Tag Archives: Mental Toughness

“The Process”: Mental Approach on the Diamond Part 4

Over the last couple months here at Champions QUEST we have spent a considerable amount of time and thought dissecting the tangible action steps for ball players to take control of their mental game. We have talked about what the “process” looks like, and how a ballplayer should only focus on those things that are within their control. Today, I would like to add one more piece of the puzzle which is equally important, and that is routines. Routines are an essential part of the “wiring” process that allow athletes to stay repeatable. Repeatability is crucial for athletic confidence, especially when it comes to baseball, a sport that is centered around accuracy related results.

garciaparras20habits207-001In order to establish a routine, first the athlete must develop a plan. It is absolutely essential for the ballplayer to have a plan each and every time they step on the field. Baseball is a tricky game, because it requires a balance of strategy and instincts. For instance, if you step up to the plate as a hitter with the intention of “wingin’ it,” you are not giving yourself the best chance of success against an opponent that is trying to outmatch and outsmart you. Today we are going to talk about a sample mindset and approach for a hitter, which can be established through batting practice and game time experience.

  1. Step up to the batter’s box, and establish what you like to do to prepare before you enter. Once you realize what you tend to do (manicure the dirt, re-strap batting gloves, tap the bat on the plate, etc.), make it is detailed as possible. From there do the same exact thing every single time, for the same amount of time/ repetitions. As you do this enough, you will have to think about it less and less. This serves to tap into the same wired instincts that have made you the hitter you are today.
  2. Use a deep breath as your re-set button. There is scientific power in the deep breath, and how it impacts your body. Physiologically, it works to slow down your heart rate and reduce stress. For this reason, there is really no better cue for re-setting than a breath. From there, go back through your routine and back in to the batter’s box.
  3. Always sit fastball, and adjust off-speed. If you allow a fastball to beat you, you are setting yourself up to be dominated a number of different ways.
  4. Be ultra decisive. Either give a healthy hack or completely lay off. The better you get at reading spin out of the pitcher’s hand, the better you will get at deciding.
  5. One indication you are getting fooled may be your hands. If your hands are dropping as you step/ load, it likely means you are unsure of yourself or cautious. Force yourself to keep those hands up even on pitches you take!
  6. Be aggressive and hit the ball hard! PERIOD!evanlongoriatexasrangersvtampabayraysfah8ouxe91ol

By following an approach, such as this, you can ensure you are achieving one main objective… That every pitch you “check in for” you are becoming a better hitter. By sticking to an approach, you have the ability to learn from mistakes, and constantly refine your craft. You will absolutely still make mistakes, and get beat at times, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an adjustment next time. The premise of hitting comprises of a a few important factors which consist of being..

  1. An excellent decision maker
  2. A strong athlete
  3. Efficient at swinging a bat
  4. A superior competitor

Again, the whole justification of taking pride in an approach is to help the athlete self-evaluate, and ultimately gain the confidence that comes from repeatability. From there, it is up to them to make sure that their “big picture” approach is sound. This means that from at-bat to at bat, they are completely acting in the moment, with disregard to the results they may or may not have achieved in previous at bats. This all serves to simplify things for arguably one of the toughest objectives in all of sports, hitting a baseball. Try this out for yourself, and pay careful attention to your development. Give yourself credit, when credit is due! Stick to the process, and reward yourself according to how well you execute as an athlete, not the outcome.

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance

Soccer Parent Testimonial: Nering Family

“After joining Champion’s QUEST our son immediately began feeling like he was part of something that was greater. He would state that he could do tougher physical things because of attending Champion’s QUEST. As time progressed he felt more and more confident both physically and mentally. However, the mental confidence that we see daily far out weighs what any physical evaluation could ever show.”Sawyer soccer

Sawyer Nering walked into the doors of Champion’s QUEST back in July 2015 with short-term goals of improving his strength, speed, and mental game. Sawyer’s long-term goal is to make the Varsity soccer team at Los Alamitos High School by his junior year. Sawyer has been attending soccer clinics to improve his physical traits along with his soccer skills. In addition, Sawyer comes into Champion’s QUEST on his own to do strength workouts using his myCQ training appmyCQ app.jpg

“With a weekly program put into place by his coach Kyle Ertel, our son began to see changes in his strength fairly quickly.  He uses an app that was set up for him that tracks his training sessions along with the amounts of weights he uses.  Just the other day he came to me telling me how he was able to increase the weights during his training session, he was so proud of himself!  Once again, the physical aspect assisted in the mental aspect.  He feels so accomplished when he finishes a tough work out!” -Jamie Nering

Keep up all the hard work Sawyer!

