Chances are if you have been a pitcher for awhile, then you had an inning start like this.
And, you know it can continue one of two ways.
Either you settle down, find your rhythm and follow this up with something like:
Or … you spiral out of control:
Coach comes to get you.
The difference between settling in and spiraling out of control is the strength of your mental game and having something to go to when the pressure is on or you find yourself with your B or C game that day.
I’m sure you’ve heard that baseball is “90% mental.” But, my guess is that you are training it less than 10% of the time. Is your coach doing ANY mental training drills with you to develop this part of the game?
If not, let’s start today.
So, how do you train your mental game?
The same way you train your body physically or develop good mechanics.
You may have heard about some of the mental game drills out there. Drills like visualization and taking deep breaths. But have you ever had anyone teach you how to visualize? Or explain what those deep breaths physically do to your body and why you want to take one every pitch?
Probably not. It’s because most coaches don’t train the mental game in their players because they don’t know how.
But, I do.
I’m Brian Cain, the mental performance coach for many of baseball’s top college and high school programs and some of the biggest names in MLB.
One of the most important drills I’ve taught my pitchers is how to be in control of themselves and their emotions so they can be in control of their performance. You have to be in control of yourself before you can control your performance.
You can’t control where you put your pitches until you learn to control yourself.
Controlling where you put your pitches is your only job, and your job ends as soon as the ball leaves your hand.
So that walk, walk, RBI single, walk, taken-out-of-the-game sequence will probably happen again unless you learn how to train your mental game.
Rule #1 for any athlete: you have to control yourself before you can control your performance.
In my free mental game of baseball masterclass I teach you the exact mental game drills I teach the pitchers I work with.
You can register for my free masterclass now and start training your mental game today.
Let’s talk about my top 3 tips from this masterclass:
Tip #1 – Control what you can control and let go of the rest.
Can you control what calls the umpire will make?
Can you control the noise coming out of the opponent’s dugout?
Learning to control the things you can control and letting go of the things you can’t control will change your performance instantly.
So, what can you control?
You can control your breath.
A deep breath is the life jacket for a baseball player. It helps you stay in the present moment, slow yourself down, and take the game one pitch at a time. But the deep breath at the right time has to be practiced. Just like any other skill.
You can control your body language.
Learn big body language. Slouching over and hanging your head shows the batter that you are already defeated. Kicking dirt and throwing a fit shows the batter that you have lost control of yourself, and therefore won’t be able to control your pitches. Shoulders back, eyes up, focused intent, and a big calm presence. That is big body language. We practice this with shadow bullpens, a drill all my pitchers do weekly and a drill I cover in my free masterclass.
You can control how much time you invest in your mental game.
The mental game of baseball has to be practiced with drills. You throw pitches in a bullpen, right? You do PFPs and work on covering first on that ball hit to the right side, don’t you? Well … you need to step into a space for mental performance practice too.
Tip #2 – Develop a pitching routine that you follow every single time
The pitchers I work with have a very specific routine they follow for each inning, each batter and each pitch. I will show you how to develop your own routine in my free masterclass and how to practice your personalized routine in what I call shadow bullpens. TCU uses shadow bullpens. The 3 MLB Cy Young Award Winners I have worked with use shadow bullpens. All the top pitchers I work with use shadow bullpens.
Success leaves clues. Isn’t it time you developed your own routine?
Tip #3 – Everything you do has to be defined by excellence, intention and purpose
One of the pitchers I’ve worked with is 2015 Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta, I started with Jake at TCU back in 2006 and 2007 where we introduced him to shadow bullpens. David Price, the 2012 Cy Young winner is another pitcher who learned shadow bullpens during his time at Vanderbilt University when we worked together in 2007. Many of the MLB pitchers I’ve worked with still use shadow bullpens.
These pitchers do their shadows with the same intent they would if it was Game 7 of the World Series. In fact, one year after he won the Cy Young, Jake returned to TCU for an alumni game and when throwing his bullpen that day his routine looked exactly like it would later that fall when he led the Cubs to the 2016 World Series Championship. Why? Because he knows that every single thing he does has to be defined by excellence, intent and purpose.
Jake Arrieta and David Price do not throw shadow bullpens because they are Cy Young winners. It’s the reverse. Jake and David are Cy Young winners because of a lot of factors, one of which is they have developed routines and use the tools they learned at TCU and Vanderbilt. Tools like knowing how to compete one pitch at a time. Tools like shadow bullpens.
Once you have a routine that works for you, then you have to follow it every time whether it’s in a pre-season bullpen or the final inning of Game 7 in the world series.
I have a worksheet that will show you how to throw shadow bullpens in my free masterclass.
Success does not happen by chance; it’s more a matter of choice.
Controlling what you can control works.
Putting in your best effort and intent on each pitch works.
Training your mental game works.
Let’s get started.
Join my baseball mental performance masterclass below