Mental training is a skill that is generally the first one to be left out in a time crunch. Softball though is a very psychological sport that requires the ability to focus and react at the same time. For example, with a runner on first base, the shortstop knows exactly what to do when the ball gets there. But there are a few things that can go sideways (besides the throw… lol)
The runner takes off on the hit …….. is that a distraction? Everyone is yelling where to throw the ball …….. is that a distraction? The game is close and there is only one out …….. is that a distraction? there are friends and or family watching the game……. now that is a distraction. This is where mental training comes in. But when does it actually come in is the question.
The most ideal time to begin your mental training skill acquisition and refinement is ….. you guessed it… the off season and pre-season. When that ball is on the way to the shortstop is too late. Making use of your drills and adding stress to them will give the athletes opportunities to experiment with the skills as they are developing effective strategies that can be used during competition.
If you are an athlete then this is the time to experiment with cue words, relaxation, pre practice routines,. Write down your goals for the season as well. When the coach is hitting the ball to you in the gym, move closer, or think of a game situation that requires perfection even more because of the score or the importance of the game.
When you are setting your goals think of the playoffs first. How do you want to perform in the big game? Then take that information and look back at the previous season. Now what do you need to do to get to the place you want to for this season. Set short term goals for along the way that are attainable and that you can easily monitor.
Practice the pre-season with intent. Have a reason for everything and use all opportunities to perfect your skills in different situations. This is the time to prepare for that ball at shortstop with a runner on base in a close game. If you will be able to say you did all you could to prepare for that moment then you will be able to simply enjoy the moment, and it will be a great one regardless of the outcome.
Now start preparing for that moment.