The other night I was standing and watching my oldest son at his rec fall ball game and I was approached by a 15yr old ballplayer.
The young man (who often umpires my son’s games and is always courteous and playful with them) excitedly shared that he was pitching this week in his first Varsity game.
Whether he was just proud and wanting to share or was actually looking for advice - I went from Dad/Fan-mode to FULL OUT Performance Mindset Coach in a heartbeat, lol.
In moments like those - where I may only have a few minutes to give advice, direction, and steps that truly can impact someone’s performance right away…
There are 3 Simple "Mental Game Goals” that I give.
3 Goals I believe if done at an “8” or better (more on the numbers in a moment) - it’s impossible to perform poorly.
(*Keep in mind - Performance & Results are different. A Hitter can PERFORM well with three great swings and hit three line drives right at people for outs - it’s a tough game, lol)
Mid-way through every spring and fall season - my inbox fills up with many Athletes needing a “fast turn-around.”
Over the years I’ve found that teaching the “BEAST” strategies they needed or advanced techniques might take a couple of calls…
So one year - I thought long and hard on how to make it as simple and as fast as possible to get a player to perform better the next game without having to teach too much about how their Mind works.
So I created the 3 "Mental Game Goals" because I knew if they did them well - they absolutely would be in a PEAK PERFORMANCE state that day.
Before I share them with you - let me explain that I always pose them to Athletes in a question (I have my secret technical reasons for that) and also I give them the instruction that the questions I ask - I what them to focus on the entire game and to let me know afterward how well they felt they did performing the tasks between 0-10 (10 being the best they could imagine) and the actual "goal" is for them to do them at an 8 or better.
The first goal - How slow can you breathe throughout the game?
A Crocodile is one of nature’s most adaptable and flexible creatures on the planet. They’ve roamed the earth for hundreds of millions of years - think of how many species have gone extinct over that time? But with all the dynamic changes that have occurred on the planet (including humans) - the Crocodiles haven’t just merely survived but have always found a way to thrive.
There are many cool “gifts” and “talents” that Crocodiles have - but my favorite with this goal is that during dry seasons, when the rivers begin to disappear and the Croc’s prey no longer comes around, the Croc has the ability to burrow into the mud and drop their heart rate to less than 3 beats a minute. And can wait for months without food until the rains return.
Like a Croc - a competitive Athlete must learn to control and slow their own heart rate and they can do so through slow, deep breaths. Paying special attention to making the exhale (blowing out) much longer and slower than the inhale.
(*Side note - for the player that practices "great" but come game doesn't look like the same player - heart rates during practices for sports like baseball can be 70-80 beats a minute - while Game Time in competitive moments at the plate or on the mound - heart rates can be as high as 120-140bpm)
If I get a post-game update from a player that says their slow breathing was an “8” or better - than I know they stayed calm, their mind was clear, and their body was relaxed. Allowing their best mechanics, pattern recognition, and timing to show up throughout the game.
The second goal - How well can you play the game, one play at a time?
My Mental Performance Coach during my Career (Dave Austin, Extreme Focus) taught me that the Humming Bird was the only bird that could fly backward (I’ll admit - not sure on the fact check but let’s let it ride for the sake of the metaphor, lol). He’d playfully say that it’s because the Humming Bird doesn’t want to turn its back on the present moment - and miss the beauty in front of it.
It’s common to hear the phrase, “play the game one play at a time.” But, how often is an Athlete held to make it an actual goal? How often is that much importance placed on it?
In my own career as a player and now as a coach - I have a database full of stories of those that catapulted their performance when they truly committed themselves to stay in the present moment during the game. When players have chosen to not allow previous poor plays continue to replay over and over again in their mind - or to not allow themselves to be distracted from the present moment by what might happen later in the game, but who fully commit themselves right here, right now, and to “winning this play.”
Now - if I get an update that a player achieved an “8” or better playing the game one play at a time - than I know their focus was dialed in (And also were relaxed. The more present and in the moment - the more relaxed the mind and body).
Then the third goal - How much fun can you “make” in your next game?
A couple of years ago I found myself wondering - why do we say “have” fun? Why not focus on MAKING it fun? When I began sharing that with Athletes I mentored - it was great to see how they began to take more control of their own fun. They would tell me stories of doing little things with teammates that made common things more enjoyable - or they just shared how they began to see “fun” as carry themselves with a more “playful energy.”
When I think of animals (“BEASTS”) and having fun or being playful - how about a Dolphin? I mean they’re great hunters, they don’t take crap from sharks - they do what they need to do - but they do it in style and with fun, don’t they?
Far too many Athletes before I began working with them tend to believe “good things need to happen” before they can allow themselves to have a good time.
I help them to focus on make their own fun first - and then allowing the great results to happen.
If I get the update that an Athlete had an “8” or better making their own fun that game - I know I got a happy Athlete. And Happy Athletes typically play frickin’ awesome.
So - there’s the "3 Simple Game Goals" that I give to Athletes whether they’re in need of a turnaround - or they’re hungry to take their success to an even greater level.
* One extra side note - I give them all the goal of an “8” or better - rather than a “10.”
In my experience, an 8 gives them some freedom to make a few mistakes - which actually tends to lead them to making fewer.
Too much focus on a “10” and perfection - can lead them to putting too much pressure on themselves and quickly spiraling out of control. (If you’re a Parent - Ever been on a health kick and thought maybe I’ll have one cookie? And then had a second and maybe a third? And then felt so bad, guilty, frustrated, discouraged - that you said what the hell and ate 12? It’s kinda like that, lol)
And truth be told - each one of these goals is so powerful for creating a “peak state” for a player - that even focusing on just ONE - will lead to great performances!!!
So I encourage you (or your athlete) to try them out next game - and let me know afterward how it went for your state and your performance - [email protected]
And thank you reading and allowing me to share my passion with you today...
Until Next Time,
Aim High, Swing Hard, and PLAY LIKE A BEAST!!
Jason is an Advanced Mindset Trainer, Performance Strategist, and former Major League Baseball Player. When not playing catch or shooting hoops with his own two sons - Jason trains, mentors and coaches Athletes of ALL ages to Increase their Performance, Achieve their Goals, and 'Live the Dream.'
Learn more about the Elite BEASTS Group Coaching - OCTOBER 1ST starts the next 8-week round of Jason's Live Video Training - where he personally teaches and trains this community of Highly Driven Athletes (ages 13+) to build the Advanced Mindset and Leadership Skills needed to fulfill their potential.