It can make or break your reputation. If you can do it, they’ll talk about you in awe long after you’ve left. If you can’t you’ll always have that proverbial asterisk next to your name.
So, why can some guys make clutch situations look like batting practice, while others choke time and time again?
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The Hidden Side of Baseball
The secret? It’s all upstairs, my friend. The higher you advance in baseball, the more true this becomes. In fact, the biggest reason for success in the Majors after staying healthy is proper mental strength and ability.
So, knowing that, the question that’s always asked is, “Can you become a better clutch hitter or are you simply born with or without the ability to do so?”
The g ood news is you can develop the ability to hit in the clutch. And, if you can get past a few common mistakes, you too can come through in the clutch like Big Papi or Man Ram.
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Today I’m going to focus on the three major skills that will help you become a great clutch performer. And remember, “clutch” is relative. For some it’s game seven of the World Series.
For others, it’s making contact against the hardest throwing pitcher in your Little League. What I’m going to explain will work at ANY level in ANY situation, on and off the field.
The first key is to NOT change a thing. Most hitters make the mistake of trying to do too much or something they simply cannot do. You hear the phrase “Step Up”, but the reality is the players that “step-up” simply do what they always do, they don’t change a thing. And since pressure (internal or external) destroys most guys and makes them play at a lower level than they usually do, if you can just do the things you always do, you’ll “step up” without changing a thing!
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Remember, in a pressure situation everyone is in the same position. As a hitter, it may seem that the pressure is only on you, but there’s pressure on the pitcher to make his pitches. There’s pressure on the fielders to make the play, routine or highlight. There’s pressure on the catcher to call the right pitch. There’s pressure on the coaches and manager of having their players in a position to succeed.
The Science of Being Clutch
Did you know the body responds to “pressure” with a chemical and hormonal response? If you think of pressure as bad, your body will become tight, your heart rate will increase significantly and a great deal of the hormone cortisol will be released. A chance of you coming through in the clutch is slim to none.
However, if your mental strength is where it needs to be, your brain will release a series of chemicals called “Alpha” waves – which has been proven in science to increase athletic performance! In fact, all great athletes automatically release Alpha waves before they throw, run or hit. This may be the true “secret” that separates the pros from the amateurs.
You must believe in yourself. Odds are, if you don’t believe you can do something, then you won’t be able to. As the old saying goes, “Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you’re probably right.”
Some players really struggle with this. If there’s always been negativity around you from your family, coaches and teammates, it may be difficult to think positive.
Since I’m the bearer of good news today, I’m here to tell you that you CAN improve this simple, yet difficult task of “belief”.
To recap, in order to become a great clutch hitter you must focus on 3 main aspects:
- Don’t Change A Thing! – Develop a routine and stick to it – EVERY single time. Consistency
- “Pressure” is what you make it – It’s your choice to make it a big deal or not.
- Trust Your Preparation – The work you put in during practice will serve you well during games. The key is to trust this is the case
More: Hitter's Guide to the Curveball
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