How To Become a Clutch Hitter
Are you are clutch hitter or do you choke with the game on the line?
Some baseball players shudder at the thought of coming to the plate in the bottom of the ninth…
You can feel the anxiety build as you sit in the dugout… by the time you step on the on-deck circle, your heart is in your throat…
Then, it is your time… two outs and the game depends on you…
Your muscles are tight and you feel so jumpy that you swing at pitches out of the strike zone and freeze on a called third strike… Game over… and you feel responsible for costing your team the game.
Don’t you wish you could come through in the clutch? If only you could figure out how clutch hitters pull off those walk-off hits.
Clutch hitters deal with the pressure better…
When you put excessive pressure on yourself to not make the final out, your physiology changes.
It is impossible to play your best when you are a bundle of nerves and your muscles are so tight that it affects how you swing the bat.
But the reality is even clutch hitters feel some degree of pressure.
There is an optimal range of pressure that helps athletes perform optimally.
Peak performance is a matter of managing pressure or keeping yourself in that optimal range.
Washington Nationals’ first baseman/outfielder Clint Robinson was in that game-on-the-line situation in an early season match-up against the Detroit Tigers. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Robinson came to the plate with the game on the line.
This season, Robinson is hitting .214 with up to this moment, only one homerun. Robinson had never hit a walk-off homer in the majors at this point in his career.
Despite the odds, Robinson was clutch in this game driving the ball over the right field fence for the dramatic win ending the Nationals’ four-game losing streak.
What was the secret to Robinson’s clutch homerun?
Robinson didn’t feel the pressure because he mistakenly thought it was the eighth inning.
ROBINSON: “Rounding first, I thought it was a go-ahead homer. Thinking it was the eighth inning probably had a little bit of a calming effect on me.”
Robinson was just focused on putting the bat on the ball. Robinson was immersed in the moment rather than playing out negative scenarios in his head.
This lessened sense of pressure kept Robinson relaxed and able to execute his normal swing.
ROBINSON: “You lose track of the inning sometimes. I really wasn’t worried about the inning. I am just looking for a fastball in the zone I can drive.”
The key to managing pressure is in your head… it is how you view the game situation.
Managing pressure is a matter of staying present in the moment instead of projecting potential future outcomes.
Try this tip to perform your best in the clutch:
What you perceive about a situation will determine the level of pressure you feel.
Tell yourself it is the beginning of the game or no different than an exhibition game.
Change the situation in your head, change the amount of pressure you feel.
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