Saturday, April 25, 2015

Recognize Release Refocus

The sport of baseball requires precision, boldness, and accuracy, both physically and mentally. In order to maximize performance, athletes must train both their bodies and their minds to perform with clarity and certainty. When an athlete strives to be mentally focused and sharp, one of the  things they must practice is the art of recognizing, releasing, and refocusing.  At first glance, these methods may seem easy to master, but in actuality they are challenges that require rehearsal and commitment.    

One ultimate demonstration of recognizing and assessing a situation is found within everyday traffic signal lights. When the light is green, drivers assess the situation and recognize that they are able to proceed forward as they continue on down the road. When a driver sees a yellow light, they recognize the need to slow down. When a driver views a red light, he or she diagnoses the need to come to a complete stop. With baseball, a green light implies that the athlete is playing to the best of their ability and that they are in a good place mentally. A red light however, signifies that the player may be losing control of himself. The athlete could potentially be low on self esteem or not in control of themselves mentally. It is critical that both coaches and players recognize this position and establish ways to position themselves back on the track. This recognition may include a physical recognition, i.e. a focus point, or it may simply include the mental state of the players or the team as a whole. It’s important to remember that “what you are aware of, you can control. What you are unaware of, will control you.”

The next step in finding mental stability and success includes the ability to release. Tension is certainly a hindrance to any athlete’s performance. It is important for the athlete to understand that physical tension is not optimal for maximal performance while mental stress and anxiety will only result in a sense of apprehension for the athlete. Baseball players and pitchers specifically must know how to release any additional angst before pitching the ball, hitting the ball, or catching the ball. This release entails the letting go of any pressure from any outside sources while focusing primarily and predominantly on the required task at hand. Mental visualization, focus, and release are key elements in reaching optimal levels of performance and the team must assess these elements both individually and among themselves.

The final step in achieving maximal mental health and domination involves the refocus process. Following the initial recognition of the required assignment and the release through the course of action, an athlete must assess his or her conduct and refocus his or her attention accordingly. It is vital in this process that the athlete receives feedback. This feedback may derive from a coach, a projection on the scoreboard, or even a fellow teammate. But regardless of the source of evaluation, this constructive criticism is to be utilized the channel the mind to assess how the action may be improved in the future. Refocusing may involve clearing of the mind of the ways that the body has been used to performing an action, or refocusing may involve the visualization of how to progress one’s work.

Most people are aware that athletes must be physically tough, driven, and concise in their actions. Many people don’t know however, that this same consciousness, precision, and dedication must also be found in an athlete’s mental game. By recognizing the correct course of action necessary to successfully complete a task, an athlete is more likely to produce successful output. Then, by releasing any physical or mental roadblocks or tension from the mind or body, the athlete is able to focus any and all attention toward the task at hand. Finally, through proper evaluation and assessment from a coach or teammate, an athlete is able to enhance his or her own performance and reform his or her sport in order to best benefit the team.       

Burton, D., & Raedeke, T. (2008). Sport psychology for coaches (p. 165). Champaign,
IL: Human Kinetics.
Cain, B. (2012). Introduction to Peak Performance [Radio series episode]. In
Recognize Release Refocus .Brian Cain .

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