Focus on "Controllables"

Teenage boys have a lot going on in their lives — school, sports,church,friends, girls… the list is long. Just look at their chaotic Facebook pages. Sometimes it seems like too much going on at once.

In a baseball game there is so much information to process — before literally every pitch. Players are expected to react in fractions of a second to a specific game situation, a specific pitch or a specific play. How can they can possibly process all this information?

Clearly, it takes strong mental skills to play baseball. Not, necessarily book smarts (but the two are related). It takes the ability to process information quickly, and to make decisions/take action instantaneously. Baseball players process this information faster than the latest Intel chip.

With so much information coming at you, an important skill is to focus only on the things that you can control RIGHT NOW. Don’t waste CPU time or emotion on things outside of your control.

How do you do this?

Action takes place RIGHT NOW, not in the past or in the future. If you focus your attention on things that happened in the past (like your last at bat), it takes your focus away from the present. All action takes place RIGHT NOW. The past is over with and not in your control.

Similarly, you will become paralyzed if you focus your attention on the future. The future is important. But, what happens RIGHT NOW dictates the future. Most Gamers want to play college baseball. But, if they just focus on that future dream, at the expense of doing things RIGHT NOW, their dreams will not be realized. Hard work, getter stronger/faster, improving skills, getting good grades, etc.. RIGHT NOW will dictate the opportunity to play college baseball.

When players put pressure on themselves, it is largely because they are re-living past mistakes and fear repeating them in the future. Fear of failure is the opposite of focusing on RIGHT NOW. It is the single biggest barrier to success in baseball.

So, one secret is to focus your attention on the present, RIGHT NOW.

Another secret is to learn to focus only on things that are 100% within your control. This requires that you recognize what is NOT within your control.

The opposing players, the umpires, field conditions, etc.. are all things that are not within your control. Nothing gets under my skin more than players that constantly talk about opposing players during pre-game drills. You have no control over them! And, any time you spend focusing on the opposing team takes away from what you should be doing — which is focusing on things you can control. Same thing for umpires. I cannot stand it when players waste time talking about umpires. It is a distraction that results in poor performance.

So what are things within your control RIGHT NOW?

What goes on in your own head is 100% within your control. What you are thinking, your self-talk, your relaxation — these are all within your control.

Repeating your swing, pitching, fielding and throwing mechanics is 100% within your control. A lot of players have great mechanics in drills or in practice, but the mechanics fall apart during games. This is because they lose focus during games. Too much information to process, their reaction time slows down. They forget to focus on things they can control — like repeating solid mechanics.

Your effort level is 100% within your control. The Gamers style of play and our infamous pole system is totally focused on things that are within your control on how you play the game.

Similarly, being a good teammate is within your control. If you choose to support, encourage, push and genuinely care for your teammates, you will have a lot more success (and have more fun). This is a choice that is 100% within your control.

So, there are a lot of things within your control RIGHT NOW. But there are more things that are not. You need to learn the difference.

This is a really important lesson to learn — your success in life will be determined largely by how effective you are in focusing on controllables and taking personal responsibility for how you perform on those controllables.

Three big concepts here:
1. Focusing on the present — RIGHT NOW — where action takes place
2. Focusing only on things that you have control over
3. Taking personal responsibility for both

A prior sentence is worth repeating, “your success in life will be determined largely by how effective you are in focusing on controllables and taking personal responsibility for how you perform on those controllables”.

This is as true in all aspects of your life, not just in baseball.

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