Body Language by Beckwith

        "That kid wants it!"  "He's such a competitor!"  "Playing with some emotion...I love it!  Take that guy on my team any day of the week!"  Have you heard these before?  Probably.  Most of the time this Coach Speak comes when we see something like a pitcher yell and go nuts after a big strikeout or a hitter comes up with a run-scoring hit in the clutch.  While I'm not saying I wouldn't take those guys on my team and love a well-timed genuine display of emotion, it's dangerous for an athlete to feel like they have to be emotional to perform.  Roller-coaster emotional athletes are rarely the most consistent over the long haul.  It's not so much because of the emotional outbursts but the struggle to get past them and move on.  Anyway, I'd challenge you to base your judgments about a player's competitive spirit on more than these outward displays.  A great example has taken over the last week and a half at the College World Series.  I'm still brain storming a more complete tribute to the performance of Andrew Beckwith and the great example he has set for young players everywhere, but I wanted to share some brief video clips from his complete game, dominant, Maddux-like efficient performance against Florida.  I'll also include some thoughts on what I see.

        The above clips are after giving up hits in the middle to later innings of what was a close game.  There is no sign of panic at all.  If' I'd have told you Beckwith just completed his warm-up tosses before a 9 AM, Saturday morning travel game or that he just read a really interesting article on knitting socks, you'd probably believe me.  There is no visible "bearing down" or "pumping himself up" to get through it.  It's more, "Okay, that guy just got a hit.  It's time to make the next pitch."

        Our next clip is right after making a great play to cover first base on a tweener ground ball between first and second.  The second baseman ended up fielding it, and Beckwith made a really athletic play to cover and catch the ball at the same time.  Again, this was a "big" play.  Or is it enjoying a casual stroll with his dog on a quiet Saturday morning?  Tea and bridge with the ladies next door?  On to the next hitter.

        The next clip is after getting a strikeout for the third out somewhere around the seventh or eighth inning.  Why isn't he running off the field yelling and screaming?  Doesn't he want to psyc out the opponent?  Isn't he happy he just got that "big" out?  Doesn't he want it more than them?  Just guesses here, but I'd say he doesn't need to, doesn't care, is happy, and just wants it how much he wants it.  There is more to be done, and he expects to do it.

        The clip above is one of Beckwith after giving up a hit in the latter stages of the game again.  I took this one though to show his breathing and make a point.  This is not a big breath, but it's an efficient breath.  The use of a breath has become huge in baseball and with great biological reasoning.  Something to consider though is to be a consistent breather rather than a big breather.  Being in control of your breathing rather than being controlled by it.  Using breathing instead of being dependent on it as another thing to remember to do.  Also, you don't breathe with your shoulders.  This breath by Beckwith is more efficient and useful than those huge shoulder shrugs we see all too often.

        The final clip is just after the final out in Beckwith's masterpiece.  It was the first time I saw a smile from him the entire game and a display of excitement for what his team had just accomplished.  There's a hug with his catcher too because of the joy for what they'd just done.  All of the emotions are genuine.  There's nobody who has told him, "Hey, you hug your catcher after the end of the game.  That's big body language"  It's just what he does.  It's "Andrew Beckwith being Andrew Beckwith."  He's playing baseball freely.

        So, what is the overall point of these video clips?  My hope was to show you a couple of things.  The first is what a pitcher who is in control of the game can look like.  Beckwith's high school head coach tweeted something mid-game about the situation not being too big for him.  That is visible in the clips above.  There is never a hint of panic.  This is a guy with a job to do and who is confident in his ability to do it.  He doesn't have to make sure everybody else knows.  Second, Beckwith is one of the most competitive, hard-working athletes I have ever been around.  He really does want it more than most.  That want doesn't take place in the nine innings of the game, and it isn't through the display of eyewash moves.  The want is in his meticulous work ethic and efforts to prepare for the games he has thrown in the World Series.  Before you attribute wins or individual game performances to "wanting it more" in the future, challenge yourself to consider everything that goes into preparing for a game.  Chances are, regardless of your sport, the time outside of competition far exceeds that of the actual competition.  This time, and what you do with it, is the great separator.  Everyone wants to win come game time.  Who is willing to do what it take to do so?  Andrew Beckwith is more than willing.  He's who his teammates, coaches, and everyone else who watches him pitch want on the mound with the game on the line.  Are you?


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