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Saturday, January 1, 2011

The mental side of the game

Happy New Year!

I think it was Jack Nicklaus who said that 90% of golf was mental.
So the question for baseball players and coaches is ...

How much of baseball success is mental?

My guess is that your answer is probably anywhere from 75% - 90%.
So here is the next question to ponder ...

If baseball is (insert your % here) mental, what percentage of your baseball training/practices are geared towards improving the mental side of you or your players?  

If you are like most other players and coaches (me included), probably not much at all.  Why?  If we accept that a high percentage of success is mental, then why do we spend practically all of our time on the physical side of the game and just hope by magic that kids either have the mental side in place already or figure it out on their own?  As coaches, we certainly would not take that approach with a pitcher trying to learn a change-up.   Well kid, you either have a change-up or you don't.  Nonsense.  We'd show him how to throw it and work with him until he gets it.  If we want kids to be mentally tough, they have to first know what "mentally tough" means and then be taught how to get there.  Even major leaguers are recognizing this and are therefore becoming more open to the idea of sports psychology.
Harvey Dorfman.  Sports psychologist,
author, and MLB's mental guru
A couple years ago I took a course called The Teaching Coach.  I learned a few techniques and strategies that incorporate the mental side of the game into players' development.  I tried some of the techniques and they seemed to get a positive response.  The team that I used as my guinea pig ended up winning a state championship!  Granted ... the team had some great talent so I'm not saying it was because of mental training.  But maybe a little?
Maybe it's time we give it more of our attention.

Some books I would recommend that deal with the mental side:
The Mental Game of Baseball
The Psychology of Coaching Team Sports
The Mental Keys to Hitting
Coaching the Mental Game
Mental Toughness: Baseball's Winning Edge
10-Minute Toughness

1 comment:

  1. Coach,
    Depending on what level and the level of competition I say High School 70%, College 80 to 85 %, Pro Ball 90 to 95%. As a former Minor League Player coming straight out of high school it was night and day.