Updated: Sep 22, 2020
Learning how to breathe is important to having success on the mound. The pitcher’s mound can feel like the loneliest place in the world at times. You’re a part of every pitch when your team is in the field. All eyes are constantly on you. When you give up a hit, everyone sees it. When you hit a batter or walk a batter, everyone sees it. But what do people see the most? How you react in the face of adversity.
There are many ways to deal with adversity. The simplest one is to simply take a deep breath. Why? By taking a deep breath, it releases a sense of calmness throughout the body. It allows you to clear your mind for a split second and forget about what’s happening around for just moment. But lastly, it keeps you in control. You are the one who can control your breathing. Once you control your breathing, it is easier to control your mind.
You do not have control over anything once the pitch is released from your fingertips. You may think you do, but you don’t. You can’t control if the hitter makes contact, your teammate makes an error, the umpire misses a call, etc. Rather than getting upset by external things over which we have little or no control, we center our attention on an internal thing that we can control: our breathing.
Take a few extra seconds off the mound and take a deep breath or two. Then find a focal point. A focal point is something around the interior or exterior of the field that we can go back to in order to help us regain our focus. For example, you see 6 trees beyond the left field fence. The tree second from the right happens to be the nicest looking tree in the bunch. When times get tough on the mound, find that tree and appreciate that tree. Take your focus away from the chaos happening on the field and concentrate on that particular tree. You may notice the leaves are starting to change color. Well that’s nice. Now take a breath, reengage your mind to the task at hand, and focus solely on the next pitch.
When we get stressed, it is easy for our mind to spiral out of control. This allows negative thoughts to creep into our minds and may start to chip away at our confidence. We need to take an active approach towards disallowing those negative thoughts to fill our mind. Focusing on the breath can restore a sense of calm and control that keeps us on track.