If I asked a room full of baseball players, “Raise your hand if you tend to be your worst enemy and beat yourself up too much inside your head,” I can guarantee that just about every hand would be up. That’s because for virtually everyone, the brain is both an asset and an enemy.
The human brain is largely wired to keep you alive. Try holding your breathe to stop your breathing and it won’t work. You may pass out but as soon as you do, your brain will get you breathing again. Try to think your heartbeat to stop and that won’t work either. The brain takes care of that on its own. Those things are too important for you to think about so the brain handles it all by itself.
Your brain doesn’t like new environments either. This is where the baseball brain comes into play.
Human beings are creatures of habit and that’s exactly how the brain likes it. How you acted and behaved last week is probably how you will act next week. What you typically ate last month will probably be what you consume next month too. Your brain recognizes that your previous behaviors, habits, and thinking patterns all combined to keep you alive and avoid major problems so it wants you to continue on that same path. New ways of doing things are scary for your brain because it doesn’t yet know if it will be safe. This where all those negative thoughts come from.
“Don’t do that.“
“You aren’t good enough for that.“
“Your too tired, just lay down.“
“You suck. You should just quit.“
All these thoughts and thousands more are your brain’s attempt to keep you from doing new things that could lead to you getting hurt, embarrassed, made fun of, and of course, killed. A new hitting drill won’t kill you and neither will trying out for a high level team but your brain doesn’t see it that way. It never gives anything the benefit of the doubt. “Anything new can kill you, therefore, I have to prevent you from trying it.“
One blog post isn’t going to switch your brain around to be more of a positive thinker. However, just knowing that “being hard on yourself” as a baseball player is normal. You are not flawed. Your brain is doing exactly what it is hard wired to do.
This doesn’t mean that you are a slave to your brain. There are many ways to get your brain to be more of an asset. Do some homework and some reading on the subject. Google “sports psychology techniques” and/or “sports psychology self talk.” Click HERE for all my posts about the mental side of the game.
There is a world of great tips out there for players. Get moving!