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By: Dan McKinney
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Dear Current Yellowjacket Baseball Players,
Welcome to the 2011-2012 season! We hope this letter finds you ready and eager for
another season from a well-rested and much deserved summer vacation. As most of you know,
the mental game of baseball is a vital component of performance and success on and off the
field. The following psychology principles, policies and procedures manual will help you with
your mental approach and may provide some new and old information. As a coaching staff, our
goal in developing this manual is for you to be able to understand concepts that will help you in
your performance from the mental side of things. Although there will be no exam to test your
knowledge if you read or don’t read this manual, we fully expect you to understand concepts that
have the opportunity to enhance your performance. All of the concepts that will be talked about
will pertain to each individual on the team in some capacity. In the manual, you will find an
introduction to sport psychology, concepts, definitions, ways to improve one’s self, and how it
applies to baseball and the team in particular. You will also find other links and sources of
information that will expand on some of the ideas and concepts addressed throughout the
manual. Please read it carefully, take one thing from it, and build upon your mental approach to
the game of baseball. Below is tremendous source and guide to peak performance. Welcome
back and enjoy! - Your 2011-2012 Yellowjacket Coaching Staff!
Dorfman, H.A, & Kuehl, K. (2002). The mental game of baseball a guide to peak performance.
Lanham, Maryland: Diamond Communications.
“The theory of baseball is as simple as that of any field sport in vogue, and herein lies one of its
attractive features; and yet, to play the game up to its highest point of excellence requires as great
a degree of mental ability… as any known game of ball.
From The Game of Baseball
By Henry Chadwick, 1868
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“Every day and every way, we get a little bit better” – Coach McKinney
Table of Contents
1. History of Sports Psychology……………Pg.4
3. Leadership……………………………….Pg. 6,7
4. Motivation……………………………….Pg.- 7,8,9
5. Attributions………………………………Pg.- 9,10
7. Guided Imagery Program/Visualization…Pg.-12,13
9. Pain- Emotional and Physical……………Pg.-15,16,17,18
Introduction/History of Sport Psychology
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Who: Norman Triplett- Indiana University Psychologist
Why: “Triplett began to explore why athletes performed the way they did in certain situations.
These initial studies resulted in the development and growth of the modern sports psychology
industry” http://www.ehow.com/about_5384627_history-sports-psychology.html. Triplett was
particularly interested in why bicyclists performed better while riding with other bicyclists rather
What: Triplett had discovered social facilitation in which different species perform different
behaviors in a particular manner, “It refers to the fact that animals perform a behavior more
intensely or for a longer period of time if others are present. For example, a pet cat will spend
longer at a food bowl if watched attentively. Social facilitation occurs in sport psychology when
athletes perform better in a group situation rather than singly, or when they perform better in
front of an audience”.
Social Facilitation: The phenomenon where performance is altered due to the presence of
another person or other people (Rosenbloom, Shahar, Perlman, Estreich, & Kirzner, 2007). This
can either be a positive or negative effect on performance and can be seen in many situations,
such as when one is nervous in front of a crowd and performs worse than usual, or when
someone runs faster when racing others as opposed to when running alone.
Why is it Important? http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/Social_Facilitation
1. While in competitive situations, performance is often enhanced. As a member of this team,
we will compete every day. On the field and in the classroom!
2. Performance can be attributed to the presence of others
3. Performance can be increased when others are evaluating you. You will be evaluated every
day. We cannot predict your future successes, but we can evaluate you on your performance
today and today only.
4. These findings have led researchers to believe that evaluation apprehension, or concern about
how others are evaluating you, is a driving force behind social facilitation
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Definition: Concentration of the mind on a single object or thought, especially one preferentially
selected from a complex, with a view to limiting or clarifying receptivity by narrowing the range
Concepts - 1. The “Cocktail Party Problem”- describes the ability to focus one's listening
attention on a single talker among a mixture of conversations and background noises, ignoring
other conversations. This effect reveals one of the surprising abilities of our auditory system,
which enables us to talk in a noisy place. The cocktail party phenomenon can occur both when
we are paying attention to one of the sounds around us and when it is invoked by a stimulus
which grabs our attention suddenly. Ex: Someone speaking louder than everyone else or hearing
our name. http://www.cns.nyu.edu/~jhm/mcdermott_CB_cocktail.pdf
2. Inattentional Blindness- Unexpected objects fail to capture attention. Everyone is blind to
certain objects when their attention is diverted to something else.
