Friday, November 16, 2012

Wiggley Bat

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be using some of my disposable time in a batting cage. Baseball season doesn’t start until March, but the winter months offer a great opportunity for players to work on their hitting. Hitting a baseball is a very mechanical, athletic motion that takes a lot of repetition to master and fine tune. And because of that, the mechanics can easily break down and bad habits set it.
Last winter, I coached a high school player who had the habit of wiggling his bat incessantly as he waited for the pitch to be thrown. I’m not sure where he picked up this habit. He may have seen a major league player do it or it may just have been a nervous tick he developed. There’s nothing inherently wrong with wiggling your bat, unless it negatively affects the outcome of your swing. It was obvious that this little habit was no help to him as he struggled to make solid contact, swing after swing. So, I put a ball on a tee and gave him one instruction, “As you get into your hitting stance, focus on a quiet, still bat. Then, just hit the ball.” After some tee work, I threw him some live pitches, giving him reminders and gentle corrections along the way. By the time we finished, his hitting was much better and the wiggle was gone. He beamed with confidence. All he needed to do was to simplify his approach to break a habit that was negatively affecting his performance.
A week or so later, I noticed that this little bat wiggle was back. This time, I held my correction back and I stood and watched him struggle. I wanted to see if he could figure it out and correct himself. I wanted to see if he changed his approach. Again, he was struggling to make solid contact. I asked myself, “Does he remember what we talked about? Does he realize what’s going on with his bat moving all over the place? Does he think he’s doing it right? Or… did he not believe me? Did he not think my correction was good and right for him?” After a few minutes, I stepped in and we started again. I’ve learned that repetition seems to be a key to coaching. Over time, he’d get it without my help.
When we began the New Testament Challenge this fall, we looked at this passage:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3.16-17
My coaching mind resonates with this verse. A big part of coaching is pointing out what needs correction and what needs further training. The goal is to be ready, equipped to do what the coach wants us to do. These verses tell us that God uses his Word to show me how to grow and improve in how I live. But, I think we struggle with the same issues my baseball player did with his wiggly bat. We listen to teaching but then forget what we’ve heard. We hear correction but when faced with an opportunity, our mind and body default to old, bad habits. We’re given instruction but we doubt that the guidance will really help.
As we finish the NTC this week, I hope we all have developed a new or better training habit of reading Scripture on a regular, if not daily, basis. But, reading is not enough to bring about transformation. We need to read in a way that we capture the principles in our mind and heart. And, we need to read with the attitude of wanting it to break our bad habits of living and to help us build new ones. Most importantly, we need to read so we can know the ultimate Coach and trust that his words are true, beneficial, and have our best in mind.

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