow firstbase if you don’t throw the ball.  And you never swing and miss if you don’t swing.  

Young players are often too afraid to make mistakes so they prefer to remain a spectator.  From a scientific standpoint, we tend to freeze for a few moments when we are scared.  A pop up is hit and the body immediately freezes because the player may be scared that they will drop the ball.  Our cerebellum sends messages to the body through a bundle of fibers that causes our bodies to freeze.  This is why those that are afraid of heights will ‘freeze’ when going up a ladder.  Our bodies remain motionless because that may be the best plan.  We cannot fall if we don’t move.  I cannot drop the pop up if I don’t try and get it.  Sure, it will fall for a hit; but I technically didn’t drop it. 

So, how do we remove the fear? We can start with repetition. Young players simply don’t take as many reps as they should. I am not talking about organized practice. I am talking about ‘play’. Kids simply don’t spend time outside just throwing the ball around; playing a game of wall ball with their buddies; or playing a game of whiffle ball. The only reps they get are in structured practices. And quite honestly, that is not enough. Think about how many groundballs or pop-ups your child received at the last practice. Not many!

We can also help remove the fear by not focusing on the negative of the mistake they just made. No human (child or adult) wants to be made to feel like a failure. A player that sees a coach or parent upset after they made a mistake is more likely to have their fear magnified during their next opportunity to field, catch or throw a ball. They now believe they will get yelled at if they make a mistake. So, they avoid the situation. Instead of a player running off the field fearing a backlash from a parent or coach; they should be expecting tutelage. They should know that the coach will come over to me; not to berate me, but to show me the proper way to field, catch or make the throw.

We as parents and coaches need to make our kids understand that it’s ok to fail. We want them to succeed; but we also know that failure will happen. And when it does, they need to know that it’s ok. They should know that failure is simply an opportunity to learn and grow. As Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Once they understand that failure is nothing more than an opportunity to get better, we will see more relaxed and confident players running around the field; and through life!

You’re Not There…YET

Cooperstown, NY, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, was a summer vacation spot for my family for a few summers when we were kids. As a kid who slept with his glove and was out the backdoor playing ball with his three brothers as soon as the summer sun rose, Cooperstown was our Disney World. Walking through the Hall of Fame was an all-day event. And we were lucky enough to get to play a few games on the iconic Doubleday Field. But, there was one part of the trip I hated as a kid, and that was the four hour drive to get there. Driving four hours today seems like a walk in the park. But driving four hours as a kid; in a 1980s minivan; and with four siblings (and one of them routinely got car sick) was a nightmare. I wanted nothing more than to get out of that car. I hated every minute of that drive. But, as soon as that car stopped in Cooperstown, and the backdoor slid open (with five kids falling out the back), the four hours of misery were instantly gone. Feelings of excitement rushed over me. I was where I wanted to be.

Too often we lose sight of where we will be; and instead, we focus on the pain or the problems we are experiencing in the moment. We want to quit because quitting solves the problems we are having AT THAT TIME. Now, I couldn’t just ask my dad to stop the car and turn around (even though he did threaten that very action on a few occasions!). But for youth athletes struggling to learn a new skill; that is exactly the path they take. Instead of working through the struggle, they quit.

They may not quit in the literal sense; but they take other avenues. They may stop trying altogether. Why bother trying to do something when I have already tried and it doesn’t work for me? They surround themselves (or pair up with) others that are of similar skill set. Why put myself around others who can do it as it makes me feel bad that I cannot do it? Or, they try to become the ‘clown’ and mask their inabilities to perform with humor or joking around at practice. They don’t want to be remembered as the one that cannot do something; so they work at being known for their humor. These avenues aren’t literally quitting; but in reality, they have given up.

Players need to understand that success of any kind takes time. It takes pushing through failures. As we hear so often now, IT’S A PROCESS! A key word that we at Angels Baseball are always saying is “YET”. The idea behind repeating the word is that it gives the players a sense of what could be. Think about the following statements:

  • You can’t field a backhand, yet.
  • You don’t hit the curveball well, yet.
  • You’re knowledge on the basepaths isn’t where it needs to be, yet.

Adding the word ‘yet’ to each one of these statements implies that the player will be able to field a backhand; will be able to hit a cureveball; and will have the necessary knowledge when on the basepaths. Drop the word ‘yet’ and the player hears something completely different! By eliminating the word yet, your statements to the player can be interpreted as they will never be able to do those things.

  • You can’t field a backhand.
  • You don’t hit the curveball well.
  • You’re knowledge on the base paths isn’t where it needs to be.

