I hung up my cleats and laid down the bat for the final time well before I was 10. As much as I loved the sport, my nerves couldn’t handle standing in a small box while another kid hurled balls toward me. Every baseball player will quit eventually. In fact, the NCAA reported less than 1% of high school baseball players play in the Majors. With those long odds, people may get discouraged, but baseball enriches all of its players. I learned to strategy, theory, and scorekeeping while watching minor league games. Baseball gave me a hobby to share with my father, and baseball taught me these ten life lessons.
1. Everyone makes mistakes.
No matter if it’s an error, a wild pitch, or a passed ball, things go wrong. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, but sometimes a single mistake can cost the team the game. If you don’t refocus, one error can snowball into two or three. Apologize later if you need to, but don’t dwell on your mistakes when you need to keep moving forward.
2. Your fans can make all the difference some days.
Plenty of baseball players have talked about the benefits of a home field filled with cheering fans to keep them motivated. When you struggle, remember your fans. They might be disappointed for a moment, but they keep coming back to see what you can do. Don’t forget to thank them whenever they help you.
3. Ignore the insults.
Fair-weathered fans turn as soon as the team starts losing. Sometimes the crowd has an irrational hatred of a player because the perceive them to be too cocky, too young, or getting paid too much. True fans follow careers and love the team for what they do. They know players can have bad days. You shouldn’t try to please everyone, and remember, some people hate players because they are good.
4. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Baseball players spend time figuring out their best stances and swings. They know whether they can make the throw to the plate or if they should bounce it there. They know whether they can do the barehanded grab, the shovel toss, the jumping throw, and the behind-the-back toss. Practice what you’re doing until you’re great at it. If you’re never going to be great at it, find ways to work with what you can do and know when trying something new is an unnecessary risk.
5. Keep trying.
Sometimes the game looks completely out of control and winning seems impossible, but the players don’t give up. They sprint to first base even when they’re almost surely out, because there’s still the chance sometime good might happen. Sometimes pitchers load the bases, but the manager keeps them in the game to fight through it. Even when things seem impossible, keep trying and you might be surprised with what happens. You might even have more confidence the next time you’re in a bad situation.
6. Accept coaching.
Baseball teams have managers, general managers, base coaches, batting coaches, hitting coaches, and plenty of other people paid to make the players the best, but it only works if the players listen and do the work. Listen to those who give you advice, especially in areas you know you can improve.
7. Be a good team-player.
Some of the best teams have said they attribute their wins to camaraderie in the clubhouse, and players have been traded because they make things difficult on the other players. If you’re working with a team, get to know the other people, pull your own weight, and have fun, even if you aren’t slamming cream pies in each other’s faces.
8. Listen to those who’ve been where you are.
Some players have said they idolized a player growing up and worked to be like him. Other players get to meet former players and learn from them. Anyone who has done your job before you knows things you still have to learn. If you have the chance to learn from them, in person or not, pay attention and skip the mistakes they made.
9. Know when it’s worth arguing.
Arguing balls and strikes is an automatic ejection these days. Still, some players argue calls, because they have a point they need to make or their anger has boiled over. Usually, nothing changes when you point out someone else has made a mistake, but sometimes you need to know that you tried. Other times, it’s best to let a mistake go. You have to move on, even if your job is harder now
10. With dedication and luck, you can get paid to play.
The best baseball players work hard to become better, but an injury can ruin everything. On the other hand, a player might have fame and perfect health, but if they don’t work hard, they won’t have a long career. If you want to get paid to do something you enjoy, work hard, put in the time, and work to improve yourself every day.
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