The Quick Fix Myth

In today’s consumer culture, we are drowned in advertising for products and services that are guaranteed to give you the life you’ve always dreamed of almost instantly.  Want more money?  Just buy this program and you’ll be drowning in financial success!  Want a better body? Take this pill once a day and you’re on the fast track to a six pack!  Want more fastball velocity? Just go to this pitching guru and he’ll share mechanical secrets to get you lighting up radar guns in less than two weeks!  

While no sole person or company is the culprit of this movement, I believe a multitude of factors have created what people have coined “The Quick Fix Myth”.  Quick fixes are essentially synonyms for shortcuts.  It is the expectation that the least amount of work should yield the greatest results.  People who seek quick fixes just don’t have the time, energy, or motivation to get things done like the rest of us.  They want the gold at the end of the rainbow, but the trail to get there is just not worth their time.

In terms of training, these athletes are the ones who are always looking for that one thing that’ll transform them into the player they crave to become.  Examples of these could be a mechanical breakthrough, a specific drill, or a cunning training program that is guaranteed to add 5-10 mph to their exit speed.  If it’ll make them a better player, they want it – just without any real effort or hard work.  Oh, and they want it now.    

Swing feels a little off?  Nothing a quick 30-minute lesson can’t fix.  I mean, who has the time to actually hit three to four times per week?  Having issues with your command? Just get to your balance point and you’ll be painting corners in no time!  It can’t and be because you barely touch a baseball outside practice.

Sure – making small mechanical tweaks can be a difference maker for athletes at times, but is it the entire picture?  Is showing up for a half hour lesson once a month really going to do anything to help make significant long term changes?  Is your back elbow really the culprit for lack of success at the plate, or is it because you’re not hitting at all outside of games?  Is searching for that perfect supplement really going to help take your workouts to the next level?  Or is actually working out?

In life, there are no shortcuts to success.  Quick fixes don’t exist.  John Wooden didn’t win his first national championship at UCLA until his sixteenth year as head coach.  Steve Jobs had to get fired from his own company before he was able to take Apple to unprecedented heights.  Milton Hershey ran three different candy companies into the ground before eventually building one that stayed afloat (I don’t think I need to tell you what it’s called).  What is the common denominator in all of these stories? It’s simple: These guys showed up every day, embraced the challenges before them, and worked.        

As you can see from above, putting in work isn’t always going to get you the immediate results you want.  Thirty minutes of cage time isn’t going to transform you from the nine batter in your lineup to the three hole – but thirty minutes three times per week over the course of twelve months might.  Progress requires consistent, deliberate hard work over a long period of time.  Those who are willing to invest the necessary time, attack weaknesses, and constantly find ways to improve will eventually be rewarded for their efforts.  Those who want the glory without the blood, sweat, and tears will always seek the shortcuts – and hard work always beats shortcuts.  Quick fixes may help you feel good now, but they will never be a substitute for hard work.

This is one of the sole reasons why Carmen created a year-round training program for baseball and softball athletes in central PA.  Maintaining and refining your craft requires much more than just a ten lesson package. Through the year plan, we are able to offer kids an incredible deal where they can train and receive professional level information up to seven days per week over the course of an entire year!

If you’re serious about your development as a player, get in contact with us and we can get you scheduled for your free assessment.  We understand what it takes to become the player you want to be, and we’re willing to create every opportunity for you to make it happen.     

If you want to work hard, crush goals, and take your skills to levels you’ve never seen, we can help you.  If you’re looking for a quick fix for the reasons why you can’t get it done, you’ve found the wrong place.

Until then, keep working, learning, and growing.  


To review our mental game series, we have covered a variety of concepts which include learning how to breathe, designing an approach, controlling the controllables, creating routines, and developing a release.  While this doesn’t summarize it all, it’s a great start to helping your kids develop the game between the ears.  All that’s left at this point is arguably the most important skill of them all: COMPETING!

Competing, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated and undervalued skills in youth baseball today.  A large reason why I believe this is because of the culture we have created at the youth level.  Instead of developing competitors, we are developing “lesson babies” who believe their secret pill to success is in some small mechanical tweak.  Just underneath the ball? Make sure you keep your hands up!  Hit a ground ball to short?  Make sure you don’t roll those wrists!  Oh, and don’t forget to stay back, step straight, and take your hands to the ball while managing to track a pitch traveling through space at 90 miles per hour at the same time.   

As a result, we’ve created kids who can’t stop thinking about their mechanics in games when mechanics are the last thing they need to be thinking about!  Hitters have under three tenths of a second to decide pitch type, speed, location, and whether they should swing or not.  Any focus that is not on the baseball is wasted.  Did you seriously think reminding Joey about his back elbow would be a good idea when he’s got fractions of a second to do arguably the hardest thing in all of sports?  

As a baseball community, we need to get away from this fixed mindset of thinking that mechanics lead to success.  If mechanics are the reason why athletes succeed, why have no two people in the history of baseball ever had the same exact mechanics?  Why do some guys who have pretty swings never make it out of high school, while some others with “bad mechanics” play professionally?  The answer lies between the ears.  If you’re an aspiring player and you want to maximize your window in baseball, forget the mechanics and get great at competing.     

What is Competing?

In Heads Up Baseball 2.0, Tom Hanson and Ken Ravizza define competing as “giving 100% of what you’ve got right now to win the next pitch.”  Note they did not say anything about feeling good, having your best stuff, or needing perfect conditions.  Competing is messy and demands everything you have – but nothing more.  Some days will be great, some days will be alright, and other days will be just plain ugly.

Jon Lester talks about this saying out of 30 starts in a big league season, he will have his “A” game for 5, his “C” game for 5, and the rest he will have to battle with his “B” game.  Those 20 starts with his B game are where his season is made.  Great competitors find ways to adjust, compensate, take punches, and return punches regardless of how they feel.  In Ravizza’s words, “Are you really that crappy of a baseball player that you have to feel good to perform well? Feeling good is overrated.”  

Anthony Rizzo, All-Star First Baseman for the Chicago Cubs, talked about the importance of competing saying, “The key for me is just competing and not really worrying from pitch to pitch about how my swing feels or how I’m feeling mechanically that day. It doesn’t matter how I feel today, I’m going to beat you. I’m going to will it to happen.

Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks and Super Bowl champion, uses competition as his overarching theme for the Seahawks.  In his book Win Forever, Carroll talks about how he instills an “always compete” mindset into his players. Whether it’s their competition, teammates in practice, or themselves, Carroll wants his players to constantly strive to compete and get the most out of their abilities.  

