During Philadelphia’s game against the Cincinnati Reds on August 21, 2012, the Phillies caught a case of the “mental flu.” Flus always start with a sniffle, and the sniffle happened in the sixth inning when the Reds scored three runs. At this point, the mental flu spread through the Phillies lineup, with symptoms like lack of batting production, poor pitching and porous defense. The comment was made that the Phillies might have won that game, but not Tuesday. Not so far in 2012.
So how can your baseball team avoid this dreadful “mental flu”? Here are two psychology secrets that the Phillies needed and that you can use:
Mistakes and errors are part of life, even in Major League Baseball. The difference is whether a team can handle getting a failing grade. Will the error be a focus, thereby raising the probability it will be repeated? Or will it be forgotten while play continues like it never happened?
Recently I worked with a baseball team where everyone was trying so hard that when an error occurred, the “blame game” made sure the players felt guilty. This stole the team’s ability to play winning ball. We began by using a way to forget called the “movie technique.” Players were able to quickly dispatch emotions and negative thoughts about the error and re-energize themselves for winning play. Pitchers recovered and owned the mound again. Batters got back in the box with confidence and made hits.
When players are anxious and nervous, it creates a poor atmosphere for playing good ball. Anxiety typically causes players to enter into a short-term depressed state. Depressed players rarely spark themselves and their teammates to rise up. (See Could Sport-Induced Anxiety Be Messing Up Your Game?)
A short while ago, another baseball team worked with us. When everyone was hitting, the game was fun and exciting, and the results were good. But when the batting flu hit and everyone was in a slump, the excitement level plummeted. The players were anxious about getting up to bat, disappointing themselves, their teammates and the fans. This weighed heavily on each player’s mind. Their anxiety was causing them to strike out; batting averages slipped; and few runs were being scored. They lost games to teams they should have beaten.
We helped to change the team’s mindset to “hit the pitcher” and “have a truckload of confidence.” We began by reprogramming the players’ thoughts around how they saw themselves in the dugout, the on-deck circle, and their approach to the batter’s box. Using the confidence building tools in The Stofka Method and a little hypnosis, we created a powerful, aggressive team of batters, each one using all the proper mechanics taught by their coaches, but now bolstered with the confidence to step up and hit. The end result was a team of high scoring baseball players with a sense of contagious fun and happiness.