Swing, batter, batter, batter…
Baseball season is upon us. Can you hear the crack of the bat? The thwack of the ball pounding into the glove? The roar of the crowd as the baseball arcs high over the wall out past center field? Spring training is underway and players from tee ball to the pros are getting ready for America’s pastime.
But whether you are a fan of the sport or not, there are many metaphors for life to be found in the game. Here are nine life lessons baseball can teach you:
1. You never know what life is going to throw at you.
In baseball, the batter doesn’t know if the pitcher is going to throw him a fast ball, a curve ball, a change up, or a slider. He prepares himself the best he can, standing ready at the plate, trying to anticipate. In a fraction of a second, he has to decide when and if he’s going to swing. He has to be ready for any pitch. Life will do the same to you. Can you handle a change up, when things suddenly change speed on you? Can you handle a curve ball, when things in life change direction? Do you know when to let something pass you by, knowing when NOT to swing?
2. You will strike out.
Failure is inevitable. A baseball player that hits the ball 30% of the time is considered a really good batter. So, to save you the easy math, he fails 70% of the time. But guess what? He gets more chances to get up there and swing. The only way to hit the ball is to swing. In life, the only way to realize your dreams and succeed at your goals is to take action, to take risks. So don’t be afraid to take a chance. Don’t be afraid to swing. When you miss, when you strike out, you just get up there at the next at-bat and try again.
3. Sometimes you’ll hit a home run, sometimes you’ll hit a single.
When you do hit, it will be different every time. You might send the ball over the fences, scoring a major success, or…you might hit a single, an average achievement. Maybe you hit a grounder to first that gets scooped up and puts you out. You should be proud that you advanced the ball and learn from the short success you enjoyed. In life, this might translate to getting a promotion in a division that rather quickly folds. But you know what? You were promoted. Someone saw something in you and now that goes on your resume.
4. Know when to sacrifice.
Sometimes players send a ball high and arcing out to the outfield, where it’s sure to be caught. They do this so that can advance another runner on base. It’s a sacrifice, and in doing so, there team scores one or more runs. You have to know when you need to make sacrifices in life. Maybe that means saying no to one thing so that you can achieve the other thing you want to do.
5. Be daring.
Watching players steal a base is exciting. It’s a calculated gamble, a real risky move, and when it pays off it’s really something. Don’t be afraid to be this bold in real life. Know when to throw caution to the wind and jump on an opportunity. Sometimes playing it safe keeps you from moving ahead. Live a little.
6. Charge hard!
When you are running the bases, when you leave the safety of that bag, you need to give it everything you’ve got. Hold nothing back. If you want to advance to the next base, to beat whatever life is throwing at you, you have got to charge hard. Commit completely and believe you can make it.
7. Know when to take a break.
Yes, even after all this talk about hard charging and daring, baseball players know when to take a break and stretch. Even the fans need a brief respite. Enter the 7th inning stretch. Life can get hectic. Things can get overwhelming. Know when to take a break. Know when to relax and do something just for the fun of doing it.
8. Catch those opportunities.
When life throws you an opportunity, make sure you are in position to catch it. Ball players have to play their position. They have to be attentive. They have to have their glove ready and when the ball comes to them, they need to be able to squeeze that glove and trap the ball. Make sure you are in position and paying attention. There’s nothing worse than seeing an opportunity fly over your head because you were not prepared.
9. Rely on your team.
Baseball is a team sport. You cannot play every position. Pitchers and catchers have a unique relationship. The infield works together on certain strategies, looking for double plays and force outs. The outfield relies on the infield to shuttle those long outfield throws in towards home base. It’s a team, no one player can cover all positions. In life, you have to build your team. Know who you can rely on. Trust them.
Got all of that? Good, now get out there and play. Game on!