We’ve talked about how you can figure out if you are strong enough to handle the physical side of college baseball, but how about the mental side? Here are some tips to help you prepare for the “mental game” at the college level.
1. Evaluate the players at schools around you. If you have your sights set on going D1, find a D1 school near you and go to a game. Don’t just watch the baseball, imagine how you would fit in. Watch the player who is playing your position. Do you think you could play at that level in 3 years? Even more than watching skills, pay attention to the details. Look at the size of the players, their speed, and their ability to make quick decisions. Watch for how often the players make the routine play and how the hitters approach each at bat. One game is all it will take for you to see what you’re working towards as long as you pay close attention to what you see and hear.
2. Get a deeper understanding of your own game. Since you’re looking to play college baseball, it’s safe to say that you’re one of the better players on your team. Now it’s time to start improving the mental aspect of your game. This is especially true in leagues where individual players can dominate. When you get up to college, the skill level evens out dramatically. What separates average players, good players, and great players are the intangibles. By the time you get to college, you will need to be mentally prepared at all times and to learn something from every game you play. Start now. See if you can spot things in your game that your teammates or even your coaches missed. Is there a situation where the outfielder threw to the wrong base? Is there a spot where a hitter didn’t have a good plan at the plate? Always be learning from both successes and failures. When players get to college, it’s common for them to say that the game “speeds up.” This is how you slow it down. You have to be able to think about each situation individually, anticipate plays before they happen, and play the game one pitch at a time. For more practice in understanding the game and making the best decisions, check out our “Think the Game” column. With Think the Game, you’ll find hundreds of game scenarios with common mistakes and lessons to learn.
3. Be willing to learn. High school can be a really intimidating time. A lot of guys really aren’t sure if they belong in college ball, what level they can play at, and if they’ll get any interest from coaches or recruiters. It’s a tough subject to talk about with a lot of your friends because they’re going through the same process. One of the easiest ways to tackle this problem is to talk to older players. If there’s a senior on your team who is going to play college ball or a player who just graduated and went off to play college ball, ask him for help. I’ve never met a ball player who wasn’t willing to give advice. Ask older players to evaluate your prospects for playing in college. Ask them for any tips they might have learned over the course of their recruitment. There’s a whole world of information about programs and coaches that is passed along through people associated with the game. It’s all there, available for you. All you have to do is ask.