Today’s blog post was inspired by a couple of conversations I’ve had with former players over the past few weeks.
The message to these guys was essentially to live in the now. Excelling at the game of baseball boils down to breaking it down to its lowest common denominator: this pitch. It’s cliche, but you have to play the game one pitch at a time. It sounds simple, but it’s incredibly difficult and it gets increasingly harder if you’re struggling.
When you’re not playing well it’s easy to carry previous games with you; never mind blocking out your last at bat, or last inning on the mound.
Think of it this way, if you threw a shutout your last start how does giving up 2 runs in the first inning affect you? Certainly you’re not happy about it, but how does giving a 2 spot affect you if you got hit around your last time out? They’re very different feelings, but the goal of the mental game is to fight that.
Hitters: imagine you’re on a weeks long hot streak. How does a line out affect you? Probably not much, right? What about if you’re 0-15 and you line out? It’s completely different. But it doesn’t have to be.
The best of the best in this game don’t let an 0-15 sap their confidence. They continue to focus on the process and the results will follow.
The goal of the mental game is to avoid the incredibly detrimental, here we go again, vortex. It’s a trap.
Here is a rant via text to a former player, verbatim:
“Until last year, if you hit a guy or walked a guy it never even fucking phased you. Because you just KNEW you were the best. You don’t walk guys so when it happens it was almost just a fluke occurrence and you just moved on and focused on getting the next guy out. Now though, when you hit a guy you start thinking, fuck here we go again and your focus deviates from executing this pitch.”