What causes it? - Our brains scan 30-40 pieces of information per second until something
captures our attention! That information is limitless and occurs with outside “noise” and all the
input coming into our visual and auditory systems. Mental processing occurs without conscious
awareness and when we experience that outside noise/input, we endure overload. Our minds are
not able to fully process all input at once and information stored in memory, or input from our
senses (human perception) is processed by a limited-capacity cognitive system. Our attention
filter picks out pieces of information to process and the rest never reaches our consciousness.
How does it affect athletes? - When an athlete does not focus solely on the task at hand he loses
attention and ultimately concentration. Anything less than complete concentration indicates a
disturbance or distraction. An interference, whether it originates externally or internally, is
irrelevant to what the player is trying to do on the field, and thus it keeps him from playing as
well as he can. It’s common for a player, while preparing to perform or actually performing, to
have several thoughts fighting for center stage, in the spotlight of the mind. The conflict can
therefore create divided attention.
Cues and helpful hints- Internal control is always possible; external control is not.
Concentration comes to the player who will first focus on his inner state and then do whatever is
necessary to control his mental activity. He then is able to be sensitive to attentional cues that
will direct his focus.
1. Focus on the positive, not the negative
2. Focus on the present, not the past
3. Focus on the process/execution, not the result-or winning the approval of others
4. Focus on the target! (Ball, glove, key)
“There’s no doubt that if I make a couple of errors, I lose some of my confidence. And when that
happens, I don’t concentrate as well- until I get control of myself again” – Robin Yount
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Definition- the ability to guide, direct, or influence people and process of social influence in
which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common
Concepts/ Types of Leaders-
1. Institutional Leader- A leader who maintains authority by building up a coherent
group. This leader shows power through his post (teammates and team) and not through himself.
His expectations are extremely high of himself and of others. He may address details of dress
(look like a ball player, act like a ball player, be a ball player), drill (the drills and structure of
games and practice are important to him), and formal discipline (things are done correctly with
detail to discipline and practicing and playing the right way). He is dependable, trustworthy,
thorough, and bases many of his decisions on precedent. There are more leaders of this kind
than of any other.
2. Dominant Leader- A leader who is demanding, powerful, suppressive, and
commanding. He directs his followers using the power and motivation from within himself. He is
assertive and makes critical decisions without thinking. He does not hesitate and moves into
action immediately. Contrary to the institutional leader, followers are attached to him and his
power, not the group as a whole. He is concerned with action and does not ask any man to do
what he wouldn’t do. He seeks responsibilities and shoulders much of that load or burden. He is
often afraid to make mistakes and frequently makes changes to the group. He is domineering and
translates more into a military and warfare type of leader. This type of leadership is not ideal for
a baseball team (a cohesive group) trying to win ball games.
3. Persuasive Leader- A leader who is complex and subtle in his actions. This is a type of
leader who would make an outstanding politician or school administrator. He leads best when the
group or several groups have friendly relations and negotiation and comprise must be handled. A
persuasive leader has a tremendous knack for knowing how people think, feel and act. This may
be his highest quality and often has the ability to respond to subtle hints or cues. He prides
himself in understanding “men”. If this type of leader becomes out of touch with his group, all
power to persuade them is lost.
Source: Bartlett, F.C. (1926). 'The social psychology of leadership', Journal of the National
Institute of Industrial Psychology 3: 18 8-193.
What causes someone to be a great leader? - Persuasive types of leaders are often times
considered born with it. Most often or not, you learn to lead through specialized and technical
skills or of detailed knowledge. It takes time to develop these skills. Sometimes they are
developed through your actions, attitude and a bevy of characteristics that you exude at practice
or during games.
How does it affect teams- When a coach or player does not possess the ability to lead, the group
can be dysfunctional. Having a quality leader that influences, directs and maps out goals for the
team is a real asset. A leader can emerge solely through his actions at practice or on the field and
through his verbal communication from within the group. A leader is someone who arrives first
and leaves last. A leader is someone who completes his job first and then leads a helping hand to
his fellow teammates. A leader is positive, upbeat and a fierce competitor. He ensures that things
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will get done, when there supposed to get done, and how they are supposed to get done. Without
a quality leader, a team can often crumble at the first onset of rough waters. A leader is someone
who guides and directs a team in where they want to go, how they want to go, and what
sacrifices are going to have to be made in order to get there.
Helpful hints- There are many traits that categorize someone being a great leader. Here are 5
hints that may help in developing you as a ball player and member of this team to be a great
1. You must have a vision- Where do you want to go and how to you want to get there.
This starts with setting realistic goals for the team.
