BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE BY CONTROLLING WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
With every January 1st comes a new year, a clean slate, and a fresh optimism for the future. In the baseball world, New Year’s Day often marks the final stretch of the off-season before we all head back on to the diamond, with the start of school practice and spring training just weeks away. And as the calendar turns with the holidays in the rear-view mirror, players can easily reset their sights on their final destination and get back to work towards their goals in the game.
But as quickly as most New Year’s resolutions are broken, so too can players get pulled in every which direction but the one where they actually want to go during this very important time of the year. Whether it be added competition, bad weather, limited training time, or countless other things that may cause them to take their eyes off of the prize, players can significantly help themselves by continuing on their baseball journey by filling its path with things they can control.
Discouraged about being behind a better player at your position? That won’t help you get in the lineup; getting quality reps at a different position, will. Can’t get outside to throw because of the snow? Find a wall in a gym, a basement, a garage and get to work to get your arm in shape. You can’t control the weather, but you can control how you respond to it when it screws up the day. Only have a half-hour in a cage to hit before the next group comes in to hit? Make sure every single swing in that half-hour is done with your best focus and purpose behind it. You don’t make the facility’s schedule, but you can be efficient with yours.
Life is full of things outside of our realm of power, and baseball is no different. Whether it be a bad call by an umpire, an immature team in the opposing dugout, or a heckling fan who just won’t shut up, while we cannot control the actions of those around us, what we can control is how we respond, and it’s that response that we keep us on track to becoming who we want to become.
Even Major League All-Stars want to become more than what they presently are; that’s a big reason why they are Major League All-Stars. They are impressively able to block out much of the noise of their lives- the media, fans, their contract status- understand what is truly important, and can control the controllables as a part of their consistent routine and continual effort to be amongst the very best in the game. Amateur players, regardless of age, can easily follow that lead by learning the same mindset when challenges block the road they are on.
High school players across the country are preparing hard for their spring and summer seasons that they hope will bring scholarship offers, and for the uber-talented, draft opportunities. Well, those players cannot control what a college recruiter or professional scout thinks of them. But what they do have complete and total power over is the enthusiasm that they play the game with, which will leave a favorable impression. When in the field, they don’t have any control over whether or not a ball will be hit in their direction, but they are 100% in control of being in the correct position and throwing the ball to the right base, also leaving a positive mark on all those watching.
Every position player wants to play every day, and every pitcher wants to be in the starting rotation. Players have no control over the names their coach pencils into the lineup. They can control how they go about their business every day on the field, in the cage, and in the bullpen to develop into that player their coach just has to pencil in. They can control their ability to learn the game by watching or reading to become a smarter player, one that their coach cannot win without.
We get into trouble when we react negatively to adversity. We get into greatness when we respond positively to it. When players and coaches alike are consciously aware of that which they can control, they are that much closer to becoming who they want to become because they have learned to put their days and their actions within their own power.