By Ethan Guevin
As a college coach, I am sure of one thing going into the season– nothing will happen as planned. The season is sure to twist and turn and there are going to be good days and bad days. Sometimes it might feel as if nothing is going right. There is no question that you are going to have to deal with adversity, the real question is how will you deal with it?
Here are some common challenges or adverse situations you may be dealing with:
– Getting dropped down/moved around in the batting order
– Losing a starting spot
– Getting moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen
– Weather problems are preventing you from developing a routine/getting reps
… and the list goes on.
Regardless of the situation or type of challenge you’re facing, our suggestion is that you keep it simple. By following these three suggestions, you can keep your focus and your emotions in check.
1. Don’t think too far ahead, focus on the NOW. Ask yourself, what is your job at the most basic level? Each situation, game, or play may have a different job (moving a runner over, executing a fastball away, getting a bunt down, etc.), and your attention should be focused on what you need to do NOW. There is no need to worry about the future, do your best at whatever the game requires of you right now. Worry about what’s next when you’re done with the job you’ve got now.
2. Don’t over-think the situation. As soon as you start taking attention away from what it is you have to do and start worrying about other things like, “what is coach thinking?” or “what will happen if I do/don’t do this?” you are as good as done. Keep your focus on the task at hand. Your job as a hitter in the 3-hole and a hitter in the 9-hole will be the same in any given game situation, just as your job as a starter and a reliever is to get the hitter out.
3. Take the emotion out of it. As soon as you start letting your emotions dictate your behavior, you are on an up-and-down roller coaster with no end in sight. For example, you can’t let your anger over getting benched for a day impact your effort during practice, just as you should not get too excited when things are going well. How do you do that? First you need to find a way to keep things in perspective. When something is making you angry or frustrated, ask yourself how much the situation will matter to you a year from now. Good things and bad things seem to even out over a year. Second, you need to find ways to control how your feelings affect you. Some things you might try: 1) focus on a single point on the field and think about an important part of your game plan or goals for practice, or 2) give yourself more time to stretch out, focusing on your breathing and how your muscles feel as you loosen up. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work for you.
If you are able to follow these three suggestions, you will be well on your way to handling any difficult situation the season might throw your way. There’s also a good chance that things will change again, and this time for the better.