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Category: Baseball (Page 1 of 14)

How To Mentally Recover In The Middle Of A Game

man with white t shirt running to baseball home

As I’ve mentioned previously, one of my favorite athletic mental coaches is Dr. Patrick Cohn of Peak Sports Performance. Dr. Cohn is a sports psychologist out of Orlando Florida.

He’s always teaching on mental toughness – as well as the techniques athletes can use to grasp it.

What improves a baseball player’s ability to turn his performance around in the middle of a game?  This is the topic that Dr. Cohn addresses in this article.

Some excerpts…

Memories

Multiple mental factors affect an athlete’s ability to turn around a game, such as perspective, emotions, focus, and thoughts…

One mental factor often overlooked is the role of memories. Memories can be your friend or foe and shape how you respond in the middle of a game.

Memories flow in and out of your mind throughout a game. Sometimes, you are aware of those memories, while other times, those memories are just below our conscious awareness.

old phots in a brown box

The memories we grab on set into motion a series of mental and physical reactions that affect how you perform during a game.

A Real World Example

Let’s set the stage… Your team is down two runs in the ninth inning. Earlier in the game, you were fooled on several off-speed pitches and struck out twice. Now you are at the plate with the game on the line, bases loaded, and two outs.

At this point, thoughts and images fill your head. Memories of striking out preoccupy your mind. You remember how embarrassed you were chasing balls out of the strike zone. 

You are afraid of “failing” again. You think, “I’m going to be the reason we lose.” You feel so much pressure that you are a bundle of nerves at the plate. You have difficulty getting a good read on the ball and can’t focus on the pitch.

man sitting on bench near track field while sun is setting

This is a similar experience of a player who responded to our Softball and Baseball Mental Toughness Survey:

“How can I continue to stay focused after a bad at-bat or several errors that could cause my team to lose? I feel I am unable to keep composure and confidence in these situations.”

Do you see how memories affect confidence and composure? You are thinking about striking out. You remember past errors. If you grab onto different memories, you will perform better.

How about thinking about the time you made the clutch hit in a game and drove in a couple of runs? Or the game you bounced back after an error to make a tremendous play on the field.

For More

I’d invite you to read the entire piece here…

Four Mental Training Tips for Baseball Players

I’m linking to a fantastic article from Dan Blewett’s blog over at Elite Baseball Performance entitled “Four Mental Training Tips for Baseball Players”.

The mental game in baseball is often overlooked and definitely under trained. Here are four tips that will assist the player improve on-field performance and handle pressure situations.

Blewett is a former pro pitcher, baseball academy owner and author of two baseball books. A professional pitcher of six seasons, Dan specializes in pitching and strength and conditioning for baseball and softball players.

You can find the entire article here… and I highly suggest that you check it out! Below are excerpts from his post:

Start a Simple Meditation Practice

The word meditation sounds weird and scary, right? Many players think that only monks, hippies or yoga enthusiasts take time out of their days to meditate. But meditation doesn’t have to be a big scary thing. Rather, athletes should just think of it as quiet time to sit, reflect, and let their minds get a break from everyday life.

Here’s how easy a meditation practice can be:

Step 1: Find a quiet place where you can sit where you won’t feel self-conscious or nervous. A place out of the public eye is ideal.

Step 2: Find a comfortable cushion to sit on or lay flat on your back. Propping up the back by sitting against a wall can be good, but I don’t lay down in a bed or another place where falling asleep is likely.

man wearing black cap with eyes closed under cloudy sky

Step 3: Set a timer for 10, 15 or 20 minutes. Start shorter—10 minutes is a good starting place where you can get your feet wet.

Step 4: Sit still, relax, close your eyes, and let your mind wander wherever it wants to go.

Step 5: Breathe in and out through the belly—pushing it out and in—and consider counting each breath. Counting belly breaths helps keep your mind present, where you’ll feel less distracted by things from the past and future that you’re concerned about

That’s it! Keeping it simple will help you get started, and the quiet meditation time will help reduce the anxiety and stress we athletes feel in pressure situations on the mound or at the plate.

