Yesterday I was reading an article about a minor league player who I’m familiar with. This player had an outstanding amateur career at both the high school and college level and was able to parlay that success into becoming a first round draft pick. Unfortunately, he hasn’t as of yet lived up to the expectations that people anticipated when he was coming out of college. Even though his work ethic and level of commitment to his craft is second to none he still hasn’t been able to shed some of the early season struggles that seem to some what derail his seasons.
In the article he was being asked about his slow starts to which he replied, “I just try to go out to the field every day and stay positive.” Immediately I thought and posted on my Facebook page, “It’s not about being positive, it’s about being present.”
Don’t get me wrong, positive thinking and focusing on the positive are extremely important. I’ve written and talked at length about the power of staying focused on the positive. In a sport like baseball where an athlete will probably fail more than they will succeed it’s easy to allow our thoughts to drift to the negative. This creates much of the mental, emotional, and ultimately the physical resistance that inhibits performance. Certainly staying positive is a much more resistant free state than the alternative.
However, if we’re talking about maximizing one’s performance then it’s important to understand that while being positive is a much less resistant state than negativity it still falls short of the resistant free state that allows peak performance. The only way to reach the state of peak performance is to be completely present with whatever task you are engaged in. Positive thinking creates similar problems as negative thinking in that both are not focused in the present moment. When trying to “stay positive” an athlete is either thinking about past successes or envisioning the creation of positive results in the future. Either way the mind is not focused 100% on the present moment and as such can’t allow the body to perform to it’s highest capacity.
There’s no getting around the fact that in baseball you’re going to fail. The very best hitters fail 7 times out of 10 so it’s easy to allow your mind to move into a negative state. If you find yourself thinking either negatively or positively use that as an indicator that your are not currently focused on the present moment. Simply return your thoughts to the task at hand, focusing on what you can control (ie: track the ball into the hitting zone and executing a mechanically sound swing), and you’ll allow yourself to perform to your highest capacity.