The disabled list is a safe place to be. You’re still getting paid, you’re still on the team, you’re just injured. Just Injured? Are injuries an inevitable component of being a professional baseball player?
Some injuries are worse than others and some necessitate a longer recovery. Rationally, no one wants to get injured. No one wants to develop the yips, lose consistency, hit a plateau, or develop an inability to cope with pressure either, and yet all these symptoms happen, often without warning or reason.
Players get stuck when they fear success. Rationally and consciously, everyone wants to succeed. However, not everyone is ready for the pressure that comes with getting to the top. The very thing you want is just out of reach and becomes even farther away with every little blip in your game. You’re excited but at the same time, you’re scared. Eminem summed up this pressure quite well:
If you had
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it
Or just let it slip away?
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.
That’s a lot of pressure. Often times that pressure isn’t felt mentally; the body feels it instead in the form of symptoms. Your body is protecting you from feeling the anxiety, sadness, frustration, anger, shame or other emotions you’d prefer not to feel. It’s a defense mechanism the body uses to keep the player safe from being overwhelmed mentally and emotionally and it’s exhibited in the form of injuries, chronic and acute pain, plateaus, negativity and doubts, and a myriad of other hurdles that keep you stuck.
Here are 5 tips on learning how to deal with the pressure without any setbacks:
- Every day, write down the things that bothered you even as insignificant as you might think they are. Did someone cut you off on the highway? Write it down. Are you missing your dog at home? Jot that down as well. Got some things that you can’t let go of and which keep taking up mental space? The point is to eliminate the clutter in your mind so you don’t have to keep holding onto things you may or may not be able to control. Less clutter equals more clarity of thought, which allows you to focus on what you do want and then take the actions necessary to go after those things.
- On your walk or drive home at the end of the day, imagine dropping off everyone you came in contact with at each exit or intersection. Drop off your coaches and teammates; all the people you work with. This type of imagery helps you release the energy of these people and all their thoughts, behaviors and actions and, it offers you the space needed for you to concentrate on you. It’s not about kicking these people to the curb and saying, “You walk the rest of the way home!” It’s more about telling them, “Thanks for the day. I’ll see you tomorrow,” and then letting yourself take the me-time you need to re-charge.
- When you’re in the shower, think about anything you didn’t love about your day. Hold that feeling and then with the water, imagine it washing off you and down the drain. Replenish it with a good thought. Think of a time when you scored or when a coach gave you a really nice compliment. Hold onto that thought and then think of a mantra such as “I can do this,” “I’ve got this,” “I’ve done well before and I’m doing well now.”
It’s easy to get into a negative mindset and in order to get out of it, changing the internal chatter, the things you say to yourself and the ways those things make you feel, needs to be reframed into more positive self-talk.
- Write down your goals. French author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery wisely said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Do you want to make a wish and hope it happens or, do you want to decide on a goal and do everything in your power to make it happen? When you write down your goal as well as posting those goals where you’ll see them every day, you not only make yourself accountable to reaching them but you also remind yourself of what you want when you falter and momentarily forget what’s important to you.
- Consider why you want those goals. What will having that give you that you don’t already have? Confidence? Purpose? What are you willing to give up in order to get what you want? Is there anything else that can give you the same feeling or are you pretty sure your goals with accomplish this end result? Are you willing to give up thinking you know how it’s going to unfold or in what time frame? The clearer you get on why your goals matter to you, the more motivated you will become on attaining them and overcoming your doubts and obstacles.
Not every symptom is connected to your fear and pressure to succeed. Sometimes your injury or inconsistency is just that. Often times, your recovery can be expedited by looking at the underlying fears and worries that come with getting closer to your goals and dreams.