I had finally made it. I achieve my ~7 year goal of playing Division 1 baseball and now was my time to show I belonged. I had a successful fall season with the team, and now I was ready to showcase my ability in our Spring season when it counted. It was our fourth game of the year in Florida when I would first be called on to pitch in a real college baseball game.
Ball, ball, ball, wild pitch, ball, ball was how my career began. I had totally forgotten how to throw a baseball at the worst possible time. I had lost the ability to throw, and the yips were coming at me whether I was ready or not. I wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear, the mental pain was excruciating. I remember sweating profusely, and not because of the warm Florida sun, but because I was so incredibly uncomfortable and disappointed in myself. I will always remember the feeling to this date of walking around that mound after walking the first batter, then the second, then the third batter and not knowing what was going on. Something that had been so routine for me for so long in my life, was now gone. This was my time to shine and I had lost the skill they brought me onto this team to do.
I would step onto the mound one other time my freshman season, and I walked 4 straight batters before being taken out of the game. My confidence was gone, and I forgot how to pitch that season. The toll that this took on me mentally was incredibly draining. I had come in with high hopes and high expectations as a pitcher for Lehigh, and now that was gone. I spent bullpen session after bullpen session trying to get things right, but just couldn’t do it. I was so in my head during each practice and I was lost. I am thankful for my teammates for trying to help me and being so understanding with what I was going through. I had a ton of help from many teammates who kept me from a state of complete depression and for that, I will always be thankful. I didn’t know what was going on with my throwing ability, and it was debilitating.
I went back home that summer to Maryland to work on my pitching in a space where I was comfortable, and I had a lot of success. I played in a local Maryland summer league and found out how to pitch again. I had a ton of success from a statistic standpoint, made the all-star game, and was ready to showcase that ability at Lehigh for my Sophomore year.
I had trained and worked my tail off that summer to be able to help the team the coming season. I got onto that mound Sophomore year, and once again, lost the ability to throw and the yips came roaring back. I threw 3 separate times that Fall, and walked the world each time. It was after the third time on the mound that my college pitching career ended, and I was going to have to become a position player or I wouldn’t be on the team anymore.
I had worked pretty hard as a hitter/fielder throughout my career and made the switch to a 1B/OF for the next year and a half on the baseball team, but it wasn’t the same. I still had issues throwing the baseball, and my confidence was gone after those opportunities on the mound. My biggest baseball regret to this day is that I didn’t take the time to work on my mental game, or really, just talk to someone about this situation. I didn’t know there were resources out there to help people with this, and I thought I was completely alone.
I write this blog post to basically just say, if you’re going through the yips or have lost all confidence playing your sport, you’re not alone. There are thousands of people out there going through this, and there are a lot of people certified to help you. I’m passionate about the yips and helping athletes develop confidence, and that’s what has come out of this situation for me. I’ve made it my mission and my passion to help people in similar situations, and get them through this.