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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Baseball


Coaching Youth Baseball - The Mental Game

Jake Wyatt

In youth baseball training, often the coach is just trying to make sure the players are able to hit and catch the baseball. Basic skills are taught first. As kids get older and are more serious, coaches, parents and players need to work specifically on the mental aspect of the game during baseball training. Kids need more than an "atta boy" or "nice try, better luck next time" to be able to master their mind.

The mind is constantly providing positive and negative self talk. Usually there is more negative self talk than positive. Even professional baseball players can be affected by negative self talk - everyone has witnessed unprofessional behavior in a major league baseball game.

Here are some ways for coaches to help players work on and improve their mental game of hitting baseballs.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The more a player practices hitting, the better ball player he will be. The better ball player he is, the more confidence he will have. So when it is his turn at bat, the self-talk will be positive rather than negative, because he knows he is able to hit a home run or a solid line drive. He's done it before in practice. As a player has more success in actual baseball games, his confidence will soar even higher.

Make Sure The Players Are Having Fun

Don't let them take their turn at bat too seriously. Players should be having fun doing what they enjoy, playing baseball! Every player has struck out at the worst possible time at least once and lived to tell about it, even major league players. Have the kids practice walking out to the batter's box with a smile on their face, even if they have to force a smile. It will help them relax.

Practice Visualization

Once the player is at the plate, help him go through the swing in his mind. Have him visualize the pitcher throwing a perfect ball and visualize where he will hit it. Tell him to concentrate on the pitcher, and realize he is probably nervous too. Tell the player to keep his mind busy visualizing success. This will help crowd out those negative thoughts.

Have Each Player Develop An "At Bat" Style To Help Keep Them Calm

For example, Evan Longoria looks at the left foul pole when he gets upset at bat. This helps him regain his focus, clear his head and calm down. Each player should develop something on their own, such as tapping the plate three times before each time at bat, or putting their hand back. Something simple that isn't too obvious, but that he will know is his signature "at bat" style.

Remind Kids That What You Focus On Usually Comes True

If a player is worried that he will strike out, he probably will. Let players know that the more they worry about something, the more chance that it will come true. Have them focus intently on what they want to happen, like hitting a home run or hitting a line drive right past first base.

Remove Emotion

Every at bat should be treated like the first. Encourage players to not let what happened at a previous at bat affect their current swing. Remember, a hitter with a 300 average means a fail 7 out of 10 times! And 300 hitters are paid millions of dollars in professional ball. Tell them that if the did poorly their last at bat, that means their chances of doing better this time have improved!

If kids can control their emotions and mental state, their baseball game will improve dramatically. And they will have more fun!

In order to be the best baseball player you can be, training should happen year-round and be a joint effort between the coach, the player and the parents. Get more free tips to improve baseball performance, reviews of e-products related to baseball, and links to training resources at

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