Baseball is a game of failure. Hall of Fame hitters fail 70% of the time. However, players don’t see it that way. They see baseball success as the great mountain that needs to be conquered. They revel in the little battles and the opportunity to overcome adversity. Each pitch presents an opportunity to do something great.
With all that failure, you may ask how the great ones succeed. The answer, in a word, is diligence. The dictionary defines diligence as “a constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind”. Baseball is a game of preparation and execution. Great players are diligent in their preparation so that when the opportunity presents itself they are able to execute. They develop the repeatable actions, or habits, that allow their bat to arrive at the correct moment on the correct plane, the fastball that paints the black on the outside corner on a 3-2 count or the ability to pick off the runner at first.
Habits are formed by performing a correct action thousands of times over an extended period of time. We like to call this the daily grind. Players take pride in the daily grind. Great players develop daily routines to hone their game. They put in a constant and earnest effort to perfect these actions every day – regardless of their mental or physical state. The diligent player doesn’t require a coach or teammate to encourage them. They visualize the future and establish a plan to reach their goals. Then they stick to it!
Great players aren’t great by accident. There are thousands of good players around the world. However, there are only a few players that perform at the level of an Albert Pujols, Edgar Martinez, or Randy Johnson. Aspiring young players tend to only see the results. They don’t see the preparation and the relentless pursuit of perfection that these elite players put in behind the scenes. Nobody sees Albert Pujols putting in an hour on a batting tee before every game. Nobody sees Edgar Martinez spending time in the video room prior to each at bat studying his previous at-bat and the opposing pitcher. Nobody sees the sweat expended by Randy Johnson as he works with a medicine ball to improve his core strength. They establish their routines and never stray from it. Come rain or shine, great players put their work in. It’s not an option. It’s what they do. Diligently.
Regardless of your goals, the key to success is what you put into it and the consistency of which you do it. Worthwhile achievements are not found by accident. They begin with a goal and usually include a long journey, a journey ripe with opportunity to deviate off the path. Diligence, the constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken is the key. Take each step one at a time. Have the faith to trust your vision, put your work in, and success is right around the corner.
Now let’s play some ball!
Jeff Simmelink has been the head coach of the Club Spokane Dodgers since 2001. He was a Catcher at Lower Columbia Com-munity College for two years before signing a professional contract with the Cleveland Indians. Following his playing career Jeff graduated from Eastern Washington University with a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. He is currently a Principal Solutions Engineer at Itron, Inc. (a PACE Partner.) He enjoys spending time with his wife of 31 years, two children and his pet bulldog.