If you’re successful in only three out of every 10 at-bats, you’re considered a great hitter. But since hits are relatively rare, it is vital to get the most out of every single trip to the plate. Become a more successful hitter by learning the right mindset with which to approach each at-bat.
Successful hitting is all about belief. If you believe in your ability to get a hit, you’re much more likely to connect. Your thoughts affect your behavior, which in turn affects your results. In sport psychology, this is called the cognitive-behavior-action (CBA) technique. Develop the skill of changing your actions with your attitude—instead of letting your performance affect your thoughts—and you’ll become a more consistent hitter.
One of the best ways to improve your results at the plate is to use affirmation statements. An affirmation statement is a powerful present-tense “I” statement based on your belief about your abilities to complete a skill. To create an affirmation statement, start by making a list of all the things that make you a good hitter—quick hands, patience, ability to read pitches, powerful lower body, etc.
Next, use the list to create “I” statements about each attribute. For example, you may say, “I am a patient, powerful hitter,” or “I am able to read pitches and make quick decisions.” Personal belief-driven statements like these support your behavior and improve performance. Repeat the statements to yourself throughout an at-bat to maintain the right mindset.
It’s important to create your affirmation statements before the game starts. In the heat of competition when emotions run high, a prepared affirmation statement is a powerful way to combat changes in emotion.
Being a consistent hitter is tough. Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, who batted .298 and hit 536 home runs in his long career with the Yankees, once said, “During my 18 years, I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.”
I am not telling you that you won’t fail if you practice affirmation statements. In fact, failure is guaranteed. However, by preparing affirmation statements for all types of situations, you will find yourself bouncing back from failure faster and you’ll start seeing much more consistent results.
Christine Rickertsen is a mental training consultant currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area. After receiving her master’s degree in sport psychology, she started a consulting business designed to help athletes. She’s had the opportunity to work with an increasingly diverse population of athletes and teams. Visit her website at selfmadeathlete.wordpress.com.