2. You must have a passion- You’re the first one to show up and the last one to leave.
You care about the game, your teammates, and winning baseball games. Don’t forget
that it’s fun to win!
3. You must learn to be a great decision maker- What is the process you follow? What is
your epistemic criteria (knowledge based) process in making decisions? Be
committed, thoughtful, and quick but not rash.
4. You must be a team builder- As a leader, it is your job to influence and direct others
to one common goal and for the good of the team.
5. You must have character- Without character, everything is a moot point. This
includes integrity, trustworthiness, commitment to the game and your fellow man,
and an unbelievable amount of competitiveness. As athletes, we never bow down or
give in to our opponents, umpires, or bad weather.
“Perform without fail what you resolve”- Ben Franklin
Definition- From Abraham Maslow’s article “A theory of human motivation”. Motivation states
that “human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower factors need to be
satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied. According to Maslow, there are general types of
needs (physiological, survival, safety, love, and esteem) that must be satisfied before a person
can act unselfishly. He called these needs "deficiency needs." Furthermore, self-actualization is
the quest of reaching one’s full potential as a person. For more information, check out this link.
Concepts- Cognitive dissonance is at the heart of motivation. This concept was introduced by
Leon Festinger in 1956. According to Festinger, “According to cognitive dissonance theory,
there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognitions (i.e., beliefs,
opinions). When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance),
something must change to eliminate the dissonance. In the case of a discrepancy between
attitudes and behavior, it is most likely that the attitude will change to accommodate the
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Two factors affect the strength of the dissonance: the number of dissonant beliefs, and the
importance attached to each belief. There are three ways to eliminate dissonance: (1) reduce the
importance of the dissonant beliefs, (2) add more consonant beliefs that outweigh the dissonant
beliefs, or (3) change the dissonant beliefs so that they are no longer inconsistent.
Dissonance occurs most often in situations where an individual must choose between two
incompatible beliefs or actions. The greatest dissonance is created when the two alternatives are
equally attractive. Furthermore, attitude change is more likely in the direction of less incentive
since this results in lower dissonance. In this respect, dissonance theory is contradictory to most
behavioral theories which would predict greater attitude change with increased incentive (i.e.,
What is the connection between cognitive dissonance and motivation? - The cognitive
dissonance theory proposes that people possess a motivational drive to reduce dissonance or
dissimilar ideas that are held simultaneously. They do this by altering beliefs, actions, and
attitudes. Dissonance is considered unpleasant for many and by reducing it, one can change their
beliefs, attitudes, and actions and more importantly change their motivation.
How does it affect athletes- All athletes are motivated by some factor. It may be an intrinsic
reward such as accomplishment or self-respect. It may external such as social status, attention or
recognition. Whatever it may be, all athletes are motivated by something. When a person holds
two contradicting beliefs, attitudes, or actions at the same time, they experience discomfort and
unpleasant thoughts. Motivation in changing those attitudes, beliefs, and actions help reduce
those dissimilar ideas. For example: If a player is told his life that he is the best player on the
team, he should be starting every game and is the best player at his position that his a belief that
is more than likely engrained into his head. If a coach or scout see him as an average player,
dime a dozen and just an ok player, he will experience cognitive dissonance. The motivation to
change his beliefs, attitudes and actions of his abilities as a ball player will help reduce that
Helpful Hints- This starts by setting goals that are realistic and that only pertain to you. First it
1. Understanding your commitment to the sport
2. Understanding the level you want to reach within the sport
3. Knowing the skills that will have to be acquired and the levels of performance that
will be needed
4. Know where this will fit into your overall life goals
Guidelines to follow:
1. Positive Statement: express your goals positively: ‘To execute this technique
perfectly’ is a much better goal than ‘don’t make this stupid mistake’
2. Be Precise: If you set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that
achievement can be measured, then you know the exact goal to be achieved, and can
take complete satisfaction from having completely achieved it.
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3. Set Priorities: Where you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to
avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to
the most important ones.
4. Write goals down to avoid confusion and give them more force.
5. Keep Operational Goals Small: Keep the goals you are working towards immediately
(i.e. in this season) small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that
you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives
more opportunities for reward. Today’s goals should be derived from larger goals.
Definition-Attributions refer to how individuals explain causes of events, other's behavior, and
their own behavior to themselves.
Concepts/Types- There are two types of attributions that can be made. Internal and External.