Visualize Yourself Succeeding

crop woman holding trial frame against white background

Visualizing success is an important part of an athlete’s mental skills routine. If we don’t deeply believe that we can accomplish goals, become who we dream of, or execute on a very specific task…we never will. The self-fulfilling prophecy is a concept in which when we believe something will happen, it becomes more likely to actually happen. Thus, if we believe we’re destined to fail or choke under pressure, we increase the likelihood that we’re correct.

Expect and visualize yourself succeeding—the positivity will carry you through hard times and tough situations. Visualize the good swing you’ll put on the ball, the flight of the pitch you’re about to make and yourself competing in the Major Leagues in front of thousands of fans. If you do that, it becomes more likely that it will actually happen.

Have Confidence and Create a Fight Mentality

When under pressure, it’s easy to want to pull back and be passive, hoping you can get the outcome you want. Rather, we have to get even more aggressive when we get nervous in games, reminding ourselves that we CAN do it, and that we’re going to pull through no matter what.

baseball player on field photo

As athletes, we need to truly believe we can succeed. By both imagining it and reminding ourselves that we’re capable of anything we put our minds to, we can maximize our chance at success.

A lot of times in a game, it comes down to the fight or flight dilemma: when we’re scared of giving up the game-losing hit or we’re nervous about not getting the game-winning hit as a hitter, we pull back and play the game scared. Athletes play their best when confident and aggressive – trying to take the fight to the other team, forcing them to play scared. When times get tough, show those teeth like a wolf and fight for yourself and your team.

Use Positive Comparison

Find players in the Major Leagues who you look up to, who possess similar qualities or characteristics. How would your heroes respond if placed in the situation you’re in? Would they come through and get out of a bases-loaded jam? Would they have a good at-bat when the team needs a big hit? Would they feel nervous or afraid?

baseball player on field photo

Find a player or players who share similar qualities and ask yourself if he wouldn’t be afraid, why should I? If so-and-so would confidently walk to the plate with the game on the line and have a great at-bat, why can’t I? If he could beat this team, I can too because I’m a lot like him.

Use positive comparison as a tool to remind yourself of the special skills you do have, that you might forget when you’re nervous or lacking confidence.

In Conclusion

Nothing happens overnight, so get started today with building new, positive mental habits. Mental skills training is very overlooked despite the fact that most players will report that they feel themselves struggle with doubt, anxiety and low confidence on the field. Make a change today and start seeing how good you could be if you played with confidence and a clear mind every single day on the diamond.

Next Level Athletic Performance – Dr. Patrick Cohn

bench hands field park

As you probably know, one of my favorite athletic mental coaches is Dr. Patrick Cohn of Peak Sports Performance. Dr. Cohn is a sports psychologist out of Orlando Florida.

He’s always preaching about mental toughness – as well as the techniques athletes can use to grasp it.

He sent out an e-mail blast recently that I’ve posted below regarding achieving next-level performance…

How do you go from good to great as a ballplayer? Many players “want” to be better, but their “want” doesn’t lead to action.

person holding baseball bat

You could have the best coach in the world, surrounded by talented teammates, work out with the latest equipment, and dream big dreams, but mere desire never yields positive results alone.

You, of course, need some level of ability. Desire is also important; you need to be passionate about lifting your game. However, raising your game requires instruction, direction, action, and evaluation.

Unfortunately, many players stop at the “desire” stage. Words without actions keep you stuck in a rut.

The 6 Stages of Next Level Performance

1. Passion – When you are passionate about becoming a better pitcher, making a college team, breaking into the starting lineup, or raising your batting average, you can stay motivated to see yourself through the ups and downs.

2. Goal – Passion is desire. However, a goal is a target, something specific you want to achieve. When your goal is clear and specific, you can determine if your plan or actions are on track for achieving your objective.

two female in baseball gears in stadium ready to catch and swing baseball

3. Instruction – You should have someone knowledgeable you can rely on for teaching, coaching, or advising you, such as a coach, elite player, or mental game coach.

4. Direction – You need a plan, plain and simple. A plan is a roadmap that directs you towards your goal.

5. Action – You must act on your plan, not just once in a while or when you feel like working. You must put into action your plan each day.

6. Evaluation – This step is often neglected. Some players give up before evaluating or adjusting their plans when necessary. When you objectively assess your progress, you are more apt to push through the struggle during the season.

When you put into play these six steps, you will accomplish more as an athlete.

