written by Justin Sua

So the story goes, Lou Holtz’ Notre Dame football team was getting beat pretty handedly after the first half of the game, upon entering the locker room Coach Holtz’ walks up to the chalk board and writes the letters W-I-N. “Boys, this is what we need to focus on!” Confusion entered the minds of his players, “Win?” many of them thought, “How could we possibly focus on winning at a time like this? We’re getting killed!” Then Coach Holtz in his masterful way of teaching told them that the three letters on the board didn’t imply that they should focus on becoming victorious, W-I-N stood for: “What’s Important Now”.

For many coaches and players, it seems light years away before you get back on the field and play the game you love so much. I’m sure some of you are participating in fall leagues, playing other sports, or even taking a break. The key to your success for tomorrow is affected by you focusing on What’s Important Now. Today is the time you identify your weaknesses and work on them. Today is the day you prepare for tomorrows performance. Today is the day you decide how you want to be remembered as a baseball player, what you want to achieve, and what you are going to do to follow through.

While working on your swing and pitching mechanics, pay attention to how you feel during your workouts. By looking at your performance with a non-judgmental mindset, you relieve a lot of undue stress to have the perfect swing, or to throw the perfect pitch. During the off-season, enjoy the process of becoming a better baseball player rather than striving to arrive at that status. When you have the becoming mindset, you are more forgiving of yourself when things don’t go as planned because you understand that it’s only temporary. However, when your success is dependent on achieving a certain average, or making the varsity team, you put undue stress and anxiety on yourself which in turn negatively affects your performance.

As you watch the MLB playoffs this October, pay attention to the way these players perform. Read their body language; be aware of their focus and intensity. You can learn a lot by just watching. On Monday, October 4, 2010, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots won his one-hundredth game, being the fastest quarterback to do so. After the game the ESPN reporter congratulated him for such a feat, he responded in humility and said, “There are still improvements I have to make”. Here is an elite athlete who understands that performance is a process, we never arrive at greatness; not even if you’ve won three Super Bowls, two Super Bowl MVP’s, NFL MVP, a number of other awards, and hold many NFL records…you can still improve. Use this off-season to focus on What’s Important Now.