Eric wrote this post in November of last year. The message is still important so we’re sharing it again.
By Eric Johnson
We’ve reached the point in the year where fall ball has ended, tryouts seem far away, and the holiday break is on our minds. Soon, school will be out for a few weeks. Our weekends are filled with football. In some parts of the country, baseball fields are just puddles of standing water, soon to be covered by a layer of snow. It’s easy to stop thinking about baseball at this time of year. And that’s a good thing for two reasons.
First, baseball is a physical grind. The reason the professional season is 162 games long is because it’s not just a game of skill, but also endurance. The game is designed to push us physically. At the end of the season, the champions are not just skilled, but also tough. Champions fight through adversity and people talk about them as “the team that doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘quit.’” That’s what makes baseball beautiful. It’s got as much to do with character and heart as it does skill. But that grind will wear your body down. No one can sustain a high level of competition without a break. In this age of year-round travel ball, it’s an attractive idea to never stop playing. But honestly, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Understand your body and take a few weeks off. If you need a month, take a month. Don’t grind your body down to the point where you can’t perform at your highest level.
Even more importantly, baseball will grind you down mentally. There is not a single player I know who has not struggled playing this game. Baseball will beat you up, drag you through the mud, crush you, and then, at the drop of a hat, turn you into a hero. The game will give you the greatest emotional highs you will ever feel, along with some of the lowest lows. This is a time to take a break from that. Mentally relax. Let yourself step away from the game. Enjoy football. Enjoy your friends and your family and the holidays. Let the stresses of the game drain away. Because slowly, you’ll find yourself thinking about baseball again. And when you do, you’ll be thinking about how badly you want to be back. How much you want to be on the diamond, how badly you want to hit off a live pitcher, or how much you want to strike out a batter right now. You’ll be hungry for baseball. And that hunger is good. That hunger is what drives a true ballplayer to be at the top of his game.
Do what you need to do to stay in shape over the next weeks and months. Work out, condition, throw, and hit. You need to be game ready by tryouts. But give yourself a break too. That way, come tryouts, practices, and the first pitch of the regular season, you’ll be at the top of your game, and you’ll be ready to start the grind all over again.
This holiday season, the Keep Playing Baseball staff wishes you and your loved ones all the best. And remember…baseball season is just a few short months away! We can’t wait.