Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

teaching the emotional and mental game

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • teaching the emotional and mental game

    So the more I get to understand baseball (a lifelong process truly), especially now that I'm teaching sons and doing some coaching, I'm struck by how everything hinges on a player's ability to be in a calm, alert, confident mental state even after throwing a wild pitch with the bases loaded or hitting into a double play earlier in the game. While physical skills are essential, they're useless if the player gets frustrated or down on himself.

    Last year I read with interest how the Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalammacchia had to overcome some mental issues that were hampering his throwing, to the point where he got sent down to AAA while still in Texas and was having issues returning the ball to the pitcher. He talked to a sports psychologist, Tom Hansen, and seems to making a full comeback now. I have checked Hansen's website and read one of his books, which I found interesting.

    What are your approaches to this side of the game with the kids? Or what were your experiences as a player?

    I am struck by how many successful MLB players, and pro athletes in general, who say in so many different ways the same thing--that keeping their emotions in check and calmly focussing on the present moment was absolutely key to their success--especially in high-stakes situations.

  • #2
    IMHO, you won't be able to "teach" calmness under pressure if you're not able to "model" it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by bbrages View Post
      IMHO, you won't be able to "teach" calmness under pressure if you're not able to "model" it.
      AMEN!!!!

      If it no "big deal" to you, it is easily forgotten by them. Make written notes of mistakes made in a game and work on that through the week. Not in this game and sometimes not in between doubleheaders. Don't remind them to not do such and such every next situation, you are creating a response,in my opinion, that they think of first when in same situation.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think the Winning State materials are pretty good too. I could never get my son to read the book, but they came out with an audio version now.

        http://www.winningstate.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't really think you can teach mental stuff. the game teaches it.

          of course you can give hints like "don't worry about your BA just have quality ABs and the hits will come" but you really have to learn that while playing. generally kids can't deal with failure very well. they are motivated by success.

          since baseball is a game of failure (even pujols doesn't reach base 60% of the time) you have to fail a lot of times before you get acustomed to it and just keep performing. that's baseball, slumps will come you just have to keep going.

          I think the best thing to learn that is a lot of PA (or pitches for a pitcher). if you play a lot the individual failure will mean less.
          I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

          Comment


          • #6
            The best athletes have short memories and strong sense of faith in their abilities. They put their failures behind them. The only reason to look at failure is to figure about what part of the game needs improvement. The best book is The Mental Game of Baseball by HA Dorfman. He's been a consultant for many pro and top amateur sports teams.

            Over the years I coached kids I stayed positive. They will place enough pressure on themselves. I sometimes resorted to being funny in pressure situations with younger kids so they would understand it's not life and death, just a game and relax. The game was easy for me as a player until I reached college. My college career started 0-16 with 9 K's. For a week I started doubting I belonged at that level. Once I made adjustments and started to believe I was fine.

            My son's pitching coach (placed a lot of kids in college ball) told him a pitcher loses control once he releases to the ball. So forget about the result. Always forget the last pitch whether it was a smoking strike or knocked over the fence. Focus on the next pitch and believe.

            Comment


            • #7
              The best athletes have short memories and strong sense of faith in their abilities. They put their failures behind them. The only reason to look at failure is to figure about what part of the game needs improvement. The best book is The Mental Game of Baseball by HA Dorfman. He's been a consultant for many pro and top amateur sports teams.

              Over the years I coached kids I stayed positive. They will place enough pressure on themselves. I sometimes resorted to being funny in pressure situations with younger kids so they would understand it's not life and death, just a game and relax. The game was easy for me as a player until I reached college. My college career started 0-16 with 9 K's. For a week I started doubting I belonged at that level. Once I made adjustments and started to believe I was fine.

              My son's pitching coach (placed a lot of kids in college ball) told him a pitcher loses control once he releases to the ball. So forget about the result. Always forget the last pitch whether it was a smoking strike or knocked over the fence. Focus on the next pitch and believe.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by bbrages View Post
                IMHO, you won't be able to "teach" calmness under pressure if you're not able to "model" it.
                Quote of the year, in my book.

