Reflections from the Home Team - April 23, 2020
“So, if you aren’t okay, it’s okay. It’s okay to be scared, frustrated and feel down. You just don’t want to stay there too long and allow these feelings to take you down a spiral staircase of depression and despair. The key is to find the optimism, hope and faith to keep going and create a better future.”
Greetings from Cedar Falls!
I think we would all agree that the past few weeks have been a unique time for all of us. I know I have received several messages from good friends about how the Covid 19 isolation and social distancing has impacted them and their families in a “not so positive” way. In fact, a couple of them have used the analogy that they are in a “slump” because of it. Ages of those sharing concerns with me range from 6 to 60, so it’s certainly a potential concern for everyone, regardless of age...
For those of you who are not familiar with the term “slump”, here’s a quick refresher… In baseball, a batter can be defined as "slumping" when he has gotten few or no hits over a period, and his batting average during that time is far below that of his expectations. Even the best of hitters frequently experience hitting slumps. (I’ve been there a number of times…)
I recall one spring season in particular where I was rolling along, seeing the ball well and hitting it hard consistently, when all of a sudden, I went 0 for 18 in my next 18 at bats… Am I going too fast for you? OK, let me say it again for you a bit more slowly – that’s 0 for 18! A “zero” and then a “one” with an “eight” next to it. Eighteen at bats, zero hits, OUCH!
So how did I go about fixing or getting out of the slump? I was certainly getting "a lot of advice” from coaches, teammates, fans and friends related to the mechanics of my swing, all well intentioned of course, but not effective. I didn’t need to get out of my hitting mechanics, I needed to get out of my hitting slump! I needed to get into my own head and work on my mindset, going from where I was while in a slump; tense, impatient, anxious and anticipating bad results to a point where I was performing at my best and crushing the ball again.
As I’ve mentioned, every player, sooner or later, will run into a long hitting slump. It happens to youth players as well as Hall of Fame professionals. In fact, we know players can expect to run into multiple slumps throughout their careers — if not a single season! Some of this is due to luck. Much of it comes down to remaining positive and continuing to utilize a good “approach”. But slumps happen due to things both within and outside of a player’s control. Kind of like the Covid 19 pandemic…
One thing I’ve learned and taken to heart since cancer is to not worry about things that are not in my control! In baseball, sometimes the opposition makes an amazing defensive play. Sometimes the umpire makes a bad call. Sometimes you’re just hit with a bout of dumb luck. We can’t get down when these things happen. All are outside of our control. Stressing over things that are outside of our control is pointless and will only make things worse.
Probably the single biggest reason a player will fall into a prolonged slump is a loss of confidence. A person’s frame of mind will always impact performance and a lack of confidence will almost always lead to poor results. Confidence can change everything! By staying positive and continuing to take a good approach, things will turn around! As a “player” in both baseball and the game of life who has gone through a number of personal “slumps”, I have always tried to provide some additional attention and support to anyone I see “slumping” to help keep them thinking positively. We can all do the same by staying connected with those we love and care about, even if it’s digitally as we follow the guidelines established as we move forward in our current reality.
I recently received a note from a good friend who runs a baseball instructional school in Texas. We go back a long way, as he was one of my first High School players at Sioux City Heelan High School where I began my coaching career. Tim and I have stayed in touch over the years as he works with young players of all ages, not only teaching them solid baseball skills, but also sharing his passion and life lessons learned from the game. Tim writes:
Hope you're doing well during this crazy time. We're doing well down here, just tired of being cooped up. I was wondering if you would do me a favor please? One of the littlest guys I have is having a tough time with all this quarantine stuff. Sam is 6yrs old. Most of the time kids that age should be worried about nothing more than what the snack is after the game. Sam is a true baseball fan. His first lesson he told me how many days it was until spring training started. He eats sleeps and breaths baseball.
Anyway, I'm trying to find something a little different for Sam to boost his spirits a bit. If I send you a video of one of his swings would you mind making a few comments for me? Just the fact that his swing was looked at by a scout for the Braves should keep a smile on his face for a bit.
As you can see from Tim’s note, he has his priorities in the right place. His concern for young Sam is not just about his hitting mechanics, but rather about how he can lift 6-year-old Sam’s spirits in this time of isolation and quarantine.
I did respond to the video that Tim sent of Sam’s swing, breaking down Sam’s mechanics and added some positive words of encouragement. Sam’s mom sent back a thank you for helping place a smile back on Sam’s face, and I think we may have picked up yet another Braves fan in the process.
Sam, probably like most of us, is going through a wide range of emotions where many of the norms and guidelines we have lived by have changed dramatically. You may have felt denial, anger and sadness over the past month or so leading you into a “mental slump” as well. I want to reassure you that is OK! As always seems to be the case, my favorite author, Jon Gordon has some wisdom to share on this topic in a recent post titled IT’S OK TO NOT BE OKAY.
As we face the “slumps” that may come our way in this life, let’s invest in each other with faith, hope and love. As 1 Corinthians 13:13 shares; “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
There's no doubt that each of these virtues — faith, hope, and love — has great value. Faith is what motivates us to move forward even when the odds are against us. Hope keeps us moving forward, it’s what fuels us to face those difficult challenges and love is at the foundation for every good thing in our lives. Without love, nothing else matters.
May we serve each other in this manner in the days and weeks ahead!
Blessings your way!
Be safe and be well!
Are you or someone you know fighting cancer... struggling with the physical, emotional and spiritual issues that accompany a cancer journey or other serious health issue? Making ourselves available to others can open up the doors of opportunity for deeper relationships, healing, and transformation. For many, time is one of the most valuable commodities in today's fast-paced world. Sharing time with others is a wonderful gift. It says, "Here I am... for you. To listen, to care, to serve." The power of presence should never be underestimated!
Be an encourager in someone else’s life!
To learn more about being an encourager, and to view the Reflections blog, visit the Reflections from the Home Team website at: