The Six Mental Game Myths of Great Pitching [ARTICLE]
|The Six Mental Game Myths of Great Pitching|
|By: Ryan Kramer - Pitching Coach, Dickinson College
In my work as a pitching coach, it's becoming more and more standard for me to address, and then strip away, common falsehoods about the mental game and pitching. These myths were created in order to help pitchers (and all players), but sadly, they actually do the opposite.
In this spirit, here are the six most common mental-game myths when it comes to pitching, and the TRUTH that will help pitchers think, feel, and pitch their best.
Myth 1: Deliberate mental strategies are beneficial to pitchers.
Mental strategies require pitchers to think. And, as any pitcher who's ever been in “the zone” would attest, pitchers are at their best when they're not deliberately thinking. The truth is that everyone feels and performs better from mental clarity-and you can't find a clear mind by strategically adding thought.
Myth 2: To pitch well you must eliminate doubt and fear.
Many outstanding pitching performances began with the pitcher admitting that he was feeling insecure or anxious. Doubt and fear are part of being human. You can't defeat them. Trying to do so only adds more thought into an already fearful (cluttered) mind. Remember: Doubt and fear will fade when a pitcher takes the mound, avoids the temptation to eliminate them (cope), and allows his mind to self-correct (clear).
Myth 3: Pitchers can develop confidence.
The common theory that confidence is the result of how well a pitcher performs, or that confidence can be developed, is backwards. Regardless of what's happening on the field, confidence results from the normal ebb and flow of a pitcher's feelings. Clarity breeds confidence, clutter the opposite. Since both are normal, a pitcher is good to go either way.
Myth 4: It's helpful to try to focus.
Like confidence, a feeling of focus (or being present) comes and goes as clarity of mind comes and goes. Trying to focus requires thought and hard work. And thought and hard work clutter the mind, reducing the sensation of focus. Focus can't be forced. Stay in the game and allow the mind to do what will-only then will the compulsion to focus easily fall away.
Myth 5: Adjustments can be made deliberately.
Pitchers, and all human beings, are simply incapable of making intentional adjustments. Answers will appear, but only when a pitcher doesn't grind or search for them. Again, stay in the game. This allows answers (intuitive adjustments) to rise up and present themselves. That's called an insight, revelation, or “aha moment.” When that happens a pitcher is unbeatable.
Myth 6: Thinking can be controlled.
This myth is the ultimate pitching-performance killer. When it comes to the mental game, it's where many pitchers get off track. In truth: When a pitcher understands that he's not in control of his thinking, negative thoughts and feelings lose their energy and grip. Understanding thought, not controlling or managing it, is where a pitcher's resilience, perseverance, and power rest.
There's the list. As you can see, the less pitchers rely on common theories, techniques, and mental strategies-and the more they appreciate their inborn ability to self-correct-the better they'll feel and perform day to day, on, and off the baseball field.
Thanks for reading. Any questions, reach out to me anytime,