A strong mindset is what every coach is looking for, every parent is proud of and every player could use more of. While there is no consensus among sports psychologists as to what exactly mental toughness is or how it can be developed, coaches, parents and teammates know it the moment they see it. Many youth baseball players will tell you mental toughness is a crucial factor differentiating the average from the good and the good from the best.
Strong mindset is one of the most overused terms across all sports by athletes, coaches, team owners, analysts, sports writers and fans. While Webster defines strong mindset as the ability to consistently perform toward the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances, coaches essentially describe it as resilience – the ability to quickly recover from difficulty and defeat. Some are of the opinion that this is an acquired positive mindset.
What characteristics are typical of players with a strong mindset?
Baseball Players with a strong mindset attribute it to two things – clarity of mind and firmness of purpose. They wish to be great and settling for anything less is never an option. They know how to stand tall in the face of adversity, make fewer mistakes, possess quality work ethics and have a winning mentality and tremendous self-confidence.
Mentally tough performers refuse to be intimidated because they are equipped to stay focused and manage pressure in all situations. While winning is important, it cannot be achieved at any cost. Character is equally important, if not more. Even though such personalities hate to lose, you will never find them dwelling on their defeat. They accept losing as a natural consequence of meeting someone better on a given day. They are gracious in defeat because they still believe in themselves and nothing can get in their way of looking at the future positively.
How can you develop a strong mindset?
First things first, toughness builds over time and with multiple chances to succeed, fail, adjust and move on. Having said that, there are several things that young baseball players can do to develop a stronger mindset. Let’s dive right in!
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Control what you can control
This is effectively the first step in developing a strong mindset. When the season is long and each day presents fresh opportunities to contribute to your team, think about what you can do beyond the obvious – hitting a home run, making a diving catch or pitching a shutout. You can also help your team by being a good co-player, getting on base, advancing a passed ball, making a play in the field, expanding the opponent pitcher’s count etc. Help comes in many forms.
Have a positive attitude
Separate your emotions from your performances. Coaches, parents, teammates and fans should not be able to tell what kind of game you played after a win or a loss. Be happy after a win and determined after a loss but don’t get carried away after either. Valuable teammates are able to control their outbursts in order to foster a positive attitude even under the worst circumstances.
Determine your own attitude
Don’t allow your personal performance or team performance to dictate your attitude. Hold a positive attitude when you show up to the field, during the game, after the game and on your ride home. Don’t wallow in the past, don’t worry about the future – you can’t control either. So do what you can instead. Stay in the present, trust your preparation and try to make the most of the game in front of you.
Do the hard things first
Developing a strong mindset and improving mental toughness go hand in hand, especially when you are aiming to boost performance. You can’t just microwave a skill but you can on a daily basis practice in different ways to make yourself and your team better.
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