The Work Ethic Ruse
“If you wanna be successful, you gotta work hard.”
That’s what they say. Heck, that’s what I’ve always said.
And, it made perfect sense.
I’ve always viewed work ethic as the most important quality a baseball player — indeed any person — can possess.
As I’ve learned more about the human body, motor learning, and the dynamics of skill acquisition, it no longer makes perfect sense.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about hard work. From the time my kids could understand my words, I’ve preached to them about the value of a strong work ethic. In my playing days, my goal was to be the hardest working player on the field. I constantly came up with ideas to overtly demonstrate my “extraordinary commitment.” In my mind, If I could do 100 more pushups, take 100 more swings, or run 10 more sprints than everyone else, I would elevate my performance to the highest level.
Looking back, my entire athletic experience can be summed up in five words: All effort and no efficiency. I was never afraid of hard work but rarely worked on the right things in the right manner. My interpretation of hard work was “doing more that everyone else.” Any athletic achievement or any physical shortcoming, I thought, could be overcome by good old fashioned HARD WORK.
I was wrong.
With the wisdom of age, and after an exhaustive study of movement science, motor learning, and skill acquisition research, I’ve learned an important lesson:
Misguided, non-specific hard work can be corruptive and might be even worse than no work at all.
Let me explain.
Whether playing catch in the back yard, teaching a “throwing drill,” executing a “strengthening program,” or directing a bullpen session, every parent, coach, or instructor who has ever worked with a player has attempted to introduce some sort of training stimulus (also known as a demand) in hopes of eliciting an adaptation. And, it has always worked. The athlete’s body has always adapted.
The human body always adapts to any training stimulus. Human tissue (muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and nerves) has no free will. If you stretch tissue, it must get longer. If you strengthen muscles they must get stronger. If you teach any human movement correctly, the body must learn. It has no choice. The body cannot choose not to participate. The amazing human body always adapts to any demand placed upon.
But there’s a catch.
It adapts SPECIFICALLY to the demand introduced. For example, you don’t learn to putt golf balls by shooting baskets, and you can’t strengthen hamstrings by doing biceps curls. Unfortunately, in many cases, well-meaning people with incomplete information apply the wrong demand. We introduce a training stimulus, and the athlete’s body responds with an adaptation. But since the demand is not SPECIFIC enough, the adaptation does not transfer to the performance desired. We try to get A or B, but we unintentionally end up with something like D or E.
I’ve never met a parent, coach, or instructor who was trying to waste a player’s time or make him worse. We all love our players. We all want to help. Nonetheless, if you’ve played baseball for any significant length of time, you have undoubtedly been exposed to draconian, one-size-fits-all, non-specific and/or ineffective training demands.
And you’ve experienced them over and over again.
You’ve adapted, for sure. Maybe you’ve gotten stronger, bigger, or faster. But, it hasn’t helped you play well enough or develop the the tools needed to attract the attention of college and pro recruiters and scouts. Here at The Florida Baseball Ranch, we’ve noticed a familiar pattern reported among the players who have engaged our services.
I call it The Work Ethic Ruse.
The student and everyone who knows him affirms his heroic work ethic. He works as hard as he possibly can. He does everything he’s asked to do … and more. He wakes up every day and “grinds.” And, nothing changes. His ability plateaus. His development stagnates. College coaches and/or pro scouts ignore him and move on to other prospects. Confusion and desperation set in. As the vicious cycle continues, failure abounds. Frustration grows.
As loving parents, coaches, and instructors we remind the athlete that the road they’re on requires intense effort and commitment. “Keep working hard.
Success is just around the corner.” we say. We invoke words of 17th Century clergyman and historian, Dr. Thomas Fuller, “the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn.”
With heart-felt compassion and with supreme zeal, we offer all the hope and inspiration we can muster. However, as Dr. Fuller also wrote, “Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.” According to American theologian, R.C. Sproul, “Zeal without knowledge has wreaked incalculable havoc through history.”
Our zeal and passion have been unquestionable — above reproach. However, in many cases we have lacked the necessary knowledge, skill, and intuition to create individualized training experiences that lead to the SPECIFIC adaptations necessary for the athlete’s success. Reflexively, as the athlete’s future is devoured we grip our ideas tighter and cling to the only “tried and true” stick the history of success sports and in life — hard work.
Inevitably the player begins to think, “If it takes hard work to succeed, maybe I’m just not working hard enough.” He doubles down on the only thing he knows. He works harder. “If a little is good,” he thinks, “then more must be better.” He adds effort and reps to the same drills and exercises he’s always done. He adds weight to the bar, stretches more, exaggerates the movements he has been taught, and works meticulously on his “mechanics.” He adds more “intent.” Desperate for any scrap of hope to feed his insatiable hunger, he scavenges the landfill of social media and poisons his gut with rotten, ill-conceived, or misapplied training methodologies. In a weird, almost sadistic way (and mind you, with the best of intentions), he becomes obsessed with the struggle. The angry energy of despair he projects practically attracts the disappointment, struggle, and failure he repeatedly endures.
If you’ve been a victim of “The Work Ethic Ruse,” your pain is our pain. Your wounds are our wounds. Your failures are our failures. We feel your frustration, and we’re fighting mad about it. We’re slamming our fists on the table, drawing a line in the sand, and saying “Enough!”
If training doesn’t build the tools (velocity, command, filthy stuff, and bulletproof arm health) necessary for making your college and pro dreams a reality, it’s an exercise in futility. It’s like practicing parlor trick no one will ever see. At The Florida Baseball Ranch, we’re turning the baseball training industry on its ear, taking a wrecking ball to the “The Work Ethic Ruse,” and overhauling the definition of hard work.
That’s why we developed our revolutionary and transformational SAVAGE Training System. SAVAGE is an acronym for Specific Adaptation thru Variability And Goal-directed Experiences.
We’ve added a treasure trove of knowledge to the zeal and compassion we’ve always possessed.
We’ve literally traveled around the world and back to learn more about how the body works and how we can develop the world’s most highly individualized and precisely effective assessment and training processes, to elicit the SPECIFIC adaptations our athletes need to build the tools that lead to college scholarships and pro contracts.
The truth is, when you engage in hyper-individualized training plans forged from the results of thorough assessment and grounded in the foundations of leading- edge movement science, you begin to move in the most efficient way possible.
You optimize the mechanical and elastic properties of your muscles. Your power is amplified. Motor control, timing, and coordination are accentuated. Your joints, ligaments, and tendons are wrapped in a secure blanket of protection. You throw harder. You throw more strikes. You have no pain. You get more outs. You win more games. And you burn fewer calories while you’re doing it. Pitching seems effortless. And that’s when the trouble starts. “It can’t be this easy.” you think. “It has to be tougher.” Well, the truth is, it can be that easy — when you learn to move athletically, powerfully, and efficiently with SAVAGE Training.
Around here, work ethic is no longer defined by more work, or more intense work. The FBR definition of work ethic is “being CONSISTENT.” It means showing up, and doing exactly what you should do every single day, doing it with all the zeal and passion in your heart. Every rep, every set, every throw … be awesome where your feet are. The only thing you need to do to get better, is EVERYTHING we tell you to do in your SAVAGE training plan — nothing more, and nothing less. Do it all. The results will be there.
You got this.
We got this together.