How the Mind Affects Performance
It is often thought that baseball is just a game of strength and physical fitness, but there is much more to America's pastime than the size of ones arms. Baseball is a mind game, it thrives on the ability to approach the field calm and collected. Now this task may sound easy, but it is actually one of the hardest aspects of the game to master.
In order to come to the field mentally prepared the player needs confidence in their abilities. If you come into a game situation and are doubting yourself about making the routine plays, then more often than not you will fail. Players frequently get into a situation and think to themselves, "Don't throw it over his head." or " Dont strike out." Thinking like that will get you a strike out, or an overthrow, because those kind of thoughts show that you don't believe in yourself to make the play without giving yourself an ultimatum. More appropriate thoughts in-game would be," I'm going trow it to his chest," or," I will get a hit." Having positive thoughts is a good start to being mentally sound on the field.
Another component in your mental game is dedication. To be the best in this game you need to always want it more than the next guy. You need to always strive for better and never give up. The common problem with dedication is that when the going gets tough the mind shuts down, and begins to quit. Your brain will stop you far before your muscles will. But you need willingness to fight through the pain and keep going. Its only when you say you can't do it that you wont do it. In becoming successful, players need the ability to shut out their mind when it hurts and get the job done.
Pressure is another mental killer. Games will at times come down to a final hit to win the game. Or just one more strike on a 3-2 count to get the out and go home. Here, the difference between a successful player and an unsuccessful player is how they react in this situation. The successful player will treat baseball as what it is, a game meant for fun and enjoyment, and will go up to the plate calm and be more likely to produce a hit. The unsuccessful player however will treat it as life and death, thus putting even more pressure on himself, and be more likely to crack. Now I'm not saying don't take baseball seriously, but don't stress yourself out when it's not needed.
The last and most important of the mental elements I will touch on is honesty, honesty with yourself and honesty with your team. Every time you aren't honest with your team it lowers what they think of you. Your team is who will take the field with you and go to battle by your side. These are the guys who have your back and, you know they will come through for you in a game. But if they don't trust you do you think they will still take some heat for you? Do you think they still want to go to battle with a guy who won't fess up when he makes a mistake. No way. That is why its important to own up to your mistakes and learn from them.
Although baseball is a sport based on physical fitness, it's won with mental superiority. Players often underestimate the power their mind has over their performance in games. But they need to always strive for success and play the game with a calm, confident attitude. As it is said in H.A. Dorfman and Karl Kuehl's The Mental Game of Baseball," Winners are exceptional because they meet the challenge."