Improving the mental game in baseball

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 9:09 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - If you ask players in the Reno Aces clubhouse, they’ll tell you there isn’t much of a talent gap between the AAA level and the major leagues. It’s how mentally strong someone is that is the difference.

“These guys are good at what they do but they want to be better and that’s where we come in,” said Sydney Masters, an Arizona Diamondbacks mental performance coach. “For us we stick to what can we do to get even better than where you are right now.”

Masters is one of three mental performance coaches for the D-backs. She comes to Reno a few times a year to work with the guys.

“Anywhere from talking about sensitive information in life to just hanging out with the guys and getting to know them from a personal level.”

A mental performance coach isn’t a traditional therapist, or someone who primarily focuses on helping players with struggles in their personal lives. Instead, she helps them gain confidence, validates the positive attributes about their game, and reinforces good habits. That can lead to more consistency with performance.

“Be focused in the moment. Attention is such an important thing for these guys. If we’re not paying attention to the right thing at the right time then we won’t put the best product out on the field that we possibly can.”

The way a pitching or hitting coach can help tweak a physical part of someone’s game, Masters is there to help flush a bad at-bat, or a rough performance on the mound so that the negativity and doubt doesn’t carry over into the next AB or outing.