Yes, it’s the start of the baseball season — the high school baseball season, that is.
When the first pitch is thrown, there is that magic in the air that “this will be the season,” hope springs internal, and nothing can or will go wrong. Of course, in the end, only one team will win their final game of the year.
What’s great about sports is that hope, that goal, the belief that you will win it all.
It starts months in advance with that first meeting, then come the long days of work when it becomes more about the practice than the games. There is a lull that comes in that period, which you fight knowing that for every minute that you are not working hard, there is someone somewhere else willing to get better in that minute you were willing to waste.
What separates winning from losing? Sometimes the smallest of things cause the largest of gaps between the two. It is the attention to detail, the repetition involved, that makes the unusual routine. It is so incredibly easy to lose, and hard to win. It is execution, belief and the intangible called luck.
Winning is attitude. While it is not a cockiness, it is a swagger. It is the ability to lead without being a leader. It is a glow that surrounds you with a confidence that you believe you will succeed before you even attempt the challenge. You expect great results because you have put yourself in a position of both physical and emotional success.
Each time you see an athlete make the special look routine, you never saw the work that made it look so “easy.” Yes, the belief in yourself must be strong, because let’s face it, if you do not have confidence in yourself, how are others going to have confidence in you? But you must also be willing to pay a price with your work habits. And not just practice, but work at a higher level because practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect.
And here’s the catch. You can outwork everyone, and it still does not guarantee success. You can believe like no one else, and nothing is guaranteed. You can do everything right and still not win.
That is how hard it is to win — consistently.
When you play a sport, you do not play the opponent, you play against the game itself. What the opponent does is irrelevant; it is how you handle the challenge of the game at that moment that separates failure from success.
If you get some time this spring, come out and watch a high school baseball game. As you watch, appreciate the hours upon hours of work that these athletes have put in to achieve success.
CRAIG SHERWOOD is the executive editor of BurbankNBeyond.com and a baseball coach at Burbank High School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.