When an internal attribution is made, the person believes that the event occurred due to the
individual's personality, attitudes, character or disposition. When an external attribution is made,
the person believes that the even occurred because of the given behavior is assigned to the
situation in which the behavior was seen and that the individual producing the behavior did so
because of the surrounding environment or the social situation. Often times, people who make
external attributions believe that the event occurred by some uncontrollable outside force, fate or
by chance. By explaining the causes of events, people tend to create an understanding that they
take into future situations. To think of it in simpler terms, personal is internal and situational is
external. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attribution_(psychology). Furthermore, there is a common
error that many people over look known as the Fundamental Attribution Error. This occurs when
people often tend to overestimate the extent to which a person's behavior is due to internal,
dispositional factors and to underestimate the role of situational factors. Often times, players do
not take responsibility for their actions on and off the field. They attribute most events to outside
sources, noise, distractions or in many cases peer pressure. For example: If you are at a party
with alcohol and you are underage, you are still guilty of a crime and a minor in possession.
Many kids would attribute to them being there as, “I wasn’t drinking and Johnny made me
come”. It doesn’t matter. Start taking responsibility for your actions and make an internal
attribution instead of an external one.
Causes- The average person continuously or spontaneously makes causal inferences on why the
events occur. Eventually, these inferences become beliefs or expectations that allow the person
to predict and understand the events that they observe and experience. As such, attribution theory
is concerned with how individuals interpret events and how these interpretations relate to their
subsequent behavior. Everyone is victim to make attributions without evidence or knowledge.
There is a big difference between belief and knowledge. A belief is when an individual holds a
proposition or premise to be true with no proof or knowledge being established. Knowledge is
knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association with
proof/evidence. The cause of making a fundamental attribution error is that as observers, we tend
to focus our attention on actors, while the situational causes of the actor's behavior are less
salient and may be unknown.
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How does it affect athletes?- When attributions are made, we tend to overlook internal
(responsibility, accountability) ones. We often attribute our individual poor play to the umpires
being bad or making an error because someone didn’t rake the dirt. When we make these types
of attributions we put blame on others instead of ourselves. This can create team turmoil and be
detrimental to team cohesiveness. These attributions are known as self-serving attributions and
are more explanations for one's own successes that credit internal, dispositional factors and
explanations for one's failures that blame external, situational factors. Do not make excuses and
blame others for your lack of preparedness. “Opportunity meets Preparation. If you are prepared
and the opportunity arises, you will succeed” Coach McKinney.
Helpful Hints and Other Sources-
Figure 1 – Weiner’s original attribution model
LOCUS OF CAUSALITY
STABLE ABILITY TASK DIFFICULTY
UNSTABLE EFFORT LUCK
Figure 2: the attribution process *Importance of Attributions-How to deal with
successes and failures- http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/attribution.html
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“Attitude: Our state of mind as we approach and experience our lives. Each year; each season.
Each day; each game: Each situation; each pitch. Always us; not always the same attitude. But
always within our capability to control it; within our responsibility”- Mental Game of Baseball
Definitions- Self-efficacy- Person’s belief in their own competence or one’s belief in one’s
ability to succeed in specific situations
Concepts- Perceived self-efficacy is defined as people's beliefs about their capabilities to
produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their
lives. Self-efficacy beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave.
Such beliefs produce these diverse effects through four major processes. They include cognitive,
motivational, affective and selection processes. Furthermore, a strong sense of self-efficacy
enhances human accomplishment and personal well-being in many ways. In contrast, people who
doubt their capabilities shy away from difficult tasks which they view as personal threats. They
have low aspirations and weak commitment to the goals they choose to pursue. Read more by
following this source: http://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/BanEncy.html.
How does it affect athletes- Self efficacy in baseball, can be viewed as confidence. Many players
say that confidence will influence their successes and a lack of it, will influence their failures.
The start of confidence building starts with the importance of what we think about ourselves.
Confidence is found inside each of us. As ball players we often times find ourselves not
confident in our abilities during a particular situation, but we can always be confident in
ourselves as people. Remember that!
Sources of Influence, Hints, and Ways to Improve-
1. The most effective way of creating a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery
experiences. Practice, Practice, and Practice some more. Practice makes permanent! It
does not make perfect. It creates habits and hopefully establishes a correct way to do
2. Create and strengthen self-beliefs of efficacy through vicarious experiences provided
by social models. Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises
observers' beliefs that they too possess the capabilities to master comparable activities
required to succeed.
