When the Coach Rises! | “Keep Your Weight Back… Until”

Over the last few months Zach (my fellow youth pastor) and I have been out and about in our community sharing time and thoughts with various squads and teams in our local schools. This has been a great time and a great experience. I have enjoyed spending time with these athletes as they prepare and play the games. I am such a fan! I love yelling, encouraging and pretty much being a kid. It’s the least serious thing I get to do.

Well today I was able to spend some time helping the county high school softball team during their batting practice. We were talking about weight transfer. This is the process of moving weight from the back leg to the front leg, while swinging the bat on plane. When done correctly it is poetry in motion.

Keep Your Weight Back!: What That Really Means

One of the things that was said over and over by the young ladies was that they were told that they had to keep their weight back. And in an of itself that is true. You are supposed to keep your weight back…until the moment of impact. You can’t hit the ball squarely or keep your shoulders, hips, hands and head in alignment if you keep your weight back as you swing. In golf this is called the “Reverse C” position as seen below.The weight is not moving forward through the ball, but is moving away from the point of impact. Keeping your weight on your back foot will not allow your body to work with gravity and your muscles will actually be working against themselves. Your shoulders and knees end up behind your hips instead of in line with each other. The object of the game is to smoothly transfer your weight to maximize power and efficiency AND minimize alignment issues.

Weight Transfer is the Key to Power

Here is another set of pictures from two great power hitters–Gary Sheffield (left) and Albert Pujols (right). Even though they are not vertical like the picture of the golfer above, there is a straight line from their head to their knees as they swing and make contact with the ball. This is a power position.

Look at their back foot. Their are completely off the ground at the point of impact. This is a sign that their weight has completely shifted from the back to the front. While this is somewhat exaggerated in their individual swings it shows that your back foot is not as important in executing a powerful swing as weight transfer to the front foot is at the moment of impact. The weight transfer will actually keep your swing on plane and give you a better chance at making solid contact.

Here is another example of weight transfer from one of the greatest hitters of all time, Hank Aaron. His back leg is completely off the ground!

Here are a sequence of pictures of Albert Pujols swing. (Click on the Picture to see the sequence.) Notice how if you were to draw a line from the top of his head to the ground he actually rotates around that line as the weight transfer takes place. His head barely even moves.

Final Thoughts

I want provide a final thought about this idea of “Keep your weight back.”  This is great advice for young ball players. It helps them to remember not to move too much or too quickly while they are learning to hit. The problem (as I see it) is that this is only half of the equation. Hitting is all about two kinds of timing. First, you time the pitch. Second, you time your weight shift. When these two events happen and meet at the moment of impact you increase your chances of solid contact and increase your chances of getting hits. You have to learn to develop both. Simply keeping your weight back will create some bad habits.

  1. You will drop your back shoulder, creating a undercut swing rather than a flatter swing.
  2. You will drop your hands, wasting time and loosing power potential. (None of the examples above drop their hands. They DRIVE their hands too the ball.)
  3. You will leave your weight on your back foot, relying on your hands to create power–which isn’t the best way to do it–instead of the large muscles in your legs.
  4. You will tend to flip the bat at pitches rather than hitting the ball. This is just counter productive.

Here is one more example of what weight transfer should look like. Don Mattingly was one of the most consistent hitters during his time in the Major Leagues.  He has some simple insights into this concept of weight transfer.

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Word to the Wise | “Carpe Diem”

In the movie Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams played a literature teacher in an all boys’ school.  Mr. Williams wanted the students to learn from the lessons of history the dead poets wrote about.  His message?  Carpe Diem—Live the Present.

Mr. Williams’ point was that TODAY is the only day we have. The dead poets had their day and their say.  Dwelling on the errors of the past, or fretting about the unknown future is a hindrance to our enjoyment of God’s gift for today.  We can live with an eternal purpose (Seek God’s Kingdom), or we can live for a temporary purpose (self aggrandizement).  When we seek God’s kingdom, God will work for us.  When we seek our own aggrandizement, we are on our own.  I suggest that we:

Learn from the past.  Plan for the future.  But, for goodness sakes, live today for God as if it was your last one on this earth.

Carpe Diem.

Pastor Luis Scott
Ambassadors of Christ Fellowship

Reflections on a Funeral | “I Will Not See The End”

I just attended the funeral of a member of our church. He was ninety-seven years old. Funerals are such interesting events. We gather together to mourn, remember and make sense of our own lives. But, today I was struck by something. I will not see the end!

I will not be there to hear the words that are said about me to my family and friends. I will not know how many people attended my funeral or why they decided to come. I will not have a chance to thank them or wonder why someone I expected to come did not.

I know that these are odd thoughts. It feels strange writing them, but I feel compelled to. I do not want to let these feelings go away. They are helping me to shape the life I will lead. I no longer want to assume that life will go on as usual because it will not. I want to be able to come back and remember that life is so much more than what I settle for so often.

