In one KPB’s first ABCA Twitter Chats, 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 player-tools and physical skills first, the best and most desirable players are the ones with the right mentality. One of the most important attributes for a player at any position is a “growth mindset.” In this article, KPB will explain what we mean by a growth mindset, and why it is the single most important tool a college baseball player ( or recruit) 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 set in stone 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 and high school recruits. A growth mindset is essential for any athlete looking to achieve their maximum potential. If you 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 wins will follow. Recruiting is the same. Not every interaction will result in getting recruited, and you may face your fair share of rejection and failure. If you take a growth oriented win or learn mentality to your recruitment, everything you do will help you improve your chances of finding a fit.
- 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. Likewise, a recruit who focuses their efforts on things they can control and enjoy the college search is well on their way to finding a college program.
- 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. This is perhaps the most applicable reason why recruits should work on having a growth mindset. The recruiting process is about growth and development. If you are always getting better and working hard at your craft, you will not only get recruited, but be more prepared for the rigors of college baseball when you get there.
- 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. You can apply this same lesson to recruiting. Don’t shy away from rejection and failure, they are bound to happen. Learn from what doesn’t work to improve your next recruiting opportunity.
- Players and recruits with a growth mindset understand that their effort matters and they can have control over outcomes.
- Players and recruits with a growth mindset understand the importance of deliberate practice, because everything they do provides feedback they can use to improve.
- Players and recruits 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 and recruits 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 and ability to get recruited.
- Players and recruits 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. Recruits who are good teammates will be sought out by college coaches at every program across the country.
If you want to reach your peak as a ball player and get recruited as a high school prospect, start with a growth mindset and watch your skills, work ethic, and preparation take off!