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William B. Cole Consultants Sport Psychology Coaching

To Parents and Coaches of an Athlete Who Needs Mental Game Help

Baseball mental game 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 son.

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 help him.

Frustrated, Yet Hopeful Dad

The Reply --

Hello Dad,

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:

  1. learning how to relax in general.
  2. 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:

  1. Learning how to mentally prepare before a game.
  2. Learning how to handle the stress of competition.
  3. Crafting the proper competitive mind-set for baseball.
  4. Knowing how to shift mental focus, off the negative and on to the positive, right in the game.
  5. Knowing what the zone is, and how to access it at will.
  6. Learning how to transfer the skills he already displays at practice, into a pressure game situation.
  7. 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:

  1. Knows baseball.
  2. Knows sport psychology.
  3. Has demonstrated successful outcomes in helping baseball players of a high caliber.
  4. Knows how to connect with young adults.
  5. 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 work mentally.

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.

Best regards,
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 you.

Baseball pitcher  
William B. Cole Consultants - Mental Game coaching, consulting, speaking and training

2085 East Bayshore Road #50412
Palo Alto, CA 94303
Phone: (510) 270-0311
E-Mail: Bill@MentalGameCoach.com
Website: www.mentalgamecoach.com
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