October 20, 2014

Matt Garza on Controlling Emotions

Mental Game PitchingBaseball players can experience highs and lows during competition. Players can experience highs such as the joy of connecting with the ball at the plate, catching a fly out ball or sliding into home base. Players can also experience lows such as striking out, fumbling the ball or walking a batter.

How you react to those lows can influence your performance. Do you get frustrated and upset with your performance? Or, are you able to bounce back from your mistakes?

Anger and frustration can impact your performance in a negative way. You might dwell too much on your mistakes causing you to lose focus on the current task. You might tighten up and try too hard.

Matt Garza, starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, worked on controlling his emotions on the field. Garza’s hard work paid off, which contributed to a 6-1 win over the Marlins in 2008. Garza was on a roll, giving up just one hit, a home run, to Hanley Ramirez in the seventh inning.

“I’ve made huge strides mentally. I think before I would have lost it after giving up that slider to Hanley (Ramírez). I would have gotten ticked off, threw a couple angry pitches, a couple more knocks might have came and we’d be talking about a different story here. I might have been out in the bottom of the seventh. But I was able to regroup,” said Garza.

Garza’s ability to regroup was critical to his performance. When you’re angry or frustrated, you’ll have to find ways to regroup and refocus on the task. You might take a deep breath before approaching the plate or mound. You might use positive self-talk to tell yourself to refocus. You might tighten up your glove or readjust your hat, for example. No matter what you do, you’ll want to put the mistake behind you to get ready for the next pitch or hit.

If you can control your emotions, you’ll be in a better position to improve your performance. Rays manager, Joe Maddon sees a relationship between emotional control and performance.

“In this game, I know for a fact, when you can correct the mental mechanics a lot of times your performance increases. You do deliver the ball better, you have a better arm stroke, you have better mechanics, etc., because you have control of yourself. You have control of your emotions, you’re able to breathe,” Joe Maddon said.

Your baseball psychology tip is to find ways to control your emotions on the field. When you find what works for you, use that mental game strategy consistently, which will help you bounce back from mistakes quickly.

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