Bernstein-Not Springstein is The Boss Here!
Bernstein—Not Springstein is the Boss Here!
It was the summer of 1982. I was 19 years old, just after my freshman year of college. I left the comforts of my Sumter, South Carolina home and traveled to Keyport, New Jersey because I heard of something called The Jersey Shore League, where college kids could play summer baseball.
I lived with a guy from my college team named Nick Russo. He could really hit. His batting average was over .400 that season so I thought it would be a good idea to hang out with him and do whatever he did all summer.
Well, two weeks into the summer Nick got into a shouting match with his 24 year old sister, Leanne.
As I hid out in the basement to avoid collateral damage I heard Nick shout, “Fine! Then I’m moving out!” To which Leanne replied, “Well then, I’m moving out too!” I heard 2 slamming doors….then silence…..
I slithered back upstairs. That’s the last I saw of Nick or his sister for the rest of the summer…. Just me, Nick’s dad (who rarely spoke) and his 85 year-old grandmother.
They never asked me to leave, and they never said where Nick and Leanne might be. I never asked.
It was a lonely, awkward summer.
But then one night when we didn’t have a game, one of the guys on my team said, “Sully, we’re going to a concert tonight. We’re going to see The Boss!” I had never been to a concert, so I hopped into his Toyota Celica and we were off. We drove to some place called “Asbury Park.”
Anyone over the age of 35 knows I’m talking about Bruce Springstein, aka The Boss. When Bruce and the E-Street band ripped into “Tramps Like Us……”, and Clarence Clemons belted out his classic sax riff, I became a different cat. It was truly a once in a lifetime mind blowing experience…or so I thought.
But then it happened again during the summer of 2009.
I had been coaching baseball for about 18 years, and I thought I had it figured out pretty well. Everyone said I was a good coach. The kids and the parents all seemed to like me. We won a lot of games.
Over the July 4th weekend, I took my son to Ron Wolforth’s Texas Baseball Ranch Elite Pitcher’s Boot Camp. I was just an interested dad, listening in.
In the social media vernacular of today, I was “creeping”
During one of Ron’s lectures, he introduced the kids to something he called “The Bernstein Principle” (I mentioned it in yesterday’s news letter). My mind was blown again. It changed my approach to coaching and teaching forever, and it has become one of the corner stones of our program at The ARMory.
Nikolai Bernstein was a Russian neurophysiologist in charge of training for all the Soviet Olympic athletes from 1950-1980.
He was one of the founding fathers of a scientific discipline now known as “Motor Learning”.
Folks my age will recall the Soviets were absolutely dominant during those years. How much of that success can be attributed to their prolific use of PEDs is a topic for another day.
Mr. Bernstein contributed two significant axioms to the field of motor learning, both of which we apply daily:
Bernstein Principle #1:
“The body will organize itself in accordance with the overall goal of the activity.”
The human body is smart.But we don’t learn motor skills (like pitching or hitting) from verbal cues like “Get your elbow up.” Or “Your arm is dragging.”
I’ll bet every pitcher out there has secretly wanted to shout back at the coach, “What the heck does that mean?!”
If given the overall goal and OBJECTIVE feedback, most athletes will figure out the most efficient and effective way to perform a task.
They learn through feel and repetition, not through words. We as coaches probably need to talk (or shout) less.
At The ARMory, we try to provide only as much verbal and cognitive input as necessary. We allow our drills to do the teaching.
Our athletes learn through guided discovery and kinesthetic feel.
Bernstein Principle #2:
“Mechanical inefficiencies do not happen in a vacuum, they require two factors: time and tension.”
“Mechanical inefficiencies” are improper or poorly timed muscle firings that result in lousy pitches.
Moving slowly allows time and space for mechanical inefficiencies to enter into the pitcher’s movement pattern.
Tension might exist in the form of physical constraints (for example tight hamstrings, or poor shoulder mobility), or psychological stressors that cause the athlete to move in an inefficient manner.
Try riding a bicycle very slowly. Mechanical inefficiencies make it very difficult
Speed up a little without being out of control and these inefficiencies iron out.
The movement becomes smooth and uninhibited, and performance improves.
We ask our pitchers to try to move as fast as possible and to remain tension free. Every athlete finds his own optimum tempo. We just ask that it be on the side of fast—smooth and fast.
The Bernstein Principle is one of the things that makes us different from most traditional pitching instructors or coaches.
Coach Wolforth once referred to the traditional coaching/teaching style as “verbally vomiting on the pitcher after every pitch.”
We’ve all seen it. The pitcher throws a pitch in the bullpen. The coach stops him and tells him what he did wrong. The process is repeated for 30 minutes, usually with the coach pointing out a different error after every pitch. The player leaves frustrated, confused and no different (except the sense of being little lighter in the wallet).
In my experience, that approach is highly ineffective.
If you’re ready to change the way you train….If you’ve had it with the same old same old….If you’re ready to take off on a new, sky’s the limit cutting edge flight path, then we are ready for you!
Shoot on over to The ARMory.
Call us at (813) 701-3290, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and start training with us.
We’ll help you change yourself into a guided missile launching, bazooka firing, deadly accurate terror on the mound.
Your newly found velocity and command will have scouts and recruiters clamoring for your attention.
Warning! Opposing hitters will hate you!
You’ll soon be blowing guys up every time they hand you the ball….
LIKE A BOSS!!