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So You Don't Want to Pitch Today?

You stand on the mound.

You feel a bead of sweat roll down the side of your face.

A batter approaches the plate and settles into their stance.

Anxiety begins to well up and you think ‘what if it’s a hit?’

You yell, ‘I don’t wanna!’

The umpire calls the game, “Pitcher doesn’t wanna.”

By league rules, the game is a draw and you live to fight another day. Your coach pats you on the back as you enter the locker room, “Next time, buddy.”

This is so far from happening. So, so far from ever happening. In reality, you’re going to throw that next pitch. What’s more, you’re going to need to throw it regardless of how rough you feel or how negatively you’re thinking.

Your solution isn’t getting rid of negative thoughts or never feeling bad again. That doesn’t consistently work and may not be the best basket for all your eggs. For the sake of argument, let’s say you learned how to get rid of or block out negative thoughts and difficult emotions (like anxiety or frustration) 80% of the time. What happens if a clutch game where anxiety is running high just tips you over the edge of what you’re used to blocking out? You’re going to need to pitch anxious.

It’s a better practice to be okay with difficult or unpleasant things floating around internally. As soon as you begin recognizing times in your career when you’ve performed feeling rough or thinking badly, you realize that it’s possible to play a great game when you aren’t ‘100%.’ Those difficult internal events are going to occur naturally and you can still pitch, hit, or strategize feeling rough. Learn to let those things ‘just be’ and get willing to experience them sometimes. It makes the hard days much more playable and takes away the ‘impossibility’ of a good game. There’s a lot of skill and process to doing that, but learning mindfulness will help tremendously.

If you're unsure of where to start in learning mindfulness, Win Your Warm Up is an option. The online mental skills training program is mindfulness-based and all of WYW's pregame prep drills have a mindfulness component. You're encouraged to grab the free trial. There's also books out there, like 'Mindfulness for Student-Athletes' (you can be a pro and benefit, too), and the option of finding a mental skills coach in your area.

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