Swing the bat like you mean it.
This is one of the key philosophies behind GoWags Baseball, a program that focuses on green light hitting and teaching specialized, age-appropriate baseball skills to young athletes. In other words, the program wants to teach their students aggressive hitting and swinging the bat aggressively to collect hits.
As Kyle Wagner was attempting to teach his kids, he noticed something.
"As I was working with more and more athletes, I realized in my mind I was creating different levels for different kids," Wagner said. "Certain advice was beneficial to certain kids, but not to others. Then after time, and diving into certain skills, I put them on paper and then into practice. It was born with competition in mind along with age and athleticism, and evolved into a very exciting philosophy."
"We're preaching swing it hard and swing it fast," brother Bret Wagner said. "We don't tell them to be overly aggressive, but we don't limit the boys in any way. We feed off of their individual skills and cater to that. Intent is prior content — if you don't want to crush the ball you won't crush the ball."
And Red Land Little League is crushing the ball. The team is fully invested in the green light philosophy, and the results speak for themselves.
In 16 games for the Red Land team, a grand total of 80 home runs have been blasted over the fence, with 21 of those coming from Cole Wagner. Chayton Krauss and Jaden Henline have broken the 10-homer milestone, hitting 13 and 12, respectively. Over that span of 16 games, 212 hits were belted.
Just like the outrageous scores suggest, this type of hitting style is working wonders for the Mid-Atlantic Regional champion and it may be the key to success — and a possible Little League World Series title. The process isn't just about swinging the bat without a purpose and hoping it makes contact, as Bret Wagner said. The program has substance and all of the coaches, and teammates, encourage each other.
"I think one of the reasons green light hitting is so successful for us is because it's unlike any other hitting program out there," Cole Wagner said.
"We use a good mentality for the World Series now," Bret Wagner said. "If one of the boys swing and miss hard, you'll see us clapping. If you put constraint on the athlete you'll hurt them in the long run, so we try to avoid that as much as possible."
As for whether or not the philosophy and green light hitting are freeing or restricting, the two brothers seem to think that it is more freeing for the athletes than anything.
"I would definitely think it is freeing for the kids," Kyle Wagner said. "We do have expectations for them — there's no free swinging with reckless abandon. You have to be as quick as possible and move as fast as your body allows you to. We tell them to keep their eye on the ball and stay balanced. Don't swing at the high pitches — the normal stuff.
"You have to remove the constraints from kids and allow them to have more freedom in their abilities to hit. Once coaches believe in something, we follow it and its easy to use. This is one of those things."
Using this system, Kyle Wagner, Bret Wagner and everyone involved with Red Land hope it will create World Series champions.