Dean Smith, Hall of Fame basketball coach at North Carolina, used competition in every drill he organized for his teams.  There was always something on the line and a consequence for the loser.  Through this structure, he was able to teach his players to compete just the way they would in a game.  

Ron Wolforth at the Texas Baseball Ranch uses competition on a daily basis to help get the most out of his pitchers.  Athletes call locations out loud and are forced to do a punishment for every target missed. When athletes become accustomed to challenges, they are forced to adapt to a new circumstance (different sloped mound, weighted baseball, fatigue induced, etc.).  Those who love competing thrive.  Those who can’t crumble under the pressure.  

How to Implement  

The good news is that competing is a skill and can be taught – just like any other skill.  The biggest predictor of competitiveness, according to Milwaukee Brewers pitching coordinator Jake McKinley, is the environment the athlete has grown up in.  It’s no coincidence many great athletes spent their youth years competing in backyard sports.    

In McKinley’s 2019 ABCA convention presentation, he broke down competition into three different components: Self-competition, competition against others, and unspoken/organic competition.

Self-competition is any sort of challenge aimed at developing a specific individual beyond their current capabilities.  Examples of how to utilize this include:

  • Constraints
    • Ex: Using obstacles to teach right-left infield footwork, how to avoid baserunner on double plays
  • Variability
    • Ex: Different length/weighted bats, different size/weighted baseballs, plyo balls
  • Targets
    • Ex: Pitching to a specific target, hitting a certain part of the cage/field
  • “Edge” training (getting guys to compete at levels that just exceed their current skill level)
    • Ex: Moving the hitter closer/farther away from a pitching machine to simulate different velocities, lifting heavy weights
  • Stopwatch
    • Ex: Making plays from the infield in less than four seconds, plays from the outfield in less than seven seconds
  • Radar gun
    • Ex: Needing to hit three out of five balls over 85 mph, beating a personal record in throwing velocity

Competition against others is exactly what you see in a game: Man vs. man – one winner, one loser.  You can get as creative with this as you’d like, but the idea is simple: Beat the guy in front of you.  Below are some ideas to help you design your own:

  • Pair people of similar abilities for challenges
    • Ex: Do a velo competition with guys who throw hard, command competitions with your highest strike percentage throwers
  • Use handicaps for guys of different skill levels
    • Ex: Have a slower athlete start at a shorter distance than a faster athlete, give less powerful athletes +5 mph on their exit velocities
  • Physical challenges can be great ideas, but also poor ones
    • Speed is a great skill to enhance using competition, but doing as-many-reps-as-possible (AMRAP) push-ups for a minute is a great way to reinforce poor movement patterns. The emphasis must always be on good movement.
  • No gray areas, no ties
    • There are no ties in baseball games. You either win or you lose. The winner and loser must be clear.
  • Teach kids how to be their own officials
    • 21 is a great game to teach catch play, but also a great way to teach kids how to resolve conflict. A winning-at-all-costs mindset is dangerous. Play the right way, accept defeat, move on to the next challenge.
  • Reward effort, don’t undermine it
    • Give points for accomplished tasks, refrain from subtracting points for miscues. You want to create athletes to rise to the challenge over athletes who are afraid to screw up.
  • Create teams for challenges
    • Have kids draft teams and get after it. After all, you are competing against a team in a game.
  • Encourage emotion, involvement from teammates
    • Competition will bring out the best and worst of everyone. Let kids be who they are and encourage their teammates to cheer them on. Use this energy to enhance the environment.

Unspoken or organic competitions are ways to help create competition by unifying your team to accomplish different objectives.  Since competition can bring out the worst in people, unspoken competitions are a great way to create cooperation while still increasing the intensity of a challenge.  Some examples include:

  • Having to hit a certain number or percentage of balls over 80 mph
  • Throwing at least 60% strikes throughout a team bullpen session
  • Taking a clean round of infield before ending practice
  • Completing a physical challenge under a certain time
  • Posting leaderboards of batting exit velocities, command percentage, throwing velocity, weight room personal bests, etc.
  • Celebrate when kids crush records. A candle does not lose its light when it lights another candle.  

*See the entire presentation here.

Overall Notes for Competition

  • Keep verbal involvement with competitions at a minimum.  The environment you create as a coach is the most important aspect of competition – not verbal feedback.
  • Let kids fail.  We learn the most from our biggest setbacks.  Be there to lend a helping hand, but let athletes work through the challenges themselves.  Considering the failure rate of some of the best hitters in the game, it’s important to let kids cope and respond to it.  
  • Create challenges that have immediate feedback.  This includes numbers, scores, exit velocities, batted/thrown ball feedback, and other results.
  • Self, others, and unspoken competition do not have to operate exclusively.  Combine these to get the best bang for your buck.  
  • Make sure athletes have some sort of adequate skill level before turning it into a competition.  Challenges should be stimulating and push athletes just on the edge of their abilities – not over or underwhelm them.
  • Be creative.  No one drill will make or break an athlete.  Designing competition has no limits.
  • Use your athletes as feedback.  They will tell you whether the challenge is too hard or too easy.
  • Competition brings out an innate quality in human beings that pushes performance to the limits.  If you want to bring the best out of your athletes as a coach, it must be utilized as much as possible.  
  • When athletes hang up the cleats for good, they will soon enter the real world where they will have to compete for jobs.  Sports are an incredible platform to teach qualities that will help them compete beyond their playing days.  At the end of the day, we’re trying to build better men and women through sport.  

As always, reach out to us with any questions or concerns. Keep learning and growing.

Controlling the Controllables

An important concept you need to teach your players is understanding how to manage the controllables.  In baseball and in life, there are always going to be things we can and cannot control. The key is to understand where we choose to invest our energy and where we choose to let go. We’ll never be able tor each our competitive ceiling if we’re invested into things we can’t influence. We also won’t help kids do this if we worry about the things that they cannot control. 


Stressing over things you can’t influence can lead to a snowball effect which degrades performance and can ruin enthusiasm for training.  On the flip side, investing your time and energy into things you can control helps you take ownership of your career by understanding what you can influence. A healthy combination of the two helps lead to a strong mental game, but a lack in either category can send a player spiraling for confidence. How do we prevent this? Well, it starts with understanding the difference between what we can and cannot control.  


To start, I think it’s crucial people know what they can control before they understand what they can’t. Jon Gordon does a great job breaking this down (see image below) by saying at all times, we control our attitude, effort, behavior, and actions. This includes how we think, respond to adversity, treat other people, let go of the past, and focus on the present. By process of elimination, anything that doesn’t lie within these four controllables is ultimately something we can’t control!  This includes our environment, adversity, the past, and the thoughts, feelings, and actions of other people.    

