Keeping Composure With Positive Self-Talk
How do you react when the wheels fall off your game?
Do you get upset, try harder, or give up? The frustration that a pro feels when he strikes out is similar to the anger you feel after striking out. Both cause frustration for a player, but it’s how you react to mistakes that determine if you can shake it off and play on with focus.
Why do some athletes get down on themselves and play worse when the wheels fall off?
They can’t let go of mistakes and forget about what happened at the last at-bat. Expectations are not being met for how the game “should be” played and negative emotions get the best of them. Frustration and anger lingers to the next at bat or inning, which causes more errors. This in turn causes more frustration and a poor focus. It is a vicious cycle. In this article, I present a few techniques for controlling your emotions and helping get back on track when the wheels fall off.
Don’t Dwell on Mistakes
The frustration you carry with you to the next at-bat comes from dwelling on your last strike out. This is unhealthy for your self–confidence and doesn’t let you enjoy yourself. When you dwell on errors, you sends a message to yourself that you should continue to be upset and beat yourself up. You make the choice to focus on the mistake or focus on what you need to do to get a hit right now. Interrupt the negative pattern by changing your focus to the present pitch.
Give Yourself Permission to Make Mistakes
Some players expect that anything less than a flawless performance is a failure. You have to accept that you are human and you will make mistakes just like everyone else. Sometimes it helps to give yourself permission to make mistakes. You’re not perfect and even the best players in the world make mistakes.
Slow Down and Breath Deeply
Frustration or tension causes you to rush your behavior and become sloppy with your preparation. You may walk faster up to the plate, rush your routine, and swing faster. When you are upset, make an effort to slow down your behavior. Take your time walking up to the plate. Slow down your at-bat routine and be more deliberate without over-analyzing the situation. Take a few deep breaths through your abdominal region. You can breathe when you’re walking up to bat.
Give Yourself a Pep Talk
Negative emotions worsen when a player’s self–talk is negative and self-defeating. A player with negative self–talk says: “I’m the worst batter, I can’t play this game”, which increases your anger and decreases self–confidence. Notice when your self–talk becomes negative, and second, learn to be more positive with yourself and give yourself a pep talk: “I’m a good batter, I’ll do great this time around.” No one can be positive for you but yourself. You have to be your own best coach and give yourself some words of encouragement.
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