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― James Cook

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Get Confident or Get off the Field!!

Everyone I talk to seems to agree that confidence is the number one determinant of performance in baseball, in the workplace, and in life. However, there also seems to be a dearth of knowledge on how to get and remain confident.

In baseball, it appears that most players have little or no idea how to create the confidence they need to succeed. They wait around to see how things will to go and pray that the baseball Gods will drop down confidence like manna from heaven. Its like they arrive at the ballpark everyday and peel open their metaphorical Wonka Bar in hopes that today will be the day they receive a golden ticket of confidence and play well.

If the game starts out well, their confidence grows. If things don’t go well in the beginning, they just curl up in the fetal position, sulk, or stomp around in defensive anger. They shrink in stature and wait for the game to end, chalking it up to “Well it wasn’t my day…it happens.”

I would like to state for the record:


And it’s a failure to live up to your obligation as a member of a team.

At the end of the day, you are judged on your performance and nothing more. Sure, this game will always be about failure, but that failure does not need to be, and it CANNOT be of your own doing. It is your responsibility–you owe it to your teammates–to find a way to manufacture your own confidence and bring it to the park every single day.

This may sound harsh, but I truly believe it:


If you don’t feel confident at game time, you should go to the coach and ask him to take you out of the lineup and replace you with someone more mentally prepared. It’s the only honorable thing to do, and you owe it to your teammates who have invested their effort, sweat, blood and tears to prepare for the contest.

What if you were a marine or a soldier on the front line and performed poorly in a firefight because of a lack of confidence? Do you think the members of your platoon would be ok with you saying, “Oh well, it just wasn’t my day.”?

The answer is clearly “No”. Because either you or they would be dead!

Just like the soldier has a responsibility to his brothers in arms, you have a responsibility to your teammates to do everything in your power to offer your best performance every day.

Understand, I would never compare a baseball game to war, but the psychological parallels are too strong to resist.

Here’s the irony:

No one cares how you feel, they only care how you play!

But in order to play well, you have to find a way to make yourself feel good.

According to my friend Dr. Tom Hanson, founder of Play Big Baseball Academy, and author of the best selling books Heads Up Baseball and Play Big, everything in the universe is energy (just ask Albert Einstein). If we could look at a player through special energy revealing glasses, we would see that some guys emit positive energy and some emit negative energy. According to Dr. Hanson, the universe is like a big pitch back. It bounces back to you all of the energy you send out. When you feel good, you radiate positive energy, which bounces back to you and makes you feel and play “bigger” and with greater confidence. You get back what you send out. So you need to find a way to create and project positive energy.

The thing I like the most about Dr. Hanson’s idea is the level of personal accountability it creates. If the entire universe is energy, and I get back what I send out, then I can choose everyday what kind of energy I want to project. That makes ME and ME alone responsible for how I feel and the level of confidence I generate.

If you want to have confidence, first you have to make yourself feel good. So how do you you make yourself feel good?

At this point it’s important for a player to understand the following formula:

Performance = Potential – Interference (credit Dr. Hanson)

Think about the best game you’ve ever played. Maybe it’s a game where you absolutely dominated on the mound and struck out 17 hitters. Or maybe it’s a game where you were 5 for 5, had 3 doubles and a homer and the ball looked like a volleyball coming out of the pitcher’s hand.

Now listen closely.

When you played the best game you’ve ever played, you weren’t playing over your head. It wasn’t a fluke. That is who you are! That is what you’re capable of! That is your potential.

Any lesser performance was simply your best being eroded by physical, emotional, or psychological interference—mostly emotional and psychological factors I’m sure.

So the next time you want to feel confident (which should be just prior to your next practice or game) take a moment to remember the most amazing performance of your life. Remember it in high definition detail. Remember the bright green grass, the dirt on the mound, the vivid white lines of the batter’s box. Remember the smells, the sounds and your thoughts. Most of all, remember how great it felt to dominate! Bathe in the feeling and allow yourself to get bigger and more confident. Walk around with your chest out and with your posture strong and tall. Breathe deeply and feel the oxygen flowing through your lungs, supplying your red blood cells with the nutrients of success. Feel your energy begin to grow and project out into the universe. Then no matter what happens continue to project that positive energy throughout the game or practice. Bask in the glow and the joy of competition. Find yourself fascinated but not frustrated by challenges or mistakes. Immerse yourself in the goals of your team and feel the strength and synergy that teamwork creates. Spread your positive energy around to your teammates and PLAY BIG!

If you haven’t read Dr. Hanson’s book, Play Big, I highly recommend it. You can find it at www.playbigbaseball.com

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