Everybody should want to try new things. This is especially important when you’re practicing to become an elite hitter. Trying new things requires you to do three things:

  1. Admit failure
  2. Focus on the future
  3. Re-evaluate your commitment and discipline

As a kid, I hated vegetables because all of my friends said they were nasty. I mean, why would I try something that’s nasty? Years later, as an adult, I love just about any type of vegetable. Why? Because I finally tried it.

When it comes to trying new stuff as a hitter, most kids shy away from it because they’ve heard their parents and coaches say that making change is a negative.

We wouldn’t have ever achieved the greatness of the iPhone if Steve Jobs wasn’t willing to try something new.

Believe me when I tell you that the fall is the absolute best time to try something new, especially since it is the time that you are preparing for a successful spring season.

Here’s a breakdown of my three-step plan to try something new:

No. 1 – Admit failure
Failure isn’t fun. It also doesn’t have to be final. Failure allows you to learn. As a child, I didn’t like to fail because I felt people would think that I was stupid. Today, my success is equal to the amount of calculated risk that I’m willing and able to take. All of this invites failure. I’m also fortunate to have good coaches and mentors who keep me encouraged.

No. 2 – Focus on the future
For some, dreaming is a challenge because their current mindset is based on repeated failure. That’s why a good coach is so important. A good coach gets you from one place to another.

I love using Siri on my iPhone. If I ask her to help me get to a destination by avoiding traffic, she gives me a better route.

A good coach is supposed to assess your current ability as well as help you realize what your future can be. You will never become the best version of yourself without failure.

No. 3 – Re-evaluate your commitment and discipline
Commitment is a promise you make to yourself, while discipline is doing the things that must be done, even when you don’t want to do them.

Coaches throw out the word development like its magic – no failure, no development.

Your favorite wooden bat started out as a tree, which was cut and shaped into a bat. Failure yields mental cuts and bruises, and helps you develop grit, which is the relentless pursuit of purpose.

Are you destined to become an elite hitter?

Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.

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

___________________________________________________________________________

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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Pat Alacqua, a friend and mentor I’ve worked with over the years, once told me: “Coaches don’t coach teams. They teach and coach individuals – the team aspect is just putting in a system.”

Before the word coach was used in sports, it was only used as a means for transportation. There was a horse, a coachman and the coach where the passengers sat.

You simply told the coachman where you want to go and off you went. A good coach can do three thing:

  • Determine he can’t get you where you want to go, and thus never leaves Point A with you
  • Determine he can get you to where you want to go and shares the hazards and bumps in the road – Now you have to make the decision to go, rejecting the comfort of complaining about the hazards and bumps as you are experiencing them
  • Get you to your destination

“If you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there.”

  • Where do you want to go with baseball?
  • Why do you need (not want) to go there?
  • Is your coach capable of getting you there?

I’ve been coaching hitters for 20 years now, and I sell outcomes. My success is based on really good training. Being trained is based on four S’s:

  1. Systematic
  2. Sequential
  3. Simple
  4. Specific

Systematic
A system is a set of connected things. It’s basically everything that needs to be done. As we have discussed, there are seven parts to the swing. We know it takes 3,000 reps per part of the swing to develop a habit. That’s 21,000 reps.

A good coach starts with allowing you to see all of the parts, and then assesses you so that you know the specific parts you need to develop.

“There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

Sequential
The system deals with the what, while the sequence deals with the when.

The fall (August-October) is the time  specifically carved out to focus on trying new things. It allows you to see what works and what doesn’t. We spend three months essentially becoming more athletic and thinking critically because people are ever-changing.

The DVD was a great thing when it came out – today, not so much.

So here’s how the calendar year breaks down for my hitters. I can assess a hitter anytime of the year and speed them up to get on track if they start with me in February. But it’s going to take commitment and discipline.

My phases of development are all about sequence, because that’s what good coaches do. Let’s revisit the seven parts of the swing again:

  1. Stance/Load
  2. Timing
  3. Tempo
  4. Tracking
  5. Approach
  6. Contact
  7. Extension/Finish

These are the essential parts of the swing and the sequence they should be developed. That’s seven parts of the swing that allows you to get 3,000 reps per part for a total 21,000 reps.

