“Be humble enough to be coachable, But be confident enough to dominate your position.”
Above is a philosophy that I strive to apply to myself and challenge others to be open to this concept. “Be humble enough to be coachable,” means that you are not perfect. You need to accept your flaws. Once you understand that you aren’t perfect, you can be open to constructive criticism. First, you must throw your ego out the door! Next, let someone help and improve your game. I don’t care who you are, this applies to players from little league to the pros. Coaches will be able to actually coach you and help you, and ultimately your team. It will not only help you improve your game, but demonstrates character to your coaches and others. We all know “that one kid/player!” Before a practice even starts, you can often tell who the difficult diva, uncoachable kids are, especially when the coach is talking. They aren’t making eye contact. Usually they roll their eyes, and make some wise crack comment, thinking that none of this coaching/guidance applies to them, because they are so awesome. They drag their feet if they don’t get to play “their” position . They usually never stick around to help clean up after practice and scream “unfair” when not selected for an All Star team – because after all, they are so awesome….. Well this behavior shows lack of good character. When a coach coaches you, you have to understand that it is not an insult to you personally, as so many take it. No matter how good you are, there is always some way to improve, whether its your swing, your fielding, your speed, or your IQ – there’s always room for improvement. I have seen time and time again teammates of mine with a boatload of natural talent, but they aren’t coachable. The natural gift is there, but they will never reach their potential. They seem to peak by high school and then when they enter a “big pond” of competition, they become a “small fish” and don’t excel. Being coachable takes practice, start early and show your coach respect for their help and knowledge. If you are not the most talented one on the team, but have good character, practice hard, and listen to coaching, it will show. Coaches will view you more positively and take you more seriously than the “stud” with poor character. So check your ego at the door, let your coach help you, and be a good team mate.
“But be confident enough to dominate your position.” Once you are out in the field, have confidence in your abilities. It means to be able to tell yourself, “I can and will do this!” It’s the time when you need to put faith in your training and skills without thinking you are above others. If you are not confident at your position, it shows, and success may elude you. Baseball is a mental game. Being confident, not cocky, can give you a little edge over the competition. When you think that you are better then everyone and then that error is made, mentally, you come crashing down since you think you are so great and are not supposed to make mistakes. Or….you blame others. Coaches and scouts are very aware of, and appreciate the player that recovers after an error rather than crumbles. That player is humble, confident, and makes corrections. As I wrote in a previous article, baseball is a game of failure and the mental side is crucial, it applies here as well. Click HERE to read that article. Once you believe, you will achieve…Do I get points for that corny cliché? It truly applies.
Remember, lose the ego to have others help you improve, but have confidence in yourself when the opportunities on the field come!
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Baseball = Failure
As I look forward to Brewers Opening Day 2014 and my own upcoming baseball season, I am reminded that baseball is a huge game of failure. Great hitters hit a .300 average. Look at it this way, it means you FAIL 70% of the time. That’s a huge percentage. You are guaranteed to fail. If while at bat, you advance a runner and he gets into scoring position, but you get out, do you fail? Absolutely not. Your batting average will be lower, which may look bad on the surface. However, you are part of a team whose goal is to score runs. Let’s say the winning run is on third and you crush the ball to the outfield and the fielder makes an amazing play. You don’t fail because your goal is to hit the ball solidly and you succeeded. You tip your cap to the defender and try again. This unfortunately is a scenario that’s happened to me many times. Another scenario would be if there is a full count and bases are loaded in the last inning. You strike out. Yes, this is failing, but it’s part of the game. It happens to everyone. No matter how hard you try, the game of baseball will always win. So you will always face adversity, but it is how you respond to it that makes the difference between good players and great ball players!
Negative Thinking = Contagion
On my traveling baseball team, many of the kids get very upset after committing an error or not batting well. ( Parents, it doesn’t help if you’re screaming or putting pressure on your kid.) If this ever happens to me, I just try my best to be positive and to keep my head up as well as encourage teammates. Otherwise, this can cause you to play horribly because you are not in a good mental mood. If one person starts having a bad attitude, it spreads like a disease. Everyone starts getting upset and frustrated and the team starts to fade. The other team smells this frustration and takes advantage of it and then uses it against you. They will crush you to pieces. I’ve seen this happen to my team numerous times. Kids crying, helmets thrown, missed grounders, bad throws -it’s ugly. I’ve heard that scouts hope to see errors when looking at players. They want to see how a player handles mistakes mentally and how/if they can recover. My advice: Let it go! Don’t mix offense and defense. Leave the error on the field. Leave the strikeout in the batter’s box. Each player needs to find what works for them – so learn to forgive yourself and move forward!!! And “PLAY BALL!!”