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MX News Update 2024

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Pitcher Hoby Milner’s 6 Tips to Keep Your Head in the Game

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Hoby Milner has the world on his side after the side-armed southpaw once again proves to be a vital part of ‘The Firemen’s’ collective forces.

With an average fastball of 83.5 mph last season, he blocks exit velocities like few others can, and at age 33, Milner says he’s finally on the right track, not just as a player, but as a person .

But while the baseball star now has his head in the game, the Dallas-born athlete has dealt with his fair share of ups and downs. In an important conversation with M&F For Mental Health Awareness Month, Milner talks about his experiences with anxiety and provides six essential tips for looking after your own mental health, both on and off the pitch.

Milner recently explained on the Milwaukee Brewers’ official YouTube channel that the anxiety he experienced as he progressed from college to Triple-A baseball led to him skipping meals before games.

Unfortunately, once in the big leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies, those feelings became all the more intense. The player says the mental pressure he put on himself caused his throws to be significantly slower, causing him to lose focus. He rebounded to post a 2.01 average in 2017, but saw his performance falter the following year.

More uncertainty followed, as Milner moved to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 and to the Los Angeles Angels in 2019. And with his first child needing a stable household, a future in professional baseball began to look bleak, until a pivotal opportunity with the Milwaukee Brewers proved to be a path back to reigniting his passion for pitching. Incredibly, Milner’s ERA went from 5.40 in 2021 to 3.76 in 2022, finishing last year at 1.82, making him a ballpoint hero. Here’s how this baseball player managed to get his head back in the game through the determination to realize his boyhood dream.

Hoby Milner suggests doing what you love

Many of us have fantasies of becoming king or queen of our chosen sport, but what happens when we discover that we are not the natural person we had hoped to be? Hoby Milner is the first to admit that pitching wasn’t easy for him at first, and that he had to work hard to find the new arm lock technique he uses today. While the player could have given up as a young starter when his progress was slow, the idea of ​​quitting was never an option.

“When I was a kid, I just wanted to be a big-league baseball player,” Milner tells M&F. “That was my goal, so I basically did what I had to do to get there. I love pitching. I like going to the field every day, I like throwing the ball. And (working hard to make progress) is exactly the way I can do it longer.

There’s an old saying that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, and outside of baseball season Milner continues to do what he loves, practicing the mechanics of his trade and even going so far as to plays winter baseball in Puerto Rico and Venezuela to get those extra reps.

Seek professional advice

Milner now understands that he suffers from fear of failure and says seeking professional advice was essential to moving forward. “Medication is half the answer and mindset is the other half,” he says. In 2019, Milner suffered crushing confidence issues in the minor leagues and became trapped in a viscous cycle in which neck pain fueled his anxiety, and his inability to relax in return further tightened his neck muscles.

Then came the stomach aches.

“I had gone to the hospital to check my stomach, to see if I had an ulcer, and they said, ‘you know what? Here’s a Xanex. Why don’t you take this?’ and I felt great within an hour,” says Milner. “Okay, obviously it’s not my stomach, it’s my mentality.” Milner had spoken to the Tampa Bay Rays team psychologist and had also found that medication helped, but when he felt better he decided to stop taking the medications that were balancing him out.

Months later, however, after teams had moved again and now faced what could have been a devastating non-tender from the LA Angels, Milner man still had a lot to look forward to. With the impending birth of his daughter in 2020, perspectives changed and his young family found themselves at the center of attention. Milner went back to therapy and took his medication, and says his final season with the Angel’s was actually a time of support.

Learning to let go of the debilitating pressure on himself actually improved the players’ sporting mentality, and when the Milwaukie Brewers came for him, the solid work he had already done on his mental health began to pay off . “I didn’t want to take medication for a long time, but it turned out I needed them,” says Milner, pleading with anyone who needs help to seek professional advice. “Not everyone needs it, some people just need a better mindset.” Talking to a qualified mental health professional will put you on the path to a diagnosis and treatment that is right for you.

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Hoby Milner and his family
Thanks to Hoby Milner

How Hoby Milner achieves a Flow State

“There is such a thing as a Flow State, which is when you compete at the highest level and don’t think about it at all,” says Milner, who has often fallen victim to overthinking on the field.

Research has shown that emotions can determine flow, and that a positive flow state is often associated with pleasure and success. “It’s just something that once you’ve done the drill, you can go out there and perform with what’s ‘automatic,’” the pitcher adds. It’s true; Studies in sports and music, where reaction times are essential, agree that proper practice in your chosen activity and the ability to fully concentrate on the task at hand is a great way to promote the flow state , while negative emotions like fear will put up a huge roadblock and disrupt that flow.

Project your thoughts

As of now, the process of achieving a flow state is not an exact science, which means there will still be times when athletes face fears. However, Milner has a coping strategy, and it’s all about projecting his thoughts. When in ballpoint and feeling nervous, Milner was once advised to pick another player on the field and try to think about whatever he was thinking. “I start thinking about the other team’s left field, and I’ll say, ‘What is this guy thinking now?’ And then I suddenly forget that I’m nervous,” Milner explains. “And that really works for me, only if you think about it consciously.”

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Hoby Milner explains his struggles to get where he is today
Milwaukie Brouwers

Learn to let go of the uncontrollable

The brilliant baseball player says there is nothing to be gained from getting stuck in the uncontrollable and that the best way to find peace is to be as prepared as possible.

“As a pitcher, you are in control of everything up to the point where you release the ball,” Milner says. “I can determine how much knowledge I have about the hitter; I can control how comfortable I am with my technicians. I can make adjustments here and there, and that’s really all I can control. So I make sure I’ve done everything right in my preparation: I’ve hydrated, I make sure I’m training regularly and I’ve done everything I can so I know I don’t have to worry if I fail . about it, like ‘it is what it is’, and it wasn’t intentional. That has been the most important thing for me; just knowing that I always give my best so that I don’t feel like I missed an opportunity because I wasn’t prepared.

Support your ‘team’

Milner is having fun again, with his loving wife and two young children, and on the baseball field. While we all have our own unique experiences with mental health, we are also a social animal, and the well-being of our friends, families, and even teammates is deeply tied to our own fortunes.

“Let’s say my second baseman has anxiety issues or can’t perform because he has something going on. I’d rather he go get some help and perform at his best,” said Milner, who is always there for a team chat , and agrees that checking our mental health is just as important as fixing our physical ailments. “We all want everyone on our team to perform at their best,” he says. Traditionally, men have found it difficult to talk about their mental health, but with champions like Hoby Milner showing that success is about mind, body and spirit, we need to continue to talk openly and look after ourselves and each other. the well-being of us all.

Watch Hoby Milner with mental health tips on the official Milwaukee Brewers YouTube channel