Saturday, December 6, 2014

What is the Mental Game? Mental Game VIP Interview, Part 1

The following is part of an interview I recently did with @MentalGameVIP. Check him out on twitter. I will be releasing different parts of our conversation over the course of the next few weeks. 

What is the mental game? How important is the mental game in college baseball?

First of all, the mental game is whatever a player needs to do for himself to put himself in
the most confident place. Tom House, Brian Cain, Ken Ravizza and certainly Harvey Dorfman as well, talk about 'the zone’, what that is and what that means. Everyone wants to be 'in the zone' and it's tough to get into. So a lot of them have created systems or given hitters or athletes nuggets on how to get closer to that zone more frequently. To me, in hitting or in any sport, the mental game is how to get to be consistent enough that you can be in a committed and confident place even when your most recent opportunities have had more failure than success. That's first of all what we seek to teach in the mental game, to get people to believe in themselves even when their most recent opportunity was not successful. That necessitates practice and a lot of trials and tribulations for different people, because it's difficult to put your hands on something that is not so tangible when we're talking about the mind.

It's as important as they want it to be. The easy answer would be that it's extraordinarily important, but every player is going to buy in at their own level. If we're trying to sell everybody at the 10 out of 10 level, we turn some kids off. Some kids just aren't ready for that. I don't think we're doing them a service by making everybody get to a certain level, dismissing their intentions or their attitudes if they're not wanting to get there. Kids are at different places in their lives. They've had different experiences. They've had different opportunities to trust individuals. The way we teach and communicate about the mental game is what you’re trying to build to become a confident athlete. You're trying to trust yourself and your preparation.

Wooden said, “When opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare.” Certainly, we have to work hard before we get those opportunities, but everybody's got a different mind and a different path and learns in a different way. We try to reach them with different energy levels. Some guys may only be ready for a little nugget here and there. Some guys may be ready to dive all in. You give them what they desire.

If you're trying to give everybody everything, you may only catch the elite group that's ready for that, and you may turn some of the others off.

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