How to Stay Mentally Prepared on The Bench
How can a baseball player stay mentally sharp when not starting a game?
For a starter, that player can go through their normal routine of batting practice, fielding practice, warm-up, stretching, getting equipment ready and dressing in his uniform.
All this pregame preparation is the build-up to being ready for the first pitch of the game in the first inning.
A starter has minimal uncertainty.
That player knows he is in the lineup, what position he will be playing and where he is hitting in batting order.
Being on the bench has much more uncertainty than a starter:
- “Will I get into the game?”
- “What position will I play?”
- “What will be the game situation?”
- “What pitcher will I face?”
- “What inning will I enter the game if at all?”
All this uncertainty can bring with it a higher degree of nerves and frustration in some cases.
When a player comes off the bench, he is usually thrust into a pressure situation with his team needing an important out, a big hit, a move of a teammate into scoring position or a strong defensive play in the field.
It is important to stay mentally sharp while staying relatively relaxed and ready to play.
Being ready to play at any moment is key to your success..
Prepare in practice… Go through your same pregame warm-up… Stay engaged during the game… Know the game situation… Identify what you would do if you were inserted in the game in those game situations.
All these proactive steps will help you stay mentally sharp even if you are on the bench.
Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez prides himself on his ablity to stay focused whether he is the starter or coming off the bench.
Nunez played in 127 games during the 2018 MLB season and was a major reason for Boston’s World Series run.
In Game 1 of the World Series, Nunez came off the bench as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning and delivered with a game-sealing three-run home run and helped Boston to take the first game of the championship series.
After the game, Nunez talked about the types of things he undertook to prepare prior and during the game that helped him stay mentally sharp and helped him capitalize on his opportunity when called upon in the game.
NUNEZ: “Watch the video, watch the game, watch the situation, watch what’s going on watch the match-up, hitting the tee, hitting machine, so we were prepared.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora pointed to the importance of being mentally ready for any opportunity to impact the game.
CORA: “[Nunez] was prepared. He wasn’t upset, actually, that he wasn’t playing. I told him, ‘Be ready, man. You might have a big at-bat tonight and do your thing.’ And he did.”
Just because you start a game on the bench doesn’t mean you won’t get your number called and contribute to the team’s success.
If you want to make the most of your opportunity, you must stay mentally sharp throughout the entire game.
How to Stay Mentally Sharp on the Bench:
Stay mentally engaged with every pitch throughout the game.
Just like a manager is thinking one step ahead, run through what you would do in certain game situations as if you were playing.
Be mentally prepared to go in at the start of every inning. That means you’re thinking about how to get ready to go in before your number is called.
For more tips on improving pregame mental preparation, check out our audio and workbook program, “The Mental Edge For Baseball and Softball Players”:
Get The Mental Edge For Baseball and Softball Players!
Do you (or your athletes) lack full confidence in your skills when you step on the field as if your game disappears at game time?
Do you lose composure easily after you make your first error of time game?
Do you feel embarrassed after striking out and carry this with you for longer than one inning?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, check out The Mental Edge For Baseball And Softball Players!
Boost your (or your athletes mental) toughness! Learn 8 mental toughness lessons to help ball players improve confidence, focus and composure.
Download your copy TODAY and start boosting your mental toughness!
What are baseball mental game customers saying?
“Dr. Cohn, I’ve been tearing it up lately!!! Every single thing you taught me works perfectly in every situation I’ve been in. I’ve been so into every game and focusing on the process and not the outcomes and everything falls right into place . In the playoffs I’m 5-7 with 2 run home runs and 5 RBIs. I feel great at the plate and focusing is a breeze now. I just wanted to thank you for everything and keep you posted with how everything was going.”
~Jalen Phillips, College Baseball Player
“With your help, I have been able to deal with stress and pressure of the game of baseball more efficiently. I have learned to help me keep my focus and disregard negative thoughts and energies. This process focus will keep me from getting my head in the way of my performance, from working against myself. Thanks for your help. I look forward to speaking with you again.”
~Keith Donnell, college baseball player
“Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with our team. It was greatly appreciated and really helped a lot. I found myself implementing your teachings in our first practice right after you left. I really enjoyed the way you implemented already known ideas, but gave us a different way of viewing it. Thank you.”
~Amber Prosser, Clark College Softball
Boost Your Self-Confidence And Focus With Expert Mental Game Coaching!
Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal coaching.
You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone. Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!
What are our mental coaching students saying?
“As a college softball coach I experience great pleasure in helping youth league coaches develop their young players. As reversal of that process, I, as the student, look to experts like yourself to give me the “mechanics” of sports psychology so that I may better impart my knowledge to the players and coaches. Your contribution spreads like wildfire and helps hundreds of youngsters as well as us “oldies.” Thanks for your contribution–it means a lot.”
~Tom Moore, College Softball Coach
“A quick note to let you know how effective your programs worked for my son who is 17 and plays varsity baseball in VA. In late 2009, I ordered the Relaxed Athlete program for my son because I saw he was pressing too hard at the plate and had disappointing results for the 2009 season. Thanks to your programs, my son now has a completely new approach to the game of baseball (and school) and it’s more fun for him now. He made all-district player at his position and hit .443 this season. A complete 180 degree turn around from last year.”
~Mark M., sports parent
“Dr. Cohn has put together a program that has enabled myself and our players to approach the mental game in a systematic way that is easy to use and apply. Our awareness level has greatly increased.”
~Marty Hunter, Head Baseball Coach George Fox University