We prepare our bodies physically to play and perform at our best. But what about preparing our minds? Take a look at these simple strategies to help boost your performance on the field!
By Alex Kelly
1. Be Positive
Sounds simple right? We have all heard it from a coach or a friend, “Hey don’t get down on yourself, stay positive, you can do this.” But what happens when you fail, when you do not come through in the clutch, or when you just cannot seem to get out of the slump you are in? Where does your mind go?
This happens a lot in sports and specifically in baseball and softball. Hitting a baseball is arguably one of the hardest things to do in sports. It is a game of failure. The best hitters in the world are failing 7 out of 10 times. Name another profession where if you fail 70% of the time you are considered good!
Knowing this, why do we as players get bent out of shape when things do not go our way? The main reason – TRYING TO BE PERFECT. Guess what, that’s not going to happen in baseball, so why think that way. A wise coach once showed me a better way to think. Instead of trying to be perfect, set obtainable goals for yourself.
For example: When most young hitters are asked, what is your goal when you go up to the plate to hit? They usually reply with “get a hit.” Well can you control “getting a hit?” NO. You can crush a ball, do everything right, and it is right at the defender for an out. To that standard you did not obtain your goal, you failed. Then you get upset because you got out, even though you did everything right. What kind of logic is that? Instead, set an obtainable goal for yourself – like hit the ball hard, and have a quality at-bat.
2. Stay Aggressive
Far too often players are not as aggressive as they should be for one main reason. They are afraid to fail. Like we talked about, failure is a part of the game, it is going to happen. That does not mean we accept failure and become complacent. Rather, we should view it as an opportunity for success next time.
Developing a short term memory is a huge asset for a ball player. Learn how to let things go, and look on to the next pitch. We can train our minds how to think and how to make mental adjustments.
WHO THINKS YOUR OWN THOUGHTS? You do, and only you! This is powerful! You have control and choose to think aggressively or choose to be timid. Good things happen when you don’t hold back. I tell a lot of young players you have to turn your “attack mode” on – like a light switch on your chest. Turn it up, get aggressive and get after it. Don’t wait for something good to happen – go make it happen!
3. Visualize Success
This is extremely important and it goes hand in hand with having a positive mindset. Lets say you have a game the next day. What are you doing mentally to prepare? Here is a suggestion. Take 5 – 10 minutes by yourself and get into a relaxed state of mind. Find some peace and quiet or listen to some music that puts you in a great mood. Once you are there, close your eyes and picture yourself playing in the upcoming game. Who are you playing against? Where is the game? What uniforms are you wearing? Who is pitching? Visualize as much as you can and get detailed with it. Set the scene so to speak.
If you only do one thing do this – VISUALIZE YOURSELF HAVING SUCCESS! Whether you are a pitcher or a hitter, go through your at bats mentally, and see yourself coming through in the clutch. The mind is a powerful thing. Doing this simple technique can actually boost your confidence on the field the next day! How? Because you have already seen yourself come through and be successful, like you already did it. It can be an amazing feeling, and really help you relax and trust yourself.
Hopefully there is something from this you can start applying right away and see if it makes a difference for you. Remember – do not try to be perfect! Set obtainable goals and make an effort to stay positive no matter the situation.
WHO THINKS YOUR THOUGHTS? Take control of HOW you are thinking and stay aggressive. It will pay off for you.
Visualize yourself having success! Develop winning thoughts and results will follow. These are some simple techniques that can make a huge impact in how you play. Get your mind right, and go dominate!