The Process Of Getting Better

Learning a new skill is a process that takes patience. I've worked with so many young players that say they want to get better but don't want to do something uncomfortable or something they aren't good at. If you are working on your swing or trying to get a quicker release time, you have to do something you haven't done before.

That means it's going to be uncomfortable, awkward, and it's going to take time to create a new habit.

According to a study in this article it takes 300-350 repetitions to build a new movement pattern but it takes 3,000-5,000 repetitions to re-train faulty movement patterns. In baseball we are doing the latter. We've learned a way to swing or a way to move our feet when throwing that might be inefficient, if we want to change that and become a better baseball player it takes many, many repetitions to learn that new movement pattern. It's important to note that it's not just quantity of repetition that makes the change, but also quality of repetition.

So how do we go about doing those 3,000-5,000 repetitions... meticulously! When we learn a new movement it takes extreme focus to do it right, if we go through the motions and hurry through it, we don't gain any repetitions toward our 3,000. I'd rather have a player take 20 swings in the cage that are thought out and well executed than have a guy take 200 swings with no purpose.

This means that it is imperative that we seek out quality instruction. When you find a hitting coach or catching coach who's approach you like, buy into what they are saying and commit to the learning process. If you start the process don't get frustrated because you aren't succeeding straight away. You don't change your swing in one BP session or change your throwing mechanics in one practice. It may take a whole season to really implement the changes you want to make. If you can't commit to a whole off-season of meticulous repetition to change your throwing mechanics or blocking mechanics, you probably won't see the changes manifest in a game situation. 3,000-5,000 repetitions done right become an automatic process. Which is the only way your practice is going to make it into a game; it must become automatic. You don't have time to think about your mechanics in a game, your body just moves the way it's been patterned to move.

Practice is either re-patterning or solidifying your current patterns. If your throwing mechanics are great, then your practice time becomes easier because now you are just maintaining the current mechanics. But if you want to make a change, it's time for 3,000-5,000 quality reps of something you haven't done before. This is why making changes week to week doesn't make a big difference in your results. You may have a good week one week but the next week you have a bad week, so now you change something else and continue thinking that each change is going to make a difference. But you have to really find out what's going wrong and then stick to a program to retrain your body how to do it the right way.

When we begin to change our mechanics we can't be results focused, at least in the beginning. In the beginning we have to commit to the process of learning something new. If you want a time frame for how long you should wait before examining the results of your new mechanics; I'd say you need at least 3 months of continuous training before you can really say whether or not the change is going good or bad.

Making changes to your swing or throwing mechanics is a big deal. You can try and make a change for your game on the weekend but it might not stick. You have to commit to making that change and mastering it! Don't give up just because it's difficult or you aren't seeing results right away. Keep going and stay focused; believe in the process and you will see the results.

Keep it simple and keep on keeping on!

Coach Howard

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