It has been said that grown adults make roughly 35,000 decisions every day. That equates to about 1 decision every 2 seconds, assuming a seven hour sleep schedule. Children, on the other hand, make roughly 3,000 decisions each day. Our lives are consumed with making decisions. What do I wear today? What will I have for breakfast? Should I check my email now? Should I continue reading this article? We make so many decisions that we likely fail to realize that we are even making decisions. This likely occurs because the decisions we are making are usually engrained in our minds as habits. We have food around our mouth, we grab a napkin. We get a notification on our phone, we read it. We get in the car, we put on our seat belt. Without realizing it, we are constantly decided on something!
Youth Baseball players will soon be making an important decision; a decision that they face each and every year around this time. And that is the decision to improve their game. The life of a baseball instructor is quite chaotic in January and February as schedules are filled with giving private lessons and working at camps/clinics. There are many reasons why parents sign their kids up for lessons and/or camps. But regardless the reason, the lessons and camps are only as effective as what the player does with the information they are given. They are only as effective as the player’s decision to act upon the information given at these sessions. The decision to improve one’s skill is ultimately up to the player.
When players are attending lessons or camps, the goal of that player should not be to see instant improvements. They should not expect to master the technique that the instructor is having them perform. Rather, the goal should be for the player to 1) understand what is being taught; and 2) understand what they need to do to improve. At Angels Baseball, we strongly encourage note-taking. The most critical time for grasping information that was just thrown upon you is in the initial moments after the lesson. It is during this time that the player should be writing down what they learned. Parents should be close by during the lessons so that they can help remember things that the player may have forgotten. If you are not writing down what you learned, you will forget most of the lesson (take a look at our article from April on the Forgetting Curve). A player’s notes should consist of what they learned and drills they can do to work on their skills. Now, this is all assuming that the coach did their job properly, which is to explain what they are teaching and why they are teaching it; and what the player can do at home to improve their skills. If you are unclear on these things, you need to press the coach for this information. Simply put, if they don’t give it to you, or fail to explain their teachings, then you have the wrong coach.
Let’s just assume the player now has notes. They now have the information they need to improve. It is now their decision to act upon that information. They have two decisions. First, they can decide to use that information and work on their skills. Or second, they can decide to not take action on that information and not get better. It’s that simple. They either decide to give themselves a chance to get better or they decide not to get better. Let’s be clear on something before we move on. Simply putting in the work doesn’t mean you WILL get better. It only means you are giving yourself a CHANCE to get better. This is a big reason why we believe people (not just kids) don’t put in the effort. There is no guarantee of a reward that they can see and feel.
Back to decision-making. The frustrating part about being a coach, or a teacher, is seeing our kids making, what we feel, is the wrong decision. And by now, we can predict the decisions that these kids will make. I will likely work with over 100 kids in January and February. I can say, with confidence, that I can predict the percentage of kids that will make the decision to TRY and improve their game with the knowledge they are given in lessons or camps within the first few minutes of working with them.
Many people ask why I am so adamant about making sure kids are staying focused during practices. It’s simple. If they are not focused. If they are not paying attention, they won’t have the information they need to get better. Then their decision becomes easier. How can they decide to try and get better if they can’t remember what was taught? It doesn’t matter how much I know or what I teach; if the kids aren’t paying attention, my lessons are useless!
If you are a player reading this article, do yourself a favor and make the right decision this winter. Be more concerned about what you know coming out of a lesson or a camp than how you performed. Then, make another great decision and begin to act on that information, ON YOUR OWN. If you are a parent reading this article, do your child a favor and make sure they understand the importance of paying attention versus their performance. Performance will improve if their focus is there.
We make thousands of decisions every day…let’s OWN THEM!