Strategies to Improve Mental Toughness
Mental toughness is the key to consistent performance in baseball.
Being mentally tough helps you to handle all the adversity that strikes during a baseball season.
Slumps, injuries, demotion, personal issues, errors, under-performing and a host of other challenges can happen at any time.
Many times, it is not one challenge, but a combination of challenges or setbacks that can distract your on the field…
Maybe you can identify with the following story…
Gary G. is a high school junior pitcher with high hopes of getting an athletic scholarship to a Division I university.
Gary is a power pitcher with good command of his pitches.
As a sophomore, Gary dominated in his starts and established himself as a strikeout pitcher.
Gary knew that his junior year was the time when college recruiters will be scouting his games.
Unfortunately, Gary pulled a hamstring early in preseason and lost a lot of practice time.
Gary was moved to the bullpen to start the season and feared this would affect his scholarship opportunities.
Gary tried to throw even harder to regain his starter’s role but had difficulty locating his pitches.
To complicate matters, Gary’s grades suffered due to the added pressure he felt.
Gary felt his season slipping away and found it difficult to focus on the field as well as in the classroom…
You may not have experience the same adversity, but you certainly have experienced and battled with your own challenges that affect your ability to focus and play at your peak.
You might have thought: “This is bad timing,” but you you can’t always control what happens to you.
However, you can control your mental state and how you respond to challenges during your athletic career.
Mental toughness is not a measure of your manliness, but how you react to adversity.
How you react to adversity is the one thing you CAN control.
Mental skills coach Bob Tewksbury knows just what it is like to drudge through personal adversity and the need for mental toughness.
Prior to becoming a mental skills coach, Tewksbury pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues for six teams and was an All-Star with the Cardinals in 1992.
Tewksbury also had his share of adversity:
- Two surgeries
- Demoted seven times
- Traded several times
- Released by teams
- Played away from home
- Experienced performance issues, etc.
Tewksbury now works with the San Francisco Giants as a mental skills coach.
Tewksbury helps the players work through adversity and develop the mental toughness based on his experiences.
Giants’ outfielder Mac Williamson sought Tewksbury’s advice as he battled for the left-field job this preseason.
Williamson knew that he needed to be mentally tougher after he split time between the majors and minors last year and battled injuries.
WILLIAMSON: “Last year, it was a little bit trying going up and down. This year, I want to focus on being healthy, staying healthy and doing a better job of staying on the field… Last year, there were times I put too much pressure on myself to come through in situations when I needed to just let things come to me a little more.”
Just like Williamson has realized, mental toughness prepares and enables you to handle all challenges that get in your path and improves your mental game on the field.
Try this tip to enhance your mental toughness:
Focus only on what you can control. Cope with that you can’t control.
How can you cope better? You change you reaction to the things you can’t control.
Look at your situation differently… How will this new challenge help you grow as an athlete or person?
When you are hit by adversity, such as an injury, it’s hard to look past the pain and frustration.
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