How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most
by Judd Hoekstra, Vice-President, The Ken Blanchard Companies
The following is an excerpt from ‘Chapter 6: Reframing from Doubt to Confidence’ within Crunch Time: How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most. The book is being released on January 23, 2017 and is available for pre-order now.
Have you ever seen Jesus? Resolving a confidence crisis.
Chad Bradford was a relief pitcher for the Oakland A’s from 2001–2004. Under pitching coach Rick Peterson’s tutelage, he became one of the dominant setup relievers in the American League. He did so without a blazing fastball. His fastball was in the mid-80-mph range—very slow for a big leaguer. To be successful, Bradford relied on deception. With his unconventional submarine-style delivery, his knuckles almost scraped the ground as he released the ball toward home plate.
Chad shared with me a funny conversation Rick had with him to move him from doubting to confident.
In 2001, the Moneyball season and my first season with Oakland, Rick made some big changes to my mechanics in spring training that really helped me and gave me a lot of confidence. I had pitched well most of the year, but in August, I had a stretch with a couple bad outings in a row. I was struggling with my confidence. It was my greatest weakness. When things weren’t going well, I had zero self-confidence.
“All the pitchers that believe they can and all the pitchers that believe they can’t are right.”
—Rick Peterson, borrowing from the famous quote by Henry Ford
Rick pulled me aside and asked, “What’s going on?”
I told Rick, “I don’t know. My stuff just isn’t there right now. I’m getting hit. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t feel like I can pitch consistently right now. I don’t feel like I can get guys out. I don’t know if it’s my mechanics.”
Rick tells me, “Chad, your mechanics are just fine. You’re just doubting yourself.”
And I said, “Maybe you’re right. I had a really good stretch of games for a month and then I just hit a wall.”
We started talking about my confidence and Rick asks me, “Why don’t you believe you can get this done? Why don’t you believe you can go out there and get these hitters out?”
I said, “Well, Rick, I don’t know. If I could answer that question, I wouldn’t be in this predicament.”
Rick thinks for a minute and then asks me, “Are you a Christian?”
Rick knows I am a Christian. He knows what’s important to all of his pitchers. I went along with him: “Yes Rick, I am.”
“So you’re telling me you believe in Jesus Christ?”
“Absolutely, 100 percent.”
“Have you ever seen him?”
“No Rick, I’ve never seen Jesus.”
“Have you ever seen yourself pitch well on video?”
“Yes, I have seen myself pitch well.”
“Rick starts laughing and says,
How in the world can you believe in Jesus Christ and you’ve never seen him and you’ve seen yourself pitch great for months and you don’t believe you can get hitters out?
It was so simple. Rick boosted my confidence. It was hard to argue with his logic.
Chad closed his conversation with me by saying, “I want you to know about the major impact Rick has had on my life. When I first came up to the big leagues in Oakland, Rick improved both my mechanics and my mental approach. He taught me how to be successful in the major leagues. After we both left Oakland for different teams following the 2004 season, I got injured and didn’t pitch much in 2005. When I did pitch, I didn’t pitch well.
In 2006, when I had the chance to be reunited with Rick and play for the New York Mets, it was a no-brainer. In New York, he got me back on track. I had a great year and we went to the playoffs. Right after that season, I signed a three-year, $10.5 million deal with Baltimore. My family is financially secure because of what Rick did to get me back on track.”
Judd Hoekstra appears by permission. He is coauthor of the bestselling "Leading at a Higher Level" and "Who Killed Change?" as well as Vice President, The Ken Blanchard Companies.
He is an expert in making concepts universal and accessible. Performing under pressure is one such concept, which he ties masterfully to athletic performance in his most recent book, "Crunch Time: How to be Your Best when it Matters Most."
Judd is also a Bridgedale dad, as his son Cole is an 8th grader at Bridgedale Academy.
If you would like to learn more about performing under pressure, stay tuned for future posts and check out: www.juddhoekstra.com
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Mike McPartlin, Headmaster, Bridgedale Academy