Judging the Royals

Pro baseball is played at 80 percent

Royals coach Rusty Kuntz says young professional ballplayers — fresh out of high school or college — will come to him and ask how they do it. How do they get through a much longer professional baseball season?
Royals coach Rusty Kuntz says young professional ballplayers — fresh out of high school or college — will come to him and ask how they do it. How do they get through a much longer professional baseball season? The Kansas City Star

We’ve all heard about giving “110 percent” and playing as hard as you can every moment you’re on the field — but most of us aren’t pro ballplayers. Ask the people who actually have to play the game and they’ll tell you it’s a long season and you better pace yourself.

Professional baseball is played at 80 percent.

Royals coach Rusty Kuntz says young professional ballplayers — fresh out of high school or college — will come to him and ask how they do it. How do they get through a much longer professional baseball season?

Kuntz advises them to play the game at 80 percent. When they go after a fly ball, go at 80 percent. When they run down the line to first base, run at 80 percent. And then when they need it, when they have to turn on the jets to get to that fly ball or beat out that infield hit, they’ll automatically give it their all.

The 100 percent effort will be there when it’s needed.

Since most of us have never played sports at a professional level, it’s easy to romanticize how we would approach the game. But the professionals have to deal with reality: These guys have been playing baseball since mid-February, and they’re getting tired. If playing the game at 80 percent means they’ll have 100 percent when they need it, that’s how they’ll play the game.

But if you see a guy give less than 80 percent, that’s a problem.

To reach Lee Judge, call 816-234-4482 or send email to ljudge@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @leejudge8.

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