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The Power of the Mental Approach

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Pacific Lutheran University played Willamette University in baseball on March 2nd, winning both games in the double-header. Photo: By Thomas Sørenes from Tacoma, Washington via Wikimedia Commons

By Danny Acosta |

Every athlete is equipped with a power that drives them to play the game or sport of their choice. However, many get to master that power drive and use it as fuel to move on from one level to another and even to professional status within the sport. It is that competitive edge that some call the beast inside. The issue is to learn how to use it and control it. To perform at high levels, it is very important for an athlete to display that aggressiveness or power drive to obtain the desired performance.

Now, this is something that can be practiced just like anything else within the game. Every athlete must have “A Power Mental Approach” before engaging in action during practice and essentially before games. Lack of focus, and failing to have the right approach can be devastating to any athletes’ hope to move up to the next level. Everything is very tight up for athletes while developing and especially for those that are moving from high school ranks into college ranks, and for the most gifted ones moving into the professional arena. These athletes are being evaluated by college and professional scouts, and what they see is what they will write about you. Therefore, it is essential for all athletes to show what they are all about while performing during practice, or game time.

In order to be able to show this steel image, you better have the right approach to the game. It is not enough to say, “I want to beat my opponent,” or “I am going to hit a home run,” or perhaps, “I am going to pitch the entire game.” Many things need to occur before any of these things could happen. When preparing for practice the athlete must set a series of goals for that session, it is necessary to understand that everything must be done with a purpose and in order to accomplish things one must be organized. Break down your practice into small goals. For example, a hitter can divide his/her batting practice into a few different segments and those can be side-soft-toss, front-toss, and regular-batting practice. But, that is not it! It is how you go about engaging in those sessions. What do you want to accomplish? Everything starts with a dream, a goal, a plan, and execution.

Let’s start with the dream. Remember that time when you saw that MLB star making a spectacular catch in the outfield, or a short stop fielding the baseball deep in the hole and getting the guy out at first with that amazing throw. Remember that you want to be that guy. Well, why did you forget about it? In order to want to do something, you must dream it first! If your dream comes with limitations, then that is what is going to happen, you are putting a ceiling over your head. Let’s dream big, go to the max, and make this your highlight career in the future! Make it happen in your head first, if you do not see it, why others should see in you? D.G. Robinson (2016) wrote, “A dream is a goal without legs. It is a wonderful thing to have, can be the guiding passion of your life, but unless you clarify it and give it the legs to move toward you, getting there is going to be very much a matter of luck.” It is essential to for your own good to continue dreaming, this will keep the inner fire going. It is a source of not forgetting to be a child. Dream big! Make it your own fuel to work hard for what you want.

Now, that dream has to have a structure, because it is a dream that is burning inside and it is what really drives you and motivate you. “I want to be a Major League Baseball Player,” or “I want to play like Derek Jeter,” or perhaps “I want to play like Cristiano Ronaldo.” Now; one must convert that dream into your own reality. At the moment that you make the commitment to yourself to becoming an elite athlete, that is when the dream must become structured, you see what you want and you know what you want. Is time to take action and build that plan that will guide you through your journey. It is a lot easier to write or say this than actually doing it. However, if you have a dream, goal, and plan to execute will allow you to have a map and a reminder of what you want.

Daniel Burnham said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood… Make big plans, aim high in hope and work.”  Make yourself accountable for your own mistakes and pay out those mistakes! If you go to a shop and they make a mistake many times you ask for the money back… Well, ask yourself for your money back when you make a mistake, or don’t go to practice, or fail a test, or get up late!

The Power of the Mental Approach is when you have that intrinsic motivation, the fire within that wants to move forward and is hungry to win and do what needs to be done to help your teammates achieve their goals within the game. The Power of the Mental Approach is to be conscious of what you are doing on the field, extend a single into a double because the outfield took too long to throw the baseball into the infield, or perhaps out smart the hitter while you are on the mound. Become a student of the game you want to be an elite athlete, always have a plan for every pitch, every at bat, every opportunity. Visualize what you want to accomplish every time you step on the field, it is essential for your performance.

As Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental, the other half is physical.” Therefore, you must work very hard to get where you want to go, it is not easy and your motivation and drive must be hand-to-hand to project the right image of yourself. Be that lion, tiger, or bear, whatever beast you choose, then make sure you show it when performing. See you on the field!

Source: Robinson, D. G. (2015) How Dreams Become Goals. Top Achievement, Self Improvement, and Personal Development Community.

Danny Acosta is the Assistant Head Baseball Coach at Piedmont International University in Winston-Salem, N.C. He is also the founder and lead counselor at Impact Sports Performance. Acosta earned two degrees in sports coaching from the Academy: his Bachelor of Sports Science in 2008 and Master of Sports Science in 2010.  He is a lifelong baseball player, coach, and scout.

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