How would you rate yourself on mental toughness
among your softball peers? Is your mental game helping you, or hurting
you? What are you doing to improve your mental approach to softball?
I've been the mental game coach to local and national level and
State Championship softball players, and to players on NCAA Division
I collegiate softball programs. I've done this mental game coaching
in over 75 sports. I have noticed a few common mental areas where
many softball players need help. Softball players tend to be great
team players, but sometimes they need assistance on specific individual
Here are four mental strategies you can use that will show you just
how strong your mind can become.
- Know What To Focus On, And What To Avoid: When you are
fielding, what are the visual cues you utilize just as the pitch
is about to be released? Are you watching the pitcher? Her arm?
The ball? The catcher? The batter? Are you trying to figure out
whether the pitch will be a ball, a strike, or if the batter will
swing? Are you rehearsing in your mind what to do once the ball
is hit? I'm sure you don't do what some players dohope the
ball is not hit to them! As homework, take some time to figure
out exactly where your eyes should be at every stage of the pitcher's
actions. Consult your coach and determine the exact visual sequence
you will use to be a great fielder.
- Loose Hands Are Fast Hands: Too many softball players
lose bat speed in a game as compared to practice because they
tense up. All coaches know this. But why does it happen? There
are mental reasons. Perhaps the player thinks her usual swing
speed won't be good enough in a game. Maybe the player is trying
to hit a homer every time up. Maybe the player is afraid, and
she is unaware that her grip has tightened. Regardless of the
reason, you want to calibrate your proper grip tension in practice.
Take some swings that you deem to be excellent. Are they tight,
more toward a 7, 8, 9 or 10? Or are they looser, more like a 4,
3, 2 or 1? Once you determine the ideal number for you, dial that
number in at game time. Then swing away!
- Own The Plate: Having strong, confident body language
at the plate is important for a number of reasons. First, you
will send the message out that you are a batter to be respected.
Perhaps the pitcher and fielders will react accordingly. Next,
your breath control will be better. A tall stance allows the lungs
to operate more freely as compared to a crouched over position.
Finally, you will feel more confident. An aggressive, athletic
posture gives you a feeling of being in control. Stand tall and
your mental powers will rise.
- Know Your Rituals: You want to have a pre-batting ritual,
an at-bat ritual and post-batting ritual. These three rituals
give your mental approach a consistency that can't be found with
random rituals, or with no rituals at all. Only you can know what
each ritual should have in it, so test these out in practice.
Get them set and then stick with them in games. Rituals give you
security that you have a process to follow. Players who rush or
who drag out their rituals are exhibiting some inner turmoil or
changes, so keep your rituals consistent and you will feel better,
focus better and hit better.
Since you now know more about the mental game of softball, and
of how to manage your own mental approach, you can look forward
to improving your effectiveness and enjoyment in your favorite sportsoftball.
Remember, know your visual focus cues, keep your hands loose, monitor
your body language and sharpen your rituals. Good luck!
For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an
assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths
and weaknesses. Here is a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport
psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot.
This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and
weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating
your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program
you undertake with mental coach
Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment
would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture
about your mental game.
Copyright © 2014 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on sports psychology, peak performance,
mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William
B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps sports teams and individuals
achieve more success. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association, an organization dedicated to advancing
the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching
worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published author of books and articles,
and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports and big-time
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