That 21,000 reps in the fall Assessment Phase, 21,000 in the winter Build Phase, 21,000 in the spring Conversion Phase and 21,000 in the summer Maintanence Phase. #GetGoing

Simple
When something is simple, you can understand it and do it. Coaches often make things complicated out of ignorance and arrogance. At least that was the case for me in my earlier days of coaching.

If felt I could be perceived as smarter if I could complicate something that was simple. By doing so, I thought that the players and their parents would think I was really doing my job. Ask your coach if he has experienced this same thing.

Here are seven simple drills you can do, based on my Swing Map:

  1. Stance/Load
  2. Timing
  3. Tempo
  4. Tracking
  5. Approach
  6. Contact
  7. Extension/Finish

Coach should be more than a title – just like that of a pilot. We have a responsibility to communicate a clear system, develop the right habits sequentially and make what’s being done simple.

Specific
Anybody can shoot a gun. Get good enough and you can make shots from But Navy Seals can do it in the rain, without food with a without failure rate.

You can develop hitting habits with 21,000 reps in the winter Build Phase of hitting. Then we’ll need another 21,000 reps in the spring Conversion Phase with a specific focus to develop skills.

  • Habit – being loaded on time without thought
  • Skill – being loaded on time without thought under stress

If what you’re doing isn’t being done to achieve a specific goal, you aren’t training – you’re teasing.

Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.

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

____________________________________________________________________________

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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Chip Lawrence, National Cross Checker, San Diego Padres 

Ignorance is acceptable until it isn’t. There are millions of boys who want nothing more than the opportunity to compete at the collegiate and/or professional baseball levels.

Unfortunately, many of them are working in vain under the well known and unproven mantra: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

I don’t know about you, but hard work makes me tired. Success is based on commitment, discipline and intelligence.

I define commitment as making a promise to yourself, while discipline is doing the things you need to do even when you don’t want to.

Intelligence is understanding what to do and being able to do it.

There are three things that baseball coaches and scouts want you to learn how to do in the fall if you aspire to compete at the collegiate and/or professional baseball levels. Here’s a look at what three coaches I know say:

Alex Wyche, Head Baseball Coach, Redan High School (former Head Baseball Coach at Griffin High School)

  1. Approach – Going to plate with a plan. Timing pitcher while on deck. Studying the pitcher, during the game and his patterns against others.
  2. Complete hitter – Work gap to gap. Hit pitch where it’s thrown. Being a complete hitter makes you a tough out for a pitcher.
  3. Don’t miss your pitch – Be aggressive on hitters counts, early in counts look for your pitch and don’t miss.

Carlton Hardy, Head Baseball Coach, Savannah State University 

  1. Learn that there is no off season – 300 swings a day, five days a week
  2. Learn the ability to swing with authority on every swing
  3. Learn to stay ready so they don’t have to get ready

Chip Lawrence, National Cross Checker, San Diego Padres 

  1. Pitch Recognition – The higher up you go, the better the quality of secondary pitches. Pitch recognition and feel for the strike zone awareness go hand-in-hand.
  2. Ability to hit velocity – Develop the ability to hit quality velocity. Elite hitters can hit quality fastballs. Long swings will not work versus quality fastballs. Pitching machines with velocity or batting practice from shorter distances can help you shorten your swing.
  3. Hand Eye – There are many different drills and eye training techniques available. You can’t hit what you can’t see. Continue to develop the eyes which will improve eye/hand.

Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.

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

___________________________________________________________________________

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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Brandon Beans is a former Diamond Directors client.

Parenting is a honorable and never-ending job. Every parent who has a son wants him to grow to become a man of high character. Character is who you are all the time. There are six character traits that I use to coach my clients to develop and/or maintain.

  • Excellence – meeting expectations
  • Humility – not thinking of yourself less so that you can serve others more
  • Integrity – doing the right think even when you can do the wrong thing
  • Loyalty – doing the right thing for the right reasons, even if they’re not popular
  • Stewardship – protector of your values and people
  • Teamwork – being your best within a group of people that are being their best for a specific purpose

Life is in fact complex, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. The benefits of having high character is that you can make good decisions.

