Thursday, March 17, 2011

Facing Adversity

Inevitably, at some point in your baseball career – and more importantly, your life – you will face hardships. It may be as a team with a losing streak, coaching change or other unusual circumstance. Personally, adversity shows up as a slump. 

How do you deal with adversity? 

When you are in the midst of a problem, doesn’t it seem like everything is magnified. Each mistake you make, batter you face or at-bat you are given feels as if there is an enormous weight on your shoulders. The pressure is squarely on you. 

Baseball is the great team game. I say that with a little bit of sarcasm. Many coaches will teach that you win or lose as a team, and rightfully so. But baseball game is made up of individual show downs – pitcher versus batter, catcher versus runner, fielder versus field and coach versus coach. 

For your team to be successful, you have to perform better than your opponent in your individual chances. 

And the hard part is you may only get three or four at-bats or a couple of chances in the field. If you execute, you may be forgotten about. If you don’t execute, that is typically what everyone remembers – especially after a loss. 

Remember that you will face adversity – both individually and as a team. The question is how do you respond? 

When things take a turn for the worst, the one thing you can’t do is panic. Becoming flustered will more than likely compound the problem. 

That is another great thing about baseball – it is such a mental game. If you “try harder,” you will probably continue down the same path. Trying to hit farther, pitch faster or field better doesn’t usually give you the results you are looking for. 

Patience to many people is something that runs in short supply. Then you start to talk about a results driven situation, and it really isn’t present. On top of that, throw struggles into the equation and patience is the last thing anyone wants to hear. 

Patience is difficult for most of us because we want everything now. We want to be the best. But we want it now. 

A different term for patience when it comes to athletics is hard work. If we aren’t achieving the results we want, how can we expect different results if we don’t make a change? 

Now I know I said earlier that we can’t try harder. But trying and working are two different concepts. You try in a game and work in practice or on your own. There has to be some root to your struggles. The earlier you can identify them, the quicker you can fix them. Once you figured out a problem, there is no substitute for hard work. 

Your character shines brightest when you are in the midst of adversity. How will you handle it?

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