Positive Reinforcement & Communication With Joey Myers

Recently, I spoke with Joey Myers, the founder of the Hitting Performance Lab. He played 4 years of Division-1 baseball at Fresno State from 2000-2003. He’s a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), the International Youth and Conditioning Association (IYCA), and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). He also works with the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).

Shortly after visiting with Coach Myers’ website, I realized he was very good at taking complex ideas and breaking them down for coaches and parents to understand.

When I told him about this he said coaching has been a journey for him with a lot of work still cut out for him.

He said, “When I played I was taught one way, but as I coached, I began to teach differently because what I was taught wasn’t working. I was teaching my hitters bad information.”

One day while scrolling his Twitter feed, Coach Myers saw a revolving gif of himself doing an old drill that was teaching the “old way” of hitting. It was an image of him swinging down on the ball. That method has now been debunked. The title of the Twitter post was, “The Wrong Way to Do It”.

While he had to look twice to confirm that it was him, he decided to retweet the gif with the note, “Ha, ha, ha… these were the dark times for my hitters and if I can change, so can you!”

Coach Myers states that he went from not reading, not learning anymore, not trying to better himself or gain more knowledge, to reading Positional Hitting. He met some influential people and then read some great books:

From that moment on, Coach Myers says he reversed engineered the swing based on human movement principles validated by science. “Everything I learned when I played was based on philosophy and theory, but my hitters didn’t see results with that.” With the use of technology, Coach Myers can do swing experiments. Technology can show all the angles and speed, and he can experiment with the old ways of thinking and disprove them. He says that having access to that technology as well as mentors can really do a number on the old way of thinking.

Sticky Coaching?

I came across a term Joey used on his site and was interested in knowing what it meant. He references the term “Sticky Coaching” and I asked him to expand on that…

Coach Myers defines “Sticky Coaching” as this: to take information validated by science and teach it to a coach, and that coach teaches it to their hitters. Myers said, “I want to effect the coaches. If we can change the coaches, we can change the players, and we can reach the players in that sense.”

Myers said that he wrote a book and it was going to be an online course to “sticky coaching.” He states it’s all about coaching cues and how to talk to players. He says it’s about how to have a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset. Your language matters; that you should praise players for their work and effort vs. how talented they are.

Minimum Effect Dosage Model:

Myers started in the weight loss industry after college and as an example found it was easier to work with athletes wanting to put weight on vs. non-athletes wanting to lose weight. He learned quickly that if he could give them a small goal such that they could begin seeing results, they would be encouraged to do more for better results.

He goes on to say that his experience with young athletes is that each are coming from all sorts of starting points. You might have one where if you give him an inch, he’ll run a marathon, while other athletes are like pulling teeth to get them to do anything, and yet the other group of athletes, you simply need to give them a ‘nudge’.

Using what he learned from Tim Ferris’, Minimum Effect Dosage Model, and implemented with his weight loss industry, Coach Myers changed his training to say that school comes first, and then he only asks that athletes give him 5 minutes per day. He lets them know that they can do more than 5 minutes if they want, but 5 minutes is all he asks.

When training time comes, he starts by asking how many players were able to give 5 minutes a day to hitting homework. He found that for the hitters that gave 3 days or less, they would often have to revisit things worked on the previous week. This was true 80% of the time. For the hitters who got in four or more days, they were ready to move straight on to the next thing.

The idea again is once they get over that 5 minutes, they often feel good about what they’ve accomplished and will want continue with more. The easy part is that they are not required to do it. However, once they see the benefits, they often don’t want to limit themselves to only 5 minutes. Their internal drive will take over at that point.

Dealing With Coaches That Aren’t Using Best Teaching Methods:

I also asked Myers, “How do you keep kids from leaving the sport by the time they hit high school?” Myers discusses how sometimes there are kids who are bullied by a coach and in those instances it’s usually the kids that are “too quiet and too nice” and don’t want to rock the boat.  When they are bullied, it turns them off from wanting to participate. There are conversations that need to happen between parent and coach and/or coach and athlete. Usually with kids under 12, it’s the parents who need to fight the battle, but they need to be reserved and constructive.

As an example, Coach Myers knows his hitting lessons are still considered controversial to a lot of “old school” ways of teaching. Some coaches don’t want to hear the name “Joey Myers” from their players. What Coach Myers teaches has been validated by science. Myers states, “If coaches don’t like what I teach, that tells me that they aren’t seeking to continue to learn, get better, or ask questions.”

With this in mind, how does a player or parent approach a coach who’s not receptive?

Myers says he tells his students to be a “bobblehead”. If a coach tries to “correct” you or asks what are you doing, just tell him you’ve been working on a particular skill. When they say it’s wrong… appease them by doing it their way… Then go back to doing it they way that they should as the coach moves on to another player.

Myers teaches both the wrong way to do things as well as the right way. After this, athletes KNOW when they do a bad swing,they know what they did and how to correct it.

When you have a coach against what you are doing, do the “bobblehead” and then go back to what you were doing when they move on to the next player.

Myers also reviews after every practice:

  • Are there any questions on how to do this?
  • Why to do this and what you’re doing? The Why is what they need to know.
  • What’s the benefit? If they know what the benefit is and the why, and the coach tells them opposite, then their brain doesn’t freak out with that overload.

Myers continues, “You kind of have to play the politician. Any sport you are learning transference.”

Myers states that in life, athletes will eventually have to deal with co-workers, bosses and business owners, and you’re going to have to be that “politician” in those instances. In the same way, parents can’t blow off steam about something upsetting them as it hurts everyone in the process. Sometimes you won’t know the motivation in why they won’t play ‘Johnny’, but you’ve got to try to get to the meat of it in a nice way.

The worst thing you can have is a confused athlete. Ideally everyone is on the same page. Parents need to know how to handle the coach. This is especially important in competitive sports like baseball where kids can be benched just for personal issues.

Myers says his big task for coaches is to be open-minded. “Ask questions. Question what you’ve learned and what you’ve been taught. Try to find different people like Daryl Weber in wrestling or ANY coach that is doing great things with their athletes… asking those questions, ‘what are the top 10 mistakes that coaches can make’ . Those kinds of questions need to be asked or else we get stuck in our thinking.”

For more about Coach Joey Myers visit his website www.hittingperformancelab.com

This is just a small sample of the insights that Coach Myers shared with me. The entire interview is hosted in the Youth Athlete Academy

About Joey Myers:

Joey Myers

Joey Myers is the founder of the Hitting Performance Lab.  He played 4 years of Division-1 baseball at Fresno State from 2000-2003.  He’s a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), the International Youth and Conditioning Association (IYCA), and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).  He has also partnered with the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).

He’s a certified Youth Fitness Specialist (YFS) through the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA), Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and Vinyasa yoga instructor…AND, he’s also certified in the Functional Muscle Screen (FMS).