“Everything happens for a reason. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”
A dynamic athlete, self-characterized as a high-intensity individual, Diamyn Hall was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down after diving for a loose fumble. The injury led to the uncovering of congenital stenosis, which effectively ended his football and basketball career.
“When I look at some of the guys in NFL, and I see some of the guys I played against, I say, ‘Wow, that’s where I could be right now.'”
Baseball then became his outlet to compete at a high level, allowing his agility – Hall ran a 6.4-second 60-yard dash in college – to flourish for multiple teams, including two seasons with Grambling State University (2014-2016) and a summer with the Petersburg Generals of the Coastal Plains Collegiate League (2016). His want to differentiate during his time playing baseball spurred the desire for a deeper understanding of the mental side of baseball.
Honing his mental edge after an ACL and meniscus tear diminished his career on the diamond led Hall to Wright State University where he holds a position foreign to nearly every collegiate team in the country: full-time Mental Skills Coordinator.
“My job is to help unlock players physical potential through the mental side of the game. I put the best information that I have on the table, from my experience, through everything I’ve studied in my career and my life. Sometimes it can be as narrow as working with a player to focus on the simplified process that allows him to be successful. Other times it can be as broad as keeping yourself around the five people who are most impactful to you; five people that light your fire. It depends on the guy and the situation, and what he wants to accomplish.”
Hall’s proximity to succeeding at a high level of baseball makes him accessible for the players who credit him for their success. Even though Hall immediately gives credit back to players and their own motivation to succeed, the way Hall speaks when recounting moments where he made an impact motivates the listener to set their goals higher the previous conceived. He prides himself on giving “the best information possible, in the most digestible way possible, at the most effective times possible” and emphasizes that situations involving players are fluid, requiring a deep understanding of each player’s individuality.
“I have to know whether or not it will be productive to say something right here, right now, to this guy when I see that negative body language. One guy might want to play the game and point out what I saw after the game. Other guys are like, ‘Stay on me through the entire game.’”
Positive self-talk – the tone of your internal thoughts – is a component of positive body language that Hall emphasizes. The opposite – negative self-talk – is what results in poor body language. From Hall’s words, it’s apparent how much time he has devoted to becoming mindful and self-aware of his thoughts and how to harness them. His job now is to help others do the same.
“I watch how our guys – pitchers and hitters – handle adversity during at-bats. One of my focuses has been to develop their ability to bounce back and move on to the next pitch in the most productive way possible. For some, it’s about staying competitive and moving on to the next pitch pretty quickly. For others, it’s about getting pissed for a few seconds and then channeling that energy to their competitive advantage. People don’t understand that because they think it’s a cookie cutter thing, but it’s not, knowing that guy and knowing what works for him is important.”
HITTERS LISTEN UP: What is your perception of success in this game? CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL pic.twitter.com/DB1fEUgmDd
— Diamyn Hall (@DiamynHall) July 25, 2017
Navigate to Hall’s Twitter profile and you’ll encounter a pinned post with a brief motivational video about controlling what you can control, shared to his growing audience of 20,000-plus. He’s conscious of the innovation in baseball as well, applying his opinions about statistics – mentioned in the video above – to the larger trends in baseball.
“I think [launch angle and spin rate] are controlled through their preparation and working with somebody who does understand [launch angle and spin rate]. That is something guys can influence to an extent, as opposed to fully control. For example, as a hitter, when you’re in the box, you can’t control what your launch angle is going to be down to the degree. Essentially, all you can truly control is how relaxed you are and how well you’re seeing the baseball.
“During the season I don’t want any of our guys looking at their stats to see where they are because that adds pressure. If you’re not hitting well, it adds pressure to hit better… That leads to the hitter ‘trying’, which then creates tension. Tense muscles are slow, inefficient, inconsistent. Relaxed muscles are quick, efficient, consistent.”
His ability to consolidate complex issues into “digestible” information creates moments of silence in conversation that seem premeditated, leaving the listener with time to apply his logic to their situation, whether it be on or off the field.
“It’s about adding value to the development process and creating a positive impact. Whether it’s performance or life related.”
Many realize the perquisite trials and tribulations to become one of the few who succeed at higher professional levels. That is one of the things Hall is most cognizant of, judging his success at the end of the day by asking himself, “Did I impact these guys’ lives in a positive way?”
One of the most valuable things to teach a young adolescent is how to become a leader, on and off the field. Being level-headed is one attribute Hall quickly mentions as vital to succeeding when leading. But applying level-headedness to all situations an individual encounters feels like the cookie-cutter mentality he discourages. It’s no surprise that his interpretation of Managers being thrown out of games balances those two perspectives.
“[Getting tossed out of a game] does a lot of positive things too – that can get your dugout fired up, that can get your guys locked in even more than they were before. It’s a matter of being the most level-headed at the most important times… You have to know your guys and how they feed off of you. Your awareness has to be at an extremely high level. That’s what I think is strategic about getting tossed out of a game… If you can control your emotions you can lose them whenever you want to.”
Coming up on the one-year anniversary in his role as Mental Skills Coordinator leaves many wondering when others will follow in the creation of a similar, full-time coach of the mental game.
“Take your physical abilities and consistently use them at the highest level possible – that’s what the mental game allows you to do when you fully buy in.”
The issue for other teams will be finding a 24-year-old like Hall who possesses the unique intersection of real life experience practicing his craft and the ability to communicate what he has learned to others.
Photo via Sports Best, Diamyn Hall
Thanks to Diamyn Hall for taking the time to speak with me over the phone. The Collegiate Baseball Scouting Network and myself wish Hall and Wright State success for years to come.