The mental game of baseball is always a great topic – because it is important, clearly has value, and players perform better the more time they spend on their mental game. One of my favorite reads is Justin Dedman’s “Hitting Mental” blog – he has great content for players looking to better themselves at the plate.
Says Dedman “Wooden nailed it when it comes to hitting, too. Whether you are a college, high school or travel ball coach, or a hitter working on his craft during the summer or winter months, you better have a plan.”
Dedman talks about how his team plans for the fall – they plan in segments.
“Over the course of a fall season, we have a skill work segment, team practice segment, and then more skill work. Our first set of skill work is three weeks, with one hour each week to work with a hitter, divided into two, thirty-minute sessions. Without a distinct focus and direction, we couldn’t optimize the time allotted to help our hitters improve.”
They then begin video work of their mechanics, although there is very little talk of mechanics in the first three weeks. Their plan is to develop rhythm, tempo and timing (their approaches) first. Justin believes that when a hitter implements these things first, there are fewer mechanical adjustments needed.
“Our plan also includes side work (next to the main BP cage) of exit velocity testing, forearm/grip strength development, mental game training, breathing techniques and mirror work. In the cages, during those two weeks, hitters throw to each other, work tee drills, overload and underload train, front toss, do mirror work and hit mini wiffle balls with a taped broom handle.”
Secondly, Justin shares his “Mental Workout” – a pre-game process that will help players focus on the tasks at hand:
1.) Centering breath: Breathe in for six seconds, hold for two, breathe out for seven.
2.) Identity statement. Say a preconceived personal mantra to yourself that reflects your strength and desire for success.
3.) Personal Highlight reel: Spend 30 seconds visualizing three “done-wells” from the previous 24 hours, and then spend another 30 seconds visualizing three things you want to do well in the upcoming 24 hours.
4.) Repeat your identity statement (same as Step 2)
5.) Centering breath: Take another centering breath to prepare yourself for the upcoming performance. Again, breathe in for six seconds, hold for two, breathe out for seven.
If all hitters would take the time to see themselves doing great things – and breathing effectively to slow things down, I guarantee their success rate will go up!