In 2003, Paul Nyman coined a definition that has become a centerpiece for us here at the Texas Baseball Ranch® for the past 14 years.
Nyman refers to it as the Bernstein Principle: the body will organize itself based upon the ultimate goal of the activity. It is derived from the works of the father of biomechanics, Nikolai Bernstein, a Soviet Neurophysiologist.
14 years later it remains unassailable. Bernstein has actually become a verb of sorts at the Ranch. To Bernstein something at the Texas Baseball Ranch® implies we have a very clear goal, and we are acting in full accordance with that goal and not letting anything interfere with our efforts to achieve it. While the ultimate goal of this specific exercise certainly can and often will change or evolve, our commitment to our current stated goal at this moment must be unwavering. Distraction, diversion or interference must be kept to a minimum if we wish to grow and develop ahead of the rate of our competitive peer group.
I find so many athletes and their parents confused, conflicted and/or bewildered regarding their personal development. They lack clarity and without clarity you are hard pressed to find conviction. And without conviction... one cannot find consistent, exceptional performance at the higher levels of competition.
But I personally believe the Bernstein Principle has merit way beyond the sports arena.
On a regular basis, I believe one should have a built in personal dialogue loop that in almost every important endeavor undertaken... frequently asks 5 basic questions.
#1. What's the specific goal here? (Perhaps even... what is the ULTIMATE goal here?)
#2. Why is THIS goal so important to me?
#3. What are the specific obstacles in my way to achieving THIS goal?
#4. What are the dangers along this path to the achievement of THIS goal?
#5. Who or what resources do I need assistance from to achieve THIS goal?
Debating whether to try to develop a slider instead of a curveball? Ask the 5 questions!
Debating whether or not to take part in a velocity enhancement program? Ask the 5 questions!
Deciding on the specific strength/stability or mobility/ flexibility program and process to use. Ask the 5 questions!
Debating whether or not to transfer schools? Ask the 5 questions!
Debating whether or not to ask a girl out on a date? Ask the 5 questions!
Most athletes simply can't answer those questions clarity, self-actualization and self-awareness are too often lacking in their day to day world.
So they get distracted. They drift off course. They get confused. They get angry. They get frustrated. They get disheartened and disillusioned.
As famous mountain climber Alison Levine shared in a TED talk regarding the lessons she learned from climbing Mount Everest:
"Fear is absolutely' OK... it's normal. It is complacency that will kill you."
In my opinion, it is the same with skill development.
Here's to you developing the habitual inner dialogue of a high performer. Practice utilizing the 5 questions as often as you can in your daily life. I promise you that your productivity will increase.
Until next time,
Stay Curious & Keep Fighting the Good Fight