What do waiting in line at Hersheypark and hitting a baseball have in common?

My brother tells the story of when he took his then 4 yr old brother-in-law, Jake, to Hersheypark and they found themselves in a really long line waiting to get on one of the water rides. It was hot. Kyle was hungry and thirsty. So, he asked Jake, “Do you really want to wait in this line?”. Jake said, “No”. Perfect, Kyle thought. They could get out of this heat and get something cold to drink. Kyle and Heather proceeded to walk away and Jake threw a fit. “I thought you didn’t want to wait in line?”, Kyle asked. “I don’t”, replied Jake. “But I still want to ride the ride!”

Think about that. Jake was 4. He understood the question. But didn’t understand the implications. Again. He understood the question. But not the implications.

So…Let’s talk hitting.

One of the 6 core principles of Green Light Hitting is Bat Speed. And, bat speed is a function of GROUND FORCES. You can’t create angular velocity without first having a significant “impulse” or push into the ground. You know. Newtons 3rd law. For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. If you push down into the ground hard, the ground actually pushes back. And that “push back” is where Angular Velocity lives. Sure. When you’re older and stronger (Again…the importance of GreenLightHitting leveling system), the need for the ground “push back” isn’t as important. You can create more ground forces on your own. But, until that time, you need to create ground forces.

For the young developing hitter, ground forces are king. They are a must. If you can’t create ground forces NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. But, time and time again, I hear coaches telling young hitters, “Get your foot down on time”. Actually, not bad advice. It is important to get your front foot down on time. But never, never, never at the expense of ground forces.

Young players may understand the statement, “get your foot down on time”. But do they understand the implications? Do they understand the implications of what you are saying? Based on my experience, the answer is a resounding NO! If you are continuously telling your developing hitters to “get your foot down on time” they will sacrifice ground forces in order to get their foot down on time. My astute readers are probably asking, “If getting your foot down on time is so important, why not just keep it down?” EXACTLY!!!!!

Here’s the link to our Green Light Hitting site if you’re interested in the other core principles besides Bat Speed.


Full Reps!

Bret Wagner

Luke Wagner creating ground forces

Luke Wagner creating ground forces

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Should the travel baseball player play rec baseball?

The comments below are from a parent of a current GoWags 10U player. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of myself or any GoWags staff member.  The purpose of this blog is to open an honest dialogue about the pros and cons of rec baseball.

Please feel free to contribute to the discussion.

Here goes…..

I have a son who plays for a GoWags 10U team.  He loves the game, and really wants to be a very good baseball player.  He works hard, would play baseball every day if possible and he is very motivated to keep up with his 10U teammates.  Playing with a GoWags team and his GoWags membership allows him to get a lot of quality reps, whether that entails hitting/pitching at the facility, the twice a week outdoor practices or the 10 weekend tournaments he is scheduled to play.  But every spring we debate the value of augmenting his training by joining his local rec baseball league.  Is it worth the time commitment?  Will he face or play with quality competition?  Will he learn anything?
Since many travel team kids face the same questions, and now that we are half way through our rec season, I thought I would share my perspective and open the discussion.Pros:

  1. First, he definitely gets a lot more reps – including more batting cage time, more practices and more games.  In addition, he is also faced with more game situations and the need to know, in advance, where to make the play.  At 10 years old, I think it is a critical piece of his development.  Runners at first and third; one out; ground ball to the first baseman – what’s the correct play?  The more scenarios he can be exposed to the better – right?
  2. A second benefit of rec baseball is the chance to play positions that he normally can’t on his travel team.  As a lefty, he is typically relegated to the OF on his travel team, but has an interest in learning how to pitch and playing more 1B.  His travel team, being competitive, is not the place to learn how to play new positions, but it’s a real value of playing rec baseball.
  3. Given his relative experience playing baseball, my son is looked up to by his rec baseball teammates, which provides him with a chance to develop his leadership skills.  He is not asked to provide a leadership role on his travel team, and at 10 years old his skills are just beginning to emerge.  Rec baseball provides an excellent avenue for travel kids to identify and hone these skills.
  4.  Rec baseball also provides an avenue to participating in the All Star tournament, which provides a significant upgrade in the play and the competition.  But it also provides an opportunity for kids to express their pride in playing for their local team and area.


