Have you even standing up at the plate staring out at the pitcher, or on the
mound nervously looking at your catcher for a sign and wanted to hide? Just maybe crawl under the
plate, or peel back the pitching rubber and slip underneath for a bit and let someone else deal
with the situation?
There is a slight smile on my face while I'm writing this because I can't tell you how many times
those thoughts had occurred to me while playing through college and professionally. But, for every
one of those quick moments of despair, confusion, uncertainty, or dread, I've had dozens of high
quality confident thoughts. And this is the key and the topic of this article. The ratio of high
quality to low quality thoughts needs to be significantly greater if you are looking to maximize
your talent and fully understand the mental game
It’s quite simply actually when you step back from a situation and analyze it. An athlete can only
have one of two different kinds of thoughts while in a performance. They are either high quality
thoughts or low quality thoughts. Let me define both.
High quality thoughts: These are positive and forward thinking thoughts that are
designed to build confidence and positive expectedness. High quality thoughts usually remain in the
present tense (while in a performance) and help an athlete rise to a challenge. For example, "I
will hit (present tense) this pitcher for a double in the gap", or "There is no chance this batter
hits me now (present tense)". It’s important to always control your thinking in the present. Future
and past thinking is where low quality will thrive.
Low quality thoughts: These thoughts are negative in nature and do absolutely
nothing to help an athlete succeed. Unfortunately, the more an athlete is struggling, the more
prevalent low quality thoughts can be found circulating in this mind. These thoughts are disease
ridden and can affect a performance tremendously. Examples of low quality thoughts include, "I hope
I don't strike out (future tense)", or "I really can't believe I walked that guy (past tense)."
Now that I have defined these term and you now have an awareness of the two types of thinking, the
question is how to add it to your game.
1. Prevent any speech that has anything negative in nature about a performance. Negative talk can
be directed towards oneself, others, the game, the length of practice, conditioning, or a myriad of
any other situations or things. Effectively eliminating this type of low quality speech will reduce
the amount of time the mind will choose to access these poor thoughts when in tough situations that
are high pressure.
2. Use focus points. When the mind is fully focused on any given object, there is no ability for
additional thoughts to pass through the mind. Therefore, training should be given to hitters to
have them focus on a piece of the plate for a second as they step up to the plate. A pitcher may
pause briefly before the wind up on the stare at a place in this glove or a seam on the baseball.
This brief moment of 100% focus will dismiss any poor thinking occurring within the athlete and
allow him to train his focus to the present tense and the task at hand.