One Pitch at a Time: Mental and Physical Training For Peak Pitching Performance


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While stress and uncertainty may motivate some athletes, they induce anxiety in others.

Go With the Pitch - Hitting Different Pitch Locations

For example, the more important the contest the greater the stress, and the more likely it is that a competitor will be prone to anxiety 1. Also, spectators can have a huge impact on how athletes feel. The impressive medal count of host nations during Olympic Games is also notable, in particular the record-breaking haul of medals won by Australia in Sydney and by Greece in Athens For athletes in high-contact sports such as boxing and martial arts, the possibility of getting hurt can also be a source of anxiety.

Typically, this anxiety causes some critical changes in technique. For example, anxious boxers will often lean too far forward, be clumsy in their leg movements or fight defensively, any of which may result in them getting knocked out. An additional factor that causes anxiety is the expectation of success.

Some athletes rise to the challenge imposed by public expectation while others can choke. British sport psychologist Graham Jones developed a model of competition anxiety that has been widely used in the last decade 5. Jones contends that it is the perception of our ability to control our environment and ourselves that determines the anxiety response. Hence, if you believe you can cope in a particular sporting situation, you will tend to strive to achieve your goals with positive expectations of success.

Having positive expectations will invariably mean that you will be more confident and therefore more likely to perform close to your best. The feeling that you can control a particular stressor such as a menacing rival or a niggling injury will mean that the symptoms of anxiety — butterflies in the stomach, elevated heart rate, sweat secretion, and so on — are interpreted as facilitative or helpful towards performance.

If your judgement is that you do not have control over the situation — that your opponent is too strong or that a sore calf muscle will hold you back — then those same symptoms will be interpreted as debilitative, or likely to impair performance. The probable consequence is that this interpretation will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and your performance levels will plummet. The extent to which we expect to control various competition stressors depends on factors that are specific to individuals, such as their personality, upbringing, experiences and trait anxiety — the degree to which individuals are predisposed to feel anxious.

These are known as individual differences because they are the factors that serve to make each of us unique. One of the most recent studies examined the intensity and direction of anxiety as a function of goal attainment expectation and competition goal orientation 6. The intensity of anxiety is how much anxiety one feels, whereas direction has to do with whether they interpret the symptoms as being facilitative or debilitative to performance. Team sport players who reported positive expectations of goal achievement and indicated some input into the goal generation process experienced the most facilitative interpretations of anxiety symptoms.

The implications of this study are that athletes should set their own goals rather than have goals imposed upon them by a coach or team manager. Research has shown that coaches and team managers may, however, have a key role to play in buffering the effects of anxiety 7. When researchers examined the influence of perceived coach support on anxiety among high school tennis players, their results indicated that for players who were predisposed to feeling anxious trait anxious , the perceived support of their coach tempered their anxiety and helped them to cope far better with the psychological demands of competition.

The results showed that coaches who promoted a mastery climate — one in which personal skill development was emphasised rather than superiority over peers performance climate — enabled their athletes to experience a significant decrease in anxiety from pre-season to late-season. This was in contrast to the anxiety of a control group of athletes, which increased over the season. If you are interested in measuring competition anxiety, the instrument of choice for almost 15 years has been the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 9 ; however, this instrument has been severely criticised and its validity challenged To reach an optimum psychological state, you need to understand your own natural responses to stress and be sensitive to your bodily signals.

Learning to handle the demands of competition involves learning to read your thought patterns and physical responses, and to develop the skills necessary to find your ideal arousal level. Stress management requires excellent self-awareness because, if you know yourself well, you will better understand the roots of your anxiety.

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Pick out the eight most important aspects of this positive feeling and write them neatly into the boxes. You can use your winning feeling to help create an optimum competition mindset through consciously reproducing the desired elements. This is a technique that is particularly effective during sports that have breaks in the action, such as in between sets in tennis, or prior to a penalty in soccer.

Thanks for checking out the 5th in a series of 5 Daily Mental Practice breathing exercises. Breathe in the odd, and breathe …. We are now on our 4th Daily Mental Practice Exercise. Taking a deep breath is the life jacket of the mental game. This week features the 3rd video in this Daily Mental Practice Series.

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Now I want to introduce you to Triangular Tactical Breathing. Your breath has 4 parts, and …. The second breathing exercise in this series of 5 is the This will help you be more calm, relaxed, and focused on the task at hand. Coach Belger recently won his second state championship in two years as head baseball coach at Southeast Polk High School in Iowa.

Belger is one of the top coaches in the country and has a clear set of core values that make ….


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These are the same breathing techniques used by top athletes, coaches, and teams around the world. Doing these on a regular basis will help you to develop a stronger present-moment focus. The first is …. The last story in my series of September Stories goes back to in Oxford, England. Roger Bannister set out to do something that had never been done before. He ignored the negaholics and knew that all of the physical barriers other people had put on themselves were simply illusions. For 10 years straight, the same guy won this competition.

