Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why Teaching Step-By-Step Mechanics is So Ineffective in Youth Baseball

Attended a pitching clinic for kids recently, and my ESTP son, who normally loves doing anything associated with baseball, came away very disappointed, and rightfully so.

The clinic itself was a good idea, designed to help kids transition from machine pitch to kid pitch. But the instructor started off by giving a strategy and motivational speech to a bunch of 7, 8, and 9 year olds, and they drifted off predictably. But where he really started to lose them was the 1-2-3-4 step-by-step approach to pitching very few of them were relating to.

Soon after he started with the 1 - arm back, 2 - extend arm, etc, one of the ENTP kids just left. The xSTPs stuck around, but were losing interest quick. The reason this method wasn't resonating was because so many of the kids who were good enough and motivated enough to show up at this optional event were Ps, as are a majority of Major Leaguers.

A couple of the xSTPs got very frustrated after being told to stop after "1", with their arms halfway in the air. It made no sense to them. And it wasn't just this pitching coach, I see the same thing with hitting, where coaches destroy kids' timing and create statues that are instructed to keep their elbows up, which then attracts their focus instead of keeping their eyes on the ball.

Bad mechanics have a tendency to self-correct with practice and by allowing the kids to make adjustments to poor results. Telling a sport dominated by Ps to follow step-by-step instructions makes as much sense as telling golfers to run up to the tee just like Happy Gilmore did.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Do ESTPs Practice the Hardest?

ESTPs are often called "energizer bunnies" for their ability to keep going and going. I have an ESTP son who tires me out with sports, he can play baseball, tennis, or basketball for hours, long after his friends have passed out. He doesn't get progressively tired like I do (I'm an ENTP), but rather hits a wall and then stops or goes to sleep.

With the current popular trend of "deliberate practice" influencing sports and music, a lot of attention is being placed on nurture overcoming nature - that hard work is far more important than talent. I agree with this view, and try to apply to it my daily life, but could it also be that practicing hard comes easiest to ESTPs?

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Best Quarterback in Football is an ENTP

OK, I'm biased as a Patriots fan, but was listening to Tom Brady talk, talk, and talk this morning on And instead of the usual athlete cliches, he was deeply analyzing opposing defenses, how they differ, sounding more like a professor than someone who takes hits every weekend from 300 pound linebackers.

Brady was a 6th round draft pick out of college, with a weak arm and a scrawny frame. Like a lot of ENTP athletes, his strength is intellectual, not purely physical. However, unlike ENTP baseball players such as Tim Lincecum and Kevin Youkilis, he doesn't have unorthodox goofy-looking mechanics.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Get By With a Little Help from my ESFP Friends

As an ENTP, I sometimes have a hard time getting along with other NTs. While it's getting better since I've decided to back off, too many discussions I have with other NTs end up in douchebag analyses of obscure facts. INTPs can be the worst, and other ENTPs probably 2nd worst.

Many of my good friends are ESFPs. And they break up the irritating douchebaggery of other NTs with funny jokes, party recommendations, and offers to go shoot a few hoops. They like politics, they're not all airheads as stereotypes might suggest, but they also have the empathy to ease up on a political discussion where many of us NTs keep it going.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Don't Give Up on the INTPs

One of the biggest challenges coaching youth baseball can be managing INTPs, who are not naturally athletic, and have a tendency to play with the dirt, and drift off during practice. When it gets bad, their lack of attention will infect other players, and pretty soon you've got an infield full of kids making sand castles around the bases.

But one thing I firmly believe is anyone can do well at sports if they put in the effort. And the problem in a lot of cases is kids are coached generically, with little customization for their preferences. INTPs are not going to respond to a litany of mechanical instructions. Better to just tell them to think about hitting the ball back to the pitcher, or swinging the bat and seeing themselves running to first. Like other NPs, they typically respond well to visions of the future, not to continual reminders to lift their elbows.

Another tactic with INTPs is to find out what their interests are outside of sports. Many are into planets and the solar system, you can sometimes make a reference to that or some other interest in efforts to encourage them. But whatever you do, don't use MBTI as an excuse to give up on players.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Sometimes it can be hard to tell ENTJs and ESTJs apart, both like to run things, and are found all over executive ranks. But two current Republican politicians provide a good example of how they differ.

ENTJ New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a big reformer, who not only wants limited government, but wants to overhaul the school system entirely. ESTJ South Carolina GOP candidate Nikki Haley is charismatic and uses forceful tones like Christie, but shows far less interest in reforming things, but rather more traditional ways of making government more transparent and balancing the budget.

One of the big differences between ENTJs and ENTPs is the ENTJs like to reform institutions by working within them, while we ENTPs often prefer to just replace the institution from the outside. ENTJs aspire to be CEOs and political leaders the way ENTPs can aspire to be successful entrepreneurs. But once inside government or business, the ENTJs can tear up bureaucracies and established practices as well as we can.

ENTJs, like Christie and Margaret Thatcher, are far better than ESTJs in fighting an entrenched political interest than ESTJs, who are often efficient caretakers and less agitated by entities that create poor results than they are by a lack of results in general. This agitation is often the marker between an ESTJ and an ENTJ. The ESTJ gets agitated by weak results, but the ENTJ gets agitated by institutions that create weak results. ESTJs will often express agitation with inefficient procedures, but they tend to like institutions too much to tear them down. Chris Christie is agitated by the NJ teachers union the same way that Maggie Thatcher was agitated by all the unions in Britain. Nikki Haley seems more agitated with process and government transparency, but does not show any particular interest in battling with any established institutions.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Bryce Harper: Bad Attitude or Just Extraverted?

Front page of YouTube today has a clip of likely #1 pick Bryce Harper using his bat to mark a line in the dirt after striking out. Sort of an obnoxious way to tell the ump that strike 3 was actually outside.

This incident isn't helping this kid, who already has been tagged by some scouts as having "bad makeup". But is an attitude problem, or is he being singled out for being a little extraverted?

Unlike last year's #1, Stephen Strasburg, who is a big-time introvert, Harper strikes me as ESTP, as are Rickey Henderson, Danny Ainge, and A-Rod according to Niednagel. Don't agree with all of Niednagel's assessments, but these three seem dead on. ESTPs have a habit of playing like punks, and they don't win the character awards ISTPs do, who are often credited with having a better attitude, when they're really just keeping things inside. I even see it in Little League where ExTPs are more likely to fist pump and shout when they make a big play or get a big hit. They're letting out energy, and to take it as a sign of some kind of bad attitude or bad sportsmanship is a big mistake.

While ESTPs can look like punks on the outside, but they often play on championship teams, especially in baseball, and are not the headcases they can appear to be based on certain instances. Harper's antics look typical for a 17 year old ESTP, especially a successful one, and give no indication that he's another discipline problem like Milton Bradley or a soft player who will get contractitis after a big payday like Carl Pavano or Brian Roberts.