“Don’t tell me how bad you want something, show me.”
The one item that will help you reach your goals more than any other is focused intensity. You have focused intensity when you eat, sleep, and breathe whatever your goal is. It is impossible to be great at more than one or two things. You can be good at multiple things, but not truly great.
For baseball players that truly want to be elite level athletes, there should only be two things that are focused on: baseball and academics. Am I saying you shouldn’t have a social life? No, but if that is something that is focused on, the other aspects will suffer.
The players that are able to have and maintain focused intensity over the course of many years are the ones that become elite. I was always a hard worker, but I had one year where my focus was unstoppable. After the last tournament of the summer before my senior year in high school, I had a scout tell me that I probably would not be drafted unless I added a ton of strength. This two-minute conversation set something off in me. Over the course of the next year, all I could really think about was working out and practicing. I would wake up at 5 a.m. and go swimming (with a very elite level swimmer, who was one of the most focused people I have ever been around. He swam at Notre Dame and is now a Pathology Resident Physician at Michigan. He is a very high achieving individual!). After school, I would lift weights, workout with the track team and then I would go hit with my dad at the baseball facility or in our garage. Along with that, I really focused on my eating in order to gain the weight I needed to.
By the start of the spring season (about 6 months after the conversation with the scout), I was about 30 pounds heavier, significantly stronger and faster, and was hitting baseballs farther than ever before. That period of focused intensity did unbelievable things for my career and was a huge reason for my success that year. I was also drafted that spring, which had been my goal.
You may think that is crazy. Many of my friends had thought I had gone nuts during that period of time, but you cannot act “average” and become great. If you really want to become great, then acting differently than your friends and other people is something that has to be done.
I have a small group of guys in my organization who, I believe, are starting to understand the power of focused intensity. What makes me think this? They attend workouts with me three days a week and come to every optional team workout. I also see them at the training facility the other 3 days a week that we do not have group workouts or team workouts. This group of guys ALWAYS wants to be around the facility or the ballpark. Being a coach, that is something I love to see. I believe their work ethics and attitudes are going to push their teammates and I am hoping they are going to rub some of their focused intensity off on others!
I believe having focused intensity is attainable for anyone that is truly passionate about reaching their goals. If you know what your goal is, create a plan to get there. Then, create the habits that are going to help you reach your goal. If you want to play baseball at a Division-1 school, then every waking moment should be spent pushing to reach that goal. If you work with that kind of focused intensity over a period of time, you are going to have a very good chance at reaching your goals!