I love acronyms. When I spoke at TEDxPrincetonLibrary, I talked about HOPE (Hold On Possibilities Exist). Well next week is HOPE week for the New York Yankees. For them, HOPE stands for (Helping Others Persevere and Excel). Watch the video below on HOPE Week 2010. After watching this video, you will never complain again about anything in your life. Enjoy.
Over the winter, I envisioned the image above in my mind. Last week, I took that image at the Trenton Thunder game of top Yankee prospects, Manny Banuelos and Austin Romine. And tonight, I stopped by the ball park to show it to them. They were impressed with the image and were kind enough to sign it for me.
I spoke with Austin several times last season on baseball and mental toughness (see our video interview HERE), but last night was the first time I spoke to Manny. I asked him if he had anything to say to my blog readers. He said two words:
Simple, yet powerful. See, most people want to be successful, but they don’t want to put in the work. People want to be more fit but don’t want to eat healthy. People want to make more sales but they don’t want to make phone calls.
Everybody knows what to do, but nobody does what they know.
How hard are YOU working today?
Are you just going through the motions in your sport and life?
Do you mindlessly go through practice and wonder why you are not improving?
Do you mindlessly drive your car and find yourself ending up someplace else?
Do you mindlessly speak with people and forget what they say?
This happens all the time.
Recently, I was in Tampa, Florida for Spring Training for the Yankees. I spent some time with pitcher, Cory Arbiso. Cory and I talked about how he mentally prepares for competition.
During pitching drills, instead of just going through the motions, Arbiso uses visualization. Most pitchers just rush through the drills, but Arbiso takes his time and makes the session as realistic as possible. He varies the timing on his delivery and even checks imaginary runners. In his mind, Arbiso imagines the type of pitch he is going to throw and the location, even if there is no ball in his hand.
The more realistic and mindfully you practice, the more you will be able to deliver in competition.
At the professional level, everyone is an elite athlete, but the ones that make it are the ones who slow the game down and master the game between the ears.
Pitchers and catchers have already reported to spring training camp and position players report in a couple of days. Baseball is in the air again, and players are getting ready for their upcoming season. Some are trying to get in shape and others are trying to make an impression.
At the professional level, everyone has the physical skills, but part of what sets the minor league players and the major league players apart, is the mental side.
I know some baseball players in the Yankees organization who will be trying to make an impression down in Tampa this spring. You know who you are, and if you’re reading this, here’s my advice to you:
1. Go all-out—Be the most energetic player on the field. If you hustle on and off the field, not only will the coaches notice, you will actually FEEL more energetic and your performance will increase.
2. Ignore that little voice inside your head—There will be times that your inner voice will speak negatively to you. That’s normal. But you don’t have to believe that voice. Accept it, let it go, and act like the most confident player on the field.
3. Just do it—The great philosopher, Yogi Berra said, “A full mind is an empty bat. You can’t think and hit at the same time.” Trust your game and all the hard work you’ve put in.
4. Visualize—The more you visualize how you want to perform, the more likely you will perform at a high level. Most athletes leave their performance to chance—something YOU don’t want to do.
5. Focus on the process—Don’t worry about results, you can’t control that. Worry, instead about the things you can control, like your effort, your attitude, your energy level and your reactions to situations. When you do this, you will get better results. Oh, and have fun!
That’s it. See you in Tampa on March 9th.
Fifty-four years ago today, Don Larsen threw the first and only perfect game in World Series history.
Larsen didn’t even know he was going to start the game until he arrived at the ballpark.
Yankees manager, Frank Crosetti put a baseball in Larsen’s shoe, which meant that he was pitching.
Larsen gulped and said to himself, “Don’t mess this up.”
He was nervous, but he went out there and pitched the game of his life, 27 up, 27 down, to catcher Yogi Berra.
During his career, Larsen was only about average, but on this day in 1956, he was perfect.
Larsen says, “If you work hard enough, I believe everybody’s entitled to one good day.”
Work hard everybody.
Well, the Yankees were losing 3-0 in Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Minnesota Twins last night and they came back to win 6-4.
“The switch kind of turns on when the postseason rolls around over here,” says Yankee Nick Swisher.
That’s a winning mindset.
Most people fold when the pressure is on.
But the great ones get turned on by the pressure.
It’s a choice.
What will you choose?
This is the last year of Mariano Rivera’s contract with the Yankees. Asked if he was worried about what would happen after this year and Rivera said, “Why should I worry about something that I can’t control?”
Many times we worry about winning and losing, the economy, the weather, our opponents, but we can’t control those things. So why worry about them? That’s wasted energy.
Be like Mariano and focus on the things you can control like your effort, attitude, energy and reactions.
You might not be the best closer in major league history, but you can have the same attitude and mindset as him.
Supposedly, Mickey Mantle once hit a weak ground ball to second base and, as usual, took off out of the batter’s box. But his spikes got stuck and he fell on to all fours and couldn’t get up. Instead of giving up and heading to the dugout, he furiously doggy-paddled to first base.
That’s giving your all, no matter what.
Well, today was a special day.
Not only did I throw out the first pitch at the Trenton Thunder game; I also asked my girlfriend, Sarah McLoughlin to marry me after the pitch.
I went 2-for-2…I threw a strike and she said yes!
A very special Thank You to the Thunder staff and players, especially Bill, Krysten, Rachel, Dave, Justin Snyder and the great Brandon Laird for their help and support on this special day.