Mental game 101

Through my time in baseball, I never took in the account of how effective the mental game truly is. In high school, a lot of my mistakes and poor outings were due to a weak mind. When people approached me to tell me it was in my head, I was ignorant. I felt that in order to be successful, you have to be physically and skillfully top notch. Sure, it takes those things, but like the saying goes, it is a tri-pod, one leg kicks out, the whole thing does not work. Mental skills are essential to this game.
My first year at the D1 level, I was a little intimidated by the 3rd and 4th year guys. Sure I was as big and was almost there skillfully, but I had SO much to learn. The mental game consists of not only knowing your surroundings, situations, and plays given, but staying inside of yourself and control what can be controlled.
I would let the small stuff get to me. A small comment like, “Don’t let this guy go” would throw me off and then I would be worried about walking him, so of course, I walked him. Playing with fear must be avoided at all costs, it can lead to mental break downs where the emotions come out, or mentally, you give up.
We all think we are doing well sometimes, but we lie to ourselves and that is not good. We must KNOW we are good, and when we are not, our minds must be conditioned to recognize when we aren’t. So many times we let things out of our control bring us down. A routine play by the short stop led to an error. Oh well, it happened, what could you do about it, nothing. What we have to do is find our focal point or some form of release, and get ready to make a good pitch to the next batter.
Confidence is key to compete. Knowing you are going to throw this strike, knowing you will make that play, and knowing you are in control of yourself, no one else is in control of you. Your coach cannot make you throw a strike, only you can.
Fall season is a great time to mentally prepare yourself. Sure we all know fall can be hard with the numerous repetition, the hard conditioning, and heavy lifting, but what can it do for you mentally? I take it as a tool, harness it, and allow it to make me stronger. I am the guy who is there first and leaves last, so when I go home, I can evaluate myself, knowing that if I am mentally strong enough to handle this physical pressure, I should be able to handle game pressure. When I am stuck with runners on the corners and we have a play on in the bottom of the ninth, I will execute it right.
Practice is what can essentially make everyone better, so do not go through the motions. Practice at game speed all the time, so game situations can come easy. If you do, it means you lack the discipline you need, and believe me, where you are now is probably nothing compared to the next level, so work hard and get used to it. The coach watches everything, and when he isn’t, the assistant coach is, and he is the eyes and ears of the head coach. So work hard all the time.
Since I have been playing CC ball at my coach, has taught me more to the game than I have ever known all the years I have been playing. It is amazing to see what kind of success I can have by applying confidence, working hard on my own time, reviewing and knowing the plays even when I am not the one out there pitching. What do I mean by this? I mean, when your teammate is out there pitching and a bunt play or first and third play is on, pay attention and run the play through your mind, so actually when you go out there, it is like you have had this play with more reps than anyone else.
So do not take for granted advice, mentally or physically, but mentally for certain because the mind is so powerful and influential. Your success and how you stand out from others will be determined by asking youself, “Am I mentally stronger?” Believe me, it shows. It has made me better and I just started applying it this fall. My game one year ago to now is night and day. Everyday, for an hour or two, our coach would teach it to us and makes sure we understand. Some did their own thing, but I took it in and it has changed my whole approach to the game.

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That’s a great post, bigbear. Thnks for sharing your experience and insights.

Tom House and the NPA would disagree with you on one point. Instead of there being 3 legs to your pitching tripod, they would tell you the 4th leg is nutrition. Statistics have shown that pitchers to recover faster such that they can pitch more frequently (although still within proper limitations) generally have more success over the long haul. What do you think fuels recovery? :wink:

Great point! A big part of confidence comes from knowing you have prepared yourself the best you can.

I completely agree, nutrition or to speak more generally, “how you treat yourself off the field” has a big impact on your game. Make sure you get good nights of sleep before game days, even two days before can be crucial. Feed the body with good fuel, this means, nutrition, rest, and proper exercise. Well put.

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I mentioned this elsewhere, in another post:
Satchel Paige once said: “You have to believe in yourself. When you believe, you do.” I don’t think anyone could have put it more succinctly.
That’s the key to the whole mental side of the game—not just pitching, but all other aspects. 8)

Tremendous post Bigun!
I believe that it should be read by all posters (So I’m going to get Steven to put it up in the Golden thread section).
Your story is compelling, best wishes for your continued growth and getting to the dance. I admire your dedication and desire.

[quote=“jdfromfla”]Tremendous post Bigun!
I believe that it should be read by all posters (So I’m going to get Steven to put it up in the Golden thread section).
Your story is compelling, best wishes for your continued growth and getting to the dance. I admire your dedication and desire.[/quote]

WOW, I truely appreciate that. Thank you.

What high school u go to? Im by delta college

some of the best reading on the mental side of baseball is by dorfman. he wrote the mental game of baseball and the mental abc’s of pitching. he is the sports psychologist for the scott boras agency so when you listen to him, you are listening to the same guy a-rod and company listens to.

check for the books used on the web. they are excellent reads. very intense. i’ve read them twice and will not let anyone borrow them. they have highlites, notes and underlines all over them.

you are right. at higher levels it is a major decider in who advances.

i agree with everything, but not playing with fear.

if you dont play with fear, you become cocky, and through cockiness you become “ignorant”

you have to take that fear, and harness it as adrenaline, and use the adrenaline to your advantage.

but overall i believe it was extremely well written.

Connor, I must disagree with you on that one point.
Somebody once defined the ideal relief pitcher as “a comic-book reader with his brains beaten out of him”. In other words, that pitcher has to be someone with no fear. He (or she) comes into the game in the ninth inning with one thing in mind: to slam the door in the other team’s face. To protect a one-run lead. There is no room for fear or uncertainty in this case. That pitcher has to know what has to be done to get those three final outs, and s/he has to do it, no ifs, ands, buts or bases on balls.
Case in point: Joe Page, who may have been the first great closer. He was a relief pitcher with the Yankees in the late 40s and early 50s, and he had one pitch—an absolutely overpowering fast ball. He was pure power on the mound; he fired the ball in there and said “Here it is; hit it if you can.” He challenged the hitters. He dared them to try and get a piece of the ball—if they could. And there was no fear or uncertainty in him.He could pitch one inning, or six and two-thirds, and he shut down the opposing team as easily as if he were eating ice cream. 8)