Body Language and Performance

Baseball is game of constant failure. One of the hardest things in baseball is how to teach an athlete to keep his body language stout and confident even in the deepest slumps. Below is a great article written by Brian Hamm of Baseball Toolshed on how body language can affect your performance.

Does body language affect your performance?

By, 

on April 26, 2016

Is there anything worse than bad body language? It’s one of the biggest signs of weakness, defeat, and surrender. If there’s a sure-tell sign that you have an opponent that’s surrendered, it’s their body language. Yet bad body language is everywhere!!! If you walk into a grocery store with the sole purpose of discovering who was having a good or bad day, you would be able to do so without any words being exchanged. Suzy is in the fruit section shaking her head at the lack of “quality” watermelons. Ed is in the meat section moping about the size of the meat packages. And Roscoe waves his hands in the air when he sees the last Digiorno’s 3-meat pizza has been taken.

But in my experience, the ultimate stage to bad body language is on a baseball field. Never do you see more shrugged shoulders, heads down, and palms to the sky than during a baseball game.

Why is that?

Well, it’s a game of failure as so many baseball experts have said in the past. And when we fail, we get upset. And when we get upset, our body language shows it. And when our body language shows it, you just lost a HUGE advantage. One that will soon be exposed by the true harshness of the game. Your opponent will bring you to your knees begging you to surrender.

We live in a soft generation. One in which players are accustomed to feeling sorry for themselves. One in which players refuse to take responsibility for their own failures. And what do we see in return? An awful lot of bad body language and poor performance.

Let me break it to you right now. If you play this game long enough, you will strike out again. You will make another error. You will have another umpire make a bad call that costs you a hit. You will line out to the shortstop dozens of more times. You will get yelled at by a coach. IT WILL HAPPEN.

How do you respond?

Do you crawl into your shell like a turtle and wait for the chaos to subside? Or do you embrace the challenge and welcome more.

Do you tuck your tail between your legs? Or keep your head up and move forward.

One is advantageous to your success; the other is detrimental to it.

Yet few players truly understand this. Few players truly understand the affect of their response to a certain outcome. Few players even know how bad their body language is after a negative outcome.

If you took a video of the way a particular player walked back to the dugout after a home run, and compared it side by side with a video of them walking to the dugout after a strikeout, they would have a hard time recognizing themselves.

It would be night and day!

Now I’m not saying you should have the same good feeling after a strikeout that you do after a home run, but are you really going to carry yourself in such a negative way? A way that will no doubt carry over to the next inning or at-bat? A way that will negatively affect your TEAM!?

A few years ago, a friend and I used to joke about the terrible body language of Brandon Belt, the first baseman for the San Francisco Giants. We’d be watching the game and as soon as Belt would strikeout or make an error, we would text each other the following response:

“Woeeeeeeeeee is Brandon”

“Poor Brandon”

The camera would capture him after he did something negative and his body language looked like it could be turned into a meme with those captions.

More times than not, this would lead to more and more bad at-bats for Belt throughout the course of the game. It was no doubt affecting his performance, and allowing the other team/pitcher to feed off this negative body language.

I doubt Belt knew how bad his body language was at the time, but he has since cleaned it up, leading me to believe someone mentioned it to him.

On the other end of the spectrum is another Giants teammate, Hunter Pence. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Pence carry himself in a negative way. Granted, he’s not nearly as excited after a strikeout as he is on a home run. But he still walks back to the dugout with good pace. His head is up, often glancing back at the pitcher with a slight smirk. Almost as if he’s telling the pitcher “you got lucky, wait until next time.”

The difference is enormous.

Many psychologists have said that it’s much easier to change the way you feel by acting a certain way, than it is to induce positive feelings out of thin air. So carrying yourself in a positive way even after negative outcomes will allow you to feel positive. Needless to say, feeling positive is directly correlated to confidence and performance.

If you want to be the best baseball player you can be, you need to learn to deal with failure. And learning to deal with failure by demonstrating positive body language is a major component that affects more than you think.

Take notice of your body language. Are you exhibiting body language that will bring success? Or more failure?

This is entirely in your control.

Stand tall, head up, chin up, shoulders back, smile, and keep on playing!

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