The Growth Mindset by Derrick May
I wanted to talk about the growth mindset in baseball. It would seem that this mindset would fit perfectly in baseball considering player and development is always used almost like this automatically happens. The truth is…it doesn’t.
Why don’t certain players develop? I wondered this? I even wonder why I didn’t develop to my full capabilities. Was it that I didn’t want to? Because I did. Was is it that I didn’t have the ability? I did. Was it that I wasn’t willing to work for it? I was. Or willing to make the sacrifice and commitment to playing? I did that too. What was it? It was information. It was wanting more but not knowing how to obtain it or get it.
It was obvious I had the ability I was in the MLB at 22 years old with expectations of being the next Dave Winfield or Daryl Strawberry playing outfield for the Chicago Cubs. But with hype comes expectations. Expectations were great but the ones I put on myself were greater. I was a line drive hitter looking to be a home run hitter. I didn’t know how to become that so I started to try and lift the ball. That didn’t work out too well. I couldn’t catch up to fastballs and I chased breaking balls out of the zone. I was a good hitter so I went back to what I knew and that was hitting line drives and making consistent contact. Over time, that is what I was and who I was. But I still kept thinking about home runs and why I wasn’t hitting them in more abundance? I was always seeking the answer to “how can I hit more home runs?” I could always hit long home runs. High school, occasionally in a game and during batting practice. So, I knew I had it in me.
In seeking information, many people gave me information. I changed batting stances trying to hit like certain guys with power. Fred McGriff “Crime Dog” offered me some advice one day while watching visitors batting practice. That was getting to the backside and taking your hands down the line. That line was the inside white line of the batter’s box. That was good information and that worked for me. I didn’t necessarily hit home runs but it helped me to stay through the ball and drive it. But that information was great during my career. However, that wasn’t often.
Information is only good if you can apply it to what you are doing and make it useful. Otherwise it is just information and it has no use.
In 1992, a number of things changed and helped my quest for more information. Instead of the usual thinking of just taking batting practice and things will just come…I was re-introduced to hitting. Kind of funny, because here I got to the Major Leagues but I was just learning how to hit. I found the information and knowledge enlightening and useful to my development. Because I was still developing at the Major League level. Much like many today still have to. I am still thankful for Jim LeFebrve for re-introducing me to hitting.
Fast forward, I became a hitting coach after I finished playing and I was/am looking to give back and help players the way Jim Lefebrve helped me to understand my swing and teach them about not having to hit every pitch and looking in your strength. That’s what I hoped to do and for the most part I did. Further along, I became the hitting coordinator/MLB Asst Hitting Coach for a MLB organization and continuing to learn and grow was what I had hoped for myself, coaches and players. But as things go, every person doesn’t share the same ideas as you do. Many were stuck in how they have always done it. I was even told that.
A growth mindset is having a vision of the future but also an eye on the present. It is about listening to others opinions and not dismissing them as “we have never done it that way” it’s about paying attention and looking for better ways to do things. But you can’t if you can’t see passed your ego. So, development doesn’t just happen, it has to be intentional and specific.
Happy Opening Day.
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