Mastering the Basics is to Master the Mundane
To be the best, you must master the mundane. The mundane is the boring and dull pursuit of a far-reaching goal that might never happen. Mastering the mundane is taking control of every aspect of your life so that you can put your best foot forward in the pursuit of your goal. To reach your fullest potential you must master the mundane, and your fullest potential might not even let you reach your goal. Acceptance of this possibility is not meant to discourage but truly analyze, if the pursuit is worth it, and how much you will apply to that pursuit.
We all know what it takes to be a great athlete but very few are willing to put everything they have into it. An unfortunate truth is that genetics can ultimately decide your outcome. For example, if you’re 6’5”, you’re not going to play center in the NBA. The goal of this article is for you to put genetics aside and be the best you can be, with goals in mind. You must make an informed decision on the life you want to live and how much you’re willing to put into your pursuit into a sport. It is fine to not be willing to put everything you want to make the MLB, but don’t tell people you’re dedicated and then go blow coke up your nose every weekend.
This is not just about training; it is mainly about the choices that you put in outside of the training time that will maximize your abilities. Every choice you make or don’t make will lead to your fate. This is not meant to scare young athletes but rather inform them on what it might take to reach the highest levels. You, and the coaches in your life, need to be honest about what it will take to get where you want to go.
When you take the step of ownership, it can result in an amazing feeling as you reach a goal that maybe took you 10 years to accomplish. Those 10 years, however, were filled with depression, poverty, self-doubt, and peer pressure to make poor decisions. That’s the beauty of reaching a goal. The struggle that it took for you to reach that goal is beautiful when you look back on it after you are done. Most people in sports are unwilling to talk about this. That 32-year-old righty reliever making his MLB debut probably has an incredible story of what it took for him to make it on that mound. He went through decades of struggle and finally reached his goal that he was dedicated to for not just a season but a career.
What happens if don’t reach your goal? Well I can speak to that because I never reached my goals. I was an average D1 shot-putter that never went to big meets and never reached my highest potential. As I analyze my career I can speak to why I did not make it the levels I wanted I did not master the mundane. So, what mistakes did I make? Well, it’s simple. First, I drank too much on the weekends and sometime weekdays (those Thursday night AMF’s did not make Jack throw well the next day). Second, my nutrition was terrible. I thought shoveling as much food as I could into my mouth was the best way to grow. The Digiorno’s pizza with Olive Oil on top was probably not the best decision. Third, I didn’t take mobility as seriously as I should have and denied that it truly mattered in the sport I was competing in. Lastly, I didn’t try to learn, read, or listen to others because I thought I knew it all, as many young men seem to do. The list could go on and on but I did not master the mundane. I made decisions that ultimately doomed my athletic career. Some of you may find this depressing. However, I think going back and analyzing this was huge powerful step that I can use for future steps in life and help other athletes.
The step that I can help you with is to master the mundane, being around a lot of great athletes and successful people outside of sports they all share this one commonality. In this post I will just talk about athletics and what it means to master the mundane. Even though I’m a young male that hasn’t done anything special in life at this point, I have learned and later listened to what people have always told me.
As a young teenager, my first coach was Kyle Boddy, a man that I’m forever grateful for what he has taught me and continues to teach me. Going beyond the scope of teaching me how to squat and programming for me as a high school athlete, he helped me reach levels of strength I never thought were possible in a short period of time. However, the lessons that he always preached through stories both personal and through story telling I have only recently begun to understand. At the time he told me these things, I didn’t understand what he was preaching because I chose not to listen and was too immature to fully grasp. I now can grasp the lessons he gave me. Kyle taught me about mastering the mundane and the shit you don’t always want to do or saying no to the shit that you want to do but won’t help you reach your goal. I was able to learn these lessons through watching Kyle and all the work he put in to grow Driveline to what it is today.
