Building Confidence in Your Game
Confidence comes with the ability to rely on yourself to succeed, whether you are pitching in a game or going in for your next exam. Confidence presents itself when you let go of your fear of failure and trust that you can perform. Confidence is not an easy thing to come by, but it can be developed by strengthening your belief system that drives your behavior.
How do we begin the process of gaining confidence? First, ask yourself this. Do you think success comes before confidence or vice versa? Oftentimes, athletes operate under the perception that you have to have a game-winning performance to gain confidence in yourself and your game. However, Pitching Coach PRO challenges you to examine how preparation can lead to your confidence, which can translate into on-field success. Ultimately, confidence will present itself if you have trust, faith, conviction, and belief.
As I went over previously when discussing my Pitching Absolutes, preparation and work ethic are vital to your success. Establishing a mentality that drives you to constantly evaluate what you can learn and how you can improve will push you to continue to develop your game. Give your best effort day-in and day-out and never leave anything out on the table. Work hard, so that you have no regrets.
Your level of preparation will dictate the level of confidence you can achieve. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as continue to be mindful of your progress. Be sure to gather feedback and data from your coaches and maintain a clear line of communication with your catcher. A pitcher should have confidence in themselves and in their catcher. Work to build trust between yourself and your catcher in order to be able to execute pitches with a high level of confidence. The more information you have, the more you will be able to carry out your game plan successfully, and thus the more confidence you will have.
In summation, there are three vital pieces of the puzzle that will help you to prepare for success, and thereby gain confidence.
Have a well-research and developed game plan.
Develop an effective method of communication with your catcher.
Believe that you can achieve your goals.
Ultimately, go into a game leaving no stone unturned, so you are prepared and equipped with confidence. Remember that you can’t control the outcome of a game, but you can control your level of preparedness, which can contribute to your overall confidence!
I say this often to my pitchers and I’ll say it again, “Trust it. Trust your pitch. Trust the process.” Instead of overthinking your delivery and mechanics, let your inner athlete take over during the game. Strive to avoid a practice mentality throughout the game. A pitcher should steer clear of the over-analyzing their performance and trying too hard to be flawless. Every player makes mistakes on the field, which should be accepted as part of the game. In-game is not the time to focus on fine-tuning deliveries and mechanics. Overthinking these aspects during the game will be detrimental to your confidence, your belief in yourself, as well as your level of self-trust.
Another valid point to consider is to know what kind of pitcher you are and stay true to that. Stay within your personal strengths and abilities. Know your capabilities and what pitches you can execute. Don't compare yourself to others! This will assist in building your level of confidence.
When on the mound, it is very important to display steadiness and balance. Use all of your pitches, and continue to work through your game plan. You may find, for example, that you may not be throwing your off-speed pitches for strikes at the beginning of the game. You still have to use them early on, so you could throw them in between inning warm-ups to prepare yourself a bit more. Stay calm and confident on the mound and utilize the trust you have in yourself and in the process. This will enable you to throw better pitches with conviction.
I cannot stress enough how important your attitude and how you conduct yourself on the mound can be for you, your confidence level, and the outcome of the game. How you act and how you react can make all the difference. If you hang your head in disappointment after giving up a run or display body language that shows you are angry if you are not getting pitches called your way, the other team will feed off of your body language and take advantage of your disappointment or your anger. Your outward demeanor could actually elevate the opposing team’s confidence level. A confident pitcher carries himself with a good demeanor along with being respectful of the game and his teammates, as well as your opponent. If you appear confident, your team will see that along with the opposing team.
Wrapping It Up
Developing confidence is a process and it doesn't happen overnight. It’s something you have to practice and work at until you can achieve it, just like anything else. Letting go of failures and trusting you can perform will get easier as you continue to build that trust within yourself.
Some key points to remember when building this confidence include:
The Value of Preparation
Don’t Over-Analyze During Your Performance, Trust It!
Know Yourself - Stay within your strengths and capabilities
Remain poised, steady, and balanced
Conduct Yourself with Sportsmanship - Regardless of the score or outcome of a game you should display a winning attitude
Ultimately, these tips can be of value to every player on the field, regardless of their position. Conducting yourself with a winning attitude no matter what the situation shows confidence, maturity, and helps greatly with recruiting. Your body language shouldn’t reflect the score or the outcome of the game. Losses happen.
Confidence comes with knowing you not only showed up, but you gave it your all. It builds character and leadership within yourself and within your team. No one wants to follow someone that isn’t confident enough to trust in their abilities. If individuals on a team adopt self-confidence, that confidence will be injected into the team as a whole which builds not only a confident team but a winning team.