Before you get scared- NO, this is not a spam post ad for some overseas medicine coming to America to help with short term memory loss! In sports, a player NEEDS to have short term memory loss. What do I mean by that? I mean you have to forget mistakes you make in a game – quickly. Sports are filled with failures, but also filled with a lot of opportunity. How are you looking at your next at bat or your next pitch you throw after you make a mistake? Are you looking at it as an opportunity to succeed or as a chance you might fail?
We all are going to make mistakes throughout the game. It’s all about how we recover from that mistake that matters. We must understand that one play does not define you as a player – for better or for worse. We have to be able to move on from a play within SECONDS of it happening, in order to have full focus on what is still happening during that same play while it is being completed. Then, we must move on on to the next play, the next pitch, the next at bat. Sports like softball move very fast. The game will move on with or without you – hopefully, it’s with a fully focused, fully positive you – ready to make a new impact on the game when you have another opportunity.
If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes. – John Wooden
A hitter might have 4 at bats in a game, an infielder might have 3-4 plays chances to make a play in a game, but a pitcher is touching the ball 80-130(ish) times a game. A pitcher has more opportunities to make a mistake than any other person on the field, but also more opportunities to rebound from a mistake…more opportunities to have a chance to shine. You have to be able to let things go. Forget about the last mistake you made. The game isn’t nearly as much fun when you are WORRIED about mistakes and hanging on to things that weren’t done “perfectly.” If you are worried about pitch number 24 you threw in the game, while you are throwing pitcher number 44, there is no way to throw pitch 44 to its highest ability.
It isn’t making mistakes that’s critical; it’s correcting them and getting on with the principal task. – Donald Rumsfeld
The best pitchers are going to be the pitchers who move on with a new, clear focus on the next pitch. After you throw a pitch, you CANNOT hang on to it. You have to accept the outcome, do not JUDGE it. It’s when we judge the outcome that we are more likely going to be hanging on to it and unable to move on. You have a chance the very next pitch to redeem yourself to your coaches, team, and to yourself. How are you going to rebound?
As athletes, we all want to be perfectionists. It’s impossible to be perfect in sports. We are trying to achieve perfection every time we take the field or the court, and perfection never going to be attainable. If you are a competitive athlete, you are always going to want to be better and better and better, and there never truly is perfection. Even if you throw a “perfect” game, it doesn’t mean that you threw 100% strikes and had 21 strike outs in a game. (If someone has had this, I applaud you, but I am not sure that this exists out there). Go into a game not EXPECTING to make mistakes, but understanding that they might happen. The best thing you can do is accept that you made a mistake, and move on. The ability to do this can make a good player a great player.
Once you accept that you’re imperfect and are ok with making mistakes, it’s the most liberating thing in the world. We are all perfectly imperfect.
Whether you are hitting or pitching, you must have the mindset of NEXT PITCH. You took a pitch that was right down the middle for the first strike of your at bat? So what, next pitch. In our game, you have the OPPORTUNITY to recover from a mistake within seconds of making that mistake. Think of the next pitch as an immediate opportunity to bounce back whether you are at the plate, in the field or in the circle. If you are still down when that next pitch is happening, your chances of having success aren’t going to be very high because you are still hanging on to the past. Let go of the past, focus on what you can do NOW.
The first step in this whole process of getting better at having short term memory loss is PRACTICING having short term memory loss at practice and at lessons, even throughout the day in regular, every day activities. If you cannot recover from a mistake in a lesson quickly, it’s going to be 1000 times harder to recover from a mistake in a game because a game moves faster and a game has more pressure.
Someone who does not have short term memory loss must first come to the realization that you are not good at letting go of mistakes before you can begin to change it. Once you realize it, you become aware of it, and you can actually make a change. If you never realize it, you are not going to change, and you will stay lost amongst the high percentage of players who hang on to the mistakes they make throughout a game and throughout a tournament. When you hang on to mistakes, it’s exhausting and the game doesn’t seem fun anymore. Practice having short term memory loss in your lessons.
Know you made a mistake, do NOT judge it, learn from it, and commit to the next pitch with a fresh mentality. By practicing it in lessons or at team practice, you will have a much better chance of putting into play your short term memory loss into a real game.
Don’t be so hard on yourself! Remember, sports should be fun! Even though you are intense, and expect to be great every time that you go out onto the field to play, you are GOING to make mistakes. The longer you hold on to that mistake, the less fun the game is going to be. We are all perfectly imperfect and are allowed to make mistakes! What is going to separate you from the rest of the players out there is how FAST you move on from mistakes!