No matter how hard you practice, how much train, or how intensely you are focusing, you are bound to make mistakes. It’s a part of life! As Albert Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
What really matters isn’t the mistake – it’s how you bounce back! In every sport we’ve all seen athletes who are at the top of their game make mistakes, but what makes them the best at what they do is their ability to bounce back from their missteps. It’s an even bigger error to hang onto the mistake while you’re competing. If you’re still focused on the last play, you aren’t ready for the next play. Great players and great teams don’t fear mistakes. They put mistakes behind them and they learn from them.
I’ve always found it helpful for my players to have what some call a “Mistake Ritual.” This is a little routine players can quickly do right after an error to help them mentally let go of their mistake. It can be as simple as flashing a single word into your mind, like “flush,” or “cancel” or” erase.” In baseball we have a little more time, so I encourage my players to incorporate a small motion in their ritual. One we use a lot at Koa is the Flush Ritual, where players make the motion of flushing a toilet to get rid of the mistake. We train ourselves to completely let go of the error with that flush and move on to the next play, ready for whatever comes.
So take Dr. J’s advice to heart, “To be an innovator, you can’t be worried about making mistakes.” Mistakes — you’re going to make them, now bounce back and compete!