Just “tie your shoes”
This is the last post in a series of recent posts on the importance of creating a routine as a hitter. The previous posts on the subject are linked here:
- What is your hitting routine?
- What are YOUR players doing on deck?
- A hitter’s routine and muscle memory
- Why do players choke?
Today’s post gives a couple tips for hitters so that they can avoid letting their mind get in the way of their performance at the plate.
Tip #1. Do something physical. Players who have a very loud (and often negative) inner voice often have trouble turning it off when they need to perform. One trick that can help is to do a physical routine before each pitch. The reason why it works is because the brain has trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time. If your mind is killing you internally, force it to focus on something external like tapping your spikes, adjusting your batting gloves, and/or a practice swing or two. Create a consistent physical routine after each pitch and your mind has less chance to roam into the negative. It’s too busy focusing on the physical habits you are doing.
Tip #2. Come up with a slogan or mantra that calms the mind. An example is “tie your shoes.” When you tie your shoes, you don’t even think about it. You’ve done it so many times that you could tie your shoes without even looking at your laces. As you learned in the post on muscle memory, a task like tying your shoes is stored in a part of the brain that allows you to do the procedure without any mental effort. Saying “tie your shoes” (or something like it) to yourself as you enter the box reminds your mind to quiet down and just let the procedural part of the brain to take over. The part of the brain that can tie your shoes without you thinking about it is the same part of the brain that knows how to swing the bat. Calm the mind and let it do what it knows how to do.
Both of these tips need to be personalized by each hitter. Experimentation is needed to find what combination of physical actions and mantra works best. Do so and you can go a long way in getting your mind to work for you instead of against you.