Chunk your way to success

Blog by: Eddy Rodriguez

Aug 25, 2023

Instant improvement…… one of an athlete’s highest dopamine hits. Although it is a great feeling, it’s one we rarely feel. Sustainable mechanical changes take time. Our body does not know how to do “what’s RIGHT” or “what’s BEST”. It only knows “DO”. It tends to find the most efficient/easiest way to complete a task. All of this is written in our biological coding.

Us catchers are not immune to this. Everything about being behind the plate is hard and it’s taxing on the body. When the body is under stress it moves our brains focus to the pain and away from skill acquisition. In the 8th inning of a game that’s 95 degrees at 85% humidity the only thing that the body is thinking is MAKE THIS END ASAP. This is where our brain and our training come into play the most. What does our body DEFAULT to? Trust me it’s not what is BEST, rather it defaults to what is EASY.

The question is how to acquire a skill that endures the tests of the extreme conditions of being behind the plate. “Each day, try to build one perfect chunk” as written in the The Little Book of Talent. To change current neuro-pathways will take extensive deliberate practice on the “RIGHT” moves. Depending on different research out there we are talking about 3 weeks for a new skill to stick without conscious focus.

Wanted to give an example… A common request we get at the Catching Ranch is wanting to improve my receiving. This seems simple since we have been catching baseballs since also before we had diapers. The truth of the matter is that receiving a ball correctly is extremely complex with several nuances.

Let’s discuss how we can briefly use our chunking technique:

  1. Set up
    1. Are we in a good balanced/stable position to present the baseball?
    2. Are we staying outside or in front of the nemesis
  2. Target
    1. Is our target in a place where we are giving pitcher good visual along with making it easy to glove load
  3. Glove load
    1. Is the glove load helping us gain/store energy to impact the baseball
    2. Is it down and back?
  4. Attack angle
    1. Are we matching the incoming plane/angle of the ball to create maximum leverage in moving back to center of home plate
  5. Reactive body movements
    1. Is the ball affecting how stable and balanced I am throughout reception
  6. Glove Finish
    1. Is the ball above our wrist at the finish position?

Pick one of these and get rolling. Keep it simple with what you are tackling. Video yourself doing it at the start and keep addressing the same issue. Video yourself 3 weeks later. Odds are high that it would have improved.

Small victories result in winning the WAR!

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