It is a privilege to play this game.
I understand that it hurts to make an error that costs the team. It hurts to miss the pop fly or over throw the ball. It hurts to let that grounder go by you or get tagged out because you hesitated. I know it hurts and that you feel terrible. How do I know? Everyone feels terrible when they make a mistake. I’ve felt terrible in the past, everybody has, multiple times. You aren’t alone. Everyone will have a moment where they feel they ruined it for the team. I promise you… Every. Single. Person.
Having a sad face, moping around, getting lost in your emotions and hanging your head is NOT the answer. I know that’s what you want to do. I know that’s what you’ve always done. But today, you can redefine yourself. You and only you are in control of your emotions. You and only you get to decide how you will react. There are two choices when things aren’t going your way.
1. Feel the error, decide to put it behind you as quickly as you made it, learn from it and move on.
2. Feel the error, let it sink deep down into your heart and mind and not forgive yourself. Stay upset, doubt yourself in everything and check out mentally from the game letting yourself and your team down.
No one can decide which option you take. You have to decide “who do I want to be?” If you don’t like the way you’ve been reacting to adversity, you can decide to change. All it is, is a decision. This is not a battle on the field with the other team. This is a battle up here, in your own mind. You are fighting yourself, your mindset, your beliefs, your emotions. Decide before the error, before the mistake, before the strike out, how you will react.. because son, it’s not if these things will happen, but when. They will happen and they need to happen. Why? Failures and setbacks are a necessary part of the learning process.
Let’s just imagine for a second your team was undefeated. You’ve never lost a game, your team was superhuman and never made any errors. You hit every ball at bat and caught every ball on the field. In that situation, are you learning? Are you growing? Are you being challenged? Remember how boring it is to play a team that is inferior? You love a good challenging game because it’s fun and it forces you to play at your peak performance. Our mind and our bodies only grow when we exercise it through pain. We work out and have sore muscles to eventually have bigger and stronger muscles. While we are working out, it’s hard and painful. It’s a necessary part to get the reward of being stronger.
The same is true for our minds. We need to make mistakes and learn from them to make connections and be able to figure things out in the future to become smarter. When we are talking about baseball, we NEED to make mistakes in order to grow and get better. It has to happen. It is actually a good thing. Through that mistake guess what happens? You grow your baseball knowledge and self-correct for the next time. That error that you let turn your emotions upside down is what will actually help you in the long run. I know it’s hard to think about the future when you make a mistake out on that field, but it’s the truth. It’s hard to go through… but son, I believe in you and I know you can do hard things. When you make a mistake yes, you will feel bad. But just let that feeling stay for a minute, then consciously shake it off like a wet dog shaking dry and say to yourself, “OK, that hurt but now I’m ready.” You can fight this feeling and come up on top and it doesn’t have to take the whole game to get over it. Because it’s not about getting over it, it’s about working through it.
I hope you realize this game is not about being perfect. Even if you win every game and get 100 trophies, remember they ultimately sit on a shelf and collect dust. Cannon, believe me when I say I don’t care about the trophies. I care about the man you are becoming becauseof baseball. In the words of Rocky Balboa, “It’s not about how hard you hit… it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” You have to decide to become the type of man who can keep getting hit and gets right back up. Babe Ruth knew this well. He said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” Be that person, Can- not just in baseball, but in life.
Are you willing to take the hits, to deal with the hurt of making mistakes?
Are you willing to feel the hurt but only for a minute, then pick yourself back up?
Are you willing to be that person that cannot be broken? Who never gives up?
Herb Brooks said, “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” What greater opportunity is there, then when you’re down? That’s the golden time to show who has the most heart. Who is resilient? Who makes mistakes and puts it behind them? Who uses their emotions to fuel the fire to fight back instead of crumbling inside?
Use the error as a stepping stone. Put it under your feet. If you hold it over your head, it will be sure to crush you and your team. DO NOT put your self-worth in winning or losing. You are SO MUCH MORE than your performance, good or bad. If you only knew how incredible you were, you would never for a second hang your head. You are loved with the passion of a 1000 burning suns… so much more than you will ever know, and it has absolutely nothing to do with baseball or anything else. When you play ball, there is nowhere else I’d rather be. It’s not because you are the best baseball player. It’s because I love to see you grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. I love to see you work hard, have great sportsmanship, have opportunities to be honest, to show competitiveness and kindness, to get dirty and be a boy. I love to watch you laugh with your buddies and get better at the skills you’ve been working hard at. I love to see you think of the team before thinking of just yourself. These things are invaluable to me.
When your team wins, I will be your biggest and loudest cheerleader and celebrate to the moon with you. When your team has a loss and is getting discouraged and I look over and see you handle it like a boss and keep it in perspective, that is worth more to me than a 1000 wins. Because in life, you will get knocked down. There will be times you will need to go out and conquer the world when you don’t want to, when you have everything going against you. You’ll need to be man enough to fight how you feel. You’ll need to go out there and keep moving forward. Laying down and giving up is true failure. I need to know you’re going to keep getting back up no matter how hard life is.
Our priority in you playing baseball is to develop your mental toughness. The events that happen during a ball game will stretch you, but don’t let it break you. Take risks out there. Be brave. Be a fighter. Be resilient. Persevere through the losses and setbacks. Celebrate the growth. Stay humble. Remember there are ten year old boys who would give anything to be in your shoes. Some of them are in hospital beds with cancer, too weak to even get out of bed. Respect this game and all those who are unable to play enough to go out there each and every time and give it your all, everything you’ve got, 200%. Do this not just to win but remember Colossians 3:23
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
So do it because you have a God-given gift. You are strong, develop it. Be a good steward of the things God gives you, including your body. Feel God’s pleasure and honor Him by using your gift to the best of your ability.
This game is a privilege.
Not everyone can play, but today you can. Remember that, think about that. Let that affect the way you play the game. Start and end each game with gratitude. Have so much fun playing the greatest game in the world. Don’t waste the opportunity to grow and a be a better you by wallowing in your feelings. You’re in charge of your feelings and it’s not the other way around. Be the victor of your mind because son, that is the greatest victory of all.
“God has not given Cannon a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.”
-2 Timothy 1:7
I love you,