Having Expectations can Harm Your Game
How do expectations affect play on the field?
Most softball players and baseball players understand how positive or negative expectations can hurt their game. After a bad outing on the mound, a couple of hit-less games or some errors in the field, some players may have the expectations that their woes will follow them into the next game.
Negative expectations create mental clutter and increased tension in the body making it difficult to play your best in future games. As you can see, negative expectations have a negative impact on your game.
If negative expectations are bad, then positive expectations are good, right?
You would think so but that is not the case in many instances. High expectations was a recent topic raised by one ballplayer in our Softball/ Baseball Mental Toughness Survey:
“I want to hit consistently and I don’t I feel there is a mental blockage but sometimes after a great game I come back and expect to do the same, but usually do less than I expect to do.”
It is easy to understand that carrying negative expectations into your next game would detract from your play on the field… But why would carrying high expectations for your hitting not help you the next outing?
You would think high expectations would lead to positive results.
When you EXPECT to play just as well as the previous game, you are placing undue pressure on yourself to perform. You are judging your game based on a great game from the past.
For example, in your last game, you were 4-for-4 with two RBIs. You are feeling great about how well you played. In fact, it was one of your best games during this season. You were seeing the ball well, making good contact and driving the ball into the gaps.
You see no reason to believe your next game will be any different. Your first at-bat, in the very next game, you feel a bit nervous rather than the confidence you experienced in the previous game.
You need a hit to continue your streak. You fall behind in the count and start pressing at the plate. Your swing feels late and the next pitch you slap at the ball, making weak contact for an easy groundout. This approach tends to continue at the plate for the rest of the game.
Your high expectations had the same result as negative expectations. Your thoughts became mental clutter causing physical tension, throwing off your swing at the plate.
Your best games occur when you are not paying attention to your thoughts, that is, you are not overthinking or thinking about the outcome of your at-bat.
If you looked back at your 4-for-4 game, you were probably focused on the ball and just swung the bat. Between each pitch, you were getting ready for the next pitch. Your approach was one of pure trust and focus in the present moment.
By eliminating expectations and the judgement that comes with this, you free your mind of clutter and increase the chances of successful at-bats.
How to Overcome High Expectations
Expectations distract you from the present moment. You can manage expectations by being aware of the standards you place on your game.
Next, focus on the small objectives that will lead to a desired outcome, such as seeing the ball early or swinging aggressively.
Stay in the moment by focusing on your at-bat routine. Focusing on performing your will help you focus on what’s important instead of having judgemental expectations.
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