As I look back at Driveline Baseball when Kyle was my Freshmen baseball coach and compare it to now I’m amazed by the growth. Many don’t understand the full story concerning what it takes to reach this type of growth. No one used to listen to him. The local baseball community in Washington used to shit on him. Being fired as freshmen baseball coach would make most people quit the industry. No one followed him on twitter or read any of his blog posts. This went on for years and years but he kept on writing and coaching and now runs one of the most successful baseball businesses. This is because in the business term he mastered the mundane. Through all the hardship he continued to write, coach and develop research. It almost seems like an overnight success but most didn’t see the years when he was a nobody.
Mobility is probably the most boring dull thing that you can do. It’s not sexy, it doesn’t feel good at that moment but needs to be done. Digging a lacrosse ball into your glute hurts like hell, but will also open up your hips that will help both your squat and deadlift. Throughout my career I didn’t think I needed to work on mobility. I was 290 plus pounds squatting 600 pounds and power cleaning 170kg. Yes, I was strong but tying my shoe usually made my hamstring cramp, which is definitely not “functional”. I also had major injuries in college. A broken femur, microfracture surgery, and torn bicep top a long list. As I write this it is obvious at the time what I needed to work on. My mobility was absolutely terrible. I needed 225 pounds on my back for me to hit depth in a squat. I feel like an idiot as a I write this because I should have attacked this discipline with the same fight I did with my strength.
Why didn’t I? I would argue back then that it didn’t matter and that injuries are inevitable in athletics, which of course they still are. However, I’m sure I could have avoided many of these If I just would have listened and learned, and not been so lazy. I should have listened to my coach who always preached mobility and not been lazy. As I look back at my Driveline days Casey Weathers went through the same 30 minute warm-up/mobility circuit day in and day out. Most days he did not want to, but “work has to be done” he would always say. It was tedious and boring but gave him the best chance to be successful in his training. I still however did not fully grasp what he was saying or was just too lazy to do it myself.
In the spring of 2017, I went to Altis (an elite track and field center) for a week seminar and listened to both Dan Pfaff and Stuart McMillian (look them up if you don't know who they are). With all of their great insight, I was amazed to watch all of their great athletes do the same 45 minute warm-up day in and day out. No one complained or skipped any of it because “work had to be done”. That is when it clicked for me. I finally understood that the work required to be a great athlete is not what you want to do but what you have to do. I was great at training with full intensity and coming ready to go everyday but was lazy and not disciplined to do the little things that make you a great athlete. Mastering the mundane means to master the basic.
The basics of training are training and recovery. Training means the specific aspects of your sports and the strength/conditioning. Recovery means nutrition, sleep, and mobility. Mostly everyone has the training part down. It’s fun and easy to throw with maximum intent but many don’t have the mundane parts down to maximize that training performance. Did you sleep 9 hours last night? Was it quality sleep? Are you hungover? What did you eat this week? What’s your nutrition plan? What’s your mobility plan? Did you accomplish all of these? If you don’t have an answer to all of these questions then you can’t be mad that you didn’t succeed. You might have said yes to a party and drank a 5th of tequila (been there before) and stayed up till 4am. Can you then really complain that your program isn’t what it should be or your coach sucks. No, because you didn’t do everything you could to maximize your success. The most important parts of training are really boring and tedious, but what can separate you from the pack. People don’t master the mundane because it is too boring. The mundane for me was mobility but for you it might be something totally different.
Hopefully now you understand what it truly means to master the mundane. As you have read this I hope you know what your goals are. Write them down and strive to reach them, but also analyze your performance. If your goals are set very high then you need to understand that every choice you make influences your outcome. Every time you don’t do mobility, skip a lift, or go to the bars it will have a negative effect on your outcome. The more of these negative choices you stack on top of each other the less of a chance you have of reaching your desired outcome. Just remember these are just decisions and judgement is not being passed, live the life you want and create your path. I’m following the same path that many of you are. I don’t mean this as a negative, however in college I did not reach my fullest potential because I did not master the mundane. I have grown from this and now make goals and analyze my performance. Mastering the mundane is a boring path full of hard decisions because “work has to be done”
Every day now I analyze my performance, did I reach my goal? If not, how come? I challenge you to analyze your performance. Nitpick the decision that you make, weigh them against your goal and make the decision based on what you want more. The ball is in your court, you have the power to reach your potential but you need to master the mundane.