I’ve mentioned this 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 on how to handle pressure and 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 pressure – and how to best handle it.
I highly recommend that all players and parents read through this –as it doesn’t matter if you are a position player or a pitcher. The same techniques apply for both!
Here’s the entirety of Dr. Cohn’s piece:
Pressure is to baseball as gas is to a car. Without gas, a car won’t go.
Problems arise when pressure becomes uncomfortable and overwhelming. Too much pressure causes you feel anxious and tight.
Conversely, not enough pressure makes you feel sluggish and not “up for the game.” When you have just the right amount of pressure, you feel excited and ready to go.
For example, Tony G. is a Division I collegiate outfielder…
Tony was having trouble at the plate during the middle of the season and was hitting well-below his average. H was anxious as he stepped to the plate thinking, “I gotta get a hit and have to break out of this slump.”
Tony started pressing at the plate, so his coach decided to have a talk with him and he admitted he felt a lot of pressure to up his production.
The coach talked about pressure in positive terms.
The coach told Tony that there is an optimal range of pressure that is helpful for performance and it is a matter of just finding that personal optimal range. The coach helped him settle down at the plate and, soon enough, Tony found his swing again.
There is an optimal range that helps you perform at your peak and all players can learn how to move into that optimal range of pressure.
Well, pressure is something we do to ourselves. If you can put too much pressure on yourself, then you also have the ability to lessen the pressure you put on yourself. Managing pressure is similar to a thermostat that regulates temperature. Each person has a range where the temperature of a room feels comfortable.
If a room is too cold or too hot, you can adjust the thermostat accordingly. Similarly, you have the ability to increase or decrease the amount of pressure in competitive situations.
There may be no greater pressure for some players than playing for the New York Yankees….
Yankees outfielder and newcomer, Giancarlo Stanton, may be experiencing above average levels of pressure early this season. Stanton, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, was the centerpiece in a blockbuster trade with the Florida Marlins during the off-season.
In 21 games, Stanton has a .224 batting average, well below his .281 average last season. In his first 66 at-bats with the Yankees, Stanton struck out 29 times.
It is not easy playing at Yankee Stadium and to add to the pressure, Stanton has received a steady dose of boos and has a strategy to minimize the pressure by focusing on the positive aspects of his game and the things he can control.
Stanton stays focused on his performance, such as:
–Working the count
–Feeling comfortable in the batter’s box
–Trusting his swing
–His play in the field
How much added pressure helps you focus and perform well? And when you do you feel overwhelmed by pressure to the point you can’t perform freely.
A Tip for Staying on Top of Pressure Rather than Under Pressure
In order to manage pressure, you want to note a few things:
- Too much pressure is common for many baseball players.
- Pressure is something you do to yourself.
- Some pressure is needed to play your best.
- You have the ability to manage pressure.
- Preparing your mind to deal with added pressure helps you.
Dr. Cohn has put together a free online e-book that can be found here: http://www.peaksports.com/baseball-softball-confidence-report/
If you are a player, or parent of a player, I’d recommend that you download it and get to know the contents!