Geoff Miller

Mental Skills Manual Part VII: The Role of Luck

In Tips for Improving Performance on January 21, 2010 at 12:05 pm

The mental skills manual series continues with a discussion of luck.  This is another concept that falls under the “dealing with failure” portion of the manual, so it’s another way to help you know what to do when you don’t get what you want.  Remember that we base good luck and bad luck on how things have turned out so determining your luck is a results-oriented approach.


Luck = Hard Work + Opportunity + Randomness

Luck and failure have more to do with each other than you might think.  If you are going to be good at dealing with failure, you’ve got to understand the role that luck plays in performance and have the right perspective on how to get more of it.

How many times have you overheard a player in a slump say something about not having any luck or not being able to buy a break?  Every hard hit ball is right at someone.  Every call is going against him.  Every time he gets the double play ball he needs, an infielder mishandles the throw.  But you don’t hear a lot of players talk about how lucky they’ve been when they are playing well, unless it’s in the name of trying to be humble.

If you view luck using the formula listed at the top of this section, then you can eliminate the negative thinking and helplessness that keeps people down when things are going bad.

Components of Luck

Hard Work: The harder you work, the more prepared you are to put yourself in a position to have something lucky happen to you.  This gives you more opportunities to be lucky and it removes the feeling that you have to wait around for your luck to change.

Opportunity: What we are talking about here are the odds.  There is an element of luck possible in every play, but a much greater chance that you will succeed on your own merit if you just give yourself the opportunity to execute your skills.

Randomness:  There is an entire section of social psychology devoted to the study of people finding patterns in random occurrences.  Your perception of how you are affected by luck can help you sort through your failures. There will always be lucky plays in all sports, and baseball is no exception. Balls land on the line instead of just foul, they bounce just over the low part of the fence when there is a runner on first who would have scored easily had the ball stayed on the field.  You can decide that those are simply random occurrences that have nothing to do with your involvement in the plays and you can change your luck instantly.

Making a commitment to believe that your hard work creates opportunities and knowing that random acts can keep you from getting the results you wanted even if you do everything right is the key to using luck to your advantage instead of letting it keep you from succeeding.  And this is why it’s so important to stay focused on process goals to achieve your outcome goals.

Good Play vs. Good Luck

Good play: Process was correct and outcome was successful.
Good luck: Process was incorrect and outcome was successful.
Bad luck: Process was correct and outcome was unsuccessful.
Bad play: Process was incorrect and outcome was unsuccessful.

How successful do you think you’d be with good luck and bad processes?  Stick to the process and aim for good play instead of good luck.

Click Here for Part I of the Manual, which offers an Introduction.

Click Here for Part II of the Manual, which begins the unit on self-knowledge.

Click Here for Part III of the Manual, which discusses Comfort Zones, Confidence, and Keeping it Simple.

Click Here for Part IV, introduction to goal setting.

Click Here for Part V, goal setting continued.

Click Here for Part VI, Dealing with Failure.

If you would like to receive new posts from The Winning Mind in Baseball by email, please CLICK HERE.

Geoff Miller’s book, Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game — in Baseball and in Life, was released in August, 2012. For more information and free sample chapters, please visit:

For more information, please contact Geoff Miller at


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