Surviving the Grind

By Jonathan Massey –


When I showed up on the campus of Texas Baseball Ranch I was a 15-year-old rising sophomore in high school throwing 68 mph.  Needless to say I was behind the curve. In fact, the only reason I got to pitch at all my freshman year is because A) I was left handed pitcher with a decently good curveball, and B) we weren’t very good.  If had gone to another high school in my district there’s a very good chance that I wouldn’t have made my high school team.

Now for those of you reading this thinking that this is one of those Hollywood movies where I show up on campus and then 6 six weeks later I’m throwing 90 mph, I can promise you it’s not.  When I was 16, I was 75-77 mph.  At 18 I was 78-81, and at 22 I was 80-82.  It wasn’t until I was 23 years old that I finally eclipsed the ever-evasive 90 mph clip.  

Last week marked the conclusion of Session 1 of the Ranch’s Summer Program.  Most of these guys will leave this place and rejoin the real world where it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. So here are a few tips that helped me survive my 8-year journey to 90 mph.

Tip #1 – Believe with your whole heart that you will accomplish your goal. I know that sounds like an automatic, but it’s crazy how many people don’t truly believe they can actually accomplish what they set out to. After my first day at the Texas Baseball Ranch I decided that I was going to throw 90 mph no matter how long it took me to get there. I was so committed to this goal that at my baseball banquet my senior year I received the “Throw 90 or Die Trying” Award.  In college I was cut not once, not twice, but three different times. And yet if I had given up then I would not have ever reached my goal. So when I say ‘you have to believe you can do it’, I mean you have to have the belief so deeply rooted in you that even after the worst case scenario you still believe that you can do it. Will Smith said it best “There’s no reason to have a Plan B because it can only distract from Plan A.”

Tip #2 – Surround yourself with people who make you a better person.  A couple of months ago I wrote a blog called Watch Your Coffee. I could insert that entire blog to illustrate my point, but I’ll save you the time by covering the highlights. I am truly blessed to find a place like the Texas Baseball Ranch, a place where Coach Wolforth and his entire staff truly believed that I could do it. The Texas Baseball Ranch also allowed me to meet guys like Eric Binder, Cody Springer, Mike Boyden, Brent Powers, and Trevor Bauer. These guys challenged me each day to get better and never once treated me like an inferior when often times I was throwing 15 mph slower than them. The guys supported me and encouraged me along the way. Without this support system I would never have been able to make it.

Tip #3 – Learn to love the grind. It is inevitable that if you stay along this path you are going to have days where you’re not at your best physically, mentally or both. Often times we don’t realize we are having these days unless we are radaring. I call these the grind days. They often go something like this: we start our radar session and our first throw is 5-7 mph below our record.  Most guys would make one more throw and then call it day. These days happened often for me. If I rode that emotional roller coaster of being 5-7 mph below my record all the time I would have never made it. What I had to do was change the way I viewed my radar workouts. My mindset on those days became I was going to throw this next throw .5 mph faster than my previous throw. Then so on and so forth. Often times I would eventually work myself to being within a few miles per hour of a record.

If you want to achieve your goals you have to learn to love these days because this is where you really make gains.  Anybody can get better on a good day.  What separates the great from the good is finding a way to get better on a bad day.  Learn to have a good bad day. 

I hope these tips are as helpful to you as the were to me during my playing career.


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