“As a professional instructor, it was my responsibility to properly assess and convert their raw tools into skills they could use to compete at the Major League level.”
Unlike golf, the sport of baseball doesn’t require that its instructors be professionally certified. I’m thankful for all of my youth coaches – the ones who gave me everything they had so I could reach my ultimate goal to play professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs.
Ask any youth baseball player what he wants to be when he grows up, and most say they want to play in the Majors. I began training Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates), Dexter Fowler (Colorado Rockies) and Jason Heyward (Atlanta Braves) before they were teenagers. As a professional instructor, it was and is my responsibility to properly assess and convert their raw tools into skills they can use to compete at the Major League level.
To help you effectively prepare to compete at your next level, there are five things your professional instructor must know to. Following is a breakdown of what to look for:
1. How do you learn? – It’s extremely difficult for your instructor to teach you if he doesn’t understand learning styles. The three types of learning styles that I focus on are visual, kinesthetic and auditory. I am a visual learner. That means it’s important that the information is presented to me in a visual format first before I can move forward with other styles. If your instructor doesn’t know how you learn, your development will be altered. The old adage is true: Seeing (or hearing, or feeling) is believing; it all depends on how you learn.
2. Tools of the trade – The two tools I use most often in my Hitting Lab sessions are my iPad and Dartfish Video Analysis. I have more than 20 illustrations I use to teach my students. Showing each part of the swing and each point of contact to my visual learners has proven to be a very effective tool before we start our drills. When I worked with Andruw Jones (New York Yankees), we used the Dartfish Video Analysis approach. The following season, he hit his 500th career home run. Video analysis also provides evidence that your swing is improving. I still show Jason Heyward videos of his swings when he was 13.
3. Drills for the feel – Drills are used so that you can feel the mechanics of your swing. I use careful consideration before recommending a drill to my clients. Like a potter, my drills are designed to mold the perfect swing for my clients. The Diamond Directors Swing is broken into six parts. You must be able to feel every part of your swing before it skillfully comes together to produce hits.
4. Means to an end – Since 1998, I have helped develop more than 20 major league hitters. And there are more on the way. My success is based on a methodology. My AT-BATS™ methodology allows me to replicate success. If an instructor doesn’t have a method for development, your success will be based on luck if you ever become successful at all. My auditory learners love discussing methodology before their off-season training programs. For example, every off-season, Jason Heyward and I discuss his goals. Before we devise an action plan using the AT-BATS methodology, we ensure that his goals are S.M.A.R.T.
5. Moving ahead – The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The hitters who come to me want to at least compete at the collegiate level. And while getting there isn’t easy, when I share my patent pending process, it sure makes the journey worth it. A process begins with establishing short- and long-term goals. If I feel I can help you obtain your goals, we partner to achieve them. This process can take three to 10 years, depending on your physical assessment, aptitude and mental make up. I never move forward unless we have a plan for success.
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.