When I was a kid, I was fortunate enough to attend a few sports camps during the summer - football, basketball and baseball - most of which were held at Shasta College in Redding, California.
At a particular Shasta College Baseball Camp, I recall a hitting instructor named “Oscar” (If my memory serves, I believe he had ties to the UC Berkeley program) leading the aspiring young ballplayers through a session on swing mechanics.
There was a lot of valuable information provided from a knowledgeable coach, but the advice that has stuck with me all these years was when Oscar said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
Later I discovered that Oscar didn't come up with this quote on his own. The words of wisdom were borrowed from one of the greatest coaches to ever live - Vince Lombardi. Regardless of its origin, I was fascinated by this concept and it resonated with me. I realized that developing athletic skill wasn’t about going through the motions and putting in time. Achieving greatness required organization, repetition and purpose.
So does this mean that an athlete can accomplish their goals by spending countless hours on their fundamentals? Is that what it takes to earn a college scholarship or a professional contract? Not exactly - that is a misconception.
The idea of “perfect practice” requires more than focusing on one aspect of development, like fundamentals for example. To excel in a sport an athlete should experience a well-rounded training regimen. At MaxBP, we break it down into three categories - mental, physical and visual training.
Ted Williams, the last hitter to eclipse a .400 batting average was a far cry from a “one trick pony.” Sure, Williams could swing the lumber with the best of ‘em and his fundamentals were on point; however, Williams didn’t obsess over mechanics (as long as the fundamentals weren’t too flawed), because he respected the originality and “style” in a swing.
In Williams book, “The Science of Hitting,” he reveals a number of valuable pointers regarding the fundamentals of the swing, but he also puts a lot of stock in having a solid mental approach, including: Thinking like a pitcher, being relaxed at the plate, getting a good pitch to hit and making mental adjustments.
How was Ted Williams’ vision? Well, the “Splendid Splinter” led the American League in bases on balls eight times, drawing more than 2,000 walks in his career. No doubt, Williams’ lifetime on-base percentage wouldn’t be .482 (the best in MLB history) without his incredible eye at the plate.
Further evidence of Williams’ legendary vision was disclosed by USA Today’s Baseball Weekly in 1996. According to the report, when Williams reported for duty with the U.S. Navy in 1942, he was asked to take a routine medical exam, and it was discovered he had “20/10” vision. Essentially, what a person with normal vision can see from 10 feet, Williams could see from 20 feet.
Williams is still considered one of the greatest players in Major League history. His ability to hit the baseball and reach base successfully is unparalleled, because he had exceptional mental, physical and visual abilities.
In this day and age, it’s difficult for athletes who focus on a single skill set to dominate the competition. How great is a basketball player who can only shoot? A hockey player who only has a slap shot? A tennis player with a wicked serve, but nothing else? For natural athletes this may work in their youth or prep years; however, when the competition stiffens their weaknesses will be exposed.
On the other hand, an athlete who is constantly looking at different ways to improve, developing multiple skill sets and incorporating a variety of training methods - they will continue to improve. One of the benefits of being a "student of the game," is taking stake in your development and working to perfect your training regimen. This type of athlete has a chance to be elite and sustain their success.
Athletes who train with MaxBP Reaction Training have the opportunity to experience a form of “Perfect Practice.” With endless drills and small ball training techniques, an athlete has necessary tools to improve their hand-eye coordination and reaction time, while enjoying more reps than ever. This provides an individual with a unique opportunity to develop their mental, physical and visual abilities in the comfort of their own home - at a cost effective rate.
There are millions of athletes with dreams of playing collegiate or professional athletics. How are you going to set yourself apart from the competition? We know what Vince Lombardi would suggest. He would recommend taking the next step in your athletic development by incorporating “Perfect Practice” into your game plan.