Practicing Resilience Mindset
Are you aware of the exact circumstances that create anxiety for you during a baseball or softball game?
Most ballplayers are aware of their symptoms of anxiety but not the circumstances.
You can probably identify your anxiety symptoms; racing thoughts, inability to focus, intense emotions, heart-pounding, sweaty palms, tension in your neck and shoulders, shallow breathing, etc.
Recognizing your anxiety symptoms is essential. Awareness acts as an early detection system.
Unfortunately, for some ballplayers, recognizing their anxiety response during a game may be too late. In other words, some players become so highly anxious that they feel too far gone to recover during a game.
In our Softball and Baseball Mental Toughness Survey, James Q. asked the following question regarding anxiety:
“I am a starting pitcher for my high school team. Sometimes, I get so nervous on the mound that I can’t calm down and give up way too many hits and walks. How can I calm down during these moments in a game?”
Awareness is critical, not just awareness of symptoms, but awareness of situations that generate anxiety for you.
Knowing your symptoms can help you regain your composure on the mound.For example, you are pitching in the sixth inning of a game. You notice your heart pounding, and your breathing is shallow.
You step off the mound and take several deep breaths before stepping on the rubber. As you zone in on the catcher’s mitt, you remind yourself, “Re-focus.” These techniques can help you relax and regain your composure
Applying strategies to counter or manage anxiety is a reactive approach. Conversely, knowing the circumstances that create anxiety for you is a proactive approach.
When you know the scenarios that lead to anxiety, you can apply strategies to counter anxiety before it builds up in the first place.
For example, if you know that pitching late in a game with a one-run lead raises your anxiety, you can choose to learn the mental skill of visualization to perform successfully in future games
When you take a proactive approach, you will feel a greater sense of control over your circumstances.
Let’s look at the example of Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Dylan Lee. Lee was informed that he would be making his first major league start six hours before Game 4 of the World Series. Lee only lasted 15 pitches.
Brave’s manager Brian Snitker talked about his reasoning for telling Lee about starting the game late in the afternoon.
SNITKER: “My God, we put him in an unbelievable situation. Your first start in the big leagues is going to be in a World Series game. Are you kidding me?… Just for his sake, he probably wouldn’t have gotten any sleep because people have been texting him, and his phone would have been going off all night.”
For some players, not knowing about the start would help minimize anxiety. For other players, having the time to prepare would keep their anxiety level low.
Knowing how different circumstances affect you will help you create strategies to perform your best in those situations.
Proactive Approach to Managing Anxiety
1. The first step to managing anxiety is awareness. Write down 3-5 situations that create the most significant tension within you.
2. Why do these situations create high stress for you? What is the fear? How do you play in these circumstances? Write down as many details as you can.
3. Once you know the specific situations and how you react, you can then create a proactive plan to maintain your composure and perform at your peak.
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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