One word. One simple three letter word makes a world of difference. The impact of three letters can be the difference between someone believing they cannot do something and believing they will be able to do something. But, we as coaches and parents need to follow those three letters with three additional letters, B-U-T. We have to be honest with our players. They need to know that they aren’t good at something yet; but only IF they decide to put in the effort to be good at that skill. Improving at anything doesn’t happen through magic. It happens after we put in the effort.

Parents and Coaches. Include these two, three letter words in your vocabulary as often as possible. Always put the thought in your kids’ minds that they shouldn’t dwell on their current state. They instead should believe in what the future can bring with some time and most importantly, with some effort.

Mastery

This is the third installment on our series on Effort.  First, we discussed the need for a Significant Level of Effort.  One cannot achieve a high level of success without first putting in a high level of effort.  Next, we discussed the fact that the significant level of effort must be a Focused Effort.  You can put in a lot of work; but if that work is not correct (or where it needs to be), then the individual is getting really good at doing something very poorly.  In today’s post, we will discuss MASTERY!  The Significant Level of Focused Effort must be done over a long period of time.

Mastery is defined as “comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject.”  I believe that the idea of “Mastering” a skill or a trade is dying.  Individuals aren’t willing to put in the time to obtain that “comprehensive knowledge.” To obtain comprehensive knowledge takes time; which is something many don’t want to give up. Many strive for instant gratification.  I want what I want and I want it now!  We fear the unknown.  What if I put in a lot of work over a long period of time and don’t ever find success?  We don’t like delays.  We know what we want so why can’t we have it now?  Generally speaking, we want the reward without the delay!

Oftentimes we hear youth players talk about how great they want to be at their sport.  But, the work they put in doesn’t match their words.  They are not willing to embrace the struggle that comes throughout the journey.  They want the journey to be a sprint and not a marathon.  And when they realize how much effort is needed over a long period of time, they move on.  They find another sport or another hobby.  They may blame the coaches.  Or, they may even say they just weren’t good enough.  Yes, they may not be good enough; but in reality, they never found out if they could have been good enough. They know the amount of effort that is needed. And in some ways, they are ok with giving the high level of effort; but just not over a long period of time.

Giving up on something too soon is a big problem; and in many cases, we as parents are to blame.  We hate seeing our kids struggle.  We don’t want them to experience any mental pain.  And because there are so many options for a child, we don’t hesitate to move onto the next ‘thing’.  And when struggle occurs at that next ‘thing’, we jump ship and move on again.  This pattern of moving on as the first sign of failure builds a bad habit for the child; one that likely will stay with them into their adolescent and young adult years.  I don’t believe children actually want to quit. Rather, they are looking for us as parents to say it’s ok to quit. And as soon as we give them the green light, they jump on the chance to move on. They learn to assume that it’s ok to quit something because there is always something else. 

Mastering something doesn’t mean that one was always good at that skill.  We talk ourselves into believing that we are born with talent; that we are born with a gift.  Yet we don’t realize all the hours that a successful person put into their craft over many years.  Do you think that Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant played basketball one or two days a week while they were kids?  Do you think Mike Trout left his bat in his equipment bag all week and simply took it out when he had games or practices?  NO.  These individuals were constantly working on their skills.  They dreamed big dreams and they knew that achieving them was possible; BUT THAT IT WOULD TAKE A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF FOCUSED EFFORT OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME.  They were determined to become masters at their craft.

Significant Level of Effort

This post serves as a continuation from our last post in which we discussed the importance of a Focused Effort. Too often, players put in the work to get better; but the work they are doing is not exactly the proper work that needs to be done to achieve the desired result. So, before putting in so many hours mastering your craft, you need to put in the hours to understand the ‘what’. What am I trying to fix? What does it feel like to do it correctly? What is it that I need to do to fix it? Without these ‘whats’, you are likely going to put in a lot of time getting better at doing something wrong.

In this post, we will cover another key to effort: Significant Level of Effort. There is a great article written in ‘Willpowered’ back in January 2015 that centered on the work ethic of Kobe Bryant. The article specifically focused on a story from the 2012 USA Basketball Team.

The 2012 USA Basketball team featured a roster of All-Stars, some of the greatest players of this generation. Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Anthony Davis, and of course, Kobe Bryant. Kobe was by far the oldest, four years older than the next oldest teammate. He was more than 15 years into his Hall of Fame career and was already a 2x League MVP; a 2x Finals MVP, and a 4x All-Star Game MVP. These all to go along with his five NBA Championships.

