Episode 2 – Focus to Meltdown
Today we are going to talk about the Mental game of softball. The focus to meltdown effect that we have all experienced. That transition that occurs around inning 3 or 4 where the team is doing awesome and then for some reason….. the focus appears to break and the errors begin. We will talk about how you can train your team and give them a better opportunity to be able to focus for the entire game.
So the way I see it…. the mind can sort of be compared to the physical skills of the body or what we call the biomotor abilities of athletes. What happens when we think of training the body aerobically. We think about being able to do something like walk or jog for more than 15-20 minutes. Or if we are doing something that ‘s more like endurance, we’re doing an activity that’s even higher intensity, and if we are doing an explosive or quick activity such as throwing or leading off the base in baserunning it’s the highest amount of intensity required that lasts less than a second.
Mental training is similar. I like to refer to is as psychological stamina. Players need to be focused for an entire game which could last 90 – 120 minutes. Or even longer if you go into extra innings. This could be thought of as aerobic fitness of the mind. While on defense, it’s more of an endurance requirement. Being able to stay focused through all three outs. The focus and ability to react quickly and correctly after the ball is hit is like an explosive event. So you can see where the the physical training reference can actually be similar in the mental game.
So now how do we train our mind the way we train our body for competition. It’s almost similar actually. The focus for a game is perfection. Errors lose games is what we tell our players. We need to practice for that type of intensity. What you can do is …. after teaching your athlete some mental skills such as relaxation, breathing and concentration skills, take a practice and make it a perfect practice. The entire practice is to be error free. Make sure though that you focus on the purpose of the practice which is to train the mind to be able to focus. We don’t often practice this but we expect it in a game.
It will be hard to do for the first time so I would recommend you do progressions. So do it for 10 minutes and progress up to 1 hour and then take a full 90 minutes with the transition to different drills being like moving from the field to the dugout after the 3 outs.
I am telling you that if you practice this, your team will be much more likely to be able to do it in a game. Make sense?
So that does it for this softball academy podcast. Next time I will talk about the numerous types of hitting that we see come and go and how you can help your players with the confusion that comes with going back and forth between a hitting coach and your philosophy on hitting.