Control Your Focus and Control Your Performance
How well do you manage distractions during a game? Do you use any mental strategies to deal with in-game distractions?
A distraction is when your focus is pulled away from playing intuitively in the present moment. Practically anything can be a distraction during a game.
* If you have a lead late in a game, you may fear giving up the winning run.
* If you are in a slump, you may focus on the need to get a hit.
* If you pitched five scoreless innings, you might worry about keeping the streak going.
* If you had a string of errors in the last few games, you might fear the ball being hit to you late in the game.
In our Softball and Baseball Mental Toughness Survey, a player asked about how to minimize anxiety and stay focused during games:
“In some games, I get so nervous that I can’t focus. I know I have the ability and talent to play as well as my teammates. How can I improve my focus so I can play better in games?”
Some players become trapped in a never-ending cycle of negative thoughts, anxiety, inability to focus, and under performance.
For example, you were on the mound and you just gave up two runs in the first inning. You think, “I will not get out of the inning. I only need one out, but they are crushing the ball.”
You got so nervous fearing coach was going to take you out of the game early. Your friends and family were at the game and you felt embarrassed.
The next batter came up to the plate and you walked him on four straight pitches. Just as you thought, the manager took the trip to the mound and pulled you from the game.
Many distractions were bombarding you: the home runs you gave up, the fear of being taken out of the game, and the embarrassment in front of your friends and family.
Breaking the cycle requires taking control of your focus. If focusing on negative thoughts is the cause of distractions, then switching your focus can stop the cycle.
Take for example, Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher and 11-year veteran Wade Miley. Miley pitched his first career no-hitter in a 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.
Miley only walked one and struck out eight on 114 pitches. After the sixth inning, Miley’s teammates left him alone in the dugout. Often players leave pitchers alone in the dugout when they are cruising along, fearing their presence will increase a sense of pressure.
MILEY: “All my buddies left me. I don’t like that. I don’t like thinking about pitching. I want to talk about something else, talk about fishing, talk about hitting. There was nobody to talk to.”
Miley realizes how distractions, such as thinking about how you are performing, can interfere with your game.
Choosing what you focus on minimizes distractions and can put you in the right mindset for peak performance.
Refocusing When Distracted During a Game:
Given your position, define what you want to focus on for each pitch or play–called performance cues. Next, what are your common distractions that get you off task?
Write down your five top distractions. How will you switch your focus to a relevant performance cue when you are distracted? Your focus is your choice.
Next, when you notice you are not focusing on the next pitch or play, refocus quickly on your performance cues.
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.
Download your copy TODAY and start boosting your mental toughness!
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
“With your help, I have been able to deal with stress and pressure of the game of baseball more efficiently. I have learned 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
“Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with our team. It was greatly appreciated and really helped a lot. I found myself implementing your teachings in our first practice right after you left. I really enjoyed the way you implemented already known ideas, but gave us a different way of viewing it. Thank you.”
~Amber Prosser, Clark College Softball