Understanding the Competitive Edge

Written By: Garrett Gordon

What Are You Doing to Gain a Competitive Edge on Your Opponents?

In this day and age of getting participation trophies and everyone making the all-star team gives kids a false sense of success.  Whether they play baseball or softball until high school or go beyond and play college, playing the game as we know it will come to an end.

During this time as an athlete, we have to learn to compete.  Giving everything you go that day to get the job done, and if you lose that it's not ok to get rewarded for that. Sure you can play hard and put your best foot forward but if you lose you lose.  This article isn't about drills or mechanics, it's about something that a lot of athletes are missing and that's the competitive edge.

There's Only ONE Winner

Being apart of a team is a great thing especially when it starts to feel like a family or brotherhood.  Whether you're representing your travel ball team, little league team or high school being apart of that organization is bigger than you itself.  Baseball and softball though will expose individuals on the spot immediately. Meaning that your individual performance affects the team as a whole.

You have nine players on one side and nine players on the other for the most part.  You're either going to be on the winner's side or the loser's side.  Pretty simple and straight forward.  A lot goes on through the duration of the game. Therefore, having the ability to focus and make in-game adjustments as an individual and as a team is huge if you want to be on the winning side.  It's a fight without physical brutality against the other team.  Every game you play is an opportunity to showcase your skills and truly how bad you want to win.  Making that diving play to save a run, driving that ball in the gap to get some RBI's, not missing fastballs down the middle will all dictate who wins or loses.

A Prime Example of a Competitive Edge

If you have been watching the world series at all this year you will have heard about Juan Soto.  The 20-year-old left fielder who hits in the cleanup spot does some pretty interesting things.   Some people may think that he gets a little too cocky for his own good.  Although that may be true he is still attacking the game with a mindset that not many kids have.

His mindset when he is at the plate is simple.  He believes that he is at war with the pitcher, which is very true.  Check out his quote from a recent ESPN article:

"It's a fight, just the pitcher and me."

How many young players have that mindset? Not many. Most are so intimidated by the pitcher or a coach they can't get out of their own head enough to succeed. Soto says he forgets everyone and everything around him and just focuses on his battle with the pitcher. Not bad for a 20-year-old kid playing against grown men on the biggest stage in his sport.

What we can learn from him is that he will not back down for anyone and doesn't play the game scared.  The mentality he has in the box is what helps bring him part of his success. Oh, along with having great mechanics and a powerful swing.

Juan Soto staring down the pitcher after taking a pitch
Juan Soto staring down the pitcher after taking a pitch

What Are You Going To Do About It?

Will any of you reading this be like the man Juan Soto? Probably not.  But what we can learn from the ay he carries his self can be applied to you.  I'm not saying to act cocky and flashy.  Juan Soto has earned that right to do what he does.  All I'm saying for you is you have to attack the game before it attacks you.  The competition will breed results on the field and in life.

Make your training harder, do things that truly challenge you physically and mentally.  Having the mindset of wanting and doing more day in and day out is what will take your game to a place where you never thought you could go.  Get in the weight room, get in the batting cages, breakdown your mechanics so when you get on the field all you have to do is go to war and compete!

I'm going to leave you with a quote from Juan Soto's father. This is something we all can learn to teach to our kids.

"It's like I always told him -- when you get into the batter's box to hit, you own that space," Juan Sr., speaking in Spanish, said in a phone conversation. "Nobody can intimidate you. On the contrary, those guys [the pitchers] are the ones who should be afraid of you. And you have to show them why."

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