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Swing Smarter's The Dugout, Issue #015 -- Why YOUR expectations won't work...
February 18, 2010
Table of Contents:
INTRODUCTION TO THIS MONTH'S ISSUE...
This month, before the baseball season kicks off for some, is a perfect time for us to dive into the "how to" in dealing with misplaced EXPECTATIONS from coaches, parents, and popular media, and how to deal with it professionally. A good quote from The Mental Game of Baseball, by Dorfman & Kuehl:
"Enough has been written about inept and self-serving Little League coaches and inadequate parents who, in so many ways, turn the joy of recreation into a burden of anxiety. Verbal abuse and punishment are given to children who do not produce what adults around them expect."
I couldn't have put it more perfectly. Most of those parents are also the coaches and have never been taught what or how to instruct. Ted Williams said it before, hitting is 90% mental, the physical part is hard enough, but learning how to deal with the mental side of EXPECTATIONS will be fruitful for anyone with their head in the game.
ON DECK FOR NEXT MONTH'S THE DUGOUT...
Issue #016 is all about WINNING. Think of it like a Best-Of so far of the last year-in-a-half of The Dugout. Discover what 15-20% of players are doing to get them to the top of their game, and that the remaining 80-85% of players find a way NOT to succeed by cutting corners and taking the shorter path because they're lazy and don't want to put in the work necessary to make "it" happen.
We'll draw from the beloved book, The Mental Game of Baseball, Bob Bennett's (one of the most winningest coaches in all of college baseball) kernels of knowledge, and of course our own experiences. You won't be disappointed, so tell your best friends to subscribe to The Dugout eZine before you're too far into the season for your coaches and/or teammates to benefit from it!
PLEASE SHARE THE WEALTH...
If you find The Dugout, "Hitting Baseballs from the Neck Up" interesting to pass onto your friends, please do, we'd greatly appreciate it. The more people we can get to tune in every month, the better, so please spread the love to your teammates, players, and best friends...and hope your competitors don't find us. ;)
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Let's get started with this month's issue, shall we...
THE ISSUE'S HEART OF THE LINE-UP...
This month's issue on EXPECTATIONS gets me more fired up than any other mental issue in baseball. Again, in tackling this topic, we draw from the book The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman and Karl Kuehl.
Wonder what sets my pants on fire?
Because, like most ball players, I swam in EXPECTATIONS, bled for them, and sacrificed because of them. I overcame them, and at times, let them get the best of me. "Scouting reports" from parents, coaches, opposing players, etc. using gross generalizations, or should I say profiling, can diminish a player's ability to perform or "attitude."
Phrases like "Not hungry," "Won't listen," "85-percenter," "Head case," or my personal favorite because it was used on me in college, "Good student." What may sound like a compliment, under close examination of the coach's character and questionable ethics, it was being used in the context of contempt, or condescension, that I was a lesser ball player because I was a "good student."
There's a difference between goals a player sets, and the EXPECTATIONS others set for the player. "Others" are those people external from the player who have a major influence.
"How much does an athlete have to achieve to 'prove' him/herself?"
This depends on the goals they set, and how those goals are measured. Are they realistic or unrealistic? And more importantly, are they the player's goals or do they take the shape of EXPECTATIONS set for the player by someone else?
I'd like to refer to that "someone else" as an "intruder" from now on...in other words, goals serve the player, and EXPECTATIONS serve others.
In Little League, often times the kids are just a means to fun for the parents coaching. I hear of disappointing stories locally where parents are yelling at kids to perform, throw foul language at them, and toss fungos...heck, and the kids are 8 years old for crying out loud!
I know you're saying, but Joey, I thought we were suppose to put EXPECTATIONS on our kids, so they can grow as individuals? Goals, NOT expectations, are to be focused on...ambitions need to have measurable matrices, so we know there's growth taking place.
As a trainer, I do assessments consisting of:
After another assessment in 4 weeks, the client and myself know what is happening to their body, and if we're not getting the results we want, then we have the data to prove why not. If it's measurable, it's manageable, and goals have to be the same way.
If the player doesn't know how to set realistic goals, then they must be taught, but ultimately, it must come down to the player knowing:
After this month's issue we should know without a shadow of a doubt, a player's list of baseball/hitting goals should NOT include "pleasing others." If we're going to take anything away from this month's issue, it is that.
My story on the "Good Student" thing...
