Use It or Lose It

Harder than expected. That was the general consensus regarding last night’s Driven Home Run Derby.

“Home run derby?” You might ask. To many, it sounds absurd. But to someone like myself that loved playing baseball as a kid, it’s hard to imagine anything more fun than swinging for the fences and chasing down fly balls. So we rented out a field that measured an even 300’ all the way around the outfield, brought a bucket of balls and a bat, and invited the Driven community out.

It didn’t take long for reality to set in. While the brain figured “I’ve got this, this will be a piece of cake”, the reality was that every aspect of throwing, hitting and fielding was much harder than many of us realized.

It’s funny how easily deluded we can be about our physical abilities. It’s also a good reminder that things that require high levels of speed, coordination and power are a risky proposition if you haven’t properly prepared your body. The old phrase “use it or lose it” couldn’t be more apt.

At the end of the day, that’s the choice we all face. There’s no right or wrong way to approach life with regards to testing ourselves. For me, competition and play is fun. I want to go out and try to hit baseballs over the fence. I want to see how fast I can run a 400m dash. I want to dunk a basketball. But those things are hard and they all push the limits of an aging body. I could get hurt. But it’s fun, it gives me a reason to train, and is part of what makes life interesting. On the other hand, I totally get it when people put things like this in the rearview mirror as something they “used to do”.

Ultimately, my takeaways from last night are as follows:

  1. Baseball is fun.
  2. Hitting a ball consistently in the sweet spot is not as easy as I thought.
  3. Hitting a ball hard enough to clear a 300’ fence  requires me to swing really hard.
  4. I haven’t swung a baseball bat nearly enough in the last 10 years to have high home run derby performance expectations.
  5. Decent pitching is important in a home run derby.
  6. Catching fly balls on the run is a great test of speed, hand-eye coordination, eye tracking and flexibility.
  7. A throwing shoulder needs to throw regularly to be considered a throwing shoulder. Otherwise it is probably best known as a shoulder.