August 15th, 2022: Ryan Serena – Program Director
As we begin the fall season, it is important for us to share a few foundational principles of our program. As Player Development is our primary focus, there are three pillars in which we look to develop in order to help players become the best versions of themselves. We use the simple acronym TAG: Tools, Actions & Gamability. Below is a description of how we define each pillar.
Tools are the physical piece of being an athlete and a baseball player. Some things like your height and hand size are God given and cant be developed, but things like raw strength, speed, mobility, stability and other various other physical attributes can be. These tools are most often developed in the weight room, which is an extremely important supplement to what happens on the field and in the cage with skills work. As players advance to higher levels, the Tools become a prerequisite for performance at a high level.
Actions can be described more commonly as mechanics or movements that lead to high level performance as a player. Every player moves in a different way, so we work to help build actions that allow that specific player to best accomplish baseball specific skills, and remain adjustable the the countless variations of possibilities within a game. Some examples here are a player’s swing, footwork on a ground ball, throwing motion etc. While there are principles within each of these areas that hold true to the vast majority of players, working to understand the player’s specific needs, and sharing drills and cues that help the player understand those needs is critical here.
Gameability is multifaceted in its place within the development process. On one hand, gameability can be described as the ability to naturally compete and perform in a game situation. We can all think of players who are “gamers”, who play their tails off and find a way to get the job done, sometimes despite having underdeveloped tools or actions. On the other hand, there are pieces of gameability that we can develop through simulating game situations in the training environment. Some examples here include, live baserunning reads, mental game focuses, team defense, pitch calling & sequencing, etc. The ability to take training to the field is of the utmost importance, so training in a gamelike fashion is key to developing these abilities.
It is important to note that these pillars are not trained or executed in a vacuum, and development in one area aids in the development of the others. For example, If your tools become better by physically getting stronger, your ability to execute certain actions is likely going to be enhanced, and because your swing or throwing motion is more optimized and you have added strength, you’ll be able to hit or throw balls harder, which will increase your output in a game scenario. It’s for this reason why it is so important that players keep TAG in mind as they set about the process of improving, and why we as a program work to provide development in each of these areas.