                To restate it: It's a total waste of time to "teach" the emotional/mental side of the game unless you model it. Consistently. Even when--especially when--you're dying inside.
                Skip

                Comment


                • #9
                  Or as Yogi said, "Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical". Gotta love him....

                  Steve Springer also has some good stuff on the mental side of the game. While much of his stuff is geared a little more towards hitting, he does share some anecdotal stories of his times with several well known pro athletes, and gives some insight to their thought process as they work through the highs and lows of the game.

                  Here's a link to a thread that discusses the pros and cons to Steve's CDs and videos.....

                  Good topic though, as IMO, teaching the mental part of the game is just as important if not more so, than teaching the physical aspect.
                  In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When son played basketball, I told him that as he drove to the basket for a layup, to get more calm/focused vs. freaked out.

                    We have used this lesson in baseball. When you have runners on, just get more calm. Let everyone else freak out.
                    efastball.com - hitting and pitching fact checker

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It probably depends on the kid. With my kid I never shied away from high expectations both me of him and him of him. At the same time I managed to do it without a lot of pressure. Instead of making the expectation of success so "in your face" we've always treated it as a work in progress.

                      A play not made is not a play that cannot be made - it's a play that eventually will be made. What really allowed him to buy into this and not get too high or too low was not worrying about accomplishments relative to other players all that much.

                      I think being a bit single minded and focused long term is key. Everyone's probably heard that Michael Jordan was once cut in HS. I don't know if that's true or not, but we know why someone might tell their kid that. We simply approached it all - good times and bad with that type of mentality. I've always told him that there'd be a day when skill and physical maturity were going to intersect and it was going to be a beautiful thing.

                      That said, if you're not putting in the work it's difficult to believe in yourself. Got to believe that the only place where "Success" precedes "Work" is in the dictionary. If you've got that work ethic and you believe in it, it's not really all that difficult to visualize success. That's what keeps you going when things get tough.

                      My son loves this story. It's one that Lou Holtz used to describe what Navy needed to beat ND after losing 30 something in a row to the Irish. I wore it out when he was little........

                      When I was in HS my friends and I went to the river. We hiked downstream for hours until it was time to start our way back to the car before it got dark. Walking back we realized that if we crossed the river we'd save a lot of time and walking. So, we found a spot with some still water only about 100 feet across - an easy swim.

                      One of my friends (Tim) said quietly to me, "I can't swim very well." I told Tim he could do it. I believed in him. And I'd be right there to help if he struggled.

                      So, we all get across and Tim's still getting up the courage. Finally he goes for it. Starts out like a champ. Gets 25 feet across and still looking good. At about 50 feet you can see he's getting nervous and shaky, but he keeps those arms and feet moving. But by 75 feet he loses it. He panics and starts flailing around. Well, I did what anyone would do - stayed right where I was at and coached him from the bank.

                      Tim gets so panicked he turns himself around and swims back to the other side. He swam 150 feet because he didn't think he could swim 100.

                      I used to tell my son not to make the same mistake my friend Tim made. Don't stop believing. No matter how many times you strike out or how many balls in a row you throw - you believe the next AB or pitch that the streak is over.
                      Last edited by shake-n-bake; 03-16-2012, 01:05 PM.
                      There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by shake-n-bake View Post
                        My son loves this story. It's one that Lou Holtz used to describe what Navy needed to beat ND after losing 30 something in a row to the Irish. I wore it out when he was little........

                        When I was in HS my friends and I went to the river. We hiked downstream for hours until it was time to start our way back to the car before it got dark. Walking back we realized that if we crossed the river we'd save a lot of time and walking. So, we found a spot with some still water only about 100 feet across - an easy swim.

