‘The Super 7’ questions you must ask yourself to get better

I’ve been training amateur and professional hitters for 20 years and more than 30,000 hours. The last five years have been the best of my career, because I no longer try to compete against other instructors.

My mindset change occurred when I recognized we all have unique gifts and talents that must be shared with the families that believe in our calling to be a coach. I’m only responsible for being the best to the clients that call me coach.

There are 10-15 professional baseball swing coaches in Georgia that I respect and learn from. I recently asked four of them my Super Seven questions:

  1.  What are three experiences that prepared you to become an elite hitting coach?
  2. What are three things that hitters should know how to do before they get their first hitting lesson with a coach?
  3. What are three must-have skills that hitters must have in order to compete at the college level?
  4. Who are the top three Major League Baseball hitters that should be studied by young hitters?
  5. What are the top three qualities that the most supportive baseball parents have?
  6. What are the top three things that you hope for the future of travel baseball?
  7. Top three words that describe you as a person?

Michael McCree

Michael McCree

1. What are three experiences that prepared you to become an elite hitting coach?

  1. My own playing days. I’ve used them to reflect on my experience with coaches and how the interactions could have been better.
  2. My early days as a hitting coach and learning step-by-step how to teach. I had to teach myself how to teach.
  3. Travel ball coaching – It gives me an outlook of just how much hitting lessons are needed.

2. What are three things that hitters should know how to do before they get their first hitting lesson with a coach?

  1. How to listen
  2. Being able to accept constructive criticism
  3. Having the ability to be uncomfortable, and still continue to persevere and try the new concepts that are being taught

3. What are three must-have skills that hitters must have in order to compete at the college level?

  1. Be aware of situational hitting
  2. Have the ability to adjust
  3. Have a short memory (“Skillful amnesia”)

4. Who are the top three Major League Baseball hitters that should be studied by young hitters?

  1. Bryce Harper
  2. Buster Posey (Currently the highest batting average in the MLB as of 6/28/17)
  3. Aaron Judge (First year player leading AL in all offensive statistical categories as of 6/28/17)

5. What are the top three qualities that the most supportive baseball parents have?

  1. The ability to enjoy the experience without attachment to outcome. Whether your kid goes 0-4 or 4-4 in a game, you should be grateful and thankful for the opportunity to watch a healthy child play the sport he loves.
  2. The ability to allow their player to make mistakes. Everyone is entitled to their path in life. We must understand that some player’s paths involve ups and downs. In order for players to truly trust their parents at the deepest level, they have to know that they’re allowed to be human, which sometimes results in them making mistakes.
  3. Having the ability to know when to challenge and when to chill. In other words, having the balance between giving discipline and encouragement.

6. What are the top three things that you hope for the future of travel baseball?

  1. That it doesn’t result in more kids getting burned out
  2. “Daddy Ball” gets phased out sooner rather than later
  3. Quality instruction is being given so that kids will have a shot at playing the game the right way

7. Top three words that describe you as a person?

  1. Different
  2. Introspective
  3. Observant

Chance Beam

Chance Beam

1. What are three experiences that prepared you to become an elite hitting coach?

Failure and not being incredibly gifted. There were not three events, it was an every season grind. I laugh now and honestly say I was never the most talented player on any roster I was ever on – from Little League to the Minor Leagues. But I stayed the course. I enjoyed the work. Many times, it was frustrating not getting the results I felt I deserved. I learned a valuable life lesson in my early days in college. I didn’t deserve anything. I could work for it or watch my dream fade away. In looking back, I’m the proudest of the many nights I spent in quite rooms hitting off of a tee. That time has now given me the perspective to see barrel path, hand path and leverage in a whole new light.

2. What are three things that hitters should know how to do before they get their first hitting lesson with a coach?

  1. Enjoy hitting
  2. Have a bat
  3. Have a lot of passion

3. What are three must-have skills that hitters must have in order to compete at the college level?

Hit the ball where it’s pitched … period

4. Who are the top three Major League Baseball hitters that should be studied by young hitters?

  1. Manny Ramirez
  2. Ted Williams
  3. Robinson Cano

5. What are the top three qualities that the most supportive baseball parents have?

  1. Provide opportunity for their players to grow
  2. Allow their players to fail
  3. Encourage failure as part of the process

6. What are the top three things that you hope for the future of travel baseball?

  1. Players passion for the game does not fade
  2. Ways are found to protect pitchers from being hit by batted balls/head injuries
  3. MLB players reach out to communities to help reintroduce baseball to many youth players who no longer see baseball as cool

7. Top three words that describe you as a person?

  1. Accountability
  2. Responsibility
  3. Integrity

Kory Warren

Kory Warren

1. What are three experiences that prepared you to become an elite hitting coach?

The main thing that helped me to become an elite level hitting coach was being around great hitters. Just listening to those elite hitters at the high school, collegiate and professional levels allowed me to absorb, interpret and adapt their approaches to form my own.

I was also very fortunate to have other elite hitting coaches from which to learn. I had the opportunity to have some excellent coaches around and nearby, when I first began instructing, and I would ask them to explain and detail the approach and exercises their players worked on each day.

