The Ole Ball Game

Mental Focus Grid: "The First Requisite For Success In Any Field Is The Ability To Apply Your Physical And Mental Energies To One Problem Incessantly Without Growing Weary." ~ Thomas Edison ~

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

Equipment Needed

  • Pencil or pen

  • Mental focus grid worksheet

  • Watch or stopwatch

Directions: Part One

focus grid worksheet
  1. Pair up players - Only one goes at a time.

  2. Lay focus grid face down on the surface in front of you.

  3. Explain that they need to decide who will go first.

  4. Tell them you will be calling out a number. When they hear it, turn their paper over, locate that number on the grid, and slash a line through it. Continue slashing the next consecutive number ( up or down ), until time is up. ( You set up or down at the start, as well as the allotted time, 30 seconds or one minute, whichever works best for you ).

  5. When time is up, add the number of boxes marked to get your score. Have them write the score next to the grid.

Directions: Part Two

  • Directions are the same as part one, except that you will call a different start number.

  • Player's partner can talk to him, call out numbers, ask him questions and make noise in an attempt to distract him.

  • When time is up, calculate score and write it next to grid.

What Can You Do With This?

While the exercise is fresh in their minds, ask if anyone got a higher score on part two, than part one. I have never seen that happen, usually the difference is substantial.

This exercise relates directly to situations encountered in baseball every day, where some sort of distraction works it's way into a player's mind, creating havoc.

Mental Focus Tips ~ From the Dugout

mental focus tips tips ~ from the dugout

While watching an ALCS game in the mid 90's, I saw one of the greatest examples of pure mental focus from Derek Jeter, shortstop of the New York Yankees.

Jeter was standing in the on deck circle, preparing for his upcoming at bat. The pitcher threw a fastball, which was high and tight to the hitter, causing him to drop to the ground to avoid being hit.

The announcers were doing their play by play, when one of them asked to see a replay from the camera, located in the third base dugout.

The camera angle was such that it recorded the action at home plate; but also captured Jeter in the on deck circle. As the batter at the plate dropped to avoid the inside pitch, Jeter did the same in the on deck circle.

I don't believe examples of mental focus get much better than that. It is no wonder that he consistently plays at the high level that he does, day in, day out, year after year.

The ability to focus, to close out all that is going on around you, is one of the great seperators between baseball players at all levels.

Champions Spend The Majority Of Their Time Focusing In The Present Moment. It Is A Matter Of Focusing Your Mind, Right Here, Right Now!

What Can Happen When The Pressure Builds Up?

Top of the sixth inning, we had the bases loaded with no outs, trailing at the time by two runs. Our number 8, 9 and leadoff hitters had found a way to get on base, setting the table for our number 2, 3 and 4 hitters.

Three shots, at a minimum, to tie the game, take the lead, or have a huge inning. Given the production those three players had provided all season, I felt confident.

The opposing pitcher was stressing, as our number two hitter walked to the plate, amidst the very discernible yell from his father, "HIT IT OUTTA HERE."

From the third base coaches box I had heard it clearly and I was sure our hitter had also. Just in case, his father repeated it a couple more times as his son settled in.

Swinging from his shoes at a fastball just above his hands, he hit an infield fly for out number one.

Not the end of the world; still two very credible hitters coming up.

In summary, the next two hitters did exactly the same thing, after hearing their parents yell for a home run. The only difference was they both were way ahead of off speed pitches and popped them up.

Final result, we lost that game by those same two runs.

This is an excellent example of losing focus. It happens all the time in baseball, at all levels, and everyone falls victim at one time or another. Some, however, fall victim less frequently. Why is that?

Some individuals are just naturally more focused than others, but that isn't enough. In reality, they work at improving their focus, and you can also.

The focus grid exercise can help train players to focus, that is, be able to block out all that is going on around them and concentrate in the present. It has the effect of slowing the game down for them, a very valuable tool.

As a player you will find that, if you are hearing what is being yelled around you, or seeing things that go on in the bleachers or dugouts, you have lost that edge. The ability to focus longer and stronger than your competition is a winning edge.

One Opportunity To Regularly Develop Your Focusing Skills

A player generally gets a set number of cuts, in on field batting practice. It is time delegated to work on specific skills, such as hitting line drives to the opposite field.

You step in the cage to hit and a couple of your teammates start betting that you can't hit the ball out.

Do you load up and try to hit the home run, or do you work to block them out and hit line drives the opposite way?

If you can focus on what needs done in that moment, it will directly transfer to game situations. You will be well on your way to blocking out all that is being said.

Elevate Your Performance By Elevating Your Mental Game!

Additional Topics: A Road Map To Increasing Mental Toughness

Mental Game

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

Coaching Confidence

~ In baseball, coaching confidence can produce results that go beyond the drills and strategies and into the hearts and minds of the people they teach. ~

Mental Power

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

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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