My Mother, Brittain Prigge, is known for saying:

“Good manners take you further than they should.” I have found that to be true over and over again, and have instilled the thought into my children. My boys are often lauded for their manners – the fact that they look someone in the eye and shake with a firm handshake, say yes ma’am and no sir, write thank you notes and understand how to act at a cocktail party sets them apart.

There is very little we can control in life, but we can control the way we behave. There is nothing more important to me than my boys becoming men of character. Their character is their brand and reflects the values Scott and I teach them. In this advanced technological world they are growing up in, we must acknowledge that there is little we can shield them from different from when I was growing up.

We must make sure they understand the values we expect them to live by and trust that they will make good decisions. Being men of good character and empathetic, thoughtful, good citizens is everything. The material things will follow if you have a solid core.”

Successful people often are those that have high character and that are also competent. Competence is all about knowing what you need to know to do what you need to do. Baseball coaches are unfortunately positioned as the authority for baseball information. It’s unfortunate because it causes players and parents to be dependent on us.

I’m a Master Level professional baseball swing coach because of my proven methodology of swing development and my ability to achieve outcomes for my clients. Clients come to me to get what they need when they need it. They come to me to achieve an outcome.

I’m not naive and arrogant to think that the complexity of hitting is comparable to that of landing an airplane, performing brain surgery or rocket science. Hitting just isn’t as complicated as coaches make it out to be. There are seven parts of the swing and it takes 3,000 reps to build a habit. That’s 21,000 reps that you won’t take if you don’t have high character as defined above.

  1. Stance/Load
  2. Timing
  3. Tempo
  4. Tracking
  5. Approach
  6. Contact
  7. Extension/Finish

Why is knowing what you need to know so important? So that you can do what you need to do. Hoping that you can become a good hitters is never a good strategy.

I believe that when something becomes simple, three things happen.

  1. You “Do it” with enjoyment
  2. You “Repeat it” with intentionality
  3. You “Achieve it” with convenience

We all know that “hard work pays off” because we’ve heard it thousands of time. I don’t believe in working hard. I believe in working smart, which leads to intelligence and skill development. Working hard makes you tired and working without a clear plan is ridiculous.

Being smart is knowing what to do and intelligence is knowing what to do and the ability to do it. Training under stress develops skills.

 

“Our goal is for Miles [Jackson] to become a Division I baseball player or get drafted out of high school. In order to do that one must be competent and confident. An African-American baseball player must be more knowledgeable than the average and show a complete understanding of the skill set. This will allow him to make necessary adjustments and remain in the elite group of hitters which will help us accomplish the original goal.” – Rendell Jackson

If you’re reading this blog, you’re a parent or player that unapologetically wants to be successful in baseball. You also have to sit in lots of traffic and eat late dinners in the car on the way home in order to get the high level training that you need to become a successful baseball player.

However, that’s not the case for my Diamond Directors clients, because I have what you need when you need it. Now that’s convenience.

“Convenience is subjective as everyone has a different convenience threshold. Accessibility is specific and critical. Sometimes a pitching or hitting or catching coach can be accessible remotely. It helps if they are convenient so they can see your player often enough to develop a relationship, identify where he is struggling and how to get the instruction to improve. If a coach is too far away or inaccessible for other reasons, he isn’t really going to be available to help you in a time of need. That’s not really a good coach. If your coach is accessible, you can rely on him when you need him and he will be worth the drive.” – Rachael Barron

If you are player with high character, all you need is content to become competent and train at your convenience. I have a proven Skill Build Drill for each of the seven parts of the swing that you can do at home by the thousands avoiding the rush to a batting lesson.

My Onsite Hitting Lab Assessment is how I can give you these three C’s.

  1. I will diagnose what’s right and what’s wrong.
  2. I will prescribe drills for you to do at home based on what’s wrong.
  3. You will be able to train doing the right things for the right amount of time from the convenience of your home.

