This is the third installment of a 9 part series of things I’ve learned over the years about life whiling playing, coaching, watching or umpiring baseball. You can find principle #1 here and principle #2 here.
Principle #1 is “Losers Make Excuses, Winners Make Changes”
Principle #2 is “Don’t Worry About What Just Happened; Focus On What is About To Happen”
Principle #3 is "Without the Will to Prepare, the Will to Win is Pointless. Nothing More Than Glorified Hubris."
Most of the time baseball is a game that is won before the first pitch is ever thrown so preparation is the key (Note: I only say most of the time because I shudder at universal statements). Sure the walk off Larry gets the most attention but how much preparation goes into that moment? How many decisions over the course of the game lead to that moment? Recently I watched a game end in a 2-0 shut out. The losing pitcher gave up zero earned runs. He still lost. I wonder if the short stop or the right fielder put in enough practice time to be confident in that game situation.
It always amazes me how people seem to think that successful people just wake up one day as successful people. It just doesn’t work that way. It takes hard work and preparation. The will to win without the will to prepare to win is useless.
Success follows preparation, period. It’s true in baseball and it’s true in life. I used to work in the food service business and nowhere was this principle more evident to me than there. The difference between successful servers and non-successful servers was the fact that the successful ones prepared. The difference in a good shifts and bad shifts was the level of preparation that went into each shift.
No one can step up to a plate and just hit successfully. No pitcher can be successfully over the long haul if he doesn’t prepare. If he doesn’t hone his skill and study his opponent he will not succeed on pure talent alone. It’s in the preparation that we hone those skills. How does a guy who can’t hit a curveball learn to hit it? You guessed it, preparation. So baseball has taught me that preparation is the key to success. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Study, study, study.
Hone your skills. If you try something and fail, study what you did. Look at what went right, what went wrong. Schedule time in your day to look at what you’re doing. Take time to prepare. Have a will to prepare, at the end of the day that is far more important than your will to win.
When I was a teacher I used to make every class I taught learnthese. I would make athletes that I coached learn them as part of
earning their letter. I offer them here for your perusal. My friend
Lance Fry shared them with me many years ago.
- Life is not fair, so get over it
- Life is tough so be tougher
- Life changes, adjust
- Life is short, make it count
This is the second installment of a 9 part series of things I’ve learnedover the years about life whiling playing, coaching, watching or
umpiring baseball. You can read the first one here.
Principle 2: Don’t Worry About What Just Happened; Focus On What is About To Happen
No matter what has happened in a baseball game the most important thing is what is about to happen. We all know people who live in the past. Baseball is a sport where you cannot afford to do that. If you do, you are in serious trouble. How many times has a pitcher given up a home run immediately after not getting a strike that he thought he should have gotten? You’ve seen the batter who strikes out because he swung at a pitch he shouldn’t have because he was thinking about a called strike? The pitcher who falls apart after he should have been out of an inning but his teammates had an error.
The point is you need to play the game one pitch at a time. You can’t worry about the past. This is where baseball most closely mimics life. Too many people continue to make big mistakes because they made big mistakes in the past. People can get all focused on what happened last pitch that they forget to focus on the next pitch. What is the desired outcome for that pitch? What do you want to accomplish? If you’re putting your energy into the last pitch, you’re not putting all of your energy into the next pitch and on the baseball field and in life that can be devastating.
Life is too short to live in the past. Sooner or later we all face the 27th out of our life. We cannot waste time worrying about what happened in the first inning when we are in the 5th.
What happens when a team gives up a ten spot in the first? You don’t just stop playing the game? What happens when a guy is 0-3 and it’s his turn to bat in the bottom of the 9th in a tie ballgame? The successful batters go up and take their hacks. When your batting you can’t worry about what happened last time, you have to focus on what is about to happen.
That is how we need to approach life.
I know he’s a basketball coach but Wooden, By John Wooden is a great book. It’s a great book that illustrates how sports can teach so much about lives. I’ve read it inchunks and not in order. If you get a chance to pick it up, do so,
you’ll enjoy it. Here is his fathers’ creed as given on page 9
- Be true to yourself
- Help others
- Make Each day your masterpiece
- Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible
- Make Friendship a fine art
- Build a shelter against a rainy day
- Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day