Ways to Implement the Mental Game at Practice – Part 2
One of the biggest questions I get at clinics I speak at and teams I work with is how do you implement the mental game? I am trying to give coaches some insight into strategies that worked well for us in the process from taking the mental game and knowing it is important to actually working the mental game at practice. This week I am going to give you another strategy that we used within our program. When we started trying to implement how important the mental game was we were at ground zero. None of our players had been mentally trained but they all noticed the value it could have on them as players and as individuals. The following is a way to start getting players to use their routines at practice more often and make sure their breathing allows then to stay present and play the game as 1-Pitch Warriors!
During our hitting stations we would have player pause and Get B.I.G. which for us meant to Breathe In Greatness. Many times at practice you switch a station then go to the next, get some swings this repeats itself over and over. Players are just going to through the motion and not working on any aspects of the mental game. I realized that for a player to go through their routine every pitch while in the cage would be too time consuming and counterproductive I thought at least we could get locked in for the next 30 seconds.
This is how it worked:
- 30-40 second rounds at each station
- Once the 30-40 seconds are up the players move to next station
- I would wait until it was quiet then give them the go ahead to work their routine
- I wanted to see players committing fully to the idea of relaxing and getting focused on the task at hand
- After they used the focal point, took a deep breath, and had some positive self-talk then it was time to go to work on the mechanics of the drill for the next 30-40 seconds
If players were unable to use their routines in the cages during our drills when it was a controlled environment then how would they ever be able to use them during a game when the pressure is on and everyone is hoping they come through for the team? I also felt it was an opportunity to focus and concentrate better which would make out productivity level go even higher. If players had a bad round in the cage this would allow them to get refocused on the next drill instead of carrying it with them through the entire rotation. I wanted to practice this as many times as possible without disrupting the flow of practice too much. When we first started with this I put green, yellow, and red dot stickers on every players’ bat and told them that their focal point had to be there. We borrowed the idea from Brian Cain and Heads Up Baseball. As time passed and players got better at the mental game we took the stickers off and let players use their own focal point.
Another place we are watching to see if players are incorporating their routines and able to get their “This pitch, this moment,” type of focus is during our on-field situations. We are having hitters dial it in against a coach from a short distance on the field. But this is a game like experience so we are hoping that if players can feel confident, relaxed, and ready to attack their at-bat one pitch at a time then we will be giving ourselves the best chance to succeed. Offensively these were the two biggest ways for us to continually work on the things we felt were going to take us to the top with the mental game.
If you are looking for other coaching techniques be on the lookout for my next book 1-Pitch Warrior: 101 Tools – Equipped for Excellence coming out soon. Also, if you have any techniques you use offensively feel free to make a comment below to share with other coaches.