Consistency Trumps Intensity
By Flint Wallace, Colorado Rockies
In an attempt to better serve the coaches, players and parents involved in youth baseball, the PBSCCS periodically publishes information on factors that can affect conditioning and performance at this level. With pre-season training for High School baseball starting, this post provides insights about the importance of consistency by Rockies’ Coordinator of Pitching Strategies, Flint Wallace. Flint has over two decades of experience as a MLB pitcher, coach at the high school, college and professional levels and Director of the Texas Baseball Ranch.
I want to discuss a scenario that I often come across. A player attends a pitching camp, showcase, visits a college program, etc. and is really fired up. He gets extremely motivated, excited and goes all in when he gets back home. But, in a few weeks, it’s not uncommon for some to become frustrated and/or get burned out. This usually happens because he went at it with too much intensity in the beginning and didn’t truly understand how development works. Athletic development takes time, and most importantly, consistency. As Bruce Lee said, “Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.”
Our society likes to portray quick and easy fixes (or hacks) as solutions, and I believe that is why so many people get flustered. We are told the lie that it should be fast and easy so many times that it seeps into our unconscious. We are sold the fabricated story that development can be microwaved; all you have to do is work as hard as you can. Working as hard as you can every day, however, is not a recipe for success. It usually leads to burn out, fatigue, lack of recovery or worse, injury. As the old saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race,” which is another way of stating: “consistency over intensity.”
Progress is never linear. Deep down we all know this, but we are sold this bit of goods that success should be linear. So, at the first sign of setback, we get discouraged. Don’t get caught up in this “fast track to success” mindset. Instead, understand that a little every day is much better than a lot for only a couple of times per week.
I believe that the most important trait that highly successful athletes have is their ability to show up every day. Cal Ripken, Jr. even wrote a book about this.1 It is that consistency that sets them apart from others. Anyone can work really hard for a short period of time, but true development only happens when a person dedicates themselves to long-term consistency and trusts the process.
Most people completely neglect progress because they are so focused on achievement. Focusing on achievement is so ingrained in our culture, that we often fail to celebrate small progresses. Instead of setting a goal to improve pitching velocity by ½ mph per week, for example, we want to gain 5-mph right now, and when we don’t get it, we are frustrated.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t work hard or that you shouldn’t have intensity because you definitely should. What I am saying is that you need to have a consistent process and understand that true development takes time, patients and fortitude. Remember that: 1) it pays to show up and 2) learn to value progress, not matter how small. By showing up and working, you will make progress every day.
There are no shortcuts to mastery. The work of the best isn’t dependent on staying motivated. They simply follow a set of routines and patterns and put in a lot of hard work every day. Mastering anything usually involves exploration, adjustment and improvisation. You can’t always know your destination in advance. That’s OK. Be prepared for constant, average work in order to get better at mastering the skill you have chosen to master. Give yourself permission to screw up and learn to move on when things don’t go as planned. Genius can only show up in your work when you show up enough times to work through the average. So, for your future, make daily consistency your number one priority.
Check out the following for more information from PBSCCS on preparation:
- Ripken, C., Jr. Just Show Up. HarperCollins Publisher, New York, NY, 2019.
Flint Wallace is the Coordinator of Pitching Strategies for the Colorado Rockies. He was most recently the Director of Player Development at the Texas Baseball Ranch in Montgomery, TX. Flint pitched for the Oakland Athletics form 1996-1998 and has served as a high school baseball coach and Director of Baseball Operations at TCU.