Imagine for a moment you’re on the mound in game 5 of a 162-game season. You’re the road team, and your team is up 6-4 in the bottom of the 9h. The home team has the power threat coming up fourth in the inning.. You got the first batter you faced. You walk the second, and the third lauches a double deep into the corner, allowing the runner to score from first. It’s now 6-5 with a runner in scoring position and one out. You strike out the power threat, and breathe a sigh of relief. You’ve always had the next hitter’s number. In fact, that hitter has only had one hit against you, and that was 5 years ago before you were the team’s closer. After you work the count full, you throw a curveball, but there’s a problem. It doesn’t break properly, it ends up being ht over the centerfield fence, and the game is over.
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Our hitter has what everyone hopes you the closer have--a short memory. Numerous articles have been written about why it’s important to have a short memory when it comes to sports. For example, the Seattle Mariners have been struggling, but pitcher Jason Vargas was able to make an adjustment and demonstrated how short-term memory can pay-off for enhanced performance.
In sports, be it baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, even darts, one has to remember that each incident is independent of the other. In baseball, when the at-bat is over, it is in the past. Of course, it is necessary to learn from the mistakes, but the blown save cannot loom for the next time your manager or coach makes the call to the pen.
In soccer or hockey, it could be a missed goal or a missed save on a penalty shot or shoot out. In football, it can be blowing a coverage assignment that leads to the game winning touchdown. In lacrosse, it can be allowing a last minute goal. Or, an athlete could have had a bad practice the day before or a bad pregam warm up. As Zach Daw says, sometimes it is best to simply not think and let them be.
Peyton Manning, Tim Thomas, and Jay Cutler are examples of athletes who have all had incidents where they have made a big mistake and have been able to leave it in the past.
For tips on how to leave a bad mistake in the past, this link is very helpful. While the author deals with more personal experiences, many of these can be applied to sports, especially in baseball, or any sport where there is a “sudden death” ending scenario.
EXACT can recommend a mental coach to help the athlete leave those mistakes in the past. No athlete is perfect, but sometimes being forgetful is incredibly useful!