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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Mental Aspects of Sports are Vital to Success

Rick Allen        
Yogi Berra was once quoted as saying that “Ninety percent of this game is half mental.” Well, whatever he intended, he was correct that the mental aspect of baseball, or any other sport, is a very important part of successful athletic performance.

There have been many books written on sports psychology or the mental aspect of sport. Many colleges and universities utilize the services of sports psychologists to work with their athletic teams and a few universities have a full-time sports psychologist on their staff. You can certainly think of many situations in which an athlete’s mental side prevented them from playing well. 

Here are a few examples:

· A player who is concerned about being taken out of the game after just one mistake.

· A player has been given so many tips and suggestions that they are thinking rather than reacting.

· The player is letting off-field issues affect their focus, such as girlfriend, parental, or academic issues.

· Allowing an error to affect the next at-bat, or allowing a strikeout to affect the next double-play ball.

· The coach is trying to convince a calm, low-key player to be more outwardly aggressive and demonstrative, and the player struggles with knowing if he is being true to himself.

A firm that works with high school, college and professional athletes, and which was featured in a Super Bowl pre-game segment, is The Flippen Group. The Flippen Group focuses on increasing performance by not just identifying strengths, but more importantly by eliminating the constraints that hinder performance.

In a recent Informed Athlete teleseminar, Dr. Chris White ofThe Flippen Group spoke about the top 5 traits that an athlete needs to excel both on and off the field.

1.  The Needfor Achievement. Whether at the Division I level or at the high school or junior college level, this drive and self-motivation is critical.

2.  Self-Confidence. Is the athlete overly confident or overly critical of himself? How much do theycrave others’ approval?  Or are they completely indifferent to what anyone thinks?

3.  Assertiveness. Is the athlete assertive enough to tell the coach that they want to be in the lineup or that they are confident they can help make the team a winner? On the other hand, is the athlete so assertive that they are perceived as stubborn and pushy?

4.  Self-control. Does the athlete have enough self-control to stay calm when things aren’t going their way? Will they argue with an ump and get thrown out of a game?

5.  Team Player. Does the athlete have a strong enough connection with his teammates and others, such as the team trainer or strength coach? Is there good team chemistry? Does he encourage other players when they are struggling?

Editors note: Informed Athlete was founded to help families of student-athletes who have the athletic skills to compete at the collegiate level, but often struggle through the recruiting or transfer process. This can lead to mistakes that are costly or result in an athlete not achieving their full potential due to a choice of college that is not a good fit.

Rick Allen is uniquely qualified to educate and advise baseball athletes and parents on recruiting, eligibility, financial aid and transfer issues. He has more than 20 years experience working directly with NCAA rules and procedures at two major universities, the University of Illinois and Oklahoma State University. He has also been in the shoes of parents going through the recruiting process, as his son was recruited to a Division I program on a baseball scholarship four years ago. Through an affiliation with The Compliance Group, Rick consults with athletic departments of NCAA member institutions.

For more information, go to and register for a free monthly newsletter, or contact Rick Allen at 918-994-7271 or with yourquestions.
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