Striving for perfect moments can lead to great outcomes, whether it’s in baseball, business or life. That’s why Brent Ziemann, a junior high basketball and youth baseball and t-ball coach, teaches his players to be perfect in the moment, a message he emphasizes whether talking to a young teenager or a 5-year-old.
“My job as a coach is to put players in a position to succeed, no matter where on the court, on the field or in life,” said Ziemann, who is from Westlake, Texas, which is northwest of Dallas. “It’s an approach that’s unique."
So Ziemann has his players focus and concentrate on individual sequences. He said this teaches players to work on one thing at a time and, as they continue to progress, all the elements will come together.
For example, he teaches his t-ball players, while on defense, to throw to first base on every ball put in play. He said the success rate parlays into his team averaging to throw out three runners per inning — quite a feat for t-ballers. “Every play they’re mentally thinking about going to first,” Ziemann said. “Later on when we get into situational play, we have them thinking of going to second when there’s a runner on first.”
Perfect moments include, but aren’t limited to: a first baseman making sure he’s touching the bag, squaring down a bunt correctly, making a textbook slide into a base, catching a fly ball with two hands, applying a tag and backing up a throw between other players.
“They don’t hand out scholarships to 10-year-olds, but are the habits they’re practicing now conducive to get there when they’re older?” Ziemann said.
He said often times at higher levels of baseball, some of the mechanics like a bat swing or a pitcher’s arm angle may not have the right mechanics, and that those can be perfect teachable moments at the younger age.
Can there be perfection on both teams on the same play? Sure, Ziemann said.
A pitcher makes a quick delivery and the catcher receives the ball, hops up and throws to second in one fluid motion — as perfect as it can be. However, the runner on first gets a great jump, the right speed and the perfect slide. Can the pitcher-catcher battery still be perfect when they didn’t get the out?
“Absolutely,” Ziemann said. “If the maximum effort and positive attitude are put out there on the play, then they just got better, and they’ll be better in the future because of it.”
Ziemann added that being perfect in several moments doesn’t guarantee victories, but it puts someone, or a team, closer to that goal. He said the key to getting into the perfect mindset is concentration and staying focused, and always have a goal in mind.
“If you shoot for nothing, then you’ll hit nothing,” Ziemann said. “Stay focused on the moment. Mistakes are going to happen, but we have to look past that and try to be perfect in the next moment.”
Ziemann said the philosophy has carried over with the players when they’re in the community or in the classroom, and that every moment is a teachable moment, one in which to strive for perfection.
“Leaders win the moments, and it’s the moments that define us as leaders,” Ziemann said. “Sometimes you learn more from failures than your successes. And we have to keep pushing for those perfect moments.”
From GameChanger and Scott McDonald. Photo by Mark Lamming.