In one of the first ABCA Twitter Chats, now years ago, the first question was: “Build your own catcher—what are YOUR most important attributes for the player behind the mask?”
There were many great answers, but we noticed many of the answers referred only to physical skills. When coaches evaluate recruits on the ball field, the easiest skills to grade and project out are physical tools. The hardest skills to evaluate are the intangibles, things you can’t measure with a stopwatch, radar gun or high tech equipment. Ask any college coach and he will tell you that despite the tendency to look at a player’s tools and physical skills first, the best and most desirable players are the ones with the right mentality. So when KPB answered the question, one of the attributes we said was needed in a catcher was a “growth mindset.” In this article, we will explain what we mean by a growth mindset, and discuss why we believe it is the single most important tool a college baseball player can have.
The term “growth mindset,” was coined by renowned psychologist and Stanford University professor, Dr. Carol Dweck, in her 2006 book, Mindset. As opposed to a fixed mindset, where an individual believes that his qualities, intelligence, skills, etc. are fixed and can’t be changed, a growth mindset “is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts” (Dweck, 2006). In other words, through deliberate practice, learning from mistakes, and hard work, you can improve your abilities.
You may be still wondering why a growth mindset is so important for college baseball players. A growth mindset is essential for any athlete looking to achieve their maximum potential. Still don’t believe us? We have 10 reasons to convince you otherwise right here:
- Players with a growth mindset are more process oriented. They define success as more than wins and losses. As Dweck explains, success is attributed to doing your best, having a good plan and preparing well (pg. 98). In baseball, you won’t always get a hit, strike a batter out, or win, but if you are well prepared and learn from each experience, the success and wins are sure to follow.
- Players with a growth mindset are more intrinsically motivated and rely less on things they can’t control for motivation. They find satisfaction and joy in the process of learning and improving, rather than acknowledgement or external rewards.
- Players with a growth mindset are never satisfied with success. They understand that there is always room for improvement, success is earned through hard work, and there are always ways to grow, even if you are already the best.
- Players with a growth mindset look at failures (bad at bat, bad inning, bad play, bad game, etc.) as learning experiences. In a game of failure, there is always something positive to take away from every experience. Failure serves as a teacher and motivator for training.
- Players with a growth mindset understand that their effort matters and they can have control over outcomes.
- Players with a growth mindset understand the importance of deliberate practice, because everything they do provides feedback they can use to improve.
- Players with a growth mindset have an easier time dealing with and overcoming failure because they know failure is temporary and their talents and skills are not fixed. There is always room to improve and overcome.
- Players with a growth mindset can envision improvement through hard work. They know if they put the work in, the effort will directly influence their performance.
- Players with a growth mindset are better equipped to deal with adversity because they know that adversity offers opportunities to overcome challenges and test their abilities.
- Players with a growth mindset are better teammates. They have a positive outlook, and understand that teams, like individuals, can learn and improve with experience. They believe that players can come together and find solutions to problems.
If you want to reach your peak as a ball player, start with a growth mindset and watch your skills, work ethic, and preparation take off!
Suggested Follow-Up Article: A Great Season Starts with Self-Efficacy
Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. 2006. Ballantine Books and Random House Inc., New York.