How do you Define Poise - In Sport State Of Balance

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HomeBlogsJack Perconte's blogHow do you Define Poise - In Sport State Of Balance
How do you Define Poise - In Sport State Of Balance
Jack Perconte

My Definition Of Poise

The definition of poise is no different on the playing fields as it is in other aspects of life. The dictionary definition of poise says it well "a state of balance." With athletes, I believe this relates not only to the mind but also to the body's state of balance.

Of course, if you dig deeper into poise, you will find words like viscosity, the viscosity of air, velocity and tangential force. I could explain those further, especially as they apply to sports, but I will save those descriptions for another time. Of course, if you wait for those, I also will tell you about some land that you may be interested in another galaxy far from here.

Back to reality. Poise is one of those things that many people recognize when they see itbut often cannot define it. Another easier-to-understand definition of poise is "composure." It often seems like some athletes have it and others do not. That is true to a certain extent. The good news is that acquiring an improved state of poise expressed one of balance is possible for all players through good coaching, a determined athlete, and experience.

My definition of poise attests to all of the above descriptions, "A positive sense of self confident manner, that one realizes they are in the right place, at the right time." Some athletes shy away from the spotlight in certain situations and games, whereas others feel as though "the moment is right for them."

Personal Experience - When poise showed at the nick of time

The greatest baseball play I ever made in my life was the result of poise showing up. The play was very routine. Playing second base, I roamed about fifteen feet to my left, got in front of the ball, caught it and made the thirty-foot toss to first base to record the out. Of course, the circumstances were what made the play so momentous for me. The Houston Astros had runners on the corners with two outs, ninth inning and my team the Los Angeles Dodgers were up by one run. Not only that, the game was nationally televised and we had to win to get within one game of the division lead with just one game remaining after it.

As a ballplayer who rarely had self-confidence, especially at the highest level of professional baseball, I didn't want the ball coming my way.Suddenly though, my mind seemed to relax, my focus was intense and in the moment. When the ball came my way, there was no hesitation, and it was like any other ground ball in my life. Poise gives one the ability to slow things down in the heat of the action, and it came for me in the nick of time.

For athletes, poise begins with the ability to clear out any negative thoughts, especially a detrimental outcome that results from messing up something. Playing with poise allows one to have a good perception of what they are capable of and of not overextending under challenging situations. In baseball, pitchers do not overthrow when the game is on the line, and batters do not try to hit home runs and overswing. Composed players realize if they stay within themselves, focus and maintain the stability of body and mind, good things usually follow.

The best coaches help players develop poise with the enhancement of skills, optimism, and experience.

How Coaches Can Help Players Find Poise "The State Of Balance."

Poise - state of balance

Coaches should define poise with the following:

Skill Development

This coaching is a given, of course, but realizing that physical stability is the beginning of mental equilibrium is crucial. The more under control one's body is, the more relaxed and confident they can be. There is no substitute for doing things the right way. Coaches must commit to the fundamentals the whole season long. Advancing players' talents is a tedious but obligatory task, but the result is the ability to repeat one's mechanics in games, and especially under intense game situations.

Physical balance is a necessity for having poise. Repetition is the name of the game in sports, and the more players practice in game-like situations, the more experience they gain to develop the sense of having been there before in real game action. Coaches must drill players in the correct ways of doing things so that they can repeat them in games. Doing something right and almost right is the difference between accomplishment and malfunction. Performing the fundamentals is the first stage of having poise. Incorrect mechanics show up in games where players rarely get away with them.

The value of preparation 

As a follow up to the above point, athletes must learn that there is no substitute for hard work. Putting in the appropriate effort not only leads to the belief that they geared up in the right way, but also that they can expect good results due to the amount of energy Having expectations of success is better than having hope it will come. Proper training helps athletes believe things work out for the best more often than not because of their preparation.

Confidence through affirmation. 

Statements like, "Right player, right time" encourage kids, and develops a sense of comfort that allows them to believe in themselves. Coaches who believe in their players and give them affirmation help strengthen the intellectual poise and the positive sense of self, which is mandatory for the definition of poise. At the opposite end, head coaches who fail to encourage delicate poise, are cynical and have bad body language destroy kids confidence and composure has no chance of developing.


Poise comes with knowing oneself. Athletes who have a good perception of their strengths and weaknesses do not overextend in tense situations. Composed players realize if they stay within themselves, good things will follow. The ability to stay in the moment during tight situations blocks out pessimistic thoughts, allowing for focused play. Coaches can help players learn their areas of strength and weakness. That knowledge usually prevents them from trying to do things they are not capable of doing.

The effects of facial expressions and body language.

The capacity to look composed even when the hearts are pounding comes with experience. Players who look like they are under control often gain a mental edge over the opposition. Upset players kick the dirt, throw things, swear, glare, pout, and fail to listen. Those players often lose concentration when it is most needed. Coaches can help players cut anger and disappointment displays.

Breathing patterns. 

The key to the ability to look composed under pressure is the ability to have consistent breathing patterns. Keeping a steady pace aids players' ability to observe things with a clear mind. Just teaching players to take a deep breath before the action helps them to re-focus. A consistent breathing pattern allows players to slow the game down, which is a concept often heard about the best athletes in the world. 

