This story is excerpted from Juan Toribio’s Dodgers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, Click here. And subscribe to receive it regularly in your inbox.
When Dodgers star outfielder Mookie Betts arrives at the ballpark, he usually takes some time to relax before doing his pre-game work. After a slow start at home plate, Betts constantly worked and tweaked his mechanics.
But Betts’ best work doesn’t come in the cage or on the court. It happens when he reads and listens to books that help his mind.
“I think the mental side was the biggest difference. Just being more positive,” Betts said, when asked where his biggest adjustment had been during his recent hot streak. “Looking for the next opportunity instead of dwelling on the last. I just try to enjoy every day.
Betts couldn’t remember exactly when he started focusing as much on his mind as on his physical development, but it’s now become a regular part of his daily routine. He is currently listening to actor Will Smith’s book (although he says it is very long) and has become a huge fan of motivational speaker David Goggins, who is the only man in history to have been trained elite as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger and Air. Force Tactical Air Controller.
When asked which five people – excluding family – he would like to have dinner with, Betts was quick to mention Goggins, Smith and President Barack Obama. He didn’t mention other athletes — not because he doesn’t like those prospects, but he’s intrigued by the life lessons that would be shared at that dinner.
“I never thought I would say that,” Betts said. “But here we are.”
Here it is, both physically and now mentally. Betts, who will play a big role in the Dodgers’ success over the next decade, has been learning to deal with failure better since he started focusing on his mental health. He’s still one of the most competitive people in the world, which sometimes makes it difficult, but he’s learned to understand that failure doesn’t come from a lack of trying.
Bad days will come, especially in a grueling 162-game baseball season. Working on mechanics will continue to be a big part of Betts’ days, but keeping his mind sharp has become his secret weapon in many ways.
“We don’t play this game long enough to linger and be sad all the time,” Betts said. “It’s just trying to enjoy every game, every day and my goal is to make history pretty much every game, and that’s it.”