Errors. We’ve all made them. We’ve all benefited from them. You have probably heard coaches say, “Whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins.” Or even after a loss, “We just made more mistakes out there than they did.” What you have probably never heard anyone say is, “lets talk about the best way to make errors.” So let us be the first!
Obviously, we want to avoid making errors as much as possible. Many of our articles are devoted to helping you develop the skills to minimize them. But, chances are you’ll make mistakes sometimes, so let’s talk about how you can keep your focus after you’ve made an error.
While there are exceptions, most errors (by themselves) are not the difference in a ballgame. What is more costly, however, is when you compound errors, follow up an error with another, or lose your confidence. There was a great example of all three of these things in the deciding game of the 2016 College World Series. In a tight game, University of Arizona’s second baseman followed up a bobbled ground ball by throwing the ball away on an unnecessary throw during a critical moment in the game. This alone did not lose the game for the Wildcats, and the response from teammates to rally around the second baseman led to him being a key part in a comeback that fell just short. But enough with the storytelling.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid the more costly consequences of errors while keeping your focus where it belongs, on the next play.
Step 1. Finish the play with intelligence. Don’t compound the error by turning one error into two. For example, if you boot a ball, don’t follow it up by grabbing the ball and making a rushed throw that could result in another error on the same play like we see in this Think the Game article.
Step 2. Once the play is over, take about 2 seconds to get rid of your frustration. Go ahead, be mad or disappointed. You might plan to have something that you always say to yourself (not out loud) when you make a mistake. Get your mind to turn the page and focus on the next play. Whatever you do should not create a big scene or draw any attention. You want to be a player who can handle adversity, even when you create it yourself.
Step 3. Expect and want the next ball. Treat it as an opportunity to redeem yourself, not as an opportunity to make another mistake. The ball has a tendency to find players who don’t want it. Stay confident—every player makes errors, but only the best are able to isolate them and move on quickly.
Step 4. Anticipate the next play before it happens. Think through what you will do if the ball is hit to you, before it is hit to you. Pre-pitch preparation should always include a quick review of the conditions and situation (field conditions, speed of runner, outs, score, etc.).
Step 5. Learn from your mistake so you don’t repeat it. When you get back in the dugout, think about what you could have done differently. Picture what happened. Where did the play break down? What would it look like if you made the play? Trust yourself to make the play correctly the next time.
Step 6. Stay confident! This is the best way you can keep your focus after an error. Major leaguers make errors and they still know they are the best on the field. The plays get more important as the game goes on. Don’t let any error distract you or keep you from doing your best. Stay focused, stay confident, and make the next play!