What Does a Closer Mindset Consist Of?
Do you have a difficult time closing out games?
Instead of confidently finishing out a game, many ball players tell themselves, “Alright, don’t screw up now!”
These players become highly anxious.
The negative mindset of ‘avoiding losing or failure’ usually brings to fruition the very result you fear might happen…
An inability to close out a game is usually not due to a lack of talent, but a faulty mental approach.
Finishing strong is the characteristic of mental toughness that every athlete dreams about. You probably have played out scenarios where you played your best and were the hero at the end of a game.
Think of the importance that baseball or softball places on closing out games. It was only about 30 years ago when the era of the one-inning closer was created due to the realization that it takes a certain mindset to finish out games.
The mindset of a closer consists of three things:
1. Focusing on what you want to happen.
2. Believing in your ability to make it happen.
3. Taking action in the present moment to make it happen.
You might ask, “Can I develop the mindset of a closer?”
Since focus and belief are choices, you most certainly can develop into an athlete who closes out a game.
You are in control of your focus. You can focus on failures or successes; weaknesses or strengths; outcomes or process.
Your beliefs are also in your control. Belief is also controllable because you can either focus on all the reasons you can’t or you can find the evidence to support you can.
The San Francisco Giants are having difficulty closing out games in the second half of the season. At the All-Star break, the Giants led the division by 6 1/2 games and now are 6 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers leaving them in a dog fight for a wild card spot with 10 games remaining in the season.
San Francisco has lost nine times this season when leading after eight innings and have a 6.00 ERA in the ninth inning since August 13th.
If you listen to the comments by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, you will hear the Giants are focusing the difficulty of the last three outs rather than confidently going after hitters.
BOCHY: “Those last three outs, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a tough time getting them, but we’re having it. It’s a shame because we played great. They did a good job, manufactured a run, and we couldn’t hold on there.”
This is a classic case of ‘what you see is what you get.’
If you focus on the difficulty of getting the last three outs, it will be difficult to get those outs.
By changing what you see or how you see it, you can become the closer you have dream about.
Strategies for having a closer mindset:
This may seem simplistic, but you need to focus on what you want to happen and what you need to do too make it happen.
Prior to each pitch, take a deep breath as a cue to start focusing on THIS pitch… Get the sign from the catcher, check the runners if necessary, visualize the pitch, and trust your throw.
Get into the process instead of outcome: Select pitch, see target, visualize, and trust you will hit the target.
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