The "Gentleman of baseball" isn't
so gentle once the game starts,
especially in his own mind.
To piggy-back off of a recent post on Fear and Arrogance, a problem sometimes arrives with regards to arrogance. Some players find it difficult or even might reject the idea of a need to be more arrogant. Many have been taught to be nice, respectful, and level headed towards others and the thought of being “arrogant” or somewhat “mean” may not be appealing. But it is absolutely essential that an athlete have some. A player who tells himself “there is no way this pitcher is going to get me out” is employing a healthy amount of arrogance. By no means am I saying a player should be outwardly cocky, arrogant, or even mean, but it is true that some athletes are just “too nice,” at least in their thinking. Their parents should be proud of the young men they have raised but there comes a time when players need to switch gears and become a little (or a lot!) meaner/arrogant once the game starts. Derek Jeter is an example of what I am talking about. By all outward appearances, Jeter is a terrific guy who is well liked and respected by just about everyone in and around the game. However, I can just about guarantee that his thinking isn’t so nice once the game starts.
If a player has a tough time with this, the “act as if” technique may help. I sometimes use this with my high school students. If a student is having a bad day, I sometimes will say “act as if” you are having a good day. If students try it, usually their head picks up, they stand taller, they put a smile on their face, and there is more life in their eyes. As a result, many “feel” better, at least temporarily. Athletes can do the same thing. If a player lacks toughness, arrogance, meanness, etc., they can think of a player who shows that quality (or qualities) and begin to “act” like them. Carry yourself like them around the field. Walk into the batter’s box like they do. Attack the game like they do. If you are not naturally confident or tough minded, “act as if” you are. When a player does, he may be surprised at how quickly he begins to “feel” those qualities he thought he didn’t have.
There is a time and a place for most everything. Being nice, polite, and courteous will take you far in the social world. It might be exactly what holds you back in the athletic world though. If you are not who you want to be on the field, keep improving for the future but start “acting as if” right now. The results may surprise you.