Making the transition from practice to prowess

As winter turns to spring, the focus of my hitters shifts from merely practicing habits to refining and applying their skills under pressure. This is a crucial period where talent and habitual execution meet the true test of performance.

  • Talent is your natural aptitude, what you do well naturally.
  • Habits are what you do well repeatedly without conscious thought.
  • Skills are what you do well repeatedly without thought, especially under stress.

This transformation from habits to skills is essential for any athlete aiming to excel not just in practice but in competitive, high-pressure environments.

Case Study: Tripp’s Journey in the Hitting Lab
In a recent two-hour Hitting Lab Assessment, I worked with Tripp, a talented 13-year-old seventh grader from The Westminster School in Atlanta. The assessment is meticulously designed to cover multiple aspects:

  • Learning Styles Determination: Understanding how Tripp learns best to tailor our coaching methods.
  • S.M.A.R.T. Goal Mapping: Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals to ensure clear pathways for success.
  • Swing Map Breakdown: Analyzing the components of Tripp’s swing.
  • Swing Evaluation: Observing Tripp’s swing under pressure to see how he adapts.
  • Skill Build Drills: Specific exercises designed to convert habits into skills.

While Tripp demonstrated intelligence and an impressive swing, we noticed that his ability to make quick adjustments needs improvement. The good news is that learning how to make these adjustments can be taught, and it’s something I specialize in.

I often emphasize to my trainees: “Practice plus pressure equals training.” It’s about adding the element of pressure to practice because pressure is a privilege. It is this pressure that turns routine actions into automatic responses under game conditions. Training in this manner builds skills that are critical not only in baseball but in life. Skills, indeed, pay the bills.

Remember, the transformation from habit to skill is the journey from practice to prowess.

Tripp’s ambition stretches far; he aspires to play for Vanderbilt and eventually, the Atlanta Braves. In partnership with Coach Tre Hampton, a dedicated LEAD Center For Youth Coach, we are committed to guiding Tripp toward these lofty goals. Our focus remains steadfast on nurturing his abilities, ensuring that his transition from performing well in practice to excelling under game-day stress is seamless.

The period from February to April is not just a time for training—it’s a time for transformation. For hitters like Tripp, it’s when potential is crafted into prowess that can stand the rigors of real-world challenges. As we continue to push the boundaries of what our athletes can achieve, we look forward to seeing their growth from talented individuals to skilled performers who thrive under pressure. Remember, the transformation from habit to skill is the journey from practice to prowess.

Stay tuned for more updates on Tripp’s progress and insights into how we’re developing the next generation of Major League players and citizens. Follow our journey and join us in shaping the future of baseball.

Your time for transformation and renewal

April is a time of transformation and renewal, not just in nature but also in the realm of baseball. As flowers bloom and rain showers cleanse the earth, it’s a perfect metaphor for the growth and development we aspire to in baseball players worldwide.

This month is pivotal as players, especially hitters, transition their winter habits into polished skills for the season ahead. Here are four essential virtues I pray every baseball player embraces this April:

1. Discernment

Discernment is the ability to make sound judgments and decisions. On the field, it’s about choosing the right pitch to swing at or the right play to make. Off the field, it’s about making choices that align with one’s values and goals. This virtue is crucial as it guides players to make informed decisions in high-pressure moments, reflecting the wisdom they’ve accumulated from their experiences.

2. Grit

Grit is the backbone of perseverance. It’s the relentless pursuit of a goal, regardless of the obstacles. In baseball, this means pushing through slumps, injuries, and failures. Grit isn’t just about hanging on; it’s about moving forward with purpose and determination. It’s developed through challenges, making each struggle a stepping stone to resilience. Remember, it’s often the tough times that sculpt a player’s character and resolve.

3. Focus

In a world full of distractions, maintaining focus is an invaluable skill for any baseball player. Whether it’s concentrating on the next pitch or staying committed to long-term goals, focus is what enables players to perform at their best. It’s about being present in the moment and executing tasks with precision and clarity.

4. Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to succeed. It’s crucial for baseball players to have confidence in their skills and trust in their training. This belief influences their effort, persistence, and resilience. Players with high self-efficacy are more likely to embrace challenging tasks and recover from setbacks effectively.

Grit: The Heart of the Journey

Delving deeper into grit, it’s important to recognize it as more than just persistence. It’s about aligning with a purpose that fuels your passion and perseverance. For players experiencing struggles, remember that these challenges are opportunities to develop the grit necessary for success.

As a coach, my mission extends beyond teaching baseball; it’s about guiding players to discover their purpose, both on and off the field. The journey of a baseball player is much like a ride in a coach—it has its bumps and turns, but with grit as your fuel, the journey is enriching and transformative.

Let’s embrace April as a month of growth, focusing on instilling discernment, grit, focus, and self-efficacy in players. It’s these virtues that will elevate their game, transforming talent into skill, and challenges into triumphs.

Remember, it’s not just about playing baseball; it’s about becoming the best version of yourself, driven by a profound purpose. Get grit, don’t quit and let this April be a turning point in your baseball journey.

For more information, visit L.E.A.D. Center for Youth today.

If you found this inspiring and thought-provoking, or if you have any questions, comments or concerns, add me on Discord and let’s go deeper.

