Alan McDougal, MPM is the head baseball coach at Colleyville Heritage High School in Colleyville, TX. He led the Panthers to the 2019 Texas 5A State Championship and earned his team a #1 National Raking in all of High School Baseball. In that 2019 Season, one of Alan’s players, Bobby Witt Jr. (Pictured on the left with Alan) was named Gatorade High School National Baseball Player and National Athlete of The Year and was the 2nd overall selection in the Major League Baseball Draft.
Alan, a mental performance mastery (MPM) certified coach is widely regarded as one of the top coaches in all of high school baseball. He has presented at coaching clinics all over the country on topics related to coaching the mental game, developing an elite mindset and building a championship culture in your high school baseball program.
He has coached multiple Major League players and routinely puts players into Division I college baseball.
In this podcast Alan shares:
- The tips, strategies and system he uses to coach mental performance
- How he uses the classroom to develop the mental skills of his players
- His program culture of “DUDES”
- How he runs a fast-paced and up-tempo style practice
- How he gets the most out of his players physically and mentally
- How he coaches the process and one pitch at a time
- A life lesson he learned from the football coach at Notre Dame
- And much more…
Thank you for listening to the Brian Cain Mental Performance Mastery Podcast on the Ironclad Content Network. If you liked this show, be sure to leave us a rating and a review and don’t forget to engage with me Instagram and Twitter @BrianCainPeak.
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Cain: Hey how are you doing? Brian Cain your Peak Performance Coach here with another episode of the Peak Performance Podcast. Today our guest is Colleyville Heritage High School head baseball coach Alan McDougal. He just wrapped up his tenth season of success and he is here to talk to us today about how to build a mindset in your baseball program, how to create a championship culture, and how to coach the mental game.
Alan has now been coaching the mental game for a number of years and is one of the best in the country when it comes to creating a one-pitch-at-a-time approach within his culture. Something I’m super excited to talk about today is how he runs a fast-paced up-tempo practice in baseball which you don’t see all the time. Alan, welcome to the podcast. I appreciate you making the time to join us.
McDougal: Brian, it’s a pleasure to be here face-to-face with you for the first time getting to talk about the mental game and share it with some other coaches.
Cain: Awesome. If you would could you kind of take us through your background in kind of a quick one minute snapshot of where you grew up and how you got to where you are today as the head coach at Colleyville.
McDougal: I grew up in Sherman, Texas, about 60 miles north of Dallas. I went to Baylor University to play baseball. I got hurt. I played a year there. I got out of college and went into coaching in the Fort Worth area. I was introduced to Brian Cain when I got the head coaching job at Colleyville Heritage through a TCU baseball camp my first year there. I have luckily got to get some CDs and different things and got the first exposure there.
As we transferred through my career at Colleyville, Brian, with TCU and some players that we had run through, helped me to just stay focused on the mental game and to get some stuff there. When Brian relocated into the Dallas/Fort Worth area it kind of went to another level.
Cain: I remember the day clearly. I was driving from Phoenix, Arizona, moving to Southlake, Texas. I was in my car and I got an email. It popped up and it said “Alan McDougal, Colleyville Heritage High School.” I go “man, Colleyville Heritage High School, that sounds familiar.” I had spoken there one time at a coach’s clinic that a mutual friend of ours, Aaron Weintraub, had put on. I’m like “I think that’s close to Southlake.” So I think I just called you out of the blue after getting that email and said “hey man what’s up.” You were talking about how you had used the Pride program and used some other training tools with your program at Colleyville. I was moving in within 10 minutes of where you lived and we’ve developed a relationship since then which has been awesome.
If you would, Alan, could you kind of talk to us about what’s the mental game from your perspective as a head high school baseball coach in one of the top programs in the country.
McDougal: Well I think we’re always trying to get to the mountain top (which is Round Rock, Texas) and we’re trying to find different ways to get there. Most of us have lots of kids that are very comparable so what sets it apart. With your introduction to the mental part of the game and then I get to look at what do the best of the best do that sets them apart. I look at Augie Garrido or Skip Bertman or Tim Corbin or Jim Schlossnagle locally. I think what they do that is different is they have a mental aspect to their game that sets them apart.
