Inside Pitch Magazine, July/August 2018

Ground Rules: Let go. Lock in. 

Win the Fight in Front of You

 By Jason Kuhn
HitterAs I was receiving effective fire from the enemy, my teammates moved into position to throw grenades and provide cover fire allowing me to break contact and link up with the rest of my platoon. I asked to call in for air strikes but was told we would not be able to, and would have to assault the buildings we had just taken fire from.

When I linked up with my platoon, my team leader looked at me and asked “are you good?” I said “I’m good.”  He told me he needed me to make entry. My entire plan and job for the night had just changed.

Guns up, I approached the courtyard to make entry into the target area. In that moment, just before entry, I remember taking a deep and controlled breath in and then out and mentally locking into the moment. I was slowing down the environment and “letting go” of what had just happened. The immediate past was over. There was nothing I could do about it. Winning the fight in front of me is now the only fight that matters as I locked into the present moment.

To fight or compete effectively, the mental attention given to the immediate past has to be released and replaced with aggression, conviction, and in the moment focus. We use the past only to learn and motivate us to be better for the future.

In a competitive environment, we are constantly making adjustments. There is an old military adage, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” Things didn’t go as planned? Gave up 3 runs in the first inning? Bad call?  Welcome to competition. Nobody cares. All that matters is your response. You must let go. Lock in. Win the fight in front of you.

Often we take the last error, pitch, or season in with us to the next. Meaning, we’re still emotionally connected and give it unneeded mental attention. If we don’t win the title, the further we go into the post season, the harder it hurts when we lose. The more emotional impact the event has on us, the harder it is let go of. But regardless of its difficulty, toughness is a choice. Let go of it and lock into the fight in front of you.

The nice thing about baseball is that it is a series of pitches and innings. This gives us the opportunity to break big things into small pieces and lock in as necessary. If I take a shot at the enemy and hit or miss, the only shot that matters in my entire world is the next shot. Break the game down into small pieces and win the moment.

I’ve never been a fan of fake positivity, mental tricks, or fancy breathing techniques. I keep it simple. Toughness is a choice. Not a breath. However, the breath can work as a tool to help facilitate toughness through an emotional release of what has happened, then produce emotional and focal re-engagement into the moment.

This helps us slow down the environment and maintain control of the pace. The environment will not influence my actions, my actions will influence the environment.

Whatever is sitting in your heart bothering you right now, let go of it. Choose to be tough. Dragging the last AB into the next AB is selfish. Your teammates need you to be right here right now with confidence and aggression. You win your war one fight at a time. So Let Go. Lock in. And win the fight in front of you. That’s how winning is done and it pays to be a winner.

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.