A line drive is turned into a double play. How long did the play take to develop and then be completed? If you thought about five seconds, you would be right and wrong. The elapsed time of action may be about five seconds — from the wind-up and delivery of the pitch to the graceful fielding of the ball and toss to your teammate before the runner touches the bag. However, these five seconds of action are the sum of thousands of hours of practice and skills development, reading the play, and doing the right thing.
Prepare for the Game
A saying shared with me early in my career has stuck with me through the years —
“Prior preparation prevents poor performance.” Anyone I have worked with can confirm I weave this phrase into every development, planning, coaching, or mentoring opportunity I am in. Perhaps a more positive take on this is “Prior preparation produces potent performance.”
The coach builds a roster of players, plans the line-up, and creates plays (or planned reactions to different game situations). Coach bases his decisions on knowledge, skill, experience, and frankly, his available pool of players. All of the planning and preparation is for the next game.
The team is formed and practices begin. Practice. Practice. Practice. Run drills, develop skills, and learn to communicate with your teammates on the field. It can be drudgery. The repetition can sometimes push you to boredom, resulting in sloppiness with bad habits creeping into your routine.
An aspect of practice is players being placed in different situations to become familiar with what they may face at game time. The reps you put in create muscle memory so you react in a moment when you do not have time to think about your next move. While this can be forgotten deep into an excruciating practice, Coach reminds his team of the things they control — attitude, effort, and preparation.
Focus on the fundamentals.
Know the Game Situation
The irreplaceable thrill of the game is launched with the cry out, “Play Ball!”
There is a heightened anxiousness because the game counts; it means something. Anxiety and nervousness are compounded as you listen to your opponent chattering in the dugout and hearing the opposing coach yell out strikes and outs before the umpire makes the call, hoping to influence what he sees.
You get in position as the play begins. You are “baseball ready” as you are aware of the situation. You check where the position of runners on base, the number of outs, the batter’s count, the batter’s history … they all influence where you start out on the field ready for the next play.
You sift through the distractions –– you know your pitcher is not a belly itcher. You have to filter out and ignore the fake moves of the runners and the incessant yelling from your opponent’s coach.
Focus on the realities of the situation, not the distractions and deceptions of your opponent.
Make the Play in the Game
You are ready to react. The ball is put into play. As soon as the bat makes contact with the ball you move. Everyone on the baseball field is moving, regardless of where the ball is hit.
You attack the ball as it is hit to you. You avoid the distractions of your opponent and make the play.
Focus on playing your game.
What Game are You Getting Ready for? What’s Your Next Move?
In life, business, school… your context… what are you getting ready to accomplish?
How are you preparing? How are you practicing?
How are you ignoring the deceptive distractions of your opponents?
How are you focusing on playing your game when it is time to play?
(Can you tell I miss baseball right now?)