Click here to learn more about and schedule your Onsite Hitting Lab Assessment with me right now.

Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.

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

___________________________________________________________________________

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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There are three signs that your fall baseball season wasn’t an epic fail:

No. 1 – If your coach tells the truth about playing time

I believe that it’s irresponsible for players to be silent about how much playing time they’d like to get in the fall. Being silent often leads to disappointment, strained relationships and a waste of time.

I understand that it’s not easy to start a conversation with a coach about playing time. I also understand it’s a lot easier to do this before the fall season starts, rather than during the middle or end of the season when you’ve reached a high level of frustration.

Here are three simple questions you can ask your coach before the start of the fall season:

  1. Coach, why did you select me to play on your team?
  2. What do believe is my full potential as a baseball player?
  3. What’s the minimum amount of at bats you can guarantee I will receive this fall, regardless of the outcomes?

No. 2 – If your coach didn’t verbally abuse you

I’ve been coaching for 19 years and, regretfully, I verbally abused hitters in my earlier days of coaching. Why? Because hurting people hurt people. I was struggling with the fact that I hadn’t reached my full potential as a baseball player, coupled with the reality that I didn’t have a substantive methodology for coaching.

Many times, we as coaches don’t know what to say, so we yell. We also struggle with how to say the right things, so we hid.

Games are a test. Games often create the most stress and they should only be a test. They are a test of the things worked on as a team at practice and individually at home. There doesn’t need to be any “in coaching” during a game.

Ask your coach how he feels about this before the start of fall games.

No. 3 – If you were allowed to use games to test what you’re working on at home and at practice

As coaches, we often feel the stress of winning and hide behind it by saying, “We want what’s best for the kids.” That sounds good.

Before the word coach was used in sports, it was only used as a means of transportation. Therefore, an effective coach took people from one place to another. Ask:

  • What are the top 10 things I need to learn about hitting?
  • How much time do I have this fall to learn these top 10 things?
  • How many reps does it take to build a habit?

The bottom line is that there isn’t enough time in a fall baseball season to help hitters reach their full potential. In addition, you have to learn how to practice, then learn how to play before you can be expected to perform.

  • Learn how to practice
  • Learn how to play
  • Learn how to perform

Games are a test of the things that you’re learning in practice and at home.

Before the start of your fall baseball season, if you can get your coach to tell you the truth about playing time, agree to not verbally abuse you and allow your games to be a test rather than stress, your fall would be a success.

Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.

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

___________________________________________________________________________

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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The new year of baseball development for my clients starts in August and ends in July, so it makes sense to start a new development season this fall based on three things:

  1. Try new things
  2. Determine what doesn’t work
  3. Determine what does work

No. 1 – Trying new things
Trying new things in the fall is good, so that you can become a better hitter than you were last year. If you were a great hitter last year and you don’t see the need to get better this year, trying new things confirms what you have been doing works.

Thank God that Steve Jobs was creative enough to imagine that a single device like the iPhone could operate as a phone, camera and listening device for your favorite music. This fall(August-October), all of my hitters will try five different loads to determine what works and what doesn’t. They will receive over 3,000 reps for all five of these exercises:

No. 2 – Determine what doesn’t work
I’m able to determine what doesn’t work with my clients swing by having them hit targets from 50 feet away. Using a tee, they take 100 swings. During the exercise, they are expected to hit it 20-30 times, depending on their age. If you try one of the above loads, including Your Way, and you can’t hit the target from 50 feet away at least 20 times, your swing doesn’t work.

Check how Mercedes-Benz is helping C.J. and Kelli Stewart lead in Atlanta with baseball as the vehicle. Watch the inspirational video here  

No. 3 – Determine what works
If you can hit the target from 50 feet away at least 20 times, your swing works. The winter phase of development for my hitters is building habits. So we’ll get 3,000 reps per part of the swing in the winter, based on what works. Remember – there are seven parts of the swing, which means that success in the spring won’t be an accident:

  1. Stance/Load
  2. Timing
  3. Tempo
  4. Tracking
  5. Approach
  6. Contact
  7. Extension/Finish

Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.

