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Strike Out Swinging

By Josh McDonald, Construction Division Manager with Nexus 5 Group

After a three-year sabbatical from baseball, my son decided he wanted to play ball again. I was pumped. I love baseball. It has always been my favorite sport and there’s nothing better than a summer evening at the ballpark.

If you’re not aware, baseball is a tough sport. The great Hall-of-Famer, Ted Williams, told The New York Times in 1982: “I've always said that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports.” Well, if you have ever tried to hit a baseball, you would probably agree. It takes a lot of time, work, and patience to be a good hitter.

Have you ever been in a situation that you've experienced a thousand times in life but, for some reason, an aspect of the experience hits differently? (No pun intended.) This happened to me watching him play baseball this summer. We put a good amount of work in prior to the season. We hit off the tee, threw soft toss, went to the batting cage, and I threw live. As we put time in, his ability and confidence grew. He started hitting the ball well and I felt he was ready for the season.

As the season has progressed, I have realized there are a lot of pitchers that cannot throw strikes, which results in a lot of walks issued. To be fair, I taught my son to take the walk and be selective while in the batter’s box. To most, this is all sound baseball advice, but I didn’t realize the full impact this would have.

Through this experience, Liam has developed a mindset of working a walk while at the plate and his aggressiveness has diminished. The last few games, this has caused him to strike out looking several times.

Strike outs happen in baseball. It’s just a thing that all hitters will experience. The most successful hitters of all time were only successful 30% of their at bats.

Allow me to share another interesting statistic. Not swinging the bat significantly diminishes your opportunity to get a hit. The statistics on this tell us there is a 0% chance of hitting the ball if we don’t take a swing.

Now, I say this a little tongue in cheek, but how many times do we, as adults, not "swing the bat"? After all, swinging the bat is risky. Others are watching. We may miss. We’re supposed to hit the ball. That’s the goal. What if we fail with an audience?

Many adults become crippled by the fear of failure and will not take a swing, a risk, or an opportunity. My son and I spoke about this recently. I told him I would rather see him swing at a ball outside the strike zone and go down swinging rather than watching that third strike go by.

You know what? He got up to the plate and took some hacks. He swung at a ball out of the zone and struck out during that at bat. However, I couldn’t have been more proud of his aggressiveness and willingness to potentially fail in front of an audience. He walked back to the dugout, shook it off, and got ready for his next opportunity. It takes risk, grit, and resiliency to do this.

Next inning, he went out and made an excellent defensive play at shortstop to end the inning. He couldn’t have looked more smooth, collected, or fundamental during that play. Though he just failed a few minutes prior, he captured his next opportunity to be successful and make an impact. He will also be presented with other at bats and opportunities to be successful.

Too many times, we worry about the potential failure we face by making changes, taking risks, and exposing ourselves to criticism. It's extremely tough to be successful without swinging the bat. If you’re going to strike out, strike out swinging!

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