The Art of Catching – By Brent Mayne

by BrentMayne

Here’s another catching tip….

Lately my ten year old son, Noah, has been grilling me about whether I got nervous before games and how I dealt with it. I remember asking my father the same questions at that age.

So the quick answer is “yes.” I got nervous before just about every game (it never goes away – no matter how long you play.) And the way I coped with it was with creative visualization (imagining or seeing action before it happens).

Before I went to bed every night, I’d imagine the pitcher I was going to face the next day, the stadium, the ball coming in, and me performing the way I wanted to perform.

And I’m certainly not the only one. Jack Nicklaus was famous for his extraordinary visualization skills. He said he never made a shot without first visualizing everything about it in his imagination. He created movies of the golf ball’s flight – complete with zooms in and out like a camera. He would even play the movie backward from his target to where it left his club face!

I’ve heard this many times: “But I just can’t visualize.” My answer? Yes you can, even you. For some, it comes very natural. Others may have to work a little harder to get it. Either way, it’s something you’ve got to do if you want to get to the next level in your game.

Here’s why. Imagery has been proven to affect the way you perform. The fascinating thing is, the body doesn’t know the difference between an actual event and an imagined event! When you imagine something, it makes an imprint that will embed on your subconscious mind. Your body will then begin to respond in line with these images.

In other words, imagine hitting a bomb and you’ll trigger great feelings and excitement. Imagine being confident and you will begin to feel confident. Imagine striking out and you create negative feelings and tightness in your muscles. Imagine nothing and you are at the mercy of your “default” images which may be negative. It’s a very powerful tool that all great players use.

For me, taking that time before I went to bed was every bit as important as batting practice. Imagining success empowered me. Like being well prepared for a school test, it eased my mind to know I had done my homework and had (in my mind) already succeeded.

You know when they interview a ball player after he drives in the winning run of a World Series game and he says something along the lines of, “as a kid I always imagined hitting a bottom of the ninth, game 7 home run.” Well, he’s not kidding! He really did! And it came true…..

The question is – what do you imagine?

“Ninety percent of baseball is half mental” ~ Yogi Berra

Till next week, good luck, have fun, and keep your eye on the ball.

Brent Mayne is a 15-year MLB veteran, catching 1,143 games between 1990 and 2004. His .993 fielding percentage behind the plate is 4th best all-time, and he owns the most perfect pitching record in baseball history (1-0 with a 0.00 ERA). Brent writes regularly at his website “The Art of Catching,” which can be found at www.brentmayne.com. He also authored the book “The Art of Catching.” His weekly catching tips will appear here at Dugout Central.

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5 Responses to “The Art of Catching – By Brent Mayne”

  1. Bob Says:

    I can see how this might work for someone who has already achieved some higher level of play, but can it really benefit players at the youth level? It’s hard enough to keep them focused without encouraging them to daydream about hitting homeruns. I think it takes a mature mind to practice this. Am I wrong about this?

  2. Patrick Says:

    Bob, speaking from first hand experience, all it takes is a love for the game and an imagination. The rest will follow. Growing up, I spent hours imagining scenarios that I was able to implement in game situations in not only baseball, but basketball and football too.

    In the end, I think imagining scenarios as a youth is something that you’re either inclined to do or you’re not. I think you would have a hard time finding a pro athlete who can’t relate to this article.

  3. Hossrex Says:

    Sadly, I was never nervous playing ball.

    I wish my eyes (and… if I’m being honest, my work ethic) were as baseball friendly.

  4. Bob Says:

    Very enlightening. Perhaps that is part of what makes the difference between athletes who can compete at a higher level and those who can’t even if the work ethic is equal.

  5. Raul Says:

    I also was never nervous at all playing baseball. I was always too focused on what I wanted to do at the plate. On the field I was always thinking of the possible scenarios before each pitch was thrown. I didn’t have the time to think about things to get nervous.

    Maybe that’s why I don’t understand “pressure” in sports. Or maybe I’m just a cold-blooded bastard. LOL

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