Mental Preparation for the Young Player
by Coach Gary Overton

Mental imagery has been a major part of each and every aspect of human evolution, regardless of whether the imagery was evident in our consciousness. In other words, if one continues to think he can't hit a baseball, the unconscious mind believes it, as negative thinking can only hurt the individual's performance as well as the team as a whole.  It's far better to verbalize that work is needed in the batting cage rather than to throw a helmet while complaining about an unsuccessful at-bat.

By mental imagery the idea is not to imagine crossing the plate after hitting a game winning home run. Instead to improve hitting performance, imagine yourself performing the perfect swing on a good pitch or see yourself at the plate, in the batters box, waiting for a specific pitch. Then picture the proper mechanics of keeping the head perfectly still while getting the bat head in front of the plate to make solid contact bringing in the winning run (if you need to keep that part in your motivation).

A good time to practice mental imagery is away from the field of play.  By relaxing with the eyes closed, one may see himself performing all facets of the game from hitting, fielding, base-running, communicating etc.  Here the young player is actually preparing all of the neuro-muscular pathways within the body to learn proper mechanics of motion required to perform the tasks of the game, while letting the unconscious inner self believe it can be done. Mental preparation also helps these same systems to assist with improved confidence.

By all means one should learn more about the game by acquiring knowledge of how it is played, and physically by practicing and playing competitively. However, the mental part of one's game is often the difference between being individually successful or unsuccessful which often can result in winning and losing.

During a game the avenue to better mental preparation is through concentration and CONCENTRATION is the key to success. Learn to keep focus by constantly reminding oneself throughout the game of situations, tactics and strategies and all of the specifics you've learned about baseball. But most of all remember the adage " If you think you can, or if you think you can't - you're probably right".

Coach Gary Overton