Expectations and Pressure Players Feel To be Perfect
Part of baseball that players dream about is making flashy plays; fully laying out to snag a line drive, throwing out a player at home, diving for a ground ball to throw out a runner, hitting a walk-off single, etc.
Many times, those flashy plays show off a player’s abilities. These flashy plays provide a powerful dose of intensity and confidence.
The problem with making spectacular plays is that those types of plays are few and far between.
The best way to feel a high level of confidence is giving yourself credit for making routine plays.
How does making a routine play help confidence? After all, you should always be able to make routine plays, right? It’s an expectations most players have when they play…
But let’s consider the converse. One of the biggest confidence-crushers is making an error on a routine play–the one you are supposed to make all the time.
Errors are often routine plays that go wrong… Overthrowing the first baseman, letting a ground ball roll through your legs… dropping a routine fly.
Errors often cause thoughts such as, “I can’t believe I booted that grounder,” “What’s wrong with me?” or “I can’t believe I made that stupid mistake.”
Your negative thoughts become worse when the error contributes to your team losing or giving up a run.
In addition, a negative cycle hurts confidence even further…
You make an error on a routine play, your thoughts become negative and self-critical, negative emotions (frustration, anger, sadness) ensue and you doubt your ability to make easy plays, which can lead to more mistakes.
Making routine plays keeps your confidence stable. Making routine plays fosters trust in your skills.
Errors can wear on your teammates and impact your team as a whole. For example, pitchers will need to make more pitches, hitters will press at the plate and teammates will feel an increased sense of pressure.
When it comes to errors, the Seattle Mariners are on pace for 193 errors this season, more than one error a game. For the Mariners, routine plays are anything but routine.
In the first 80 games of the season, the Mariners have lost 46 games, many which were impacted by errors.
Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais played 11 seasons in the major leagues and understands how routine plays impact performance.
SERVAIS: “You’ve got to make plays. You’ve got to catch the ball in this league. Once the ball gets rolling negatively, you’ve got to stop it and turn it around… It’s got that snowball effect right now. It’s something we’ve got to get right… In this league, it’s 27 outs, no more.”
Many players work on the problem by taking extra infield and outfield work. But the answer to the problem is more mental in nature. Build stable confidence so errors won’t rock your belief.
And with stable confidence, making routine plays becomes easier and more consistent.
How to Have Stable Confidence:
Often players seek to avoid errors instead of wanting the ball every play. “Wanting the ball” is a mindset that you trust in your ability to make routine plays.
Repeat to yourself, “I want the ball” sends a message to the body that you have the ability and confidence to make routine plays freeing your body and mind from the tension that interferes with your ability to make plays.
Remind yourself that true confidence is based on years of practice and competition, not the last error or bad at-bat.
Stable confidence comes from knowing you hare the same player with the same skills–even when you make mistakes!
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