One of the main things I try to focus on when developing a players ability to compete in a high stress environment is building his ”subconscious confidence“. What is subconscious confidence? It’s the brains ability to resort back to positive thoughts when performance is struggling.
This confidence is built and reinforced in a number of ways. Subconscious visualization is one of them. This means we surround the person with positive messages that they see regularly such as having signs are posters that say “champion” “winner” “hard worker“ etc. When the brain is constantly exposed to positive messages it is taking it in even if your conscious brain isn’t focusing on it.
The next method is conscious visualization. I will typically have a player watch his highlight film or something specific I want him to really hone in on like hitting a slider or striking out a guy with a change up. If I have my pitcher who is struggling with his change up watch a video of him striking out a guy with his change up he starts believing and buying into the fact that he can. If we do that, then in the game when he needs that pitch, but is usually not confident with it, I’ll have him close his eyes briefly and see that video he’s watched 1000 times. He knows it exists and he digs down to go get it.
Preparation. This is a big one. Knowing you are a hard worker and you put in the hours required to perform is a huge subconscious confidence builder. I can tell if a guy puts in work or not just by his demeanor when he fails in a game. You can see the negative body language come out and the lack of confidence. A person who prepares properly understands that a failure happens and knows they have done what they can to be ready to execute and is ready to attack again. The guy that prepares wants the ball to come back to them after an error. The guy that hasn’t wants nothing to do with the ball anywhere near them the rest of the game.
There are other ways I use to help guys get into the right mindset subconsciously to compete. More on this in later posts.