“BASEBALL IS 90% MENTAL AND THE REST IS PHYSICAL!” – Yogi Berra
These wise words from the great Yogi Berra are trying to explain that the game we all know and love is mainly mental. Yes, you play the game with your body as in swinging the bat and throwing the ball. Meanwhile, the mental aspect is that you have to make the right decisions each and every play.
Baseball is a game of unconsciousness, this is the reason so much effort is accounted for within the little things. If you focus on the little things, you will find that making the unconscious decision is much easier.
In Baseball, being confident is very important. Confidence stretches further than being competitive, you have to believe that you are the best player on the field day in and day out.
As a pitcher or hitter, you must have self-confidence in order to fail less, and succeed more.
Another key part to the mental game of baseball is Imagery.
This usually means visualization, but if you use Sensory Imagery, your visualization skills will become more
A good simple equation for this is
I x V = R (Imagery times Visualization equals reality).
This equation is basically saying that if you take a memory or vivid image and relive it, you will get real results.
For example hitting your first home run or throwing a no hitter, if you relive these memories and apply that feeling to what you are doing, you will become more successful.
Another good mental note to take and use in baseball is being aggressive.
Coaches may sometimes say “close the door”, “bury them”, this means go out there and don’t actually bury them 6 feet underground, but end the game pitch and hit with aggression so there is no chance of them coming back and winning the game.
Everyone wants to play D1 baseball; only 1% of high school players will go on to play at D1 programs. Want to be part of that 1%? Below are five things that we have indicated as current D1 baseball players that can set you apart from the pack.
1. Staying Even Keel
Everybody knows that kid growing up who slams his helmet when he gets out and no matter how the team is doing he is upset if he isn’t playing well. This type of selfishness doesn’t work at the Division 1 level.
Besides your parents and some of your close friends, no one is concerned with the type of game you have, scouts and D1 coaches want winners that stay even keel no matter the situation.
I’ve seen guys who were drafted lower then they were projected or not get drafted at all because they can’t keep their composure when it hits the fan. In D1 baseball you will fail and coaches and recruiters will know that.
So if you want to play at that level, you have to figure out how to be that guy that doesn’t let things spiral out of control after an 0-4 game. Be a gamer and try to be the same guy day in and day out. To learn much more about this topic check out our At Home Baseball Program.
2. Physicality/ Looking the Part
In Junior College, I was putting up ridiculous numbers. When I would ask the scouts what I was doing wrong and why I hadn’t been drafted, they all said that I needed to put on 20-25 pounds.
Size not only tells D1 and pro scouts that you are strong, but it also tells them that you will be durable down the stretch. Don’t let size be the reason you don’t go D1. Don’t say “I can’t put on weight,” I don’t know how many guys (including myself) that said that over their career but are now 200 pounds. Watch the D1 players on TV, if they are 20-30 pounds heavier than you then you need to step up physically and it can be done.
Obviously, this will vary depending on your height, but this is a general weight and body fat percentage that D1 players play at for each position.
Corner INF 200lb-2351b 12-15%
MIF 180lb-195lb 8-11%
Speed OF 180lb-195lb 7-10%
Power OF 200lb-225lb 12-15%
Catcher 205lb-230lb 12-15%
Pitchers Finesse Arm 180lb-205lb 10-13%
Pitchers Power Arm 200lb-230lb 13-17%
3. Play to Your Strengths
If you are reading this article, then you have expectations of playing D1 baseball. If you think that you can get to that level, then you are doing something right.
You are probably playing well and are one of the best guys on your high school or club team. To play at the D1 level you will have to play to your strengths. Be realistic about the type of player you are and don’t deviate from your strengths.
Think about what your strengths and your weaknesses are; play to your strengths and hide your weaknesses. If your a guy who can really run then work at-bats, get on base and steal bags. Also, teach yourself to bunt.
D1 coaches love a fast guy that can drag; it will boost your average. If you are a power guy, look to strike out less and get your pitch. When you get it, let it eat. If you are good with the glove, don’t big league your ground balls between innings.
D1 coaches are always watching and that could be your one chance to show how good you are with the glove.
4. Be a Student of the Game
This is one of the best ways to develop what we call in D1 baseball “feel.” You can learn a lot from watching baseball.
Find your guy on YouTube that is at your position or is a similar hitter as your and model your game after them. A lot of guys like reading books on baseball. We compiled the best of the books we’ve read and put it in this guide: At Home Baseball Program.
