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Bear: Tell us about the mental aspect of the game — what's your favorite part of it to teach? In your opinion, where's the biggest mental barrier for most players?
Coach RAC: Yeah, I believe that it is a willingness to accept failure.
I think that's where the key is. For me, I was scared to fail a lot of times when I got to UC Riverside. I was like, "What if I'm not as good as the people around me?" and this and that. And, ultimately, I was scared of what other people thought of me.
I was scared of failure and its consequences. What I started trying to learn, and I'm still trying to learn it, it's something I think I'll continue trying to learn... When you play baseball, you don't have to play for the expectations of other people. You can just enjoy it because you have an able body and you're able to do it, and that's a blessing.
That's the main overarching principle.
And then there's so many things that fall under that, but I think that that's the main thing that people struggle with. They'll go into a game and people react in different ways: Some people try too hard. Some people will try to dial it back too much.
Baseball is such a mentally taxing sport, given that you fail so much. And so you have to see failure not as something to avoid at all costs, but something to embrace. And when it happens, it can't trigger you emotionally.
You need to become emotionally impervious to failure. And once you start ingraining that in who you are, then you're freed up to play like you're capable. So many people are capable of playing much better than they actually do.
For me, physically, I wasn't anything exceptional out of college. But I managed to put together some consistent seasons my junior and senior year.
In relation to my physical capabilities, I felt like I was playing as good as I possibly could have played because of my mental game.
And when I got into content, it was one of the main things that inspired me to start posting. Cause I was like, "Man, I feel like I wish people would have told me this before I got into college."
Bear: That's crazy, I've never thought about this before. But baseball is really the only sport where the mental side of it is as important or more important than the actual physical side.
Like you just said, physically you were good, but you weren't gifted like Aaron Judge. You're not matching that physically, but if you can match that mentally, you can be just as good, if not better.
Football, you can just be bigger and stronger.
Chris: The mental aspect is still huge — but this is the thing to me that's so unique about baseball is you do fail so much. The best teams that have ever played, they're still losing tons of games every year. You're still striking out all the time.
I wish I'd had you as my coach when I was going up. I would have been able to handle it a little better... You know, you get on the mound, you're pitching and you walk five batters and they pull you. You go up to bat, you're in a slump and you can't get out of the hitting slump.
But breaking out of that mental side, learning to accept failure, keep persevering, learning to push through that and play well in spite of it all. That's huge. And I think baseball is so unique to that and probably prepares you for success outside of baseball once you're able to master that part of it.
Coach RAC: Yeah, 100%. There's so many applications, lessons I've learned in baseball that have been carried over into life for sure. And that's also been one of the cool things too, part of my vision is getting to mentor the next generation.