                        One of my friends (Tim) said quietly to me, "I can't swim very well." I told Tim he could do it. I believed in him. And I'd be right there to help if he struggled.

                        So, we all get across and Tim's still getting up the courage. Finally he goes for it. Starts out like a champ. Gets 25 feet across and still looking good. At about 50 feet you can see he's getting nervous and shaky, but he keeps those arms and feet moving. But by 75 feet he loses it. He panics and starts flailing around. Well, I did what anyone would do - stayed right where I was at and coached him from the bank.

                        Tim gets so panicked he turns himself around and swims back to the other side. He swam 150 feet because he didn't think he could swim 100.

                        I used to tell my son not to make the same mistake my friend Tim made. Don't stop believing. No matter how many times you strike out or how many balls in a row you throw - you believe the next AB or pitch that the streak is over.
                        Shake,

                        That's a great story, thanks for sharing.

                        I'll probably botch it all up when I try to repeat it, and poor Timmy will end up drowning or something and it won't be nearly as effective, but what a great story of focus, and using mind over matter.

                        Lou is an outstanding motivator and the success of his teams over the years is proof or it.


                        Thanks again,
                        mud -
                        In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This is a great topic and one that I think is very important. I've noticed some coaches don't like to touch this subject, either because they are not sure how to deal with it or because they themselves are insecure. I truly believe the mental part is more important than the physical just because I've experienced it. I still play ball (softball now) so I see mental meltdowns in games all the time, and I'm talking about grown ups here. It's easy to perform when there is no pressure and it's a totally diferrent thing to perform under pressure. I've learned to read people really well on the field and I can tell when someone is nervous, scared, or unsure of themselves like a shark can smell blood! lol. I'm a pitcher so I always look at how hitters carry themselves, how they walk up to the plate, their batting stance, facial expressions, their fisrts couple of swings, etc. and I pitch accordindly. I'm also aware of how I carry myself on the field. I never try to show emotion when I pitch. Whether it's a home run I give up or I strike somebody out, I try to keep the same composure on the mound because I know the other team is watching and my team is also watching too. People forget that your team looks at you as a pitcher for guidance also. Your defense does want to know that you believe in yourself. Of course I am a human and not a robot so I smile and joke with guys to keep everyone loose. I wasn't always like this though. I was your typical scared, insecure kid and it affected my baseball skills big time! Now the question is whether you can teach a kid to have a strong mental state. I'm not so sure it's something you can teach as apposed to something that will just happen when you are ready for it. Some kids are naturally more confident than others, some will grow into it and others will never take that leap. Some may see that as bad but I don't. I believe we are who we are and it's ok either way. In my case it wasn't any coach or parent telling me that I was worthy or whatever. For me it was something I experienced (not so fun) in my 20's that changed me. In short I decided it was time to "man up" for lack of a better word. And all it took was one incident to see my life differently, and I have to say I'm grateful for it. Even if I don't truly believe you can make a kid confident, I still believe we should always encourage kids and help them with their insecurities because it might just speed up that "aha" moment.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Buy The Mental Game of Baseball by Harvey Dorfman.
                            Never let an opportunity to get better pass you by, because others may take it for themselves.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks for all the great replies. Great point about modeling the kind of focus and composure you want your players to develop. But in addition, I'm interested in discussing this with the team (in small, measured doses) and giving them some little techniques to help them do this on the field. For example, after a pitcher throws a wild pitch that allows a run to score, they can "wipe the slate clean" by taking their foot and wiping the dirt in front of the rubber, taking a deep breath, and visualizing the next pitch hitting the catcher's glove right where he's holding it. Seems like there could be little physical rituals that might help some of them regain their focus after failing.

                              Of course when I was that age I battled frustration and temper terribly, and I didn't have any guidance or tools to help me overcome that weakness. Just thinking as coaches we might be able to help in that area.

                              I'll check out the books mentioned--thanks.

                              Comment

                              Ad Widget

                              Collapse
                              Working...
                              X