by Justin Brown
I don’t know about you but I love watching elite college programs. I love seeing the beautiful facilities that attract incredibly high caliber athletes. The style of the college game is amazing, intense and full of emotion. Powerhouse programs locking horns throughout the spring as it turns to summer in June is amazing. I love watching winners. I love watching winners play winners. At all levels and all corners of this country it seems that teams that win, and programs that have a winning tradition have a few things in common. Most of them have a system of core values or standards. A list or mantra of definitions, behaviors, or phrases that guide and dictate the way a championship team operates. No program can sustain success without cultivating a championship culture. Culture is the buzzword in the sporting world today. The elusive idea is that “there is something in the water” with championship caliber programs and organizations.
The problem with the “there is something in the water” concept when studying championship caliber programs is that it creates a view that being championship caliber is for the select few. The few programs with the resources, funding, amenities, campus support etc. The few players with the natural talent and abilities. It presents the idea that the only thing that makes winners who they are is it places the responsibility and ownership on someone else instead of the leaders of the organization. “If we only had ______ like they do. Then we could be elite. We could thrive. If only the administration supported us then we would _________.”
One mantra or standard of behavior that is spreading through the baseball world is a phrase titled “Respect 90.” Respect 90 is the premium example of a core value for a championship caliber life view. Respect 90 simply requires that no matter the outcome; out or safe, no matter the emotions; ecstatic or exasperated. No matter the streak, 5-for-5, or 0-for-5, a player must, MUST respect and complete the journey from home to first with assertiveness and on mission. Doing so demonstrates not only respect for the game, but respect for the culture. We’ve all seen it, and most of us have been there. The range of emotions for hitters and their journey from home to first changes all the time. If the result is positive, often the journey from home to first is positive, on a dead sprint, head up and anticipating the play developing maybe even thinking extra bases. If negative, ball popped up to the shortstop, the journey from home to first looks completely different, the pace slows, the body language slumps, sometimes the journey from home to first isn’t even completed, as the player retreats to the dugout.
The beauty of the Respect 90 belief system for a player is that it sees no outcome. It accounts for no statistical result. It cares not for poor strike calls or a missed fastball in the location we wanted. It simply demands continual effort and attention to the 100 percent controllable things. It has the capacity to develop resiliency for a player and puts responsibility in their hands. It gives them a choice to behave a certain way, despite their inconsistent fleeting emotions in the moment.
The beauty of Respect 90 belief system for a coaching staff is that it sees no facility. It accounts for no budget. It cares not for what we lack compared to competitors. It simply demands continual effort and attention to the 100 percent controllable things. It has the capacity to shape perspectives and to assist in the pursuit of each program’s relative championship. Doing the best you can with what you have, where you are at.
The beauty of a Respect 90 belief system for a championship caliber culture is that it sees zero wins and losses. It cares not for bulletin board goals and championship trophies. It cares not for temporary aspirations national rankings or conference tournaments. It simply demands continual effort and attention to the 100 percent controllable things. It has the capacity to shape habits that build better leaders and better men.
There’s not just something in the water with championship caliber cultures. It’s not about water, it is about a consistent choice to respect the standard and cultivate the culture. And the culture doesn’t end with the raising of a banner. The mark of a truly transformative culture is if the behaviors and values in the system translate to life outside of the walls of the system. Respect 90 is not just about a ninety-foot journey from home to first. It is about a multiple year journey of growth throughout life. The game of baseball, our teams, our goals, all lead back to the development of men. Teaching players to Respect 90 shapes the standard for ballplayers, while it creates the standard for life after baseball. No matter the outcome, no matter the emotions, no matter the streak, complete the journey of life with assertiveness and on mission.