Mental Game Lessons From the Indians’ 22 Game Winning Streak
Being in the middle of a winning streak or being in the zone is the desire of all baseball players.
When you are riding the wave of peak performance, baseball is exciting. You can’t wait to go to the park.
In the midst of a win streak, pitchers feel they can hit the corners on demand… Their pitches have great movement… They feel locked in and feel they can get any hitter out.
When a hitter is on a streak, they feel they can get the bat on every pitch… They feel they can drive the ball hard and find the gaps… Each game they KNOW they will get a hit.
A team on a winning streak feels loose… The game is fun… And they feel, even if they are trailing late in the game, that they can score enough runs to win the game.
When you are in the middle of a streak, you are totally immersed in the game.
But lurking in the shadows is the enemy of the streak which is conscious thought about the streak.
Hyper-awareness of how you are performing causes you to think about what you are doing rather than just doing it. It pulls you out of the mindset that has kept the streak in motion.
You may even start to fear the end of the streak. Fear about the streak ending or about ‘what might happen’ in the future further pulls you out of the present moment.
The 2017 Cleveland Indians have the longest winning streak, 22 games, in American League history and the longest in baseball in 82 years.
The Indians also have a “don’t talk about it” rule. The Indians are just focused on playing and immersing themselves in the game.
BRUCE: “We’re so focused. Everyone [outside of the team] talks about the [streak] and being consumed with it, but what consumes us is the daily schedule and the game we have to get ready for… Our focus tends to stay so right where we are and then move to the next, and then move to the next. We don’t have time to worry about what happened in the past and we definitely don’t have time to worry about what could happen in the future.”
The streak is not the important thing to focus one for the Indians.
What matters most to the Cleveland players, the biggest contributing factor to the streak itself, is showing up to the park prepared to work, playing the game, moving on after the game, then getting ready to play the next game.
This formula has proved to be successful for producing peak play by not just the Indians but other players and teams that have had long stretches of peak performance.
A Tip for Keeping a Streak Going:
Forget about keeping a streak going.
A streak is merely one game played at your peak repeated over time. Focus on playing the current game, not the probability of losing.
Prepare to work, play your best then move on. Yesterday’s game no longer matters in the grand scheme of things and tomorrow’s game cannot be played today.
Your goal should be to be fully engaged in performing your best in the moment–one pitch at a time.
Remember, consistent mental preparation leads to consistent performance.
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If you’re a top performer during practice but find yourself under-performing in competition, the most likely culprit holding you back is your mental game.
Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with one-on-one personal mental game coaching.
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