I played baseball ever summer as a teenager. I was an average player, but a left-handed thrower, so I automatically got to pitch and play first base. I never really enjoyed going up to bat because of the pressure to do something great to help my team.
One season I remember being particularly frustrated because I absolutely could not hit the ball with the bat. It became predictable. Every time I’d step up to the plate, I’d strike out swinging, or hope for a walk so I could at least get on base. No amount of practice helped. The following season I started wearing my glasses during ball games, and miraculously could hit again! Amazing what eye sight can do…
During that season of frustration, though, I discovered one strategy that worked: bunting. You see, I was really fast. I found that if I’d bunt – that is, not swing at the ball, but just deflect it with the bat – I could often out-run the throw to first. It wasn’t glorious or macho, but I pieced together an impressive on-base percentage by bunting, then running my tail off to get to first base. (The guys from Moneyball would have wanted me on their team for sure).
It was humiliating to not be able to hit the ball, but I was able to become a consistent contributor by playing to my strengths.
Often we get caught trying to make the big plays, swinging for fences, and forget to play to our unique strengths. We try to imitate the Mark McGwires flexing their biceps and smashing home runs, and strike out a lot in the process.
Where are you striking out swinging, when you should be bunting? How can you play to your strengths to contribute to your team in small, but consistent ways?
Bunting isn’t pretty, but it might be best way for you to help win the game.