The Ole Ball Game

~ Baseballs' Mental Game: Coaching Confidence Helps Develop Confident Players! ~

Baseballs' mental game; coaching confidence helps develop confident players, is an article written by sports psychologist Jeff Janssen.

I had the good fortune to attend a seminar conducted by Jeff, while he was the Sports Psychologist at the University of Arizona. That initial experience led to arranging for him to conduct a seminar for our entire high school athletic program, as well as all feeder youth sports programs in the area.

Both of those experiences were influential in the increased time I spent working on the mental game with my teams, from that point forward. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I have.

~ Tips From the Dugout ~

coaching confidence ~ tips from the dugout

Some baseball coaches win with aggressive base running, others with a strong defense up the middle. To many, solid pitching is their secret and still others a power oriented hitting machine.

While different strategies all can produce winning results, few baseball coaches can win without confidence.

A confident team can run most any system and be successful. Thus, the key becomes not so much what you run; but how much your team believes in its' ability to be successful.

As all successful coaches know, baseball coaching goes beyond the drills and game strategies and into the hearts and minds of those they teach!

Developing a confident team is one of the most important tasks of a baseball coach. Confidence is one of those intangibles that allows a team or individual player to rise to the next level.

~ A Couple Of Questions To Reflect Upon ~

  • How do I build my player's confidence on a daily basis?

  • Do I do anything that erodes the confidence of my players?

Quite often confidence is left to chance, while the reality is, confidence can be worked on and strengthened the same as offense and defense.

Confidence is as creatable a skill as throwing, catching or hitting. Working on this aspect can easily become a natural occurance in practices and games.

~ 7 Suggestions For Developing More Confident Players ~

  1. Display a consistent belief in your player's ability and potential. Show your players that you believe in their ability to be successful through words and actions. Set high, yet realistic expectations for each player and help them meet those expectations.

    Convince them they can reach their goals if they're willing to put in the necessary time and effort.

    Your belief and confidence in a player can make or break him. Whether he's a project with a lot of potential or a hitter in a slump, your unwavering confidence is often an important key to helping him be successful.

    A player can quickly sense when a baseball coach has given up on him. Often players don't realize how good they could be and it takes a patient and confident coach to help them realize their potential.

  2. Emphasize proper preparation through quality practices. Quality preparation and practices are the price of success.

    Quality practices provide players the right to feel confident. It's a matter of getting your players to feel they deserve to be successful because they have invested the necessary time and energy.

  3. Use practices to simulate a variety of potential game situations. Knowing what to expect is another important factor in building confidence.

    By simulating various game situations, your players learn exactly how they should respond because they have worked on it in practice.

    For the really young players, these situations are minimal; but you are slowly building their foundation. The older the players, the more numerous and complex these situations become.

  4. Call attention to success with specific and sincere praise. How much of your baseball coaching is positive and how much is negative?

    Research shows that successful coaches give an average of three positive instructional comments ( Jim, great swing, you're right on that pitch ), to every negative comment ( Jim, that was your pitch, you should have hit it out ).

    Encourage players to move towards success, rather than away from failure.

    Encourage them for making plays. Being afraid to make mistakes erodes confidence.

    Set a goal to recognize and promote good things your players do, while calling less attention to their mistakes.

  5. Create an environment where failure is viewed as feedback, not something to be feared. Although mistakes can be frustrating, they can also be seen as opportunities to try a different strategy or approach next time.

    Failure as feedback gives players the chance to learn lessons and correct their own play. When players are immediately pulled from a game after their first mistake, they learn that failure is fatal and quickly lose confidence.

    Failure as fatal produces tight and tentative players, who constantly look over their shoulder and focus more on not making a mistake, than on making plays.

    Encourage and allow players to play through mistakes as much as possible.

  6. Focus on learning from and correcting mistakes, rather than dwelling on them. Best advice here, use the sandwich technique when giving negative feedback.

    The sandwich technique involves sandwiching a negative comment between two positives. Instead of saying, "that was the worst double play pivot I have ever seen", use the sandwich technique and it might sound like this: "I can see you are working hard (positive ), but you have to get to the base sooner and set up ( negative ). Cheat a couple of steps towards the base so you are early and can be set for the throw ( positive ).

    The sandwich technique makes it possible to constructively critisize players while not shaking their confidence. They are now free to concentrate more on how to correct a mistake, than on the mistake itself.

  7. Approach big games and other important situations as challenges, rather than threats. The bigger the game and the more pressure filled the situation, the more confident, calm, and in control a baseball coach should act.

    Players will sense and feed off confidence. Players are naturally keyed up for big games and will often look to the coach to be a steadying and calming influence.

    Thus, look at so-called pressure situations as exciting and challenging opportunities, rather than life-and-death, must win situations.

    Remind the team of their preparation, which has given them the right to expect success going into the situation.

Summary And Points Of Emphasis: Baseballs' Mental Game, Coaching Confidence

No matter what type of offensive and defensive scheme you employ, confident players are critical to their success.

By using many of the preceding suggestions, confident players can be consciously cultivated to achieve their true potential.

  • Confidence is as creatable a skill as throwing, catching and hitting.

  • Show your players you believe in their ability to be successful through words and actions.

  • By simulating various game situations, your players learn exactly how they should respond, because they worked on it in practice.

  • Structure practices and drills so that players can achieve small, early successes.

  • Encourage players for making plays.

  • Failure as feedback gives players the chance to learn lessons and correct their own play.

  • Use the sandwich technique when giving negative feedback.

  • Look at so-called pressure situations as exciting and challenging opportunities.

Baseball Really Is Life, A Truly Great Learning Environment For All That Is To Come! Baseballs' Mental Game, Coaching Confidence, Is One Tool To Work Into Your Philosophy To Help Develop Your Teams' Mental Game.

Jeff Janssen helps coaches and athletes develop the team chemistry, mental toughness and leadership skills necessary to win championships. For more information on Jeffs' programs and resources, visit or call toll free 1-888-721-team.

Additional Topics: A Road Map To Increased Mental Toughness

Mental Game

~ The one thing over which you have absolut control is your own thoughts. ~

Mental Power

~ You are searching for the magic key that will unlock the door to the source of power. ~

Focus Grid

~ This is a fun mental focus exercise designed to find out how well you can initially concentrate with no distractions, then how well you concentrate with distractions. ~

Mental Control

~ Mental control lies in our ability to direct our attention on what we can control. ~

Self Talk

~ The dialogue we carry on with ourselves each day of our lives. ~

Slump Busting

~ Slump busting can provide you and your players with a plan to decrease the impact of those inevitable slumps. ~

Mental Framing

~ Put your mind in a position to be successful. ~


~ It's crucial but; players don't always know what teamwork means. ~

Control Your Attitude

~ Controlling your attitude is nothing more than choosing to use and focus on productive self talk. ~

Identifying Unproductive Behaviors

~ Make your opponent beat you instead of losing to yourself. ~

Derek Jeter On Deck

~ The ultimate preparation! ~

Harvey Dorfman

~ Tributes to a very special man! ~

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