Since we’re smack in the middle of the high drama, high stakes, atmosphere of October playoff baseball, I think it might be appropriate to share my experience with pressure situations and how I dealt with them. Make no mistake about it, baseball, whether you’re in Little League or the big leagues, is filled with stress. It’s how you handle it that separates the mediocre player from the great player. It also separates the player who enjoys the game from the player who is scared by the game.
For me, the turning point came when I stopped fighting the feelings I had when I got into pressure situations. The sweaty palms and elevated heart beat type symptoms. You see, for a long time I thought that the superior athlete had somehow overcome these responses or learned how to suppress them. It took me a long time to realize that these feelings NEVER go away, no matter how long you’ve played or how much success you’ve had. So instead of viewing them as something negative or something I needed to overcome, I just accepted these emotions as part of the game and used the heightened awareness that accompanied them to be a better player. I just kept it simple (see ball hit ball), stayed in the moment by not anticipating success or failure, enjoyed myself, and let the results take care of themselves. I went from being a player who dreaded the bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, game on the line situation to being a player who would give anything to have an opportunity to win the game.
This was just my experience and I’m not saying you’ll have more success by adopting this attitude. I will, however, pretty much guarantee you’ll have more fun playing the game. Good luck and keep learning.