When The Other Team Has Your Number
Have you ever had that one team you can’t beat? One pitcher that you can’t get a hit off? A competitor that seemed to get the best of you?
Sometimes history can be difficult for baseball players to overcome…
You view past statistics as proof that negative trends will continue. You think, “How can I possibly get a hit off this pitcher when I have never been able to in the past?”
The key phrase in the previous statement is “in the past!” The past repeats itself only if you project it into the future.
The truth is that the past has little bearing on the present, but some players allow these negative predictions to dominate their thinking. This is how other players and opposing teams “get in your head.”
A competitor can only “get in your head” if you invite them into your mental space by reliving the past.
There is a solution… change the narrative.
A narrative is the story you tell yourself. Your narrative is your way of connecting events together.
You can have a negative narrative:
“The last five games, I have been 0-15 against this pitcher. He is overpowering and intimidating. I just can’t hit this pitcher.”
The alternative–and your best chance to turn things around–is a positive narrative.
A positive narrative wastes no time or energy being pessimistic or frustrated. A positive narrative is one in which you see potential solutions and see a successful ending.
A positive narrative changes your perspective, enhances confidence and gives you a fighting chance.
The New York Yankees seem to be unable to hit off Houston Astros’ pitcher Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel has dominated Yankee hitters and even eliminated them from the playoffs last year in the American League wild-card game.
In three games against the Yankees in 2015, Keuchel gave up no runs, only 12 hits and struck out 28 hitters. Keuchel has shutout the Yankees in 28 consecutive innings.
Richard Gordin, professor at Utah State University, said it is not Keuchel that is the problem but the narrative the Yankees have weaved in their own minds.
GORDIN: “It isn’t really that somebody else is in your head. It’s in your head… Great thinkers in sport look at a situation and create their own story to give themselves an advantage.”
If you weave a positive narrative, you can come to the conclusion that there is less pressure on you. In the case of the Yankees, there is a greater expectation for Keuchel to continue his level of play and, therefore, there is more pressure on him.
GORDIN: “[Keuchel’s] got to go out and do it again. There’s pressure on him to continue to do what he’s doing.”
By flipping the story, you will be more at ease and able to produce to your potential.
Tip for changing the narrative to benefit your performance:
Negative images in your head produce negative results on the field. You can flip the narrative by visualizing the results you want.
Set aside five minutes daily to visualize yourself battling and reaching a successful outcome.
Your images lay the groundwork for your results on the field.
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