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Swing Smarter's The Dugout, Issue #010 -- Not happy with your results? Rebuild with one word...
September 15, 2009

Welcome to The Dugout, "Hitting Baseballs from the Neck Up" Here's what to expect from this month's issue...

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction to this Month's Issue
  2. On Deck for Next Month's The Dugout
  3. Please Share the Wealth
  4. This Issue's Heart of the Line-Up
  5. Surprise BONUS Thought of the Day
  6. Heads Up! Concern of the Month


We all use excuses at one time or another; most of us use them like they're going out of style. The best don't use them at all, period. Do you think Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, or Tom Brady use excuses?


Today we're going to look at a concept differentiating the cream of the crop from the rest of the pack, the word RESPONSIBILITY.

Do we really "own up" to our thoughts and actions? Do we realize what can be controlled and what can't?

Some people are blessed with winning the genetic lottery, but does that mean others who didn't are up the creek without a paddle? The answer, hands down, is NO. There are plenty of below average athletes who have become above average because of their work ethic, perseverance, and productive 24/7 thought process.

Greatness never rests, and the first step is taking responsibility for your actions, whether good or bad.

BTW, we also have stellar gold nuggets of Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame induction speech I know will fire you up (pardon the pun, if you've already seen the speech on YouTube. :)

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Issue #010 of The Dugout is going to delve into the sweat, blood, and tears of DEDICATION. AKA work ethic, dedication sets apart those who succeed at a higher level and those who don't, in separating the men from the boys, if you will.

It measures how much heart you have, and how much you want to sacrifice for the good of the game. It looks like some hitters don't have to try and they get hits or swat mammoth home runs, but let the truth be known, they put in a whole lot of hard work to get to that point.

When I think of players with tremendous work ethic: Cal Ripkin Jr., Tony Gwynn, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, and Derek Jeter come to mind.

We'll look into what it takes in order to play at the higher level based on the quality of dedication. After this issue, you'll realize what you need to do to break through the barrier into the next level of competition, so don't miss it!

Also, don't forget to...

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Let's get started with this month's issue, shall we...

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"Limits, like fears, are often an illusion."
-Michael Jordan at the end of his 2009 Hall of Fame induction speech

This is from arguably the best athlete in the world, EVER. In Michael Jordan's speech, the common denominator is how he dealt with competition. Over and over you hear language like "obstacles," "opportunities," and "motivation." He was fueled by motivating messages from parents, siblings, rivals, coaches, and the media.

Where others would complain about the "new obstacle," he rose above and figured out how to beat it with hard work, perseverance, and positive self talk. It was like he had something to prove all the time.

Not once, even in all MJ sports footage, do you ever hear him blame someone or goof and degrade himself. MJ is the ambassador of the mental game of competition, he is the epitome of mental toughness. Athletes from all sports can learn a lot from him.

What is it about elite athletes, such as Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, and Tom Brady playing consistently well over their careers. One word: RESPONSIBILITY.


We have NO control over what we're born into, family, lifestyle, economic environment, etc. Often times we have to bare it until we're old enough to fend for ourselves.

3 simple steps to the taking the responsibility we're born into:

  1. Know it,
  2. Accept it, and
  3. Like it.

It's the difference of making excuses your whole life for where you came from and getting nowhere, OR learning to adapt and rise above it to go anywhere.

Remember to revisit Jordan's quote as we move through this issue on responsibility,

"Limits, like fears, are often an illusion."

Everyone is born with the "ability" to "respond," or responsibility. The opposite "reaction" of taking responsibility for one's own actions is creating excuses, or repeatedly pointing the finger out the window instead of in the mirror.

What's more...

We also need to know what we can and can't hitting terms, can we control the weather, which pitcher is throwing on a given day, a contraversial backdrop behind the pitcher's release point, shadows?

No, you can't.

What you can control is practicing in uncomfortable weather, do your homework on who you're going to be facing, if you're hitting at a field with a backdrop that makes picking up the pitch harder, then practice that the next time, and with shadows, try wearing yellow shades.

The point is, both teams have to deal with it, so be better than the rest, and prepare, if not this time, then for next time.

Excuses are the fastest way to the bottom of the barrel, here are,

The first steps to a recovering excuse-maker:

  • Acknowledge you're making one,
  • Notice how inappropriate the thought is, and
  • Replace it with a more productive thought.

What kind of excuse language to look for and what can one replace it with...?

