Talk about pressure. The Chicago Cubs had 108 years of pressure on their shoulders and just 4 days ago, as the Cleveland Indians took a 3-games-to-1 lead in the 2016 World Series, the Cub’s pressure increased.
So what do major league players think about in that situation? How do they navigate? How do they even get up to play without shaking uncontrollably?
When it was all over last night and the Cubs had won, the secrets to their success came out, and it’s time for everyone to learn from the best team in baseball.
- Focus on what you can control ONLY. NO thoughts toward the outcome!
Jason Hayward gave a speech to the team during the rain delay to encourage the them and remind them of WHY they should feel confident: THEIR HARD WORK. THEIR PAST SUCCESS. THEIR TEAMWORK. THEIR CHEMISTRY. THEIR SHARED ENCOURAGEMENT. He reminded them to hope vs. panic. After the game, players recalled the impact of those words.
Hayward said: “We don’t know what’s going to happen but I knew we were ready to do what we did,” he said.
Focus on what you CAN DO.
- Pretend it’s normal.
These guys had played countless games, over this season, other seasons, minor leagues, high school and youth ball. It’s muscle memory, if they just let it happen. MVP Ben Zobrist said he just tried to breathe and believe.
“Even when I was falling asleep last night, thinking about this game, I felt like, ‘Man, I’m not breathing normal. I’ve got to relax here,'” Zobrist said. “And it’s the same thing when you go out on that field. … I mean, we feel that in the moment, just like everybody else does. You just have to try to block it out and do your job as best you can.”
- Leave EVERYTHING on the field.
“I’m exhausted,” Ross said. “I feel like we just played for nine hours.”
Catcher David Ross didn’t even play the whole game but he was exhausted at the end. Why? Emotional investment. Mental focus. It’s often NOT physical energy that is lacking at crunch time. Strengthen your mental toughness and NEVER let yourself leave the game without full exhaustion from full mental focus, emotional control AND physical investment.