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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Baseball Coaching Strategies - How to Win a National Championship

By Dr Tom Hanson

"The essence of the game of baseball is SELF-ESTEEM vs. FEAR."
Augie Garrido, head coach of 2005 Baseball National Champion Texas University

My pen was flying across my notebook last January when Garrido was spilling the beans on the secrets to his success to a couple thousand coaches at the American Baseball Coaches National Convention.


That's what it all boils down to for Garrido. He's won national titles before and is one of the winningest coaches in Division I baseball history.

I first met Garrido when Ken Ravizza and I were writing Heads-Up Baseball back in '94 and I've admired him ever since. Extremely bright guy, deeply into the mental game. Now here he was talking to the convention about "How to Win a National Championship" and he only addressed the two main elements: the mental game and recruiting!.

So, let's get Lesson One out of the way: Recruit great players.

I'll focus on what he spent virtually his entire hour on: the mental game.

"The essence of the game is self-esteem vs. fear because baseball is a game that brings out fears," he said.

So the goal of the coach is to build self-esteem and reduce fear. How do you do that?

"Number 1 is your relationship with your players," he said.

Only when you have a trusting, respectful relationship will the players really buy in to what you are saying, and only then will they share information with you that you need to help them perform.

Next, "Remove all thoughts of winning the game - make sure it is not on your mind. Focus on the performance. On each pitch. On one pitch at a time."

Each player should have a pre-game and pre-pitch routine he follows, one that is carefully developed based on some key fundamental principles. This helps reduce fear because fear is about the future, about outcomes, about winning. "Your goal is to free them of pressure: eliminate expectations, support failures. "In fact, encourage failure."

Finally, his basic message to his players is: "Go out and play like you are 12 years old and know you are the baddest player in the state of Texas"

"Baddest" in this context of course means "best" (a wide range of aged people read my articles, so I thought I'd point that out...")

Why 12 years old? He didn't say. But I have a few ideas. Why do you think he said 12?

Ultimately he wanted his players freed up (no fear), focused, and trusting their talents. He had some more jewels on how to do this I may write about later, but I don't want to dilute his message on what I've already mentioned.

So whether you are a coach, a parent or a player, think in terms of "How can I build self-esteem and reduce fear?"

Dr. Tom Hanson helps players, coaches and parents have more fun, perform great, and develop life success skills. Past clients include the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, and many other pro and college teams and individuals. He co-authored the baseball classic "Heads-Up Baseball" and gives away his #1 secret to baseball success at

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick