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The 90% Rule

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

There's a cliche that we all hear from when we first pick up a baseball to when we hang up our spikes for the final time.

"Give it 100% effort - everything you've got."

It's true - to an extent. We want to leave everything out on the field so, when we get the final out, we can look back without regret, knowing that we did everything in our power to help our team win.

However, there is one question you must ask yourself.

What kind of a sport is baseball?

Is it a collision sport like football? A contact sport like basketball? A speed sport like track?

Baseball is a precision sport, requiring the utmost attention to detail, staying in complete control of your movements, the flow of the game, and the speed at which you perform your actions, whether it be swinging, throwing, or fielding. The truth is none of these can be done at 100%, or else we will be out of control.

Think of your best swing. Did you swing as hard as you could? Chances are, you barreled up the baseball jogged into second base and thought to yourself, "Man, I barely swung. That's crazy."

Have you ever watched a Major League Baseball game? It almost looks like the players aren't trying - almost.

In reality, they're giving it 100%. You just don't see it. Yes, the movements are slower - but that's because they've figured out that in order to slow the game down, you must first slow yourself down, and slowing yourself down physically speeds you up mentally.

Physically we go at our best 90% to stay under control, slow the game around us, and allow our brains to catch up. 90% is quick, but not our quickest. We let our adrenaline take us the extra 10%. If we already play at 100%, chances are we do a lot of things out of control - we swing too hard, we overrun balls in the field, and we throw really hard on the mound, but maybe not in the strike zone.

Every player's 90% is different. Some might need to tell themselves 95%. Some might need to tell themselves 70%. Some actions in baseball are performed slower than others. I like to hit at my best 75% because I know how easy it is for me to speed myself up in the box and get overwhelmed. I had a buddy tell me he wants to pitch at his best 95%. Imagine throwing 95 and not wanting to throw every pitch as hard as you can. Maybe he knows something younger pitchers don't...

A good player gives it his all. A mature gives it... almost his all. Slow yourself down to 90% and let the mental side of your game win.