Don't Widen the Plate


Summary of Main Ideas

I once read a story about a retired baseball coach who spoke at a coaching convention. He had coached for decades and had retired recently, but he was the keynote speaker.

As he sauntered onto the stage the audience couldn't help but notice the full size home plate hanging from a string around his neck. It stayed there for the entire speech, but he never referenced it.

As he was closing, he finally mentioned it. He asked coaches at every level of the game, from t-ball to the major leagues, how wide home plate was.

For every single one of them, the answer was the same: 17 inches.


He asked the coaches, “if a pitcher can’t manage to get a strike across the plate, do we widen it? Do we change the rules?”


He went on to talk about how this was the problem with the home, education, church, and politics today. He kept talking about how we don’t teach accountability. We don’t teach consequences. We don’t hold people to standards.

When they fall short, we just widen the plate.


If we are unwilling to hold ourselves, our families, our teachers, our players, our churches, and our politicians to a higher standard, it’s no wonder we are seeing all the problems we are.


Coaches, keep your players, your families, your colleagues, and everyone in your life, at 17 inches, and don’t widen the plate.


We need to hold ourselves to the highest possible standards, and don’t let anything keep us from achieving the goals that we’ve set for ourselves, and we’ll never get there if we keep widening the plate.


“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.” Thomas Paine

“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” Les Brown

Reflection Questions

  1. Where have you widened the plate for yourself recently?

  2. Think of a time when someone held you accountable for your actions. Was it hard? Did it get better? Did you respect them more because they were firm?

  3. What tough conversation do you need to have with someone in your life about how you’re going to stop widening the plate?