Archive for November, 2012

Why baseball lessons at GoWags are so risky!

The majority of this blog comes from this reference.

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon which refers to the DISCOMFORT felt at a DISCREPANCY between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation. It therefore occurs when there is a need to ACCOMMODATE new ideas, and it may be necessary for it to develop so that we become “open” to them. Two interesting side effects arise out of this psychological phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance:

1. If someone is called upon to learn something which contradicts what they already think they know — particularly if they are committed to that prior knowledge — they are likely to resist the new learning. In other words, accommodation is more difficult than assimilation.

2. This one is actually counter intuitive. If learning something has been difficult or costly, people are LESS likely to concede that the content of what has been learned is useless, pointless, or valueless. To do so would be to admit that one has been “conned” or “had”. Now you understand why so many “highly educated” young people leave college with the exact same views held by their professors! COGNITIVE DISSONANCE.

How do these side effects relate to baseball lessons?

If you’ve never had any prior coaching or instruction cognitive dissonance does not apply and you can stop reading this blog.

If you have had prior coaching and/or instruction, there’s a pretty good chance you may hear something at GoWags that you’ve never heard before. And it may contradict something that has taken you a long time to learn. Or worse…paid a lot of money to learn.

Did you know?

  • -Keeping your eye on the ball may limit hip rotation.
  • -Starting with your back elbow up may actually cause an “uppercut” swing.
  • -Trying to “just make contact” is killing your power potential.
  • -Studies prove youth strength training works and is actually safer than most activities kids choose to participate in.
  • -“squish the bug” is a terrible piece of advice.
  • -“hands to the ball” is a terrible piece of advice if a hitter isn’t at least a Level 7 hitter in our Green Light Hitting system.

Full Reps!

Bret Wagner
Read more: Cognitive Dissonance and learning
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The value of slow motion practice

I often find myself, when giving hitting or pitching lessons, asking the player to slow down and FEEL what I’m talking about. It’s always been my opinion if the player can’t FEEL what we’re working on, any change will be temporary at best.

Proprioception is the technical term given to what we at GoWags like to call “body awareness”. Here is an excellent excerpt from a blog from bettermovement.org

All coordinated movement depends on proprioception. When proprioception is compromised, say from a neurological disease or drunkenness, seemingly simple activities like walking or even standing can become impossibly difficult. It should be obvious that elite level movement in sport or dance requires an elite level of body sense. For example, there is no way to land a backflip onto a balance beam without knowing exactly what your body is doing at all times. Accurate body sense is also essential for feeling good in your body and being free of pain. As discussed below, problems with proprioception can be a major source of pain.

Improving your proprioception is an excellent goal for anyone who wants to improve sports performance or reduce pain. In fact, I would claim that any therapy or training method that can achieve either goal efficiently works primarily by improving proprioception.

 

Makes sense. So how do we improve proprioception? Lets first look at a rather obscure principle known as the Weber Fechner rule. The Weber Fechner rule describes the relationship between the magnitude of a particular stimulus and the brain’s ability to sense differences in the amount of the stimulus. The basic rule is that as you increase the stimulus, the ability to tell a difference in the amount of the stimulus decreases. In other words, moving slower allows your brain the ability to isolate stimulus. Bettermovement.org elaborates further.

This rule works for all varieties of sensory perception, including sensations of muscular effort. So, imagine you are holding a one pound potato in your hand while blindfolded. If a fly landed on the weight you would not know the difference, but if a little bird landed you would know. Now imagine holding a fifty pound potato. You wouldn’t be able to feel the little bird landing. It would have to be an eagle. The point is that when you increase the weight from one pound to fifty pounds, you become about fifty times less sensitive to changes in the amount of muscular force you are using to lift the weight.

Why do we care? Because if you want to make your movement more efficient, you have to be aware of when you are working too hard. If you slow down and thereby increase your ability to sense differences in muscular effort level, you increase the brain’s ability to sense and correct any potential excess and unnecessary effort.

Turns out that one of the greatest golfers who ever lived valued slow motion practice too. Here’s a video of Ben Hogan utilizing slow motion practice to groove his near perfect golf swing.

Don’t be surprised if you start to see even more slow motion practice going on at “GW”.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

Full Reps!

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Shiny Objects

If you’re a curious sort (like me), you’re not doubt overwhelmed with information. Experts are constantly trying to tell you why their ideas and/or products are better than what you’ve previously tried or are currently trying. They’ll use flashy charts and quote the latest case studies all in an effort to get you to change direction. Marketing Executives are paid big bucks to study what makes you tick. Again…all in an effort to get you to change direction.

Baseball is the perfect business for this “Shiny Object Syndrome“. People don’t change direction or look for new answers when they are having success. Only when they find themselves struggling do they begin to look for an alternative solution. And any “baseball guy” will tell you that playing baseball at a high level requires, and necessitates, much failure. No wonder there are so many hitting and pitching aides on the market. Overwhelming actually.

“Speed is irrelevant if you are going in the wrong direction.”

-M. Gandhi

Our high school aged boys are most susceptible to this “Shiny Object Syndrome”. The finish line is getting closer and they want to make sure no stone is left unturned. Scouting agencies, showcases, college recruiters, baseball training facilities (except GoWags :)), and physical training facilities prey upon their “sense of urgency”. Follow us and you’ll “unleash your potential”.

If you are a parent of a high school aged baseball player or will someday be a parent of a high school aged baseball player you will no doubt be pulled in multiple directions. And although I realize that I am “just another voice”, I’d like to give you some advice.

Find a really smart (somewhat obsessive compulsive) “baseball guy” with an 11-year-old kid who thinks about this stuff night and day. He’s probably one step ahead of you. Pick his brain. Question him. Question him a lot. Read his book. Stay on track.

Full Reps!

Bret Wagner

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