Inside Pitch Magazine, Spring 2014

Intentional Walk: Championship Toughness

By Sam Riggleman

Sam Riggleman with teamChampionship teams demonstrate a toughness that separates them from many of their opponents. It is apparent the "collective mind-set" of these teams is grounded in some very specific principles. These teams have identified the factors necessary for dealing with pressure. Peak performance under difficult, adverse and pressure packed situations is the ultimate demonstration of championship toughness.

So…how can players be better educated and prepared to handle pressure situations? Is there an application beyond the baseball field? I would encourage you to consider the following seven themes that impact performance on the baseball field and ultimately in our spiritual development.

1. Never Surrender a Single Pitch
Play the game 'one pitch at a time' and give each individual pitch your complete focus, determined to do your best. The apostle Paul speaks to a pattern of pursuit (Philippians 3:12), "not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on…

2. Create "Edges"
Do what you do exceptionally well. Encourage your team to develop a reputation for doing some part of the game in an extraordinary manner i.e. base stealing. Our "edge" spiritually should be to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects…(Colossians 1:10)

3. One Great Thought
One positive, functional directive can change a performance. The thought pattern of players is critical to their success. The apostle Paul encourages us to "take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Our thought life matters.

4. Dominate Your Space
Complete commitment, total dedication and steadfast resolve are qualities necessary to dominate your area of performance. The same is true with your area of influence. Faith, moral excellence, knowledge, perseverance and godliness are attributes which should dominate your life as a follower of Christ (II Peter 1:5-6).

5. Manage the Moment
Stay in the present. Recognize thedistractors that keep you from performing at your very best. Spiritually, Jesus instructed the disciples to abide in Him and in doing so, they would bear fruit. Apart from Him, they could do nothing.  (John 15:5)

6. Get to the Next Hitter
This is a great team concept. Do whatever is necessary to get your teammate to the plate and extend the inning. Find a way! "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind let each of your regard one another as more important than himself." (Philippians 2:3)

7. No Excuses, No Explanations
No transfer of blame is permitted. Take responsibility for your actions, speech, conduct and behavior as a player and coach. "You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers." (I Thessalonians 2:10)

Remember, someone wins every single pitch of a baseball game. The ability to recover immediately, when things go bad, is essential to high-level performance. Those who have a "default system" survive and move on to the next pitch. So…do you have a spiritual default system in place to handle the disappointments and uncertainties of life?

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.