Sunday, April 11, 2010

Derek Jeter and His Baseball Psychology

By Nate Barnett

I'm not a Yankees fan. There, I said it. I know that half of you are now finished reading this article, and I'm ok with that. I guess I should explain my opening sentence a bit more thoroughly. While I'm not a Yankess fan, I AM a fan of good, solid baseball. I consider good solid baseball players those who have a firm grasp on both the physical as well as the mental game of baseball. One of the first players I think of who has both components under control is Derek Jeter.

As with most years in his professional career, 2009 was an outstanding year for Jeter. First and foremost, he was a major contributor in the Yankess winning the World Series. Some of his 2009 personal accolades included:

1. Appearing in his 10th All-Star game
2. Winning his 5th World Series Ring
3. Has become the Yankees all time leader in hits wit 2,747
4. Won his 4th Gold Glove
5. Won his 4th Silver Slugger with a.334 batting average and.406 on base average
6. Won the Hank Aaron Award as the best hitter in the American League

If you get a chance to read Derek Jeter's book, The Life You Imagine, you will quickly learn what makes him tick. The mental game of baseball is high on Jeter's list of reasons why he has become a highly successful baseball player. I've added a couple quotes by Jeter below with some of my own commentary following.

"You have got to have fun. Regardless of how you look at it, we are playing a game. It is a business, it is our job, but I do not think you can do well unless you are having fun."

Derek Jeter

* Hard work, competing, and winning are what make baseball fun. Once in a while I hear younger players mutter under their breath about not having fun any more with baseball. Sometimes coaches can remove some of the fun from the game, however, I think typically players can regulate their own fun-meter while playing ball. Those who enjoying working on developing their hitting mechanics or pitching skills over and over again think baseball is fun. They know at some point they will enjoy the benefits of their hard work. Those who go head to head with tough competition think baseball is fun. And finally, those who continue to work through mistakes and achieve great things think baseball is fun. Fun doesn't always have to be easy. I tend to think Jeter would agree.

"We just want to win. That is the bottom line. I think a lot of times people may become content with one championship or a little bit of success, but we do not really reflect on what we have done in the past. We focus on the present."

Derek Jeter

* Getting stuck in what you did or did not do in the past will destroy your forward momentum. Lingering too long on your accolades from a couple years ago does nothing productive for you or your team in the present. I think Jeter has nailed this by saying that he doesn't reflect on what he or his team has done in the past. A new year is a new year. Another athlete who has talked about this quite a bit is Albert Pujols, who by the way won the Hank Aaron Award for the National League last year in 2009.

If you are looking for a couple good resources for developing the mental game, I'd suggest picking up the following books for starters. Both are fairly east to comprehend and will help you out in the baseball psychology department.

The Life You Imagine - Derek Jeter

Mind Gym - Gary Mack

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball. His website is devoted to teaching the mental game of baseball and hitting mechanics. After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued his coaching and motivational training career.

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STATS DAD said...

I am a Yankee fan and I have always admired Jeter's approach. He always looks like he is having fun. Thanks for the reco on the book.

CB said...

If you haven't read Jeter's book you should check it out. A great read for parent or kid. A must for Jeter fans.

VJM said...

I have a 13 year old son whose life is all baseball all the time. He says he loves the game and works very hard at it. The problem is that in games he loses his temper so badly that it affects his performance. He can't seem to keep his composure when things are tough or when he's not perfect. So, as a result he never seems as if he is having fun when he's competing. He says he can't control it. This has been going on as long as he has played since he was 9. Is there anyone else whose kid has had this problem? Does anyone have any advice for us?