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Friday, April 24, 2009

How to Bust Out of a Slump

How to Bust Out of a Slump
By Nate Barnett

Recently I had a conversation with an athlete about his performance. He was dealing with a scenario where as a sophomore, a freshman was starting at 2B over him. Obviously this in itself was frustrating, but to make it worse, his offensive game was slipping rapidly without the consistent play every day. He asked me what he could change in his swing that would earn him playing time over the freshman. The problem, I explained, was more than just the physical ability of this swing. The problem has infiltrated his mind. This is where I told him we would start.

My recommendation to him was to learn and utilize the concept of imagery or visualization. I like to refer to these terms as your mental replay system in your mind. When an athlete fails or has a string of failures, his replay system will play the poor performance over and over again in the mind. This has paralyzing negative effects on performance. The trick is then to learn how to manipulate the images of yourself that you allow to be play on loop in your brain. This can be accomplished in two ways.

First, before each game spend some time daydreaming or thinking about a past performance that brings a good memory. I could be a double in the gap, a strikeout of an opposing hitter, a stolen base in a crucial situation. It doesn't matter as long as it has to do with the area that you are experiencing some frustration in. Replay this positive experience in your mind ten times or so. What you are doing is reprogramming your mind to communicate confidence to your body. The more you do this, the better you will get. It will be strange at first, but will make more sense and will become easier after a week or so.

Secondly, use this skill during the game when you experience a failure. Maybe you walk a guy with the bases loaded, or pop out to the pitcher, or strikeout for the third time in a game. As soon as this negative experience happens you will need to quickly replay the scenario in your mind, except this time with a different result. Instead of the picture of yourself walking the hitter and allowing a run, you will see yourself striking out the hitter instead. Instead of popping out to the pitcher you will see yourself getting a base hit up the middle. This takes some time and some concentration but the advantage is that once you can learn this skill, your mind will begin to do this automatically and therefore prevent itself from dwelling on the failures you experience each game.

Nate Barnett is owner of the The Pitching Academy, a pitching information website designed to improve your on the mound performance as a pitcher. The Pitching Academy contains information, products, training, free articles, and more on pitching, how to throw a baseball, pitching mechanics, and much more.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick