Our summer series focusing on baseball and softball is underway with Heads Up Baseball: Playing the Game One Pitch at a Time by Ken Ravizza and Tom Hanson. This book is jam packed with mental game strategies to become a Heads Up player or someone who embraces the mental side of the game. Our next blog in this series will focus on understanding the process of playing the game one pitch at a time.
Playing one pitch at a time actually starts with the concept of control. Most of us know that you can’t necessarily control what happens to us because sometimes life, the environment, coaches, or our opponent has another plan for us. But according to Ravizza and Hanson, we can control how we respond to the events that happen to us. For example, a pitcher who gives up a home run can be frustrated and upset about missing his/her pitch and giving up a run or they can choose to take a deep breath, let the last pitch go, and refocus on the next pitch. Ravizza and Hanson expand on the foundation of control by stating, “you must be in control of yourself before you can control your performance.” So, if the pitcher who gave up the homerun is in control of themselves, they can then regain control of their performance and get back to performing well!
Playing one pitch at a time requires the confidence to move on to the next moment, as well as the discipline to not dwell over the past or anticipate the future. Often, athletes are replaying their past mistakes or thinking ahead to getting out of the inning, instead of being in the present, right here, right now moment. It takes practice and awareness to get to the present and having a process to get there can be a huge help. Ravizza and Hanson see playing the game one pitch at a time as consisting of three basic steps: self-control, plan, and trust.
Self-control refers to how you are doing internally. Where are you mentally and physically? The UpsideDown team talks about finding your Go-Zone in our Energy Management module, which relates to getting yourself to the right spot to perform your best. Next, Ravizza and Hanson believe that every athlete should have a plan. The plan for a pitcher is which pitch they intend to throw to which spot. The final step is to trust both your plan and what you’ve got. Even if it is not your absolute best stuff, trusting and putting 100% effort into that plan will help you to perform your best in that moment, rather than making excuses for what is not going our way. The Heads Up process to play one pitch at a time helps athletes to maximize their performance potential throughout the game and not let a mistake spiral out of control. It is important to note that all of the Heads Up tips are transferable across other sports besides baseball and softball. The Heads Up soccer player would use this same concept when shifting from offense to defense, as well as for set plays.
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