Way back in 1997, I gave my first “private lesson,” to a 15 year old pitcher/hitter, shortly after his freshman year in high school. After getting released a few months earlier and immediately falling into the high school coaching ranks, I didn’t know that giving lessons was something I even wanted to do.
But since his dad knew my Dad… I really didn’t have a choice.
Fortunately for me, the ball player turned out to be hard-working, smart, extremely talented, and oh-by-the-way, a future big leaguer.
But looking back, it wouldn’t have mattered if he was simply a 15 year old that wanted to start on the JV team the following season.
As it turned out, I loved being able to share whatever information I had at the time with any ballplayer wanting to work hard and chase their potential. Giving lessons outside on open fields, cages, and bullpen areas, I didn’t have any concrete time limits for lessons. (In fact, my earlier ball players and parents would often joke about the fact that my lessons always went at least 30 minutes long.) I didn’t care how long the lessons went. My only goals were to teach the game, work on the particular baseball skill, then condition each player with various exercises that usually consisted of bodyweight or medicine ball routines.
But once I had to move my lessons indoors, I had to be more mindful of the times, seeing that players were now scheduling specific times for 30 and 60 minutes work outs.
The most common lessons ran 30 minutes…and I couldn’t stand them. Sure. It allowed me to do more lessons each night, which meant I made more money. But I didn’t feel like the players were getting everything I had to offer.
It didn’t take long for me to strongly suggest to all my players, to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the lesson (in order to take care of the mandatory set of warm up exercises so they wouldn’t eat into our scheduled 30 minute workout) as well as 15 minute post lesson (to make sure the players “cooled down,” appropriately).
That tweak worked out great…until I did my first “training program,” and realized the giant gap in development between the training program group compared to the private lesson ball player.
I was convinced that the training program model was the only way to truly develop ball players. So I tried to pitch the change to both the owner of the facility I did lessons, as well as the parents. Unfortunately, the concept was met with a less-than-excited reaction from both. The bossmen pointed out how much money was being made by individual 30 minute lessons compared to group training that could take up to 90 minutes. The majority of parents valued the one-on-one relationship between player and coach, and also felt that the once-per-week tune up was more than enough for their ball player to improve.
So… I spent the next decade-and-a-half giving the people what they wanted, instead of what would make a much greater impact on their game.
Finally, I just couldn’t take it anymore. After completing a 10 week training program (I had to beg to get approved by the big wigs), I knew that I couldn’t keep this from the hungry ball players looking to get the most out of their ability.
I broke out on my own, found an available warehouse, and built The LAB.
The LAB was designed to give serious players every tool they need to realize their full potential.
With very strong hints of my original lesson from 1997, the set up of The LAB combines warm up/ cool down areas, baseball-specific locations, as well as a dedicated strength training space.
Those elements alone would be more than satisfactory for most ball players. But I wanted to take my facility to a whole different level.
Using specific exercises that has somehow earned me the nickname, “Coach Miyagi,” ball players are taught the correct ways to move without confusing verbal cues.
On top of that, the technology at The LAB clearly sets this facility apart from pretty much anything else you’ll find. The HItTrax system is being used every day, including it’s high speed camera and instant emails containing videos from specific workouts, that charts progress as well as all the metrics needed to back up the process we use. Rapsodo Baseball provides the same advantages for each pitcher as well. Radar guns are used to mark progress in other areas of the facility. High speed cameras are being added on nearly a daily basis.
Aside from seeing the incredible progress the first wave of LAB players have made, the biggest thrill I get is the one main comment from former players: “If only this was around when I played…”
It’s here now…and waiting for YOU to make the commitment and GET AFTER IT!