Keeping a journal is one of the most powerful tools you can use to become a better hitter. We’ve all heard about players in the major leagues who keep a “book” on the pitchers they face and the pitches they encounter. This is most certainly a great way to learn about and keep a record of the pitchers you face and will help give you an advantage over your competition. In addition to the simple recording of pitchers I highly recommend journaling to learn more about what’s going on with you mentally and setting yourself up mentally for the game.
What most people have heard of and often practice is what I call post-game journaling. This is where a hitter would write down what took place during that game. They might write down who they faced, what pitches they threw in what counts, and what the results were on those pitches. In addition, it’s beneficial to write down what was going on in your mind during the game and especially during a particular at-bat. Maybe you were thinking about a previous at-bat, maybe you were concerned over how the at-bat might turn out, or maybe you were completely present and didn’t have many thoughts at all. You can also write down how you were feeling. Maybe you were a little anxious, maybe you were afraid of making an out, or maybe you felt completely relaxed and confident. Post-game journaling allows you to become aware of what it was you were thinking and feeling which allows you to recognize certain thought patterns that may take place during certain at-bats and how certain thoughts and emotions impact your performance.
Once you gain the awareness over what thoughts and emotions you can use what I call pre-game journaling to help direct your thoughts and emotions during a game to put you in the best possible position to succeed. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Have you ever been in a situation (both on or off the field) where you thought to yourself, “You know, no matter what happens I’m going to have fun”? You could have been on vacation or playing pick-up basketball, but whatever it was you probably found yourself able to laugh off anything that might happen that would normally have upset you. If you were on vacation maybe you were driving down the highway and got a flat tire. Normally this situation might have added stress but because you decided before hand that you were going to have fun this situation became just a funny anecdote to your trip.
The point is we have the ability to decide who we are going to feel in any situation that may present itself. We don’t have to allow situations to dictate what we think and how we feel. So why not take time before each game to decide to think and feel in such a way that is going to put you into the best position to succeed. If you know that you play your best when you are feeling positive emotions and thinking positive thoughts then in your journal before the game decide that regardless of what happens you are absolutely committed to thinking and feeling this way. Why should you use a journal? For some reason (I’m not 100% sure on the why it works) there is a power in putting things in writing. It makes things more real and helps direct your subconscious mind in the direction you intend to go.
In my pre-game routine I would always start with a 10 minute meditation and follow that with my pre-game journaling session. I would always write the phrase, “Today I’m completely committed too…” and then fill in the thoughts and emotions I wanted to feel that day. After the game I would review what my pre-game intentions were, evaluate how I did mentally/emotionally, and then write down any adjustments I felt I should make. This really only took an addition 10 minutes on both sides of the game. An additional 20 minutes total of preparation and reflection really went a long way in helping maximize my performance on the field as well as learn more about myself and help me to make changes from the source of all performance.