Here’s a little story about my weekend that reflects how important it is to be mentally tough and always find a way to clear your head after a failure.
So it had been a while since I had a chance to start at first and even longer since I had a chance to pitch. This story revolves around hitting and fielding but I think it definitely has it’s place in a pitching forum since this applies in all aspects of baseball.
Anyways my father made the 4 hour trip from home to come watch us play so I got the chance to start at 1st and play in front of my dad and baby sister.
My first at bat I hit the ball very weakly but just got it over the head of the shortstop for a base hit to load the bases. I got upset over not hitting the ball solidly.
The second at bat I let my anger get to me and swung out of my shoes twice only to whiff. Then after the count had gone full. I got so caught up in not striking out that I was thinking “Don’t strike out, just use your hands, just fight it off.”. My fear of striking out resulted in striking out, and in embarrassing fashion too. The ball hit the glove by the time I swung, it was the worst swing, worst timing and all around worst at bat of my life. I was so embarrassed, my dad and sister were there, my friends from the dorms were there and some of my pals from back home that go to school here were there, along with a lot of other people. I went back in the dugout and the next guy got out.
I went out in the field and during ground balls in between innings I dropped some easy throws and missed some scoops because I was so caught up with the K. Luckily nothing was hit my way that inning because I probably would have screwed up.
My coach, some of the other players were trying to settle down. When I was in legion I probably would have kept that mentality and ended up having an awful game and blowing it for my team. I realized I needed to clear my mind. So I went into the clubhouse by myself and sat down and did some of my meditation techniques that I was taught back when I was going to therapy for depression and anxiety. I obviously didn’t have much time to do so but just realizing I needed to relax and clear my mind helped. I got into a more relaxed state of mind and before I knew it it was my turn to hit again.
There was a runner on third and two outs so we needed a base hit to score the run. Count went 1-1, then I saw my pitch and just drilled it to the gap, unfortunately it got cut off so I only got a single out of it but the run scored. My next time up I walked.
Next day was a doubleheader, I got the opportunity to play in another game with my dad and sister there. After having learned my lesson about being calm at the plate I went 2 for 3 again with 2 RBIs and a run scored.
But I hadn’t learned my lesson in the field yet. One inning I just struggled in the field. First I get a bad throw in the dirt and in all fairness even though I didn’t scoop it I chested it and kept it there. But I let it get to me again. Next ball that is put in play there is a play at the plate, I had to take the cut from the right fielder and the ball came out awkward and we didn’t get him because of my poor throw. I got even more flustered since I had just cost us a run (which proved meaningless in the end, we won by 10). The next ball is a ground ball up the line I was so nervous that I came up on the ball way to fast and it got by me, luckily nobody scored that inning.
I went back in the dugout and having remembered what had happened last night and sure enough repeated the process. The rest of the game I made a backhanded dig at first, had to make a play coming off the bag and sweeping the tag and scooped a few bad pickoff throws.
I went to warm up to pitch but we scored the 10 for the mercy rule so I didn’t get to throw but with a clear mind, the bullpen catcher and the other guy watching me throw said that was the hardest and dirtiest they had seen my stuff all year.
I know most of this isn’t relating to a pitching situation but this is applicable in all areas of the game of baseball.
TL;DR : Keep a clear head, it will allow your muscle memory to take over physically and your baseball instinct to take over mentally. It will prevent you from over-thinking and making yourself nervous and it will keep you from having your emotions take over instead of logic. Find a way to relax yourself before and during games.