About the Author:CQ headshot

Coach Kyle Ertel, Soccer Performance Coach, CSCS USA-W USSF

Kyle@ChampionsQUEST.com       562-598-2600

 

“The Process”: Mental Approach on the Diamond Part 1

Who has seen the movie For the Love of the Game with Kevin Costner? For me, it is one of my favorite movies. It provides such a visceral experience of what it is like to be an established pitcher in the big leagues. At several points in the movhqdefaultie you get a glimpse of what it is like to pitch on the biggest stages, what his dialogues with his catcher/ teammates look like, and most importantly what his “self-talk” looks like. There are several points in the movie that really stuck out as being spot on, those points that you catch yourself saying “yah that is what it really must be like.” In one scene, however, “Billy Chapel” makes his way out to the mound at Yankee stadium and the place is rocking. He looks around and soaks in the raucous and screaming (hostile) fans. He then proceeds to get on the mound and say in his mind “clear the mechanism” and kind of glare into the catcher’s glove. At this point all the noise completely dies down, and the rest of the stadium sort of disintegrates into the background.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS VS LOS ANGELES DODGERSNow although I have never pitched on an MLB stage, I have pitched in a rowdy college stadium. What I can confidently say, is that the “clear the mechanism” scene is not reality. We are all human, we all have ears, we all have eyes, and we all battle nerves. For me, mental toughness is not some super-human ability to block everything out of your senses, but rather, the ability to redirect thoughts rapidly in a positive manner. It took me many of these moments, mostly post college, to come to the realization that the only way negative thoughts, feelings, comments, or words can affect a ball player’s performance, is if you allow it to change your physical action steps. What this means, basically, is never ever let negative thoughts change your physical play/ approach to the game. The human mind is extremely powerful. Mostly, your mind will work to help you stay “comfortable.” In a pressure-packed moment, adrenaline can either serve to help or hurt your play, depending on how you choose to act. Your mind will likely tell you to slow down, be cautious, stay square to your target, and demand you to “take control.” When this happens, it is absolutely vital for the player to stay on the attack, and trust the mechanics that have been engrained through countless repetitions. By staying on the attack, the ball player is making a conscious decision to play the game instinctually, to the best of their innate abilities.

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In a moment like this there is no time to think about “controlling the outcome,” an elite gymnast must simply trust that their hard work, muscle memory, and routines are enough, and GO FOR IT. The same can be said for ball players.

The beautiful (and tough) thing about baseball is that most of the game is completely out of the player’s direct control. You can make a perfect pitch to the exact spot you were determined to hit and one of three things can happen; You can have the result you expected, the umpire can take away your positive result, or the batter can best you. Baseball is not a game of connect the dots; It is intricate, multi-faceted, and always changing. With this in mind, it is all about controlling only the things you can control. Next time we will start talking about what this process looks like, and how to take ownership of your mental approach.

Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni- BA Human Performance

“What’s Important to Young Athletes”

In today’s world, sports are a vital part in developing the character, the competitive spirit and the minds of young athletes.  Many parents and coaches want to prepare the young athlete for challenges through training, specializing in their specific sport and yes, an opportunity to receive the covenant prize of an athletic scholarship and winning.  Many forget to ask the young athlete what’s important to them.  So today, let’s take a closer look at what is important to the young athlete.

While winning is important, the young athlete values 3 qualities much higher: fun, teamwork and participation.  Fun is the first important priority for the athlete.  Fun shows an inherit enjoyment win or lose, the athlete sees the sport as a game.  Fun allows the athlete to learn to love and appreciate the game and thus, will always play their best.  Lastly, fun promotes self-awareness,to be free, to smile and to be yourself.

