Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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January 10, 2019  

Steve Johnson- Founder/CEO of LegKickNation

January 10, 2019

This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud.




In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I welcome Steve Johnson, Founder/CEO of LegKickNation. We discuss Steve’s method of rejecting the model of the ‘teacher king’ in order to foster a curiosity-provoking learning environment in which students take responsibility for their own progress, as well as how he teaches methods to reach the state of ‘flow’. We also discuss the practical details of teaching in this new mode and ways to apply them to baseball.

Show Notes:

  • Guest: Steve Johnson, teacher and coach, Team Invictus

  •  A love of learning brought Steve to teaching as well as coaching

  •  “Teacher King”

    • Traditional compartmentalized teaching a flawed system

    • Without underlying, no purpose or autonomy

    • Leaning on teachers too much diminishes student accountability

    • The importance of curiosity

  •  How do we foster curiosity?

    • Community-based instruction facility

    • Challenging kids in diverse areas, not just athletics

    • Allowed to learn from failures as well as success

    • Instructors serve as “bumpers in bowling alley”; helping and guiding but not controlling everything a kid is doing

  •  How to create an environment where kids can be creative

  •  More formal games these days, but less unstructured play has negative consequences

  •  The importance of kids becoming independent problem-solvers

  •  Flow: being ‘in the zone’, a sense of timelessness and selflessness

    • Easier to achieve it in other sports because of the pace of baseball

    • Maintaining singular focus

    • Processing information in the box hampers performance

    • Not being hung up on failures or self-consciousness

  •  Micro-flow vs Macro-flow

  •  Assessment of student athlete

    • Physical, collecting data, seeing how kids learn and react

  •  How does a student learn without the authority of the ‘teacher king’?

    • The learning goals come from the kids

  •  How to have kids express their desire honestly?

    • Not having Mom and Dad around tends to help

    • Establishing a rapport

  • Advice for those wanting to open a similar facility?

    • Membership vs per lesson model

    • Vision of better you rather than just better ball player

    • Culture of holistic learning rather than focus solely on baseball

  •  LegkickNation

    • How to allow a student to own their own learning?

      • Knowing when to address something and when to back off

    • A hands off approach allows kids to make their own learning decisions and goals

    • Some kids need more direction than others

    • Techniques to grow the ability to flow

 The influence and importance of body language and psychology on performance

  • Physical and Mental Coaching Constraints

  • How to clean up a negative attack angle

    • Using data, video

    • External cues

  • The possibilities of applying educationally-based books to athletics education

3 Key Points:

  1.     A teaching model not reliant on the ‘teacher king’ allows students to learn in a more profound way that gives them a deeper sense of responsibility for their own progress.
  2.  Encouraging kids’ natural curiosity is a fundamental part of helping them learn.
  3.   A teaching approach that focuses on flow and problem-solving in general can positively affect a student’s growth throughout their life, as well as in baseball.

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “To me, to rely on a singular voice [in the classroom] is handcuffing the kids growth.” - Steve Johnson (6:20)


  • “As a teacher, I take offense a lot of times, to other people trying to handcuff a kids curiosity, because it is that curiosity which leads to growth.” - Steve Johnson (7:00)


  • “The more he misses the more he’s going to learn from his failure, and the more he crushes baseball the more he’s going to learn from his successes.” - Steve Johnson (9:40)


  • “We’re trying to create an environment where kids can be creative; to succeed both inside and outside of baseball you need to be creative, an elite level problem-solver.” - Steve Johnson (13:20)


  • “The biggest thing for me is seeing how the kids learns and how the kid reacts to different things. I’m a big proponent of word association. One of the first questions I ask a kid is what’s the first word that comes to your mind when I say ‘hit it’. Ordinarily the kid will give me a whole bunch of information based on his answer. So if I say what’s the first word that comes to your mind when I say ‘hit it’ and the kid says “Don’t strike out”, or “Foul balls”, anything that has a negative connotation to it, I know right away that he’s been through the system. That’s one of the things I always look for, getting a gauge on how this kid is going to learn and how this kid is going to deal with being in an environment where there is no ‘teacher king’, where we’re all on the same level.” - Steve Johnson (29:40)


  • “Yes, I’m an instructor if you will, or I own the facility, but I’m right there with you, we’re all trying to figure it out together, so it’s not me over you.” - Steve Johnson (30:35)


  • “I think most people want to be part of something bigger than just the sport of baseball. I think most people want to be part of a community in which you’re like minded student athletes with caring instructors who are there for your best interests.” - Steve Johnson (39:20)


  • “We’re trying to create better learners, better problem solvers, and a by-product of that is that we’ve been able to create monsters.” - Steve Johnson (40:05)

Resources Mentioned:




  • ‘Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

  • ‘The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance’ by Steven Kotler

  • ‘The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance’ by W. Timothy Gallwey

Website and Social Media sites for the show 





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