As this first month of the spring season has finished I'm sure some of you have been absolutely killing it! If that's you, keep going! Stick with what you're doing and keep getting after it.
For those of you that haven't been having that early success, there's still hope! One of the biggest issues I've seen with some of our high school guys is a mental disconnect between practice and game situations. If you're a guy that kills it in practice and looks completely different in game situations, odds are, it isn't a lack of skill that's preventing your success; it's the upstairs department (your brain)!
I know as a player it can get really frustrating knowing what you need to do and not being able to do it during a game situation. I've learned a little bit over my playing career about how to deal with these mental blocks or disconnects or whatever you want to call them. So here's a few of the keys that helped me get through.
1. Perfect practice makes perfect:
I'm sure you've heard, "practice makes perfect" but that just isn't the full truth. Just taking reps isn't going to get you better. You can block 100 baseballs but that doesn't mean you're getting better if you're being lazy and taking most of those reps with a lack of focus; you're probably getting worse. I'd rather take 10 reps with 100% focus and really work hard to make those 10 reps as perfect as possible. It takes extreme focus to do anything in baseball and in life excellently.
2. Enjoy the game:
If you're a guy who really puts in the work and you know you put 100% focus into everything you do then your mental block probably isn't effort based. You probably need to relax and enjoy the game, have fun, and not put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Some of my favorite players to play with overseas were the Latino guys. They had more swag than the American guys and for the most part just enjoyed the game and had fun with it. You've got to find that balance between being serious about baseball and still enjoying the game.
3. Failure is a teacher:
Failing is part of baseball and part of life. Sometimes we set our sights on a goal and don't reach it, instead of letting it tear you up and make you crazy; learn from it! Figure out what you need to get better at and then go back to step 1 (perfect practice). Sometimes not reaching that goal will mean you get taken out of the lineup, or you don't make the team you were hoping for, or get the scholarship you wanted. You can either let that destroy you mentally or you can learn from it, get better, and go at it again.
4. Lack of Discipline
Many of you will want to deny this is the problem, but it probably is! To be straight forward, there is a huge lack of discipline in our culture. We teach people to do and be whatever they "feel" like. If you approach baseball like that I hope you like emotional roller coaster rides, because that's how your season will go. Many high school players have no plan or approach to their game. Whether that's your approach at the plate hitting or your approach to the defensive side, you have to have a plan before you step between the lines. Discipline can keep you mental steady if you have a solid approach and stick to it!
This is one of the biggest problems I see in high school hitters. They have no approach! They are up there swinging and hoping they'll get a hit. If you've got solid skills in the box, you might get away with this at the high school level. As you go up in level of play your lack of discipline gets taken advantage of by pitchers that can throw off speed pitches for strikes and hit there spots with fastballs.
Develop a solid approach and plan of attack; not only at the plate but defensively as well. Have specific mental cues and things you know you have to do to succeed and commit to following through with that plan and approach. Don't keep changing your plan every time something goes wrong. If your plan/approach is good, believe in it and be DISCIPLINED enough to stick with it long term.
Let me know if any of these helped you! Keep getting better and enjoy the game!