One morning, at 4:15am, the basketball team trainer received a call from Kobe asking him if he could meet him at the gym for a workout at 5am. When the trainer arrived, Kobe was already dripping in sweat. The two did conditioning and weight training for 2 hours. The trainer left, got a quick rest, showered, and got something to eat before arriving back at the gym for the team’s 11:00 practice. When he arrived back at the gym, he found Kobe shooting baskets. Kobe NEVER LEFT. Following the 5am workout, Kobe stayed at the gym, taking 800 shots over the next 3+ hours. Kobe put in nearly 7 hours of practice even before the team practice was scheduled to start. This is who Kobe was and this is HOW he achieved his greatness.

Tim Grover, CEO of Attack Athletics, and trainer to Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant said in his book Relentless, ” The best players don’t work harder because they’re successful. They’re successful because they work harder than anybody else.”

At some point, if you want to be great; you have to put in the work. Today’s society is always looking for the quick fix. We’re looking for the ‘hacks’ that will give us what we desire without doing as much work. Rhonda Byrne authored The Secret in 2006, a self-help book that focused on the Law of Attraction. The Secret emphasized that we should focus on our thoughts if we want to change our lives. I 100% support this concept; but it’s only a small part of the puzzle. You can think about being successful all day long; but if you don’t put in the work that is necessary to achieve success; you are going nowhere. And unfortunately, many people were led to believe that thought by itself is what would ‘attract’ success. A concept many could embrace because it requires no sweat; no pain; and no mental pain as you try to recover from a relentless physical assault on your goals. The book sold over 30 million copies!

Work can be tough at times, especially when there is no guarantee for success. And that is why many people don’t pursue their dreams. They aren’t willing to suffer through the physical AND mental pain that comes with a Significant Level of Effort. They want the reward without doing the work. Younger players that embrace the ‘worker’ mentality are truly setting themselves up for success, whether it be in the sport they are participating; or later in life in their professional lives after sport has come and gone. Developing that belief in knowing a Significant Level of Effort is required to truly succeed will put them in a much better position to succeed than their colleagues.

I strongly recommend you find other stories like the one described here about Kobe Bryant. Research any of Sports’ great athletes; or any successful business person and you’ll be able to find MANY that mirror those of Kobe. The more you come to learn that these individuals only achieved success through a Significant Level of Effort, the sooner you will realize what must be done for you to get what you want.

Get to Work!

Focused Effort

We recently conducted a three-week program for kids ages 9-14. As part of the program, we conducted a lecture each week covering a different topic. The third, and final week, we covered the value of work. At the beginning of the first session, I wrote the following sentence on the board: “A significant level of focused effort over a long period of time.” Throughout the lecture on this topic, I focused on this sentence as it summarizes the work that is needed to achieve the desired result, which is success. In this post, I will focus on my favorite part of the sentence, “focused effort.”

We hear it said often that practice makes perfect. Then we hear that perfect practice makes perfect. I’d like to spin it one more time. Practice gives you the chance to be good at what you are practicing. So yes, if you practice often, practice may make you perfect. But perfect at what? One can practice all day and all night; but if they are not practicing the correct technique, that individual will become perfect at one thing; doing something wrong!

If you work on hitting an inside pitch for hours off a tee and your hands are ‘casting’ away from your body, you will perfect casting your hands. If you work on fielding groundballs and you field every groundball too far under your body, you will get really good at fielding groundballs very poorly.

Yes, we have to encourage our players to work more; but we also have to be sure that they understand how they should be working. Players need to understand the correct technique. If they don’t understand the correct technique, they will simply become very good at doing something poorly. They need to be able to recognize when they do something wrong so they can self-correct. Without that understanding, they will simply pile one bad rep on top of another.

The effort we put in must be a focused effort. We must know what we should be doing and how we should be doing it. If your players don’t know what to do and how to do it, we can’t encourage them to put in the extra work. We must stick with them until we feel comfortable knowing that they can perform the drill the correct way when not supervised. I’d rather see a player do less reps the right way under a coach’s supervision than a player that does 200 reps the wrong way on their own.

Society loves to classify an individual as a hard worker. We love to tell stories about how someone was the first person at the gym and the last to leave. But what good is the extra work if that individual is doing things incorrectly? That individual will still struggle. And what will happen is that they will develop a mindset of “why put in all this extra work at anything if the results won’t be there”?

Before you go and encourage your players to work on their own; or before you begin to glorify extra work put in by professional athletes; be sure to make mention of focused effort. Be sure they know HOW to do a drill and make sure they can recognize the correct technique. Otherwise, you’ll have a team that works very hard at being very bad.