Friday, September 30, 2011

Living With Failure

By Jim Bain

For the sake of it's not important, I'll not identify the MLB relief pitcher, except to say he's one of the best in the league, who blew a 6 run lead in the 7th inning.

I must admit I was upset to witness, actually I didn't witness it because I turned the channel, the home team have a sure winner snatched away from them. It was devastating for the team and myself, who had been celebrating the end of a horrific 3 game losing streak which had cost them first place.

At times, when I sulk, revelations seem to appear, which puzzle me and on which I'm forced to ponder the meaning. While sitting on the patio and staring up at the stars, wondering why lady luck had so frowned on my team, I experienced one such thought.

If I felt this terrible, and I was a nobody, just another fan, how must the relief pitcher feel? He had let his team mates down, had made a mockery of a manager's decision to use him instead of another pitcher and did it all on national television where millions could watch.

What was he to say to the starting pitcher, who had pitched his guts out for 6 hard innings, or the mate whose home runs were wasted and the player injured giving 110% striving for the win?

How do players live with that sort of failure? An interesting question for which I had to retreat to the memories of my youth, to the days of eternal optimism and willingness to listen to those wiser than myself.

I recollected a particular game which I had attempted to win Worse Player of the Month honors, which left me angry, embarrassed and just plain miserable. I was annoyed, and a little fearful, when the coach came up to me where I was sitting on a parking lot curb.

"Failure breeds Success," he simply said, then walked away. It took me awhile to understand what his words meant, but they have helped me in my life every since. Let me explain.

If you're not failing at something which is new or difficult, you're either not trying or the task is not difficult after all. Learning to hit a round baseball, traveling 95 mph and jumping, with a round bat, with @ .7 seconds to decide whether to swing... well, it breeds a lot of failure.

However, with each hit, the failure decreases ever so slightly as if a one for one swap, until the logistics of mathematics begins enforcing its will. At that point we hit, hopefully, an acceptable failure rate, which ironically becomes an unusually high rate of success, such as a.400 batting average.

Players should never become comfortable with failure, but they need to realize it's a fact of life and will happen. Instead of wrestling with the feeling of failure, embrace the feeling of perseverance, which says I will not fail next time.

That attitude will have you eagerly anticipating the next challenge, a chance to succeed, instead of dreading it, fearing failure. I guess that's what keeps a relief pitcher going after blowing a lead.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on running baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

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1 comment:

Jodi Murphy said...

"Players should never become comfortable with failure, but they need to realize it's a fact of life and will happen."

Excellent advice. Even the best players in the pros only hit the ball 30% of the time. Everyone is going to make mistakes and have "off days." It's how you play the next game that matters.