Friday, August 13, 2010

Get Your Head in the Game

I've been assistant coach for First Born Son's ball team for many years now - like far too many to be honest.

I wasn't going to do it this year, but let's just say I was put in a "position". What amazes me is that in spite of all the skills a player may have and the practicing and drills a coach may run, little if any time is given to the "Mind Game".

That's usually what I bring to the table.

You can practice bunting all you want. You can have the best change-up in the league. You can launch a ball off a bat that burns up in the earth's atmosphere. But your head isn't the right place at the right time, you are SCREWED.

I've seen this too many times to mention. Lots of attention is paid to correcting a stance or perfecting a technique, but little if you are having a mental block at the plate - well, you just better get yourself out of that funk.


The brain operates all of the other functions of the body. If your head is busy doubting that you can perform at the plate, your arms won't make it happen.

Never more was this demonstrated than in last night's game. We were facing a rival who has just come off of a B-Side Championship. It's a solid team but not indestructible.

First inning was stellar - we hit well and fielded expertly. We scored two runs and didn't let them near home plate. As the game progresses, there's a bit of bad luck with bad bounces and some near-miss moments, but the team is still positive and talking it up.

Then our catcher, who is physically likely one of the most co-ordinated and has loads of strength, launches a ball down the third-base line over the head of the third baseman. Why? He wanted the out at third, however, the runner wasn't off the bag. But you can bet for damn sure he was when that ball sailed deep into left field.

This pisses off the catcher, who yips at the baseman. The only person who speaks to him is the coach - who sets the record straight about the play - but in essence the catcher doesn't appreciate the dynamic of the play and he stays in a funk.

The next inning, the catcher is still in a foul mood and when the short stop has a messy catch and throw to first, he snaps and calls him out for it.

THAT is when we lost the game.

The coach marches out and speaks to catcher about his negativity and tries to build up the team. But the damage is done. We might as well have walked off the field.

I've tried to explain to players and coaches alike that you can't pound someone over the head repeatedly and then expect them to perform like a full-fledge member of the team.

Kick a dog enough times, and he'll bit you.

Here's hoping we can teach an old dog new tricks before we face this team again Monday night.

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