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The sixth tool of baseball—and the gospel

Posted by Lars Birkeland on

As one of my jobs, I am the head coach of a high school baseball program. I recently attended a coach’s clinic where we heard from Zach Sorensen, a sports psychologist. He talked about the sixth tool of a baseball player. Traditionally, baseball players have been measured by the all-important “Five tools”: throwing, running, hitting for average, hitting for power, and fielding. Scouts are always on the lookout for “Five-tool players”.

Over the years, teams have found that many prospects with the coveted five tools, would fizzle out and not make it to the major leagues. Even though they had all the physical tools, they would not live up to their potential. After years of frustrations, teams are now trying to grade players on a new “sixth tool”. The sixth tool is the mental makeup of a player. That sounds great. But, teams realized that they had to figure out exactly what type of mental makeup they want in a player. The other tools are easier to define: miles per hour on the radar gun, fractions of seconds in the 60-yard dash, batting averages, slugging percentage. These are all things that can be measured. But mental makeup; what exactly are they looking for? In his research with different ball clubs, Mr. Sorensen ultimately summarized the desired mental makeup as a player that has a “warrior mentality”.

If you have read this far, you may be asking yourself: “what does this have to do with me or the gospel?” I believe, that as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we also must have the “warrior mentality”. In this month’s Ensign address, President Eyring talks about the war we are engaged in against the powers of evil. Of Satan, he said: “He wars against the prophets and apostles. He wars against the law of chastity and the sanctity of marriage. He wars against the family and the temple. He wars against what is good, hold, and sacred.” He asked further: “How do we battle such a foe? How do we fight against the evil that appears to be engulfing our world?” The answer—we arm ourselves with righteousness.

Much like the ballplayer who hones his tools, we must strengthen our spiritual tools. As President Eyring says: “We keep the Sabbath day holy and honor the Priesthood. We make and keep sacred covenants, work on family history, and attend the temple…. We pray and serve and testify and exercise faith in Jesus Christ.” As we strengthen our tools, we will be able to fight off the evils of this world and develop a true warrior mentality.

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