How to Use Spring Training to Better Your Career
Spring Training is finally here, baseball fans.
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) February 23, 2016
For fans, Spring Training means it is time to speculate if the Cubs will FINALLY win the World Series, and marvel at how Pablo Sandoval can field third base at his current weight. For players, Spring Training means it is time to re-acclimate to baseball. It allows MLB players one month to settle into their roles, improve their skills and physically/mentally prepare themselves before the games count for real.
Though your boss most likely will never allow you a month to practice for your job, you can still work a “Spring Training” into your schedule. So often we get caught up in the status-quo of our jobs that we forget to take time to re-focus and improve our processes and makeup.
Luckily for you, the staff here at NexGoal has prioritized three ways you can hold your own Spring Training and grow as an employee—without having to request a month off (not like you were going to get it off anyway) from your boss.
Know Your Role
Defining the roles of players is one of the most important duties of coaches in Spring Training. Whether it is defining who the ace pitcher is or who will be the leadoff hitter, a set of expectations follows the role that the coach assigns. A player who tries to play outside of their role and fails to meet the expectations of their assigned role puts them in jeopardy of losing their job, or spot in the rotation.
The importance of recognizing your role extends well beyond baseball. As an employee, your boss holds you to similar expectations, which he expects you to meet. Make sure you clearly understand those expectations of your boss and make it your priority to meet or exceed them.
“People Who Write About Spring Training Not Being Necessary Have Never Tried to Throw a Baseball.” – Sandy Koufax
More importantly, do not try to be something you are not. Babe Ruth never tried to steal 100 bases and Ricky Henderson never tried to hit 60 home runs. Each player knew what their primary role was, and made sure they were the very best in that role. You should make sure to do the same.
Improve Your Skills
In the baseball world, the extent of improvements players make to their skills varies greatly in Spring Training. Some make only minor changes like becoming faster on the base path. Others might make more extreme changes, like overhauling their wind up or even changing positions (a good example is former pitcher, Rick Ankiel).
It is important that players make honest evaluations of themselves and set goals as to what skills need to be improved. These areas of improvement can also be identified by the player’s coaches, who can help further that player’s role on the team, and also assist in bettering them as an all-around athlete in the process.
The ability to identify skills that need improvement is also important in the working world. One of the best ways to do this is to consult a third party, like a boss or even a co-worker. An outside perspective can provide insight that you may not have noticed. Do not be afraid to ask your boss for an evaluation of your skills and what you need to work on, it shows initiative and will encourage them to get even more involved in your development.
Once you identify the areas that need improvement, put aside time where you can effectively practice. You may not have an entire month to practice like MLB players do, but scheduling time to sharpen your skills can have huge benefits in the long run.
Get In Better Shape Physically and Mentally
The MLB regular season is 162 games. Of all the major sports, this is by far the longest schedule. One of Spring Training’s top purposes is to prepare the body and mind for this grueling schedule.
Players continue improving on their offseason endurance and strength programs, and start to build routines they plan on carrying over into the regular season. These routines not only include physical exercises, but also mental ones. Players build their mental approaches for when they step to the plate or when they’re on the mound so they are prepared for any situation. This mental preparation is often what separates the good players from the great players.
You too should have physical and mental routines.
No, you are not running around if you have a desk job but physical health goes beyond strenuous exercise. For example, diet and sleep habits can have a large impact on productivity, innovation and stress levels. Just Google “Diet and Sleep,” and you’ll find more than enough information on how you can improve each, along with the benefits that are gained.
Mental preparation is also essential to workplace success. Just like how a hitter approaches an at bat, on any given day you should be prepared ahead of time in regard to what you can expect from that day, and your plan of attack for it. To use a baseball analogy, you should be prepared for any potential “curveball” and know what to do when it comes your way.
Chances are you will never be an MLB player, but you can still prepare for work just like they prepare for the season!