The second point that is important to the young athlete is teamwork. This is truly defined in the great meaning of T.E.A.M.  “T” is for “Together, “E” is for Everyone, “A” is for Achieves  and “M” is for More”.  When the athlete combines all the letters and their meanings we get a powerful statement: Together everyone achieves more. The word team builds character, sportsmanship and respect of others. The most valuable aspect of team, is the sense of belonging to something meaningful, yes that means PURPOSE.

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Participation is the third important value for the athlete.  The essence of participation is to be with friends, playing a game they love and allowing freedom of expression.  Participation provides the start of something special, but if the athlete never participates they will never know what lies in their future.  As a result ,the young athlete must always keep fun, teamwork and participation at the forefront of their minds.

Let’s remember that sports are a great teacher. Let’s remember what’s important to young athletes: fun, teamwork and simply participating in sport that they love.  Remember, it’s a game, so let’s embrace the experience with our young athletes.

“KEEP LIVING LIKE A CHAMPION”

Coach Reggie Ward

M.E.N.T.A.L – T.O.U.G.H.N.E.S.S “The Secret Ingredient of an Athlete’s Success”

M.E.N.T.A.L – T.O.U.G.H.N.E.S.S
“The Secret Ingredient of an Athlete’s Success”

In sports the difference between good and great is a very fine line. Many athletes spend time on their bodies,their skills and their techniques;however many forget to take the time to develop the mental muscle. Why you might ask, the answer is simple because they cannot see it or touch it and it is very difficult to attain mental toughness. But, the greatest athletes from Jackie Robinson, to Misty May-Traynor, or even Tom Brady always took the time to be the best and yes, that included being mentally tough. All great athletes want an edge and that edge is 100% mastering the mental game.

They master a common trait, M.E.N.T.A.L -T.O.U.G.H.N.E.S.S. and it provides confidence,belief and a sense of calmness that they will be victorious under the most difficult situations. The athletes’ mind is the most vital tool because it establishes the foundation of success on and off the field of life. Let’s take a closer look at the strategy of building M.E.N.T.A.L. -T.O.U.G.H.N.E.S.S.

“I’m invicible and nobody can beat me”—Kevin Gastelum

The M stands for: having the mindset of a champion —the foundation of life
The E stands for: creating your edge over competition
The N stands for: never giving up
The T stands for: trusting what you learn form your coach,parents,teachers and training
The A stands for: having a positive & fearless attitude
The L stands for: being loyal to your purpose

The T stands for: time to adjust and reflect
The O stands for: organizing priorities—what is important
The U stands for: understanding the situation
The G stands for: setting goals for guidance to build greatness
The H stands for: remaining humble in your victory and pursuit of excellence
The N stands for: staying in the “ now” because this is the best moment to grow
The E stands for: engaging and embracing the experience
The S stands for: showing self-control and managing emotions
The S stands for: strength—the athlete’s ultimate reward

Now every athlete has a clear understanding of the meaning of M.E.N.T.A.L -T.O.U.G.H.N.E.S.S. But,here are a few questions that each and every athlete must ask himself-“Am I willing to do the hardwork? Am I willing to persevere through challenges
and most importantly, Am I willing to build a champion mindset?” When that athlete answers these questions with a resounding YES,that athlete receives the true essence of being great!!!!


“Keep Living Like A Champion”,

Coach Reggie Ward

HOW DO ATHLETES HANDLE FAILURE

“ HOW DO ATHLETES HANDLE FAILURE?”

No athlete becomes great overnight. Every athlete goes through successes and failures throughout their quest of becoming a champion. Failure is difficult because no one wants to talk about it. It hurts, it’s hard and most importantly it reminds every athlete of the painful reality, coming up short of their goals, dreams and yes, the most immediate defeat. Whether the failure occurs in the classroom on a test or on the field, dropping the winning touchdown pass, the champion athlete must have a strategy, a plan and or approach to defeat failure. Today’s focus will provide “7” key insightful points on how athletes can deal with failure and conquer it on and off the field.

