The unconscious mind and fielding correctly
The human body has several features that work behind the scenes to help identify threats and keep us alive. The unconscious side to our mind is one of them. Our mind has both a conscious side and an unconscious side. The conscious side is what we are aware of. The unconscious side works in the background outside our awareness.
We’ve all met someone for the first time that just creeped us out. If asked why they creeped us out, we often cannot pinpoint why we felt this way about the person. We just got a vibe. The unconscious mind is often the culprit. One explanation is that small facial expressions that we don’t recognize are, in fact, picked up by the unconscious mind. When it senses a problem, alarm bells start going off and we get a weird feeling. It’s an evolutionary system that helps us identify danger.
When it comes to fielding a baseball, those same alarm bells can go off if players do not do it correctly. Here’s why.
When a player does not put his top hand (throwing hand) above the glove, like this …
… alarms go off and his unconscious mind screams “get your face away from there!” The player is much more likely to pull his head up as a result. You can see by the arrow that nothing is between the ball and the player’s face. The brain senses danger and gets the head to move away accordingly.
When players field the ball correctly, like this …
… the unconscious mind calms down because there is now protection between the ball and the player’s nose. No alarm bells go off and the head is much more likely to stay down just as it should.
Catching with this “top hand” method is the goal at every level. It’s even more important for younger kids who are naturally a bit afraid of the hard ball hitting them. Poor fields just add to this fear.
This winter when you train on defense, be sure to promote the proper “top hand” method. The unconscious mind will be a lot less stressed if you do.