Why the Majority is Always Wrong

Zac Stout
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Zac Stout
Catching Coordinator - Rogue Baseball Performance
This post is a little different than my usual. I enjoy challenging the status quo, hypothesizing theories to unanswered questions in the catching realm, and really trying to engage the catching community to look at things from a different perspective and in turn their feedback challenges me to rethink my stances. It’s a back and forth that I thrive on and I feel is a necessary part of innovation and progress.

But I was recently reminded that this mindset isn’t innate. It’s not something we’re born with and do naturally. In fact, we’re hardwired for the exact opposite. Challenging your own personal beliefs or those of your like-minded peers goes against countless generations of instincts we have developed as social creatures. We hate change. And we are fundamentally driven to conform to the majority. There is tremendous risk in thinking differently. Social creatures depend on each other for survival. Thinking differently, risks becoming an outcast and in the past risked our very survival.

This urge to conform is so strong that only about 3% of the human population is inclined to stray from the majority.

While I was thinking about this, I was reminded of a Ted talk by Paul Rulkens called ‘Why the majority is always wrong’. And while his talk isn’t focused on sports or player development, it definitely applies. Especially at the highest levels of the game.

"We live in a world where the questions may be the same, but the answers have changed."

Paul made a statement that really resonated with me. He said, “we live in a world where the questions may be the same, but the answers have changed. What has got you here, will no longer get you there. And if you want results you’ve never had before, you have to start doing things you’ve never done before.”

It’s a pretty simple statement. Something many of us have probably told a player at one point. From the outside, observing our players, it seems so obvious. It’s difficult to understand how the player doesn’t realize it himself.

But if we take a step back, and try to look at ourselves from the outside, we as coaches suffer from the same thing. And it is REALLY difficult to notice it when you're on the inside.

I think the changes we’re seeing in stances with runners on base is a great example of this. Whether it’s variations of a knee down stance, hybrid transitions, or alterations to 2-point stances, we all feel that pull to try and go back to the safety of the traditional teach points. It feels risky to try and change what you’ve been teaching. There is fear that you might be wrong. What if it’s not better than the traditional way? What if you become the outcast?

But this is the exact point Paul is trying to make. If everyone else is teaching a traditional 2-point stance, how can you get your athletes to achieve results that currently seem impossible? You have to start doing things you’ve never done before. You have to break free of the majority. Become the 3% that chooses a new path.

Is it always going to work? No.
Is it going to be perfect? No.

But I guarantee you along your journey you will find new paths that would have remained hidden if you stayed in the comfort of the majority.

The role of catchers hasn’t changed. They still have the same responsibilities. Manage the pitching staff, get strike calls, control errant pitches, and throw the baseball.

The question of how they perform these skills is the same.

But the answers have changed.

What got us here has worked. No doubt about it. But without change it will not get us where we want to go.

The results we have achieved to date are spectacular. In my opinion, catchers are the best they’ve ever been. But if we want to reach new results, new milestones that seem impossible now, then we have to do things we’ve never done before.
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