It’s not just a one year thing. It’s you look back at the track record and the thing that they do that is different from most is they have a mental curriculum that their players are ready to go when the stuff hits the fan – and it does hit the fan.
Cain: I heard a great quote one time from Clint Hurdle, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He said “great leaders play follow the leader.” They find out what people are doing who are already having success and they follow what they do.
You’ve mentioned some of the legends in the game: Skip Bertman, Augie Garrido, Tim Corbin, Coach Schlossnagle at TCU. What are some of the things that the coaches who are listening to this podcast could go home and go into their program and get started? So if they were to get started as a high school baseball coach (or any sport really) with coaching the mental game where would you suggest they get started?
McDougal: I think the place you start a Success Hotline. I think you’re looking for something that each day you can send your kids to that just gives them some little snippet of the mental game. Is there a way that you can hold those guys accountable that can be done through Twitter or through Mind 101? Just something that lets them know that you’re kind of sitting on their shoulder. Probably not watching personally but just imagining that they’re there and they’re holding them accountable for getting that into their lives.
Cain: You talk about Success Hotline – which is something that a lot of our guests refer to. Dr. Rob Gilbert, one of the premier Peak Performance coaches and sports psychologists in the country at Montclair State in New Jersey, every morning does a Success Hotline message. The phone number (for those that are listening) is 973-743-4690.
Alan, you mentioned the importance of doing a little a lot, calling Success Hotline because it’s consistent. I think a lot of coaches when they look at the mental game they’re like “hey we pull them into a classroom for 10 minutes, we talk about the mental game once or we have a guy” like myself or someone else come in and speak to their team and then they check the box and they’re done with the mental game. What would you say to those coaches that are kind of just getting started so that they don’t just check the box and say “hey we’ve done the mental game” but “we have a consistent system.” One of the things that impresses me with what you do is how systematic you are with the mental game.
McDougal: Well I’ll be honest with you. When we first introduced Brian Cain’s Peak Performance into our program it was just what you said – it was a snippet. I kind of checked the box, thought that was really good, and we jumped into the season and kind of went away from it. Over the last two years we have had a particular menu and we have looked to keep that consistently through our year and lo and behold we’ve had a little bit more success with it. I really don’t want to measure success as we all do with wins and losses but at the end of the program it just seems that it has reached a place that the kids really, really like it.
What happened with this fall is there was a day each week that no matter what it was going to be a mental day. Typically that was a Friday. If the weather kind of came in for us maybe we’d adjust it slightly, but we were going to get one day a week through the off season. Once the season hit it was an everyday part of our practice.
I think that was the part that I took the most pride in and our kids took the most pride in because it was, yes, I guess, initiated by me but run by them and it was every day a part of our practice. It kind of got us started. It wasn’t something that drug, it wasn’t “let’s listen to Coach McDougal and have our eyes roll if we’ve heard this for the 15th time.” It was a different player each day introducing what the mental game meant to them. I thought it was awesome and it will certainly be something we continue throughout my time at Colleyville.
Cain: I think as coaches that are always pressed for time some people are probably listening to this going “how do you do the mental game every day, how long does it take, I don’t know if I can make that much time in my program to do it every day.” Could you talk about how you made it part of your everyday routine, what you covered, and how long it took.
McDougal: I’m going to say it is a four minute max. If you don’t have four minutes we’ve got some issues. We’ve got to cut some other things out of our practice.
We circle up at the beginning of practice, we have a breathing exercise. It takes maybe 15-20 seconds. We probably could go a little bit longer on that to be honest with you but that at least gets us focused in on what we’re doing. Then I turn it over to one of our kids. What they’re asked to do is to tell the group what Success Hotline meant to them for that day, to tell them what the Daily Dominator for that day meant to them. I don’t want a Cliff Notes version. I want what did you get from it. They talk about a one word exercise. I want one word that you want to present to the group that represents you or represents us.
Our core values are DUDES: dedication, uncommon, discipline, energy, and selflessness. Those correspond with each of the five days of the week that they’re going. At that point that person will tell what that DUDES word of the day (again) means to them. So it’s about a four minute thing. I briefly say what practice is going to look like that day then we go run, stretch, and throw, and practice starts. But it has been an awesome start to our practice and that has gone on on a daily basis.