I also credit my past experiences in other sports for helping me get to where I am. Whether, coaching or playing those other sports, it helped me to develop an appreciation for exactly how hard hitting really is and learn how patient I have to be when teaching it.

2. What are three things that hitters should know how to do before they get their first hitting lesson with a coach?

  1. The first thing a hitter must do before he takes his first lesson is understand the difference between feedback and criticism. The only real difference between is how the player hears it. It is my job to help identify the problem areas of a swing. If the player hears only the critique and not the encouragement or correction, we will never get anywhere working together.
  2. A player should have a desire to learn and improve before he takes a lesson. It is sometimes difficult for a hitter who thinks he is already really good to hear what he is doing wrong or what he needs to improve upon. A player has to come in open to hear the message.
  3. Lastly, a player should be able accept failure without getting discouraged. We will do hundreds and hundreds of repetitions in our drills and we will take hundreds and hundreds of swings and I guarantee that the player will fail hundreds of times during the training. They have to learn from the failure and move on to the pitch.

3. What are three must-have skills that hitters must have in order to compete at the college level?

  1. To compete at the collegiate level, a hitter must be able to make in-bat and pitch-to-pitch adjustments. A hitter can make mistakes. It happens. Hitting is hard, but a hitter must be able to adjust to the speed or movement within three pitches.
  2. A collegiate hitter must also be able to quickly see and identify pitches. A hitter who can’t identify the pitch type will rarely have his bat on the correct path to the ball. The hitter should also be able to recall pitch movement and pitch sequencing from previous at bats.
  3. College players have to love the grind. The college season from NAIA to Division I is really non stop. Balancing classes and other responsibilities is hard enough, but mix in a full baseball schedule and the task can be daunting. A college player likes the challenge.

4. Who are the top three Major League Baseball hitters that should be studied by young hitters?

  1. Daniel Murphy
  2. Miguel Cabrera
  3. Bryce Harper

5. What are the top three qualities that the most supportive baseball parents have?

  1. The quality of good baseball parents is that they are committed. They will do whatever it takes, drive all over, wait all day, but they will be with their son or daughter at every game.
  2. Good parents are also patient. They’re patient with their player whether they’re batting .700 or going through a rough spot. Yelling or getting onto the player while on the field is my job. No player needs to get chewed out by his coach, only to know it’s going to happen again at home.
  3. Also, great baseball parents are their child’s biggest fan. Win or lose, good game or bad, the player needs to know he has his parents’ support. A single word of encouragement from mom or dad will go a really long way after a poor performance.

6. What are the top three things that you hope for the future of travel baseball?

I am actually a pretty big fan of the current travel ball system. The one issue I have is that’s becoming far too expensive. I don’t put the blame in the cost on the teams or coaches, rather, I place the fault with the companies that run the tournaments. Perfect Game and Triple Crown put on excellent tournaments, but the extreme costs, coupled with the massive size of these tournaments, make it extremely difficult for teams to keep their costs down.

7. Top three words that describe you as a person?

  1. Honest
  2. Loyal
  3. Extremely competitive

Casey Smith

Casey Smith

1. What are three experiences that prepared you to become an elite hitting coach?

Playing college baseball, Professional baseball and then instructing/coaching for 12 years. The combination of those experiences along with absorbing knowledge from all the great players and coaches I’ve come in contact with have allowed me to be the coach I am today.

2. What are three things that hitters should know how to do before they get their first hitting lesson with a coach?

  1. How to get in a proper stance
  2. Have the ability to make contact
  3. Have enough focus to be able to listen and take instruction for 30 minutes to one hour

3. What are three must-have skills that hitters must have in order to compete at the college level?

  1. Good pitch recognition
  2. Good timing
  3. The ability to make adjustments

4. Who are the top three Major League Baseball hitters that should be studied by young hitters?

  1. Gary Sanchez
  2. Buster Posey
  3. Carlos Correa

5. What are the top three qualities that the most supportive baseball parents have?

  1. The ability to allow the player to fail and teach them how to deal with it
  2. The ability to instill great work ethic
  3. Patience

6. What are the top three things that you hope for the future of travel baseball?

  1. Better understanding of arm care for pitchers
  2. More of a focus of fundamental development at younger ages
  3. Less year-round demands for younger than 12 and under so the players can play other sports

7. Top three words that describe you as a person?

  1. Optimistic
  2. Motivated
  3. Genuine

Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.

For more information, visit www.diamonddirectors.com today. Also, check out our Digital Magazine.

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C.J. Stewart has built a reputation as one of the leading professional hitting instructors in the country. He is a former professional baseball player in the Chicago Cubs organization and has also served as an area scout for the Cincinnati Reds. As founder and CEO of Diamond Directors Player Development, CJ has more than 12 years of player development experience and has built an impressive list of clients, including some of the top young prospects in baseball today. If your desire is to change your game for the better, C.J. Stewart has a proven system of development and track record of success that can work for you.

 

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