How to Overcome Self-Criticism
Are you hard on yourself as a baseball or softball player? Do you expect success and over-emphasize your mistakes?
Sometimes ball players can be their own worst enemies. All they see are their mistakes, errors, strikeouts, outs, wild pitches and losses.
For example, if you were 3-for-4 but stranded 2 runners in scoring position, you may feel he let the team down by not getting those runners home…
Or a pitcher may feel devastated after giving up a home run even after pitching five shutout innings.
It’s normal to feel a bit of a letdown after a mistake or loss, but to overlook your successes and stay singularly focused on what you may have done wrong crushes confidence. This may lead to a performance rut over the course of the next few games.
In order to have stable confidence, you should evaluate play in reverse fashion or more objectively.
First, acknowledge your successes–even small ones–of your performance. These successes may include solid fielding, accurate throws, stealing bases, advancing runners, etc.
Next, you should understand that success is not perfection nor does a mistake negate a success.
When evaluating your play, instead of beating yourself up over a missed opportunity, learn from those instances to improve your play in future games. This method allows confidence to remain high and contributes to consistent play.
Chicago Cub Kris Bryant is a player who can be very self-critical and perfectionist.
Bryant has an outstanding baseball resume, winning the 2015 National League rookie of the year and 2016 National League MVP. Bryant is also a three-time All-Star and one of the most integral players on the Cubs.
Despite all that he has accomplished in his young career, Bryant, admittedly, can be very hard on himself.
Even Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon agrees that Bryant can be very self-critical and heap excessively high expectations upon himself.
MADDON: “[Bryant] can be his own worst critic. This guy really sets high standards for himself and so does everybody else around him — almost to the point that the standards are unsustainable or unreachable.”
Bryant admits that it has been hard for him to find the balance between pushing himself and being too hard on himself.
BRYANT: “It’s a game of failure. I need to think that way so that it brings the best out of me so that I’m never satisfied or complacent with anything I do on the field, ’cause I don’t ever want to feel that. And it’s tough because I’m so hard on myself, but that’s just who I am.”
Striking a balance between wanting to improve and growing confidence is critical to improve as a baseball player.
This balance requires objectivity when evaluating performance. It is okay to identify things you need to improve or be unhappy after a bad game, but you don’t have to devalue your skills or ignore your successes.
Overcome the Self-Criticism Trap
Success is a balancing act. Much like an accountant balances a budget to prevent a company from going into debt, you need balance so you don’t fall into confidence debt.
Create a performance ledger where you keep track of game evaluations. In one column, list 2-3 things you can do better or need to improve over the next few weeks.
In the next column, list things you did well in the game. Recognize those successes even if they seem small.
Write those successes in positive terms, such as “I made good contact” or I made strong accurate throws.”
Being objective with your performance evaluation will help you maintain a healthy balance between improvement and confidence.
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Do you (or your athletes) lack full confidence in your skills when you step on the field as if your game disappears at game time?
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