The Top Two Mental Skills for Ballplayers
How many times have you heard “focus on one pitch as a time” or “control what you can control“?
These two phrases are used with such frequency that they seem cliché and dismissed by many ballplayers.
Athletes, ballplayers, coaches and general managers herald the value of “focusing on the process” and “controlling what you can control” because those two mental skills are essential elements for peak performance.
“Focusing on the process” and “controlling what you can control” are skills that go hand-in-hand. These mental skills are proven to minimize distractions. They are not reserved for Hall of Fame baseball players or Olympic softball players.
You can develop the ability to focus on the process and control what you can control with some coaching, practice and repetition.
When you focus on the process, you produce better results than when you focus on the outcome of a pitch, your statistics, the score, wins or losses, and the standings in your division.
Focusing on the process is thinking about the present moment and what is happening in the now. Small successes, such as good contact, being aware of game situations, relaxing on the mound, resetting after each pitch, pre-pitch routines, etc., produce positive outcomes.
Focusing on what you need to do in the moment does not mean detailing every component of technique or mechanics. Focusing on the process can be a simple reminder of strategy (what pitch you are going to throw) or cue words (for hitters, “see the ball early”) then immersing yourself in the act of hitting, pitching or fielding without conscious thought.
Focusing on what you can control, otherwise known as the “controllables” is another component of minimizing distractions.
When you control the controllables, you are also focusing on the process. You don’t focus on outcomes or irrelevant stuff, such as weather, field conditions, the opposing team, the opposing pitches, bad calls by the umpire, great defensive plays by the opposing team, spectators, pleasing others, broken equipment, injuries, etc.
Uncontrollables pull you away from focusing in the moment and interfere with your ability to play your best in the field, mound or batter’s box.
“Focusing on the process” and “controlling what you can control” are the mental skills that have put former University of Illinois closer Joey Gerber in position to make the Seattle Mariners’ major league roster.
Gerber was selected in the eighth round (238th overall) of the 2018 MLB Draft.
Over the past two years in the minor leagues, Gerber has pitched consistently with a 2.42 ERA in 74.1 innings earning him an invite to the Mariner’s training camp.
Gerber is facing his opportunity with poise and excitement.
GERBER: “I just have been taking it in stride and enjoying the process.”
GERBER: “My approach is always the same. You’ve got to control what you can control, so just focus on getting better every single day. I know it sounds cliché, but that’s honestly all you can do. Especially in baseball, where there’s so much that you can’t control. You just have to focus on, as the pitcher, trying to execute at that moment.”
When you cope well with distractions, you play at your peak and enjoy the game more.
Top Mental Skills for Ballplayers:
- Learn to focus on process, not outcome. It’s a simple mental skills to talk about, but harder to apply. Identify when you lose your focus, be aware when you do, and refocus.
- Focus on the controllables. Define what’s important to focus on for your position–for each pitch. Also understand what you can’t control.
We help ball players simplify their games, focus on the process, and develop powerful mental game skills to improve consistency. Contact us for more details about our mental coaching programs.
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