Performance psychologist and author John Eliot studied thousands of high achievers in every conceivable endeavor, including sports. Far and away, the most focused person Eliot ever met is baseball’s all-time hit king Pete Rose.
Rose was not blessed with exceptional talent or athleticism. He was a street-smart, tough, smash-mouth blunt kid capable of sustained effort and constant hustle. He had diligent practice habits and a genuine desire to maximize his potential. As a youth, he showed more promise as a football halfback, until academic deficiencies waylaid those plans. Rose threw his considerable energies into playing the other game he loved, baseball. And the part of the game he loved most was hitting.
Rose had a quick bat, decent power, and a keen eye honed by thousands of batting practice sessions. He didn’t often hit the ball far but he almost always hit the ball, and he almost always hit the ball hard. The underlying reason for his success: his ability to hone in on the task at hand, every single literal pitch.
Many hitters run through a never-ending mental checklist during an at-bat. They have great intentions but they distract themselves with thoughts of “do this and do that,” or considerations of the past or of the future. Rose had a virtual unparalleled skill at wiping his mind clean of minutiae and incidentals. He kept one thought in mind: see ball and hit ball. He forgot about the past and thought naught about the future. Eliot’s research, bolstered by in-depth interviews with Rose and his peers, proves that Rose focused on this pitch to the exclusion of all else. This unwavering, laser-beam intense focus allowed a man with marginal talent to amass more hits than anyone who ever played the game.
If you want to be a great hitter, first learn to focus.