(Image Credit)

Let’s think of this in terms of a baseball or softball setting.  On the diamond, there are plenty of things we cannot control which include weather, field conditions, how you feel that day, your opponent, and the umpires – to name a few. With this, how often do we find ourselves complaining about how hot or cold it is outside? What about a bad strike three call we got rung up on? Or how about the fact that the mound isn’t made exactly to your liking and you can’t get a great grip? The bottom line is this: If we know that we can’t control these things, why do we spend so much time and energy worrying about them?


As humans, we have a limited amount of time and energy that we can spend throughout the day. If we are constantly worrying about things we can’t influence and playing victim to our situation, we’ll lose sight of the things that we can actually control. Is it the tournament’s fault that they scheduled you for an 8 a.m. game and you’re exhausted, or is it your fault that you were up playing video games until 2 a.m.? Was wearing short sleeves a good idea when the forecast for game time read a staggering 38 degrees? Was it the umpire’s fault you struck out on a borderline pitch, or was it your fault for watching the first two right down the middle?


It may be brutally cold outside, but it’s not any warmer for your opponent! The mound might not be in great shape, but they’re not rolling out a brand new one for the other team’s pitcher! The same problems you’re dealing with are probably the same problems everyone else is dealing with. The difference? Your opponent is figuring things out by focusing on their controllables. You, on the other hand, are getting worked up over things you can’t control and turning into a victim of your circumstances.   


This is part of the reason why it is so huge to have a strong mental game: You have control over it at all times! Only you can control how you breathe, respond to adversity, and get 100% committed to winning the next pitch. Your process and commitment to executing it are always within your control. Sometimes we might not get the result we want, but we always have the ability to regroup and get ourselves ready to win the next pitch. If we’re constantly worrying about the field conditions, weather, or any other distractions we don’t have control over, we’ll never be able to do this.  

How to Implement

Coaches: Keep it simple, get kids to control their attitude, effort, behavior, and actions to become great teammates! If Jonny strikes out, lift his chin up and get him ready for his next at-bat. He can’t control what’s already happened, but he can control his attitude, effort, and how he approaches his next at-bat. If Sam dogs out a ground ball to the shortstop because he’s upset he just missed it, pull him aside and let him know he’s letting his teammates down by letting a poor result dictate how he feels and acts. If Joey can’t throw strikes because the umpire’s zone is too tight, don’t feed his negativity by arguing with the umpire as well. Instead, get him focused on a consistent, attainable goal where he’s going to make adjustments, compensate, and compete so he can give his team a chance to win the game.  


On the contrary, commend kids who show up, get after it, and own their controllables! Make sure Jonny knows you love the attitude he brings to practice! Give Sam a pat on the back when he shows great effort and sprints as hard as he can through first base every time he puts the ball in play. If Joey picks up his teammate after he strikes out, recognize it and let him know what a great teammate he’s being! For every action we find that we may not like, find something worth celebrating. You want to create enthusiasm for playing the game with great energy, attitude, and effort – not scolding kids every chance you get because they aren’t “mentally tough.”  

The next time one of your players gets upset at practice or a game, make him ask himself: “Is this something that I can control?” If it is, make an adjustment and get them back on their feet so they can compete and be a great teammate. If it’s not, tell them to leave it where they found it. This game is going to beat you up enough on its own – don’t add to it by worrying about things you can’t control.

The Power of Visualization

There is a strong connection between the physical and mental game of baseball. One cannot practice the mental game without working on the physical game – they are forever intertwined. Just the way your thoughts can influence specific movement patterns,the images in your mind are a great indication of what your future performances will look like. This idea can be practiced through something known as visualization: the creation of strong, mental images that illuminate a future scenario before it ever happens.


Research shows that your brain cannot differentiate between real events and imagined events. Whenever you imagine events, your brain stores them as actual memories – hence, something you’ve actually experienced. A great example of this is the physical reactions you have when you experience a bad dream (heavy breathing, sweating). The dream was not real and did not actually happen in real life, but your mind elicited responses that made it seem very real to you.


Research also shows that when we visualize an action, we stimulate the same regions of our brain actually involved in performing the action. When the events we imagine are stored as real events, we build and strengthen the neural framework required to perform the action just as if we had physically practiced it. Through this, we’re able to improve a skill without even leaving the comfort of our bed by vividly performing it in our mind.


Many high level athletes and performers claim much of their success to consistent visualization practices. Jon Lester has been using an imagery routine before each of his starts since 2013. Hall of Fame Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski would visualize the pitcher and pitches he was going to see the night before a game. Fellow Hall of Famer George Brett would see himself hitting line drives gap to gap while he was on the on-deck circle.


Outside of baseball, Jack Nicklaus was famous for seeing every shot he ever hit on the golf course before actually hitting it. Former All-Pro Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Ahmad Rashad claimed his imagination was the key to his success. “I got ready for a game by imagining every possible move a defender might try to use and stop me,” said Rashad.


Lou Holtz instructed his Notre Dame football team to visualize themselves making great plays before bed heading into their 1988 matchup with the #1 Miami Hurricanes. The Irish defeated the Hurricanes and went on to win the national championship that year.


While these are just a few examples of different teams and athletes using visualization, the bottom line is visualization works. Using it to your advantage ultimately comes down to discipline and execution. Visualization is not simply daydreaming when it’s convenient for you. It requires a deliberate effort and consistent practice with complete focus and concentration. Below are some tips on how to put together an effective visualization practice:


  1. Become a careful observer. Visualization requires great attention to detail. Note what your environment looks like, the relation between objects, different textures, colors, designs, odors, sounds, and other sensations that build a detailed picture of what you’re experiencing.
  2. Find a quiet place with no distractions. Turn your phone and all electronics off. Calm yourself by bringing focus to your breath. If you encounter distracting thoughts, address them and return your focus to your breathing.
    1. See Alan Jaeger’s meditation mental training talk and practice for help with this (16:00).
  3. Practice visualization by putting together visual images of scenes outside of baseball. Examples include your bedroom, a vacation spot, or a walk around the park.
    1. In the vacation example, see what the beach looks like. Feel the cool breeze on your skin and the water wash up against your bare feet. Feel a handful of sand as you pick it up and it slips through your fingers. Smell the scent of the fresh ocean and hear the waves crash up on shore. Be as creative as possible. The more vivid the better.   
  4. Take your practice to the baseball field and visualize a skill that you struggle with. Make it as real as possible.
    1. See yourself approach the task with confident body language, a clear mind, and positive thoughts.
    2. Note what you see, hear, smell, and feel. See yourself having success. If you don’t succeed at first, fix it and try again. Create positive images.  
  5. Set aside 10-15 minutes per day to go through your visualization practices. Pick out a specific time to work on them.
    1. Ex: when you wake up, before bed, on your way to practice
    2. If it is difficult at first, start with 5-10 minutes and gradually build on to it as your practice becomes better   
  6. Put together a highlight tape of yourself having success on the baseball field. Go through it on a consistent basis.
    1. Visualization is touch to do when we’re in “funks” because all we see in our minds is our most recent failures. Highlight tapes are a great way to reinforce positive images of us competing in our mind. Positive images build confidence, negative images destroy it.


