Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Take Something Positive or Dwell on the Negative?

One of my first columns talked about confidence. To be a successful person and baseball player, you have to believe in yourself above all else. You have to know that when the ball is hit to you or you are on the mound or you are taking a test or you are interviewing for a job that you are ready to perform. 

The subject of this column is different.  Confidence is necessary in the heat of the moment, when you are right in the middle of things. But what do you take away from a game, a team practice or working out on your own? 

Are you better to take something positive or is it better to dwell on the negative?

Some coaches are super positive (I’m pretty sure I fall into this category). Because of the confidence factor, I think it is important to remain positive at all times. If I can quietly teach instead of yelling and screaming, why wouldn’t I?

But I don’t want to look at this article from a coach’s point-of-view. What about a player? 

When I sat down to write this, I was only going to write about thinking positively. But then I started to think and realized that when I played I almost always looked on the negative sides of a practice or game. It wasn’t negative in the sense that “I stink” or “I can’t play” or “I’ll never amount to anything,” but what didn’t I do very well that I can improve on. 

It is rare that you have an absolutely perfect game or practice. There is simply something that is below average. What is it? The good thing is, is that it doesn’t have to be anything major.

Maybe you had trouble fielding a ground ball while moving to your left. If you catch, maybe you weren’t perfect and let a couple of wild pitches get past you. Did you strike out twice, both times on changeups? Is hitting the cut-off man a problem? 

Any of these above situations do not require you to completely learn new mechanics. They are little tweaks that can be improved by taking the time and performing extra repetitions. 

Say you struck out twice on changeups while batting and, as a catcher, you didn’t block all of the wild pitches. But you also had a single and threw out two base runners. Your pitcher threw well to you and your team won the game.

Now what? There are a few positives and a few negatives. 

First and foremost, team success is more important than personal success. Winning should trump any individual performance – either positive or negative. But dwelling on the negatives is not going home and locking yourself your room because you think you are terrible. 

Maybe it is poor word choice, so instead of “dwelling,” let’s embrace the negatives. 

To become a better player, you have to know what you did and didn’t do well. Be proud that your team won and you had a decent game.

But you have to understand what you didn’t do very well so you know what to practice. You don’t become a better player by only practicing your above-average skills. If you only looked at the positives, would you ever fully understand your flaws?

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