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ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE! Why every athlete needs them.

Helping our athletes create healthy, positive routines is a priority at 360U. We often talk with our athletes in-season about what their routines look like, and take time to actually help them create confident, strong routines. From their warm-up routine, to their on-deck approach, to how they actually step into the batter's box or onto the mound...every routine they have (even if they aren't aware of it) matters so much in this sport.



Why do we emphasize routines so much?


Our routines as athletes become our approach to any given situation, and can set us up for success...or failure! In a game with so many variables, we need to do everything we can to control those things that can be controlled - such as our body language and self-talk! Instead of allowing our athletes to randomly react and respond with emotion to any given situation, we help them formulate strategic approaches and responses to take those emotions away and to focus on their practiced routines. These routines then create a comfort zone for our athletes to block out some of the 'noise' and let their actions and self-talk create a controlled environment for them.


MENTALLY: having healthy, positive self-talk integrated into their routines is absolutely critical. Again, whether stepping into the box, waiting on defense to receive a ball, or stepping on the mound to deliver a pitch, we need to make sure our athletes are being intentional and focused with the words that they are saying in their heads as they go through the motions of their routine. Understanding your athlete's self-talk or mindset won't happen by asking them one time. Strong relationships built on trust and care for your athlete will cultivate an environment where they can be honest and open about what they're thinking! We use our 1-10 scale that we've often talked about in blogs and instruction to help get a better idea of where our athlete's self-talk and confidence is at any given day. Once you can identify your athlete's most consistent self-talk (good or bad) you can help them formulate healthy self-talk to combat their most common fears or pressures that previously controlled their thoughts!


PHYSICALLY: we encourage and teach our athletes to have a strong presence with their body language as they play, and especially when they step into the batter's box. Our physical routine can help us create some confidence in situations where maybe we're not feeling 10/10. Stepping in the box with a presence and taking up space in the batter's box can signal to others, and to ourselves, that we're prepared and ready for our at-bat. This can also work in situations where we're dealing with failure. For instance, after a strikeout, allow them 30 seconds in the dugout to re-group and then make them re-tie their shoe or take a drink of water. We can help them respond better by giving them the routines that will help them until they're old enough to create their own.


Our physical and mental routines really do feed off one another -- if our body language is poor, droopy and negative, you can bet our self-talk is going to match that. And vice versa, if our self-talk is positive and confident, our body language will be loud, bold and confident as well. We miss out on a huge opportunity when we teach one without the other.


PRACTICE THIS!


We can't expect our athletes to just do things after one conversation. These are skills that need to be practiced, discussed and emphasized, just like the skill of hitting, pitching or throwing. Set time aside in practice or at home to work on creating a strong, calm and confident batter's box routine. Talk about strategies to 'flush' the emotions after errors or strikeouts. Model what that looks like for your athletes, or better yet - turn on an MLB or college softball game and have them pick out what athletes at the highest level are doing for their routines!


There is so much that goes into creating mentally tough athletes who know how to approach the game with confidence, and how to positively respond to the ups and downs they will encounter, and we've made it our mission at 360U to help our athletes be prepared to OWN this part of the sport!


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