To promote these “7” key insightful points the champion plan is hidden in the true essence of the word F.A.I.L.U.R.E.:

The F stands for Facing the loss or defeat….
The A stands for Acknowledging your competitor with a positive Attitude…..
The I stands for Initiative to decide to take corrective action and Ignore negative thoughts….
The L stands for Listening to constructive coaching to improve future performance….
The U stands for Understand that this defeat is definitely important but is short term….
The R stands for Responding with Respect to think 1st, then act…..
The E stands for Eyes on the prize and Enthusiasm

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.”
– Joe Paterno

“7” Insightful Points Creed:

“Failure is a part of life. I must decide to have a positive attitude, create initiative to improve my performance and ignore negative thoughts. Listening is the foundation to learn and understand life is unpredictable—full of ups and downs. As a result, I must respond with respect and simply think first, then take action. This allows me to to keep my eyes on the prize of being a champion athlete and being excited about all new experiences with a clear mind. These “7” insightful points prepare me for the realities of the sport and in life”

As you can see, F.A.I.L.U.R.E is a masterful teacher, a silent motivator and most all, a great reminder that all athletes will have setbacks and in light of those setbacks, still have the courage to pursue excellence in becoming a champion on and off the field. Therefore, I challenge all athletes to look FAILURE straight in the face and say,” I HAVE THE PLAN, I HAVE THE SYSTEM TO NOT ONLY HANDLE FAILURE BUT TO CONQUER IT!!!

“God Bless & Keep Living Like A Champion”

By: Coach Reggie Ward (Click Here to learn more about the author)

Three Steps to Increase Speed

If you are always wondering what you can do to help increase your speed, I am here to let you know that there are three simple things that you can do in order to help increase you speed. Now a days, every athlete has the desire to be the fastest on their team and with a proper strength training program, a focused sprinting program and having the flexibility to allow your body to produce maximum amounts of force all will lead to gains in speed that you are looking for. We cannot forget that it takes a strong sense of dedication to remain focused on your goals in order to stay committed to reaching them.

It all starts by having the proper strength training program that will take any athlete to the next level in their performance at all levels. Being able to incorporate the correct exercisesYouth-Strength-Training-Program in your training program is essential. The strength training program should include exercises that not only focus on your lower body but also the upper body. Both portions of your body work synergistically to produce power. Some example exercises could be as basic as a back squat to a more complexed movement like the split jerk. Understanding the order and progression for each athlete is something that would require the guidance of a professional in order to prevent unwanted injuries. Being able to discuss your goals and timeline with your trainer or strength coach will help them program and progress your training with the same vision and direction as yourself.

Now one of the most important things that needs to be done if you want to increase your speed is to run and run as much as possible. During your off-season is the time you would take to focus on building stamina in your run with some mid to long distance sprints involved. With the pre-season program, it is important to not only gear runningyour runs towards short and mid distance sprints but also a tapering down of your distance running. As you enter you season there should be a focus on acceleration and reaching your top end speed. At the start of the season is where you can focus on form work as well. The middle of your season is where you would need to focus on top end speed and short powerful sprints. It is very important to mimic the sprint training to the type of sprints you are doing in your sport. Once the season ends you do not want to just stop running because your off-season training will take an extra amount of time in order to get you back in to shape. What you want to do in the post-season is to use the time to mentally review the season during light runs with mild intensity.

The biggest area that some athletes seem to neglect, is increasing and maintaining their flexibility. With the more training you do, this correlates to increased tension on those muscle groups that are used. Athletes that have increased amplitudes of movements in their hips and shouldersstretch can produce great amounts of power with their limbs. Flexibility is one area that needs to be addressed throughout the entire year, since you are always training each quarter of the year. Athletes that take the time to involve some type of flexibility program into their daily rituals will have an advantage over other athletes that might not have such dedicated focus in their training. Every athlete is different and with that you would need to understand your body completely in order to feel what it is telling you so that you can do the correct stretches to help promote fast recovery, increased speed and reduce the risk of injury.

Every athlete has different goals and body types including the means on how they want to reach those goals. You need to have a clear plan on reaching your goals and with a strong mind set in order to maintain your focus. Being able to map out your plan and goals will give a strong sense of direction and a timeline to reach them. It is always a challenge on reaching your athletic goals and increased focus will keep you on the right track to accomplish everything that you set your mind to.

Article by: Derrick Campbell, USTF-L1