(Note: I accidentally posted this last week, but took it down, it was suppose to be posted at a later date. So many of you were interested in it, I am posting it early. Thanks for reading.)
This post is going to be a bit more personal than most of the others. Typically I'll focus on just catching related posts but I feel this is as important or even more important.
I've played many sports and was a three sport athlete in high school. While each sport had their mental challenges; baseball was the most difficult mentally. That was one of the reasons I loved it more than other sports but along with that came one of the most difficult mental blocks I've ever had to deal with in life... the fear of failure.
The sports world in general is a performance based culture, people love you when you win and hate you when you lose and your value is typically based on your performance. Which makes sense, if someone is going to pay you to play then you'll need to perform. The problem is most of us don't know how to dissociate what we do from who we are. And because of that when we fail in baseball we believe we are a failure in life. That's a lot of added pressure.
If you are a hitter in baseball, you participate in sport where you may fail 70% of the time and still be considered good. If you take the same mindset I mentioned above and plug that into the equation, you might end up afraid to fail.
If you believe all you are is a baseball player and you associate your success as a person with baseball, you might end up believing you are a failure the majority of your baseball career and beyond.
The other issue that this mindset causes is the inability to perform at your best. If your focus is to not fail, because you are afraid of it, you'll never let go and play freely. The goal shouldn't be, to not fail, it should be to succeed. It may seem like a glass half full vs half empty argument, because it is. Because those small adjustments in our mindset make a huge difference in our approach, not only to the game but also to our everyday life.
If I approach my at bat trying to succeed, I'm going to have different things going through my mind then if I approached that same at bat trying not to fail.
During my time playing baseball overseas I got to play with some pretty great baseball players and enjoyed watching other approaches to playing baseball. Some of my favorite guys to play with were from Latin America. They definitely have a different approach to baseball, they play with a little more swagger and try and have a little more fun. Baseball can become a very serious sport in America and it can very quickly suck the joy out of playing.
There is a balance between putting everything we have towards our baseball goals and not attaching the identity of who we are to baseball. Because the reality is, if you don't work hard and put in 100% effort, you probably aren't going to achieve what you want out of baseball. But if you can learn to do that and not put your whole identity as a human on the chopping block of your success as a baseball player; you're going to find it's easier to deal with failures.
While performing our best is what we are all working towards, don't attach who you are as a person to what you do. We are all more than what we do as a job or hobby. Don't be afraid to fail, if you are trying to succeed and it doesn't happen, learn from it! If you aren't failing you probably aren't pushing yourself hard enough.
Let me know what you all thought of the article, if you want more stuff on dealing with failure and the mental aspects of the game. And if you know any ball players that might be having a hard time with the failures associated with baseball, send them this article.
Keep getting after it and enjoy the process of getting better.