  1. Reps vs. Quality Reps?  Many of the rec baseball players are very new to the sport or, at a minimum, do not have the experiences or exposure that most travel team kids receive.  The result is games and practices that can border on chaos.  There are a lot of walks, errors, passed balls and strike outs, and routine plays in the field are often adventures.  As a result, compared to travel games and practices, the quality reps in rec baseball require a much greater time commitment to achieve.  In addition, it’s easy for the player to get caught up in the chaos and lose his focus.  If your son does not have the ability to maintain focus through the chaos, he might not be able to take advantage of the quality reps when they finally do arrive.  For instance, despite the chaos, does he go through a pre-pitch routine to know the correct play?  Or does he mentally “check out”?
  2. Don’t expect travel kids to get much individual training or development as most (all?) training is designed for the vast majority of the kids with far less experience.  Clearly the coaches (and there are some very good coaches in rec baseball) are motivated to improve the game’s competitiveness and nearly all their time is spent with the less experienced kids.
  3. Time.  Balancing travel schedule and practices with rec games and practices can be difficult.  We are often in the position of having to choose which practice or game we are going to attend on a nightly basis.  We don’t want to miss any travel practices or time at GoWags, but some conflicts are inevitable.

From my perspective, rec baseball can co-exist with, and even augment, a travel baseball schedule – but with certain caveats:

  1. Does your son wants to learn a new position?  If so, then you should play rec baseball.
  2. Can your son maintain his focus/discipline through the unsteady quality of play?  If so, then there will be sufficient reps that rec baseball should provide value.  If his focus is easily distracted to make practice/games meaningless then the answer is probably no.
  3. Do you and your son have the ability to maintain the time commitment necessary to take advantage of the inconsistent quality reps?  The time drain can be exhausting.  If you are going to take advantage of the quality reps, it requires a commitment.  Rec baseball is certainly not the most efficient way to achieve quality reps, but some of the opportunities are unique.

The ultimate question is whether the time committed to playing rec baseball provides enough quality repetitions and opportunities for improvement to warrant time away from a more singularly focused commitment to the travel program.  Given my son’s desire to work at new positions, I think the answer is probably yes – this year.  But I also know that I will face the exact same internal debate next year, and I’ll spend a few sleepless nights trying to do the right thing for my son’s development.  I’d love to get other feedback/discussion on the value of participating in local rec baseball leagues.

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You can’t quit now…you’ve made a commitment

“You can’t quit now. You’ve made a commitment to the team. If you don’t want to play next year, that’s fine. But you have to finish the season.”

That’s the refrain that all of us parents use when one of our kids says they want to quit something. Right?

But have they really made a commitment? And to whom have they made their commitment? You can’t really commit to a team. A team is simply a name on a jersey. The real commitment is to the coach and the other players on the team. You commit to them.

So, what does commitment look like? What does commitment feel like?

Here’s the definition of commitment.

“Promise or agreement to do something in the future”

…to do something, …to do something, …to do something. It seems that the word commitment implies action. In order to commit to something, you must promise TO DO something.

Here’s where the line gets a little blurry. Who decides what you’re supposed “to do”? THE COACH OF COURSE!

Every coach is different. Some coaches simply ask that you show up on time for practices and games. Some coaches ask a little bit more. Maybe to practice on your own a little bit. And then there’s THAT COACH. The coach that wants to push you to your limits. The coach that wants to see if you can actually reach your potential. The coach that values practice MORE THAN games. Because games are simply the test. Practice is where you “sharpen the saw”. He wants you at HIS practices. He wants to hold you accountable. Accountable. Are you becoming the player he wants and expects you to become. Or…Are you just wearing the jersey?

So…Before you tell your son that he can’t quit because he’s made a commitment. Ask yourself. Has he?

Full Reps!




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Last nights conversation

Dad: “Bret, I’ve never seen [SON’S NAME] work this hard.”

Bret: “Great!”

Dad: “You don’t understand. In [HOME TOWN], he’s the best player in the league. When he comes here and sees all these other talented boys working just as hard as him, it really motivates him. He wouldn’t be working this hard without GoWags.”

Bret: “Thank you.”

Dad: “I can’t wait to see this crop of boys in about 4-6 years. Awesome.”

Full Reps


Big-fish–little-pond effect (BFLPE) is a term introduced by Herbert W. Marsh, and popularised by Matthew Gardner, which hypothesizes that the self-concept of students is negatively correlated with the ability of their peers in school: Thus, academic self-concepts depend not only on one’s academic accomplishments but also the accomplishments of those in the school that a student attends.

An implication of this effect is that low- or medium-ability students might prefer to attend a low-ability school instead of a high-ability school, as this would be better for their self-concept. These pupils can receive additional motivation from low- or medium-ability pupils in their class because their own achievements appear more significant. They feel more honored and may be motivated to keep their edge over the other pupils. This is especially true for pupils with a lack of self-confidence. Some parents send their children, with the explicit recommendation of psychologists, to schools that are known for a moderate level of proficiency.

