STEPPING OUTSIDE THE BUBBLE Stepping outside the bubble is a way for a player to refocus, mentally and emotionally during a game. This is done in a couple of easy steps.
First, when a player goes out onto the field, they need to draw an imaginary circle in which they should be standing every time the pitcher goes into her wind up. This is your "bubble". While in this bubble you are completely and totally focused. Your entire attention is on the play that's at hand. The field could be experiencing a 6.0 earthquake and you wouldn't feel it. Your bubble is a vacuum, totally void of all outside distractions. These distractions could be, but are not limited to...
- The weather.
- The fans.
- The other team's dugout.
- The pain or discomfort of an injury.
- The thought of a mistake you just made.
- Thoughts about family problems, a big test in school, your driver's exam.
- Thoughts about the great play you just made.
- Thoughts about what could happen two plays from now.
- Etc., etc., etc.
Your bubble is that spot on the field you dream about. It's the spot on the field that defines why you're here, why you love this game. It's the same spot on the field where great players have stood before. Yet, at each moment, just as the pitcher gets ready to pitch...it's YOUR spot!
You know the count, you know the outs, you know where baserunners are and you KNOW the next ball is coming right to you!
So, just exactly how does this bubble work? After each pitch take a step backwards, out of your bubble, and do the following:
1. Consider the baserunners and the outs and ask yourself; "If this ball comes to me, what am I going to do with it" (REQUIRED)
2. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.
3. Talk to yourself about how to prevent repeating an error you just made.
4. Tell yourself that those idiots in the other dugout don't know how to cheer.
5. Wish that your dad would stop trying to coach you from the bleachers.
6. Remind yourself that you're going to have to ice that sore hand after the game.
7. Shake off any other annoying thoughts or distractions.
8. Consider the baserunners and the outs and ask yourself; "If this ball comes to me, what am I going to do with it" (REQUIRED)
You've got about 10 seconds to do all of that, making sure that the first and last thing you do is to Consider the baserunners and the outs and ask yourself; "If this ball comes to me, what am I going to do with it" (REQUIRED)
Next, once your "self talk" is over, and you've Considered the baserunners and the outs and you've answered the question; "If this ball comes to me, what am I going to do with it" (REQUIRED), then just before the pitcher goes into her delivery do the following---very deliberately:
1. Take a step forward, into your bubble.
2. Set up in the perfect 'ready' position.
3. Completely eliminate all distracting thoughts from your mind
4. NOW TUNE IN AND FOCUS.
5. Fielders, focus only on the batter. Catcher, focus only on the pitcher's release point. Pitcher, focus only on the catcher's target.
The key here is FOCUS! You've just spent the last 10 seconds talking to yourself. Now you focus. Tune EVERYTHING out and just focus. You get into the perfect ready position and just focus.
BAM...the pitch is thrown, the play is over. Now step backwards, out of your bubble, and do it all over again. This cycle of defocusing, self talk, and refocusing will greatly improve your concentration. It's a quick way of fine-tuning your mind during the game and could be just the key to help take your game to the next level.
Note: While this exercise has been described as a defensive exercise, every player on the field can benefit from it. That includes batters, baserunners and coaches.