C.J. Stewart has built a reputation as one of the leading professional hitting instructors in the country. He is a former professional baseball player in the Chicago Cubs organization and has also served as an associate scout for the Cincinnati Reds. As founder and CEO of Diamond Directors Player Development, C.J. has more than 22 years of player development experience and has built an impressive list of clients, including some of the top young prospects in baseball today. If your desire is to change your game for the better, C.J. Stewart has a proven system of development and a track record of success that can work for you.

48 Cries to God: A Prayer of Humility and Purpose

Dear Family, Friends, and Supporters,

Today, on my 48th birthday, I’m compelled to share with you 48 cries of my heart lifted up to God. These are not merely requests but earnest prayers for guidance, strength, and purpose. Crying out to God is an admission of coming to the end of oneself and placing hope in the divine. As the psalmist declared, “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears” (Psalm 18:6).

I am filled with immense gratitude, joy, and peace, all of which I attribute solely to the grace of God. Today, on the tenth day of the fourth month, I’m reminded of my favorite Bible verse, James 4:10:

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

James 4:10 NASB2020″

For me, humility is not thinking less of oneself but of thinking of others more than oneself. As a follower of Christ, I acknowledge the spiritual gifts bestowed upon me, including prophecy, hospitality, leadership, and discernment, alongside my earthly talent of coaching.

Here are my 48 cries to God, which also serve as prayer requests to each one of you:

  1. Allow me to love and protect my wife Kelli above all humans.
  2. Allow me to love and protect my daughters Mackenzi and Mackenna.
  3. Allow me to use my spiritual gifts and earthly talents to serve others and bring them into a relationship with Christ.
  4. Help me take my worries and concerns to the Lord first.
  5. Enable me to unapologetically embrace my Black identity.
  6. Empower me to be the best baseball coach to ever live, not for my glory but to serve others well.
  7. Help me be a good steward of the power bestowed upon me.
  8. Grant me the gift of being a better listener.
  9. Cultivate in me a heart of compassion.
  10. Bless me financially so that I may serve others well, recognizing that I cannot give what I don’t have.
  11. Guide me to be socially conscious, avoiding offense and encouraging others to aspire to their best selves.
  12. Help me be a great follower.
  13. Teach me patience, which is to wait without anger.
  14. Strengthen me to be a prayer warrior.
  15. Equip me to be a spiritual agriculturalist and activist.
  16. Grant me the ability to communicate with conviction, clarity, and conciseness.
  17. Remove my fear of doing what God has called me to do.
  18. Empower me to challenge the status quo.
  19. Enable me to be a catalyst for positive change in coaching.
  20. Guide me to be a faithful steward of spiritual matters.
  21. Inspire me to innovate.
  22. Remind me to give credit to those whom God has placed in my life to help me.
  23. Give me the courage to demand the credit I am due, so that God may receive the glory.
  24. Enable me to demand fair financial compensation for my work, recognizing the value of my spiritual gifts and earthly talents.
  25. Help me say no to invitations and yes to assignments, as my Bishop Craig L. Oliver has repeatedly preached.
  26. Teach me the value of silence.
  27. Show me how to lament.
  28. Enable me to accept criticism graciously, recognizing my own shortcomings.
  29. Prepare me to speak boldly about my relationship with Jesus Christ.
  30. Embolden me to speak out against injustices faced by Black Americans.
  31. Grant me wisdom to navigate the complexities of life with grace and integrity.
  32. Help me prioritize my time and energy according to your will, focusing on what truly matters.
  33. Guide me in being a source of encouragement and support to those who are struggling or in need.
  34. Strengthen my faith to weather the storms of doubt and uncertainty, trusting in your unfailing love.
  35. Grant me the courage to forgive those who have wronged me, releasing bitterness and embracing reconciliation.
  36. Equip me with resilience in the face of adversity, knowing that through you, I am more than conquerors.
  37. Help me cultivate a spirit of gratitude, recognizing and appreciating the blessings that surround me each day.
  38. Grant me discernment to recognize opportunities for growth and transformation, both personally and professionally.
  39. Lead me in fostering genuine connections and meaningful relationships, rooted in love and mutual respect.
  40. Inspire me to be a beacon of hope and light in a world that often feels dark and divided.
  41. Guide me in using my platform and influence for the betterment of society, advocating for justice and equality.
  42. Teach me to embrace vulnerability, allowing me to connect with others on a deeper level and experience true intimacy.
  43. Grant me the strength to persevere in my endeavors, even when faced with obstacles or setbacks.
  44. Help me release the need for control, surrendering my plans and desires to your perfect will.
  45. Inspire me to live authentically, embracing my unique gifts and quirks without fear or shame.
  46. Grant me the humility to acknowledge my limitations and seek help when needed, recognizing that I cannot do it all alone.
  47. Lead me in living a life of purpose and passion, fueled by love and guided by your divine wisdom.
  48. Finally, Lord, fill me with your peace that surpasses all understanding, anchoring my soul in the assurance of your presence and provision.

These are my heartfelt cries to God, shared with you all as a testament to my journey of faith and humility. Thank you for being a part of my life and for your continued support and prayers.

With sincere gratitude,
Corteney James Stewart aka C.J.