batter's box lessons for life

10 Lessons From The Batter’s Box Of Life

I love baseball.  

Even if you’re not a fan of the game, I encourage you to read on.  As you’ll see, the challenge of hitting a baseball is a great metaphor for learning how to excel in the game of life. I found 10 Lessons we can apply from the game of baseball that can lead to a better life.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

The more you study baseball, the more intriguing it becomes. There’s nothing like the duel between an all-star pitcher and a professional slugger.

“What should I throw next?” vs. “What do I think he’ll throw?” 

Gamesmanship.  Psychology.  Drama.

My wife and I watch a lot of baseball.  #GoBraves  

But what, you may ask, does baseball have to do with life?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. So tune in, we’re talking baseball today. 

More importantly, we’re teaching you how to hit, regardless of what the pitcher throws while you’re standing in the batter’s box of life.

Let’s play ball!

We spend our lives in the batter's box, trying to hit whatever pitch comes our way. What does it take to excel in the game of Life? Share on X

how to excel in life


Life In The Batter’s Box

My favorite baseball player is Ronald Acuna Jr, the right fielder for the Atlanta Braves (I’ll accept that Shohei Ohtani may be even better, but bear with me…I’m a Braves fan).  Acuna can hit, he can run, he can catch, and he has a cannon for an arm.  Every time he comes to bat, you expect big things.  Every time he gets a chance to throw a runner out, you know he’ll get his man.  Don’t even get me started on his prowess running the bases. 

The guy is amazing. 

If you’ve never seen him play, I’ve attached a highlight reel for your viewing pleasure.  He did ALL of this in June, including that amazing 464′ home run at the 0:20 second mark.

Try as they might, pitchers never seem to be able to get around this guy’s bat.

He hits everything.  More importantly, he always seems like he’s having fun out there.  Just a guy enjoying a game that he’s very, very good at.

We should all strive to be like Ronald Acuna.


10 Lessons From The Batter’s Box of Life

The skills we need to hit the ball in this game called life are different than the skills Ronald Acuna possesses.  However, there are some things we can learn from this world-class slugger that will help us deal with every pitch that comes our way.   Here are 10 lessons I came up with as I wrote today’s post.  I’m asking you to jump into the comments and see if there are others you can add. 

Let’s play ball…


1. Keep It Fun. In 2019, Acuna signed a $100 Million 8-year contract extension.  Baseball is a real business.  But somehow, that doesn’t seem to impact his childlike joy of playing the game. Of all the things I love about Acuna, his genuine joy is my favorite trait.  The way he jokes around with the other players.  The way he pretends he can’t see the fly ball as it’s flying toward him in the outfield.  His infectious smile.  Yes, he’s working hard out there, just like we do in our game of life. 

But he enjoys every minute of it, and so should we.


2. Be Present In The Moment.  When Acuna comes to the plate, he’s 100% focused on hitting the ball.  There’s real value in learning to be present in the moment, and it’s something our society tries to delude (the distraction of social media comes to mind).  When you’re doing something, do it.  Focus on it.  When I walk the dogs in the woods each morning, I like to practice being present.  What birds do I hear?  What does the air feel like against my skin?  What does the wind sound like as it moves through the trees?  What does the sky look like? 

Practice being present.  It’s easier to hit the ball if you’re 100% focused on the pitch.


3. Study The Game.  As the camera pans the dugout, you’ll often see Acuna holding an iPad and watching videos of the current pitcher.  In the same way, we can study our “opponent,” that unseen pitcher who seems to be trying to outsmart us with his stuff.  Learn to expect the unexpected.  Learn that change is constant, and a vigilant batter is one who is prepared for that nasty curveball.  Of course, stocks will enter a bear market, it’s part of the game.  Of course, your retirement transition will be a major change in your life.  Study and prepare for the pitcher you’re facing, you’ll learn about his arsenal and be more prepared to hit that curveball when it comes your way.

There’s nothing better than hitting a curve ball in the game of life.


4. Life Takes Practice.  Acuna was born with innate skills, but those skills have been honed with countless hours in a batting cage perfecting his swing.  In the same way, we’re all born with certain skills, but it takes hours of practice to sharpen the skills we need to win in the game of life.  We’re focused on self by nature, and it takes practice to develop empathy. In relationships, it takes practice to learn to focus on the needs of others over self.  Delayed gratification gets easier with practice.  Exercise becomes routine if you practice it often enough.

Be intentional during your time in the batting cage, and develop the skills you need to excel in the game.   


