Master the Basics, Play to Your Strengths

Posted by Brian PCF
Apr 07 2011

I grew up watching Cal Ripken play shortstop for the Orioles. While he was athletic, he wasn’t as athletic as an Ozzie Guillan or even Shawon Dunston. But he was an All-Star year after year.

I tried to emulate Cal as a baseball player. Partly because I was never the most athletic guy on the field, and I needed a way to hit, field, and throw as good or better than everybody else.

I practiced more than anybody I know. I remember taking grounders by throwing a ball off a wall for hours on end when I was in first grade. I would spend hours every summer summer hitting balls of a tee in my backyard. I didn’t have a net, so I would literally hit ten balls off a tee, then go get them and do it again.

Once I started playing high school, semi-pro, and college, I tried to remember every hitter and pitcher. I could tell you what pitch sequence a player had seen the last at bat or the last game. If he’d made contact, I could remember where he hit it. I remembered where and what I had seen from a pitcher my last one, two, or ten times at bat.

Because of my lack of athleticism, I had to be really good at the basics and I had to be one step ahead of the other guys on the field. It was hilarious talking to scouts and other players about “great” plays I had made at shortstop in the hole or up the middle. I’d make diving plays and throw the guy out at first, not because I had run 10 yards, dove and came up throwing, but because I cheated so far over on every play, prayed I guessed right, and would still have to dive to get a ball because I was so slow.

The advantage of sport over running a business or coaching is that you have clear and immediate results. The guy at first was out or he was safe. You got a hit or you got out.

There is temptation in running a business or coaching in following new trends or trying something different just because it’s different. Actualization is so much harder to measure you can delude yourself into thinking you’re doing good work when you’re not making any difference or making things worse.

As coaches and businessmen, we need to remember the basics:

  • Know your athletes.
  • Show your athlete measurable results.
  • Charge what your time is actually worth.

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