The body will always follow the mind. If our mind is cluttered with images of us striking out, giving up bombs, or booting ground balls, we’ll soon find ourselves in similar situations. Having success starts with how we think, see, and feel about ourselves. Feed your mind what it needs to succeed.


When you step into the box with the bases loaded, two outs, and the game on the line, you know you’re going to succeed because you’ve already gone through this situation in your mind. You saw the low and outside fastball right out of his hand and your barrel connecting with it to make that sweet sound that feels like nothing. You saw the ball go deep into the right field gap, scoring both runners, and the dogpile that resulted on second base.


You know exactly what to do and how to do it. All that’s left is the fun part – bringing your visualization to life.


For more information on visualization, see 4 Scientific Reasons Why Visualization Will Increase Your Chances to Succeed, The Mental Game of Baseball, and the Mental ABCs of Pitching by Harvey Dorfman.


Keep learning and growing.

Utilizing Positive Self-Talk

Your body and mind work together like a well-oiled machine to keep you safe when faced with life’s challenges. Whether it’s sharpening your focus or using adrenaline to give you the strength you don’t normally have, the mind will protect you at all costs to ensure your survival. If utilized correctly, your mind can take you to places you never could have imagined. There’s a reason behind the Navy SEAL 40 percent rule: When your body feels as if you can’t give anymore, you’ve still got 60 percent left in the tank.

If used incorrectly, the powers of your mind will become your worst nightmare.
Your brain will build invisible barriers that you will start to believe. Those barriers are built with help from a small voice in the back of your mind that never seems to shut up when something is on the line. It feeds off negative emotions and manifests a permanent mark on your memory when you find yourself in a similar situation that you once failed.


When you’re about to take a math exam and you need a 75 to pass the class, it’s the voice reminding you about the test you failed just two weeks ago. You’re not good at math, it’s too much pressure. There’s no way you’ll pull off the grade you want.


When you walk up to the podium for that big speech you’ve rehearsed over 100 times, it’s the voice that makes you forget the first line you thought was ingrained in your brain. Look at all those people out there. Imagine what they would think of you if you couldn’t even make it through your opening sentence without stumbling.


When you’re up to bat in the last inning with bases loaded, two outs, and down one run, it’s the same voice giving you every reason why you can’t lead your team to victory. These guys have owned you all day. You’re the worst hitter on this team, you’ll be lucky if you touch anything.  


Instead of facing your fears head-on, this voice won’t let you risk the embarrassment. It might be a cool feeling if you succeed, but just imagine how painful it would be to fail. Who cares how much you’ve worked on your swing in the past month. Now it actually matters, and you haven’t found the barrel in your last eight at-bats. What makes you think that’ll change when it actually matters?


If you can’t tell, this voice is probably the reason why you get so worked up over something you’ve practiced a million times. It’s the reason why you freeze up in the box in the last inning and choke away your last at-bat because you were too worried about failing. It’s the reason why your mental picture of your math study guide all of a sudden went blank during your test. With each failure, the voice grows stronger and stronger until it’s the only thing on your mind when it comes to crunch time. It’s a vicious cycle that will send you back to the drawing boards searching for answers – unless you take action and put an end to the lies it makes you believe.


This is where self-talk comes into play. When you listen to yourself, you hear the fears, doubts, and reasons why you can’t get the job done. When you talk to yourself, you can feed your mind positive thoughts, encouragement, and reasons why you CAN get the job done. Your thoughts are your body’s natural defense mechanism to get you to avoid situations you might fail. Self-talk is how you remind yourself that you’re more powerful than you could ever imagine.


If you’re feeling a little nervous before your big biology exam, starve your negative thoughts with positive self-talk. You’ve prepared as much as you could. You’re ready to go, you got this! Before you take the mic and prepare to address your fellow classmates, remind yourself how you’re going to crush it. You’re a great speaker. How exciting is it to finally share with your friends and family how much you’ve worked to master these next 10 minutes. You’re on the mound with two outs, bases loaded, and the other team’s best hitter ready to erase their one-run deficit? Yeah, wish him luck. You’re the man. There’s nobody better for this situation. He’ll be lucky if he touches one of these next three pitches.


In life, we are always going to face challenges that test our faith, will, and determination. We’re going to make mistakes and fall on our face when the spotlight is beaming on us. Striking out with the game-winning run on third doesn’t make you a failure, it just makes you human. With the right mindset, a work ethic that doesn’t hear the word can’t, and some positive self-encouragement at the right moments, you will overcome these obstacles and use them to propel your game to the next level.   


Our mind fears discomfort. It doesn’t like moments where we’re most vulnerable. It’s a curse that impacts everyone who walks this earth, but the great ones learned how to conquer this by feeding their mind what it needed. When the lights turn on and it’s time to play, you don’t need more reasons why you can’t be the guy. You need the assurance from yourself that you can.  

Don’t let you give up on yourself.
Feed your mind positive words, encourage yourself when you’re down, and give yourself the confidence to rise up to any challenge that comes your way. If you’ve put in the work, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t believe you can get it done.


Don’t listen to yourself; talk to yourself. You are great, you were born for this, and you can do this.

The Importance of Routines

Next up in our mental game series is the idea of routines.  Routines are consistent habits that players use to get themselves in a frame of mind where they’re physically and mentally ready to compete.  These include what you do before, during, and after competition.  Some routines change and evolve over time, while others remain consistent.  However, it’s impossible to modify your routines if you don’t have any to begin with.

Below are some ways to introduce routines into your training sessions.  Some ideas are more flexible or specific, but all of them are ways to purposely prepare players for training and competition.  Routines are something we can control at all times and are going to be there for us in any kind of situation.  When (stuff) hits the fan – and I assure you, it willwe need something to go back on and help us re-set.  This is where routines come into play.  


One of the first things we do with our hitters is address their current routines.  Training sessions are not a race to see who can speed through the bucket the quickest and get the most reps.  Every single rep we take must be done with a purpose, and many times that requires the athlete to simply slow down.  We’re going to get plenty of swings in within a half hour session, so the focus must then turn to the quality of reps we’re taking.

