Merriam-Webster defines fear as an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. However, to a catcher, this word can mean much more…
Catchers face many kinds of fear from a big game situation to blocking a pitch. There is nothing worse than getting that fastball in the dirt with the winning run on third base; you know you have to block it. If you miss the block and that run scores, then your team loses!
Catchers are expected to perform at the highest level every pitch, every inning, for every game. It’s a lifestyle we choose to live. Fear has no room in a catcher’s schedule, but it inevitably finds a way to squeeze itself in at the most inopportune times. With fear comes doubt, and with doubt comes failure. Failure is going to happen! It’s part of the sport and part of life, but failure will occur more often if you let fear and doubt take over. How, as catchers, are we going to prepare for these thoughts?
We prepare for these fears by being MENTALLY tougher than the fear! Stay out of your head! Do not allow negative thoughts to linger. Revert your thoughts to a positive situation during training where you have been in this situation over 1,000 times. Trust yourself to react and make the play. Hesitation is the purest form of fear for a catcher; you do not have time to hesitate. Hesitation comes from lack of preparation. So how do you prepare?
Focus training on your weakness. Don’t just train strengths and ignore weaknesses. Don’t hide behind the fear that you are going to struggle during training. There are no stats in training so why not focus on the weaknesses that create fear or doubt. If your weakness is making throws to second base then make throws to second base until you can pinpoint where you want it. If your weakness is arm side blocks then block every ball in the bucket to your arm side and then do it again. Whatever the case may be, acknowledge it and work to fix it.
All this information might provide fear in itself. I might be presenting some fears or doubts that you never knew you had. No matter the situation, just remember to have fun with the process. It’s all a journey that should be enjoyed because one day it will not be there for you anymore. That day comes at all different ages for all different athletes. Believe in yourself because no matter what level you are at… something got you to that level. Be the best you that you can be every day and control what you can control! Do not let fear be the thing you remember about your career!
Gooch Greer/Smoky Mountain Athletics Trainer
Former Carson-Newman Eagle