Phillies face tough mental game - Philadelphia News

Philadelphia, Pa. - October 21, 2008

Jen Croneberger is the CEO of Excellence Training Camps. She's also a certified mental game coaching professional. She helps athletes overcome mental obstacles and get in the zone. "Sports is over 50-percent in your head," she said.

And as the Phillies head to the world series, their confidence will play a huge role in how they perform. Phillies pitcher Brad Lidge knows it.

"Attitude is one thing that's very important," he said, adding,"expecting that you're going to in and win is something the guys in this team believe and you have to have that attitude going in there."

And along with a winning attitude, Croneberger said players need to continue what they've been doing all post-season… playing one game at a time. "If you get too comfortable with, you have a tendency to let your guard down and as an athlete you can never do that," she said.

Outfielder Shane Victorino said they plan to "take it one game at a time, starting Wednesday."

But as the games get bigger, the pressure mounts. Fans and Players have expectations and for star players like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and game one starter Cole Hamels, it can be especially difficult to live up to them. "They take a little more of the expectations and I think sometimes they press a little bit harder than anybody else and sometimes that's a negative," Croneberger said.

So to counteract the pressure, she said players will need to stick to their routines. Many have rituals such as adjusting their batting gloves before batting or taking a deep breath before pitching. The physical regimen also cues the mind to a get ready.

But because baseball is a game of errors, there will be a mistakes. Afterall, the Phillies are human. But Croneberger said how they've handled mistakes so far this season by shaking them off shows they have the mental strength to continue to win games. "It's not so much that you made the mistake, it's what you do right after that second that's what counts."

And by all accounts the Phillies say they're ready to play their best and hoping for the best in the World Series. "People need something to be proud of and why not a championship," Jimmy Rollins said.

As for if the Rays have an advantage because they are a younger team, Croneberger said their lack of experience in high-stakes games help the Phillies. More-experienced teams and players will be able to better control their emotions.

Both teams could experience "over-motivation." Croneberger said if an athlete wants the win too bad, it can lead to anxiety and fear of failure which can negatively affect performance. Striking a balance will be key to winning the series.

For more information about Excellence Training Camps, Inc.

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