To start, teach your hitters how to step into the box by escorting their feet with their eyes.  If the tee is set up at the front part of the plate, we teach our athletes to line their front foot up with the break in the plate (where the plate starts to angle into a point).  This gives hitters the ability to work behind the tee since we know the average hitter moves forward when they stride.  

We then teach our hitters to tap a part of the plate.  We do this so they consistently know how far away they are from the plate whenever they step into the box.  After they tap the plate, we teach kids to create rhythm by taking their hands towards the pitcher and back.  We then encourage athletes to keep this rhythm by moving their barrel and keeping their body in a relaxed, constant state of motion.  

Some guys do things a little differently, but what we want to prevent is hitters who turn into statues when they step into the box.  We are governed by the laws of physics, and the law of inertia states that a body in motion stays in motion (vice versa).  We want to match the pitcher’s rhythm, tempo, and timing, and that starts by keeping some sort of movement as we anticipate the pitch about to come to us.

From here, we encourage hitters to use their eyes and pick up an area where they want to hit the ball.  On the tee, we set up the baseball so two seams of the ball are facing the hitter and tell hitters to hunt the inside seam.  When we advance to a moving object, we encourage kids to stretch their eyes and pick up where they want to hit the ball.  This could be the screen, back part of the cage, top part of the cage, or something outside like the outfield fence.    

Once a routine is established, it is crucial to reinforce the routine on a consistent basis.  Have the athlete practice stepping out of the box and stepping back in, touching the plate, creating rhythm, and stretching their eyes.  After a bad swing or two, have the athlete step out and re-set by going through their routine. If you let kids get away with it in practice, they’ll never have something to go to in competition when the game starts to speed up.


In your average nine-inning baseball game, a fielder will see anywhere between 120-150 pitches.  Of those pitches, as little as 2-5 of them will decide the game.  Since we can’t predict when these pitches will take place, it is absolutely crucial all nine positions are completely locked into each and every single pitch.  You may be locked into 119 of those 120 pitches, but the one you take off could decide whether your team wins or loses that night.

To maintain focus, concentration, and improve reaction time off the bat, we teach our infielders and outfielders to get into a pre-pitch ready position by stepping into the circle.  This can be done by stepping forward with both feet, one foot, or even adding a hop after both feet land.  It is to be done as the ball is about to enter the hitting zone (around when the ball enters the dirt circle).  Following the rules of inertia, we want players to be moving before the ball is put in play so they can get a better first-step read off the bat.

While everyone is different, we highly encourage kids to take a hop step after stepping into their circle.  This move is seen a lot throughout professional tennis (see examples from Andy Murray and Roger Federer)  Considering they see serves upwards of 140 mph, I think their pre-serve actions are incredibly useful to baseball players.   

Here is a video I took of Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres.  Notice how his actions mirror the ones from Murray and Federer.  

If you ever get a chance to attend a baseball game, pay close attention to the pre-pitch actions of all seven fielders.  You might pick up a thing or two from them.  

As a coach, be deliberate in how you teach this to kids.  Draw a circle in the dirt and have kids step in and out of it.  Stepping into the circle is where they lock in and take their focus to the plate, while stepping out is when they can relax and prepare for the next pitch.  Preach it when it’s done, point it out when it’s not done.  It’ll seem tedious, but it will build good habits that will really help kids out when the game starts to speed up.  

Other Notes on Routines

  1. Learn how to utilize the breath when performing your routines!  Breathing helps create clarity, calmness, and focus by slowing your heart rate down and getting oxygen to your brain.  For more benefits on the breath, see our recent blog post “Just Breathe!”
  2. Teach kids good pre and post training/competition routines.  This includes a proper warm-up, recovery, nutrition, hydration, and journaling.  We’ll get more into these topics in the future, but start with something and be consistent with it.  It’s all about building good habits.    
  3. Some routines are built into the game, such as warm-ups in between innings.  Every position should treat these like game-reps.  If you play shortstop for 24 innings in a tournament and get 3 ground balls every inning, that’s 72 opportunities for you to improve your craft.
  4. Mental routines are every bit as important as physical ones.  Visualization, simulating at-bats, self-talk, re-set buttons, and other actions to fuel the mind are critical to game performance.  
  5. Try different routines, experiment, and figure out what works best for you.  As a coach, give kids freedom to do so – but make sure they are actually developing some sort of consistency.  

These are only a few ideas, so feel free to come up with anything on your own as it relates to routines.  If it can be done consistently and help a kid perform to the best of their ability, use it!  

Please reach out to us with any questions or concerns.  We love to hear what you’re doing!

Keep learning and growing.      

Just Breathe!

As discussed before, I think most people would agree the mental game in baseball is a crucial skill to help players succeed at high levels of competition.  Due to the long season, the time between action, and a multitude of other factors, players of all abilities are vulnerable to poor thinking patterns which can erode a player’s confidence and hurt their performance.  Having a strong mental game helps players get control of themselves so they can compete in all environments and learn how to deal with failure, manage success, and keep their emotions from ruining their love of the game.  


Like anything else, the mental game is a skill and must be practiced for you to get better at it!  Therefore, coaches must find ways to incorporate the mental game into practice so kids can learn and work at it!  Looking at the mental game as a whole can be overwhelming, so over the next several blog posts I’m going to be posting simple ideas that all coaches can use to help train it.  If it’s good enough for Mike Trout, Anthony Rizzo, John Maddon, Manny Ramirez, Derek Johnson, and many more – it’s good enough for you.  

The first step to building a strong mental game is mastering the most fundamental element of life –
breathing!  A quality deep breath does wonders for an athlete and should the first step in learning how to manage the game from the neck up.  In the words of Alan Jaeger, “The breath, like the engine to your car, is the key to keeping the body and mind running smoothly and efficiently.”  

As for physical benefits,
the breath brings oxygen to the brain to help you think clearly.  This is crucial because the brain cannot differentiate between different types of stress.  In other words, it cannot tell the difference between you on the mound in a pressure situation, or you being chased by a sabertooth tiger!  Both will take an according toll on your body despite being completely different circumstances!    

This may sound funny, but
your brain’s number one priority is survival.  Any sort of threat will turn on the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) in your CNS.  If you cannot get oxygen to your brain and rationalize the situation, your body will go into the “flight” stage, shut down, and allocate all resources towards keeping you safe.  This is great for when you’re being chased for your life, but not so great when it comes to executing fine motor skills.  Don’t make baseball a life or death situation when you’re up to bat with the game on the line – just breathe!    


