Sep 15, 2017The Right Mindset
Since Head Coach Rob Childress took over in 2006, Texas A&M University baseball has been one of the top-tier programs in the country. During his tenure, the squad has made the NCAA tournament for 10 straight years, including five Super Regional appearances and a College World Series trip in 2011.
The foundation for all this success is laid during the fall offseason. The overarching goal for the offseason is to teach players how to embody what the Texas A&M baseball program is all about. The strength staff plays a huge role in reinforcing Coach Childress’ messages. Since we spend a tremendous amount of time around the athletes, we have many opportunities to emphasize the team’s identity. For this reason, I don’t focus on physical training right off the bat. To me, the physical part is merely potential that can’t be realized without first building a mental foundation.
Therefore, I use our initial training sessions to teach athletes about being disciplined, accountable, detail oriented, team oriented, and driven. We let go of individuality and immerse ourselves in being a team. To set the tone, players are required to shave every morning until fall ball is over and dress as a team for training and practice. We explain our strength and conditioning approach, the mindset athletes must bring into the weightroom, the enthusiasm and energy they are expected to bring during workouts, and every detail about our lifting technique and process.
Then, the discussion shifts to our program’s core values. The players describe what the core values mean to them and the role they play in the team’s success. Our core values are:
Selfless: Our primary concerns are for our brothers and Texas A&M baseball.
Accountable: We hold our brothers and ourselves to our covenant and our standards and understand the difference between teammates and friends.
Relentless: We are physically and mentally stronger than all others, at all times, even in the midst of adversity. You will always get our best shot.
Passionate: We are committed to playing at the highest level with the highest level of enthusiasm day in and day out.
Once athletes have a clear understanding of the team’s core values, we have them come up with their own values and goals for the offseason. Our staff adjusts their goals as needed and lays out a strategy to meet them. The players also brainstorm aspirations for the upcoming season, as well as a process-oriented plan for how we will achieve them. The players’ present their objectives to the coaching staff as the “bar” that they will attempt to reach every day.
Finally, we teach our players to have a competitive spirit in everything they do — from lifting weights to a weekend pingpong game with their teammates. We call this attribute “Attitude:” a supreme confidence or belief that they will win in any and every situation. To further promote this characteristic, we mix individual competitions into our daily training sessions, even if it’s something as simple as seeing who can drink their Gatorade the fastest after a workout.
Establishing the right mindset for our athletes in the offseason is important because baseball is an extremely humbling game of failure. The team that plays together, competes without the fear of consequence, moves on after a mistake, and stays in the moment is usually the team that will have consistent success. If we can maintain this mentality regardless of who occupies the other dugout, I like our chances.