“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra
As everyone knows, baseball is a game of failure – a game where if you fail 70% of the time, you can make a ton of money doing it. As a young player, you work hard and put in long hours fine-tuning your mechanics, getting stronger and faster, and learning the game. But that’s only half the battle. What about the 90% of it that’s mental – how much work do you put in training your mind?
That’s where sport psychology comes in. Another way to look at sport psychology is to see it in terms of “mental strength”, “mental toughness”, or “mental conditioning.” The higher the level you achieve, the smaller the difference in your competition’s technical skills, tactical knowledge, and physical ability. The biggest difference comes in ability to focus, coping strategies to deal with pressure and failure, and overall confidence.
So, what does this have to do with the recruiting process?
I frequently work with athletes who are stressed by the process: more people watching you play, more pressure to perform, and bigger downside if you don’t. Thoughts like these may become distractions, taking focus away from just performing up to your ability:
-”What if I mess up in front of this coach?”
-”I HAVE to play perfectly.”
-”Don’t make a mistake, don’t strike out.”
Athletes tend to overthink these things because they think it logically makes sense. But it only makes sense if you are playing for a coach who thinks they are scouting players who bat 1000 and never make an error.
The reality is, I don’t know any coaches who think that way. Coaches aren’t looking for perfection, because they know that’s impossible. They are looking for character, attitude, effort, how you treat your teammates, and coachability. In short, they are looking at how you handle the 70+% failure at least as much as they are looking for the 30% success. Maybe more so.
So how can you be mentally tough and keep the right mindset? Here are a few way:
– Set goals for success, but also set them for failure. Set attitude and effort goals.
– Show positive body language and verbal communication skills at all times.
– Focus more on the process than the result. Focus on the present moment!
These are all things that you have control over. When athletes focus on what they can control, they do not guarantee success, but they do give themselves the best chance to succeed. In other words, when you do things the right way, step by step, it usually leads to the right result.
Most coaches can see players who are doing things the right way.
Brian Baxter, MA Sport Psychology, is the Director at SPINw in Portland, OR. He works with athletes, coaches and parents to help build focus and maintain confidence to ensure more consistent performance. Brian’s book, the Sports Mindset Gameplan, is available on amazon.
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