Never forget losses but, rather than obsessing on them, use them as fuel to get better. Every failure is an opportunity to learn and get better.
play like PI
PI = Power + Integrity
What does it means to play with power and integrity?
Hi, my name is Pi Stephenson. I’m a sophomore at California High School and the founder of the Play Like Pi Foundation. I’ve found success playing competitive softball and I started my foundation to help disadvantaged youth do the same. While our country’s poverty rate is 12.8%, for people under 18 it is 16.8% (4.2 percentage points higher than the national rate). I plan to study law in college to do something about that and my foundation is how I’m making a difference right now.
Data collected from both a 2013 ESPN study and another by The Atlantic in 2018 indicated youth sports participation in richer households is on the rise, while kids from families earning less than $50,000 annually are disproportionately dropping out of sports leagues. The decline is most evident in baseball and softball, where participation rates have dropped by 20 percent over the past decade. Participating in youth ball leagues is a significant financial commitment (around $500 in gear and fees).
I’m fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to not only play softball, but compete at the highest level. To achieve success at this level, I’ve developed my skills over the years through hard work and expert instruction. But I never would’ve been able to become the player I am today if my parents wouldn’t have been able to sign me up to play when I was in 2nd grade. I’ve surely benefited in other was too as improved cognitive skills, grades, standardized test scores, and mental health are all linked to youth sports.
Beyond getting started, increased competitiveness and intense coaching tactics have created an intimidating environment for young athletes. As a result, young athletes often quit playing prematurely because they believe they have to be insanely good to continue playing. While that may not limit tomorrow’s Olympians, the result is we’re starving millions of young people from the benefits of competing in sports. If we don’t want sports to become an elitist hobby, we need to make playing more accessible and find ways to develop player skills without requiring expensive trainers and incredibly costly equipment.
Play Like Pi is more than a fundraising platform for young softball players. At the core, Play Like Pi is about believing in yourself and committing yourself to success. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to succeed in softball. You just need the opportunity to get started and a Play Like Pi mindset.
Play Like Pi: POWER
Most of us are familiar with the term “power” in sports. In its simplest form, power is force multiplied by distance, divided by time. With softball and other sports, force = strength and time/distance = speed. Sounds complicated but, if you think about hitting a softball, our power output transforms physical energy into force as we hit the ball.
Excelling in softball requires explosive actions during key periods of play. Unlike long distance runners, we softball players have to transfer energy via an explosive force in an instant. Hitting a softball requires good eyesight, concentration, experience and reflexes. To squarely hit a softball, everything has to be perfect.
Play Like Pi: INTEGRITY
But what about integrity? For me, integrity means the state of being complete or undivided. We’re complete when we’re in integrity and we’re incomplete when we’re out of integrity. I love this concept in both sports and life because at the core it means doing what you say you’re going to do.
- Integrity matters when you’ve got to come from behind to win.
- Integrity matters when you’re doing dry swings in your bedroom.
- Integrity matters when your legs are burning and there is a runner on 3rd.
Power gives you the ability to win and integrity commits you to becoming a champion. If you have power without integrity, you get mad when you strikeout. But when you play with power and integrity, striking out becomes a lesson. Why did you strike out? What pitch did she throw? What did you do? What did you not do? But, most importantly, what are you going to do to get back in integrity?
People say that softball is a game of managing failure. I agree, I’ve been failing since I was born (you have too). How we handle failure and prepare to succeed next time is all about our mindset. You can’t not fail, but you can learn from failure and prepare to succeed.
Play like Pi means to play with both power and integrity. You need both to succeed.
workout like Pi
- Talent is nothing without work ethic
- Take action (even if you don’t feel it)
- Every day matters
- Turn adversity into strength
- Redefine success
- Never settle
- Insane confidence
Legends always go above and beyond. Talent, after all, will only get you so far; but when you apply it with an incredible work ethic, there’s no limit.
Be intense, seek feedback, stay open to learn, build trust, work with your teammates and appreciate criticism. It all makes you better!