An opposite effect is the reflected glory effect (or assimilation effect), which describes the stimulation a pupil may receive from a school with a high level of proficiency.


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The Fine Line

Do you know someone who is “gifted” with the lack of self awareness? You know who I’m talking about. The person who has no filter. Literally says whatever is on his/her mind. I used to struggle with this person, finding them very offensive. Now, I’m in awe of them. I wish I had their “gift”. I think.

As a business owner, instructor, coach, father, mentor, friend, and brother I find myself wearing many different hats at GW. This time of year, I can’t play the role of father (at GW) nearly as much as I like. There’s simply too much demand for instructor and coach. It’s OK. This time of year makes me realize I rarely cross over those “fine lines” that I seemingly cross over all the time with my son.

My son is not a client. He can’t choose to take his business elsewhere (that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to sometimes). I tell him whatever is on my mind. No different than the countless other fathers and sons in GW on any given night. It’s actually quite comical when I think about it. If frustration was combustible, GW would go up in flames just about every night between the hours of 6-8. I choose to take it as a good sign. No progress without struggle right? Everyone would be happy, happy, happy if dad would just flip meatballs. Nope. GW is about deliberate practice. And that means struggle.

But when I’m instructing and/or coaching the filter seems to appear. I find myself very aware of trying to say the right things so I don’t offend Mom, Dad, or son. I struggle with this. I really do pride myself on treating every client as if he were my son. I know that sounds corny but it’s the truth. I ask myself all the time, “what would I do with Cole?”. Here’s where the dichotomy comes in. I might do the same thing, but I certainly don’t say the same thing. Why? Because I don’t have time to ask the more important questions.

There are exceptions of course. Actually, lots of exceptions.

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Choosing the right bat

It’s a question we often get asked. “Is this the right bat for my son?”

And like any difficult question with multiple variables. The answer is always, “it depends”.

3 important variables are at play:
1. Bat Speed – How fast can your son swing the bat? This is primarily a function of strength and ground forces created during the swing.
2. Bat Weight – In ounces.
3. COR (Coefficient of Restitution) – If your reading this blog, you are probably familiar with the acronym BBCOR. It actually stands for “Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution”. The current maximum allowable BBCOR is .5. But that doesn’t mean your son will produce a .5 when he actually makes contact with the ball. If he isn’t making contact in a nice strong position or he isn’t strong enough to overcome the balls momentum, chances are is COR will more likely be around a .3 or .4.

So, with that in mind, here’s a nice Excel Spreadsheet that you can use to determine the right bat for your son or daughter. Feel free to change the variables in red and watch the chart change with your new Ball Exit Speed.

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Do not trust us

I worry about raising kids that are taught to trust authority. It sounds like the right thing to do. Why wouldn’t I want my kids to trust what their teachers, coaches, and anyone in a leadership position might say? Because not all  authority figures are created equal! I’m reminded of what George Will said,

There is nothing so vulgar in the human experience for which we can not fly in some professor from somewhere to justify it.

As much as we hope and pray that all of the adults and people of influence that our kids come in contact with will have a positive impact, chances are someone with good intentions will try and steer them in the wrong direction. It doesn’t feel like the wrong direction. It doesn’t look like the wrong direction. And, if this person who has all these “titles” or “awards” or “accomplishments” in front of his/her name, is telling me it’s true, then it must be true. That’s how the internal dialogue might sound.

But, as I approach my 40th birthday, I am more convinced than ever that there are two types of people in this world. Those that think. And those that repeat. I want to raise thinkers. Thinkers find the truth. And, at the risk of sounding cliche, “the truth shall set you free”! Free from what? Free from doubt. Ever try to get to the finish line when you don’t know where you’re going? It’s impossible. Time and time again we talk to high school aged baseball players who are hearing conflicting advice from their high school coach. They are told to “stay balanced”. They are told to “finish in a fielding position”. They are told to “hold on to the bat with two hands”. The list goes on and on and on. What are they to do?

I’ll tell you what my son is going to do. He’s going to be RESPECTFUL. He’s going to listen. He’s going to nod. And he’s going to politely ignore everything he hears that isn’t the truth. Because his dad is a thinker and has taught him to be a thinker. Don’t tell me to “stay balanced” when I can see for myself that ground forces are king. Don’t tell me to “finish in a fielding position” when I have studied how momentum and momentum transfer create velocity and movement.

So…The next time Billy says “does that make sense?” give it some thought. Does it?

Full Reps!

To give truth to him who loves it not is to only give more multiplied reasons for misinterpretation

-George MacDonald

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