Handling pressure in baseball is something that is not easily accomplished, and often breaks many pitchers. To be at his best, a pitcher must be relaxed and throw each pitch with a fluid motion that is uninterrupted by conscious thought and control.
Basically, when we get into trouble, pitchers start to “try” – we aim, we overthink, and we end up doing more harm than good by meddling with a pitching motion that is complex. In this article, I’ll give you four strategies to help handle pressure on the mound better, so we can make the BIG pitch when it counts.
Strategy #1: Words of Confidence
The best defensive is a good offense.
Confidence words can be repeated during a pitcher’s meditation practice (which he should have, and if not, he should click here to listen why), during quiet time, while on the mound and any other time when he’s thinking about the game.
They help remind you who you are, and what you want to embody.
Strategy #2: The Belly Breath
When we take the time to meditate or set aside quiet, reflective time in pregame, breathing out and in from the belly (called diaphragmatic breathing) is said to help calm the body. And, breathing in this way when we are calm, in our happy place, will help return us there when we do it later, when we are not in a happy place.
So, when you get into trouble on the mound, take a belly breath – push the stomach out and in, get a deep breath, and return yourself to your place of calm and confidence.
Strategy #3: Use Positive Self-Talk
Think you’re going to fail? You will. Think you’ll succeed? You’re much more likely to. The messages we tell ourselves matter…a LOT.
Here’s a flow of positive vs. negative self-talk. Remind yourself that YOU have the power to control the dialogue in your head, which contributes heavily to the outcome. We go through numerous flows like this ins my course, Ace of the Staff.
Strategy #4: One-Pitch Mindset.
That win? Its YOUR win.
They can’t have it. They don’t deserve it. They can’t beat you and you’re not going to let them.
But, you can’t do it all at once. You have to take it one pitch at a time. The first shovel-full is the only way you’ll eventually dig yourself all the way out.
Remind yourself that THIS PITCH is the only pitch that matters, the only pitch you can control.
Execute THIS PITCH and you’ll be on your way to getting out of that jam.
Use These Four Strategies
Everything mentioned above is simple and can have a profound effect on any player. But, they have to used regularly and practiced just like any other aspect of the game. Devote time during pregame and in your weekly routine to make mental training a priority.