Substitute, "I have to..." & "I must.." phrases, which is out of control and desperate sounding, for "I have decided to...", "I choose to...", and "I want to..."

What happens psychologically to a person who uses "excuse" language is they fear embarrassment if they don't come through, they're being defensive and trying to only keep the monkey off their back, or maybe they're too prideful and haven't put in the hard work necessary for self-confidence to set in and they fearing choking.

Daryl Strawberry was the poster-child for this because he was a drug addict, and drug addicts are prime for playing the "victim."

I believe hitting well is the hardest skill to develop in any sport, which by nature, has a whole lot of failure built into it. As a hitter, you have to know you're going to fail...nobody has ever finished a season hitting 1.000...although, I did come close my last year in little league, .880 ;)

How well a hitter is able to learn, improve, and succeed is a measure of how well they can accept responsibility for what they can control. Chronically low OBP, SLUG%, and high ERA's will generate lots of excuses, so change the mindset, and be "pro-" active NOT "re-" active.


The bottom line?

Do we "own up" to our thoughts and actions? Do we know what we can and can't control in the game?

Here are a few what-a-hitter-can-control tips from the book The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman and Karl Kuehl, from a ballplayer named Gary Ward who played for the Twins in 1982, while trying to resurrect his career, he began by writing 8 powerful control points resulting in a .355 average, 74 RBI's, and 22 homeruns in the span after he took responsibility for himself; here they are:

  1. Having a disciplined batting practice,
  2. Controlling emotions and tension levels,
  3. Knowing the pitcher and situations,
  4. Not being intimidated by the pitcher's reputation, the situation, or the ball (This item was stated in negative terms and is an example of an improper suggestion, though the basic intention is good),
  5. Being aggressive: making every single swing a good swing,
  6. Being ready mentally and physically for every pitch,
  7. Seeing the release and spin of every pitch, and
  8. Tracking the ball all the way. (page 72)

So, instead of being "that guy" who jumps to an excuse right away, think about what you could've done better or prepared better to get a more successful outcome. Know what you can control and what you cannot.

I'll revisit MJ's line one more time because I think it's very important,

"Limits, like fears, are often an illusion."

There are NO limits, only the ones you place on yourself...make yourself uncomfortable, that's how we grow physically and mentally. Use fear to your advantage, as motivation and fuel to your fire, as Michael Jordan did.

Get upset a coach picked someone else and NOT you to start on the Varsity team, but don't go cry about it, use the motivation to make yourself better. Regardless of the circumstances of not getting picked, make yourself a shoe-in for the starting position with solid work ethic, perseverance, and a positive attitude.

Don't put your fate in a coach's hand, that's something we don't have control over.

Swing Smarter :)

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Here's an inspirational quoted quasi-poem by head USC football coach Pete Carroll, the nation's winningest active coach in 7 years at USC, AP Top 25 ranking for past 78 games, league record 84.5% winning mark in PAC-10 games, and 28 victories over Top 25 teams:

Always Compete
by: Pete Carroll

If you want to win forever...

Always Compete.

As you progress through your sporting life...

Always Compete.

If you want to go for it...

Always Compete.

You're gonna have to make Choices in Life and those choices need to be Conscious Decisions. There's only one person in Control here and that person is You...

You hold ALL the cards. You are the Master of You. It's time to admit it...

You have always known this. So if you're ready, act on it...

Always Compete.

Don't you dare try to be too Cool, don't you dare be afraid of Life, just "Dare to be Great," and Let it Rip.

Always be Humble, Always be Kind, Always be Respectful...

Always Compete!

Everything You do counts and screams who You are...there is no hiding from You.

Act as the Whole World will know who you are...

Always Compete.

Be True to Yourself and Let Nothing hold You back.

Compete to be the Greatest You and that will Always be enough and that will be a lifetime!

Always Compete.

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One of the best pieces of advice I received my Sophomore year at Fresno State was: you don't need to take offense when Coach is hounding you, but if he's not saying a word, then is when you need to worry.

I was told this amongst my frustrations with my swing at the time because an off coach sensed I was overly-stressed and he wanted to put things into perspective. And it's true, most of the time,

The moment Coach stops getting on you as a player is the moment he stops caring. You never want it to get to that, so next month's eZine issue #010 will help in finding the fine mix of dedication coaches love in their players.

So, stay tuned...

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Swing Smarter NOT Harder,
Joey Myers
Swing Smarter Baseball Hitting

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