What do Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Jordan and Bill Gates all have in common?

They are special! They perform at elite levels that the rest of us only dream of achieving.

No matter if it is playing a cello, shooting a basketball or running the world's largest software maker they are considered by many the best to ever live in their respective fields. But what makes them so special? How do they continue to achieve day in and day out at such a high level?

Saturday was the last day of Spring Training and today we head north to our respective affiliates. "Breaking camp" is an exciting time for players because that means they have made a full-season team and still have a job for the time being.

As everyone packs up and prepares to travel over the Easter holiday I reflect back on the past 40 days and all that I've learned.

Spring training has been a great opportunity to see how different major leaguers go about their business.

As I think about the specific players that I've watched, I begin to realize that it isn't by coincidence that I am watching them and not someone else. But why? What makes their success? What gives them the ability to achieve such a unique skill as throwing a baseball 60 feet, 6 inches and hitting a spot measured in square inches at 90 MPH?

A routine.

Just like a great musician such as Yo-Yo Ma, a world class athlete like Michael Jordan or the greatest software billionaire ever, routines are a fundamental part of their success. They have developed routines that prepare them to perform at levels most of us can barely watch with any level of comprehension.

These routines are not easy to establish because they become monotonous and can be very time consuming. Often times the more difficult the performance, the more essential the routine.

It can be as simple as Yo-Yo Ma's rehearsal of scales or as complex as Bill Gates' weekly re-evaluation of each department within Microsoft. These top performers find success from their routine because it gives them a foundation to work from each day.

Tony Robbins, a self-help coach, has titled his routine an "Hour of Power." He strongly encourages the use of exercise, reflection, stimulating learning and visualization to create a strong foundation and sense of self to start the day. He is adamant that all of those who have a high level of success designate time for "self" each day.

Just like Ma, Jordan and Gates, my routines are relatively simple yet create a strong foundation for each day. I have a routine that prepares me to compete at the highest level possible that I try to maintain each day. Everything from basics, such as eating breakfast and hydrating well to more advanced aspects like muscle-specific stretching and shoulder strengthening are vital to preparing me for competition.

These daily routines are vital to prepare my body, but just as importantly, they prepare my mind to compete. Each player is different and needs customized routines to get themselves ready to play at the highest level possible.

Opening day is only a few days away for our 140-game, five- month season. Everyone from the 12-year veteran to the first-year rookie is looking forward to getting back on the field every day. I'm looking forward to this year being a good season.

McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher who now plays in the Boston Red Sox minor league organization. His column runs Sundays throughout the baseball season. He can be reached at: