“Would you like to work out with a former professional baseball player and have him give you hitting lessons?” Ask any forty six year old man this question and he will probably jump at it. I had the coolest opportunity to visit some great friends who we have adopted as part of our family…and this came true.
I was pretty amped as he showed me the workout facility but when he got to the batting cage, it was “game on.” The next three days were started with muscle aching, heart pumping weights and cardio. The difference between a professional athlete and this pastor – I do my flat bench with 65 pd. dumbbells; his were 105 pd. dumbbells. After each session, we would go to the batting cage. I found out all those years of T- ball, little league and Pony baseball didn’t set me up for a “victory” in this arena. His swing was fluid, compact and pure power in motion. It was a thing of beauty. We started breaking down my swing, stance, hands, etc. – it was all-wrong. And yet, I had a blast learning how a major league home run hitter approaches hitting. In the process, I was reminded of some great life principles.
Don’t rush it – let it come to you. When the ball was released, I would “dive forward” on my front foot and to meet the ball as soon as possible. In doing so, I lost all the power of my legs and would be off balance – all I had was my arms. (They’re not that strong) This is the same lesson I work so hard to learn and maintain in my own life. I want to figure it all out, get there now and “help” God create the steps for things to happen. This is one area that I have improved immensely but it still creeps up on me at times. RELAX – let it come to you.
Balance is the key to power. Where his arms are massive and ripped with muscles, if he doesn’t have a good foundation, he will be limited. A good stance and set up allows you to use all of your strength, mechanics and timing to knock the cover off the ball. So true in life. Balance is a huge foundation to consistently seeing the results in whatever you endeavor. I see people running in the “extreme” and it is only a matter of time until they are either gassed or barely moving. For short periods of time, you need to stop everything and rests. Just like there are times you need to sprint at a break – neck speed. The majority of your time, your “pendulum” should be near the middle. Balance in key areas will allow you to see the greatest results.
The Little things do matter. On the second day, as we got to the end of the session, he asked me to show him my hands. I had the top hand rotated so that it caused my arms to “lock” and I couldn’t be as fluid with my swing. After correcting that, I was bombing them! (Ok, not really) But, I felt different up there…looser, not as tight and it was more fun. All by turning my left hand an inch. The big things can always be derailed by the little things. In the end, you realize there really aren’t many little things out there…they all make a difference.
Have Fun! I have been in situations where the person leading is smart, well versed in the subject and a great leader. They just weren’t that fun. I can say I learned a lot but I didn’t enjoy it. The batting cage was a great lesson in having fun. We both knew I wasn’t playing ball ever again. But the intentionality and the constant laughter made it like I was trying out tomorrow. He had every right to demean, ridicule, mock and belittle – he has played at the highest level. Yet, he valued me and my efforts. I was surprised when this thought hit me…“He cares because it is important to me.” I will take that thought back to my own leadership.
In the end, I am still a pastor who never hit one over the fence in my entire life. I will never know what that thrill will be like first hand. But, I do know this…if any team wants an aspiring hitter…well, you know the rest.