Winning the Mental Game of Softball is about Being in Control & Staying Focused. There are two concepts about staying in control: You cannot control what happens around you, but you can control how you choose to respond to any situation and winning the mental game of softball is learning to control the controllables.
Skills for Gaining Control
Step 1: Recognize when you are not in Control. When
you recognize that you are not in control you are now able to make an adjustment to get yourself relaxed & focused.
Step 2: Take a deep breath. Taking a deep breath is a powerful tool for gaining control. Taking a good breath will do the following: 1) put your focus on the present moment. Focusing on your breath helps you concentrate on the present moment because your breath is coming in and out right now. 2) A good breath will enable you to check in with yourself to see if you are in control. If you can’t get yourself to take a deep breath it may be because your mind is going too fast to remember to do it. This is a good indicator that you aren’t in control and that you need to take an extra moment. 3) A deep breath will help you gain control. If you are in a situation when the game is going extremely fast this usually means you are not in control. A deep breath will help slow your mind down. 4) A good deep breath will help you release negatives. When you exhale think of blowing off that fly ball you misjudged, or that high pitch you swung at, or any negative that happened.
Step 3: Take some time. During a game time can be your best friend. The great thing about softball you can tie your shoelaces, take a short walk, or do some things between pitches to get yourself settled down.
Step 4: Use a Release to let go negative thoughts and feelings. Develop a routine or gesture to symbolically “release” or let go of the negative thoughts. Examples: Pick up some dirt, rosin bag, or grass. Put your anger or frustration into it by squeezing it and then throwing it away telling yourself that you are throwing away the last pitch, the error you made, or whatever is annoying you. Another way to release a negative is to wipe it out of your mind. Pitchers can use a foot to wipe dirt from the pitching rubber to wipe away their anger over something they just did. Hitters can clear out something that has them upset by smoothing the batters box before they step in. Infielders can smooth footprints in the dirt to clean up after an error.
Step 5: Pick a focal point. Pick an object such as a sign, flag, a place on fence, etc. This point should remind you that you of all the work you have done to get where you are today. You paid your dues, and you’re ready to perform. Have your focal point remind you to play 1 pitch at a time.
Step 6: Carry yourself with confidence. Project the image that says, “I’m in control” regardless of how you feel. If you don’t feel confident, act as if you are confident. You can fake it to make it!
Step 7: Use Performance-Related Triggers. Use objects or pieces of equipment to trigger your focus. Pitchers can use the rubber as a trigger t shift into a trusting mind-set. Stepping on the rubber means you are ready for this pitch. Your focus is right here, right now. Don’t step on the rubber until you are in the Green Zone. Hitter can use the batter’s box. When you step into the box you are ready. Your focus is on the pitcher and the softball. If you are not focused and committed to your plan step out of the box and take the time you need. When you step in the box you are focused and ready for the pitch.
Step 8: Use visualization Techniques. Visualizing is an effective way of enhancing your focus and blocking out distractions such as bad calls, fans, opponents, etc.
Step 9. Use cue words to get focused and in the present. Top softball players learn that during the heat of competition, it helps to focus on 1 or 2 simple things that remind them what to do in order to succeed. Performance cues should be simple, positive, & focus on your strengths.
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