Cain: And do you ask a player that morning to speak or you’ve let them know ahead of time by giving them a calendar of who is going to talk?
McDougal: Good question. I did it the first day of practice then I gave it to somebody, then when the person is done with their portion of the day they select the next person. It’s not a volunteer basis. But the guy knows 24 hours in advance what is going on. I allow them to bring notes. They bring their notes on a written piece of paper, they hand that to me, and then what we look to do is at the end bind that up, hand it back to them, and you’ll see for 2016 what those words meant. We’ll have different kids or the same kids in the circle next year, possibly looking at the same words. I think that’s going to change as they mature.
Cain: That’s awesome. So you talked about DUDES. Let’s recap here. What you do on a daily basis is there is a breathing exercise followed by a player summarizing what it means to them – which I think is great. It’s not a regurgitation of what Success Hotline was. It’s what it means to them. So they are going to cover Success Hotline, the Daily Dominator, their one word, and then the DUDES characteristic of the day.
Cain: DUDES again being dedication, uncommon, discipline, energy, and selfless. If you take DUDES and you tie it to a day of the week, Monday would be dedication, Tuesday would be uncommon, Wednesday is discipline, Thursday is energy, and Friday is selfless. Is that correct?
McDougal: That is correct.
Cain: What do you do on Saturday?
McDougal: Well we may not meet Saturday. Sometimes we play, sometimes we practice Saturday. It comes back to me. Typically if there is an odd day that is thrown out then I am going to take that or ask one of my coach’s staff to take that. But that would not be a kid-related.
Cain: Excellent. Now for the coaches listening to this one of the things they could do too is on that Saturday it could be maybe the motto for the day. If you’ve have a motto “common/uncommon” or a motto of “dominate the day” or a motto of – we’ve referred a lot to Pete Carroll and Win Forever, or the motto that Rick Pitino uses with Louisville basketball of “one day contract.” You could build your motto in on that Saturday.
Before we go back to DUDES here, Alan, while we’re on the topic of basketball you’re also a highly regarded basketball official. How do you use the mental game yourself when you’re performing as a basketball official and people are heckling you and they’re calling you names in the great state of Texas when basketball was huge? How do you use the mental game yourself?
McDougal: I love to compete and refereeing basketball is kind of the way that, as an aging person that doesn’t get to compete a lot, I get to do that. I cannot tell you how much better a coach I feel I am because I referee basketball because I have the ability to communicate in very short snippets what I’m trying to explain as a game gets moving back and forth. I get to communicate with parents better, I get to communicate with our umpires better, and it has made me much better as a person, as a coach, as a communicator.
How I get to use the mental game? It’s tough. You have to sit there and take a lot from coaches and from fans and from players and you kind of take what you need and it’s literally one play at a time. Once the whistle blows you say what you need to go and move to the next play. If you look at it that way with the one play at a time you’re not going to hold a grudge on a coach that didn’t like your traveling call or block charge. It’s over and done with and move to the next one. That’s kind of how we deal with things.
Cain: Awesome. Let’s come back to DUDES now, if you could, which is straight from Pillar #2 Championship Culture. How did you get to DUDES? Did you come up with that and just give it to your players? Was it a collaborative effort? How did you get there?
McDougal: It was a collaborative effort. We sat down and kind of went through what is important to us, what Panther Baseball needs to represent in the school, on the field, and in our city of Colleyville. I know a lot of the other ones that we’ve looked at used their mascot typically. “Panthers,” for whatever reason, seemed a little bit long for my guys so as we went through this we just kind of looked at the letters and looked to see what could we make this that would represent us. At that point we had gone through some other curriculum with Dr. Tom Hansen which talked about playing big and a word that came across to one kid in the classroom was what does it look like to be a dude? A dude is a guy that bows his chest and plays the game big. So that’s kind of how it went. We looked and shuffled the letters and DUDES is what we came up with.
Cain: So if you would could you go through kind of each of those core principles and talk about what it means in your program. So what is dedication?
McDougal: Dedication is doing what is right even when no one is watching. Are you dedicated to Panther Baseball? Or is that just talk? Typically when we have cage time or workout time I’m not much one that goes up there and takes roll. I think that can be figured out once you get on the field. If this guy’s stroke is really fine-tuned that didn’t just happen by chance. It happened because he has really put some work in. Dedicated guys don’t rely on our hour and a half that we get each day. They find time in their schedule to make sure it means something to them. All of a sudden you look and our best kids typically are the ones that do that and everyone typically falls in and goes “well if it works for them it’s probably going to work for me too” and they at least give that a shot.