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

____________________________________________________________________________

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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Boys by the millions dream of being paid to play baseball. In order to make that dream a reality, here are three P’s that you need:

  • Learn how to practice.
  • Learn how to play
  • Learn how to perform

Learn how to practice 
Learning how to practice has everything to do with your awareness when you do things wrong. You must learn how to make adjustments, recognize when you’ve done something right and be able to repeat the process.

You can get the best instruction in the world, but you’ll always get more reps away from your coach. With that said, if you can’t practice, you’ll never get paid to play, because you won’t be good enough.

In addition, it takes 3,000 reps to build a habit. As we have discussed, there are seven parts of the swing. That’s 21,000 reps. Mastering the ability to practice also requires that you be a committed and disciplined person. A commitment is simply a promise you make to yourself, while discipline is doing things you need to do even though you don’t want to do them.

The seven parts of the swing are:

  1. Stance/Load
  2. Timing
  3. Tempo
  4. Tracking
  5. Approach
  6. Contact
  7. Extension/Finish

Learn how to play
Learning how to play baseball is more than playing games. Learning involves practicing with your team, drills that you do at home and the private instruction you receive. Games should be nothing more than a test of what you have done to prepare for the game.

Most coaches don’t have a methodology of baseball development to start with. Without having a methodology in place, coaches are left to schedule a lot of practices and games knowing the “cream will rise to the top.”

Playing baseball as a hitter ultimately leads to getting lots of hits, driving in runs and scoring runs. Lots of people want to get a lot of hits, but won’t master the skills necessary to convert your “wants” to a reality.

Learn how to perform
Performing requires you to have skills. Unlike talent, skills are developed by training under stress. Hitting 500 baseballs every day improves your talent, but not your skills. Hit a target 50 percent of the time from 50 feet away using a tee and 500 baseballs, and then you can brag about your skills. Your skills will undoubtedly show up in your games.

Here are two of my favorite complaints I hear from hitters:

“I was hitting good in the cage but not in the game,” or “I’m hitting the ball hard in the games but it’s going right at people.”

The gold standard for collegiate and Major League Baseball remains that you get a hit 30 times out of 100 at-bats. You can strikeout 70 times in a row and get 30 hit, and you’ll still get paid to play.

You must be trained to perform, and practicing and training aren’t the same. These three S’s must be in place in order for you to claim that you are being trained:

Systematic – “What all are we doing?”
Sequential – “Are we doing it in the right order?”
Simple – “Can I do it?”

Having tools is cool but skills pays the bills.

Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.

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

___________________________________________________________________________

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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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.

____________________________________________________________________________

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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There are times in life when what you do on the front end affects the outcome on the backend. As you begin to tryout for new fall baseball teams and get selected, here are three questions you should ask your fall baseball coach before accepting a spot on his team:

  1. Why did you select me?
  2. What can you guarantee me?
  3. What do you see as my full potential in baseball?

Parents and players definitely are cringing at the thought of asking a new coach these three questions after being selected on a new team. Some of the same parents and players also will be upset near the middle and end of the fall season if their expectations aren’t met.

In my opinion, asking these questions isn’t an example of arrogance. On the contrary, they signal you want assurance considering you’re investing time and money into the team.

1. Why did you select me?

My wife Kelli of 20 years is beautiful. I didn’t marry her solely because of her beauty. Kelli is a focused woman who wants to become the best version of herself. She wants the same for me.

Some coaches will pick players because of their athleticism, physical appearance, strength, etc. That isn’t enough, considering it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to develop a skill, according to Malcolm Gladwell.

A coach who is responsible for the development of your child must use words like development, habits, values, standards and accountability.

When I ask a coach why he selected my son to play on his team, this is what a coach can and should say to me to get me excited because of the love and care I have for my child:

“Thank you for asking. I selected your son because I believe development can be measured. I will make sure he’s assessed in the beginning and end of the fall season, proving to you his development beyond his batting average. I will help him develop habits that will convert his current talent to skills in the future beyond playing for my team. We are a team that’s governed by core values. Each parent, player and coach will be held accountable for meeting and/or not meeting those standards.”

