THE QATSPY® Yankee Performance Sports Training & Apparel Quarters
By: Charles W. Boatright
Sports Psychology of Baseball Champ X-OVER- 3 Things You Can Do to Create an Instinctive Swing where You Stop Thinking and Just Swing
Last week, I was asked to travel to Starkville, Mississippi, just after Mississippi State Bulldogs won the NCAA 2021 College World Series in Omaha. So I jumped at the opportunity. I was asked by a swing coach to work with a young athlete, with initials JC, on his baseball swing from a mental approach. The coach was trying to help re-establish JC’s confidence in his baseball swing.
JC’s coach saw my Orange Bucket Challenge video on WJTV-12 Sports ZONE, posted above. Then JC and his coach discussed the mental confidence it took for a golfer to drive four 300-yards tee shots within a 15- foot radius of an orange bucket. What got the coach’s attention was my golf slogan– Take your golf swing from the batter’s box to the tee box. They were under the impression, if it worked on a golfer’s swing to take their swing from the batter’s box to the tee box, it should work in the reverse order, like a cross-over technique.
So on Tuesday, July 06, 2021, I was invited to help JC out with his confidence. What was fortunate, both JC and his coach had played golf before. They knew what mental challenges and confidence it took for a golfer to hit four- 300 yard drives consistently and within 15- feet of an orange bucket. They wanted to know if the sports psychology that was used for The Orange Bucket Challenge could equally cross-over to the baseball swing. I explained over a conference call Friday, July 02, that the sports psychology is virtually the same. As shown in the superimpose baseball with a golf swing below:
Before I traveled to Starkville, Mississippi, on Tuesday afternoon, I sent my material that I had developed for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT. I used CBT to work with Veterans dealing with PTS. We don’t use the term Disorder, because it is a condition, rather than a disorder. You’re not born with it, but develop it under certain conditions.
The Premise and Basis of CBT
I broke my sessions that I had with JC down into Three (3) Components or Conditions as follows during our session:
FIRST Focus– We think with our conscious mind, but we perform with our subconscious mind. The athlete has to have a single-minded focus in order to perform at a high level, or In-The-Zone. The athlete has to give the conscious mind something to do in order to not interfere with the athlete’s performance.
In regard to the golfer- The golfer might very well use their conscious mind to train and practice with, same with the batter. But one thing that I can guarantee the golfer, once they step foot onto the golf course, they will be totally reliant on their subconscious mind to perform. The more the athlete thinks, the more dysfunction the athlete will experience. So first, the athlete, or in this case, JC, had to focus on the ball’s particularly its center totally.
Yogi Berra had a great quote about batting- How can you hit and think at the same time? The answer is that you can’t think and expect to hit at the same time. If you want to disrupt your instinctive performance, just start thinking.
The golfer or, in this case, the baseball batter, doesn’t want to have swing thoughts, but they want to develop instinctive performance. If it is not instinctive, then golfer or baseball batter won’t be able to perform with consistency.
Something else that focusing does, it slows how we perceive time.
This is the reason why time seems to slow down when we have a high degree of intense focus, our subconscious mind’s perceive time as passing faster than our conscious mind. That is why our instinctive reflexes are quicker that our thinking processes. Take for example a 95 MPH fast ball, our subconscious mind perceives the ball as traveling slower than our conscious mind does. Wade Boggs could actually see the stitching and the MLB emblem on a 95- MPH fast ball.
SECOND Relaxation– Rely on your natural instincts, or muscle memory. All of our muscle memory, or natural instincts, have been established before the age of 12. So you aren’t going to develop new instincts past the age of 12. So you will have to rely on the instincts you already have and develop consistent routine base on these instincts. Routine breeds confidence. Just look at a person that gets out of their normal routine, their performance is disjointed or interrupted.
THIRD Normal Routine & Conditions– Your routine and practice have to be done under the same conditions that you will perform under. On the golf course, we don’t hit 20 shots from the tee box and the fairway into the green, like on the practice range; so why practice that way? You’ve got to develop drills, like The Orange Bucket Challenge, where the athlete will develop adrenaline, especially if they video tape themselves. Once on the golf course or in the batter’s box, the athlete’s adrenaline will kick in, I guarantee it. This will activate the athlete’s subconscious mind and their instincts. If your swing isn’t natural and instinctive, the athlete won’t have what they spent hours and days working on in training.
Thinking activates the conscious mind, while adrenaline activates the subconscious mind. If there is a conflict between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind, the subconscious mind will try to override the conscious mind. It will be like a new PC trying to run off an old, outdated program that it doesn’t recognize. The PC will reject the old program. This is exactly what occurs to both the baseball batter and golfer that tries to take their practice from the batting cage or the range to performance on to the diamond or golf course. In baseball they call this the Five O’clock hitter.
The Conditions to Perform In-The-Zone
- Normal and routine tasks and conditions must exist.
- Rely on a high degree of relaxation, confidence, and muscle memory.
- The conscious and subconscious minds are focused on two different situations.
I listed these in reverse order above, because JC was having issues with his focus factor.
So to summarize, the athlete has to focus on an objective or target in order for the conscious mind to get out of the way of the subconscious mind, where the program they need is running from their subconscious mind.
The closest situation to one playing In-The-Zone is what occur to drivers that have years of experience driving called Driving Hypnosis. What happens is that a driver’s conscious mind disengages while driving along a scenic highway for short periods of time. The driver doesn’t even remember driving past certain landmarks or stretches of the highway for 2 to 4 minutes until their conscious mind re-engages. But they were still able to negotiate both the highway and traffic without incident during this period.
What occurs is that the driver’s routine and conditions are so normal; and they have a high degree of confidence in their muscle memory that the conscious mind is able to focus on something else other than driving for short periods of time. This is exactly what the athlete wants to experience in their performance. A reporter once asked Brooks Koepka at the USGA US OPEN in 2018, what he was thinking about? Brooks Koepka replied, ‘Absolutely NOTHING’!
The best Sports Psychology statement that was ever made was in the movie Caddyshack– where Ty Webb- played by Chevy Chase mentioned to Danny Noonan- played by Michael O’Keefe:
I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe (subconscious mind) that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it (focus), stop thinking, let things happen (normal relaxed routine), and be the ball (be the objective).
Results of Our Session: JC That night got three hits, two doubles and a single, in his baseball game.
Also I have detailed 10 Rules our Subconscious Mind’s operate from:
- The subconscious mind does not and must not differentiate between visualizations and real situations.
- Your subconscious feels that time passes faster.
- The Quicker and longer the subconscious mind believes and proves something, the harder will it be to alter this belief in any way.
- Every thought causes a physical reaction.
- What you expect tends to be realized.
- Finding proofs to your beliefs strengthens them.
- The subconscious mind always prevails in conflicts with the conscious mind.
- An idea, once accepted, will remain firmly in place until it is replaced by another.
- The greater the conscious effort reduces the subconscious intuitive response.
- Suggestions and belief can be used to “program” the subconscious mind.
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