Three weeks ago, I saw a tweet from Trevor May, a Twins pitching prospect who was in camp at the time (and has since been sent down to Class AAA Rochester). It read, simply:
Consistently being mindful and present is the most underrated skill a person could have.
As someone who has dabbled in the areas of meditation and mindfulness — dipping toes in the water and wanting to jump in further when I can — it struck me as interesting on both a personal level and professional level. I jotted it down as a possible future story idea.
While I might still ask May about it at some point if/when he makes it to the big league club for good, Al Melchior from CBS Sports was seemingly curious as well and has a great piece on May that answers a lot of my questions. Here’s a sampling of what May does in attempt to stay in the moment:
That entails a daily meditation practice, which normally involves sitting or laying down for periods of 10-to-20 minutes, doing nothing but breathing and noticing what he notices. This isn’t just recharging in order to deal with the demands of being a professional ballplayer. For May, this is a form of practice in the same way that a bullpen session is practice. These extended periods of silence prepare May for the emotional ups and downs of pitching in game situations. He sees his ability to stay even through these emotional waves as an even more critical factor to his success than the actual execution of his pitches.
To understand the importance of May’s mindfulness practice to his performance, it helps to understand how he approaches in-game situations. He views every pitch as a three-step process. First, he determines what pitch he wants to throw and where to throw it. Second, he gets his mind in a focused state. Third, he executes the pitch. So while Yogi Berra said 90 percent of the game is half mental, May’s game is two-thirds mental. And if the first two steps of pitching — the mental steps — aren’t executed properly, the physical work of making the actual pitch is all for naught.
The extended story delves deeper into May’s ups and downs, while also taking a look at the mental side of sports as an emerging frontier. It’s worth a read, for sure, whether you are casually interested about May or more deeply interested in the larger topics broached.