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Being SELFLESS = WE not ME

This week's "Word of the Week" at 360U is SELFLESS. This is one of our favorite 'mindset' topics to talk about with our athletes during our classroom time. In a sport where it's SO easy to focus on yourself - your stats, your at-bats, your errors, your batting average - it becomes very difficult to manage that additional pressure you put on yourself. We can very quickly get caught in the trap of playing for those numbers, rather than playing for our team with the simple goal of competing and winning. When we compete and play to win, our end goal is 'team' focused rather than 'me' focused, which frees you up to play hard and gritty instead of nervous, tight and distracted.

For example, put yourself in this scenario. You're playing in a game and you strike out your first at-bat. You have a choice here in how you respond:

Option A: You can let that strike out set the tone for the rest of the game and and carry it into the field with you, because now your 0-1 and you need to get a hit the next at bat so you don't open up the possibility of going hitless this game. 0-1 can quickly become 0-2, and then 0-3 when your only focus becomes "don't do that again, I NEED to get a hit."

Option B: You strike out, and as you head back to the dugout you make a pit stop by your on-deck hitter who is about to go in the batter's box next and you give them a quick run-down about what you saw from the pitcher, you pump them up with some words of encouragement and a high-five or helmet slap, and JUST like that you've already flipped the switch and taken the focus off of yourself (aka being selfless), before you even step foot back into the dugout. There's no time to let your brain wander and worry in this scenario.


Think of how that ONE simple, yet very intentional, response can affect the rest of the game for not only you, but for your teammates as well. No one likes the teammate who strikes out or gets out and stomps back into the dugout, goes in the corner and chucks their helmet, or even worse...cries the rest of the inning because the game and outcome of their at bats is more important to them than the success of their team. How do you earn the respect of your teammates, coaches and friends in this sport? Learn to be the most selfless person on the field AT ALL TIMES and set aside your own success or failures in order to become a steady, consistent, and dependable friend who has enough perspective to see outside of themselves. As you get older, you'll very quickly learn that those people are called 'team captains'. They are captains because learned that the less you focus on yourself, the easier it is to play this game and have success, and fun.

It's no surprise that the majority of our lead instructors at 360U are currently, or were formerly, team captains on their respective college softball and baseball teams. They weren't named team captains because they were the best players on the field with the highest batting average, and never messed up or struck out. They were named team captains because they choose to respond to those situations differently than most. They don't get caught up in the outcome of a single at-bat or single play in the field, rather they play the GAME and understand the ups and downs that go with it.


PARENTS & COACHES: How can we help our kids and athletes become this type of selfless leader described above? First off, we can bench the "batting-average" obsession and start focusing on the behaviors that will create leaders on our teams and in our families. When young athletes struggle to find joy in the game, when they get become laser-focused on the success or failure of one at bat, that's a big red flag for us as adults and should help us realize we've somehow conditioned our athletes to be results-oriented vs. process-oriented (which is a whole blog in itself). If we teach our athletes to compete as a team and take the focus off of the outcome of singular at bats, pitches, or plays in the field, they can learn to develop the appropriate response when things go wrong...because they WILL go wrong in this sport! Reward 'response-based' actions and behaviors such as putting the ball in play after striking out the last at bat, or throwing a first pitch strike after walking your last batter, or tracking 'ball-in-play average' for your kids instead of 'batting average'. Let's help our kids become tougher, more resilient, and more selfless to help them be more successful in this sport, and in life!

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