The Mental Game Hot Streaks
Many baseball players believe it is easy to play when you are on a winning streak or hitting streak.
These players just go out and play the game; it is just a matter of riding the momentum wave.
While there may be some truth in that sentiment, some athletes pull themselves out of the zone during a hot streak by over thinking…
What are the mental game elements of a streak? First, you might notice that you are relying on what you know and performing on auto-pilot.
Players in the midst of a streak are just playing without analyzing, evaluating or judging how they are playing… They are just playing or going with the flow.
Streaks can come to an end when you start over-thinking, over-analyzing your play or worrying about results.
Maybe you have a game without a hit. You question why you didn’t get a hit and start to analyze your performance a bit more.
That’s when you move from “going with the flow” to trying to make fixes or changes that may be unnecessary.
Your over-thinking creates searching and urgency, which quickly ends your hot streak.
Not only can over-thinking end a streak, it can be the first step to a performance slump.
I recall when a young high school player came to me because he wasn’t hitting well. He had lost his hot streak. After we talked, I realized he was making too many changes and was over-thinking his hitting.
The question is:
How can you stay on a roll or get rolling again after one bad game?
Washington National starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg started the 2016 season with 13 straight wins.
Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Dodgers broke up Strasburg’s streak handing him his first loss of the season at the end of July.
The question asked by many was,
“How would Strasburg respond?”
In his very next start, Strasburg shut down Cleveland for seven innings and bounced back from his only loss this season. In the 4-1 victory over the Indians, Strasburg held the Indians to only three hits while striking out seven hitters.
A glimpse into Strasburg’s mentality can yield good advice for all baseball and softball players.
Strasburg could have had a letdown after his first loss of the season and lost his mental edge. Strasburg could have expected a string of losses after his long streak of wins.
Instead, Strasburg shrugged off the loss, prepared for his next game as he always does, went to the ballpark on the day of his scheduled start and went to work.
Strasburg committed to the process and playing in the present. Strasburg knows that focusing on the process gives him the best chance to produce quality starts.
STRAUSBURG: “I try to do that every time if we’re winning or if we’re losing. All I can do is what I can on the day I pitch. It’s a long season so I’m going to keep grinding.”
Tips for keeping a streak alive:
It starts with that cliché… one game at a time, one pitch at a time.
Refuse to let the past or future taint what will happen in the next game.
Avoid making major changes mid-season or trying to make your streak even better. You also don’t want to go searching for fixes if you have one bad outing.
Once you are in the midst of a hot streak, ride the momentum as far as you can and don’t question why!
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