What Should You Focus On?
“What was I thinking?”
You mutter in frustration after you struck out at bat. You lost your focus temporarily and it cost you the at-bat.
Most players at times, lose focus, blank-out, get distracted, or are too stressed to concentrate.
Even the greatest players in the world have trouble concentrating under pressure. Outcomes and winning are stressed in a result oriented society, making it difficult to focus on what really matters—sticking to the task and focusing on only execution.
The goal in baseball is to win, score runs, and get a hit every time at-bat. This is obvious. If you dwell too much on winning or getting a hit, you can lose focus on execution. In addition, if you worry too much about the outcome, you can’t focus on what you need to do to get a hit.
Results come from focusing on the process of execution.
Focusing on the process is a simple concept to talk about, but one of the most difficult things for athletes to do consistently.
A key lesson I teach to baseball players is how to maintain a present focus.
I often need to repeat myself several times and say the same thing in different ways to get the point across. Good results such as getting a hit and winning games comes from focusing on the process or paying attention to one play at a time; one at-bat at a time.
You should “see” a positive result in your mind as you settle into the batter’s box. But you don’t want to become so fixated on getting a hit–“I need to get a hit”–that you worry about not getting a hit, going 0 for 4, and tighten up.
Some sport psychologists would say that choking is caused by not paying attention to what’s important —execution.
When you focus on execution, it helps keep your calm and free of result-induced pressure.
What do I mean when I say focus on execution?
Execution is not focusing on the mechanics of hitting. You want to have a plan for each at-bat and stay committed to that plan.
By immersing yourself in your preparation—set-up, balance, visualizing a good at-bat, and focusing only on the pitcher, you put yourself in a position to get a hit.
You can’t alter the outcome after the bat makes contact with the ball or the ball is in the catcher’s glove. Plan your at-bat, rehearse it in your mind, prepare your body, and react to the pitcher. What happens next is out of your control.
You control your mental focus and you want to use this to your advantage when thinking about your mental game of baseball.
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Mental Game of Baseball Success Stories
“With your help, I have been able to deal with stress and pressure of the game of baseball more efficiently. I have learned what it means to focus on the process to help me keep my focus and disregard negative thoughts and energies. This process focus will keep me from getting my head in the way of my performance, from working against myself. Thanks for your help. I look forward to speaking with you again.”
~Keith Donnell, College Baseball Player.
“I currently play NCAA Division 1 Baseball, and even my coaches have noticed a change in the way that I approach the game; my attitude and confidence at the plate. Thank you for helping in my continuing goal to mental toughness.”
~Tylor Prudhomme, College Baseball Player
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My 13 yr old son pitches and plays infield for his middle school team and for a travel ball team. He is in the middle of an anxiety issue that frustrates both of us. He is an excellent pitcher but a week ago got pulled out after an inning because he was throwing wild pitches. Since then its gotten worse. He sometimes can’t even throw the ball to his intended target – throwing way over it. This actually happened once before about 2 years ago. He got over it but it took a few weeks and was pretty embarrasing for him. I think I understand the issues because I think I feel it from time to time. I play drums in a large church and feel the pressure sometimes. What I don’t have a clue about is how to help my son deal with this right now. How can I help him overcome the extreme anxiety and move past this – plus are there preventative methods for the future. Any help is appreciated.
The tendency is to over think and over control everything when it gets bad and this is what makes it worse. So I suggest you help him let go of trying so hard and start to react to the target and trust his motion–instead of complicating something he already knows how to do.