The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance

He was not the best woodsman, but he performed the best when it mattered the most. Naturally, everyone wanted to know what he was doing to …. This week contains the second September Story I want to share with you. These are great stories, not just for you, but to share with your team as well!

This Monday Message features the story of a judo fighter who was born with some adversity. Watch the short video below as I discuss: Goals vs. In the month of September, I am going to give you 4 of my favorite stories that you can use to motivate yourself and your team. The first story explores the 4 stages of commitment in life. Remember, your attitude determines your altitude. Check out this short video below and Tweet your takeaways BrianCainPeak on …. This week I want to share with you a 5-step process I apply with my team that can help you to be a better mentor for others.

I learned this process from a book I read every day, and highly suggest you invest in, called The Maxwell Daily Reader. We are just over halfway through quarter 3 of Every batter has learned their swing from hitting the pitch down the middle. It is also the most forgiving pitch location. But the true location to hit the pitch down the middle is in the power alleys from left center to right center. See diagram 3. To do that you must let the ball travel over the plate, but remember to take into consideration your position in the batters box. For batter set up at the front or the middle, the ball will make it to the front of the plate or a few inches in.

For the batters in the back, the ball will travel to about the middle of the plate. Summary: Look at Albert Pujols in diagram 3. The ball is down the middle. The front long arrow is the front of the plate. His shoulders, hips down to his feet are again square with the pitcher. His hands are right in line with the ball at contact and the ball has just crossed the plate The ball is leaving the bat in this picture.

The pitch down the middle is the most forgiving pitch to hit but you should let the ball travel over the plate from the front edge to the middle of the plate, depending upon your set up in the batters box and hit into the power alleys red shaded area. This is the one pitch most batters hate to see and many try to pull; big mistake.

To make it simple, use the same approach as if you are going to hit an off speed pitch — you have to stay back. Summary: Now look at Albert Pujols in Diagram 4. The ball is obviously on the outside corner. Again, his shoulders, hips down to his feet are square with the pitcher. Once you reach for it you lose all proper hitting mechanics and bad things happen. The problem most batters have is they think they have to pull every pitch or they have to adjust their swing for different pitch locations.

The truth is that you can keep the same proper swing mechanics you have to hit the inside, middle or outside pitch. Look at the three pictures of Pujols for proof. You just have to slightly adjust the timing of your swing. The main thing is to correctly understand where you are going to hit the ball from each pitch location. Thanks for many of the responses so far on this article. I do want to respond in general that will cover most of the comments so far.

This is the first of a building block…a plan if you like. Most people who teach hitting make two mistakes. Hitting is thought processes and muscle memory; with thought being the toughest — although both are hard to change. I also help coach our towns Jr. High team during the school season before I coach in the summer U. Most of the 12—14 yr olds on the school team have never been taught where to go with a pitch. They have no plan, they feel they are just to go up and hit the ball. Simple analogy.

Executing Your Pitching Plan

Once you understand it — it becomes second nature. Again, this is a building block of hitting. Obviously there are some exceptions which depends upon certain situations — but that is more advanced for your disciplined good hitters who have already built upon this initial basic concept. I had two mentors who taught me hitting. Any way — please check out the video from one of the all time best hitters. Even he worked with those three ball positions as a pro. Thank you very much for the tips this has really helped me get my swing down better even after just a few practices knowing your gonna swing at the ball every time helps everything your timing, your power, and most of all your confidence thanks a lot for this reference.

What if I feel like I have to reach for a ball on the outside part of the plate while stepping to the pitcher? Kobe thanks for the question. Refer to diagram 4 of Albert hitting the outside pitch. Couple things you can look at for yourself. First your set -up in the box. You might not be close enough to the plate. Stand in the batters box where you normally position yourself, then take a fake swing — stopping the bat in the middle of the plate.

Do you cover at least 1 inch to the outside of the plate?

One Pitch at a Time: Mental and Physical Training For Peak Pitching Performance
One Pitch at a Time: Mental and Physical Training For Peak Pitching Performance
One Pitch at a Time: Mental and Physical Training For Peak Pitching Performance
One Pitch at a Time: Mental and Physical Training For Peak Pitching Performance
One Pitch at a Time: Mental and Physical Training For Peak Pitching Performance
One Pitch at a Time: Mental and Physical Training For Peak Pitching Performance
One Pitch at a Time: Mental and Physical Training For Peak Pitching Performance
One Pitch at a Time: Mental and Physical Training For Peak Pitching Performance
One Pitch at a Time: Mental and Physical Training For Peak Pitching Performance

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