Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Confidence to Play

In most areas of life, you need to have a basic skill set to be good at something. Baseball is no different. But the good thing is that most skills can be learned, practiced and developed. While we are each given a unique set of skills and interests, if we truly want to become better at a particular craft, we can. It will just take hard work, patience and discipline. 

It is one thing to learn a skill, but it can be a different experience to put it into action, especially if you are standing on a baseball diamond. And if you are lucky enough to pitch, you are on the pitching mound with every eye in the stands, on the bench and on the field watching. 

Baseball skills are specific physical tools that help you perform on the field. Confidence is the characteristic that you need to succeed. Maybe you are the best player on your team, pitch the fastest in your league or are just an average kid looking to have fun. You won’t be able to maximize your talent if you aren’t confident in your abilities. 

Confidence is knowing and believing that in the batter’s box, on the mound, in the field or in any other area of athletics, and even life, that you are not only good at what you are doing, but also prepared to perform. 

So how is confidence developed? 

Confidence is built through success, which comes from preparation. Success usually comes by developing and refining your natural abilities. Developing skills the right way will make a better player. A player that has a better skill set will have success and build confidence. 

Please don’t think that you have to be the best player on your team or in your league to have confidence in your abilities. All that is required is belief that you are good enough. It doesn’t matter what your coach, parent, teammate or opponent thinks. You have to believe in you. 

Confidence is always a work in progress because your talent is always a work in progress. The more talented you become, the more your confidence should grow. As your confidence grows, you won’t worry about what others think. You believe in yourself.

My first college coach, Lawrence Nesselrodt, told us that to be successful in baseball you have to “play arrogant and practice humility.” Have total confidence in your talent, in any situation, but keep it to yourself. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. Make sure you stay on the confidence side. 

For several years, after I received my driver’s license, my dad and I would change the brakes on our family cars. I was able to practice five or six times. By the time I went away to college, I knew how to change the brakes. I have never changed the brakes on any vehicle by myself.

I may have known how, but I didn’t have the confidence to try it on my own.

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