There is no doubt that you have heard many coaches, and even more quotes by pro ball players, talk about how important the mental aspect is to the game of baseball.
Then why isn't mental training taught more by coaches?
I have no idea. Maybe you can offer a suggestion.
I will let you in on an inside "secret" that will enable you to take your game to the next level. A secret so powerful that you will have the ability to put your body on auto-pilot and let your instincts take over...almost at will!
What is this secret?...Visualization.
Yeah I know you have heard the word thrown around many times, but did anyone tell you how to apply it? Probably not.
Here is a simple three- step solution so you can become a visualization master.
1. Close you eyes and picture in your head the best swing you ever took. The best pitch you ever threw. The best play you ever made. It does not matter. Just see that perfect play and "watch" it over and over in your head.
Do this with as much detail as possible. The smell, the sky, the crowd, the catcher pounding his glove. You get the idea. As much detail as possible.
2. Ok now that you have that perfect play in mind take it into the on deck circle, the pitcher's mound or the field. You will want to practice this as much as possible. The more you do it the better you get (as do the results!) If you do not feel comfortable using the visualization techniques in a game just yet, work on them in practice or exibition games.
Now just take that perfect play and "plug in" the pitcher or batter and the current surroundings. See yourself take that perfect swing. Feel yourself launch that perfect fastball on the black.
See it over and over. When you are good you will be able to do this in split seconds. I used to do it between every pitch! And I teach my students to do the same.
3. Let your body take over! Your body knows what to do considering all of the practice time you put in. It is the mind that gets in the way. Not any more!
It's really that simple once you master this awesome technique. Do yourself and give it a try. You will certainly thank me.
+(Jon Doyle is a former NCAA All-American baseball player who now works as a strength and conditioning specialist. For more tips check out [www.baseballtrainingsecrets.com|http://www.baseballtrainingsecre
(Jeff Agoos is an American soccer legend. Having won more MLS championships (five) than any other player and among the leaders in US National team appearences we thought it'd be great to chat with this "MLS Defender of the Year" and get his thoughts on the upcoming World Cup.)
So how did a kid growing up in a football haven like Texas get involved in soccer?
Good question. Even though Texas is considered one of the football capitals of the world, most of my friends played soccer. I lived in an area of dallas (N. dallas) where a lot of people played soccer instead of football.
You've had a phenomenal career. What was the most important lesson you learned as a young player that helped pave the way for your eventual success?
The biggest thing I learned as a kid, not only about soccer but about life in general, was that you have to work harder than the next person to achieve success. I was never a gifted player or a gifted student, but I had a strong work ethic and I had passion. The ability to persevere is a very important character trait.
What was playing in Germany for SV Wehen like? Any tips on Germany you could give the current team?
SV Wehen was an eye- opening experience. It was a very tough time but it taught me the lesson that soccer as a business is a tough business. I had always viewed soccer as a game. Coming back from Wehen made me realize that at the next level it's much more than just a game. My experience in Wehen and the national team experience in Germany will be very different. I would tell the team to enjoy the experience and soak up the atmosphere. It will hopefully be the best time of their lives.
Last night, I spoke to a high school coach who was lamenting the academic difficulties of one of his players. The player fell too far behind early in high school, and despite interest from colleges, would need junior college to meet college admission standards. Naturally, the coach echoed an all too common refrain: tough family life, no parental support, no guidance, single mother, poverty, etc.
At once, I thought about a team I assisted when the girls were twelve years old, as they are just completing their first year of college. The team was very talented, among the best teams in the nation at their age group. From this group, the players played Division I athletics this year: two played basketball and one played soccer.
Of the others, one girl quit playing basketball altogether before her senior year of high school and another played sporadically, as she was injured for parts of all four years of high school. Another dropped out of school and echoes the familiar "family problems" refrain. I have no idea whatever happened to the other two players once they entered high school.
Two things stick out about this group. The three players who play Division I now had played multiple sports during high school. One played softball for at least two seasons and one ran track for 2-3 years, while the soccer player played basketball in her off-season. None of the others played other sports to my knowledge.
Secondly, these three had the strongest parental support. Their parents were around, but not overly intrusive. They attended games, but did not berate officials or the coaches. They supported their daughters, but did not make excuses for their mistakes. The others either lacked the support, had family problems or had overbearing parents who made everyone's business their business.
It's interesting to look back after 6 years and see the difference balance, perspective and parental support made in their lives and their successful pursuit of a college education and athletic scholarship. Maybe the three who earned scholarships were the most naturally gifted. Maybe they were just lucky to have parents who cared and a stable home environment. Maybe they were mentally the toughest or the most determined.
With the myriad of reasons which comprise success and failure, it is impossible to pinpoint just one factor. However, I suspect the stable home environment and the parental support created an enviornment which led to success, and I do not believe the influence of parents, positively or negatively, can be overstated.
"Core Strength" is currently a hot buzz phrase. But, what exactly does it mean?
Basically the "Core" of your body is from your mid-thigh to right below your chest. These muscle groups comprise of what is considered by many the power center of the body.
This is where speed, power, and strength all originate from. If you have great core strength you will have an advantage over your opponent. In addition, tremendous core strength will also help prevent back, knee and shoulder injuries as well.
Sadly, most core training programs consist of only crunches. While crunches are OK exercises, they will do very little for the core. Ground-based exercises that focus on training movement patterns will do a far superior job in developing the core strength that is needed to perform great and injury-free.
(Jon Doyle is a former NCAA All-American baseball player who now works as a strength and conditioning specialist. For more tips check out [www.baseballtrainingsecrets.com|http://www.baseballtraining
(A great essay on the role of basketball coaches by guest blogger Coach Brian McCormick)
While reading If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!, I came across this passage:
"The teaching mission of the guru is an attempt to free his followers from him."
The teaching mission of a coach is similar. Unfortunately, coaches coach in a manner that makes players need the coach more, not less. A teacher prepares his students for a test and trusts his efforts result in an understanding of the curriculum and a passing grade.
A coach, however, prepares players for a game, yet fails to free his players, choosing instead to dictate the game through his use of set plays, timeouts, changing defenses, etc. The players lose imagination and creativity because they must play within the rules defined by the coach or the coach may choose to bench the insubordinate player.
True teachers teach the game and the skills necessary to succeed while playing basketball and allow the players opportunities to make decisions that directly influence the outcome of the game. While the teaching is sometimes lost because we do not see the coach actively directing the action during the game, the well-coached team plays as though a coach is superfluous.
In the NBA, the Suns Mike D'Antoni allows his players this freedom. In college basketball, Coach K likely comes closest, as he appears to run fewer set plays and allow his playmakers to make plays and find the open man.
Coaches are nervous when relinquishing power and control to the players. They fear what may happen. If the players fail, the coach is often blamed for his lackadaisical approach or his lack of discipline. If the players succeed, they believe the coach is unnecessary, and he may lose some of his authority, or an outsider may imagine how much greater the team would be with more control and direction.
In our society, we de-value the coach who empowers his athletes fully, and thus our athletes are unable to fully realize the life benefits of playing sports. Coaches do not coach in an attempt to free the players of their constant commands, but to heighten the need for the coach's omnipotence.
The latest eteamz Snapshotz winner: During a close game between the TFS Timberwolves and the Piedmont Pioneers in March, 2006, an unidentified batter with the Pioneers shows the agony of a "swing-and-a-miss". (Chris M. behind the plate for the T-Wolves).