Moving Past Mental Blocks
Many ball players that do one-on-one mental coaching with me are plagued by mental blocks…
They under perform based on skills shown in practice.
Is there a skill you perform consistently in practice but can’t do well in games?
During a game, a pitcher may throw a bad pitch that he normally performs flawlessly…
At the next game, he may experience images of his mistake coupled with a sense of fear of failure…
He may see himself reenacting the same mistake, over-analyze on technique, tense up… and miss again!
Each pitch he misses tends to reinforce the idea that he cannot perform this skill successfully in games.
Can you hurdle a mental block when you approach it with a physical change?
First, let’s define a mental block.
A mental block is a mental game obstacle that prevents you from performing a particular skill in games.
How does a mental block develop?
Sometimes, one bad experience attempting a particular skill can lead to a mental block.
When you mess up a well learned skill during a game, some ball players then have a tendency to over-think the skill in future games.
When you are performing at your peak, you can perform those same skills intuitively. You don’t overloading yourself with detailed information and directions on how to perform the skill.
How can you overcome a mental block?
Well, the answer is easy but the application can be difficult… Let go of over-generalizations and avoid over-thinking the skill.
Is it possible to not think about performing a particular skill?
Sure it is! Let’s see an everyday example… think of some habit that you perform unconsciously, like riding a bike…
When you first learned to ride, you were a bundle of nerves and it took a lot of conscious thought and effort.
The more you rode your bike, the more you learned how to balance, move forward, brake and probably ride with no hands. Now you ride can with no conscious thought at all…
The more experience you gain from performing a skill, the more automatic it becomes…
Even if you crash your bike, you most likely pick yourself up and continue on.
It is anxiety and fear that interfere with learned skills…
By consciously thinking about how to perform a skill, you move away from habit where you perform most efficiently. Just like when you consciously thought of riding your bike, you become shaky and fearful.
The answer is to trust the habits you have developed through repetition in practice, instead of trying to solve a problem by thinking your way through it–or trying to be perfect with it.
Try these strategies to hurdle mental blocks during games:
- Tip #1: You should recall and rehearse all your successful attempts at performing the skill prior to the game. This will help increase your confidence for the start of the game.
- Tip #2: You should learn how to refocus. When you notice your thoughts drifting to past mistakes, take a deep breath and get out of your head by focusing on an object in the diamond or feeling a successful attempt. This will help to interrupt the distracting thoughts.
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Mental Game of Baseball Success Stories
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“By consciously thinking about how to perform a skill, you move away from habit where you perform most efficiently. ”
Great point. At some point you can’t be thinking, you just have to trust your body to do the work. Yes, you need to be aware of what you are doing so you can make corrections as you go, but over thinking every movement just adds more stress than you need.
As a high-school player with hopes of advancing to the next level, the topic of beating my mental blocks has always been a problem for me. I can’t seem to pinpoint what exactly is keeping me from playing at the best of my ability. Whether it be self-doubt, lack of focus, or just a need for mental toughening, I struggle with getting to my zen point and letting my talent shine.
This article was a real help, it gave me something new to try as I prepare for my next season. Thanks! #MAHSBaseball #PonyUp