The great UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, once said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” This quote encapsulates why we do what we do at STRIKE Performance. You see, each of us had coaches who impacted our lives in such a way, that the natural way to show our appreciation has been to “pay it forward.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with us, and for those old friends who always wondered why we spend the long hours we do pouring into players, we thought we would dedicate our first blog to the heart of STRiKE Nation. For the past 5 years the STRIKE Performance programs have been partnered with amateur and professional baseball players to help them actualize their potential. We have seen a great deal of success over these seasons helping players increase running speed, develop better throwing patterns and improve swing mechanics. Each of our instructors has significant training in their field of discipline, and each of us played the game professionally. You see, STRIKE exists to help create the ultimate on field competitor and it is our baseball backgrounds that not only give us an edge in seeing correct and incorrect patterns, but it was at this high level where we had coaches who taught us to pass on what we learned to future generations. Not resting on these laurels, we utilize an innovative training program, taking what we have learned (as players, instructors, coach and through independent research) and transformed it into program promoting long term athletic development through a combination of 5 unique training disciplines: physical conditioning, mental conditioning, leadership, vision training and life skills. So now that you are a little more familiar with who we are and what makes us tick let’s dive in to what we value.

One of our favorite compliments of the players we train is when we hear college coaches or pro scouts say, “your players play the game the right way.” One reason why that observation is so appreciated is there is really is a correct way to play the game of baseball. Running out ground balls, fly outs and line outs, running to and from your position, hitting your target when you throw (especially outfielders hitting the cutoff man!) and catching the ball. These are all things that require ZERO talent, just commitment. We believe that grit is a key factor in baseball success so we endeavor to help players discover their own sense of grit and determination through the expectations we place on players beginning day 1 of their time with STRIKE. Why?, because the ability to handle “failure”, pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and try again is an invaluable trait in a game where a .300 batting average is considered above average and .400 hasn’t been attained in 75 years! If your math is a little rusty that means failing 60-70 times out of 100 is considered excellent in the professional ranks. The ability to withstand the downs of baseball comes with practice. Grit is the key ingredient! As a result, we make our drills and competitions difficult because we believe it is in the struggle that the best baseball players are developed. If you don’t know how to overcome “failures,” if you don’t have grit, you will never reach your potential.

Although the concepts of grit, hustle, focus, and attention to detail require zero talent, baseball is a unique game, with unique movements. Success is dependent upon moving well and the complicated movements unique to baseball are what make the game such a challenge. More importantly, adjustments to current movement patterns require focus and patience during practice. They require balance, rhythm/timing, strength, flexibility, etc.,. They also require one of the other major traits we value: a growth mindset. Whether it’s in the throwing, hitting, or weight room station, the goal is to create good movements. The better we move and the better we understand our movements, the easier it is to make adjustments. If you can’t make adjustments, as the competition gets better, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to execute. Reason: the game gets easier, when the movements are done correctly. More importantly, for those of you at the amateur levels, if the movement looks right, college coaches and pro scouts will be drawn to the your baseball movements. As STRIKE instructors, we are constantly working on our ability to identify and teach these movements.

Another trait we highly value is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a simple concept to understand, but may be one of the most difficult to implement into game situations. Mindfulness is simply a moment to moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, body sensations and surrounding environment. Perhaps, the most important attribute of mindfulness, and it’s importance to becoming a more complete baseball player, is that our awareness is done in such a way that we are not judging what we are doing, just doing it in the present. Sound confusing? Think of it this way: during a bullpen, you are trying to work on slider. Problem on that day, it won’t break and keeps backing up on you. Being present or in the moment, allows us to focus on the next pitch, not allowing the previous pitch or pitches to cause frustration. When this happens, we are focused on the past…something we can’t control. When we remain in the present, it’s much easier to separate the past “failures” from the next pitch…the ONLY one you can control. Hopefully, that makes better sense and makes it easy to see why this practice is crucial for the baseball player. It also allows our mind to provide and receive better feedback because we aren’t concerned with a good or bad outcome, merely the experience of the act that we are performing. We learn to focus on what we can control versus the myriad of things we cannot control. We believe this may be the most important skill for a baseball player to develop. Negative emotions, which come when we ARE judgmental, affect our ability to play the game. Anxiety creates muscular tension and fatigue. We believe creating a safe place to “fail” and learn are crucial to developing “mental warriors”…baseball players prepared for any situation they will face on the field.

So to conclude, at STRIKE, we strive to partner with players to make them move better, work harder and think more productively. This is the simple key to our success. It stems from great coaching that we have had in the past and a commitment to pass it on to others. If you have the opportunity we encourage you to join us in one of our programs to become a member of STRIKE Nation. We promise you will receive the best training and instruction we are capable of providing. It is the passion of every member of the STRIKE team. If you aren’t able to attend, we invite you to keep checking out our blog, since the goal of our blog is to give those of you who can’t join STRIKE Nation the benefit from the same teachings that we use during our programs. If you have questions or there are pics you want us to cover, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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