Every week, I get calls from pitchers, parents of pitchers and coaches with questions about the mental aspects of being on the mound in a pressure situation.
Pitchers at all levels of baseball can struggle with confidence, focus, relaxation and negative self-talk. This can happen to little leaguers and to major leaguers.
When a pitcher loses his ability to stay mentally tough, his mechanics, his velocity, his ball movement and his command of the strike zone can all deteriorate.
Here are a few tips to help parents of baseball players, pitchers and pitching coaches with some of the mental aspects of the pitching in a baseball game.
1. Remember that pitchers prevail over hitters seventy five to eighty per cent of the time. So, pitchers have a nice edge to begin with.
2. If you throw your first pitch as a, strike your edge goes up a bit more.
3. The most important pitch is the next pitch you throw. You have to stay in the present.
You must train your mind to remain in the here and now.
4. When you pitch, you need to have either one thought or what might be thought of as an empty mind.
5. Develop a mantra when you are about to throw to a batter. Here are a few suggestions: Throw a strike. Throw inside. Let it go. Grip it and rip it. I’m the boss. Eyes on the target. I love this game. Throw it past him. Control the plate.
6. Your relationship with your coaches and your catchers are crucial. Do what you can on and off the field to build strong connections with these people.
7. Study hitters carefully and keep accurate records on what works and what does not work against players who you face multiple times.
8. Understand and accept what you can control and what you can not control.
9. You don’t have to be perfect. You have to throw strikes twice as often as you throw balls.
10. Always be developing another pitch. If you master five pitches, hitters have a tough time guessing right as to what is coming.
11. Never engage in negative thoughts on the mound. If you are not feeling confident, relaxed, focused and ready, step off the mound and gather yourself.
12. Know your strengths and your weaknesses.
13. Have a purpose with every pitch.
14. Learn how to use self-hypnosis, visualization and meditation to get yourself into your ideal performance state of mind.
Source by Jay P. Granat, Ph.D.