Over the past decade (even before I ‘hung it up’) my passion to coach and educate young baseballers about the Game was strong. As technology improves so does the capabilities and mediums to learn, it’s remarkable what you can find by executing a simple google search or feedback you can visually achieve about your fundamentals through a regular cellphone.The adverse side is I can’t help feel young players are watching less and less Baseball and more ‘Highlights’. If you want to learn how to play Baseball (at an elite level) it starts with how you watch the game. Sure, talent is a big component but if you don’t understand how to watch Baseball, it’s going to be difficult to facilitate growth in your game.
If you’re trying too learn this game, you need to watch it from start to finish or else the Intricacies will be lost. Highlights give us insight to the results but rarely do they talk about the processes leading up the the players execution. What are these young baseballers gaining through this context? (if they’re indeed trying to learn the game). Maybe i’m being naive but generally speaking all they’re exposing themselves too watching is homeruns and filthy breaking balls outside the zone for strikeouts. These are great achievements but playing winning baseball goes further than this, more goes into a player to positively separate themselves from their peers.
From a Pitching standpoint, as the quote by Crash Davis in Bull Durham goes “Don't try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.” Everybody loves strikeouts but when discussing an elite Pitcher, Strikeouts are just a bi-product of the Pitchers ability meeting the their opportunity half-way (not forcing the game/ situations). What is truly going to help you excel is understanding how to manage an at bat, an inning and eventually a game. Highlights on TV are generally results orientated, rarely talking about the processes of an elite player unless through an interview (and even we may miss some context and not get the full message). I’m not saying Highlights are bad and shouldn’t be watched, but if you’re trying to learn the game you’re not going to get the full picture.
Learning how to watch a game without constantly following the baseball is an art. So much visual information can be absorbed by ‘studying’ specific positions (on or off the field) during a diverse series of situations. Yes the fundamentals have their subtleties but are relatively the same throughout Baseball, but can you watch with such intent that you can identify what makes that caliber of player above the rest? What is it about their preparation that allows them to be in the right place at the right time on a consistent basis. Young players have this skill, it’s now time too identify it and and apply it to your advantage!
If you’re struggling with your pre-game routine, find the nearest professional baseball field and watch what they’re doing before the game. If you’re struggling with pitch execution, go sit by the bullpen and watch guys warm-up. The information is out there, are you passionate enough too search, find it and start transitioning the feedback into your game? I guarantee the more information you have, the more informed decisions you will make - in Baseball and in Life.
Go watch a game.
Learn something new.
Build the player you want to be!