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3 Takeaways From Last Week in Sport Psych

The beauty in working with athletes on a weekly basis is that they teach you as much as you hope to teach them. They pose questions and answer questions in ways that help me to grow and communicate an idea better to them and others.

Here are 3 takeaways from this week that may also help you. 

  • There’s a big difference between having a plan and having no plan. A client told me, “With a plan, it’s almost like cheating.” Between pitches during tryouts he stepped out of the box and visualized himself getting the pitch he wanted and saw himself smashing it with confidence. Result? He got the pitch and his body did the rest…

Will that always work out? No. But why not give yourself the best chance of success by seeing the pitch you desire to smash in your mind’s eye before it ever happens? 

Manny Ramirez used to look for one pitch for three straight pitches or until he had to strikes. He sometimes looked like a fool, but more often made the pitcher look foolish. That’s how simple having a plan can be. 

Takeaway Number Two …

  • My response to an athlete hoping to earn the starting spot at _________ position. “If the San Francisco Giants called you and asked you to play ________________ you’d be okay with that right? 

Being flexible with where you can play on the field is a luxury Coaches love. You may feel you are THE centerfielder or THE catcher, but if there’s someone else already playing there, you, as a mature player, have to realize that you are not the victim. It’s an opportunity to become proficient or even better at another position.
This flexibility not only helps your career now but also down the line when someone offers you a scholarship and says “but we may see you at __________ position.”
Heck, as long as you get to hit, be willing to play anywhere. It’s better than left bench.

Here’s a great excerpt from Jim Afremow’s, Lengthen Your LINE p.9-10, (click the picture to view the book on Amazon. I do not make any profit off of this. Just sharing some good schtuff). 

The last sentence on the next page continues, “…likely to be passive and non-receptive to change. As the saying goes, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” 

It worked wonders for Ryan Zimmerman’s career switching from 3rd base to 1st a few years ago even though he was a veteran Major Leaguer already. His willingness to embrace change and take it on as a new adventure has been a big part in his continuing to play at a high level.

Last Takeaway …

  • Have you ever been to a game or watched on TV the guys on the bench (usual starting pitchers not pitching that day) and how much they goof off and mess with each other? 

Is there anything wrong with that? 
Are they wasting a ton of mental energy? 
Nope. If anything they are replenishing it. 

I chatted with an athlete this week who got done with practice and felt exhausted enough for it to negatively impact his studies for a test the following day. 

He shared that “the coaches are always watching.” 

I shared with him that coaches are not always watching. That’s impossible. But, when they are watching, what are you showing them? 
An athlete can be completely relaxed in mind but show on the outside that he’s ready to go. That’s what the Coaches see.

Coaches aren’t looking for you to be on edge between pitches. They just want to know you can be trusted to be ready as the pitcher comes set/goes into windup. 

LEARNING POINT: Four seconds of focus. That’s all you need. From the time the pitcher starts his motion to the time he delivers (from windup) takes about four seconds. Then action happens or it doesn’t.

You already know where the play needs to go so allow your mind to wander off a bit. Think about your significant other, video games, chairs, it doesn’t matter.

Conserve your mental energy. Think less. Let the game come to you.

4 seconds x 100 pitches on defense equals 400 seconds = (let me grab my calculator. Seriously.) Ok, my calculator says a little more than six and a half minutes is all you have to focus on defense per game. On offense, 4 at bats with an average of 4 pitches at 4 seconds of focus = 16×4 = just over 1 minute of offensive intense focus.  

Can you focus for 8 minutes a game? Might you have some mental stamina left over for life after the game/practice?  I think so, too. Think less. Enjoy the game. 

Final thought going back to those starting pitchers …

You won’t see that day’s starting pitcher goofing around with the other guys. There’s a mutual understanding and respect for the guy throwing. One day, he’s a jokester. But the day he’s pitching, you may not even want to be in the same vicinity as him (ala Randy Johnson; Roger Clemens; Nolan Ryan types).

If that persona is part of your preparation then make sure people know that about you and be consistent with it. Don’t be an a$$, just be nails. And get the job done.  

Dedicated to your thought life,

PS… I still have three openings available for Mentoring (click Mentoring or respond to this email) for the season. It’s been exciting to see the ball players I’ve been working with grow and break through mental barriers. Freedom begins in the mind and flows through performance.


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