Setting Goals to Instill Confidence For Games

Ask the Coach

Arnald Swift

Danny says:

My son will be turning 12 this month. He really has a great pitching arm and a good potential to be a hitter. At practice he is always on his “A” game, but in a game he seems to let up and only plays a “B” game. His pitching speed drops tremendously and he totally freezes at the plate while facing an opposing team pitcher. What can I say or do to help him prepare mentally for the game?

Coach Swift answers:

This is a very difficult problem, one that’s not easily solved, because the problem is a lack of confidence. Your son needs to know that it’s OK to fail, just as it’s OK to succeed. Therefore my best advice is to have you set goals for a game and make them so small at first that it’s a guarantee he will accomplish the goal.

Then after the game review the goals, some examples of which are:

  • When he’s pitching: get at least one strike on every batter faced, whether it’s a swinging strike, called strike, or even a pitch that is hit. All those are strikes.
  • When batting, set a goal of swinging at good pitches, a decision which requires confidence to not stand there and look at a hittable pitch.

After the game do not talk about anything negative. Wait until the next day. As a coach I had a philosophy of not really talking about the game directly after it because players are emotionally up or emotionally down. I always said that if it’s important today it will be important tomorrow, and those things that are important tomorrow are the ones that we need to work on and emphasize.

In summary, I would say stay positive before and after the game and work at instilling confidence.

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