When given your big chance don’t blow it.
Re-read the previous sentence… What stands out to you? Most likely you are drawn to three little words… DON’T BLOW IT!
This reaction is common among many ballplayers who receive a new opportunity or their “big chance” such as, being inserted into the starting lineup, making a high school or college team, pinch hitting with a runner in scoring position, moving into the closer role, etc.
Ballplayers feel that their “big chance” is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the only opportunity they will get. They feel and fear themselves being judged. They feel they need to prove themselves or else! The pressure they hoist upon their shoulders is excessive.
The “Don’t Blow It” mentality is based on fear.
- “If I blow it, I might get moved to the bullpen.”
- “If I blow it, I might never start again.”
- “If I blow it, I will get benched.”
- “If I blow it, I may never get another opportunity.”
Fear creates anxiety and anxiety causes baseball and softball players to become overwhelmed by the moment. No player can play their best under these circumstances.
New situations are nerve-wracking because there is a large degree of uncertainty. When you are given that big opportunity, two main questions often pop up in your mind: “How will I do?” and “How will I be judged?” These questions cause you to play out scenarios in your head and pull your focus away from your job in the moment.
The way to neutralize anxiety is to normalize the situation. You can normalize the situation with the following mindsets:
- It’s still the same game – Remind yourself that the rules and field dimensions always remain the same. The game is the same game you have played all your life. Knowing that many aspects of the game remain the same will lessen anxiety.
- This is not my only shot – Contrary to your belief, you have more opportunities than you think. Those opportunities may look different, but you get more than one shot. When you see the bigger picture, you lessen the pressure you feel.
A “big opportunity” was given to Miami Marlins rookie lefthander Trevor Rogers… Rogers was called up from the minor leagues to make his major league debut against the New York Mets in the middle of the 2020 season. Only a few years earlier, Rogers was finishing up his high school playing career.
Rogers made the most of his opportunity. Even though Rogers walked five batters, he stayed poised and worked his way out of jams. Rogers threw four shutout innings, striking out six and helping the Marlins beat the Mets 3-0.
ROGERS: “I kept trying to tell myself, it’s the same game, the mound is still 60 feet, 6 inches away. I also kept telling myself, don’t be afraid to fail. Baseball is a game of failure and you can’t be afraid of it.”
Was Rogers nervous? Heck yeah!
Rogers admitted to feeling some degree of nerves, but he was able to stay focused on performing in the moment and not on what the moment means.
ROGERS: “There were a few moments where the heart rate spiked a little bit… But it’s still the same game. Different scenery is all.”
The way to successfully perform when given your big chance is to keep your moment in perspective and adopt the approach “SAME GAME, DIFFERENT DAY!”
Mental Edge Tip:
Instead of thinking about your “big chance”, focus on your job. What do you need to do to be your best or be effective given the circumstances you are facing?
If you have any questions regarding Brain Timing or Mental Game Coaching, please contact Dr. Demetrios Patos at: [email protected]