Are You an Optimistic Player?
Can you be optimistic about the future when the recent past and present are cluttered with mishaps, mistakes and losing?
Though all athletes recognize confidence as being an important element to performing well or consistently, your memories of past play do affect your confidence and outlook.
Being optimistic requires an athlete to have a short memory and be focused and dedicated to the process of improving daily in practices and games.
The Pittsburg Pirates have not had a recent tradition of winning.
The Pirates last made the playoffs in 1992, which also marks the last time the Pirates recorded a winning season.
In an attempt to cultivate a new team mentality geared towards winning, the Pirates hired Clint Hurdle on November 14, 2010 and signed him to a 3-year contract. Club chairman Bob Nutting praised Hurdle for his personal philosophy of daily improvement.
“Clint’s passion is infectious. He challenges everyone around him to push forward and improve a little bit every day.”
In both 2011 and 2012, the Pirates were near the top of the NL Central at the All-Star break. However, the team collapsed during the second half of each season leading to the 19th and 20th straight losing seasons for the Pirates.
Hurdle set some lofty goals in Spring Training 2013 including: winning on the road, playing well on the West Coast and a winning record for the first time within the NL Central.
Hurdle wanted his team to steadfast work towards achieving a winning season.
“Sometimes you’ve got to believe in things other people can’t see.”
Hurdle sought to create optimism in the clubhouse and a focus on the concept of team.
“We were truly a definition of teamwork… Nobody was looking for credit, only the collective result.”
He wanted to instill optimism in his players understanding that confidence is a prerequisite to success.
Hurdle wanted his team to understand that they were creating a new history by their play in the present and emphasized the need to focus in the present moment.
That optimistic mentality helped the Pirates stay focused on their goals when they experienced adversity, such as their 1-5 start.
Hurdle’s commitment to developing optimism in his team worked.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drastically improved from the 2012 season where the won 79 games with a team ERA of 3.86. In 2013, the Pirates won 94 games and had a team ERA of 3.26 (3rd lowest in the Major Leagues) and clinched the NL Wild Card.
For his efforts, Hurdle was rewarded by being selected 2013 National League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Hurdle received 25 first-place votes and was listed second on the other five ballots cast by writers. He was the only manager in either league named on all 30 ballots.
How does an athlete become more optimistic?
The answer is quite simple.
Becoming optimistic in baseball is a matter of taking control over of your future by applying effective goal setting techniques.
You need to clearly identifying your goal, create a plan or steps needed to achieve it, take consistent action according to your plan, evaluate your progress daily, and adjust as needed.
When you create and act on your plan, you help shape your destiny.
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