By Eric Johnson
If you are playing summer ball, you may feel like you should be showing off your skills for the college recruiters and coaches that may come out to the games. There is a lot of pressure that falls on your shoulders to play well. This can be the downfall of a high school ball player. Coaches can tell when a player is pressing. It shows mostly when a guy is trying to do something he isn’t skilled to do, like a little scrapper trying to hit bombs in BP. It just isn’t his game and it won’t show his skills.
Coaches want a guy who works hard, but isn’t pressing. They look for what one coach called “relaxed confidence.” When you are relaxed and playing the game, you will be able to show your skills at their best because you won’t be trying to do too much.
Relaxing in these situations is easier said than done though. In order to relax, you have to mentally check in with yourself constantly throughout the game. This does not mean you check in before your at bat or before each new hitter you face. This means you check in on a pitch-by-pitch basis. Every pitch has a new plan and a new purpose. It takes a lot of mental effort, but it’s the only way to keep yourself under control when all the outside factors tell you that you should be doing too much.
It is important to realize that relaxing does not mean you shouldn’t work hard. Coaches are always on the lookout for the guy who shows something more than everyone else. But working hard does not mean swinging for the fences every at bat. It means you need to sprint your 90’s, dive at balls you probably can’t get to, run from station to station at a showcase, make the smart plays, take the extra base, do something to get noticed!
Everyone around you is trying to do the same thing you are, so you have to trust yourself, play relaxed, play confident, and play hard.