Goal setting for HS players (long)


Often times on LTP high school pitchers post questions about playing college baseball or specific things, like increasing velocity. These can be great goals, things to strive for. Often, the questions are very vague. The desire to get better and improve, to strive to reach the next level of a very difficult sport…these are great goals. Its great to set your goals high…if you want to go to college as a baseball player, wanting to go to UCLA is great. Wanting to throw 94 MPH is great. You do have to be realistic and hungry…you need to be hungry.
Being realistic is key too. If you are 16 and 5’ 5" and throwing 74 mph, you are not going to go to UCLA. But, if you work hard and maximize what you can do you certainly can improve and play in college. Playing NCAA baseball at any level puts a guy in he top 6% of baseball players in the U.S. (high school players moving on) Don’t get hung up on the ultimate dream school and forsake the experience as a whole.
A couple of quick thoughts…
It is important to think of failure as a learning opportunity. If you go out on the bump and get hammered. Lets say, you give up 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning with every hit ball just smoked. You can allow yourself a short period of time to be pissed or sad or however you emotionally feel about your performance. Then, you need to quickly transition your thought process. Failure is information. Why were they hitting the ball? Were you hanging your off speed pitches? Was you FB up in the zone? Were they just better than you? Being able to process that information honestly (it wasn’t the umpire or the mound conditions in most cases) is a real key to progressing your game. Failure is information and a way to learn. This is an important lesson to learn in life…just not pitching. The most successful business people I know have failed as much or more than they have succeeded.
A quick example…I have a cousin who is a screenwriter. He has won 2 Emmys. He has written a couple of well known movies that many of you have probably seen. He is, in a very tough business, a successful guy. This started out with him acting. He is not a hansom leading man type. He got his degree in performance/film school at USC…no easy task. He went on over 200 auditions before he landed a bit role in a tv show. It took him years to accomplish a little bit of success. He faced years of hard work in high school, community theatre, college and years of rejection before he got any traction at all. Hundreds of times he was told, “you are not good enough” or “you are not what we want” before he was given a chance. He is now a huge success. You have to be able to deal with failure and set backs to pursue goals. Plain and simple. This thing of chasing goals takes courage and balls. It is easier to complain about the umpire, the coaches, the field ect…the complaints can often be valid. There are not many really outstanding coaches out there. But, the complaining does not help anyone accomplish their goal. It is easier to complain and find reasons things don’t work than it is to work when you are discouraged to get better. Overcome that mind set. It is fine to be irritated by stupid stuff. It is important to recognize stupid stuff. It is paramount to not be defined by other peoples stupid stuff. If a coach has you wasting practice time, then, you are going to have to find time outside of all the other stuff going on to work on your goals.
You have to set goals…specific goals. Short term goals and long term goals.
The short term goals are really the key. WRITE THEM DOWN.
Need to gain weight? You need to track what you eat everyday with a daily goal of calories and micronutrients.
Want to get stronger? Have a plan in terms of your lifting…what lifts, what your strength is now…design a good plan and stick to it. Again, writing everything down and being honest and dedicated in tracking your stuff is key.
Surround yourself with people with like goals. Honesty is needed. Negativity serves no purpose. If the guys you usually workout with, throw with or hit with miss sessions are lazy or negative, find different guys to work out with. The hardest thing to find when pursuing a goal is finding people who want to work hard to accomplish the goal.
There is a lot of noise about this stuff…pitching, mechanics, working out, college baseball, velocity ect…we all contribute to this noise. You have to find things that work of you and pursue them with diligence.
A couple of other quick things.
A couple of key things to pursuing goals in my experience, if you want to be satisfied with the results, no matter what it is…humility and ethics.
Humility in the sense of knowing no matter how far you go there is always road in front of you. No matter how hard you work, there are still things like injury that can be beyond your control. Humility in knowing that you may not reach your ultimate goal. Humility in knowing that one day you may be on your game and dominate and next time out things may go south on you. Humility in knowing and being able to accept that failure along the way is many times the greatest teacher.
Ethics in the sense of knowing who you are. Knowing who you are…how hard you work, study, live life…do you do these things honestly? Do you help others that are interested in pursuing the same goals or do you hoard and hide what you are working on?
One of my favorite guys I have known in baseball is a guy no one has heard of. He is from the town I live in and was a couple of years ahead of my son in high school. He was and is a soft throwing lefty. When he graduated high school he was throwing about 75 mph. He went to a JC and was redshirted. After his redshirt year he was cut. He then went to a second JC for his 2nd year of baseball, made the team and worked out of the pen, even getting a couple of starts. When he went back for his second year at this JC he was cut a month before the season started…the coach found more guys he liked better. He transferred and walked on at a D2. He got limited opportunities and ended up posting an ERA in the 20’s. He is back for this year, he made the team and is scheduled to work out of the pen. My point with his story is this: Every step…high school, travel ball, JC ball…he has been told he is not good enough. He even had his high school coach yell at him in front of people during a game that he should quit baseball. He was told the same by his travel ball coaches. That they were not going to waste their time helping him find a school to play at.
In high school, you could often hear other teams or parents snicker or laugh when he would come in to warm up because at that time he was low to mid 70’s with bad control. The great thing is, most of those kids who were laughing at him or giving him crap were done in high school. About 6-8% of high school players play any level of college baseball. About 5% play NCAA baseball at any level. Here is a guy who was told over and over again he was not good enough. He is now playing his third year of college baseball, his second at the D2 level. He slowly got better. His progress has for sure not been the stuff you read on line…gaining 10 mph in 12 weeks on such and such a program…but, he slowly and steadily progressed over time. So, despite being told “no” by nearly everyone around him in the game, he is accomplishing his goal…to play four years of college baseball.
This dude is never going to get drafted or get a write up on some baseball prospect website, but, he is awesome. Awesome because he was determined and overcame all that negativity.
Set specific short term goals.
Write them down.
Design a plan.
Track your progress without fail.
Learn from failure…


Learn from every experience–positive and negative. Establish a plan to overcome challenges and leverage your strengths. Make adjustments as needed so you evolve as a player. Work harder in practice, so you can perform better in games. Never give up if it’s something you love to do.

Lots of great information in this post. Thanks, @fearsomefour