3. Social persuasion is a third way of strengthening people's beliefs that they have what
it takes to succeed. People who are persuaded verbally that they possess the
capabilities to master given activities are likely to mobilize greater effort and sustain
it than if they harbor self-doubts and dwell on personal deficiencies when problems
4. In addition to raising people's beliefs in their capabilities, they structure situations for
them in ways that bring success and avoid placing people in situations prematurely
where they are likely to fail often. They measure success in terms of self-
improvement rather than by triumphs over others.
Additional Sources and Links:
1. Affective Processes: Processes regulating emotional states and elicitation of
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2. Cognitive Processes: Thinking processes involved in the acquisition, organization
and use of information.
3. Motivation: Activation to action. Level of motivation is reflected in choice of
courses of action, and in the intensity and persistence of effort.
4. Perceived Self-Efficacy: People's beliefs about their capabilities to produce effects.
5. Self-Regulation: Exercise of influence over one's own motivation, thought processes,
emotional states and patterns of behavior.
-Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human
behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.],
Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).
-Dorfman, H.A, & Kuehl, K. (2002). The mental game of baseball a guide to peak performance.
Lanham, Maryland: Diamond Communications.
Mental Imagery/Guided Imagery/ Creative Visualization
1. Mental Image: An experience that, on most occasions, significantly resembles the
experience of perceiving some object, event, or scene, but occurs when the relevant object,
event, or scene is not actually present to the senses.
2. Guided affective imagery (GAI): It is a therapeutic technique in which a facilitator
uses descriptive language intended to psychologically benefit mental imagery, often involving
several or all senses, in the mind of the listener.
3. Creative Visualization- Creative visualization (sports visualization) refers to the
practice of seeking to affect the outer world via changing one's thoughts. Creative Visualization
is the basic technique underlying positive thinking and is frequently used by athletes to enhance
Concepts- Guided imagery (GI), a mind-body relaxation technique, is a cognitive, behavioral
technique that allows individuals to exert active control over their focus of attention.
Furthermore, many studies have explored GI and preliminary evidence supports the effectiveness
of GI for managing stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as for lowering blood pressure and
reducing pain. Moreover, there are two different perspectives that an athlete can take when
performing mental imagery, and external or internal perspective. External imagery perspective is
considered as being the person taking the position of an observer, as if watching a film or video
of a past performance. An internal imagery perspective is when athletes view the images as
though they were inside their body and experiencing all those sensations, which we might expect
in a real life situation. Internal imagery
How does it affect athletes and advantages to using a program? – Using a guided imagery
program (GIP) has shown that people that practice visualization tend to show a better mood,
health status and less stress. Furthermore, one of the assumptions underlying the
recommendation made by the researchers above is for athletes to adopt an internal imagery
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perspective was that kinesthetic imagery, the type of imagery that involves experiencing all the
same sensations as when performing the actual movement, could only be experienced through an
internal perspective. A lot of how we teach mechanics is through kinesthetic awareness or
learning. Kinesthetic learning is a learning style in which learning takes place by the student
actually carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or merely watching a
demonstration. It is also referred to as tactile learning. People with a kinesthetic learning style
are also commonly known as do-ers. If you can’t feel it, we can’t fix it. In order to learn, we will
institute kinesthetic learning into our programs. Keeping our kinetic energy and chain through
our deliveries and hitting is a major component of this and ultimately performing better.
Hints and additional sources of information- A minimum of 10 to 15 minutes a day of mental
baseball practice should be a requirement for those who visualize effectively. Here a few
techniques and strategies to help you visualize.
1. Observe everything in and out of your bedroom. See it the way that an architect
would; see it the way a detective would; a foreign visitor. Away from your room
several days later, re-create it. See it, smell it, feel it in detail
2. Invent a vacation spot: a beach, a ranch, a ski mountain. Feel the water, hear the
3. Imagine a paper bag with some “unknown” in it. Pull it out. Discover the item by
focusing on as many senses as possible. Make mental replays of effective
4. Get your baseball self onto the field- Put yourself in the batter’s box, or in the field,
or on the mound. See and feel yourself performing just the way you wish to.
5. If it doesn’t feel right- Fix it! Focus on the part that wasn’t executed the way you’d
like it to be.
6. You’re preparing for success: dedication, determination-imagination. View yourself
“doing your thing”- the physical part of the game that is your strength.
