This quote has been said many different ways over the years, and I have heard Coach Wolforth say different variations frequently. Coming up to the start of the season, I thought this was a good time to have a reminder on the topic.
Often, we let our performance in a game define us as a person or a player- “I suck”, “I’ll never get to the next level”, “I’ll never be able to throw a curveball for a strike”. Even on the other end of the spectrum after a really good couple of games- “I am awesome”, “I have become unhittable”, “These guys aren’t even competition for me anymore”. We have to be careful with how much we internalize our success or our failure- both can negatively affect our longevity.
I find it helpful to remember my success or failure is a representation of my systems, not me. I know that it is hard to remain objective in the moment but it is necessary. If I performed well, great my training seems to be on the right path. What things am I doing in practices that are translating positively to my game setting? What things can still be strengthened? What is my next goal (higher velo, better strike percentage etc.)? When we view our success as a part of who we are, players tend to think they have ‘arrived’. Coach has often said, “You can never have it, you can only work on it.” We have to be careful not to think that our success means that we can slow down and coast. Quite the opposite- why would you want to mess with a rhythm/ routine that is fruitful? You have to keep searching, keep testing and keep pressing.
On the flip side- if I performed poorly, the same post game questions would apply. “What did not serve me well today? Where do I need to make tweaks in my training?” Failure can only be fatal if you let it. I believe you are all familiar with the many stories we have on failure. In fact, Thomas Watson said, “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” I have to correct my daughters frequently. It is so easy to say, “I’m never going to get this!” but I remind them that if they are willing to work hard, they can and will get it. Use the failure as a chance to get back to the drawing board, not to be down on yourself as a person or a pitcher.
My great grandmother used to say, “People are like fruit, when they stop growing they rot”. As you start playing games this spring remember that. The outcome of our training does not define us, it tells us about our training. Your performance is simply the indicator of what is working or not. Neither outcome should make you stop pressing. No matter how you play over the weekend, it’s back to work on Monday.