Along with this, breathing helps release tension throughout the body.  Loose muscles are fast muscles.  Any sort of tension from toes to fingertips will keep you from moving freely, athletically, and will have a negative impact on balance, rhythm, and timing.  Breathing, on the other hand, will do just the opposite.  For players who struggle with this and controlling nerves before/during games, get them to focus on the exhale portion of the breath.  On the contrary, focusing on the inhale is a great way to help increase energy levels.

Another physical benefit to breathing is it shows
positive body language.  A quality deep breath should be noticeably different from just a regular breath.  Athletes must learn how to enlarge their diaphragm by puffing their chest and elevating their shoulders.  This expands the lungs and helps counteract bad body language such as lowered eyes and hunched shoulders. Psychologists will argue that up to 70% of your communication is done non-verbally.  Be careful of the message you’re sending to other team.  Hitters are like sharks, and they feast when they smell blood.

As for intangible benefits, the breath is a great tool to
let go of the last pitch and get focused on the next pitch.  There is great freedom is enabling athletes to play with their sole focus on the pitch they are about to see.  If they’re constantly bogged down by the emotions of the last pitch or any pitch before that, their performance will snowball out of control.  Breathe in the emotions, bad thoughts, anxieties – and then exhale them out. Be where your feet are.    


The breath is also a great way to “check-in” with how an athlete is feeling physically and mentally during training or competition.  If an athlete is unable to get a complete inhale and exhale without being cut short, it is a sign that they are losing control.  As Tom Hanson and Ken Ravizza say in Heads Up Baseball 2.0, “Your breath is something to go to to determine if you’re in control of yourself, and it simultaneously helps you get control of yourself.”  Awareness is a crucial part of the mental game, and you can’t be aware of how you’re feeling if you’re not aware of how you’re breathing.    


Lastly, breathing helps you transition from training to trusting.  If you were to think about your most successful performances, I think most all of you would realize that you weren’t really thinking about anything at all.  This would be known as trusting – letting the work you’ve done unfold on the field without any conscious thought.  Confident and successful athletes keep things simple, minimize thinking, and play with their eyes.  While there is a time and place for training and conscious thought, it is not on the competitive field.  Use what you have, trust the work you’ve put in, and compete with everything you have to win the next pitch.  Oh, and don’t forget to breathe.  


Implementing the Mental Game into Practice


Coaches – In your practices, keep it simple for kids: get them to first learn how to take a deep, visible breath.  If you can’t tell they’re breathing from the dugout, they’re not doing it correctly.  Also, do not let kids rush the breath – let them take their time on the inhale and completely exhale the breath.  The exhale should be forceful enough so that kids are able to feel the tension being released from their body.  Kids can add to this by shaking their arms, legs, and releasing their shoulders at the conclusion of their breath.  

Another huge point is 
the breath must have a purpose behind it.  If kids are breathing but putting no intent behind it, they won’t get anything out of it – just like going through the motions in anything.  To help with this, get athletes to notice the air coming in, the air going out, and how each breath makes them feel. Utilizing a quality deep breath is a great way to slow the athlete’s heart rate.  If they still feel tension and anxiety after a few breaths, get them to slow things down and create a purpose behind each breath by bringing awareness to it.  


Once you’ve taught athletes how to breathe, get them to incorporate it into their daily practice routines!  Teach them to use the breath in the warm-up and how to exhale as they reach the end range of motion in their body (yoga had this figured out a while ago).  When an athlete boots a ball, get them to take a deep breath and release the error they just made. If a hitter rolls over a ball they know they should have crushed, tell them to step out, look at a letter on their bat, and take a deep breath before stepping back into the box.  Get your pitchers to take quality deep breaths between every pitch – in practices and in games. If you don’t do it in practice, don’t expect it to magically show up in games.  


Be creative in how you teach each kid to utilize the breath, but keep the main thing the main thing: When the game starts to speed up, get kids to breathe and slow it down!    


For more information about different ways to use the breath, when to use it, and how to improve it, Alan Jaeger’s blog (see Mental Practice: A Daily Routine and Mental Training Talk and Practice) thoughts from Lantz Wheeler, and Heads Up Baseball 2.0 are a good place to start.  


Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns!  


Keep learning and growing.    

How to Build a Better Approach with Steve Springer

I attended the 2019 ABCA Convention in Dallas, TX from January 3-6 (It is a wonderful event and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in coaching!). At the convention I was able to listen to Steve Springer speak about hitting.  Springer enjoyed a 14-year career in professional baseball amassing 1,592 hits in 1,591 games with six different organizations. He previously worked as a performance coach for the Toronto Blue Jays where he instructed players about the mental game.  Some of Springer’s clientele include MLB All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollack, Mark Trumbo, and Nolan Arenado.

Throughout the talk, Springer emphasized the importance for a hitter to have an approach.  In his opinion, it is the most important part about hitting!  He teaches the approach through a few simple ideas that kids can start implementing immediately in their game.  Like any physical skill, they need to be worked on and practiced so they can transfer to games.  

The first point Springer made was 90% of a hitter’s success is about walking up to the plate with confidence.  This is so hard for a lot of kids because they constantly beat themselves up over things they do not have any control over!  The biggest culprit of these is their most recent game performance. It’s easy to feel confident when you’re 4-4, but it’s very hard to feel good when you haven’t had a hit in your last 10 at-bats! This becomes the ultimate challenge: How do you consistently walk to the plate with confidence regardless of the score, your stats, or the guy on the mound?

Springer believes it begins with adopting what he calls an “Opening Day” mindset.  No hitter on Opening Day has ever walked to the plate without any confidence.  Why? Because they don’t have yesterday to beat them up!  It’s easier said than done, but walking to the plate feeling the same way when you’re 4-4 or 0-4 is critical for consistent performance.  When you don’t have the weight of your stats beating you down, you’re free to play the game focused on the most important pitch out there – the one you’re about to see!

Second, Springer believes kids need to change their goal when they walk to the plate.  Instead of trying to get a hit, Springer believes kids need to go to the plate with “an attainable goal to hit the ball hard and help their team win.”  Of course it’s important for hitters to get their knocks, but sometimes getting to first base depends on a little bit of luck.  Jonny can dribble a ball down the third base line, turn it into an infield single, and then smoke one at center fielder his next at-bat – only to be caught!

This is why Springer dislikes using batting average to measure the success of players.  Instead, he likes to use quality at-bats.  Some examples of quality at-bats include hitting the ball hard, drawing a walk, seeing a lot of pitches in an at-bat, laying down a sacrifice bunt, or scoring a run through a ground ball or fly ball.  All of these have one big theme in common – helping your team win the game! For these reasons, Springer believes hitters need to forget about getting base hits and instead focus on what they can control – hitting the ball hard and helping their team win!  By committing to a consistent, attainable goal with your focus on the good of the team, your stats will take care of themselves.

