How to Cope with Failing at the Plate
Is it possible to have confidence after a bad game? This is one of the most asked questions by athletes. Confidence can be fleeting for many atheltes…
If you have low confidence, you will not play your best game. But the reverse is not always true. For example, you may have a high confidence level but still lose or not have the desired results.
Confidence places you in a position to succeed. However, sometimes, factors outside your direct control adversely affect the outcome of a game.
For example, you are pitching and hitting the edges of the plate, but the umpire has a narrow strike zone causing you to walk more batters. Your control is right on target, but the strike zone, an aspect outside of your control, has narrowed. Nevertheless, your confidence in your pitching may still be high despite walking more batters than usual.
Or if your breaking ball isn’t working for you, it’s not that you don’t have confidence. Instead, it just may mean your release point is off, or you are having difficulty gripping the ball.
Confidence is not a guarantee of success. The key to consistency is stable confidence. A ballplayer with stable confidence realizes two points: (1) a bad game is just a bad game, and (2) the next game is another opportunity to play my best.
A ballplayer with fragile confidence believes: (1) a bad game means I am a terrible player, and (2) the next game will probably be horrible too.
When your confidence rises and falls depending upon how you play, you will never reach the consistency of elite players.
In our Softball and Baseball Mental Toughness Survey, a player raised the topic of maintaining confidence during a game:
“How can I forget a strikeout and gain confidence before my next at-bat?”
You can see how this scenario unfolds. First, you get fooled by a breaking ball. You missed the opportunity to advance a runner, and you ended the inning with a strikeout.
The next at-bat, several doubts flowed into your mind, “I hope I don’t strike out again. I looked foolish the last time I was at the plate. I can’t be the final out of this inning. What if I don’t advance the runner?”
Those doubts weigh heavy on your mind causing you to call into question your ability. You became tense; you focused on not making an out rather than putting the ball in play. Having confidence at the plate is impossible with these doubts and thought distractions.
To answer your question, “How can you gain confidence after a strikeout?” By not letting one at-bat undercut confidence in the first place.
For example, Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola. Nola started the 2021 season (5-4) and has been unsatisfied with his pitching but has not allowed those circumstances to affect his confidence.
NOLA: “I always have my confidence. I just had some things not going my way. It was frustrating not getting out fifth inning three of the last four [games]. To myself, that’s not what I usually do. I want to go deep into games and put my team in a position to win. Not having the command that I’m used to having is frustrating. But it doesn’t keep me from keep working on throwing sessions and bullpen sessions. And I always go into the next game with confidence.”
All players have ups and downs. With stable confidence, each at-bat or pitch is a separate entity. After each pitch, at-bat, or game, you have the chance to hit the reset button and focus on the opportunity in front of you.
Tip for Maintaining Strong Confidence:
Apply the “Over, Done and Onward” strategy. Before you leave the dugout/ bench, if you have any doubts, remind yourself that the last at-bat is over and done.
When you get to the on-deck circle, it’s time to move onward. Think of one approach at the plate, something you want to focus on for the at-bat.
Always remind yourself why you are a good hitter–even when you don’t have momentum in your game.
Get The Mental Edge For Baseball and Softball Players!
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?
Do you lose composure easily after you make your first error of time game?
Do you feel embarrassed after striking out and carry this with you for longer than one inning?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, check out The Mental Edge For Baseball And Softball Players!
Boost your (or your athletes mental) toughness! Learn 8 mental toughness lessons to help ball players improve confidence, focus and composure.
The Mental Edge For Baseball And Softball Players: Mental Toughness Strategies For Ultimate Confidence
Download your copy TODAY and start boosting your mental toughness!
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“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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~Amber Prosser, Clark College Softball
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