A Philosophy of Mind

Process vs. ResultsOnce the ball leaves your hand, fate controls the outcome. What you control is everything leading up to that release.

It all starts in the mind.

The mound is the loneliest place on earth. You’re out there on an island. Alone. It can feel overwhelming, as if the whole world were against you. Even the strongest pitcher may unravel, may fail to perform as well as he knows he can.

This is why the International Knuckleball Academy focuses on enhancing your mental performance every bit as much as on enhancing your physical performance. The mind governs the body. We help you learn to shut out the rest of the world by choosing to focus on the right things at the right times, and only on those things. This ability to selectively focus puts you in confident control throughout the game, from start to finish.

Ignoring the irrelevant. When it’s you up there versus a hitter, you must be concerned with just one thing: the pitch. One toss of the ball, one process, one goal, one gestalt smoothly and indivisibly incorporating everything you’ve worked so hard to make part of you about throwing a killer knuckleball. You focus on the right-now and only that.

You execute.

And as you execute, everything else has been banished from your mind: the yells of the crowd, the rain, your aching muscles, the crazy driver who almost rear-ended you an hour ago, the big argument that morning with the significant other. None of it matters. So all of it is sidelined. Gone.

You also, during this act of focus, have banished an even more dangerous category of distraction: everything you’ve done in the game so far, every other pitch. And all the results of those pitches, including the results of the one you just threw.

Suppose your delivery on that last knuckleball was perfect, but a shortstop botched a routine double play. Or a gust of wind sent the ball off course, letting the hitter smack it out of the park. Or the catcher failed to catch, letting a runner make it to third base.

It doesn’t matter. None of it does.

Can’t. Not with respect to what your state of mind should be. You had no control over what happened after the release; and there sure ain’t nothin’ you can do about it now. No such events after you have released the ball can alter all that you know about how to deliver a perfect knuckleball. So, you forget all that stuff that’s out of your control.

All that you do control─the sole object of your unwavering focus─is the mental and physical process required to execute this knuckleball, right now. You did all you could with the last pitch and you’re doing all you can with this one. You trust the process. You stay in the moment.

If you focus on that process and shut out all distractions─including the results of your last pitch─you will learn to fall into an effective rhythm regardless of circumstances. You will exhibit a calm steadfastness that inspires confidence in you from teammates and coaches alike.

IKA’s proven mental program. At the International Knuckleball Academy, you will concentrate on your mental approach every day, learning what to attend to and what to disregard. You will benefit from a proven in-game mental program, learning how to stay motivated, how to track your development objectively, how to live in the moment.

The knuckleball is a most frustrating pitch to master. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that! If it were easy, you wouldn’t be boosting your value so substantially by becoming a pro at it.) Developing a knuckleball that spins only one quarter or one half of a rotation on an unstoppable journey between your hand and the catcher’s glove is an incredibly tough thing to do.

What this means is that if you’re not already expert when you show up on our campus, the first knuckleballs you throw are gonna be lousy.

Lousy how? Too much rotation, yes. Also too little flutter. Or too little velocity. Or too little accuracy. Gird thyself; it’s going to happen. Just accept it and accept, too, the inevitable plateaus in your training, even the occasional regression. Know that you’re on a journey. Pay attention to what needs work; do what you need to do to improve; be relentless. And cultivate calm. Focus on one pitch, right now.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. With every focused repetition that you perform during a practice session at the International Knuckleball Academy, your brain increases the strength of the signals that instruct your body to execute the desired motion effectively and efficiently. At first the signaling is weak. Over time it strengthens. Finally, you have your knuckleball. But to achieve that result, you must focus on the process, not the result of any individual pitch. That’s especially true in the early days of your training.

If you continue to perform each repetition in a calm, sound, focused manner, you will eventually be able to deliver a low-spin knuckleball fluidly, effortlessly, consistently. If you fret about every fumble, though, you’ll become just one more victim of the knuckleball instead.

Especially in the early days of your training, you want to be judging your performance not by how much your knuckleball spins, but by how fully you are immersing yourself in the IKA’s training protocols. Give 100% of yourself during our drills, strive to achieve proper throwing mechanics and a proper release point, attend carefully to the feedback we give you, and you will improve. Get lazy or let yourself be flooded by petty frustrations, and you’re bound to flounder.

Results? Sure. You care about your results. We do too. Your first big result: the ability to consistently pitch a perfect knuckleball, a result of a lot of conscientious hard work. Once you can consistently pitch that perfect knuckleball, you’ll get another big result: you’ll consistently strike out professional baseball players, including those at the top of their game. Giving you a third big result: an opportunity for career advancement you didn’t have before.

But you don’t want to focus on any problems, progress, or prospects in the moment that you are chucking that knuck. You want to focus only on the pitch itself. The knuckleball you’re unleashing right now. You want to be wholly absorbed by the process that throwing an effective knuckleball requires.

Execute. One pitch. Right now. With all of your mind and body focused on just that one thing. Do that, and the results will take care of themselves.

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