Archive for June, 2012

What does deliberate practice sound like?

Here is an excerpt straight from Wikipedia about deliberate practice:

Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, a professor of Psychology at Florida State University, has been a pioneer in researching deliberate practice and what it means. According to Ericsson:

“People believe that because expert performance is qualitatively different from normal performance the expert performer must be endowed with characteristics qualitatively different from those of normal adults.” “We agree that expert performance is qualitatively different from normal performance and even that expert performers have characteristics and abilities that are qualitatively different from or at least outside the range of those of normal adults. However, we deny that these differences are immutable, that is, due to innate talent. Only a few exceptions, most notably height, are genetically prescribed. Instead, we argue that the differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.”[3]

One of Ericsson’s core findings is that how expert one becomes at a skill has more to do with how one practices than with merely performing a skill a large number of times. An expert breaks down the skills that are required to be expert and focuses on improving those skill chunks during practice or day-to-day activities, often paired with immediate coaching feedback. Another important feature of deliberate practice lies in continually practicing a skill at more challenging levels with the intention of mastering it.[4] Deliberate practice is also discussed in the books, “Talent is Overrated,” by Geoff Colvin[5], and “The Talent Code,” by Daniel Coyle,[6]among others.

Good Stuff. In other words, don’t do what you know you can do well. Identify your weaknesses and work on them. Work hard. Fail. Fail again. Expert skill development happens when you practice with a purpose. Flow is the opiate of the mediocre. Let me say that again. Flow is the opiate of the mediocre. This isn’t anything new to regular readers of the blog. You’ve read references to Daniel Coyle’s Talent Code countless times.

One thing we haven’t addressed is WHAT DOES DELIBERATE PRACTICE SOUND LIKE? As coaches and parents, we want to make sure we are constantly challenging our players so they are getting better. It’s easy to assume that what previously constituted deliberate practice still constitutes deliberate practice. Not so. Players progress and so should our practice (FYI….That’s exactly what our Green Light Hitting system is founded upon. Identify what Level hitter you are and work on your weaknesses).

Every once in a while when you’re working with players, you have an “aha” moment. A moment when you realize something that should have been obvious but for some reason eluded you. I’d like to thank my “nephew” Reese for providing just that moment last night. Reese is a wonderful boy. A talker for sure. He loves to talk. About anything. I told Reese that his first round of BP would be strictly “meatballs”. Essentially mindless rips as a warmup. Guess what? He talked right through his first round. Swing….chirp. Swing….chirp. Swing….chirp. When Reese got in for his second round I told him that I would be mixing in some changeups. This is what we call “impulse flexibility” in GLH parlance. Do you have the ability to delay that critical impulse? Swing…crickets. Swing….crickets. Swing…crickets. What? No comments from Reese? This is awesome. He’s focused. He’s concentrating. He’s getting better.

Deliberate Practice is silent. Your mind doesn’t have the ability to focus on anything else because it needs to focus on the task at hand. Or fail.

Good stuff Reese. Thanks buddy!

Uncle Bret

Full Reps!


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Balance…Is it a good thing?

Kyle and I love competition. It brings out the best in everybody. Either raise your game or lose. It doesn’t get any better than that. When we found out there was another baseball training center coming to Lancaster in the near future, we were ecstatic. Another competitor to raise the bar.

I want to share a web posting on Carmen Fusco’s website. Carmen is a very knowledgeable and respected instructor in the area. However, we disagree on this item.  I’ve highlighted the item in question.

Carmen’s site:

What separates good hitters from productive hitters?  When comparing the attributes of good hitters, there are a number of common features found in their approach and swing.  First, good hitters share a number of intangible traits.  They have a noticeable presence in the box that exudes rhythm and confidence.  Good hitters also know their limitations and have a very good understanding of what they can and cannot do at the plate.  In addition to these traits, good hitters share five common physical traits.
First, all good hitters have balance throughout the swing.  This sense of balance allows the hitter to hit a variety of pitch speeds and locations.  More importantly, it allows the hitter to have a repeatable swing.  Repeatability is a common trait found in all areas of the game among good players.  Good pitchers are able to repeat their delivery, good infielders look the same on every ground ball, and good hitters have a repeatable swing aided by balance throughout the approach and swing.

In theory, this is really good advice. However, young kids interpret this to mean that they should stay balanced THE ENTIRE TIME. This has the potential to rob kids of plate coverage and critical core strength because they are trying to maintain “balance.” Kyle explains in this YouTube video.

Watch this video of Albert Pujols hitting a game winning home run against the Cubs. Yes…He was balanced throughout the swing but watch where his momentum takes him after the swing. You need to be careful when teaching young hitters about balance. Sometimes the information is misinterpreted.

Full Reps!

Bret Wagner


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Sir Eric Cressey

Kyle and I have a running “joke”. Whenever we find ourselves in awe of someone we “knight” them by putting a Sir in front of their name. It’s just our way of recognizing their greatness. It doesn’t have to be baseball related. It can be anything. Contrary to popular opinion, Kyle and I do think about non baseball related things. Here’s our current list of guys we have “knighted”.

SIR George Strait – The greatest county music singer ever!

SIR Nolan Ryan – My personal hero!

SIR Nikolai Bernstein – The impetus for Green Light Hitting

SIR Marcus Luttrell – A Navy Seal who wrote an unbelievable account of his time spent in Afghanistan
More Info Here

SIR Jack Nicklaus – More about the man than the golfer. Read about what he’s done off the course.
More Info Here

SIR Jim Valvano – Watch his speech and tell me I’m wrong.

