The mental side of the game is talked about often. I think it is an important aspect that can separate players that have equal playing ability. In this post I will discuss 4 ways that I believe will help improve your mental skills, which in return will improve your game.
Putting yourself or your players in competitive situations often will carry over into games. Often times in practice and in training, the environment is too relaxed and makes the players feel too comfortable. The second they are put into a game situation or a high-pressure situation they fold because they are not familiar with it. Makes fielding ground balls, throwing, hitting BP, bullpens, base running, and everything else you do in practice competitive with something on the line. There is always something on the line in a game, so why not train the same way?
Visualization is a great tool that not enough players take advantage of. As a player I used to visualize the night before a start what I wanted my outing to look like. I would literally go pitch by pitch and see myself on the mound facing hitters. During the actual game I would visualize what I wanted the pitch to do before I threw it. It’s amazing how much better I executed my pitches when I saw myself doing it in my head prior to the pitch. Visualization takes FOCUS. Make it a habit and watch your game improve.
Whether you are hitting, pitching, or fielding you should always have a pre-pitch routine to bring your focus to the pitch that is about to be thrown. Breathing plays a big role in pre-pitch routines. As Alan Jaeger always says, the best way to stay in the present moment is to bring your focus to the breath because it is always happening NOW. Develop a simple pre-pitch routine that helps you focus on the next pitch and gives you confidence.
Make Yourself Uncomfortable
Do something everyday that makes you feel uncomfortable. Doing things you don’t want to do requires a lot of mental strength. It doesn’t even have to be related to baseball to work on your mental skills. Maybe it’s preparing ahead of time for a test or waking up earlier so you have time to get your workout in. Maybe as a coach it means you stay up later than normal analyzing data, or even just collecting data on your players. Make it a habit to do things you don’t want to do everyday.
There are various ways to improve your mental skills. These are just a few ideas to get you on track. It is worth noting that just being mental strong doesn’t make you a good baseball player. Improve your game by getting in the weight room, hitting extra, being consistent with your throwing etc. Mental skills are another tool in the toolbox to maximize yourself as a player or coach. Take advantage of every opportunity to get better.