Cain: What about being uncommon? What does that mean to you and your program?
McDougal: Uncommon, just different. Are you going to do what everyone else does or are you going to do what the uncommon person does? One thing that we have done that has kind of stuck out to them – and I think you might have introduced us to it – was picking up a piece of trash. I had the fortunate neat thing to walk Ty Willingham to a classroom my first year at Colleyville. He was the head coach at Notre Dame at the time.
Cain: Are you going to tell this story? This is unbelievable.
McDougal: The head coach at Notre Dame at the time. He and I are walking.
Cain: Notre Dame football coach.
McDougal: Notre Dame head football. He was walking from our administrative area and needed to walk back to our coaching area. So we are walking through the cafeteria and I mean we’re probably 15-20 feet from an empty Coke bottle sitting in the corner. He and I are talking and he just kind of veered me over towards that Coke bottle, reached down, grabbed it, and threw it away. He never broke conversation. Then we kept on going to the coaching area.
At that point I’m just going “holy moly this guy!” I mean this guy was the premier football coach in the country at the time and takes time out of his life to just walk over and do something that was completely different. That is what uncommon is.
I think a phrase that you gave to our kids is “if you see it you own it.” That is something that sticks with me. It’s a little frustrating at times as I’m walking through a parking lot or a cafeteria and I see it and I go “dang it, if I see it I own it, I’ve got to walk over there and do what I can.” It has worked out to my kids as they walk through and walk from our gate to our practice area I can see them picking up balls or picking up trash or going in the classroom and going through the halls and doing the same thing.
I’m wanting them to do something that is different. I don’t want it just to be that they wear a “CH” on their hat or their shirt, that that sets them apart. I want it to be the way that they conduct themselves.
Cain: It’s awesome that you mention that. Inside of our Inner Circle, Jim Schlossnagle (who you’ve referenced, the head baseball coach at Texas Christian University) their motto, their theme for the 2016 season (every year they come up with a motto) this year their motto was “beyond common” which is exactly what you’re talking about.
In the Inner Circle I posted I think about 10-12 different photos that are in their manual that he gives them on day one. It’s a picture of like a beer and water. It says “common/uncommon.” It’s a picture of a guy out partying at 2:00 in the morning and a guy in bed, “common/uncommon.” A picture of a grilled chicken salad, a picture of a hamburger, “common/uncommon.” It’s all those little small decisions that guys make along the course of their season or the course of their life that makes them uncommon.
It ties right into your next principle which is discipline. Discipline, making those little decisions and kind of the compound effect of all those things either takes you closer to where you want to be or pulls you further from where you want to be. Alan, would you talk about discipline in your program and what that means.
McDougal: I think it’s (again) doing the right things and doing them repeatedly. Doing the little things and expecting big results from those little things. We read the compound effect as a group last Christmas. I think when we have the ability to get those words out of our mouths and throw them through a medium (whether it be an audiobook or something they can read) and they hear the same stuff coming from quality people it just means so much more.
In suburbia (and I know kids in suburbia and out of suburbia) there are lots of excuses on what goes on. We’re trying to rid those excuses and instill in them a mindset in which they’re just going to do little things a lot and all of a sudden they look up and their accomplishments are going to be past what they ever thought they could do.
I think all of us have our goals and they think that is going to be something “if I can do this I’m going to get this” and that’s just not how it works. It’s “I’m going to do this, this, this, and this repeatedly and then I’m going to give myself the best chance for success.”
Cain: I love that term that you use “the best chance for success.” Could you talk a little bit more about the compound effect? You said you guys went through that in a book study. Did you give them an audiobook? Did you give them a paperback? How did you do that and what was the benefit?
McDougal: We went through an audiobook. Typically I guess with kids these days they want to throw their earbuds in and listen to that. We’ve got all different kids running around through Christmas break. They can do it on travels. They can do it in whatever they were doing. We just ask that we’re going to come back and you’re going to give a presentation on one of three books. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy was one of them. Certainly went into the fact that I am going to have to listen to those as well so I will be able to hold them accountable for what they did. They got in groups after we came back and they presented that to the group which was awesome. Then this year we gave them a few more books to kind of go through.
