Baseball Instruction – A Mental Approach

Baseball Instruction – Is It Just Your Imagination?

These are some very good tips about how to mentally prepare yourself to play baseball or golf for that matter.  The true test of any athlete is to control your mind when the game is on the line.

Have you even been up to bat or on the mound and wanted to hide? Just maybe crawl under the plate, or peel back the pitching rubber and slip underneath for a bit and let someone else deal with the situation?

I’m laughing while I’m writing this because I can’t tell you how many times those thoughts had occurred to me while playing through college and professionally. But, for every one of those quick moments of despair, confusion, uncertainty, or dread, I’ve had dozens of high quality confident thoughts. And that is the key. The ratio of high quality to low quality thoughts needs to be significantly greater.

So, if you are working with an athlete (or 13 of them) who struggles with confidence on the field, take some of these words to heart and reach out and include these ideas in your baseball instruction.

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An athlete can only have two different kinds of thoughts while playing the game, high quality and low quality. Here are the definitions of each.

High quality thoughts: These are positive forward thinking thoughts that are meant to build the confidence of the athlete. High quality thoughts remain in the present tense (while in a performance) and help an athlete rise to a challenge. For example, "I will hit (present tense) this pitcher for a double in the gap", or "There is no chance this batter hits me now (present tense)".

Low quality thoughts: These thoughts are negative in nature and do nothing to help an athlete succeed. The more the player is struggling, the more prevalent low quality thoughts are. Low quality thinking lives in the past or the future tense. They are disease ridden and can affect a performance tremendously. Examples include, "I hope I don’t strike out (future tense)", or "I really can’t believe I walked that guy (past tense)."

Now that you have an awareness of the two types of thinking in an athletes’ mind, the question is how to add it into your baseball instruction.

Try these couple suggestions during practice (or games).

1. Prevent your athletes (or your son if you’re a parent) from speaking anything negative about his game. Negative talk can be directed towards oneself, others, the game, the length of practice, conditioning, or a myriad of any other situations or things. Preventing this type of low quality conversation will reduce the amount of time the mind will choose to access negativity in uncomfortable situations.

2. Use focus points. I’ve written more in depth on this in other pieces, but the short of it is when the mind is fully focused on any given thing, there is no ability for any other thought to pass through the mind. Therefore, train hitters or pitchers to focus their attention onto a part of the plate or a piece of the glove (for pitchers) just before they retrain the focus back to the pitcher, or hitter. This brief moment of 100% focus will dismiss any poor thinking occurring within the athlete. Focus will then be retrained back on the task at hand without low quality thinking.

A final recommendation for you is don’t give up on this technique if it’s strange or uncomfortable at first, it takes practice. Combining a deep breath during the focus point will also have a calming effect.

Good luck, keep reading on this subject, and you’ll be able to help grow mental giants that will dominate this lesser taught part of the game.

By: Nate Barnett

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Nate Barnett is owner of Your Sport Guru, a sports information website designed to improve your sport. 

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