William B. Cole Consultants Sport Psychology Coaching
To Parents and Coaches of an Athlete Who Needs Mental Game Help
Dear Parents and Coaches,
In a moment, I'm going to share with you an actual letter from
a worried parent who wrote to me asking for help for his baseball-playing
If your child needs special help in the mental arena, if they
get frustrated easily, if they show flashes of brilliance, but
just can't find the consistency, please read this letter. It will
help you figure out what will help, and what won't.
The Letter --
Dear Mr. Cole,
I have a 16 year old son who plays High School Varsity baseball.
He has been coached on and has developed all the correct
mechanics for pitching and is spectacular at practice, but
at a game he becomes overly anxious and nervous, flubs up
and rarely plays to his potential.
What would be the best approach to help him? A sports psychologist?
Yoga? Stress management? Meditation? Hypnotherapy? Work
with a local psychologist who dabbles in sports counseling?
His mother and I are really at our wits end in trying to
Frustrated, Yet Hopeful Dad
The Reply --
Thanks for your interest. I know how you hope for your
child to succeed. It's awful watching your child struggle.
But there is hope. Let me give you a quick snapshot of
top-level, professional peak performance training. It's
vital that you find someone who is not a generalist. They
need to be a specialist. That's the problem with part-timers
in the field, or with people who dabble in sport psychology.
They mean well, but they are learning on your dime.
Typically, while very valuable, yoga is helpful for only
two major general tasks:
- learning how to relax in general.
- learning how to focus the mind, in general.
Unless the Yoga instructor is also expert at coaching baseball
psychology, this would help only to a degree. The same is
true if you send him to learn meditation and stress management,
work with a hypnotherapist or work with a psychologist who
dabbles in sport counseling, etc.
Your son probably needs specific help in these areas:
- Learning how to mentally prepare before a game.
- Learning how to handle the stress of competition.
- Crafting the proper competitive mind-set for baseball.
- Knowing how to shift mental focus, off the negative
and on to the positive, right in the game.
- Knowing what the zone is, and how to access it at will.
- Learning how to transfer the skills he already displays
at practice, into a pressure game situation.
- Learning more about not placing pressure on himself,
and of why he seems to block himself in a game from performing
to his already obvious potential.
In short, you want someone who:
- Knows baseball.
- Knows sport psychology.
- Has demonstrated successful outcomes in helping baseball
players of a high caliber.
- Knows how to connect with young adults.
- Has chemistry with your son.
One more aspect of the yoga, or any kind of meditation,
or other such discipline.
Most of these skills take at least 2-6 weeks to learn, get
decent at, and get results from, and with most 16 year olds,
without help from someone who can transfer the skills to
baseball, it can be frustrating, to say the least.
They are very valuable skills, but slow to learn, transfer
and apply to baseball. In contrast, any sport psychology
skills he learns should be immediately applicable, some
the same day he learns them.
In your son's case, if you and/or a baseball coach have
determined that his technical form is solid (and it probably
is, since he performs well in practice), you want to have
a detailed sport psychology assessment done before beginning
I hope this has helped you, and please let me know if I
can help further. Even if you just want to chat a bit, please
give me a call on my dime and I can probably help you decide
on a good direction to take your son.
Bill Cole, MS, MA
To Parents and Coaches, again -- I hope this letter gave you some
insight on how to select a sport psychology coach. If you would
like to know more, please call me and I'd be happy to chat with