10 Things I’ve Learned In 19 Years

By Jonathan Massey – 


This June marked the start of my 19th year as a part of the Texas Baseball Ranch®—either coaching or training. So, to mark this special event, I thought I’d share with you the 10 best training tips I’ve learned over the past 19 years.


1. Failure is part of the process. If you are not failing, you are not growing. Growth only occurs along the edge. Of course, any time you get close to the edge, there is a chance you could step off and stumble. However, if you never risk failing, then your growth will eventually plateau. You can’t grow if you don’t take risks.


2. Act “as if.” I’ll never forget the day when I was sitting in one of the mindsets, and Coach Wolforth said, “If your goal is to be an All-American, then you better start acting like one now.” Act as if you’re already an All-American before you even get there.


3. It’s about the journey. No matter what, baseball ends for everybody someday. For some people, it happens at 18; for others, it’s 22; and for the lucky few, it’s 40+. Oftentimes, I see guys get so obsessed with where they want to be that they forget it’s who you become along the way that matters most… not necessarily where you end up. 


4. The power of .038%. Steady wins the race. There’s a reason why our parents all read the story of the tortoise and the hare to us. It teaches us that persistence and steadiness win out in the long run. If you were to improve .038% daily, you’d improve .25% in a week. If you did that every week, in a month, you’d improve by 1%. If you did that every month for a whole year, you would improve by 12%. Just imagine what could happen if you continued to do that year after year. Small and steady improvement over a long period of time is what wins.


5. Deep, deliberate practice. One of my favorite analogies is Coach Wolforth’s story of becoming a better piano player. It goes like this: “Let’s say I had a dream of becoming a world-class pianist. So, for a year, I woke up every morning at 5:00 AM and banged on my piano keys for two hours. Would I be a better pianist after that one year?”. The answer, which I’ve never had a kid miss, is a resounding “no.” However, that same example is akin to “I just need to get my reps in.” Practice isn’t everything, especially if it isn’t deliberate and purposeful. What if, after every throw, you asked yourself how good that felt—0-10, with 10 being the best it’s ever felt on your arm? Or when blending, you asked how similar that felt to your drill work, 0-10. Does that not raise the standard of your practice? It does. Now, instead of just getting your reps in, you are engaged in deep, meaningful practice. 


6. Be good on a regular basis. One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “Being great is simply being predictably and continually good over a long period of time.” So often, guys believe they have to pitch up to this impossible standard to be great. All you have to do to be great is to just be good on a regular basis. 


7. When in doubt, revert to athleticism. I can’t count how many times I’ve given a player a cue, and, to put it nicely, it didn’t go well. Almost always, the next thing I say is, “Alright, forget what I just said and go back to being athletic.” What’s funny is when they go back to focusing on just being athletic, it usually works out the way I wanted it to in the first place. So, when in doubt, make your actions feel more athletic.


8. Don’t be a sheep. If you do what everyone else does, you will get what everyone else gets. That is the very definition of average and being part of the herd. If you are going to be exceptional, you cannot do what everyone else does. You must stand out from the crowd.


9. Decide what you want. I think one of the most common mistakes young players make is not knowing truly what they want from their training. We ask kids all the time why they come to the Ranch, and without fail, 99% of the time, they say it’s to get better. Better at what? Better velocity? Better command? Better arm health and durability? Better looking girlfriend? One of the easiest ways to not make any improvement is to try to get better at everything. Decide what you want and go all in on that. 


10. Iron sharpens iron. When I first started coming to the Ranch, I wanted to be in the same group as one of my good friends, Travis. Not only because we were friends but also because Travis threw harder than I did. My only goal that summer was to try to beat him at everything we did. (It didn’t happen, but I closed the gap.) Without Travis there to push me, there’s no way my progress that summer would have been as significant as it was. The better the competition you surround yourself with, the better your growth will be. Iron sharpens iron. 


While I could easily include a few more tips I’ve learned along the way, I think these 10 are definitely the most crucial. If you can apply them to your training, it’ll take it to another level!


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