The compound effect for us is doing a little a lot not a lot a little. I think that just ties into what baseball is and what life is to be honest with you. I think if you’re trying to lose weight or trying to gain mass you can’t go in there and snap your fingers and have it done that fast like things can change. But we just want to instill in them the principle of having a routine to get through things.
Cain: Awesome. The Compound Effect, I was listening to that audiobook this morning as a matter of fact as I was in my AM routine – as Darren Hardy would talk about “your bookend routines,” your AM routine, your PM routine. My AM routine this morning I was listening to The Compound Effect as I was on the bike. It was awesome and is one of my favorite books of all time. If you are listening to this podcast and you have not yet picked up The Compound Effect what are you waiting for? Go get it.
Now talk about energy. What is energy in your program? It’s the E of DUDES. Why is that important for you?
McDougal: Kids these days need energy. They need it bad. Brian talks about being comfortable where you’re uncomfortable and to be honest with you energy is the portion where I am not real comfortable. I don’t have a theatrical personality. But I’ve got to find a way to bring that to my kids because I think that’s where they thrive. If I can’t do it I’ve got to allow them to do it.
I think that is where in our practices, through some different structures that we’ve thrown in, energy is injected through an app that we use and through the way that we control BP and with the power of music. We’ll talk about that (I’m sure) in a second.
Energy in baseball is done in bursts and it kind of builds off of actions that happen in the game and it just had to be we had to practice that through our scrimmages and through different things in our practices that when we got into games it just kind of snowballed on what was going on. It wasn’t new to them.
So one thing our kids injected into this year was every time that we singled kids would come back, they’d look at the dugout, and I mean it had to happen, they would just yell “yes” and the whole dugout would do it, the kid on base would do it, and it was just something that was really good in the fact that it kind of engrossed our kids and our team as we moved through the year. When we were eight up, eight down, whatever, when the kids singled they got it. It might not have been as exuberant if we were down a little bit but they were all the same.
Cain: So you’re giving your team a system to have energy. I think if you watch high-level college baseball you’re going to see when a guy squares around a bunt all 35 guys in the dugout are all going to yell “bunt.” If the ball hits the right side they’re all going to yell “get over.” If there is a shallow fly ball they’re all going to yell “in.”
Talk a little bit about some of the dugout energy. You talked about the “yes” chant which you’ll see guys who slide into second base – I think the Texas Rangers maybe started some of this years ago. They’d slide into second base they’d put up the claw or they’d put up the antlers or whatever it was. Now everybody has their thing that they do. What are some other ways that you create or foster energy in your program?
McDougal: I think more than anything it’s just the fact that you have to give those kids the ability to be themselves, to inject their personality. There are probably some areas in which they can’t tread. However I think the biggest thing that I got away from this year was I was groomed under a veteran head coach on the west side of Fort Worth, probably one of the most legendary coaches in high school baseball. I think the way (for the most part) things need to be done is how he did it.
However from an energetic standpoint he didn’t bring a whole lot to that. I think that we because things were very, very rigid. When I kind of stepped back and let some kids do some things that they like to do as far as injecting energy in the games with chants or calls or whatever – and I didn’t think that was in any way taking away from the way we were presenting ourselves – it just kind of took off.
Most of it was the fact that you came and did a presentation at the school and injected a few phrases that – I don’t even think you had intent in those getting into our dugout but they did. All of a sudden they enter into a scrimmage, they enter into a tournament game, they enter into a regular season game, and it just took off. I think the big thing was me not being as rigid in what my expectation was for their conduct. It also wasn’t forced. I wasn’t saying “Brian said we’re supposed to say ‘yes’ when we single.” Nothing that happened in our dugout came from me. It all came from them.
Cain: I like the fact too that you mentioned that there is a line too that players will cross. As a basketball official too you know how that goes. As long as it’s on you guys and not against the other team there is probably no ceiling to what you can do.
