Is it more important to know the best way to train athletes, or are results the true currency? So as not to directly disagree with my business partner Mike, who said this on Twitter:
The only currency that matters in baseball instruction is athlete results.
— Mike Rathwell (@mike_rathwell) February 27, 2016
I want to say that I totally agree. Driveline Baseball is driven to get results for our athletes, period. And yet, personally, that is not enough – because that is not how I started, and not how many of you will get started if you want to reach the level that I have in training baseball pitchers. Let me explain why.
Three Truths About Training Athletes
There are three true statements about training athletes of any sort. These were paraphrased from Mark Rippetoe, author of Starting Strength (amongst other books), but as far as I know, I’m the first to really boil it down into an easy list:
- Everything works.
- Some things work better than others.
- Nothing works forever.
So let’s talk about #1, shall we? If you happen to luck into a position where you have a ton of clients who trust you, no matter what your program is, you’ll see some results taking athletes who didn’t do a lot and now do something at a higher intensity/frequency. You can luck into a group of them by being an ex-big leaguer who was influential, a strength coach who randomly had five elite pitchers walk through your door, or any other cosmic event that now “brands” you as the guru of [niche X].
Now, do you know anything? No. You know enough to be dangerous, and just because you have a bunch of elite athletes following you doesn’t mean you are the best. It just means you work with elite athletes. But does that matter?
Yes, Actually Knowing Something Matters
When I was working and starting up Driveline Baseball on my own, I didn’t have any athletes – mainly because I was a nobody athlete who was coaching Northeast Seattle Little League and Roosevelt High School freshmen and had a gym next to a trailer park. So I got very dedicated and discarded athletes to train under me and had to learn through experimentation as well as reading every bit of existing sports science and training research out there to form my base. And at this point, I probably knew more than the guy in the previous section who just happened to luck into an elite group of athletes and was getting “results.”
This is where some of you are: You are reading this and you scoff at the people who say “Scoreboard, baby!” And you have every right to do so. The problem is that you don’t matter to this industry and you never will until you just slog it out, because eventually you WILL generate decent results unless you take the dark path that lives in your soul, the same one that many pitching gurus have: Getting so mad at an industry that won’t listen to you that you lash out and make yourself a completely unmarketable person. You start to call professional baseball stupid, you get in Internet flame wars with other gurus, and you are so hellbent on being RIGHT that you don’t ever stop to think that at some point you’ll probably have to work within the framework that is handed to you.
I’m not saying you should accept this and deal with it; I tried this years ago with one of my first pro contracts. I’ve been there. I thought that doing work on the MLB draft for free/low money and just getting my foot in the door would make my value evident to the people above me. What I learned is that for professional baseball – or any other closed-door industry – to respect you, you must create results that are at least FIVE TIMES as good as what they currently have, and generally more like TEN TIMES.
The Key is in Iteration and Documentation
Two things will break you out of this cycle:
- Iteration: Constantly improving yourself, your training program, and your athletes (most good coaches can do some form of this)
- Documentation: Writing everything down and making it all testable and repeatable (most good coaches are dogshit at this)
You MUST be able to document everything you’ve done to train athletes and improve them, if only for your own sake so you can look back at old records and laugh or perhaps be inspired by risks you took that you would never consider today.
The worst person you can be in this industry is happy to be getting the results you are getting at this moment. You let results get to your head, that you think you know something, that perhaps maybe you really do have it figured out – even though you are modest and tell people you don’t have it figured out. You think you have a well-oiled machine that runs solidly and produces not only good revenue, but good results. It would be very easy for me to look at Driveline Baseball and say: “Damn. We get superior results to almost everyone and we are gaining tons of acceptance in pro ball. Let’s keep this train going and focus on business processes.”
The minute I do that is the minute this company should cease to exist. The reason is twofold – personally, I am driven to know the most and be the best in my niche of advanced pitching research; and professionally, I know there are at least 10 people out there who work almost as hard as me or maybe even harder than I do that don’t have the early-mover advantage or tenuous hold on the baseball industry that I happen to have at this moment. And maybe all 10 will fail because they become disillusioned or they learn to hate the game or they fall into the pits I describe above.
But I can promise you this: There are people out there who looked down on Driveline Baseball years ago and thought that Kyle Boddy was a nobody and wasn’t a competitor because he didn’t get results. To ignore the history that brought me here would be to sign my own death warrant.
So if you’re out there and want my job, I hope this post helps you. Just know that I will try to fight as hard as you to keep you off my back, because it’s the only way I know how. It’s not all about results to me. It’s about being right and getting results.
And if you’re that good, shoot me an email. We’ll just hire you and we can stay peaceful.