In Maria’s last blog, Why 360U? she took us on a journey into the different facets of the importance of becoming the best-version-of-you. Let’s explore that concept of mastering the mind.
Slumping, a word that hitters at every level know all too well. I can recall that feeling so distinctly. It all starts with a single at bat. You don’t get a hit. Then it happens again your next at bat. Soon you’ve gone four or five games without a hit. Your coach moves you down in the lineup. The softball that once measured 12” round looks like a pea leaving the pitcher’s hand. You are now 0-18 and decide that your swing is the problem. You go back to the drawing board and work on the same tee work that you’ve done your whole life. The same tee work that has given you so much success in the past. Is this really a fundamental issue?
You are in the batter’s box and the only thing you can think about is NOT failing again. You are carrying a defeated feeling and have already failed yourself as you strangle the grip of the bat. If there was an easy fix to a slump, hitters wouldn’t get in them, it wouldn’t be a universal term in the softball dictionary. There is usually not a mechanical fix, but instead, a mental fix is in order. How do we master our own mind?
“Trust the process.” A famous baseball player once used these three words to simplify the way he works out of slumps. Take the pressure off yourself, and believe in all of the hard work that you’ve put in. You’ve prepared for this at bat. You WILL get a hit. It may not be this at bat, and it may not be next. In fact, as you’re sitting at rock bottom, you’ll probably even fall down a few more notches! When you get to this point, you have nothing left to think. You just play. You trust the process, relax your mind, and swing. This time you line out to the short stop. You walk back to the dugout with a feeling of success. You just found a piece of your confidence. The next at bat, you line out to the gap in right center. You’re close!
Your mind controls your body. Your negative energy starts turning into positive energy. Your negative self-talk begins turning into positive self-talk. Your “I cant’s” become “I wills.” You start visualizing yourself drilling gap shots when you’re in the on deck circle. Your muscles are looser. Your hands gently grip the bat. That pea shooting at you from the pitcher’s mound is starting to seem a lot bigger!
Your next at bat, you single up the middle. Suddenly the slump is over and you’re back! This is not luck, it’s not chance, it’s mind over matter. So next time you find yourself in the inevitable slump - loosen your grip, take a deep breath, and play ball.
Maria Van Abel & Laura Beyer
When we started 360U Softball in 2016, our goal was to help softball players get better. We found a lot of athletes needing instruction, and wanted to help them bridge the gap between where they were, and where they wanted to be as softball players. VERY quickly, we found that the grand opportunity in front of us was not just to teach mechanics to these young women, but FAR more importantly, to help them understand how truly amazing each and every one of them are and to find their best self.