What is mental toughness? We hear coaches throw the term around often, but never truly get an explanation as to what mental toughness in baseball actually is. This is the second installment of the CSB™ mental progression. I encourage all of our readers to take this article to heart, because physical tools only get you so far on the diamond. There comes a point in every ball players career where the imense talent difference between himself and the competition is gone. At this very point is where a player must make the decision to develop his mental game, or face the consequences of a short career in baseball.
What is Mental Toughness in Baseball?
Mental toughness is not just all upstairs in a players head. Coaches tend to believe that mental toughness is only internal. I'll tell you right now that mental toughness is more than that. For years, baseball coaches have given off the impression that being mean or cold is considered being "mentally tough". Coming off as an angry player or coach will not get any one far.
"Anger is the enemy of Instruction." - Phil Jackson
Tied into mental toughness are it's two parts that we have broken down at Core Savvy Baseball:
1. Physical Toughness
2. Emotional Toughness
By breaking down mental toughness into two components, we can further dwelve into the science behind the terms.
To be physically tough simply means that you have put in the proper amount of work to prepare yourself for competition. If we do not prepare oursevles and get our bodies in the best shape possible to compete, we are only doing ourselves harm. A good way to remember to prepare is an acronym I have used for years. At Core Savvy Baseball™ we call these the Seven-P's of Success.
"Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance"
The emotional toughness in baseball is all attitude. I cannot stress to you enough how important the emotional side of mental toughness is. The ability to have emotional toughness in baseball will save and lengthen your career.
We have to remember that both sides affect each other. So, if we are not emotionally ready to compete our physical toughness will suffer and if we are not physically prepared to compete we will suffer emotionally.
Like I said before, toughness in baseball has nothing to do with being angry or mad. Those emotions will actually only take away from performance. One of my favorite sports psychologists defined toughness in baseball as:
"The ability to consistently perform toward the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances" - Jim Loehr (1993)
I highly recommend these two books to anyone who is serious about taking there mental game to the next level. My favorite of the two, The Inner Game of Tennis, is a book that was passed down to me by a two-time U.S. Open Champion. I can say that it is the most important book regarding sports psychology I have ever read. At Core Savvy Baseball™ we require our lessons to read parts of each book every week. These books will help you in life, not just on the diamond.
Back to the CSB™ Mental Progression:
There are two components to being Emotionally ready to compete:
1. Emotional Flexibility / Strength - As baseball players, we are thrown into a roller coaster of emotions during a game. When we strike out with the bases loaded or make an error to loose the game, we must respond to the situation "even keeled". Throwing equipment or cursing at an umpire is completely unacceptable. When we throw a helmet after a strikeout we are being extremely selfish. By bringing the negative energy back into the dugout from a bad at bat, we are taking away from the team by having the attention focused on ourselves.
"Live for the Person next to You"
We must be non-defensive to critisicm. This is a key to continuing to get better every day. When we get defensive and close off to our coaches and teammates because of something that went wrong in the game, we actually are only hurting ourselves. No matter how bad things are going over the course of the game, we must always remain emotionally strong. Life will hit you with much bigger problems than can ever be presented on the diamond, so it's important that we learn how to deal with adversity through baseball at a young age.
2. Emotionally Engaged - This sounds simple. Pay attention and be engaged in the baseball game that is going on in front of you. I cannot tell you how many players have trouble with this. If we cannot stay emotionally locked into a game for two hours, how can we ever expect to be successful at a job that requires you to stay focused from 9 - 5. We must also alway stay competitve throughout the game because we have the obligation to for our teammates and coaches.
That's it for this installment of the Core Savvy Baseball™ Mental Progression. Stay tuned for part 3 next week. Also, please keep sending question to : CoreSavvyBaseball@yahoo.com