*Establish and set the proper conditions for visualization
1. Find a spot that is private and quiet
2. Be certain you bring yourself to this setting in a relaxed condition: your mind, body
3. Whenever conflicting or intrusive thoughts interfere with the activity, stop visualizing.
“The night before a game, I visualize the pitcher and the pitches I’m going to see the next day. I
hit the ball right on the button and know what it’s going to feel like. I hit the pitches where I
want to. I keep some bats at home. If I want a stronger mental picture, I pick one up and do some
hitting in the living room” –Carl Yastrzemski
Definition- Self- control is the ability to control one's emotions, behavior and desires in order to
obtain some reward later, and is the capacity of efficient management to the future. In
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psychology it is sometimes called self-regulation. Exerting self-control through the executive
functions in decision making is held in some theories to deplete a psychic resource.
Concepts/Causes- Self-control is a central function of the self and an important key to success in
life. The exertion of self-control appears to depend on a limited resource. Just as a muscle gets
tired from exertion, acts of self-control cause short-term impairments (ego depletion) in
subsequent self-control, even on unrelated tasks. Inadequate self-control has been linked to
behavioral and impulse-control problems, including overeating, alcohol and drug abuse, crime
and violence, overspending, sexually impulsive behavior, unwanted pregnancy, and smoking.
The idea that self-control depended on a limited energy resource was suggested by us
(Baumeister et al., 1994) based on our review of multiple research literatures. We observed that
self-control appeared vulnerable to deterioration over time from repeated exertions, resembling a
muscle that gets tired. The implication was that effortful self-regulation depends on a limited
resource that becomes depleted by any acts of self-control, causing subsequent performance even
on other self-control tasks to become worse. Furthermore, Gailliot et al. (2007) explored the role
of glucose, a chemical in the bloodstream that can be converted to neurotransmitters and thus
furnishes fuel for brain activity. Acts of self-control cause reductions in blood-glucose levels,
which in turn predict poor self-control on behavioral tasks. Drinking a glass of lemonade with
sugar helped counteract these effects, presumably by restoring glucose in the blood. Lemonade
mixed with diet sweeteners (no glucose) had no such empowering effect. Therefore, self-control
is a depleted resource (low glucose levels) and is similar to the exertion or fatigue that a muscle
goes through. Great source below!
Current Directions in Psychological Science
Volume 16 Issue 6 Page 351-355, December 2007
To cite this article: Roy F. Baumeister, Kathleen D. Vohs, Dianne M. Tice (2007)
The Strength Model of Self-Control
Current Directions in Psychological Science 16 (6), 351–355.
The Strength Model of Self-Control
• Roy F. Baumeister1, Kathleen D. Vohs2, and Dianne M. Tice1
• 1Florida State University and 2University of Minnesota
How does it affect athletes? - Self- control is directly related to the pressure an individual may
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Good Pressure: When an individual is in a competitive, yet non-judgmental and non-
prejudicial environment, the individual may want to be like those around them. An
individual may become motivated and inspired and gain self-control.
Bad Pressure: When an individual is in a judgmental and prejudicial environment and
there is competition, an individual may become depressed and unmotivated, losing self-
No Pressure: When an individual is free and there is no competition, and can do what
one may feel, self-control is based on how an individual may feel. Since there are no
other individuals to compare, an individual may be less motivated or more motivated
depending on the urgency of whatever they are doing.
During the course of the season a player will be put in tough, demanding, and critical situations
where you will either maintain self-control or lose it. Most of what you will encounter will be
either good pressure or bad pressure. How you react to that pressure will ultimately determine
your self-control and willpower. Throwing your bat and helmet and exuding a lack of self-
control can ultimately be what costs you playing time or even worse, being thrown out of the
Helpful Hints and ways to improve your Self-Control-
1. Global Processing- Focus on the big picture and our specific actions as just one part
of a major plan or purpose.
2. Abstract Reasoning- Avoid considering the specific details of the situation at hand in
favor of thinking about how actions fit into an overall framework - being
philosophical. Someone trying to add more self-control to their exercise regime might
try to think less about the details of the exercise, and instead focus on an abstract
vision of the ideal physical self, or how exercise provides a time to re-connect mind
3. High-Level Categorization- Think about high-level concepts rather than specific
Pain- Physical and Emotional
Definition- For the purposes of this manual, we will focus mainly on physical pain. However,
understand there is a distinct connection between physical and emotional pain.
1. Physical Pain- An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or
potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. Pain motivates us to
withdraw from potentially damaging situations, protect a damaged body part while it
heals, and avoid those situations in the future. It is a major symptom in many medical
conditions, and can significantly interfere with a person's quality of life and general
functioning. Psychological factors such as social support, hypnotic suggestion,
excitement in sport or war and distraction can significantly modulate pain's intensity or
2. Emotional Pain- Psychological pain, also called sometimes psychalgia, is any mental, or
mind, or non-physical suffering. Emotional pain is a particular kind of psychological
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pain, more closely related to emotions. In the fields of social psychology and personality
psychology, the term social pain is used to denote emotional pain caused by harm or
threat to social connection; bereavement, embarrassment, shame and hurt feelings are
subtypes of social pain. Another kind of psychological pain that is commonly found is
spiritual or soul pain.
