Have you ever seen a young ball player line a ball right to a fielder and get angry at himself for not getting a hit? Have you ever seen a young ball player bloop a single into shallow center field and still get angry at himself because it wasn't hit hard?
It occurs excruciatingly often during youth baseball games, and the motive behind the bad behavior isn't too much of a mystery. Early in every athletes career, they are told to give it everything they have and leave it all out on the court or field. The method of showing this dedication is left up to the interpretation of the athlete.
Many young competitors think that getting mad over routine miscues shows the average spectator that "they care more", as in staying permanently disappointed in themselves, as if being permanently dissatisfied sets them apart from other athletes.
As a result of this misunderstanding, many players find their mindset traveling down a dangerous rabbit hole of negativity, making baseball even harder than it already is and causing them to believe they are failing more than they really are.
The fact of the matter is that the game is hard enough without playing with uncontrolled negative emotions. In a game where you fail 70% of the time, holding yourself to the expectation of perfection is a sure way to drive yourself insane with frustration and send that failure rate skyrocketing.
Even without perfect aspirations, it's tough to stay positive in baseball. And when we find ourselves developing a negative mindset, we find hits harder to come by and success all but an illusion.
If we're smart, however, we'll figure out a way to flip this script.
The solution? Give yourself more "wins".
I like to rewrite my script for success. Instead of worrying about my result, I find my success in the process. I win an at bat if I:
Only swing at pitches in the zone I'm hunting without chasing any pitcher's pitches
Have a 5-plus pitch at bat
Barrel any ball
Execute my mechanical approach every swing I take
Get a hit of any kind
Needless to say it's a more lenient self-grading rubric. Don't get me wrong - in the cage, I'm my own harshest critic. I'm a perfectionist. But when it comes game time, all the matters is the next at bat and my mindset I'm bringing to the plate with me.
We can all agree that a positive outlook leads to a higher chance to success, so why are we so intent on beating ourselves into the ground? Give yourself a break. You're not slacking off by cutting yourself slack. You're putting yourself in a position to succeed. Hitters can't stay sane knowing they fail 70% fo the time, so flip the narrative. Try giving yourself a 70-80% chance to succeed and watch what it does to your mindset - and your batting average...
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