Re: Mental Lapses
posted at 5/10/2011 4:14 PM EDT
Baseball is a game in which there is time to size things up. Among other things, a player can try to anticipate what might happen next and get ready for it. Pitchers and batters are constantly engaged in this kind of give and take. All batters guess to a certain extent, and thus risk getting fooled. But the alternative is not trying to figure out how they are being pitched, and thus not being able to make adjustments. They may say that they go by "see the ball, hit the ball," and maybe some do; but by and large they are -- and should be -- engaged in the mental side of batting.
Anticipation is a large part of baseball, whether it's a baserunner looking ahead, an outfielder getting set to make a certain kind of play, an infielder positioning himself and deciding where to go with a ball in case of this or that. Players who do this are the ones who make the best decisions in the spur of the moment. Their heads are always in the game.
It's also true that "things happen." Occasionally what may look like a mistake
in fact couldn't be helped. But, given the nature of baseball, this situation is eccentric. Even so, some players are better than others reacting to it. Call it momentary instinct or an ability formed by the habit of constant preparation. It's "there when needed."
Yogi's great crack applies. "This game is 90% mental. The other 50% is physical." Or words to that effect.
I believe in taking a very strict approach to mental discipline. In both directions, good and bad, one thing leads to another. Baseball is, above all, a game of good and bad habits. And they are infectious. An entire team can be affected for good or for ill. Heads-up baseball breeds more heads-up baseball; the reverse is also true. At all levels.
As someone pointed out, the game is played by humans, who are not perfect. Duh. But striving for the perfect is going to produce the best results. The striving is, course, dependent upon knowing the right way.
My coach said, "Play the game right, and the score will take care of itself." Things don't always turn out this way, but the principle is sound.