Concepts- Recent research in neuroscience suggests that physical pain and psychological pain
may share some underlying neurological mechanisms. Physical and social pains share much the
same neural circuitry. In many ways, in fact, your brain may scarcely make a distinction between
a verbal and physical insult. The dual role of the brain's pain network offers a powerful example
of the connection between body and mind, and may help explain how emotional distress can
make us sick and human kindness sustains us in health. Physical pain obviously serves a
purpose: It's uncomfortable and distressing, but it's a signal that something's wrong, that we need
to take action to fix it," says UCLA psychologist Naomi Eisenberger. "I think we can say the
same about social pain: It motivates us to reconnect socially and avoid social rejection in the
future. A common neural alarm system for physical and social pain," was published in 2004 and
has spawned a welter of research exploring the bonds that tie social pain and physical pain
together. Trajectory of hurt feelings in the wake of a social insult looks very much like the body's
response to physical injury: Initially, a surge of stress hormones is released, readying the body to
flee or stand and fight. During this phase, the injured often report feeling numb and, despite
broken bones or a shattered skull, can walk and talk. After this surge of energy dissipates, the
sensation of pain generally sets in. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/04/health/la-he-mood-
How does it affect athletes? - Pain affects training and athletic performance. But pain is also an
important sign that must be paid attention to. It gives you feedback on how your body is
currently working and warns you that things are not going well. Pain can cause you to alter your
stride and result in other injuries. The biomechanical changes that you make as a result of pain
can cause more pain, stress fracture, strains, and other injuries far away from the site of the
original problem. When something hurts, pay attention. Find out why it is hurting and what you
should do to make the pain stop. Remember, pain is not normal. Your feet, legs, back, arms and
any other part should not be hurting and interfering with your sports activity. This is a warning.
If you want to succeed you will have to make changes, see your doctor, and find out why it hurts,
what to do and stop the pain so you can safely continue your sport. To do otherwise is to risk
serious injury and a long time interruption of your sports activity.
Causes- Overuse is the cause of most sports injuries seen in a clinical practice. Make sure you
read and pay attention to the online article on how to "Stay Out Of The Doctor's Office" and
avoid the terrible "toos". Too much, too soon, too often, too fast, and too little attention paid to
pain. Pain can be due to any kind of injury or trauma. Pain can be due to degenerative and
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inflammatory disorders. Pain can be caused by peripheral or central nervous system damage or
injury. Pain may occur with other symptoms depending on the underlying disease, disorder or
How to cope with chronic pain- Chronic pain is a serious problem but is often made worse by
misinformation, negative attitudes and beliefs, outdated ideas, negative emotions. It is
recognized that chronic pain is often mismanaged, not because we lack adequate treatments, but
because of fear and ignorance. These steps are designed to help you mentally cope with chronic
pain in the best way possible.
1. Make sure you understand what kind of a problem pain really is- Chronic pain is
different to other medical problems, which can often be treated relatively easily and
successfully. Chronic pain is a complex illness, caused and maintained by a
combination of physical, psychological and neurological factors.
2. Acceptance- Chronic pain is so awful that sometimes it's easier to escape into wishing
it had never happened, or hoping for a miracle cure. If persistent, these common
reactions to pain can actually become a bit of a trap. You need to face the reality of
what's happened, and find constructive ways of dealing with it.
3. Take Control- Maybe you didn't cause the pain, and maybe you aren't happy with
some aspects of your treatment, but guess what? - Life isn't fair. Blaming others for
your problems, however well-justified, turns you into a victim and is like giving away
control of your life.
4. Have a good working relationship with your doctor- An open and trusting relationship
with your doctor is essential. This means being able to tell your doctor how you feel,
ask questions and feel listened to and understood.
5. Never ignore pain- In the treatment of chronic pain it has become fashionable to
recommend ignoring pain (after medical investigations are complete) in the belief that
it is only pain and there is nothing physically wrong.
6. Have a balanced approach to physical activity- It can be tempting to adopt a "do
nothing" approach, in the hope that you may avoid further pain. As we have
indicated, since chronic pain is partly caused by neurological changes, avoiding
activity will not stop the pain. Avoiding activity also leads to muscle wasting and a
build-up of waste-products in the tissues, which can actually exacerbate pain.