You can find out more about Dr. Cohn here – and his blog is here.  I’d encourage you to visit his site and read more!

A Must Read for Pitchers – The ABC’s of Pitching

Harvey Dorfman’s book – The Mental ABCs of Pitching: A Handbook for Performance Enhancement – is a “must read” for pitchers. It’s simply a classic.

My friend Jordan Zimmerman (ZB Velocity) turned me on to Dorfman’s book, as he said it helped him become a mentally strong pitcher and was crucial to his success as a professional pitcher.

Zimmerman still uses it today in his teaching…he told me he keeps going back to his highlighted and dog-eared copy.

Here’s the Amazon link, and I highly recommend that pitchers pick up a copy!

Harvey Dorfman – a Brief Biography

Dorfman was best known as an mental skills/sports psychology coach who worked in education and psychology as a teacher, counselor, coach, and consultant. Prior to starting a business as a mental skills coach. he also wrote for a local paper, taught English, and coached basketball at Burr and Burton Academy in Vermont.

He earned World Series Championship rings by serving as a mental skills coach for the 1989 Oakland A’s and the 1997 Florida Marlins. In 1999, Dorfman became a full-time consultant teaching the skills of sport psychology and staff development for the Scott Boras Corporation, an agency that represents professional baseball players.

Through his books and his teaching experience, he helped thousands of people get more of what they wanted from life through his tough love and clear insight. Some baseball greats give him credit for their success in life as well as in baseball.

Editorial Reviews

When Harvey left our organization to go work for Florida, we didn’t even try to replace him because, quite frankly, his legacy was already throughout our system. All of the players and coaches and staff he touched over the years… had become imbued with his philosophy and approach to the game. They have become Harvey’s disciples.

-SANDY ANDERSON, former President and General Manager, Oakland Athletics, former Executive Vice President, Office of Major League Baseball, currently General Manager, New York Mets.

When you talk to Harv, you get the truth from him, whether you like it or not. He always says, ‘I don’t care about your feelings. I care about your actions.’

-TIM BELCHER, former Major League Pitcher and Pitching Coach.

He’s truly amazing. It’s clear most people don’t want to hear the truth about themselves, but Harv gets in your face, uses a few choice words to get your attention, and he’s got you.

-AL LEITER, former Major League Pitcher, currently Studio Analyst and Commentator.

Harv is absolutely unique. He’s for real – a straight shooter. He gives it to you right on the line, whether you like it or not. Not many people can – or will – do that.

-WALT WEISS, former Major League All-Star Shortstop, currently manager of the Colorado Rockies.

Athlete Parenting Tips: Maintain a Strong Relationship With Your Child

I’m linking today to an article by Jack Perconte that’s designed specifically for parents of athletes. 

It’s absolutely true that parents have the best intentions for their kids. They look for ways to help their young ones reach their full potential with what they believe to be solid advice for their athletes.

However, without realizing it, parents can sometimes use words and actions that hinder their child’s development.

Jack Perconte

After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and has offered valuable coaching training. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.

The Article

Here’s the link to Jack’s article – and for parents of athletes, I highly recommend that you read the entire piece.

A few key takeaways…

Ensure the physical and emotional health of the child is a top priority

  • Realize that sports are only games and one aspect of many aspects of a child’s life, and not the most important one
  • Always remember that it is the player’s, not the parents’ career
  • After a tough game, say, “Hang in there, we’ll figure it out.” We is a powerful word that will let your child know you are there to help, and they do not have to figure out the lack of success on their own.
  • Always point out little signs of improvement, even if it is not showing up in game results.

More Athlete parenting tips

  • Give the player a little time to sulk after the game, but do not allow throwing things, swearing or negative comments about themselves or others. Most players will come around after a short time and a good meal. Try to get the player’s mind off his or her performance as soon as possible, and only return to it later if the player brings it up.
  • Tell the player you believe in them, and they should believe in themselves. Stay positive with the player and have patience. However, do not overdo the praise. They will recognize false praise and tune it out or get upset.
  • Watch for exhausted players. Players who play too many games in a day or week become physically and emotionally drained. Overdoing it is more common these days because of the greater emphasis on travel teams. Give the players a few days away from the game to rest and clear their minds.

In Conclusion

There’s so much more in Jack’s article, so please do read it in it’s entirety.

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