I watched an MLB game on television, as I have many times before.
The next day, I coached a high school game featuring a top-level high school baseball program.
Aside from the obvious talent gap, there were countless differences I noticed that separates professionals from teenagers.
It wasn't the strength, the size, or any of the other physical tools Major Leaguers posses. It was the attention to detail.
I noticed things like outfielders throwing all the way to second base instead of hitting their cutoff man, even though there wasn't a play at that base. I noticed pitchers not mixing up their looks when there was a man on second.
noticed pitchers sprinting on and off the field and standing in the dugout, needlessly wasting the energy they would need to pitch deep into the game. I noticed a few of them complaining about the strike zone, even though they hadn't yet established consistent command of their fastball.
I noticed hitters taking a strike, then swinging at a ball, as if they were playing the game a pitch behind everybody else. I noticed defenders on their toes and ready for action, but I also noticed them playin every hitter straight up, unconcerned about cheating to one side of the field based on swing mechanics, timing, and pitch velocity.
All these things have nothing to do with physical tools. Baseball is a detail-oriented game that requires IQ and precision. Knowing when to hustle and when to conserve energy, when to be aggressive and when to pull back, and knowing when to complain and when to shut up are extremely difficult things to learn.
Much of these ideals are learned by simply shutting up and observing others.
I'll ask you: What does a high school dugout sound like? A lot of chatter? Constant cheering and loud noises?
What does a Big League dugout sound like?
Almost dead silent.
I promise you it's not because they're bored. It's pure observation - grown men sitting, watching, and learning.
They say that you were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason, and many of us forget that. Sometimes our mouth can get in the way of our learning and we miss out on the fine tune details.
Next time you find yourself in a baseball game (or any learning environment), just stop talking. Watch. Listen. You'll likely be surprised by what you pick up.