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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mental Training and Goal Setting

By Nate Barnett

Each year I work with teams of youth baseball players in teaching them the values of the mental game of baseball. Just as there are skills needed to develop the physical side of the sport, there are skills necessary to build the mental side of the game as well. Unfortunately, teaching the mental game is a bit more difficult to teach because the results aren't necessary visible as quickly. Let me assure you however, if you have goals of playing baseball at the collegiate level or above, you will need a sold mental game if you are going to excel.

One of the first things I teach kids is set proper goals. This usually sounds a bit dry and boring, but it's important that a game plan is created in order to form a path to follow as an athlete. There are three important steps involved in setting goals that are functional. Broad goals, process goals, and action habits. Let me explain those below.

If we are talking about a season to season focus, broad goals are essentially what you want to accomplish by the end of the season. These should be something you can measure like batting average, fielding percentage, stolen bases, etc.

Process goals are the middle level of goal setting. There are the things you need to solve or improve upon in order to accomplish your broad goals. They should be specific as far as the things you are going to do daily, but they should be areas in your game that need immediate improvement. So let's say you have a season goal of hitting .400. A process goal would be to improve on your ability to hit off speed pitches. Or, it could be that you need to work on what pitches you choose to swing at.

The last part of this goal setting process is your daily action habits. These are the day to day things that you will do to get better at accomplishing your process goals. Using the example from above, if you process goal is to get better at hitting off speed pitches, your daily action habit might be to spend 15 minutes in the batting cage working on hitting a curveball. Whatever you choose to make it, it should be something that has a time frame attached to it.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball designed to improve the mental game of baseball in athletes. Come download a free ebook on dealing with failure and the mental game of baseball.

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