Going into the season, baseball coaches are sure of one thing– nothing will happen as planned. The season is sure to twist and turn and there are going to be good 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 at some point. The real question is how will you handle and overcome it? In the remainder of this article, we explore some of the adversity that may come your way and 4 important strategies for overcoming it.
Here are some common challenges or adverse situations you may be dealing with:
- Getting dropped down or moved around in the batting order
- Forced to change roles on short notice
- Losing a starting role
- 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 foursuggestions, you can keep your focus and your emotions in check.
- Don’t think too far ahead, focus on the NOW. Ask yourself, what is my 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 or concern yourself with hypotheticals, 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.
- 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.
- 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) Use focal points to gain control 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.
- Focus on solutions, not problems. When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to start feeling sorry for yourself. It’s easy to make solutions to justify or rationalize problems. That’s just wasting energy and effort that could be spent finding a solution. A player who has been benched for lack of production can easily get focused on being benched. He can complain about the coaches decisions and rationalize why he didn’t have success, but focusing on the problem won’t help him work through the adversity. Instead, by focusing on the solution– playing better– he may be able to make changes that lead to more success and get himself off the bench quickly. Again, it’s a matter of perspective and choice. Time and energy are limited resources. Spend them on positive progress!
If you are able to follow these four 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.