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Mental Coaching for Baseball and Softball

Mental Coaching for Baseball and Softball

Hi, I’m Chad Moeller of ChadMoellerBaseball.  I’m here with a great friend of mine, Ken Ravizza, sports psychologist.  We spent a lot of time together through my career.  16+ years together going back to college.  He helped me through so many things.  I’m just pleased that he was willing to take part in these videos with me.

We want to get into a lot of what takes place on the field.  We do a lot of work on the mechanics of playing this game.  Throwing, hitting, catching, but little gets put into the mental side.  Which is probably the biggest part.  Lots of kids have talent.  Lots of adults have talent.  But how do you separate yourself?  Most of it takes place in your head.

When I was in college I learned that I couldn’t do it on my own, and I needed help.  Over the course of my career, Ken was a dear friend of mine.  I definitely could not have played as long as I did, and as successfully as I did without him.

Ken has worked with numerous major league teams.  He works with colleges.  Works with the Olympics.  A dear friend.

We’re going to talk about takes place in the brain today and how it affects us on the field.

So, let’s start out with “what is mental coaching?”  Why do we need to actually worry about this?  What makes you so darn good at it.

KEN:  First of all Chad, I think it is great where you are sharing because baseball is a mental game.  There is so much time to think in the game.  The 6 inches between the ears need to remain clear, and that is what we are trying to do.  Where the mental game comes into play is the terms of when you look at the big game.  How much of the big game is physical and how much of the big game is mental?  You look at the breakdown.  Even if you say it is 30% mental and 70% physical.  How much time do you spend on your mental game?

When you said you were at USC and you started to realize that we could work together because the mental game basically are skills.  And skills can be learned.  It’s an educational approach somewhere in what you do is provide people with information.  You give them skills to use that information and then you support that in refining and developing those skills so they work for them.

So, for an athlete on a mental perspective, the athlete has a hard time in pressure situations.  They get keyed up.  They get too keyed up.  They get too excited.  They want it so bad.  The need to have the line skills to regulate themselves, to calm themselves down.  The one has to be supportive as they learn these skills such as breathing, relaxation, visualization, to calm themselves down.  So its an educational approach and then that’s when you go back to your career, we came together.  I gave you some information.  I gave you some fill.  You were the one who took it and ran with it, and modified it into a system that worked for you.

In baseball the mental game is keeping on it because there is so much failure built into us.  You fail 7 out of 10 times.  How do you get yourself to the next pitch when you have all that failure going on.

At the higher levels, whether its making an all-star team or club team, the physical talent balances out.  What becomes important is the 6 inches between the ears and how you deal with adversity.  How do you learn to compensate and adjust.  That’s more mental than it is physical.  That part of the puzzle.    The other thing that goes into baseball is that baseball is an interesting sport because it’s a team sport, but its an individual sport.  You stand alone and you have to perform.  In soccer you blend into the masses.  It’s not basketball where it is go-go and the team is always moving.  There’s stop, go failure.  Look at the failure.  Get to the next pitch.  How could you blow that, and get to the next pitch?  So, the mental game is just so important and I think the parents watching this with your children.  The can learn to control the mental side of the game.  They may not have the talent or the game itself does not a allow them to get the results.  Hit the ball hard, you may be out.  And that validates them for working the process and giving them the best chance for success.  So, that’s where the mental game comes in.

CHAD:  That’s perfect.  It is a process and you need to learn new skills.  What most of these boys need to learn is that it is a process  and they do need to learn this.  It doesn’t happen over night.  Not instantly.  To have total command over their brain, much like they want to have over a fastball or their bat.  It takes time.

KEN:  And the other thing, Chad, is that it is very important that these skills, these mental skills, come into focus.  The ability to focus.  The ability to set goals.  The ability to compensate and adjust.  The ability to have a plan and have a routine to go through.  The beautiful thing about it is that these are life skills.  Yes, we use them in baseball, but you can use this stuff throughout your life.

That’s what’s important for me and the parents out there.  I do have a dream that your son or daughter sampling major league baseball while they are getting a college scholarship in baseball or softball, but if they don’t they are still going to get a lot of valuable lessons learned.

The question you asked me is a key question of why is the mental game important in the first place.

Chad, I have to tell you this story.  It’s a good one.

10-15 years ago my daughter had me come into high school softball team.  I’m going to talk to the team for a half hour about the mental game.  I am a wreck going into to talk to my daughters team.  Olympic teams, baseball teams, no problem.  But my daughters team is a big deal.  I go in and I speak for a half hour.  I wowed them.  It was unbelievable.  I just nailed it.  They then went out and had practice.  I went home and was sitting on the couch when my daughter comes in.  I said, “Monica, what did they think?”  She looked at me and said, “Dad, they did not have a clue of what you were talking about.”

From that day on, whenever I talk about the mental game we always start with “why is it important?”  Why are we doing this?  To this day I start there.

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