It wasn't until I finally got in coach's face (NOT recommended for most coaches btw) about his issues with me that I finally quieted the demons plaguing half my Senior season at Fresno State. I was a nut case up until then, but I conquered half-hearted EXPECTATIONS put on me by someone else, and was able to put a strong finish to my career...I praise God for that.
It's interesting, a great quote from The Mental Game of Baseball says,
"The player who can retain his joy for baseball, is the one who can NOT let others intrude upon his own."
In others words, Stay Within Yourself. Three of the best words a player can live by, ones often times forgotten in the heat of emotion, and should be written underneath the bill of a player's game hat, to serve as a reminder every day.
We want to be aware of a Real v. Imagined Identity. Here's the formula:
Unreasonable EXPECTATIONS + Unnatural Attention = High Anxiety
Put it another way, giving too much attention to an intruder's EXPECTATIONS is a recipe for becoming a "Head Case." Don't let "labels" define who you are as a player. Yes, sometimes a player gets a label for playing/acting a certain way, but labels can always be changed over time and are temporary.
Michael Jordan was labeled a "failure" when he got cut from his high school basketball team, Bill Gates a "drop out" when he skipped out on his Freshman year at Harvard, Doug Flutie was labeled "too small" to play in the NFL, and how many athletes get a life threatening form of cancer, and are viewed as "dead," survive, and make a comeback competing better than they were before?
I'm almost certain, there are countless other stories where players at all levels are given false EXPECTATIONS, and overcome them because they fore-go the notion of memorizing their world as it is, instead of creating their world as it might be.
The bottom line?
Remember to stay within yourself, if we've been given a label that we've earned, we can always change it...and if we've been intruded upon with a grossly mislabeled player EXPECTATION, like being a "Good Student," then we must revisit 3 key motivational points:
We at Swing Smarter would love to hear your stories, please contact us at the following link. We're looking for experiences where a player (you or someone you know) was given an EXPECTATION label, and the player was able to overcome it, or not. It could be a small detail or very big one, it could be an earned label or a grossly misrepresented one. For those who submit a story, we're going to send a Best-Of FREE gift, valued at around $10, that, in the coming weeks, we're going to put up-for-sale on Swing Smarter.com, so you'll get it before it officially comes out :) We'd also like to create a personal page on Swing Smarter featuring your inspirational story. Also, it doesn't have to be your story, it can be someone you're clost to or know of.
Thanks for listening this month...Swing Smarter!
SURPRISE BONUS THOUGHT OF THE DAY...
Vince Lombardi, the guy they named the Super Bowl Trophy after, was very fond of players who always gave a second effort. Most players give up after the first effort fails, and seldom "stay in there" to get a better result.
Before we give up the fight in a ballgame, the score is 15-3, show everyone you know how you can fight to the burger. You see this quite often in football, a running back gets tangled up on defenders, and then you see him pop out and get an extra 5 yards. Or you see a soccer player dribbling the ball who gets slowed by a defender, and keeps pushing through until he wins the ball again.
In baseball, you can get a second effort, in sprinting out a can-of-corn fly ball you just hit, running out to your position between innings, climbing a wall to make an effort at a wall hugging home-run, diving for a ball, running through a wall as an outfielder (which is NOT recommended, I've done it and it hurts :).
That "extra" effort is what wins respect of teammates and coaches over the long haul. Now, don't be reckless with it, but show people you have a second effort in everything you do.
HEADS UP! CONCERN OF THE MONTH...
I write this concern of the month in too much of a positive state to come up with something to look out for, so I'm going to reveal another BONUS tip...
The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something, from a Leo Babauta article on ZenHabits.net...
First, you have to learn from time-tested and trusted sources such as books, DVD's, and the internet. There's only so much information, and over time, most of the stuff you'll read, watch, or listen to will start to overlap. Once you get over the learning curve...
Two: you have to start doing it, perfectly executed repetition after repetition, until you can maneuver the movement in your sleep. Remember, if you need to start slow with the movement, then do it to set muscle memory in the right direction.
And lastly, the best way to make something stick is to teach it. I learned more when I started teaching the swing to others than all those years gaining game-time experience, reading, watching, and listening to popular media about hitting.
We hope this helps to master consistency in your swing, and we wish you all the best in the first half of your season. Please subscribe to the Swing Smarter RSS feed, if you haven't already, to stay up to the minute on new happenings at Swing Smarter dot com, Subscribe to My Feed Here.
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Swing Smarter NOT Harder,
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