5 Tips for Dealing with Adversity:
Here are our 5 tips for dealing with adversity we utilize with our current athletes:
1. Fake it until you make it – I always heard great athletes say they were confident all of the time. I had a hard time relating to this feeling because I was struggling so much at the plate. How could I be confident if I was striking out? I finally realized that I couldn’t always control my feelings but I could always control the way I acted towards adversity. ACE – “Acting changes everything.” Therefore, I made a commitment to act confidently even when I didn’t feel like it, even when the adversity was overwhelming. I would ask myself, “How would the best hitter in the state of NY look like walking to the plate right now?” I’d try to act like that and then all of a sudden my feelings and internal environment began to change for the better, and the adversity seemed to wash away. I may have still been striking out but my perception of failure and success began to shift.
2. FEARLESS – I had this written in red expo marker on my mirror. Its meaning is similar to the idea of acting confidently. I asked myself how I would swing the bat if I knew I couldn’t miss? How’d I’d play on defense if I knew every ball was coming to me and I’d never make an error? I’d play with the absence of fear and then adversity would seize to exist. A feeling of invisibility that you see Bryce Harper play with when he swings the bat. I began to realize that I was able to possess this fearless attitude during practices but in games, it would shift and my nerves would take over as the
rose. It suddenly hit me one day that the task at hand DOES not change from practices to games. What changes? Our fear of failure. For example: If asked to walk a plank that is on the ground, it would feel very simple and easy to hop on the plank and walk across. If that plank was instead suspended 500 feet in the air, we’d tremor and probably refuse to walk the plank. But what has changed? Our task is the same, the plank is not smaller, in order to accomplish the task it is still one foot in front of the other. The only thing that has changed is our fear of failing (ie. failing with the bases loaded and the game on the line hurts more than failing in the batting cage during batting practice).
3. Preparation breeds confidence: Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. Thus, making sure practice is of high quality and mentally taxing will lead to a better overall approach to hitting during stressful game situations. If practice is harder than games then all of a sudden the games seem easy and we gain confidence from that. For example: Practicing situational hitting, moving around in the box to practice faster/slower pitch speeds, visualizing striking out and then succeeding the next at-bat, practicing hitting off of a tee on the field and then running around the bases as if you just hit a double/triple/homerun – although some of it sounds like overkill, it is setting the brain and body up for victory. It is practicing that invisibility in the mind and helping condition our thoughts for success. Also, no one ever said they regretted working too hard. I found my confidence from my work ethic by hitting extra and training in order to improve. This way, when I finally got into the game, I was assured that I did everything in my power in order to be successful.
4. WIN – What’s Important Now. I used to have a rubber band on my wrist with the letters W.I.N. and it representing the phrase “What’s Important Now.” Whenever I felt my mind drift to the past or the future (ie. Thinking about my last strikeout or worrying about my next at-bat) I would lightly snap my rubber band and remind myself, “What’s important now? Stay in the present.” Our mind is capable of ‘time travel’ (thinking of the future and past) but our body is stuck in the present. In order to be successful, we must be in sync. Being that our body is stuck in the present, it is imperative to keep our mind there too.
5. Support System – Lastly, no matter what I tried to do mentally or physically, it wouldn’t have meant anything had I not had an unbelievable support system. Anyone from my parents, hitting coach, high school & travel ball coaches, teammates, friends, and family members. They ALL were there to support me regardless of how well I did. It almost seemed like they believed in me before I even believed in myself. Regardless of my failures they never lost faith in me and my ability. It is because of all of them that I am successful in anything that I do.
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