Visualization skills. 

Perhaps nothing helps players develop poise more than the ability to see success before it happens. Teaching players to mentally rehearse seeing themselves perform plays before the action is crucial.  Concentration Coaches must aid players with staying in the moment and mentally "in the zone." Helping players to forget past failures along with the realization that every play and game outcome is independent of previous results is necessary coaching. Players who learn to understand that no matter the circumstances they can succeed are on the road to developing the highest mental state of balance.


All of the above lead to the ability to relax, which is essential for reacting in the heat of the moment. Coaches can help players believe that all their hard work is for the tensest moments and games and that they should trust that their hard work will payoff at those times. The more players believe that they have prepared to the fullest, the more relaxed they feel. Relaxation helps poise come to the fore.

The Poise Positions

At the highest level of sports, a certain amount of poise is necessary for every player. It is especially essential for road games when the opposing fans are not only loudbut often verbally abusive towards the visiting teams. Players must learn to tune out the distractions to concentrate on their tasks. I could argue that some positions require more composure than others.

For example in: 

  • Football Perhaps no spot in sport requires the ability to tune everything out around them and think of what needs to be done, especially with 300-pound linemen out to rip their heads off, more than the quarterback position. 

  • Baseball The baseball pitcher must repeat their mechanics with great poise, pitch after pitch in a particular manner, knowing they are the key to everything that follows. To do that with the game on the line takes even a more considerable amount of composure. 

  • Hockey and Soccer Of course, goalies have to be able to keep a steady position the whole game, especially in a one on one shootout where they must be able to zone in. 

  • Basketball Game winning shots take guts knowing the whole game comes down to that. Even a free throw with the opposing fans screaming and waving things in front of them requires high concentration.

13 Tips for Coaches to Use for Players Before, During and After Games

Before and after games, coaches should:

1. Separate what players do on the field and "who they are" bytreating them as more than athletes.

2. Make sure players realize that perfection is unattainable and not expected.

3. Inform the athletes you believe they will give their best as often as they can.

4. Let kids know that failure is a setback only when they do nothing about it and that staying focused on their goals is the key to satisfaction.

5. Encourage players to embrace challenges and take chances.

During practice and games coaches can do these for developing coping skills:

6. Enact the tense game-situations, which gives players a sense of "been there before." Experience helps kids focus, relax, and execute the next time.

7. Show little emotion after mistakes. Players are brave when they feel like they won't disappoint the coach.

8. Help players realize they cannot change past plays and that dwelling on them does not help.

9. Assist athletes in learning ways of keeping their mind in the present. Explain that the desired fearless demeanor will not happen when thinking of past and possible future failure.

10. Teach kids to understand that every play and game's outcomes are independent of previous ones.

After games coaches should do these for developing coping skills:

11. Remind players that games involve many plays, and no one individual play causes a loss.

12. Remind athletes that they are part of a team and that no one player determines the game's results.

13. Inform players that other team members are there to pick them up when they fail because that's what a team is all about.

Poise FAQ's

What is poise in sports?

Poise in sports refers to the ability of an athlete to remain balanced, controlled, and calm under pressure. It involves maintaining self-confidence, focus, and composure during high-stress situations, ensuring optimal performance regardless of the competitive environment.

Why is poise important in sports?

Poise is crucial in sports because it affects how athletes react to different situations during a game or match. Athletes who maintain poise can keep their cool in challenging circumstances, make better decisions, and execute their skills more effectively. Moreover, it can be the difference between winning and losing in tight, high-pressure situations.

How can athletes develop poise?

Athletes can develop poise through regular mental and physical training. This includes practicing mindfulness, visualization techniques, and other mental training exercises to increase focus and decrease anxiety. Regular exposure to high-pressure scenarios in training can also help athletes build poise as they become accustomed to dealing with stressful situations.

Can poise be taught or is it innate?

While some athletes may naturally display more poise than others, it's generally accepted that poise can be developed and improved with practice. Just like physical skills, mental skills such as poise can be trained and honed. Coaches often focus on building an athlete's mental resilience alongside their physical prowess.

How is poise different from confidence in sports?

While closely related, poise and confidence are different aspects of an athlete's mental game. Confidence refers to an athlete's belief in their ability to perform a specific task or succeed in a particular situation. Poise, on the other hand, is the ability to stay calm and composed under pressure, regardless of the level of confidence. An athlete can be confident but lose their poise in a tense situation, and vice versa.


In conclusion, poise is a vital attribute in sports, encompassing both mental and physical balance. It enables athletes to perform at their best, especially in high-pressure situations. Coaches play a crucial role in developing poise by emphasizing skill development, physical balance, and mental preparation. They can also nurture confidence, self-awareness, and the ability to control body language and breathing patterns. By cultivating poise, athletes can stay focused, relaxed, and make effective decisions, leading to exceptional performances.

Different sports and positions require varying degrees of poise, with certain positions demanding exceptional composure in critical moments. Quarterbacks, pitchers, goalies, and players taking crucial shots rely on poise to excel. Overall, poise is a trainable quality that athletes can refine through practice, experience, and the guidance of coaches. It empowers athletes to stay in control, exhibit grace under pressure, and achieve remarkable feats in their chosen sport.


About Jack Perconte

After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.

All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.

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