Steve Smith, who is the head baseball coach at your alma mater, Baylor University, was in a similar situation. When I started with them I think it was 2010 or 2011 – the year that they won like 23 straight games in the Big 12, set a record. Won like 35 straight games overall, were the #4 national seed, hosted a super regional, lost to Arkansas, and Arkansas went on to the College World Series. But that specific team at Baylor was unique in that they brought a different level of energy than any Baylor team had had.
I remember Steve saying “I had to make the commitment to myself to let them be themselves, bring energy, and toe the line.” He goes “what I was going to say is if there was a point in the season where the umpire said to me ‘Steve get your guys under control’ then I know maybe it had gone too far.” He goes “and that never happened, not one time in 60 games did an umpire say ‘Steve your guys are out of control, get them locked back in.” He goes “so I looked back at how much I had kind of held them back in terms of just letting them play and letting them take some of that ownership.” He said it was great because he just sat back and watched the ship go and they had the most success that they’ve ever had and one of the best (probably) college baseball seasons ever. It didn’t end in a National Championship like we all wanted it to but rarely do they.
Cain: So they had a great run there for sure. I think it takes a leader who is selfless and is not focused on themselves but focused on the unit and the program which is your fifth of your championship culture which is selfless. Can you talk a little bit about how you build that in a program?
McDougal: Well let me touch on one thing before I head to selfless.
McDougal: Each year at our banquet instead of me talking about our seniors our seniors talk about what is important to them as they exit. Basically it’s just their 30-90 seconds to thank whoever is important to them. Typically it’s their parents or siblings that are sitting in the crowd. One thing that rung true as they spoke is when they spoke to me the message was there that “thank you for letting us be us.” It was really good to hear that (again) there was no intent, there was no ask or request from them for me to let that happen. It was just a recognition that we need to try something different and maybe you need to try something different. It was kind of the cherry on top of the season in the fact that with no intent it happened and was recognized that this is a good thing and it’s something that would be continued.
Selfless I think kind of speaks for itself. We’re trying to create a situation in which it is a team sport which is really hard in the age of adolescent athletics right now because with select baseball or AU basketball they spend 3/4ths of their time concentrated on their individual effort to promote themselves to play wherever their talents lead them. All of a sudden for a quarter of the time of the year they get to come back and play for their school. It’s a hard thing because they spend so much time on the other side of it.
I think with that being thrust into our motto – because the year before last our motto was DUDE singular and they thought that we need to have more of a bond with us and that is going to come from selfless which entered the S into our core values. I think with that addition (that was the big addition to what we did this year) it was something that I could point to – because you notice that DUDES is on a Friday and we play on every Friday night. It helped me build something in to a pregame or postgame talk just to kind of get us back grounded to our core values if we’re starting to drift a little bit.
Cain: I love it. One of my mentors (who I am sure you are aware of), a guy named Bruce Brown out in the Seattle, Washington area, does proactive coaching. I have one of his great books, Coaching For Character, and he says that every successful program and championship culture is selfless. He might have a different term for it. It might be family, it might be commitment, it might be together, but they all have a selfless component to it.
You talked about uncommon earlier; the connection between you and TCU baseball, selfless is the first of the three championship culture principles for TCU baseball which is selfless, energy, and excellence. I think that is fantastic.
McDougal: Speaking of Bruce Brown real quick I know that he has a curriculum on parenting athletes. I’ve introduced or distributed that at times or made it available to our parents for the last two years and it is over the top good. Whether it be through a pamphlet or a video podcast it is awesome information. I think we as coaches always give our parents that but if we have the ability to give an authority the platform to distribute that same information (for whatever reason) it may hit a little bit easier when it’s not coming from the head coach. It’s really, really, really good stuff.
Cain: Alan, I think what you are referring to is Bruce Brown’s video DVD on the role of parents in high school sports.
Cain: As a high school athletic director I had Bruce come to our school I think in 3-4 of the last years I was there if he could make it. I would show that video. It just is so powerful because he has had so much experience (he has been a college coach, high school coach, college AD, high school AD) and as he’s talking he’s saying things that you know but you forget and you usually don’t do as a parent. It’s some great stuff.
