The Ole Ball Game

What Causes baseball to be such a mental problem?

Derek Jeter On Deck

Derek Jeter On Deck

Samantha asked: I am a sophomore in college, and I am majoring in psychology. I am also an athlete and really love my sports. So I decided to take some psychology of sports class. When I was observing a baseball game, I saw how much of the game is mental verse any other sport played and was curious as to the cause.



Rick answered: Thank you for your question Samantha.

One of the major factors why so much of baseball is mental, the available down time created by the nature of the game.

Between at bats, a player will be sitting while eight other players bat, before he or she has an opportunity to hit again.

Time between pitches, both for hitters and fielders. Depending on the rhythum of the pitcher, there can be sufficient time lapsed to allow a players mind to wander to other things, or a strike out they just made, or an error that just occured.

Baseball and softball are statistically driven sports. If a player gets a hit in 3 out of 10 at bats, they are considered highly successful. It takes a concentrated mental approach to deal with that low a success rate, over the course of a season.

Most, if not all people talk to themselves on a regular basis. Some out loud, most silently in their head. This self talk can be very helpful, or it can be very destructive. Most young players are unaware they do this, many older players as well.

How players treat themselves when things are not going well can play a large part in the quality of their performances.

I tell my players, be kind to yourself. No one likes to be yelled at; but that is precisely what many players do to themselves, inside their head. It shows in their body language, even if the volume is all internal. Hitting the side of their helmet with the bat, kicking the dirt are just a couple of examples.

Body language never whispers, it screams!

If you look on the site, you will find a page about Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees. He is one of the best at focusing his attention to the situation at hand. The on deck situation discussed was truly something special to see, particularly for a baseball coach.

It is my belief that the seperator between teams at the different levels, as well as players, is the mental game. There are always players with less talent than others who survive and prosper because they have a stronger mental game. They make fewer mistakes, they are able to work through the adversities that are inevitable inside the game. They are able to remain, where more physically talented players without a strong mental game were not, because they can do both.

How did you like your Sports Psychology classes? No matter what area od sport you are in, the mental game will be a seperator.

Golf is another sport with a lot of down time that players have to deal with.

Good luck with college and sports. It is a fun time!

Yours in baseball,

Rick

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