It’s important to watch your teammates at-bats and learn what the pitcher is doing; pick up patterns. Guys think they have four at-bats per game, but they actually 30+ at-bats if they are watching while their buddies are hitting.
You can learn a lot from watching the guys in front of you and finding tendencies. If you can pick up on pitchers tendencies you will steal more bags, you’ll put up better numbers at the plate, and you will stay locked in while other guys are losing focus and giving away at-bats.
5. Surround Yourself with The Right People
The best way to make good friends in baseball is being a good teammate. Surrounding yourself with good friends that share the same passion for the game will help you through the ups and downs of baseball.
Have a good lifting partner that will encourage you to get better and stronger in the weight room. Have a buddy you can go and hit with if you want to work on your swing.
Have a good throwing partner that takes a simple thing such as playing catch seriously. If you are reading this article you are likely a in the top of your lineup.
Surround yourself with the guys hitting around; this will keep you comfortable during games. Develop accountability partners that will keep you from spiraling out of control.
Surrounding yourself with good people is the best way to better yourself while still having fun at the yard. It won’t be the hits or the home runs that you remember, it will be the people and the relationships you made along the way.
Authors: Anonymous 1 and 2 (for NCAA reasons)
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5 Healthy Habits For Young Ballplayers
#1 Eat Healthy
According to a Children’s Lifestyle study at the University of Chicago, children perform better mentally when they get the appropriate nutrition. Young players and parents of young ballplayers don’t realize how important mental performance is in baseball. Food can be fuel for a young ballplayer. I didn’t start eating healthy until my Junior year of college at the D1 level and I will tell you that it was my best year. You don’t get tired as easily, and your brain is sharp when you are putting the right things in your body. Baseball is more mental than you think, eating healthy could give your kid an edge over the competition.
“Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical” – Yogi Berra
#2 Learn From Mistakes
I know that the new thing is participation trophies and everyone is a winner, but I think that kind of mindset can hurt a young ballplayer. Mistakes and failure can be very productive if a kid can learn from them! The kids that were able to learn from their mistakes were the ones that were the most successful growing up. Even at the D1 level this can set a player apart. Why make the same mistake twice? Why keep swinging at curveballs in the dirt when it is the only place the pitcher is throwing his curveball. Mental adjustments and being able to learn from mistakes can set a young player apart.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”
#3 Get Enough Sleep
According to The Sleep Foundation kids aged 5-12 need 9-11 hours of sleep per night. Sleep has many implications in athletics. Players that get the appropriate amount of sleep are more sharp, they have quicker reflexes, and they have greater stamina. This could set your young ballplayer apart in that final inning when the rest of the team is yawning up a storm.
#4 Exercise Daily — The Fun Kind
Exercise doesn’t have to be lifting weights! Young ballplayers that exercise daily can set themselves apart. Remember, the average kid aged 5-12 spends 6.5 hours a day looking at their phone, this cuts into the natural athletic development that occurs when a kid exercises. Want your kid to be the most athletic one on his little league team? Here are some fun things that build muscle & athleticism — Racquetball, tennis, basketball, jump rope, wall-ball, relay races with friends, swimming, boxing, sit-ups, push-ups, grippers, ladders, box jumps.
#5 Baseball Isn’t Everything
One of the most healthy habits to develop as a young baseball player is to realize that baseball isn’t everything. 70% of ballplayers are out of the sport by 13 because of the pressure. Something my D1 coach always used to say is: “pressure is something that you put on yourself.” Your young ballplayer has a choice whether he cries or not everytime he strikes out. One of the best ways to avoid that kind of feeling when you fail in baseball is just to consciously realize that baseball isn’t everything. The popular marketing term of “no days off” can be a toxic mindset. There is way too much failure in this game to rely on it and spend everyday thinking about it.
“Baseball is beautiful and perfect in every way — but it’s not everything.” – American Baseball Camps
The best baseball summer camps in the country are American Baseball Camps: Phoenix AZ | Wichita KS | Kansas City MO| Tulsa OK
– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player
How To Run A Great Practice
On our trek across the country with American Baseball Camps we have learned that many kids aren’t getting any better at their practices. Smart baseball parents are seeking out teams that run legitimate practices where their kid can actually get better, and I don’t blame them.