7. 7. Sleep- Loss of sleep caused by inadequately managed pain can lead to a cycle of
fatigue, depression and irritability. Inability to sleep, or waking up feeling tired, are
signs that your pain is not being managed properly. Developing a restful sleep pattern
is essential to coping with chronic pain. Improving your sleep will give you more
energy and help you feel more able to cope.
8. Make sure you have adequate support- Many chronic pain sufferers become isolated,
alienated from loved ones, their work-mates and society. Inadequate social or
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emotional support can lead to isolation, depression, and increased risk of suicide.
People who normally pride themselves on being independent and not needing others
are particularly 'at risk'.
9. Don't expect people who don't have pain to understand what it's like- It's frustrating,
and easy to get angry when others don't seem to understand. However, because
chronic pain sufferers often have no visible injury, it is easy for family and friends,
and especially children, to forget there is anything wrong. They may also 'forget'
because it is hard for them to have to live with the knowledge that a loved one is in
10. Forgive yourself- The lost ability to work, love and play caused by chronic pain can
create feelings of guilt and failure. Become aware of your own expectations and any
feelings of shame or guilt and examine them critically. Chances are you didn't ask to
be in pain. http://www.overcomingpain.com/10steps.html
Confidence/Self Confidence/Over Confidence
Definition- Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis
or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Self-
confidence is having confidence in oneself. Overconfidence or presumptuousness is excessive
belief in someone (or something) succeeding, without any regard for failure. Confidence can be a
self-fulfilling prophecy as those without it may fail or not try because they lack it and those with
it may succeed because they have it rather than because of an innate ability. A self-fulfilling
prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms
of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.
Concepts- The Dunning-Kruger effect addresses the concerns with being overconfident. This
effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous
conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive (knowing about knowing)
ability to appreciate their mistakes. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority,
rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled
underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. Actual competence may weaken
self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent
understanding. Kruger and Dunning state that, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from
an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error
about others. We often tend to think we are better than we actually are when we are unskilled.
Skilled people tend to underestimate their abilities and both show a prominent error that we often
make. Below is a link to the original research performed by Dunning and Kruger.
Kruger, Justin; David Dunning (1999). "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in
Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments". Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology 77 (6): 1121–34. doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1681. PMID
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Causes of a loss of lack of confidence- The beliefs we hold have a fundamental effect on
whether we have a high level of self-confidence or we gradually experience a loss of confidence.
Often when a person lacks confidence it is due to the fact that they hold one or more of the
1. Believing you have no control over the way you feel
2. Believing that your life is controlled by events in the world around you. Making an
external attribution for your misfortune or lack of performance
3. Believing that the way you see yourself is correct, when in fact it is not. Self-perception
may be different for everyone and may be completely different of other’s perception of
4. Believing that you are inferior in some way to other people. Overconfidence and
underestimated others abilities
5. Believing that you must do everything as near perfectly as possible. Baseball is a game of
failure. Learn to deal with it!
6. Believing that failure reflects on you as an individual. We win as a team, we lose as a
7. Believing that your emotional security depends on a particular place or person
8. Believing that because you have failed before, you will fail again. Internal Attribution
How does it affect athletes performance?- Whether for individual purposes or material gain, for
recognition or personal satisfaction, the young person driven to be a baseball player has as his
most powerful purpose the desire to be an outstanding performer- a great player. Behind that
drive lies the attitude players say will most influence their success: confidence. The lack of it,
they say, most influences their failures. Failure is a statistical probability in the game of baseball
and a player needs to face the possibility, at least. He can’t be afraid to fail. Confidence is gained
by the timid and fearful. A player must find the courage to face them and perform them with
strength and aggressiveness, despite that ever-present possibility of failure. For information look
on page 11 about Self-Efficacy.
Helpful Hints- These achievements are the “building blocks” for confidence. The building
1. Self-evaluation- What fundamentals do I have to learn, develop, or improve?
2. Goals- Fundamental converted to functional goals
3. Preparation- Conscientious, positive, effective work at the task/activity
4. Persistence- The continued commitment to achieving until confidence results
“You can’t last in any sport without being confident. Even if you’re not the best, you’ve got to be
confident that you’re better than the other guy… Ninety percent (of pitching) is mental. This is a
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game played with confidence because this game is played with your head. Most people have
physical ability to play this game. To excel in it, I think it’s in your head” –Ron Darling