SIR C.S. Lewis – What an amazing author! The Screwtape Letters are pure gold.
More Info Here

We recently added a brand new one to the list. Sir Eric Cressey. Truly a revolutionary when it comes to training athletes. Specifically baseball players. Take a minute and check out his website. It’s amazing. We will be incorporating a brand new element into our winter training program that incorporates Eric Cressey’s training methods. Truly exciting stuff coming this fall and winter.

Who have you knighted?

Full Reps!

Bret Wagner

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GoWags Unfiltered

Happy Father’s Day to all those fathers reading this blog. Hope you have a great day.

As a Father’s Day present to myself, I’m going to write unfiltered. Tell you what I really think about developing baseball players. I’ll probably go back to being politically correct tomorrow. But not today.

GoWags should offer different “types” of baseball lessons or baseball classes. In no particular order:

JUMPSTART THE HEART LESSON – This lesson is for the flat-out lazy kid with talent. No need to get technical with this guy. He is pretty solid technically but has been pampered / coddled at home and doesn’t appreciate effort. I’m a firm believer that thought follows action and not the other way around. If you want to create a work ethic with this kid you need to make him do it. This lesson will have a boot camp type feel to it.

EYE OPENER LESSON – This lesson is for the talented player who only plays rec ball. He has a false sense of security and thinks he’s on top of the mountain because he isn’t exposed to the best. Resiliency is a big factor in developing baseball players. If a player never experiences setbacks, there is no opportunity to cultivate resiliency (See Bret Wagner circa 1985…I needed this lesson). Maybe I’ll recruit a couple of “ringers” to come in and show him where he’s really at.

NO EXCUSES LESSON – This is my personal favorite because payment is collected up front with the explicit caveat that the lesson will be terminated after the first excuse. So, I may be done with my lesson after the first minute. If you never take ownership of your weaknesses, you can forget about improvement. I don’t want to hear about the coach. I don’t want to hear about where you hit in the lineup. I don’t want to hear about bad hops. I don’t want to hear anything but “Yes Sir!”. Shut Up and take ownership of your weaknesses. This goes for mom and dad too. Stop making excuses for your kid.

THE 360 LESSON – This lesson actually involves me going offsite to watch the kid play. And more specifically, to watch how mom and dad interact with their son during and after the game. Baseball parents need to understand that this sport is extremely humbling. Your son will fail time and time again. You need to be an encourager of EFFORT. Not RESULTS. You cannot control RESULTS. You can control EFFORT. Many of the players I work with need to be “re-programmed” to stop thinking about results. Thinking about results kills performance.

THE PERFECTIONIST – This is for the player who is constantly trying to be perfect. Baseball is not the sport for perfectionists. You will drive yourself crazy. This is the hardest lesson because you can’t change personalities. You can change perspective. This player needs to literally redefine what perfection looks like on a baseball field. Guess what. It comes back to effort. Teach this player that perfection is found in the effort given. Not in the results achieved.

I’m sure I’ll think of more types of lessons. But for now, this is my base list.

Full Reps!

Bret Wagner

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GoWags Summer Camp comparison

Just wanted to pass on an email from a parent who has a son participating in both our camp and a little league camp.

…is doing both GoWags & LL baseball camp. The difference is
profound; the former progressive, the latter is regressive.

“Practice and play with good players as often as possible.”

GoWags rocks!

Full Reps!

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Forget A’s, B’s and C’s. How about M’s!

If you’ve been following this blog for any time now, you know of my affinity for Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code. In a recent post titled, The New Report Card: Forget an “A,” Try for an “M”, he explains how Bill Gates and his wife founded a new high school based on revolutionary teaching methods. You either Master a skill (“M”) or it’s incomplete (“I”). It’s simple.

Blog Here

Here’s a quote from the blog:

As they learn, students are graded on specific skill-sets — called benchmarks — that make up each 10-week subject.

“M” means the student has mastered the benchmark skill (usually demonstrated by a score of 90-plus on a project or test).

“I” means the student needs to work more until they master the skill.  They don’t retake the course — instead, teachers provide additional activities and opportunities for mastery, until it’s achieved.

It’s refreshingly simple: the mushy, judgmental landscape of Bs and Cs is replaced with a clear goal: mastery is expected; if you don’t get it right away, you will get new opportunities to work until you do. As David says, “They don’t accept mediocrity.”

Sometime this fall, GoWags will be releasing our Green Light Hitting book AND our Green Light Hitting app. Both will provide you with a systematic approach to improving your hitting skills. If you don’t MASTER the Level 4 drills, you can’t become a Level 5 hitter. It’s simple and eerily similar to the kind of learning system that Daniel Coyle references in his blog.

Don’t spend your time on Level 8 drills if your son is a Level 3 hitter. It actually might make him worse.

Stay Tuned.

Full Reps!

Bret Wagner

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Summer Pitching Workout

I’ve had several parents inquire about a summer workout program for their developing pitchers. Here’s something to use as a guideline. Please keep in mind that you shouldn’t do any leg workouts the day before you pitch.

Day 1: Pitch
Day 2: Run sprint intervals (10 sprints of at least 20 seconds. Hills are preferred) and play catch.
Day 3: Long toss and core exercises
Day 4: 20-30 pitches at 70% working on release point and “feel” of all pitches.
Day 5: Pitch

Repeat. Keep pushing your pitcher to work his legs hard after every outing. Developing pitchers is more than mechanics and executing pitches. It has just as much to do with creating a work ethic.

Full Reps!

Bret Wagner


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