I was going to talk more about the physical side of baseball but decided to tell you the truth instead. The best athletes in the world all have something in common. Yes, they are physically talented, but at their level -- the top -- everyone is physically talented.
Talent alone is not going to separate you at the highest levels. College teams do not recruit untalented people and professional teams do not draft untalented people. Everyone has talent -- so what separates the elite from the rest? Let's try to understand this.
The human body is capable of doing so much more than what the mind will allow. People are often putting limitations on what is possible based on perceptions created by others and themselves. You hear stories of people doing unbelievable things in times of crisis, lifting up a rolled-over car to allow someone to be pulled out or cutting off limbs to survive. These actions demonstrate what some call hysterical strength or survival mode.
When something is that important to someone they somehow find the strength and focus to complete whatever it is they need to get done. At the highest levels of sports the elite performers have this superhuman need to win, to excel, to play at a level that is beyond comprehension to everyone else. Anything less than mastery and domination is unacceptable.
It starts by making a decision that something is going to happen. Because I am a pitching coach, the rest of this is directed in that direction. "Decide" is defined by Dictionary.com as:
1. To determine an outcome;
2. Imply settling upon a purpose;
3. To make up one's mind as to what shall be done and the way to do it.
It sounds too simple, making something happen because you want it to, but it is simple. When you decide, "I am going to get this guy out," it is over. There is nothing the other guy can do about it. The only person who can control if it is actually going to happen or not is you.
Besides training your body for a specific skill set you also must train your WILL.
It goes beyond the typical sports analogies which discuss breathing and routines. Your will is the backbone of your decisions. It is the internal "being" that will not settle for anything less than achieving your goal. Let's break this down. "Will" is defined by Dictionary.com as follows:
1. The faculty of conscious and especially of deliberate action; the power of control the mind has over its own actions;
2. Power of choosing one's own actions;
3. The act or process of using or asserting one's choice;
4. Purpose or determination;
5. To decide or bring about.
The first definition, which states "the power of control the mind has over its own actions," is the important piece -- training the mind to think that a very specific action must and will occur because there is no alternative. A decision is being made to predetermine an outcome that is controlled by your will. The hitter, umpire, defense, coaches, fans or anyone else has zero control of what happens if the pitcher has made a decision and is fueling it with his will.
Your will is fueled by intent and aggression. Intent is defined by Dictionary.com as:
1. Firmly or steadfastly fixed or directed;
2. Having the attention sharply focused or fixed on something;
3. Determined or resolved; having the mind or will fixed on some goal.
Let's look at the Dictionary.com definition of aggression, with my additions in parentheses:
1. The action of a state (player) in violating by force (imposing your will) the rights of another state (the other player), particularly its territorial rights (other player's game);
2. The practice of making assaults or attacks; offensive action in general;
3. Hostility toward or attack upon another;
4. Vigorously energetic in the use of initiative and forcefulness; boldly assertive.
Whatever decision you make is going to be done. Your will (fueled by intent and aggression) is what makes that happen. This will only happen if you are fully committed. It is a life-or-death situation (baseball life or death, not human life). It is that important, it's baseball life or death, anything less is not good enough. This puts you into a survival mode, you're fighting for your life.
When you make a decision it is carried out by your will (fueled by your intent and aggression). If it is life-or-death important to you, it will happen. Regardless of all the outside, uncontrollable circumstances (hitter, umpire, defense, field, coaches, fans, girlfriends, family) nothing can affect, interfere or get in the way of you imposing your will on another human being (or the game).
It doesn't matter how you feel, what your stuff is like or what the situation is -- you decide what happens. Your will, fueled by intent and aggression, carries out your decisions.
No situation or another human being can affect your will or decisions. You have complete control over your mind and its thoughts.
Dennis Machado is the head coach of the Peninsula Oilers. Submit questions for future columns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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