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Category: Baseball (Page 2 of 14)

A Great Baseball Training Opportunity: Major League University

Most baseball players spend the majority of their time working on their physical skills.  But what about the mental side?

Today, I’d like to highlight Austin Byler’s Major League University – and an article that he’s written regarding “Building Mental Toughness on the Baseball Field”.

The Program – Major League University

“Major League University is a top-tier mindset and leadership training company.  Our mission is to inspire student-athletes to become the best versions of themselves by training in three major areas: mindfulness, character, and personal development.  We believe these pillars lead to sustainable success on and off the field.”

Austin Byler

MLU was founded in 2018 by Austin Byler and Kewby Meyer.  Both had just wrapped up their careers in professional baseball where the daily physical and mental struggles, as well as anxiety, were commonplace.

They realized that they could help provide athletes with a healthy foundation for success in life…and MLU was born!

Their Leadership Academy is something that I would highly recommend for players.  I know Austin personally and he is one of the most outgoing and positive guys that I’ve seen.  His goal is to serve others, build relationships, and demonstrate his deep faith to those with whom he connects.

Building Mental Toughness on the Baseball Field

Next, I highly recommend that you check out this article that Austin penned regarding his friend Ray McIntire and his college experience:

Austin highlights Ray’s grit and determination, and dives into mental toughness with definitions and actions.  There’s also a podcast with both Austin and Ray that’s totally worth the listen.

I’d highly recommend that you take a look!

Again, do check out Major League University – and pass this on to others in your baseball circle, as this is an extraordinary program.

Going Mental: Embrace Sports Psychology to Manage In-Game Stress

The psychology of baseball is fascinating, and I’ve linked to many articles over the past 6 years regarding its importance.

I’m linking to an article from Jared Wyllys of The Sporting News on how Major League players have embraced this new idea and have flourished.

You can find that article here….

All players spend plenty of time on the field working on their physical craft – hours of batting practice, fielding practice and bullpen work.  But what about practicing the mental game?  I think that’s something that’s not done enough.

I highly recommend the read for all players, as there are tons of examples of how big-league ballplayers use their mind to enhance their game.

Here are some other articles that I’ve written over the years that might come in handy:

Getting Ready: Infield Pre-Pitch Strategy

Great baseball defense demands great reflexes and quick thinking during the game…and that means having an infield pre-pitch strategy. Losing focus between pitches will lead to mental mistakes and fielding errors.

It is imperative that every fielder expects the ball to be hit to him on EVERY pitch.  Players can’t be surprised when the action is directed their way.

This is why it is extraordinarily important for an infielder to be ready for the ball at all times. A good infielder minimizes distractions by preparing himself before every pitch.

There are a few essential things players should be doing between pitches when on defense. This is called the Pre-Pitch Routine.

Here are two articles – one from USA Baseball and another from Colonial Baseball Instruction that highlight the importance of an infield pre-pitch strategy and go into great detail on having the right plan:

USA Baseball – Pre-Pitch Preparation for Infielders

Colonial Baseball Instruction – Coaching Pre-Pitch Routines

Secondly, I’m linking to a fantastic YouTube video from Elite Youth Baseball on the proper defensive pre-pitch footwork.

Defensive Pre-Pitch Footwork in Baseball

In the video, they break down and analyzing the proper pre-pitch footwork utilized by the best MLB defensive players in the game, as well as give some pointers on how to get young players to understand and incorporate this important fundamental into their game.

I’d invite all players to take a look at both of the articles and the video, as these tools are of ultra importance to development and solid defense.

Handling Slumps in Baseball

The dreaded hitting slump is something every baseball player wants to avoid. When the hits stop falling in it can bring a lot of frustration and added pressure.

As I’ve mentioned previously, one of my favorite 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 preparation – as well as the techniques athletes can use to grasp it to improve performance…and handling a slump is right in his wheelhouse.

He sent out an e-mail blast recently that I’ve posted below regarding slumps in baseball – and how to best get through them.

Peterson’s Example

Here’s a portion of his piece, with a great example from Joc Peterson, the Chicago Cubs’ outfielder:

Chicago Cubs left fielder Joc Pederson utilized a mental cue to break out of his early season slump in 2021. Pederson had one of the best pre-seasons in the Major Leagues, hitting .372, 11 extra base hits and 7 homeruns in 17 games for the Cubs.

Unfortunately, Pederson started the regular season with a bit of a slump going 0-15 at the plate in his first few games. Pederson ended his little slump by hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

After the homerun, Pederson was awarded a waffle maker in the dugout by teammate Ian Happ. After the game, Pederson explained the meaning of the waffle maker.

PEDERSON: “We haven’t really been getting too many hits as a team. So I texted him and a couple of (other teammates) last night. He said, ‘Yeah, I’m bringing the waffle maker.’ You know, going to waffle some balls. It was pretty funny.”

The mental cue of a “waffle maker” kept Pederson focused in the present on what he wanted to do, “waffle some balls,” and not on the slump itself.

Cause and Effect

What is the main cause of slumps? Per Cohn, if a player was to look back at their past slumps or performance ruts, they would probably identify the inability to focus as the primary cause of staying stuck.

Yet, when most ballplayers are in the middle of a slump, they look for a physical or mechanical solution. Many players will take additional batting practice, work with their hitting coach, change up their mechanics, and even switch bats trying to get back on track.

Cohn states: “When you ruminate and replay strikeouts, failure to move runners, missed opportunities to drive in runs, and difficulty making contact with the ball, strong negative emotions arise and battle for your attention.

When you pay attention to all the distractions during an at-bat, your body tenses up and throws off your timing.

Breaking out of a slump requires you to change your thinking or what you focus on. For example, a mental cue is a verbal or visual reminder to narrow your focus on what you want to happen”

More from Dr. Cohn

You can find more from Dr. Cohn here:

Peak Performance Sports, LLC
Mental Training for a Competitive Edge
888-742-7225

https://www.baseballmentalgame.com/
https://www.peaksports.com

9 Mental Keys for Young Pitchers

A big part of playing consistently and confidently is training not only the body, but also the mind. This is especially true for young pitchers.

Staying calm, breathing, forgetting what just happened and only focusing on what’s in front of you at that second—this is all much easier said than done.

Trust, clarity, detachment, simultaneously being calm while channeling peak intensity—these are all qualities confident, mentally tough pitchers have perfected.

I’d like to reference an article from Steven Ellis at YouthPitching.com where he elaborates on 9 key mental training “secrets” for young players.  It’s a great read and you can find it here…

Some key highlights from Ellis’ article:

Visualize Success

One coach postulates that the pitchers who simply visualized their mechanics to the plate and visualized themselves hitting the spot they’re throwing to, had an increase of 25% accuracy versus pitchers who just get their spot and throw.

Eliminate Fear

Once a pitcher accepts that fact that risk is present, he might as well start focusing on the reward and opportunities that exist:

  • The opportunity to be the hero
  • The opportunity to get the big W
  • The opportunity to take over and control a game
  • The opportunity to help the team win 

Only once a pitcher realizes this, can he throw with 100% authority……and without reservation.

Maintain a positive attitude

There will be times in your pitching career where you will have ups and downs. 

Your success over the long haul, however, will come down to attitude.

Taking at least one deep breath when nervous or in trouble helps to calm the mind and body. The extra oxygen into the bloodstream chemically relaxes or slows down the built up tension.

There’s much more in Ellis’ article, so please do visit his site and read the entire piece!

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