A coach who is responsible for the development of your child must use words like development, habits, values, standards and accountability.

2. What can you guarantee me?

If a coach can clearly explain to you why he selected you, he should also be able to guarantee you a specific minimum amount of at bats.

It can be stressful wondering if you’ll get playing time. The only way to develop is by getting opportunities to fail and make adjustments.

On average, a fall season is 15 to 30 games. That’s 45 to 90 at-bats if you get three per game. Trust me when I tell you that a coach who understands development should have no problem guaranteeing you a minimum amount of at bats.

A minimum number is a decision. The “let me think about it” answer needs to result in a decision within three days, or it becomes a no for me, especially considering I must guarantee to pay fees and work the concession stand during games.

3. What do you see as my full potential in baseball?

This is an important question, because affirmation leads to hope. It is a great feeling to have a coach believe in your current ability and have him speak to you about what your future can be.

Coaches who can’t see into the future may downplay this question by saying it’s best to focus on the here and now. But we don’t have that mindset when it comes to our travel program. As travel ball coaches, we’re always looking into the future in order to remain relevant and solvent.

Your full potential, according to your coach, may be high school baseball and that’s it. It may be college and it might be the pros. Unfortunately, it’s taboo for coaches to talk about the pros to young players, mainly because the success rate isn’t high.

On the contrary, I believe the success rate of Major Leaguers is low because coaches can’t see that far, and thus can’t communicate it to their players. It’s also difficult for us to discipline ourselves to a development experience that allows players to fail, because we have to win to remain relevant and solvent.

Ask your new fall baseball coach these three questions to determine if what I’m saying is the truth or a lie.

Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.

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

____________________________________________________________________________

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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The highest quality of thinking can’t emerge without learning. And learning can’t happen without making mistakes. What mistakes are you not allowed to make on your baseball team?

As we know, baseball is the ultimate game of failure. That statement has been said so much that it often times doesn’t have an impact anymore.

It is, in fact, a true statement.

Coaches unintentionally can create an environment that stunts learning for our players because of our own ignorance. I’m raising my hand high to this statement, because I was the king of “faking it until I made it.”

These were my three mantras as a young, inexperienced and developing coach:

Scream and Dream – This is when you scream at kids the things to do at the plate knowing full well you haven’t really prepared them for success.

Hit and Get – This is when you give kids tons of reps and expect them to get a hit every at bat simply because they had tons of reps.

Hope and Cope – This is when your hope for success for your players is stronger than your baseball coaching acumen and you lean on the “we’ll get em next time” philosophy to cope with the failure.

One of the best things a good or even bad coach can do that will allow your players to develop is to simply allow them to make mistakes until they fully develop to our coaching acumen.

  • Ask
  • Capture
  • Remind

We should ask our players before the game what’s the one thing thing they need to work on in the game that could lead to a base hit. Don’t tell them a thing. Simply ask the question, trusting that because you selected them to play on your team they’ll commit to executing that one thing.

Capture
Practice prepares you for games and games prepare you for the next practice. The game is the testing ground, so why are you barking instruction to kids during the game. Instead of barking, capture the most important things they must work in with regards to hitting. And as a coach, if your practice time won’t allow you to give your hitters the thousands of reps they need to develop a habit, enlist their private hitting coach if they have one. Between practice with you and a private hitting coach, your hitters will be headed in the right development direction.

Did you know that it takes 21,000 hitting reps to build a habit? And another 21,000 to convert the habit to a skill and another 21,000 to maintain to skill.

  1. Stance/Load x 3,000 reps
  2. Timing x 3,000
  3. Tempo x 3,000
  4. Tracking x 3,000
  5. Approach x 3,000
  6. Contact x 3,000
  7. Extension/Finish x 3,000

Remind
Remind your hitters that development is a journey, not a sprint. Be to them what you had or wish you had as a baseball coach when you were their age. Great hitters can be developed just like fighter jet pilots, brain surgeons and coaches can.

Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.

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

_____________________________________________________________________________

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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