5. Learn From Your Strikeouts.  Acuna strikes out 12.5% of the times he comes to bat.  That’s far better than the league average of 22.7%, but it still means he strikes out a lot.  No one gets through life without the occasional strikeout.  Don’t sweat it.  Focus on what you can learn from the experience and move on.  Don’t dwell on your failures. 

Use them as opportunities to learn to change your swing the next time you see that pitch. 


6. Enjoy The Game.  It’s important to focus on enjoying the game of life as we play it.  I was struck by the following comment left by Darrell in my most recent post Why 72% of Retirees Are Happy.  He’s found a creative way to view the quest for “Purpose,” a way that reminded me that life is a game we should all learn to enjoy.  Yes, we’re working hard out there, but we can all find ways to enjoy the game: 

“It may be that I have too many years of corporate planning in my background, but “Purpose” as a label sounds formal and rigid. It implies mastery. That’s why I like calling it a game to play. Games only require trying to win and have a good time while doing it.”


7. Give Yourself Time.  Acuna was 21 years old when he made his MLB debut in 2018, becoming the NL Rookie of the Year. The following year he became an MLB All-Star.  As young as he was, it didn’t happen overnight.  He was signed as an international free agent in 2014 and spent several years in the minor leagues, playing for both the Gulf Coast Braves and the Danville Braves before he developed the skills required to play at the MLB level. 

Likewise, if you’re struggling with the transition to retirement, recognize it takes time to develop the skills required to play your new game. Think back to your first year on the job.  Were you an All-Star, or did it take some time to adjust to the big leagues? Be patient, and expect to work your way through the Minor Leagues. 

If a natural-born hitter like Acuna took a few years,  it’s reasonable to expect you’ll require the same. 


8. Don’t Swing At Every Pitch.  It takes 0.425 seconds for a fastball to reach the plate. I’m constantly amazed at the ability of a hitter to determine a ball from a strike.  In less than half a second, the hitter has to determine whether to swing, then initiate the motion in his bat to swing it where he expects the ball to be.  Acuna only swings at 68.9% of the pitches thrown to him, making contact with an astonishing 84.6% of the balls he swings at. We can all learn something from Acuna’s decision to NOT swing at over 30% of the pitches he sees.  Excelling in the game of life involves deciding what we’re NOT going to do with our time.  Not everything deserves our attention. 

Learn to decipher between the things that matter and the things that don’t.  


9. Listen To Your Coach.  If one of the best hitters in the world still listens when his coach gives advice, how can we justify doing anything less?  Even if you’re a DIY’er, learn to really listen when you get advice from your spouse, your child, or a trusted confidant.  All of us have blind spots, and sometimes it takes a well-intended piece of advice from someone we trust to help us see it. 

Learn to listen.  Learn to see.


10. Celebrate Your Home Runs.  I love the current trend in the MLB to have a “home run hat” of some sort that the deserving slugger gets to wear after his home run.  It’s fun, and a helpful reminder to take time to celebrate your victories. 

Freedom For Fido is completing our 100th fence build today, and we’re taking time to celebrate.  We’re hosting a “100 for 100” party at a local microbrew, and hoping to have 100 members of the “Fido Family” join us tomorrow evening to celebrate our 100th fence.  We have some fun planned for the evening as our way of saying “thank you” to all the people who made it all possible.

Take time to celebrate your successes in life.


Conclusion

While I recognize baseball is just a game, and far from the most important thing in life, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from studying the game.  Here are the 10 Lessons we can apply from baseball that will help us excel in the batter’s box of life:

  1. Keep It Fun
  2. Be Present in The Moment
  3. Study The Game
  4. Life Takes Practice
  5. Learn From Your Strikeouts
  6. Enjoy The Game
  7. Give Yourself Time
  8. Don’t Swing at Every Pitch
  9. Listen To Your Coach
  10. Celebrate Your Home Runs

Always seek out creative new ways to learn.  It’s a fun mental challenge and something I enjoy doing.  At first glance, it seems a long bridge between Ronald Acuna and actionable steps we can all take to improve our lives.  If you search hard enough, however, you’ll find a connection.  I spent an hour or so coming up with the 10 lessons in this post.  I’m hoping you can add some more in the comments.  Challenge yourself, and have some fun.

Study the best in the world and apply their secrets to your life.

In the end, you’ll be more prepared for that next curve ball.  You may even hit a home run.

Your life will be better as a result.


PS:  Credit to reader J. Wightman for planting the original seed for this post with a comment he left in “Why 28% of Retirees Are Depressed” – here’s the sentence that put my brain into motion, and ultimately led to today’s post:

“Now that I am in the batter’s box I am hoping not to get beaned.”


