Growing up I watched and emulated guys like Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. Even though I was right-handed, I want to swing the bat like Barry and have the athletic prowess to track down every ball in the air like junior.
Both of those guys grew up in the clubhouses with their Major League fathers, their super human powers seem to be god-given. It’s hard to ever picturing them meditating before games.
Nowadays guys lift weights year round, they employ conditioning trainers, and have special diets monitored by professional nutritionist. In the past taking care of your body year round was unheard of in the game.
We know that to reach the higher levels of the game each player needs to posses a certain amount physical talent. More organizations, teams, and players are starting to realize that to reach the upper echelon of the sport you need to have a strong mental game that separates you from the pack.
For a long time we’ve heard terms like focus or calm down or relax. We’ve heard players talk about being in the zone or slowing the game down. More and more we eyeing that mindfulness is a way to help guys really tap into that.
Anthony Rizzo recently talked about doing yoga and mindfulness practice and what it means to his game. “When you get on the mat and you start putting your feet up, you ground yourself and you feel it from the ground up,” Rizzo says. “Once you focus on that, you get an understanding of the body and can slow things down. To have the muscles you need loose, it gives everything else a chance to work fluidly. After about a 20-30 minute routine, my body feels in good position to go out and perform.”
Rizzo’s yoga work has enabled him to stay calm in those situations when you’re right in the spotlight, like when the Cubs were in the World Series: “When you do yoga and the meditation, you’re really focusing on [your breathing],” Rizzo says. “You go to a different place of calmness, and it helps me translate into big situations [on the baseball field].”
Obviously, the game may not change speed, but I think slowing themselves down as players with breathing could be one piece of the puzzle, and perhaps an important piece that enhances other parts of their game.