Preparing for the Shark Tank

I had the opportunity last weekend to meet and listen to Barbara Corcoran speak at a conference Ron & I were attending.  If you don’t know who Barbara is, she is one the main stars on the television show “Shark Tank”.

This show gives people an opportunity to pitch their product and business ideas to the “sharks”, who are business investors, venture capitalists, etc.  After the person pitches their product, the sharks have the opportunity to buy in/invest or say “I’m out”.  Now, before a shark gives their response there are usually a series of questions posed to the contestant.  A person can be made to look really stupid if they don’t come prepared.

At the conference I attended, they did their own version of “Shark Tank” and gave four people an opportunity to pitch their product to five sharks including Barbara.  Although this was done on a smaller magnitude, these five sharks were still looking at investing money in these people and their products.  It was absolutely amazing to me, the lack of preparation and forethought, particularly by two of the individuals.  One of them actually had an interesting product.  By the time she left the stage, the sharks got her headed in a new and better direction (although not with any of their money).

So, what do I mean by preparation for these people?  Let me give you an example of the types of questions that were asked of the contestants:

  1. Who is your customer?
  2. How does a customer find you?
  3. What is the size of your market?
  4. Who is your competition?
  5. What is the cost to manufacture the product?
  6. What is the annual average customer value?
  7. What are your total sales?
  8. How much money do you have invested to this point?

They all make sense to me and absolutely appropriate if I’m going to invest $25,000-$200,000. The problem, people had a difficult time answering some if not most of the questions.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is that we can often look at something outside of ourselves and say “I can’t believe they don’t get that” but when we bring it closer to home we have a difficult time seeing it ourselves.

We see the same lack of thorough preparation by our baseball and softball athletes.  As a result the sharks get the best of us.  Who are the sharks we’re dealing with?  They are coaches, scouts, the opposition and even sometimes our self.

Most of the time when we discuss preparation we’re referring to arm care, strength and conditioning, mechanical efficiencies, etc.  Today I’m going to look at a different type of preparation.

Answer the following questions.  I’ll start with a couple of the easy ones:

  1. If you struggle, are you more likely to give up hits or walk batters?
  2. If you struggle, is it typically early in the game or late in the game?
  3. What is your average pitch count per inning?
  4. What is your walk to strike out ratio?

Alright, now let’s try these:

  1. What are your peak and average fastball velocities in a game?
  2. What percent of fastballs did you throw for strikes in your last outing?
  3. If you missed your fastball location, where did you miss most frequently, high, low, in or out?
  4. What percentage of your secondary pitches (curveball, change up, slider, etc) did you throw for strikes?
  5. If you missed your secondary location, where did you miss most frequently?
  6. What percent of first pitch strikes do you throw?

There are certainly more but I venture to guess this might give you something to think about.  Many can give me a guess but do you really now?

You might be saying to yourself, these are performance questions not preparation questions.  I actually believe they are both.  Yes, they are performance answers but then the answers determine how we should be approaching our training/preparation and if you don’t know the answers, you are not truly prepared for the next go round.

It’s quite common for people to initially answer many of these questions with “I don’t know” and Coach Wolforth or I will respond with “I don’t know is an o.k. place to start but now that we’ve started, it will no longer be an acceptable answer.”

We love the saying, “If you want to improve something, measure it”.  So, it should come as no surprise that today I urge you to start measuring this, even if that means beginning with one or two and incrementally adding more.  Not only might you be surprised with the actual numbers, you will have a completely different feeling and focus with regards to your training.

In closing, if you would like to train with us at the Ranch this summer, don’t wait much longer.  Two of the six weekend camps are already sold out and the summer program is filling up fast!  Camp information can be found at and to receive summer program information please email

Yours in Baseball & Learning!

PS.  If you don’t have a fancy radar gun, I’ve got an inexpensive option for you.  It’s calledThe Pocket Radar. It’s what I take to all of my son’s games.  It’s much smaller and easier to travel with than a traditional radar gun and it’s very accurate.  You can find in online and enter in the search box “Pocket Radar”.  It sells for only $199.95.

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