Coaching and teaching - many through the mortgage process and others on the field

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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.

Improving Athletic Performance Through Visualization

person holding string lights photo
Photo by David Cassolato on Pexels.com

Visualization is one of the primary techniques used in sports psychology today – and one of the most underutilized by athletes.  An athlete’s performance is often the result of what’s happening inside his or her head, or more specifically the movies and soundtracks playing inside that head!

Performance visualization is used by virtually all great athletes and research has shown that, when combined with actual practice, improves performance more than practice alone. Imagery also isn’t just a mental experience that occurs in your head, but rather impacts you in every way: psychologically, emotionally, physically, technically, and tactically.

Think of mental imagery as weight-training for the mind

Overriding Factors

There are two keys principles to keep in mind when practicing visualization. The first is, your practice needs to be consistent. 10 minutes a day every day, will always beat an intense hour long session once a week.

It helps to make a commitment to practice your visualization the same time every day.  First thing in the morning as close to waking as possible is ideal. This is because the mind is still slightly lucid at this time, which makes it easier to conjure up images.

The second key principle is you must stay positive in your thinking.  Even if you can’t quite see crystal clear images yet, you will still gain huge benefits from your visualization practice.  Trust me, it still works.  For some people that will be feeling the image, or just getting a sense of what it might look like.  Wherever your current level is, nurture it and allow it to grow.

Accept that you can’t always perform the way that you visualized

Research has also indicated that the act of envisioning a relevant muscle movement can potentially result in electrical activity in the specific muscle, despite the fact that there is the absence of the actual movement of the muscle.

That same electrical activity bears a resemblance to the electrical movement that occurs during the actual movement. In this regard, the relevant muscles are primed for the upcoming physical activity.

Also, you should visualize successful outcomes…

Success Story

Sports psychologist Patrick Cohn recently shared a story from USA volleyball players Alix Klineman and April Ross, who won the gold medal in beach volleyball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Klineman/Ross became only the second U.S. women’s duo in history to win an Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball.

When asked how she pumps up and prepares for a game, Klineman pointed to visualization as a significant component.

KLINEMAN: “I do some visualization, which has been really powerful. I visualize myself in my body, so instead of looking at myself from another perspective, I see myself on the court, going through different skills and doing them really well. It’s like this positive reinforcement of knowing what it feels like, looks like, and how to execute it at a really high level… There’s a really powerful connection between body and mind, which I think a lot of people don’t realize.”

man sitting on bench near track field while sun is setting
Photo by Martin Péchy on Pexels.com

Visualization or mental rehearsal is a powerful mental tool to raise the level of your game. When you use mental rehearsal with your physical training, you will improve consistency, you mental game, and take your game to a new level.

Per Cohn, if Olympians use visualization to achieve greater results, you can also raise your game by adding visualization to your daily training schedule.

Finally, check out this video  from one of my favorite sports psychologists, Dr. Patric Cohn.  I’m a big fan of the good doctor, as he really values and emphasizes the power of visualization in sports. Although this isn’t the most dynamic video you’ve ever seen, it’s content is extremely powerful.

Baseball Dynamic Warm-Up | Flexibility and Stretching

One of the major performance enhancers for baseball players is muscular flexibility – and I bet that’s the last thing that players work on.  Players take loads of batting practice, fielding practice, do long toss – and spend a great amount of time on strengthening on the field and in the weight room.

But what about flexibility to both improve performance and prevent injury?

Well, I’m linking to a KBands Training article that outlines a great warm-up stretching protocol that all baseball players should check out here – Baseball Dynamic Warm Up – Flexibility and Stretch

I’d invite you to check out the video, as well!

Here’s an excerpt:

“All baseball players need to warm up properly before performing high impact activities or speed and agility training. Static stretching was considered the norm in the past, but in recent years static stretching has become an addition to the everyday dynamic stretch routine.”

“Baseball players must stretch their hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, calves, trunk, glutes, IT bands, groin, and upper body. Each and every muscle throughout the body is used to maximize a baseball player’s performing potential”

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