In the batter’s box, Springer talks about “hunting speeds”.  These speeds (pitches) should be determined by what the pitcher is throwing and when.  As Springer likes to say, “Should you look for what you want to get? Or what you’re going to get?”  This involves the hitter dialing in on a specific pitch and a location on the plate (in, middle, out) for every count that they’re in.  By creating a narrow focus, the hitter is going to be more prepared for what’s to come by anticipating a likely outcome.


To summarize Springer’s thoughts on approach:

  1. 90% of a hitter’s success is walking to the plate with confidence. Believe in your abilities, you are a good hitter!  
  2. Adopt an “Opening Day mindset” – no pitch is more important than the pitch you are about to see! There’s no sense in letting yesterday beat you up when yesterday doesn’t win the today’s games!
  3. Go to the plate with an attainable goal to hit the ball hard and help your team win the game.  You create pressure on yourself when you make it about yourself and your statistics. Focus on being a great teammate!   
  4. Look for what you’re going to get, not what you want to get!   
  5. Hunt one speed in a specific part of the plate.  It’s hard to hit 95 and 79 at the same time!


For more information about Steve Springer, you can visit his website at or follow him on Twitter @qualityatbats.  Reach out to us with any questions or concerns. Keep on getting after it!


Building a Confident Self-Image

How we think about ourselves is a powerful predictor for the type of people that we will become. This is known as our self-image: The stories we construct about ourselves and our abilities. While they may just appear as fictional stories, science shows they actually mirror what our future will look like. American psychologist William James was one of the first people to figure this out when he said, “People tend to become what they think about themselves.”


In Dr. Bob Rotella’s How Champions Think, Rotella said, “There is enormous wisdom in (James’) sentence. James was wise enough to see that we are each the biggest influence on our own destiny. More importantly, he understood that we each have the power to construct our own self-image and that the self-image we construct will very likely determine what we become in life.” 


In Rotella’s work with some of the best athletes in the world, which includes LeBron James and Rory McIlroy, he has found exceptional athletes think exceptionally about themselves. They construct confident self-images which help feed their success on the playing field. They envision themselves converting in pressure situations and see success before other people do. When everyone else tries to create doubt, they never lose confidence in their abilities. They know they’re good at what they do – and no one can ever take that away from them.    


Derek Jeter said that he felt he was the best player on the field every single game throughout his career. When people would tell his father how they loved how humble he was, his father would respond, “(He) has more inner arrogance than anyone I’ve ever met.” When Jake Arrieta won the Cy Young Award in 2016, catcher Miguel Montero said Arrieta knew he was really good. “He believes in his ability, what he’s capable of doing,” said Montero. “That’s what gets him to the next level: ‘I don’t care who’s hitting, I’m right here.’”


This attitude is contagious among high performing individuals in all fields. Super Bowl champion Joe Namath’s mindset is perfectly summed up by the title of his autobiography: I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow . . . ‘Cause I Get Better-Looking Every Day. Rotella spoke about performing artist Madonna’s mindset saying, “When I see her perform, I see that the dancers behind her can dance better than she can. Some of her backup singers can sing better than she can. But she thinks she’s the greatest singer and dancer on the planet, which is a big reason why she’s been an enduring star.” 


Lady Gaga was no different. “(Gaga) told the Rolling Stone a while back that she operates from a place of delusion,” said Rotella. “She used to walk down the street thinking of herself as a star. She certainly didn’t pay much attention to what people in her childhood neighborhood might have thought was a realistic aspiration for Stefani Germanotta.” 


NBA Champion Draymond Green shared similar comments in his post-game presser after Game 4 of the NBA Finals. “As a competitor, if you’re trying to do something meaningful,” said Green. “If you don’t have the mindset that you’re the best ever, you’ve failed already.”  



Building a Confident Self-Image


For some people, building a confident self-image is easier as it is a result of early success. It’s easy to build confidence when you’re the best student in the classroom or when you dominate the playing field growing up. For others, building a confident self-image is a little harder because they don’t have early success to rely on. Instead, they have lingering memories of negative moments where we couldn’t get it done. 


Due to an in-built survival mechanism, our minds are hardwired to place more emphasis on negative experiences than positive ones. If we don’t train ourselves to reverse this process, we will find that our most recent negative experiences are going to control our thought processes. 


“All thoughts are not equally important,” said Rotella. “Recent thoughts are more influential than thoughts that occurred further in the past. Thoughts associated with powerful emotions and more memorable, and thus more influential, than thoughts to which you attached no emotion.”


This is part of the reason why it’s so hard to shake bad performances in games and remember good practices. The emotion attached to performances in games and practices is completely different. Messing up a ground ball in practice is not as nearly as demoralizing as missing a ground ball with the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth. 


To combat this, we need to first understand that we are not prisoners of bad experiences. A bad play does not make you a bad player, let alone a bad person. We need to feed our conscious mind positive phrases and images (see “The Power of Visualization”) on a daily basis – which in turn impacts our subconscious mind. Since our subconscious mind is the primary driver for complex motor tasks, we want to make sure it is getting the right information. Negative thoughts chain you to the player you were in the past; positive thoughts free yourself to grow into the player you want to become. 


When we can start to control our thoughts, we can then turn to the emotion we attach to certain experiences. This is best described through a speech Jack Nicklaus made to the Georgia Tech golf team, where his son was playing. In the speech, Nicklaus confidently stated he had never three-putted on the seventy-second green of a tournament. After the speech, a young man stood up and pointed out that he had in fact three-putted on the last green of a tournament. Nicklaus cut him off saying, “Sir, you’re mistaken. I have never three-putted the last hole of a tournament or missed inside of three feet.”


For those of you that don’t watch golf, this statement by Nicklaus was not accurate. However, Nicklaus was not lying. He, in fact, could not remember a time in which he had done either. Instead of lingering on to mistakes, Nicklaus chose to forget them and instead remember good shots. He removed the emotion attached to negative shots and instead attached it to positive ones. “He refused to feed his subconscious mind with a lot of thoughts about mistakes,” said Rotella. “He understood that there’s absolutely no reason to relive and remember a missed put.


James Harden started Game Three of the NBA Playoffs First Round going 0-15 from the field. It was the worst start of a playoff game for any player in the past 20 years – but it did not bother him on the court. When asked after the game about what he thought about starting 0-15, James had no idea. He wasn’t oblivious to what was going on – he just chose not to reminisce on a bad start. Instead, he found a way to score 22 points and lead his team to a 104-101 victory where they took a commanding 3-0 series lead over Utah. 


