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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Good to Great Athletes - Where Many Hang Up

By Nate Barnett
During a conversation with a youth baseball coach the other day, he was telling me about his team and how they were struggling to get better. This team had over a 70% plus winning percentage the past two years. The kids are used to winning. And there in lies the potential problem that prevents so many talented players and teams from becoming truly great players or teams.

I told the coach I had a couple ideas as to why this was occurring with his group of guys. Many athletes (especially under the age of 16) who are physically talented and mature earlier than others have a relatively easy time competing. They win a lot, hit a bunch of home runs, and steal bases at will. This comfortability and ease of winning doesn't necessarily do any favors for these good athletes. If they find themselves at the top of the league in numerous statistical categories, what incentive is there for them to work harder and learn different skills? The solution is a mindset shift of competing against oneself.

When I was in college I broke the home run record for my school. The next year my goal was to beat my own record. In order to accomplish this, I needed to modify and improve in a few different areas at the plate. This required more attention to baseball hitting drills and pitch selection. I broke my previous record by three home runs my junior year. I used this same mentality for my senior season. I had room to learn I wanted to beat myself once again to prove I hadn't reached a plateau. This competition with myself kept me working hard in the off season and I was able to avoid any complacency that sometimes strikes good athletes. If you're wondering if my work paid off and I was able to increase my home run totals, I did. I was able to put up eight more home runs than my junior year. Always work hard, good things will come to the athletes who do.

Nate Barnett is owner of the The Pitching Academy, a pitching information website designed to improve your on the mound performance as a pitcher. The Pitching Academy contains information, products, training, free articles, and more on baseball drills, pitching, and much more.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
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Have a great day, Nick