I don’t know when my end will come. I think this might be the reason I struggle with attending funerals. I don’t know if the convictions and passions that I hold today will be the ones that I am remembered for when my life comes to an end. As a pastor I know the difficulties that can occur in life. I have seen how tragedy, sorrow, pain and guilt can alter the trajectory of a person’s plan for life. And to this point in my life I have been spared of much of these.

I know that the man I am today may not be the man who will be remembered. To be honest I don’t even know if the man I am right now is worthy of being remembered.  I am not trying to sound humble or self-deprecating. I am not trying to elicit anything. I just know who I am. I know how flawed I am. How often my motives are not those of Christ. I know the wickedness that still finds its way out of my mouth. I know… even if others never see it.

Being confronted with your own mortality has a way of putting your whole life into perspective. I will celebrate my thirty-first birthday next week. I am no longer a kid or a young adult striving to find my place in this world. I am married to a wonderful woman, the father of two beautiful daughters, and a member of the greatest family I know. I am doing what I love to do: serving God and the youth of this generation. I have seen things this year that I would never have imagined possible, both in my own life and in those around me.

I guess the thought that lingers in my mind and causes my breath to catch in my chest is this: Has my life counted for much of anything?

If I will not see the end, what am I doing to prepare those I love and who have offered their love to me to live better lives when I am gone? I do not want to over-state my importance in their lives. But, what am I doing to make their lives better? More fulfilling?

I guess that what my desire is, right now, is that I will live a life worth remembering. Not because of what I did. Nor because of who I was. If God were to answer just one prayer for the rest of my life it would be this:

Lord, help me to live a life that brings your name honor and glory, so that when my life on earth is spent, those whom I have had the privilege to love will see you, find comfort in you and give thanks to you for having used me to help them fall more deeply in love with you. Father, help me to count all things as loss so that I might cherish your name, your fame and your beauty above all else. Father, grant me strength to live this way so that when my life is over the man Jesus died to redeem might be the man I am when I die.

“Faith Is…”: Investigating What It Means To Believe

Over the next several weeks we will look at what faith is. But before we can get there we have to make sure that we understand what faith is not. There are three specific and important truths we have to understand about faith. We will talk about them in this introduction.

Faith is NOT blind Trust

One of the most common definitions of faith is that it is trusting or believing something that you cannot know for sure. It is often described as a blind leap, or just a leap of faith. But, there is one fundamental problem with this approach. It is not based on anything found in scripture. Faith, the faith that the bible describes, is grounded in something very real and more certain than our very lives. Biblical faith is undeniably tied to the character and nature of God.

The writer of Hebrews makes this statement when describing what God did to give Abraham confidence in what He was going to do.

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself… (Hebrews 6:13, ESV)

When oaths were made during Abraham’s time the object you swore by was an object that was greater than you. So, If I wanted prove my commitment I would say something like, “I swear by Mt. Everest that I will fulfill my part of the deal.” But, what does God swear by? Well, there is nothing greater than Him so he swore by Himself. His character would serve as the basis for Abraham’s confidence. Abraham’s faith in God was not a blind trust in something unknown. Abraham’s trust and our trust is based on someone who is sure and that we can have confidence in.

Faith is NOT an occasional practice

My faith, your faith, is not something I DO. My faith is someone I AM. The difference between these two positions cannot be exaggerated or over-stated. Until we make this switch in the way that we think about what it means to have faith we will fail to understand why our faith “doesn’t work.”

Paul made this incredible claim about what it means to live a totally committed life for God in Christ. He says it in his letter to the Galatian church.

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)

Who’s life was Paul living? When was he living that life? Only on Sundays? I don’t think so. Life is lived EVERY day. The life I now live… is not an occasional life. If my faith is going to be what the bible describes I have to see that my life has been replaced with His. And, Jesus is not interested in only living through us once a week.

Faith is NOT produced from within

What I mean by this is that faith is not something that exists independent of an object of faith. I can’t just walk around having faith. Faith is always aimed at something outside of me. When we talk about faith we are talking about having faith “in” something.

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9, ESV)

Peter helps us to understand that faith, if it’s going to be properly called faith, must have an object. What is the “outcome of your faith”?  It is salvation. But, the question that we have to answer is what is that faith holding onto? Peter tells us in verse 8. The faith that results in our salvation comes because we trust the one we “have not seen” and yet love. Jesus is the object of our faith.

Everything that Jesus did, said and continues to do through His disciples become the reason that we are compelled to consider Jesus. We are acted upon by God’s grace, God’s people and God’s word. And, as these and other expressions of God’s goodness in my life are seen and felt I am drawn to God.

If we are going to know what faith is we have to know what it is not. As we journey together over the next several weeks remember that faith is more than you ever imagined, not less.