We all have been there at one time or another – when you are playing with confidence and playing “free”, even when you are exhausted. The game seems slower, in a good way – you see the seams on the ball more clearly and it doesn’t seem to be moving as fast. You can’t wait for your next at-bat or the ball to be hit to you or to throw that next pitch. Really, it’s all about mental preparation and being ready in that particular moment.
“My ability to fully focus on what I had to do on a daily basis was what made me the successful player I was. Sure I had some natural ability, but that only gets you so far. I think I learned how to focus; it wasn’t something that I was necessarily born with.”
How do you get there?
I’d highly recommend that you first check out this video/interview with Evan Longoria about how he made the decision to really work on his mental preparation. Click on the image below to play:
As Tom Hanson and Ken Ravissa write, “working on the mental game is not a substitute for hard physical work. Regardless of how good your mental game is, if you are not putting in the effort on your physical body….you will not find out how good you can be.” Hanson and Ravissa have co-written Heads-Up Baseball: Playing the Game One Pitch at a Time.
I’d invite you to take a look at their book, here:
It’s the mental side of the game that makes the difference in getting to that “zone”. Most athletes leave their thinking to chance. If they are playing well, they are easy going and loose – but when things are not going well for them, they can’t get out of their own way.
I’m a big fan of both authors – and I hope you become one, too. I love the fact that these guys want players to embrace being uncomfortable in practice – so that they will be better prepared when the game is on the line. They encourage players to have a mental plan of letting the uncontrollables go and moving on to the next pitch or play.
I’d also highly recommend that you take a look at a variety of other “mental coaches” and read what they have to say. Here’s a list to start:
- Dr. Patrick Cohn and his site, Peak Sports
- Steve Springer and his site, Quality At-Bats
- Dr. Jim Afremow and his site, Gold Medal Mind
- Dr. Tom Hanson’s Book, Play Big
If you are a parent, take the time to sit down with your player and watch the Longoria video. And make sure to check out the links listed above. Take heart – you never know when your physical tools will catch up to your mental side to take you to that next level!