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Sports & Competition

How to React to Striking Out Frequently

You’re batting with the game on the line. It’s bottom of the sixth, a 19-17 nail-biter in the church slow-pitch softball league, and you just inexplicably struck out swinging your last time up. There’s runners at the corners, two down. 63-year-old rotund Lawrence is on the mound, wearing a generic navy blue cap with no logos, smiling as he lobs a fat one right down the middle. You time it up, step into the pitch, let ‘er rip, and…

Whoooosh!

Another strikeout.

Whether it’s a church slow-pitch softball league or Game 7 of the World Series, there’s no worse feeling than being the guy who strikes out all four times up to bat in a game. You want to at least save some face and put the ball in play just once, even if it’s just a little nubber that rolls a few inches in front of home plate and requires a throw to first.

In many ways, hitting a slow pitch softball is more challenging than hitting a blazing fastball. There’s too much time to stand there and think about it. You have time to take note of how many people’s eyes are locked in on you. Every player from both teams, and whatever fans are in the stands, are watching you. For people who are especially aware of their surroundings, this can make them uncomfortable and panic, causing them to momentarily take their eye off the ball or misjudge the flight path of the ball, and swing and miss.

But striking out in baseball is no less humiliating, often because everyone in a fast-pitch baseball game has at least some talent, yourself included. Everyone is held to the same standards in that you should be able to make contact with a pitched baseball.

When you strike out once in a while, you shake it off and go back to the dugout and hope for better luck next time. But if you consistently fail to make contact and people begin to take notice, it’s time for you to start thinking about how you should react to your failures. So, what’s the best course of action?

  • Some precious few batters will hold their heads high, jog back to the dugout, and immediately put the strikeout out-of-mind. They’ll give their teammates a “pick me up, boys!” cheer and it’s soon forgotten. Those are the players most likely to get over a slump.
  • Some prefer to take their anger out on someone else. If you swing and miss, turn back to the ump and question a previous call during the at-bat, or accuse the pitcher of some sort of illegal deceptive delivery.
  • Others enjoy cursing to themselves under their breath, or sometimes, very audibly. Following a K with a “FUUUUUCCCCKKKK!” is a great way to let the fans and your teammates know that, like them, you are frustrated with the result and intend to try harder next time up.
  • Others plead ignorance and stay in the batters box, pretending like they didn’t know the at-bat was over. Dig back in and smile, like you’re gonna drill the next one. Once you’re called out on it, you’ll be ridiculed for your absent-mindedness and not the strikeout.
  • Throw the bat. It’s the bat’s fault. Throw it at the ground, then kick it as you storm back to the dugout. Maybe the crowd will take pity on you. “Poor Ricky, maybe he just needs glasses.”
  • Hit yourself on the head with your bat (lightly) as you walk back to the dugout, muttering “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”.
  • Show no emotion. Some are able to take a strikeout like any other out. Just say “aww shucks” and go grab your glove for the next inning.
  • Give the pitcher credit for an amazing pitch that you’re pretending to have never seen before. “What the hell was that? Had like some crazy late break to it. I’ve been playing slow-pitch for 39 years; never once have I seen a ball do that. Tip ‘o the cap to you, sir! Geeeeee wiz.”
  • Remark on how rusty you are. “Aww, God, haven’t swung a bat in at least three years. Man, it shows. I need to hit up the cages before next week, shake off the rust!”
  • Blame injury. Hobble back to the dugout and reach for your hamstring. “Jesus, I probably shouldn’t even be playing. That damn hammy is acting up again. Ahhhhhh. Anyone got some ice?”
  • Blame drunkenness. If you have been drinking, stumble your way back to the dugout. “Hey Barry, toss me another Bud Ice!”
  • Call out the umpire’s strike zone. “Well, shit, I had no choice but to swing. I knew it was gonna be ten inches inside but he’s been calling that shit all day.”
  • Storm off and don’t return. Leave everyone to wonder what became of you as you angrily march to your car and drive away. Screw this dumb game. You’ll stick to bowling from now on.

Unless you’re a designated hitter or you get replaced due to your poor batting, you can always take your frustrations out on the field the next half-inning and try to make up for it with a highlight-reel catch.


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My Hot Take:
This was totally me in Little League, and even today whenever I play softball. I guarantee you I’ve struck out in over half of my lifetime at-bats in all leagues. I used to throw the bat and try to get a reaction out of the crowd. “Ryan Glanzer you pick up that bat NOW” one parent would yell. I don’t know why but it made it easier to swallow.

tl;dr
If you strike out, choose whether to take the high road and be a professional about it, or take the low road and cause a scene.

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