Archive for December, 2012

Excuses – The mental toughness loophole

Intellectual humility. Intellectual humility is the rare ability or skill to be open-minded to new ideas. The ability to listen to advice and/or information and decide if it “fits” into your belief system. It certainly does not mean being a yes-man. Intellectual humility says “I believe what I believe not because I’ve been spoon-fed knowledge. I believe what I believe because it makes sense. I’ve done my homework.” Intellectual humility also says, “…and if an idea, other than mine, presents itself that challenges what I had previously held as fact, I am willing to listen.” Many of us dismiss ideas simply because they challenge ideas we’ve held as dogma for years. To do an about-face now would mean “I’ve been conned.” Intellectual humility laughs in the face of this con-man. He’s after the truth. Regardless of the cost.

Why all this talk about intellectual humility? I thought this blog was supposed to be about making excuses? Because, I want to present an idea to you that may challenge some of your preexisting ideas and wanted to make you feel guilty about dismissing them!!!

When I give pitching lessons, I find myself preaching mental toughness a lot. I use phrases like, “the umpire isn’t out to get you”, “your teammates aren’t trying to make errors”, “let go of your anger before you make another pitch”. All phrases designed to help the pitcher understand that negative emotions do nothing but get in your way. They don’t help execute pitches. Ever wonder why the youth pitcher literally “falls apart” when they have previously been doing so well? I think a lot of it has to do with their brain’s ability to handle “setback”. That’s where excuses come in. Excuses for the IMMATURE brain represent a mental toughness “loophole” if you will. A way for the player to “tap out” gracefully. “Coach, you can’t possibly expect me to compete at my highest level with all of these errors and bad calls, can you?”

It’s important to make a quick distinction. Notice I did say immature brain in the previous paragraph. Mature athletes don’t use excuses as a way to “tap out”. Don’t get me wrong, they still make excuses but they continue to fight the good fight. And the real mentally tough players actually use these setbacks as motivation! “I’ll get this done in spite of all this crap happening all around me.”

Here’s the idea that may challenge some of your preexisting ideas.

When a coach argues with an umpire, in front of a team of youth players (IMMATURE BRAINS), the coach may actually be giving his players a reason to “tap out”.  An excuse as to why they aren’t going to win. This is just an idea that I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I have no research to back up these claims. Just a few years of watching how the youth mind works.

Any feedback from GoWags nation would be appreciated.



Full Reps!



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The Golden Triangle of Progress

Os Guinness, in his book, Can Freedom Last Forever, discusses a principle called “The Golden Triangle of Freedom”. It goes something like this. Freedom requires Virtue. Virtue requires Faith. Faith requires Freedom. And on and on and on….

I’ll do the best I can to elaborate. Freedom is the enemy of freedom. Free people are free to do as they like and without a virtuous society, anarchy reigns and freedom can no longer exist.  And while atheists can certainly be virtuous, there is actually no good reason for them NOT TO BE VIRTUOUS either. It’s simply a matter of taste. Only faith (of some sort) provides a moral and virtuous framework from which you live your life. The last leg of the triangle is the most obvious. In order to practice your Faith, you need to be a free society.

Os Guinness has a series of podcasts where he discusses this issue. I highly recommend the listen.

Golden Triangle of Freedom

Let’s switch gears and talk about “The Golden Triangle of Progress”. Similar to freedom, progress is the enemy of progress. If you’re not convinced, I recommend the book, Good Is The Enemy of Great. Progress naturally leads to success which, if not checked, can lead to “resting on your laurels” and assuming you’re “good enough”. Good enough eventually allows everyone else to catch up.

The Golden Triangle of Progress goes like this. PROGRESS REQUIRES WORK ETHIC. WORK ETHIC REQUIRES PASSION. PASSION REQUIRES PROGRESS. And on and on and on…

The first leg of the triangle is the most obvious and least controversial. Everyone values work ethic. It’s the second leg that requires some explanation. You can only drag your kid into GoWags so long. If HE’S not passionate about getting better, a father son struggle naturally ensues. So how do we create that passion? Progress. Your son needs to know that his effort isn’t for naught. Measurement is the key here. Measure everything!

Measure his training progress. How much has he improved on the farmers walk? How much has he improved in the hex lift? How much has his vertical jump increased?

Measure is pitching command. How many fastballs can he locate out of 10? How many changeups can he throw for strikes? (Please don’t try to locate changeups!)

Measure is bat speed. How hard can you hit it? See….your training is paying off!

So the next time you’re in at GoWags and wondering what you should be doing. Measure something. Measure anything.

Full Reps!

Bret Wagner

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