Simplify Your Thinking and Improve Your Game
How difficult is it for you to throw the ball accurately? You probably don’t think about throwing much; It’s just something you do; a skill you have learned through practice and repetition.
Conversely, when a player has the yips, turning off the thought process is difficult. When you have the yips, not only do you question your ability to throw the ball accurately, but you also wonder if you will ever be able to throw accurately again.
When you have the yips, you doubt your ability to make strong throws before and during games.
Every throw during the game is met with increasing pressure and anxiety. In your mind, throwing the ball accurately feels like a skill you have forgotten how to perform.
Take for example MLB player Daniel Bard. If you have or had the yips, you will be able to identify with his experience. Bard is a 35-year-old pitcher for the Colorado Rockies. In his first four appearances during the 2021 season, Bard has not given up a run and has two saves in two save opportunities.
You may think four games is a small sample size but it isn’t if you struggled with the yips for more than five years like Bard. Bard’s yips were so overwhelming that he retired for several years before deciding to make a comeback in 2020.
Bard was able to triumph over the yips and earned the 2020 NL Comeback Player of the Year.
BARD: “You keep telling yourself, ‘OK, I need to get better. I need to start doing better,’ and then you start trying to force perfection. You start over-trying. You’re trying to make perfect pitches, instead of just trusting yourself. It’s kind of like being a musician. When you’re a great musician you get on stage, and when things are good, it’s free-flowing. You don’t have to think. And then when you start thinking about the note you’re supposed to be pressing, making sure it’s at the perfect time, it loses that beauty.”
When you have the yips, you turn the physical act of throwing the ball into the mental act of over-trying and overthinking your throw.
Every throw has a heightened sense of importance and you heap greater pressure on yourself.
To overcome the yips, you need to take care of the mental components first:
* Relaxing your body – When your body is stressed, your muscles tighten and throw off your mechanics. Relaxing your body will keep your throwing action fluid.
* Lessening the pressure you place on yourself- You should understand that you don’t need pinpoint accuracy or perfection to be effective.
* Adjusting your focus- Instead of focusing on making a bad throw, focus on your pre-pitch routine. Focusing on a pre-pitch routine will help calm your mind.
* Immersing yourself in the moment- Stay immersed in the present moment. Worrying about past throws or fearing erratic throws will cause you to overthink and affect your accuracy.
How to Manage the Throwing Yips:
How do you stop over thinking a simple skill like throwing? You have to simplify what you think about…
First, always focus on the throw or pitch you want to make, not missing.
Second, get your mind off what the arm is doing and instead try to focus on the target or the trajectory of the throw you want to make.
Remember, your goal is to throw the ball to a target, not to think about how to throw the ball!
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Do you (or your athletes) lack full confidence in your skills when you step on the field as if your game disappears at game time?
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Do you feel embarrassed after striking out and carry this with you for longer than one inning?
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What are baseball mental game customers saying?
“Dr. Cohn, I’ve been tearing it up lately!!! Every single thing you taught me works perfectly in every situation I’ve been in. I’ve been so into every game and focusing on the process and not the outcomes and everything falls right into place . In the playoffs I’m 5-7 with 2 run home runs and 5 RBIs. I feel great at the plate and focusing is a breeze now. I just wanted to thank you for everything and keep you posted with how everything was going.”
~Jalen Phillips, College Baseball Player
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~Keith Donnell, college baseball player
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~Amber Prosser, Clark College Softball