Keeping Your Lead When Winning
Does your team seem to relax when they have a big lead?
For many teams, maintaining the lead and finishing off the game is hard to do.
Finishing a game strongly is primarily mental, not physical.
Physical skills can only carry your team so far. A team also needs a strong mental game to allow them to continue their aggressive play.
Recently, the Detroit Tigers blew a 6-1 lead game against the Texas Rangers. The Tigers were able to regroup and clenched an 8-6 win in the ninth inning. Brandon Inge played an important role in the Tigers’ victory with his second homer of the season.
“Sometimes you hit a spurt where no matter where you hit it, it ends up being an out. But that ends eventually. You try not to get too frustrated with things. I felt it was a matter of time. I needed to relax,” said Inge.
What can happen when a team lets the lead slip away?
Below you’ll find the top mental challenges teams face that can cause them to blow a lead:
- Thinking too far ahead. Some teams have thought they’ve won the game before it’s over. They lose focus in the present moment, such as the current pitch, at-bat, or game plan. Help your athletes think about what’s important to focus on in the moment, such as reading the pitch or focusing on the target. Remind athletes to refocus when they’re distracted.
- Letting up because of a comfort zone. Some teams expect to win or lose against a certain team or by a certain score. Therefore, when teams are playing better than expected, they protect their score, sit on the lead and play tentatively. You’ll want your team to stay aggressive.
- Lack of intensity or boredom. Related to the comfort zones, teams will lose intensity and feel that they are just going through the motions. They may have reached a state of boredom, not feeling challenged. Therefore, you’ll want to encourage your team to challenge themselves. You’ll want to set challenging goals such as varying your pitches or improving your fielding assists.
- Trying too hard to keep a lead. Some teams will protect their lead and thus play more defensively. You think that you don’t have to score anymore runs and you can play good defense to win the game. This can be dangerous when your opponents win back momentum and make a run.
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