Batting practice at a softball training is usually the all-time favorite part of the day for most of the people I’ve played with, and currently play with. The enthusiasm with which they bounce to the batter box, the happiness with which they wield a bat, and the enjoyment they get from hitting a ball at the hardest they possibly can? It’s awesome to see.
And hilarious, at the same time, because as with a lot of things in life, you can’t always be succesful. Seeing a grown-man spin a full circle after spectacularly missing a ball? It’s delicious. Seeing the almost-surreal-pout when they hit a popup straight into someones glove? SO GREAT. So in that regard, I do love me some batting practice. When it comes to ‘doing it’ myself? Not so much.
The perfectionist in me has a lot of problems with hitting, mostly because (for something that seems relatively straight forward) it has a LOT of elements that all need to be in order for you to effectively hit a ball. Mess up one of the parts? Then you can be sure that the ball is NOT going to do what you want it to do. And that’s just your own physical motion and the things you CAN control. (Strange how that works for getting things on the rails in life as well, isn’t it?)
After that there’s the added mental part of getting in a batting mindset and the added complications from the interaction with the one throwing you the ball. Plus, that ball has a will of it’s own and is rarely going to come at you straight. The whole thing about batting (practice)? You’re not just swinging a bat when you’re hitting. It’s way more than that. And that makes it ever so fucking hard once you get to the point that you want to be ‘good’ at it, rather than just swing for the hell of it. You have to understand what you’re doing, and why – not just execute a motion for the simple fact that it’s expected. Plus – it takes a toll on your brain when you start drawing parallels to your day to day life. Which I obviously always do.
My current trainer has an awesome phrase that he uses when you swing and miss and do the added pirouette when the force of your own swing spins your around or the chicken stumble when you lose your balance.
‘Got you dancin’’ he’ll call out from wherever he’s watching, and you’ll know you fucked up.
When a pitcher gets you dancing – that sucks. Not only did you just dramatically miss the actual ball you were trying to hit, it also has the potential to ruin every ball after that. You’ve been off balance. You’ve dropped out of your flow and zone. You’re thinking back to how and what you messed up and that pitcher isn’t going to wait for you to figure that out. Hell, he’s going to be laughing at your overswing together with the rest of the team.
It’s hard to recover from that point on. For me at least, because the thing is – I’m not that great at letting fuck-ups go. I keep getting drawn back to them, analyzing ‘em and trying to prevent them from happening in the future. Not just in the batter box, in everything I do. And that’s when one mistake costs you a lot of new ones in the new things you undertake. It sucks. So batting practice sucks.
But just as batting practice can be a dance and just as it can have its ups and downs – so does life. They often say that in everything you do you’ll end up taking two steps forward and one step back. Which, in a way, is the same sort of dance as you’ll do in that batting box. The key seems to be to take that step back with the ones you take forward, something that I’ve always found very hard to do. I have an amazing talent to deny ever needing to take a step back and an amazing affliction to still be surprised when I end up taking it, as if I didn’t see it coming. I don’t wanna end up ‘dancin‘ but I do just as much as any other person.
Still – where taking a step back in order to take two forward shouldn’t be that much of an issue (because hey, you’re still getting ahead in life right?), it can become a problem when you start freezing on the spot instead. When you’re no longer willing to step forward out of fear for that inevitable step back. When you don’t swing your bat to avoid missing or don’t even get back into position for the next ball. It’s ok when ‘they get you dancin’‘ as long as you still get back into the game when they do. That’s just something I still struggle with, though.
Lucky for me – most days I make it through batting practice without hearing the ‘got you dancin’’. And most days – that fact helps me take another swing at life as well. Because if I can survive the curve balls my pitcher throws me, I’m sure as hell going to swing for the ones life can throw. If only that could be done without taking those damn steps back, eh? IF ONLY!