What is your thought process when your team is on a winning streak?
Are you enjoying the game, or are you worried about being the one who causes the streak to end?
When you are at the start of a streak, playing is fun. Even practice is enjoyable when you are winning. During the early stages of a streak, you feel loose and confident.
However, the longer the streak continues, some players’ perspectives change…
They hear people outside the team talk about the streak. Even though you try to avoid the “streak” talk, you hear it. It seeps into your mind.
Rather than playing the game, you start thinking about keeping the streak going. The streak itself becomes a distraction.
Trying to block out or avoid the streak talk is not always the best solution. Here’s why. Trying not to focus on the streak is still focusing on the streak.
When the streak consumes you, you are usually not focused on how to continue the streak or execute your role; you are overly concerned about not being the one who causes the streak to end.
Focusing too much on the streak affects every aspect of the game:
- “I have to strike out this batter. I can’t let up a run and force our team to make a comeback late in the game.”
- “I hope I’m not the one who makes an error when the game is on the line.”
- “I gotta keep this inning alive so we can score some runs. We only have a few more innings to make a comeback and keep the streak alive.”
What do all these scenarios have in common?
These situations escalate the pressure to perform. It’s not the situation that causes pressure, but you put the pressure on yourself to not lose, not mess up, not make a mistake, not to screw up the streak, and not be the one to blame.
The key is having a positive, productive focus rather than worrying about keeping the winning streak alive.
Focus on preparing yourself mentally and physically, carrying out your role for the game, understanding the game situations, avoiding trying to do too much, and taking the game one pitch at a time.
When you focus on what you want to do in the moment, you minimize pressure and enhance production at the plate, making plays in the field or throwing strikes.
During the middle of the 2023 MLB season, the Cincinnati Reds were on an 11-game winning streak. The 11-game streak was the club’s longest win streak since 1957.
How was Cincinnati able to maintain its forward momentum?
Reds catcher Luke Maile attributed the team’s success to focusing on positive habits.
MAILE: “When you’ve got nine guys and whoever on the mound going through the right processes over and over again, you form those habits. We’ve got a bunch of really good habits going on right now.”
According to Reds outfielder Jake Fraley, the team’s approach to each game has not changed, and the players feel no pressure to keep the streak alive.
FRALEY: “That’s something that, for us, has been very simple. Who are we facing next? And what do we need to do to put ourselves in the best position to win? We’ve done a phenomenal job of that.”
Winning streaks result from a combination of a consistent approach, positive habits, and a narrow focus on playing the current game one pitch at a time with no worry about the outcome.
The best strategy for success is to continue focusing on the factors that contributed to the wins early in the streak.
What were you focused on during those games? How did you prepare? What did you think about or avoid thinking about when you were playing your best?
Within a winning streak is a formula for success. Replicating that process will lead to consistent peak performance.
Stay hungry and don’t get complacent with a lead.
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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