When we watch baseball it seems like a pretty simple sport to play. You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball (Crash Davis 1988). But when we look at it from a technical standpoint, it is by far one of the most difficult sports to play and make a career out of. Hitters have two hundreds of a second to judge whether they swing or not, pitchers have to interrupt the timing of hitters by mixing pitches and consistently throwing strikes from sixty feet away into a small zone. The game has always increased in speed, only the dedicated, hard working and sometimes lucky people get the opportunity to play professionally.
But one aspect of the game that people tend to forget is the mental side. Baseball is very demanding and can humble you really quick, no matter how talented you are. I personally can attest to that being a pitcher my whole life and playing at high levels, I've had good days and bad days, that's just life as a ball player. As a player you can prepare for your next game and you won't always have your 'A' game, you go 0 for 4 or you can't seem to find the strike zone and none of your pitches seem to work; it happens and you have to brush it off. What you have to avoid is dwelling on the past performance, not letting it eat away at you. This unfortunately happens to players all the time, many with an abundance of talent. So how do you avoid this situation? How do you break out of a mental slump? There's no quick fix, which is why I'm writing this piece. The higher up you play in this game, the more mentally tough you must be. One bad pitch or one bad performance, maybe even a coach with a drill sergeant attitude can change a persons entire game or career. I am one of those people, up until college I was someone who could consistently throw strikes, someone who always was chewing at the bit to get in the game, who was confident no matter what the situation. Then in one start, with my coach barking at me from the bench, I lost it. The once confident pitcher with a killer instinct on the mound had been reduced to a timid over thinker. Although it didn't all come at once, that fear and anxiety had embedded itself, from there on out I was going to be battling not only the hitter but also my own thoughts.Once I stepped between those two white lines I became scared, I would walk to the loneliest place on Earth, the pitchers mound and it would be just me trying to throw a ball with nothing but a loud sub-conscience feeding me negative thoughts. It hasn't been until recently that I've been able to take control of my negativity and anxiety and channel it into a positive outlook.
Long story short, I wasn't well prepared for this setback. The point is mentality is often overlooked when training, it's not until we start to struggle with it that we begin to practise and strengthen this muscle. Young ball players need to put time into training their mind so that they are prepared to face adversity or whatever other hardships that may take a toll on them in their career. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Step by step, pitch by pitch!