As I was listening to my sons tell me all about their impromptu baseball practice session at the field the other day, critiquing each other’s stance, swing and follow through, I realized that life is a lot like getting up to bat in baseball.
Behind you are your friends. They are the people in the crowd who are there for you and want you to do your best. They know when you need to be cheered on and when you need them to be quiet. They get you.
Fans of the other team
Behind you may also be some people who are not your friends. They wouldn’t mind seeing you strike out because they are there to root for someone else.
People only there for the snacks
Then there are the people that are just acquaintances. They are the people behind you who are totally uninterested in what you are doing — they are taking selfies on their phones and carrying on about something totally unrelated to your at-bat. Even though they are neutral, you still might not want to make an error in front of them.
Then there are your role models. They are your coaches. You look to them for guidance and advice. They motivate and push you.
Let’s not forget about the authority figures in your life. Perhaps they are bosses or others who are quick to judge you. They are the Umps, ready to call you “out.”
But, as you make your way to the plate, you also feel the presence of your team. Your success is their success. Your failure will also be felt by them. Maybe they are cheering you on, chanting your name, reminding you that they believe in you.
Then there is the other team — waiting in the outfield, watching your every move. Willing you to strike out and send them a nice pop fly.
Does any of that seem a bit like how real life goes?
It does for me.
I can identify people in each of those roles: fans for my team, fans for the other team, neutral acquaintances, people quick to judge or point out my errors and also my team who has my back.
Once you are in the batter’s box, all that other stuff fades away as you face off with the pitcher.
- What if you swing and miss?
- What if the pitcher throws a crazy ball and you get hit?
- What if you get hurt?
- What if you completely strike out?
- What if you let yourself down?
- Worse yet, what if you let your team down?
I have seen countless batters step into that box throughout my years as a baseball mom. One single bad experience can set some kids into an incredible slump. Great hitters suddenly freeze, afraid to swing the bat. Some confident batters suddenly find themselves jumping out of the box because they have grown afraid of being hit by a ball again. Others lose their focus and can no longer seem to make contact with the ball. I have spent many seasons cheering on my sons, hearing coaches remind them that baseball is in large part about confidence, focus and staying in the box.
Look around. What is it like in your batter’s box of life now?
1. Who is cheering you on?
2. Who wants you to strike out?
3. Who is part of your team?
4. How are they supporting and encouraging you?
5. Who are your coaches and how do they motivate and bring out the best in you?
6. How does it feel in your batter’s box?
7. Do you need to make some changes to your stance?
8. What are you thinking when you step into the batter’s box?
9. Is your fear of striking out so great that you just stand there, frozen, as the pitched balls fly by you, hoping they are called balls and not strikes?
10. Are you so scared of being hurt that you back out of the box on each pitch?
11. Do you lack confidence in yourself so you find yourself closing your eyes and swinging wildly at any pitch?
As you soon begin the transition out of winter and into spring, notice all of the children who are taking to the fields with their gloves, bats and balls. Let those images be a reminder to you to take some time to reflect on your life and what it is like in your batter’s box.
How can you regain your confidence, drown out the negative noise behind you, lean in, keep your eye on the ball and smash it out of the park?