McDougal: It fits right into what you do in the fact that it kind of gives you a recipe, an agenda for how to do things. I think often we have a grand scheme of what we want to get accomplished. It’s awesome stuff but we don’t know how to get there. We don’t have the road map. Well this gives parents a particular road map on “this is what you do, this is what you don’t do.” There is no gray area. It is the blackest of blacks and the whitest of whites. I think after being exposed to it it kind of lets you think “is the way I’m conducting my ride home with my kid proper?” You’re going to know like that that it is or it isn’t. It’s over the top good information.
Cain: Awesome. Alan, let’s go back to energy and talk about the tempo. Coming out to your baseball practice you have a timer that counts down for your batting practice routine. You hear “switch in 3, 2, 1,” and kids are flying around the field. You’re not having a stopwatch. There is music playing. They’re getting ready to get set up. There is a countdown. Your batting practice is as fast paced and time efficient as Vanderbilt’s, as TCU’s. It’s as good as it can be. How did you get there and what do you do?
McDougal: Well you introduced the Seconds app to me which is on the iPhone (I’m sure it’s on all the Android stuff as well). When I did a practice before we had an hour set apart for batting practice and typically that thing would go from an hour to an hour-twenty and it just was not efficient. We had kids not walking around but there was not intent getting from A to B. Not even just from cages to the main diamond, from position to position. With the Seconds app there are eight segments for it. Those go I guess 7-8 minutes, I’m not exactly sure what the math is on that, but our BP takes an hour and one minute. It does not vary.
I was under the impression as we went through this – I was a little bit skeptical because I was going “man my kids are not going to get as many cuts as they need in this segment.” I could not have been more wrong. They honestly doubled their cuts on the main diamond.
You can set this thing to music and I initially chose my music because I wanted to make sure it was something that was appropriate – which certainly you need to do in this day and age no matter what. However I think things got much better when I said “you know what, guys, you send me 2-3 songs that you want and we’re going to put your stuff on there.” Once we did that things turned up even more.
The biggest thing is when we have to transition from our batting cage to our main diamond the last thing a kid wants to miss is his cuts on the main diamond. So if this thing I set to time and they know it and the timer does not stop they get from A to B in a hurry. It has been something that has made our practice more efficient and more fun. Again in our post season interviews with our kids, “what is the one thing you like most about our practice?” “Seconds group.” To a man. They loved it. If I took that out of the day it was not good. If they saw that on the schedule that that wasn’t part of our batting practice today that was not going to be a good day at Panther baseball. So that typically is a staple for what we do.
Cain: That’s awesome. The app is called Seconds Pro Timer if you’re looking to get that app. It’s just an S with a stopwatch around it. It’s kind of a reddish-orange. Seconds Pro Timer.
McDougal: Kids know where they go. They typically have two stations in the batting cage, one station behind our main diamond (which is a bunt), one on the main diamond, and then four on defense. They kind of just see where they start. When they see where they start they know where they end and they know how the transition goes. The music is going over our loud speakers, the Siri voice comes on and says “you’re going to move in 3, 2, 1,” I blow a whistle and here we go. It’s really good. No one is looking at a watch. As I’m throwing batting practice I never have to look down at my watch to see how much time is left. It has really taken us to another level in efficiency in our practices.
Cain: Awesome. Alan, last question here. I really appreciate you taking the time to join us. For the people that are listening if you want to get a little bit more Alan McDougal in your life – which I’m sure you do – you can follow him on Twitter @CHHS_baseball.
Alan, here is a question for you. What do you know now going back through the mental game (you have worked in here for about 10 years) what do you know now you wish you knew then? The million dollar question.
McDougal: The million dollar question. I think it’s the importance of intent. I think I have had grand goals as I’ve been into the coaching profession and I think what I know now that I have not known through the 20 years as I’ve tried to get to that point is that happens with intent – a specific recipe on getting things done. If you do not have that intent and something specifically put down on how you are going to get there you are not going to move anywhere. That comes from the compound effect of doing little things a lot and not a lot a little.
We have a specific ingredient on what we’re going to do and we do it repeatedly. We do it really, really well. I think since that has come into my life and into my athletic practices I think we are much closer to getting to the mountaintop of Peak Performance than we would have been in the past.
Cain: So living with intent, having a plan, having a purpose for everyday. Alan, thank you so much for taking time out of your hectic schedule to join us here on the Peak Performance Podcast. Thank you so much.
McDougal: Brian, thanks for having me.