The professional baseball development industry is struggling and I don’t believe that the players, parents and instructors know it. Status quo is just that powerful. It always has been and always will be. The only way to bring about transformation is to change tradition.
What attracted me to this industry when I retired from playing professional baseball for the Chicago Cubs was the amount of money that parents paid for instruction without the instructor needing to know how to teach. I did, however, have a nice smile and charisma. #sarcasm
I’m speaking up for my industry in this blog right now, because business as usual can tarnish the integrity of America’s Favorite Pastime – baseball. The professional baseball swing coach industry needs a home run. Below are the bases that need to be covered to make it happen:
First Base – Certification for professional hitting instructors
Most coaches providing instruction are capable of discussing the fundamentals of hitting. Unfortunately, discussing and teaching aren’t the same.
In order for professional baseball swing coaches to be effective, we must be certified. I’m not talking about a shared language of “put your hands here,” “stand like this” and “see the ball, hit the ball.” As you will see, instructors must be certified with information 30,000 feet above ground level, which is where the conversations about fundamentals and mechanics happen (on the ground level).
- Professional – having or showing appropriate skill
- Certified – officially recognized as possessing certain qualifications or meeting certain standards
Click here for my Top 10 list of critical things all professional baseball swing coaches must have to be competent enough to teach hitters and expect results.
As a result of professional baseball instructors not being certified, success often is based on what we regard as hard work, luck and being at the right place at the right time.
Ten years ago, I was achieving unmatched success after solidifying my ATBATS training methodology. I also was one of the selfish professional instructors that didn’t want to share how I was achieving success. I only share now because I was convicted by 1 Peter 4:10:
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
Second base – Parents holding instructors accountable for results
Parents hold the power, yet they choose to hold their tongues when it comes to the handling of their sons by their baseball instructors. It’s unfortunate, but each day, thousands of instructors mistreat and disrespect kids.
So, what happens? The parents are literally financially and emotionally paying for it.
Getting instructors certified will triple the effectiveness of the professional baseball swing coach industry overnight. It also will help parents hold these instructors accountable for doing their job, which is essential.
Why do people pay lots of money to go to Disney World? Because of the magic, which boils down to being treated with excellence. Disney promises smiles on the faces of its guests. Why do people pay lots of money for a Rolex watches? Because they are dependable. So, why should parents pay lots of money for baseball instruction?
Here are four basic things most young baseball players want from and dream about as a rec and/or travel ball player if they aren’t afraid to admit it.
- They want to be significant.
- They want to play Major League Baseball.
- They want to play college baseball.
- They want to be a part of a good team of good individual people.
Without proper certification and education, most coaches lack the philosophy, methodology and phases of development to help their players achieve their wants and dreams.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that parents can make coaches step up. They can make them go from good to great for the benefit of kids.
That’s what happened to me. Based on results, I’ve been among the Top 1 percent industry leaders for professional baseball swing coaches for the past decade. But when I started my career in 1998, I cared about making money. First and foremost, I hoped that each hitter got better on his own. If they improved on my watch, it was by accident.
I had a few concerned parents that challenged me on my lack of knowledge and it shamed me. That’s exactly what I needed, because at the end of the day, parents and clients deserve two things: the truth and results.
How can a “professional instructor” provide either without a philosophy, methodology and phases of development?
Parents, please help our industry by digging your feet in and asking challenging questions of today’s professional swing coaches. Hold us accountable for the results. See the link about for my Top 10 checklist for professional baseball swing coaches.
Third base – Players asking instructors and parents what and why
It often is said that kids play baseball to have fun and don’t aspire to play in college or the Majors.
The professional baseball swing coach industry can effectively serve kids if the kids being served ask their parents and “professional instructors” what our childhood dreams were and why we didn’t achieve them.
At age 8, I was introduced to professional baseball watching the Chicago Cubs play day games. I enjoyed it. From that day on, my dream was to play professionally for the Cubs. I told classmates and they laughed. I told teachers and they suggested I focus on becoming a doctor, lawyer or engineer. I told my mentor TJ Wilson when I was age 14, and he introduced me to Preston Douglass, who drafted me twice to play for the Cubs.
I share this because hurting people hurt people. Oftentimes, when we fail to achieve our dreams, we unintentionally prevent others from achieving theirs as a means to protect them from getting hurt like we did.
Kid: I want to play in the Majors.
Parent: Be realistic.
Instructor: Only a small percentage of people make it to the Majors.
Professional instructors that have achieved their dreams are golden and should be cherished.
Home sweet home – A game that prepares people for life
“Baseball is a game of life” has become trite and lost real meaning because the reality is that the thousands of players playing rec and travel baseball aren’t living the lives of significance that they desire 20 years later.
I feel that it is my responsibility, and not a task, to help all of my clients become significant. You may disagree, but I truly believe all of my clients can become significant. Success is important. Significance is achieved when you share your individual success with others.
“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I need to know what my clients dream about, worry about, cry about and laugh about, so that I can help them understand their purpose in life. Fulfill your purpose and you will be significant.
I can stay on top of this because it is who I am at the core, whether I’m coaching baseball players or being a husband and father.
Our professional baseball swing coaching industry is struggling, but there is hope. We are struggling for these three reasons:
- We have a culture of helping kids instead of a culture of responsibility for helping kids.
- We are selfish, insecure and fragmented causing us to lose players to other sports.
- We lack standards and accountability.
Our hope lies in these three things:
- Certification of professional baseball swing coaches
- Parents holding instructors accountable for results
- Players asking instructors and parents what and why
The world needs significant people and we as professional swing coaches can develop them.
Tip of the Week: Why good leaders make you feel safe ~ Simon Sinek
Remember: Intelligence trumps being smart.
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.