Your Turn:  Which of the “batting tips” most resonated with you?  Why?  Are there any other lessons we can learn from baseball that will improve our performance in the game of life?  Let’s chat in the comments…

20 comments

  1. Try a different position if the first one isn’t your best. Players change positions. If our original plan or activity isn’t working out for us, nothing wrong with trying something different.

    1. I love it! It’s amazing to me how players can change positions at the major league level and still excel. No reason we can’t do the same!

  2. Love it Fritz! I’m also a huge baseball fan and while your Braves have the best record in baseball, my Orioles have the second best, even after dropping the last 2 with Philadelphia. We’re doing well 🙂

    The list you made is great and I’m sure there are many other analogies or metaphors to be gained from baseball to finance, and to all aspects of life. Baseball is such a nuanced game it just has that way of relating to almost everything.

    See you in the World Series 😉

    1. An Orioles/Braves Series would be awesome. Just know this…Indians can easily kills birds. If it happens, we should go to a game together! #FatFire

  3. Great post Fritz! And congrats to you and Jackie, along with all of the FIDO volunteers, freeing dogs from their chains!! God bless all of you.

    In daily life, my mantra is to learn something new every day, along with doing at least one good deed for another human being. Sometimes I really have to seek out an opportunity to serve others. Just another purpose to get out of bed daily.

    Being a Cubs fan, my favorite all time player was Sweet Swinging Billy Williams! Man, he had the prettiest swing in the majors back in the 60’s/70’s! I feel bad that the young folks never got to see him play. 🙁

    I ask that you please continue pulling for our KC Chiefs, as they attempt to become a dynasty with 4/6 years winning the Lombardi trophy! Injuries and turnovers are 2 of the major “strike outs” in football, however, that can prevent a team from advancing forward.

    Blessings to all you readers (yes, even you Raiders fans). 😉 Steve

    1. Steve, thanks for the shout-out on the Fido accomplishment. Fido has become an even bigger Purpose in my retirement than writing, and I couldn’t be prouder of our 100th fence! Just returned home from “Freedom Day,” it was one of the best releases ever. Also, I love your daily mantra, great challenge to try to find one good deed to do every day, quite the challenge!

  4. Fritz~ Another awesome article using the baseball analogy. A couple of my suggestions:

    BE WHERE YOUR FEET ARE: If you’re not in the very PRESENT you’ll get picked off, not know how many outs or miss a coaches signal.

    YOU CAN”T STEAL FIRST BASE: You have to EARN your way on the base bath to score. Grind hard to get on with a hit, walk and you can even get on first with strikeout/passed ball.

    1. Two excellent additions, Marc. I especially love the stealing first base analogy, wish I’d have thought of that one!

  5. Awesome Fritz! This one really struck a cord with me because I played D1 baseball in college. In fact, when I got my MBA and looking for my first real job, my resume was all about how playing baseball gave me transferable skills for the workplace! A few things you might want to consider to add:

    1. Short term memory. Baseball is a game of failure (70% of the time and you are a Hall of Famer), so you can’t dwell on the last at bat, when most likely you made an out. You have to forget the last at bat, and focus on the next one. We need to be patient with ourselves when we make mistakes. Learn and move on to the next at bat in our lives.

    2. Perserverance: Many minor leaguers never make it to the Show, but that doesnt mean they don’t try. The odds are stacked against them, but they grind and grind to achieve that mountain top. On top of that, those who do make it to the MLB, many spent years in the minors to get there. Ronald Acuna, Jr spent a good part of four years in the minor league system – good thing he didn’t give up! For all of us, I am sure there are times when we could of thrown in the towel, and had we done that, we would have missed that great opportunity that was just ahead of us.

    3. Teamwork: Nobody can win alone. You need to be there for your team, just like you need them to be there for you when you need it. Sometimes thats a kick in the pants, sometimes thats a pep talk. We all need to be part of a team in our lives.

    1. Excellent additions, twin! Very cool that you played D1 ball, impressive. Love the addition of teamwork, how did I miss that one!? Fido is a perfect example of what a team of individuals can accomplish when working together that would be essentially impossible alone.

  6. Thank you for this article! Your first point really hit home for me today. I need to remember the joys in life and seek out the fun. There are plenty of things to occupy my daily thoughts- changes in my body and drive, loss of predictable structure and relationships- but my choice to look for the good and enjoy what I do have should be my overriding skill. I can enjoy the game more when I’m prepared, by studying, practicing , listening, etc. I’m saving this one!

    1. Glad this one resonated with you, Lisa. Seeking out the joy in life is a personal decision, but fortunately it’s within our control. Our thoughts are SO important, and choosing to focus on the positives over the negatives is a huge benefit in the game of life.

