How to Manage Big Game Nerves

How do the pros handle and overcome those big-game butterflies? 

Any athlete in any sport at any level has experienced what nerves can do to our minds and body during intense competition. To feel nervous is normal, but it’s how we respond that will make us stand out. Coming through in the clutch in October can raise a ball player’s legacy from good to hall of fame worthy. Think Derek Jeter — five World Series Rings including a three peat from 1998-2000 and countless moments that are etched in our memories forever.

Jeter was at his best under the bright lights of October. Following the lead of Mr. Jeter (even though I’m a Mets fan!) l’ll go over a few tips on how to come through in the clutch.

1. Have a Plan

I can hear my father now — “If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.” This is a philosophy that is true not only in baseball or sports, but in life. Anticipate your course of action during your at bats or innings on the hill and make them as simple as possible. If you’re slated to get 3-4 at bats in the big game, think about cutting the plate in half, and owning your half. I was a dead pull hitter, so with anything less then two strikes, I would look dead red low and inside for something to deposit a long way away.

2. Visualize Success

The night before, the day of, or on the on deck circle, see yourself succeeding. Picture yourself getting into a hanging curveball and scorching an RBI double in the gap. Adjust to the pitcher. If he’s gotten you out your first two AB’s, change your game plan and literally picture what that 1-0 change up on the outside corner looks like coming out of the pitchers hand and hammer it.

3. Embrace the Butterflies

The feeling we get when we are nervous and anticipating a big game is a natural survival instinct that dates back to the days when mankind was still hunting for food and living in caves! Scientifically, our senses and reactions are geared to fire at their peak levels when this feeling is present. Think of a case of the butterflies as a great thing. You will swing harder, run faster and even think and react more efficiently…if you’re able to keep your emotions in check.

So have a plan, visualize your success and remember that nature is on your side.


Coach Kevin is the founder of ProHitting.Com and a former draft pick of the Cincinatti Reds. Also check out coach Kevin on Instagram @baseballpowerhouse for more tips!


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