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Mental Fundamentals

By Karl Kuehl

This list of reminders can serve for a “Quick Check for players as they are preparing for practice games.  We recommend that you customize this list by adding notes to emphasize particular needs.

To make Softball’s Mental Fundamentals effective over a period of time, work at it as you do on any fundamental, day in and day out.  Highlight and discuss a Mental Fundamental each day.


Define Destination Goals – what you want to accomplish.  These can change from pitch to pitch.

Journey Goals – Personal plan for the process for achieving Destination Goals (changes as situation changes).

Motivate yourself and players to be fully committed every day (do not take anything for granted).

Be Conscious of your Expectations.  Don’t let expectations of others (whether they or high or low) concern or distract you.

Commit to playing and practicing with Energy and Enthusiasm

Commit to Perfect Practice, always executing the best you can (ball after ball and pitch after pitch).

Find a way to make practice and the games Fun and be aware of the fun you are having.

Observe, Study and Learn every moment (there is always something going on).

Work From the Positive.  Define what was good first, then what and how to improve.

No Excuses – No Alibis – No Justifications

Take Responsibility – Deal with it.  Find a way to get it done.

When you are not getting the results of which you are capable, Check your Attitude:  Attitude Adjustments may help.

Recognize the Attitudes that Aren’t Working, Stop the Thoughts and Replace with Attitudes that Will be More Productive.

Be Optimistic.  Be Positive.  Continually Affirm, “I Can … and I Will …”


“Believe”.  “Believing is a Choice.”  “You’ve Got to Believe.”

“Believing is Empowering.”

“Believing Gives Energy and Enthusiasm.”

Doing theLittle Things Well, Builds Confidence in Your Ability to do the Bigger Things.

Use the Power of Affirmations – Tell yourself over and over again that, “I can,” and sooner or later you will.

Always Have Positive Body Language.  Act like you are good.  Be aware of the messages in body language and posture.

Being Totally Prepared Mentally and Physically Gives Confidence.

Challenging, Disciplined, Organized Practice Leads to Confidence.

Failure is Valuable Experience.  It gives you information that helps you adjust and succeed.  Look for it.  Remember the slogan, “Failure is an education,” and use it as a teaching device.

Believe in your Ability to Figure Things Out – To Find a Way.

Learn From the Negatives, then Forget About Them.

Replay Past Successes Often, including the details and preparation that proceeded them.

Only Evaluate Yourself on the Process (your thinking) and Execution, not statistics.

At all times, even the toughest of times,Have Confident Thinking and Behavior, don’t allow negative drift to enter your mind.


Organize and Prioritize

Prepare by Visualizing.  Seeyourself Succeeding (from your own eyes’ view).  Visualize what it will Feel like.  Be There.

Repetitive Visualization is as Important as Repetitive Practice.

Practice, andBe the Best At the Little Things – The Details.

Develop and Practice Routines of Thinking, Getting Ready, and Playing.

Teach Doing New Things At Slow Speeds and Later At Game Speed.  Advanced Players should Practice Hurrying.

Practice Consistency.  Improvise Competitive Situations for Individuals and Small Groups.

Anticipate All Possibilities (all areas of the game) and your Reactions To Them.  No Surprises.

Anticipate your Reactions and Responses to Adversity and Distractions.

Practice Self-Control – Don’t allow the self-indulgence of Frustration or Anger during Practice.  Practice Dealing With It.

Focus and Concentration

Focus and Concentration is Not Multi-Tasking (thinking of everything), it is Total Attention on One Thing – it is Being In The Moment (Not being in the past, getting ahead of yourself or the game).

Prepare to Focus.  Visualize andFeel yourself Being Focused.

Practice getting into “My Zone.”

  • Develop a Routine; A Process
  • Visualize every aspect of being in “The Zone,”
  • First – Control Breathing (Be aware of how you are breathing and how it feels), and Emotions.
  • Slow the Game by Slowing your Self-Talk and Movements.
  • Use Routines – One Thought At a Time.
  • Be Loose.
  • Don’t yell instructions and encouragement at the last moment.  It can break concentration.

Simplify Instruction and Thinking, use as few words as possible.

Separate Thinking and Doing.

Take Mental Breaks.

Playing Under Pressure:

Success In Pressure Situations is Executing Your Usual approach, The Process and Executing A Quality At Bat; A Quality Pitch; Making the Play Right; The Right Decision.

Success Is Not “Turning It Up A Notch.”

Verbalize your Destination Goals and then, Journey Goals (simplify, focus on one thing just before the action).

Situations Dictate Strategy, butNot Effort, How You Play or Routines.

Don’t let Anyone, Anything or Any Situation get into or stay in your head.  Plan on it getting in your head and your response.

When you Allow a Situation to Stay In Your Head, You Are “Giving In.”

Control Your Emotions – That helps Slow the Flow of Adrenalin.

Take Extra Time – Slow The Game.  Methodically go through the routines, the process that brings you into “My Zone.”

Forget About the Situation, Focus on Executing the Process, What You Can Control, no matter the situation or the circumstances.

Manage your Aggressiveness and Discipline.

Manage and Be Aware of Your Attitudes – “This is going to be Fun.  It is not pressure, but the Pleasure Of The Competition.”

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