Like any other sport, baseball is played on the field and also in the mind of the players. Atitudine and approach are as equal as physical strength and experience. What would a player do in the field if he doesn’t have a winning attitude?
There’s a philosophy that states that when two opponents are equal in every other respect, the competition is won or lost in the mind. In baseball, as with any other competitive sport, this is quite true, and whether you coach Little League or in the Major Leagues, you know that your team’s emotional state and mental state is just as important as your players’ physical readiness. How often have you seen problems at home show up on the field, or how often has a player’s game been threatened by outside stress? Your mind is a powerful tool, and sometimes, it seems that as often as it works for you, it will work against you.
When a player feels convinced that he will do badly, and that his game will suffer, most simply put, it will. A defeatist attitude is one that can destroy a person’s season, and if you are coaching or looking on, you will soon see that it is contagious as well. Sometimes, all it takes for a team to sink down and get mired in defeatism is one person who sets the chain off. In which case, the question becomes, what can you do to fix it? One thing that many trainers do is institute something that is not unlike military Special Forces training. Many sports teams start off the season with something called a Hell Week, where the athletes are pushed to their physical limits.
The exercises that they are asked to do are tougher than any they will do in the season, but chances are, they will get through them with flying colors. Having a Hell Week cements the idea in your players’ minds that they have been through something difficult and they have done it together. There are many exercises where you can emphasize the fact that they will flourish or flounder together, something that is very important for the people who are on the team. While the week might have been difficult to say the least, remember that to pound in the fact that they have done it together. When you are looking for a way to instill the right amount of confidence in your group, don’t praise them overly much for their accomplishments. An acknowledgment is good, but there is no need for overly celebratory display.
This cements the idea that that success is not an out of the ordinary thing; it is what is expected. This will give them the mindset that is necessary when it comes time to really compete with other teams. If you are looking for a way to tap into a well of confidence for your players, take some time and make sure that you are in a good place for it. Look around and see what you can do to reinforce their faith in themselves and in their game!