Understanding the foundation-building phase of development

Josh Gibson, who played for the Homestead Grays, was considered one of the best power hitters and catchers in baseball history.

Navigating the months of February through April, our hitters embark on a transformative journey—converting habits into skills.

I consistently instill in my hitters the crucial understanding that talent isn’t the ceiling; it’s the floor. Talents showcase what you do well, habits demonstrate what you do well repeatedly without thought, and skills illustrate what you do well under the pressure of stress.

This phase, from February to April, is a dedicated pursuit of competing with skills—the ability to execute flawlessly without conscious thought.

The foundation-building phase unfolds in the months prior. From November to January, rigorous practice is centered on cultivating habits and physical strength. The cornerstone of a powerful swing, habits, necessitates tens of thousands of repetitions.

Breaking down the swing into seven distinct parts, each demanding 3,000 reps to build and another 3,000 to convert into a skill, charts a challenging yet rewarding trajectory. These seven parts encompass:

  1. Stance/Load
  2. Timing
  3. Tempo
  4. Tracking
  5. Approach
  6. Contact
  7. Extension/Finish

While some may question the intensity, hitting is a science and what gets measured gets improved. Over my 25 years as a professional baseball swing coach, this methodology has consistently proven effective.

A standout drill in refining barrel approach is the Wall Drill Mirror. Completing 3,000 reps of this drill ensures a short, quick, and direct path to the baseball. For a visual guide, check out the video HERE.

As we delve into February, celebrating Black History Month, I shine a spotlight on Josh Gibson, a baseball legend born in Georgia. Arguably possessing the best bat speed in baseball history, Gibson’s legacy is explored in Storied Chapter 7. Delve deeper into Mr. Gibson’s story in this insightful video HERE.

In the journey from habits to skills, each repetition is a step towards mastery. It’s not merely about hitting a ball; it’s about sculpting a work of art with every swing. Here’s to the dedication, the science, and the pursuit of excellence on the diamond.

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.