Developing The Hustle Mindset
How often have you seen a routine grounder bobbled by an infielder or double clutching as he attempts to get the ball out of his glove?
This split-second miscue provides an opportunity for the hitter to reach first base safely. In order to capitalize on the opportunity, a player must fully commit to “going for it.”
“Going for it” means hustling.
Top teams hustle.
Top baseball players hustle.
Some erroneously believe that hustling is natural part of the make-up of certain players.
But hustling is not a skill, it is a mentality.
It’s a habit requiring dedicated, repeated and conscious effort to be cultivated.
The good news is that the habit of hustling can be achieved by every player, no matter their level of ability.
Late August, in a game between the Nationals and Mets, Bryce Harper, 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick, failed to run out a ground ball to second during a 3-2 loss to the Mets.
With two outs in the eighth inning and runners on first and second, Harper hit a grounder to second on a 3-1 pitch. The second baseman bobbled the ball but was able to take his time on the play because Harper didn’t hustle down the line to first.
Davey Johnson, Nationals’ manager responded by saying, “My opinion is you take nothing for granted. You hit a ground ball, the guy could boot it, you run. Anytime you don’t go hard, it’s a losing attitude.”
No one is accusing Harper of being a lazy player and there may have been extenuating circumstances due to a lingering knee injury.
The point is that hustling, especially on routine plays, may extend an inning and potentially change the outcome of a game.
Since you can never predict a bobble ball or an unpredictable bounce, it is advantageous to hustle on every play.
You may be thinking that it is a long season and that is a lot of energy expenditure but because it is a long season, you have more opportunity to ‘cash in” on those hustle plays.
Besides, if a runner is hustling down the line to first base, it may cause the fielder to rush the play and make an error.
The more you hustle in games, the more that mentality becomes entrenched in your every day play.
There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Developing the Hustle Mindset:
- Identify areas of your game where you need to improve your hustling (i.e. base-running, fielding, cut-off throws, backing up plays, etc.)
- Commit to develop the hustling attitude – Hustling is an everyday, every practice, every situation thing whether you’re slumping, playing in a championship game or a pre-season game.
- Execute the hustling mentality in practice! The habits you develop in practice will help you in games!
Hustling requires discipline but pays huge dividends. Whether you realize it or not, hustling will make you stand out from the rest.
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