You know, the pitch... that moves through the air with no spin and dances around without any predictability? You don't play baseball? That is okay. Today I am talking about the mentality behind throwing a knuckleball and how they approach the game.
To set this up, it is important to know a little bit about how knuckleballers come to be. The most famous knuckleballers (Tim Wakefield, R. A. Dickey, and Phil ‘Knucksie’ Niekro) all started throwing the pitch out of desperation. All of them at one point made their name for other pitches or other skills but all were found on the verge of getting a 9 to 5 and were forced to adapt. Can you imagine that... realizing your career is almost over unless you master the knuckleball?? Secondly, it takes serious guts to throw this pitch. Think about it. Throwing 60-70 miles per hour to hitters like Sosa, Jeter and Pujols puts those guys in batting practice swinging for the fences. The crazy thing about the pitch is that it is really hard to control. The world views it as a circus pitch.
So what is the knuckleball mentality? I took away these three things:
- Be in a constant state of controlled desperation. There is a fine line in terms of being desperate. It can often produce stress and anxiety that doesn't allow you to perform your best. However, if you learn how to control this emotion and desire, you can use it to your advantage. Being desperate can enhance your work ethic, make you think outside the box in terms of strategy, and give you an energy to take all the right steps to prepare!
- Surrender the outcome. Trust the process! If knuckleballers don't trust the process, the ball isn't going to move. It is going to go right down the middle of the plate and the batter is going to be salivating. Trying to control the outcome every pitch is detrimental to their game. In the art of mastering anything, the final product is determined by the amount of work you put in up to that point. Trust your preparation and the result will take care of itself.
- Have unwavering HOPE in the pitch. Before every pitch, Tim Wakefield tells himself, this could be the best pitch I ever throw (reflect on that, how empowering!). That hope and confidence will allow you to reach new levels. Even if everyone believes you're throwing a "circus pitch" you know that you are on the path to greatness and true success!
This mentality applies to more than just baseball. Be a knuckleballer!