3 Ways to Gain a Winners Mindset in Baseball
- Updated: March 2, 2017
It’s something every player and coach who reaches the highest level of professional baseball has. It’s something that every truly successful person has mastered – a winning mindset. What is a winning mindset? It’s that inner belief in one’s ability to win, no matter the circumstances. You can see who has a winning mindset during those tough situations, when the team is down with only one inning left. There are always those players who don’t get rattled or frustrated, even when their team is far behind in the score, and they never give up.
Is a winning mindset something you’re born with, or something you develop? It’s actually a bit of both. There are some people who just naturally have that winning mindset, without needing to work on it. But for most people, a winning mindset is something that’s built through hard work and dedication. It’s well worth the effort, because a winning mindset helps you succeed not just in baseball, but in life. Here are the three ways to develop that mindset in yourself:
- Think Positively
Part of being able to perform at your best is expecting to perform that way, which means you can’t carry around negative thoughts and expect to succeed. You’ll notice that people with a winning mindset hardly ever complain or get down on themselves when things aren’t going their way. That’s because they realize that negativity doesn’t help their current situation at all, it only makes it worse.
Training yourself to think positively takes time, but the more you do it, the more you turn it into a habit. Every time you start to have a negative thought, tell yourself to stop, and then replace it with a positive statement. For example, let’s say you struck out with the bases loaded. If you start thinking something negative, such as “I screwed up” or “I didn’t come through when my team needed me,” stop yourself as soon as you realize what you’re doing, and then tell yourself something like “I’ve worked hard, I’ll get a hit next time.”
- Stay in the Present Moment
Focusing on the task at hand is one key factor that separates winners from the rest. It’s easy to get distracted by thoughts in the early game, or thinking ahead and possibly not catching the one pop fly that could have secured the win and ended the game. High School Blanket, a Community empowerment solution states the following about staying in the present, “Never set yourself up for failure. If you go into anything expecting to lose, you have already lost.” But when you do that, you’re not 100 percent committed to what you’re doing, so your performance in the moment will suffer.
One mantra that defines staying in the present moment is a favorite of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick – “Do your job.” It means that no matter what the situation is, do what you are supposed to do for your team and trust that doing so will bring about the result you want. Anyone who watched the Patriots’ huge comeback in their Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons saw this principle in action. Down 25 points, it would have been easy for the Patriots players to think about what they did wrong to get to that point, or worry about how there wasn’t enough time left to come back. Instead, they each did their job one play at a time and fought their way to overtime, where they scored the game winning touchdown.
You see it all the time in great sports comebacks that it’s all about consistent execution, and the only way to consistently execute is to stay focused, play after play. When the Boston Red Sox were down 0-3 to the New York Yankees in the playoffs, they weren’t saying “We need to win the next four games.” They were saying “We need to win the next game.”
- Expect to Win
It’s not enough to simply want to win. You need to expect that you’re going to win, and that when it’s all on the line, you’ll perform at your best.
How can you build that expectation within yourself? There are a few techniques, and they deal with rewiring your mind to think like a winner. One simple way is to write down an affirmation statement about winning. An affirmation statement should be about five sentences long, although a few more or less is fine. It should take you about 15 to 30 seconds to read it, which is long enough that it will make an impact when you do, but short enough that you’ll be able to read it frequently without interrupting your day too much.
Start your affirmation statement by writing “I expect to win.” From there, you can write whatever you think will work best for you. Possible options include sentences about how you’ll win every close game, you’ll always dig deep within yourself when the game is close, you’ll push even harder when you get tired, and that you’ll always believe you can win under any circumstances. Repeating this statement to yourself often will help you develop a true belief in your ability to win.
You can also use visualization, where you visualize a positive outcome in your head. You could visualize making a spectacular catch to get the last out, or batting in a runner that earns your team the victory at the bottom of the ninth. You can also use visualization as you read your affirmation statement.
None of the steps required to develop a winning mindset are complicated or difficult to perform. Where people fall short is in performing them consistently. It’s easy to think positive and read an affirmation statement occasionally, but much harder to do so every day. If you want to perform up to your full potential, you must make a commitment towards developing a winning mindset. When you do that, you’ll become one of those players who stays cool, calm and collected even in the most intense situations. And when you expect to win no matter what, you also instill that belief in your teammates, improving your entire team’s performance.