Lessons From the Tee
Ahhh, baseball season is just around the corner. This is one of my favorite times of the year for it brings back great memories of coaching both my sons’ baseball teams. During those years, while I was supposed to be doing the teaching, I learned a very valuable lesson about business and life from one simple batting practice tool.
Every March, baseball hopefuls bundle up in winter clothes and head out the door to meet up with their new found team mates ready to take on yet another little league baseball season. It is quite a site seeing these future all stars show up on a chilly 40 degree day wearing so much protective gear (I’m sure their mother’s dressed them), they can barely move. Nonetheless, with bats in hand, each is ready to take their turn at doing what they have waited what seems a lifetime to do…step up to the plate and hit away!
At the first practice, after all introductions, and coaching philosophies have been motivationally expressed, it is time to break up in groups to make assessments of the team we are to become. As we are about to break huddle, I am given the task of assigning hitting stations. One station will have a coach throwing to the boys; one station, a dad will be loading a pitching machine and it will hurl the ball to the batter at various speeds; and one station will be me with a batting tee.
Now it is a good thing that I am not too sensitive about this ritual for you see, when a player is assigned to either of the first two stations, their eyes light up and they cant wait to start, BUT, when a player finds out their first quest of the young season with their new $400.00 bat is going to the tee with me, you would think that I had just crushed them for life. WHY?…
Everybody loves the first two stations because it’s action-packed. They can see the results of their efforts as the ball soars gloriously into the outfield. The tee is boring, it is not fun at all. Think about it, using the tee, all you do is hit a ball that sits motionless on a stick, into a fence that is about 10 feet away…that’s it. How much fun can that be?
One particular participant when it was his time to hit from the tee, made the comment, “This is for little kids”. Quite a statement coming from a nine year old. This was my chance for a great coaching moment.
I asked him who his favorite major league baseball player was and he told me. (Being from Texas, he named a Texas Ranger). I told him that every spring training when A-Rod goes to camp, one of the first things he does to get ready to become the hitter he will be, is a trip to the tee. Well, when I informed him of this, while still not what he wanted to do, he proceeded with his turn at the tee.
The tee is a great learning tool because it is one of the only times you can break down a swing while actually swinging. You can tell if your hitting all the ball, swinging up, chopping down, you can see if the batter is lifting their head too early and not keeping their eye on the ball. The tee is where you find your strentghs and your weaknesses. IT IS WHERE YOU GET BETTER. The tee is the ultimate test of your hitting skills on the fundamentals!
The lesson I learned from this exercise that took place every March for at least 10 years of my life is this. The fundamentals never changed in business or life. No matter how big or strong the kids, got…no matter how they matured or their skills developed, the way they became the best player they could be was based on how seriously they took to mastering the fundamentals.
What ever industry or business you are in, there are fundamentals. I know what they are for me.You know what they are for you, if you don’t, find a mentor or a coach that can help. I challenge you to consistenty go back and master your fundamentals. I know that no matter how many more years I am fortunate to add to my business career, I will never be too good that the fundamentals will be beneath me. It is my hope that you will feel the same way too. And, should you ever become complacent about this topic…please take a few swings at the tee!