Kirk Gibson’s home-run off of Dennis Eckersley in game 1 of the 1988 World Series is an iconic moment in baseball. Before the game a scout for the Dodgers shared with the team that Eckersley throws a slider when there is a 3-2 count, and the injured Gibson hit a 3-2 slider out of the park. Eckersley would note that he did not go to a 3-2 count on many hitters, so he is not sure how the scout came to his conclusion (Lopresti, 2008). Who knows if the odds were in favor of Gibson receiving a slider, but the scouting report allowed him to confidently dig into the box.
That confidence is important does not come under argument too often. How confidence is helpful and how to develop confidence seems to be a much less frequent conversation.
When I think of confidence, I think of trust. Certainly, Kirk Gibson trusted the advice of his coach. I was talking to a friend that said that his job as a father was to arm his daughter with the right tools and then allow her to make the appropriate decisions in life. Is that not what one does as an athlete? You train so that your body can have the right tools to perform. What will micromanaging your body do during competition? Constantly monitoring the actions of our body is not an effective way to perform. Research shows that attending to the movements of the body while trying to execute a sport skill hinders ones ability to effectively carry out the skill (Beilock & Gray, 2012). Thus, trusting your body and allowing it to carry out its well-rehearsed movements can allow for better results. Regardless of what outcome might seem likely, you can choose to have trust, despite the odds.
By Parker-Tims, who graduated from the University of Denver in 2014 with a M.A. in Sport and Performance Psychology. He played baseball and basketball and coached winter sports for 11 seasons—both in the U.S. at the national level and internationally.
Copyright, J. Parker Tims 2014
Beilock, S. L., & Gray, R. (2012). From attentional control to attentional
spillover: A skill-level investigation of attention, movement, and
performance outcomes. Human Movement Science, 31, 1473-1499.
Lopresti, M. (2008, October 8). Kirk Gibson’s 1988 home run still a World
Series highlight. Retrieved from