The European Championships ended yesterday with an exciting penalty shootout victory for Italy. Regardless of whether you are a soccer fan or not, there’s a lot you can learn from that tournament. Like any major sporting event, the 2020 Euro Cup had extreme highs and lows depending on who you were rooting for. Here are 4 major takeaways from the event that you can apply to your game on the diamond.
Put together a good game plan
Doing your homework before the game can make a big difference during it. In the age of information, putting together a good scouting report and strategy before the game starts can give you a major edge and prepare you for success during game play. Whether that’s paying close attention to pre-game BP and infield-outfield or using more advanced data and scouting, it can be the difference in the game. During those soccer matches, we saw time and again teams with a strong strategy that were able to neutralize opposing star players or opposing team strengths. In baseball, a good game plan will balance your strengths and opposing weaknesses to help give you a path to winning. This includes everything from understanding exploitable match-ups, creating advantageous defensive alignments, and gather intelligence that can help you make better split second decisions in game (testing an outfielder’s arm, understanding your runners, knowing when to challenge a hitter, etc.).
Team over individual
Successful soccer teams work together to achieve their goals. It’s a great reminder that individual accomplishments are always trumped by the team results. Individual success almost always helps the team have success, but it’s an important reminder that to have 9 guys who will do whatever it takes to help the team win will always be better than having 9 guys who will do whatever they can so that they perform well.
Play to the last out
Maintaining focus for 27 outs is easier said than done. Soccer games are often won in final minutes or even seconds. The lesson to take from that is don’t count your chickens before they hatch and never let up until the game is over. We’ve seen examples of crazy comebacks in all different sports. Does this old KPB article on not playing to the scoreboard ring a bell? Baseball is a long game with a short-term memory. It’s a game notorious for turning heroes into goats (and not in the “Greatest of All Time” sense) and vise-versa. Don’t be on the wrong side of that because you started celebrating or giving less than 100% before it was over.
Winning isn’t always exciting
We’ve often heard baseball players or fans remark that soccer has little action and excitement. In reality, a game that ends in a 0-0 draw can be much more exciting than a game that ends in a 4-0 victory. In the search for excitement and entertainment, sometimes we forget that the goal of the game is to win and anything you can do to help your team win is important. If the way you win is by playing fundamentally sound baseball where you happen to manufacture a few runs, that’s better than a game where you hit a few balls out of the park and strike out a lot of hitters. We prefer exciting baseball, too, but the Euro Cup offers a reminder that the ultimate goal is to win, even when it’s a good ol’ fashion boring W.