Here’s a simple but important question: What is the best strategy to win ball games?
You might say, “We need to pitch seven innings of shutout ball,” or “We need to drive home runners in scoring position.”
True but let’s narrow in on another question, “What can YOU do to help your team win?”
The answer to that question is often not as clear-cut. You might answer, “I need to get on base three times,” or “I have to drive in a few runs.”
Those are also good answers but not the best ones. However, driving in runs or getting on base are outcomes that are not entirely under your control.
Focusing on the future does not help you play better during the game. Actually, an outcome focus hurts your performance.
Follow this logic for a minute. Does thinking about your social events for the weekend help you hit the ball better? Does thinking about dinner later that evening add to the team’s success?
Obviously not. Thinking about what might happen later in the day is a mental distraction.
Likewise, focusing on the outcome of an at-bat or the result of a game are mental distractions.
Thought distractions take your focus away from what is currently unfolding during the game.
In our Softball and Baseball Mental Toughness Survey, a collegiate player asked:
“How do you let go of the fear of disappointing your teammates, coach, and yourself during a game?”
The fear of letting your team down is based on outcomes: “What if I strike out?” “What if I make an error late in the game?” “What if I am called to pitch late in the game and give up the game-winning run?”
These thought distractions detract from a present focus and cause you to make uncharacteristic mistakes on the field.
The best and only way to positively impact your team is to focus on YOUR JOB!
Doing your job is a present-moment focus. When you understand your role in the game and solely focus on your job, you prime yourself to produce.
Narrowing your focus in the present moment keeps your head in the game and helps you contribute to the team’s success.
After blowing a lead during Game 3 of the American League Division Series, the New York Yankees needed to find a way to win Game 4 against the Cleveland Guardians to tie the series.
Aaron Judge expressed confidence in New York’s ability to bounce back as long as each player is focused on their job.
JUDGE: “We lost a tough one. We just have to come back and do our thing and take it back to the Bronx. It’s as simple as that. This team has been dealing with adversity all year long. This is nothing new to us. We’ll keep our heads up, go out there (in Game 4), and just do our job.”
Not only did the Yankees win Game 4, but they also won Game 5 and advanced to the American League Championship Series.
Team success is based on each player doing their job to the best of their abilities and letting the results unfold as they will. Ultimately, focusing on your role in the moment is all you can control.
To best contribution to the success of your team, ask yourself the following three questions:
- What is my role in this game?
- What should I focus on to best perform my role?
- What specific actions will I take to do my job during the game?
Do your best to focus on your job and not what could happen.
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- Developing The Hustle Mindset for Baseball
- When Emotion and Intelligence Work Hand in Hand
- Perform Confidently Late in the Game
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