One of the worst practice stories we heard was in Tahlequah Oklahoma. A dad told me that at his kid’s practices the coach would put everyone in a group in the outfield and hit fly-balls and whoever catches it, catches it. This is similar to a game we used to play as kids called “500” but it certainly isn’t an entire practice!
This how-to guide on running a great practice is based on 20 years of good baseball experience, extensive research, and being a veteran player at one of the top D1 Baseball Programs in the country.
About ten years ago sports scientists realized that there is a more efficient way to warm-up than to just static stretch and count to ten. It is recommended to run kids through a “dynamic warmup” before practice and that “static stretch,” that you may be familiar with, after practice.
Here’s a quick example of a good dynamic warmup, it works best in two lines starting on the outfield foul line:
- jog 45 feet, jog back
- shuffle 45 feet, shuffle back
- karaoke 45 feet, karaoke back
- high knees 45 feet, high knees back
- butt kicks 45 feet, butt kicks back
- walking quad stretch 45 feet, walking quad stretch back
- leg swings 45 feet, leg swings back
- skipping leg swings 45 feet, skipping leg swings back
- lunges, side lunges 45 feet, jog back
- sprint 45 feet, sprint back
Upper Body Stretch:
- small arm circles forward, big arm circles forward
- small arm circles backwards, big arm circles backwards
- shoulder stretch across
- tricep stretch
- arm swings high to behind you (bicep stretch)
- rotator cuff stretch on the ground (lay on your throwing arm side put arm at 90 degree angle and push hand down towards the ground).
When they play catch remind them to take it seriously. You cannot win in baseball if you can’t play catch. Teach them the catch game to keep them locked in. If you hit them in the chest 3 points, hit them in the face 2 points, hit them in the arms or legs 1 point. Front elbow should be up and pointing towards where you want to throw it when you are playing catch.
On Field BP with the Rest of The Teams Taking Live Reps
BP on the field is a great way to see the results of your batting practice. It also gives the fielders a chance to take live reps off the bat if you do it right. Split your team into 4 groups of 3 (lets say you have 12 for the example). When 1 group hits, the other 9 players are in the field taking live reps off their teammates hitting, or fungos from a coach. Coaches stand adjacent to home plate. The coach on the 3rd base side hits fungos to the first baseman and the shortstop. The coach on the 1st base side hits fungos to the 3rd baseman and 2nd baseman. You need to wait and hit them in between pitches so that kids don’t have to field the fungo and the live grounder at the same time. Mix in some fly balls for the outfielders if they aren’t getting much action live off the bat.
Don’t have the whole team running one drill at one time, try to have coaches running simultaneous drills and just have the players rotate. It’s important to be efficient with your practice time. Below we have listed some drills to choose from that we like that we think could make young players a lot better:
- Rundown drill with a baserunner
- Pitcher fielding practice
- Double plays
- Short hops drill for infielders
- Quarterback drill (over the shoulder catches)
- 4 corners drill
- Around the bucket drill (for infielders to take the right path to the ball)
- Blocking drill
- Bare handed ground balls
- Bare handed receiving practice (catchers)
- Up the middle drill
- Soft toss
- Bunt defense
- Throwing to second (catcher and middle infielders)
- ESPN top ten drill
- Double cuts drill
- Robbing home runs drill
A good practice is all about getting the player a lot of good reps in a short amount of time. Players will get burnt out if they are out there all day so try to keep a practice around an hour and a half to two hours.
Make everything a game – I was doing a hitting lesson with a kid and was telling him to try to hit the back net of the cage and drive the ball up the middle. He kept pulling everything, he didn’t hit the back net once. Then when I created a game where hitting the L-Screen was 1 point and the back net was 2 points – he took off. Next thing I knew he was saying “I’m gonna get to 20”. Kids respond well to games and challenges, so try to use those to your advantage. If anything they just promote focus and induce competition.
Treat them like studs and they’ll start acting like it – My career took off when I found a coach that treated me like I was better than I really was. You’d be surprised, treat a player like he’s better than he’s playing and he’ll rise to the occasion
Encourage & support – This generation can’t be coached the same way that you were coached growing up. The drill sergeant makes them run till they puke stuff just isn’t needed. These kids are smart and if you treat them with respect, they’ll treat you with it in return. Every player isn’t created equal — you have to coach to your team. Know your players and coach them accordingly.
– Blog was written by a group of older D1 Baseball Players that have chosen to remain anonymous for NCAA reasons.