As the high school baseball postseason draws near in most states and is about a month out for most college programs, now is great time to determine your mindset going into it (if you haven’t already). The best thing you can do this time of year is to treat postseason games and series as if they are of the same importance as every other game you play and as every practice.
Remember: Everything is important, nothing is special. Every time you step on the field, it’s an opportunity to do what you love! Most players feel more pressure when they treat any certain game or situation as something special. You should always compete at a high intensity and strive in your performance, no matter the circumstances or what’s on the line. Stay focused on the things in your control and avoid the hype and distractions around you that the postseason will bring. Follow these four guidelines and you’ll be mentally prepared to bring out your best this postseason:
- Focus on what you can control:
During the playoffs, stadiums often fill with more fans than usual and the perceived pressure from the outside can crush even the best players. By staying focused on the things you can control – giving 100% effort, playing aggressively and keeping a good attitude, you can stay focused on the task at hand both during games and during the days and weeks leading up to them.
- Stay away from Fan Mentality:
There’s a host of things that can take your focus away from playing your role in the present moment and helping your team have a strong postseason. Brackets are released and often players and their “entourage” begin a mass studying of teams, records, and who beat who comparisons. In my opinion, this only pulls the focus away from the things in your control. Although you want to be smart and know a few strategies of your opponents, in the end, the guys in the other dugout will have two cleats, a glove, and bat just like you. Leave it to your coaches to do the scouting. Records don’t matter at this point either. Every year teams with great records don’t even qualify for the state or national tournament, and teams that squeak through into the first round turn it on and walk away with trophies. Distancing yourself from the message boards, the bracket talkers, and ranking board experts will help you to focus on yourself, your teammates and what you can do to succeed.
- Stay focused on your purpose and find time to give yourself mental breaks:
It’s easy to let the mind wander during BP, Infield/Outfield drills and the game itself and forget why you are there. As you sit in the dugout between at-bats and playing the field, it’s easy to think about what flavor of Dippin’ Dots you are going to get when it’s all over, about that cute person of the opposite sex you talked to, about the fishing you can’t wait to start doing when the season ends, etc. It’s important to take these mental breaks but don’t forget your purpose for playing and your role in the game.
- Trust in your preparation and training:
During these final days and weeks of preparation focus on putting yourself in a good place mentally by training your strengths, cleaning up your mechanics, building confidence in yourself that you are capable of competing with anyone, eating right, game-planning with coaches and teammates, getting enough sleep and taking care of injuries. With a proper mental focus at this point in the year, it’s possible to get an edge on opponents who have lost focus and are simply trying to get to summer. Trust in your preparation and stick with your tried and true pre-game routine.
*5. Bonus Tip: Train your mind with Baseball Mindset:
Schedule a Peak Performance Team Mindset Training Session to make sure your team is fully prepared to handle to the adversity and challenges waiting in these coming weeks.
Stay focused, all of that off-season work, conditioning over the last few months, early morning workouts and extra hitting and throwing sessions are about to pay off. Control what you can control and finish strong!