Progress… not Perfection

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working with a softball team on hitting and the mental game.  Something that we discussed yesterday at practice was progress over perfection.

It’s not just in softball players I see this but in most athletes I work with and watch.

Somewhere along the road athletes got the idea that they should be perfect at everything they do right from the get go.   That’s the surest way to stunt improvement and progress.

Example: Yesterday a few girls were working on mechanical changes to their swings.  And anyone who knows anything about a baseball/softball swing know it can be complicated!  Yet, as they began trying out some mechanical changes I could see the frustration setting in through their body language post swing as if they were expecting to see perfect results right away!

My response?  First I had to laugh with empathy remembering that used to be me,too.

Then I had each of them stand and repeat after me, “I ______________ give myself permission to not have to be perfect.  I _______________  give myself permission to have fun and succeed.  

If I could go back I would’ve thrown in there somewhere…”I __________ give myself permission to fail.”

I then had them close their eyes and visualize the handcuffs of perfectionism being broken and feeling the freedom to have fun and play loose.

Their response?  Laughter and thinking I was a nut case (most likely).  But secretly I think they felt much lighter.  And it showed in their swings following their declaration of independence:)

Takeaway:  Baseball and softball are games of failure.  Plain and simple.  Most of us know the cliche all too well that baseball/softball are the only careers where failing 7/10 times is considered successful.

Aim for progress…not perfection.  Know that each time you practice the correct movement pattern or proper way of thinking…that’s progress.  Even if the results don’t show right away.  The right process will eventually get you the right results.  Be patient and grind the process.

Perspective Changer: Understand that physical and mental adjustments tend to cause performance to dip briefly while the new movement or way of thinking becomes more natural.  Stick with it.  Your performance will rise.

Application: Cross your arms.  Then uncross them and cross them the other way.  Feels weird right?  Anything you’re not used to will take some getting used to.  Again, be patient and work the progress.

Final Word: You can get frustrated or you can get fascinated when making adjustments.  Your response will be what dictates whether you increase performance quickly or remain lost.   Choose the right response to remain fascinated and work at your adjustments until they’re game ready.

PS…Those girls are awesome and on their way to making some big strides in their performance!

Dedicated to your thought life,

Ray III