Even at the youth levels, coaching baseball is a year round activity, as more and more travel teams have offseason baseball workouts. The off-season should begin with a period of at least two months of no swinging or throwing. When it is time for the off-season baseball workouts to begin, coaches should address the mental game development, along with baseball conditioning and baseball weight training programs.
Recently I was reading about the Mike Trout workout he has done after the MLB schedule and the one thing that stuck out was this statement made in a Bleacher Report interview, "It is just routine, and it is just staying positive. Getting the negative out of your head," referring to his first after season task.
What a great point about routine and the importance of clearing the mind. It may seem a little surprising coming from the best player in major league baseball because one might think; "Mike Trout has been awesome, how can there be any negative thoughts." Well, that is the nature of the game - players have ups and downs no matter how good one is. Baseball, of all the sports, is especially tough, as it is such an individual game wrapped into a team sport.
The first thing I like to do when teams get together again is to help them clear their minds by closing the door on the past season. The first phase of developing the mental aspect that Mike Trout referred to is about releasing the negative, so positive thoughts only enter the mind. Players can only begin developing a new "Eye of the Tiger" by closing the door on the previous season. With that in mind, here is an excellent way coaches can get that closing point to players.
Coach "I want players to think back to last season, and do one of three things:
Give me a thumbs up if you were very satisfied with last season.
Give me a sideways thumb if you were somewhat satisfied with last season.
Give me thumbs down if you were unhappy with your last season's play.
OK, thanks for being honest. Next, I want you to take your other hand and cover up your thumb, closing both fists tightly. This closing means exactly that; last season is over, whether you were satisfied or not, it is time to put it behind us and start to think of the things we control now. Whether you were great last year or not so, we all start equal, and we all must focus on the positive things we can do in the future."
It is not as if coaches do not want players who had solid previous seasons to forgot their success, but coaches do not want players to become content and lazy for the next season. It is also important to notice above the word baseball before the weight training and conditioning. Baseball workouts should be sport specific, so coaches and ballplayers should make sure they have a baseball conditioning expert to consult, at least for players that are in their teenage years and older. A baseball specialist knows the strength and conditioning program that prepares players for the youth baseball hitting drills and pitching drills that come in spring training.
In conclusion, it is wishful thinking that all players had a satisfying past season, but either way it is time to close the door on the previous campaign. As Mike Trout intimated about off-season baseball workouts, they are about getting rid of the negative and building the positive, knowing the next season will be a grind, too, no matter how good one is. Players also must learn that baseball, like all sports, have a "what-have-you-done-lately" mentality, so last year's stars cannot live on past performances for long. Offseason baseball workouts can make the difference for any aged player.
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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