Going forward, think about what you want to become and build an identity that’s going to help you get there. See what it looks like, figure out what it’s going to take to get there, and work relentlessly to make it happen. If you believe that you are a really good baseball player, you’re going to prepare, work, and train like one regardless of any external circumstances. If you don’t have a strong belief in your abilities, you will crumble when adversity tests your strength to press on. Don’t give your past the paintbrush that you’re using to create your future today. Build it, believe it, and don’t let anyone outwork you for it.  


I’ll leave you on this final quote from Nicklaus: “You have to be a legend in your own mind before you can be a legend of your own time.” 


Keep learning, working, and growing.

Rethinking Success – Building a Process Oriented Athlete

Goal setting is incredibly important for athletes who strive to get the best out of their abilities. It’s a way to push the limits of what you can do, monitor progress, and receive satisfaction when you achieve things you set out to do. Regardless of how big or small these goals are, we’re going to focus on two types of goals today: process and outcome oriented goals.


Outcome oriented goals are goals that deal with end results you wish to achieve. On the baseball diamond, some outcome based goals could be getting a base hit, hitting .350 on the season, winning a local tournament, or earning a college scholarship to play baseball. Outside the baseball diamond, some goals could be to lose 10 pounds, earn a 4.0 GPA, or find a new job in a field of interest.


On the other hand, process oriented goals are goals that focus on how you take steps to achieve outcome based goals. If your goal is to hit .350 on the season, some process goals would be attacking your weaknesses in training, learning how to take a quality deep breath, and developing a consistent preparation routine. If your goal is to earn a college scholarship to play baseball, some of your process based goals could be lifting weights three times per week, putting together film of yourself, and reaching out to college coaches of schools you’re interested in.


If losing 10 pounds is your outcome based goal, your process goals could be sweating every day, cleaning up your diet, and keeping track of your calorie consumption. If you want a 4.0 GPA some process goals could be studying each class every night for a period of time, being involved in class discussions, and asking teachers questions about learning material. If you’re in the middle of a job search, some process goals could be building a resume, reaching out to different companies, and honing your craft daily to make yourself a more attractive option.


The big overarching difference between process and outcome oriented goals is the control you have over each. Process goals are things that you have complete control over. There are no barriers to doing things like showing up, working on your weaknesses, and asking for help. The only one stopping you is you. We can influence outcome based goals and tip them in our favor, but we can never have complete control over them. You can completely crush your process goals and put yourself in the best possible position to achieve your outcome based goals, but it doesn’t guarantee you success.


There are always going to be things outside of our control. We can do everything right and hit four baseballs right on the screws, but all we’ll have to show for it is an 0-4 day if we hit all of them right at the center fielder. If we are constantly worried about our outcome based goals without a process behind them, our confidence will slowly erode until there is nothing left (see Syndergaard).


This is why creating process goals is so huge as a player: They gives us confidence by knowing we’ve done everything we can to prepare for what’s to come. When our confidence grows, our skills improve, we trust the work we’ve put in, and we start to see the results on the field. Whether we have our A, B, or C game, we know we’ll always have our process. If we show up everyday and commit to it, our outcome based goals will start to take care of themselves – not the other way around.


Building your process


Alan Jaeger of Jaeger Sports is a huge advocate for the importance of athletes to build an in-game process through process oriented goals. In his work with athletes, he recommends players pick 3-4 simple, attainable process goals to focus on when competing. The idea is not to do a lot of things fairly well – it’s to do a few things really well.


Below are some ideas on what athletes can choose from to develop their own personal process. While some ideas are individualized, others are things we strongly recommend for all athletes (ex: breathing).




  1. Take a quality deep breath.
    1. Everything starts with the breath. Release the past pitch, slow your heart rate, get yourself under control. See our post “Just Breathe” for more information on what the breath can do for you.
    2. Watch MLB hitters between pitches – they are great examples for how to take a quality deep breath.
  2. See ball, hit ball.
    1. Keep it simple – the less you think, the better you perform.
  3. Visualize yourself hitting hard line drives
    1. Building positive images in your mind is a powerful tool. See our last post for more information about this.
  4. Recite a mantra
    1. Keep it short, sweet, and supportive (hit it hard, see it up, next pitch)
  5. Mechanical cue
    1. Small action to remind you about a helpful mechanical cue (feeling the back elbow slot, front shoulder down, front knee brace)
  6. Physical release
    1. Letting go of the last pitch through a physical cue (Picking a handful of dirt, wiping away the rubber (watch Justin Verlander pitch), taking your hat off)




  1. Take a quality deep breath
    1. For the reasons above – we’re at our best when we’re calm, confident, and in control.
    2. See Kevin Abel’s breathing routine from when he threw in the 2018 College World Series championship game. You can also read up about his process here.
    3. David Price from the 2018 World Series
    4. Justin Verlander bullpen
  2. Pick out a specific target
    1. Aim small, miss small (pocket of the catcher’s glove)
  3. Visualize the intended pitch
    1. See exactly what that pitch looks like, how it’s going to finish. See the last 15 feet of flight.
    2. Jake Arrietta, Orel Hershiser.   
  4. Recite a mantra
    1. Commit to this pitch, next pitch (see Stephen Strasburg), you’re in control, through the mitt
  5. Commit through your target
    1. There can’t be any doubt you’re going to throw it through your visual with 100%  conviction (see Kershaw, Bumgarner, Rivera, Harvey).
  6. Physical release
    1. Take your glove off and rub the ball, step behind the rubber, take your hat off




  1. Take a quality deep breath
    1. See a theme?
  2. See the field, scoreboard
    1. Know the situation
  3. Visualize the play unfold
    1. Anticipate the ball coming to you, making a play
  4. Recite a mantra
    1. Give me the ball, next pitch, out front, through the mitt
  5. Step into the circle
    1. Everyone in the field needs some sort of pre-pitch movement


When you’ve chosen a process that makes sense for yourself, write it down on paper. Place it in a spot where you can see it all the time. Remind yourself of it on a daily basis. Talk to your coach about it so you’re both on the same page.


Whenever you train, go through your process. Grade yourself on how well you executed your process. If you three 25 pitches, how many of them were you fully committed to your process? Out of all your swings, how many of them did you take not committed? How did we react after a few bad outcomes in a row? Did we get frustrated and let the game speed up or did we go back to our process? If we want to be able to slow the game down and build confidence in our abilities, we must learn how to crush our process every time we touch a bat or a ball.

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns. Keep learning, growing, and crushing your process.