  7. Great post Fritz, Thank you.
    Go MN Twins,
    I have one to add to the list.

    Sacrifice for others.
    In life we sacrifice for others by donating our time and money to people in need.
    In baseball we sacrifice to move our teammate into scoring position with a bunt or hit a fly ball to bring in a runner from third base. This is helping the team put runs on the board.
    Sacrifice your time and/or money to the less fortunate.

    1. Dang, the readers are CRUSHING it today with great ideas! Even the ones who cheer for the wrong teams…

  8. Fritz,

    I didn’t know early in life that my vision wasn’t exactly suitable for most sports. I have faulty depth perception. Hitting a baseball was always pure luck. Basketball? Nope. Boxing? When you can’t tell how far away your opponent’s glove is, as it’s coming toward your face, boxing is not your sport.

    Then I found Football. You don’t need great vision to be a fullback, you just need to be bigger and heavier than most other kids, and I was. Football was my sport as a kid.

    Then I joined the Army, in 1968, as a Warrant Officer Flight Candidate. After completing basic training, I took my flight physical, hoping to head off to Ft. Rucker, AL and Rotary Wing School. Unfortunately, I learned that I couldn’t fly, because of faulty depth perception. Once I learned of my visual shortcoming, I finally understood why I wasn’t very good at most sports.

    What did I do? I “picked a new sport” for my life.

    After competing my two years in the US Army, and serving in Viet Nam from 1969-1970, I came home and headed off to college. For the past 50 years, I have devoted my professional life to financial services, in Banking & Lending, as the owner of a Nationwide Insurance and Financial Agency, and for the past 15 years, as a college professor, teaching in financial planning and retirement planning programs. The only “vision” I needed to have to serve my fellow man for the past 50 years was the vision of putting client’s first and always putting their needs before my own.

    Today they call that being a “fiduciary.” Throughout my life, I have always called it doing the right thing.

    I loved your baseball story and the video was outstanding. Continued success with your mission, “Freedom for Fido,” and thanks for all you contribute as a thought leader in the art of Retirement and Retirement Planning.

    Kevin M Lynch

    1. Kevin, best comment of the day! Thanks for your service, Viet Nam vets never got the credit they deserved. Thanks for sharing your story, interesting life journey. Ironic you mention Ft. Rucker – that’s where our daughter lives and where we have our second home (to spend a week every month with our granddaughter).

  9. So cool the Freedom for Fido has built 100 fences! Enjoy the party – you all deserve it! – and hope you’re able to help many more dogs find freedom from chains.

  10. Thank you Fritz … this article absolutely resonates with me. I played college baseball in your backyard for the Dawgs at the University of Georgia in the early to mid ’80’s. Although it did not come easy…as a kid growing up in the midwest … I had a passion for the sport but also a drive as my family did not have money to send me to college … so my goals as a young person in high-school to get there was work, save money, do well in school, do well in sports, stay out of trouble, get a scholarship, set an example for my 3 younger siblings, make my parents proud. My backup plan was joining a branch of the military and serve our great country! I was fortunate to play 4 years of baseball (2 years in Junior College & 2 years at UGA). Anyone that played sports in college knows that it is a full-time job with high expectations. After college, I had an opportunity to play professionally for $500 a month starting in the very low minors…but instead I married my high-school sweetheart and leveraged my degree in business/finance and we started our new journey together, however, the discipline that you have written about has carried us to today as I have used similar reflections in how I manage myself, my family team and in business with my work teams. Long story short … in baseball you are an “All-Star” if you fail 7 of 10 times at bat and the best baseball players have very short memories … life is full of failures … learn from them and apply them to your next “at bat” 🙂 … Best to you and your readers Fritz!

  11. If you give the monkey money and bananas, the monkey will take the bananas.
    If you give the human a life lesson and money, the human will take the money.

    Many of your readers will have the capability to understand the “10 batter’s box life” lesson today…
    But, only few will have the required courage and the necessary capacity to live it.

    You will need to get out of your comfort zone from time to time for a level up in life progress!

  12. Thank you Fritz for this thought-provoking post. I don’t know a lot about baseball, but one thing that’s came to mind is that no matter how good a baseball player is, he isn’t going to enter the batter’s box without his ‘armor’. We need to put on our armor to face the certain adversity of daily life—armed with truth, peace, integrity, mercy, justice, our moral compass (shout out to Ephesians for all your Christian readers). Without it we’re bound to be hurt by whatever projectile comes flying towards us.

Comments are closed.