Noted college player, coach, and sports psychologist Chrissy Rapp give helpful advice on dealing with players that fear the ball and struggle with ADD
Casey Bass: Today on ClubHouse Gas, we are going to explore a couple of topics that have been kind of hot spots on the message boards. The first being, how to work with your kids, if they are scared to the ball. If you have got a kid, get them to batter's box, if he is scared of the baseball, scared of getting hit. A girl on the Fastpitch Softball, she is scared of getting hit. What can you do to get into their head, and help them get over that fear? And then secondly, what if you have two or three or four A.D.Ds, a really A.D.D kids on your team? In today's day and age it seems like wherever you go, you get some A.D.D kids, like me. Having to get to pay attention and practice, we have got a young lady who specializes in sports psychology. She's worked with several, even collegian athletes and collegian teams on some of these specific issues. And she is going to join us today, her name is Crissy Rapp, and she is going to explore these topics with us. This could be quite interesting, so stay tuned to ClubHouse Gas. We are fortunate enough to be joined by Crissy Rapp. Crissy, thank you for joining us. Crissy Rapp: Thank you for having me. Casey Bass: Now, your specialty, is sports psychology, and you work a lot with kids and you worked at Georgia Southern university, with the softball team, and some football players. Crissy Rapp: Right. Casey Bass: What we want to talk about first off, is some drills that coaches can go over with their kids, or even parents can do with their children who are players, who might be having some issues would say, being afraid of the ball, that seems to be at a younger age, something that's very difficult for kids to get over their fear of getting hit by a pitch. Crissy Rapp: Right. Casey Bass: What are some things that parents or coaches can do with their kids to help their child or their player overcome their fear of getting hit by a pitch? Crissy Rapp: And the big thing that comes to mind, when I hear of issues such as this, and it could be from college players in addition to youth athletes, beginner players, is the use of imaginary. And when I say imaginary, it's pretty simple, it's really just imagining yourself doing the task that you want to do successfully. So if you have this kid who is working on confidently, having no fear and going up there and hitting the ball, then you just ask them, what did I want to happen first of all? What is your ideal situation? Well, I get up there and I hit a good pitch and I get on base, pretty simple. Well, you just keep referring to that situation with them, have them get very familiar with it, what does it feel like, what does it sound like, what are the emotions in your body, you make it as realistic as possible, and then just have them continuously or regularly have that image in their mind. So instead of putting their energy into only being worried, and seeing themselves getting hit. Instead, put that energy on the situation that you really want to occur. And the neat thing about it is that, the mind doesn't differentiate between an imagined or an envisioned image and reality. The same way that if you are starting to fall asleep, and you imagine something and your body reacts. It's the same situation. Your body thinks it's really happening. So if you can get as many positive mental reps as you can, then you are more likely to just gain confidence. In addition, it also actually gives some muscle memory. Imaginary is really being looked at as far as cancer therapy and different things like that, just the power of the mind and connection with the body. So imaginary -- I mean that was a complex situation of the cancer, but even on the simplest level of going up there and having a good at batter -- a ground ball or catching, a pop-up in the out field without getting hit. Imaginary is a tool that coaches can easily work on with kids, coaches, parents, and they can likely see some success with that. Casey Bass: Well, take me through -- let's imagine that I am afraid of the ball. Crissy Rapp: Okay. Casey Bass: I am no longer afraid of the ball. But at one point, I am sure, that I was afraid of getting hit by a pitch. Now, I am only afraid of leprechauns and spiders. Crissy Rapp: Okay. Casey Bass: You want me to imagine my favorite player? Crissy Rapp: Right. Casey Bass: So, we'll say, Dale Murphy is my favorite player, which happens to be true. I am imagining Dale Murphy hit the baseball. Now I'll do, I get a bat and stand in a box, or I do it sitting on the couch out, take me through what you would do as my coach with me. Crissy Rapp: First of all, I would ask you, what does he look like when he is up there? How is his body language? What does Dale Murphy look like to you? Casey Bass: He looks confident. Crissy Rapp: Okay. Casey Bass: He looks like he knows what he is doing, and he is confident, and he is comfortable. Crissy Rapp: Okay. I would take that situation and I would ask you to see yourself that way. See yourself holding your bat in your uniform with your cleats on, make it very specific to you, ask you to tell me the different emotions that you feel, really make it realistic, and then just imagine yourself seeing a ball coming in and hitting it. Casey Bass: I'll close my eyes? Crissy Rapp: Yeah, close your eyes, you don't really need the bat, we can do it sitting here on the couch, just seeing yourself go through. Whenever you have a couple of minutes in a day. The big thing is that consistency that needs to kick in. So you need to try to work this may be once a day, 5 minutes. You know, if you are going to practice, drive into practice. So if you are coming back from practice that you put that attention into those mental reps that I talked about. Just to see yourself having a positive outcome, because at these level, it's not going to happen every time. You are going to have those days, where you can walk away and only see the negatives. But the key is to get those positive images and see them as much as possible to foster that confidence that we want, that will carry into later years. Casey Bass: Than once the child learns how to do it, they can -- when they have 5 minutes on the bus, or they're riding home from school, they are sitting at lunch, or whatever, they can sit there and do it themselves. Crissy Rapp: Exactly, exactly and it makes you feel good. It makes you feel good especially when you are having ups and downs, trial and error, getting hit by a pitch every now and then, so -- Casey Bass: Let's talk about one more thing before we go. For us on the message boards, one of the big things we are seeing is problems that coaches were having with kids you are A.D.D, and they are having a hard time keeping their attention, and we hear a lot of coaches, they have three or four or five kids on their team. But they just can't keep their attention. Is there something the coaches can do, some exercises they can do, or may be some techniques to keep those kids' attention, and get the most they can get out of those players. Crissy Rapp: One major technique that can be implemented with A.D.D kids as well, as just your general athlete, is the implementation of performance routines. Which means that you are systematically and purposely doing a couple of things between each play, because in any sport, between 80%-90% of the time you are not even really engaging, but you are thinking, you are reacting, you are planning. So that's a lot of time for your mind to wander, especially with youth kids and with coaches trying to instruct, get you in the right place, there's a lot of downtime. And if each kid has a checklist for his or her position, then they can go through A, B, C and it kinds of helps them with that downtime to refocus for the next pitch, or the next shot, or the next serve in Tennis, whatever it might be, and it kind of gives them something, again, to focus their energy on, instead of mom and dad in the stands or the bug that's crawling by their feet. So it helps them say, there is a short stop in a simple three letter system, now we use a CPT. And what it stands for is, Control Plan and Trust. With the first step being control. You can only control yourself. So you make sure that you are calm and your gloves are on, you are ready to go, and then plan being run through your head what the situation is. So if I'm playing short stop, and there's a runner on first, my plan is, okay, grounder, I am going to second, maybe if I bobble it, go to first, simple. Casey Bass: Right. Crissy Rapp: And then you just trust, is the last step to where you get out of the mental focus, and you just focus on the pitch. So you trust and you just let all of your thinking go, and then you just trust yourself to deal with what's happening in front of you. So it's simple, it could be modified for different players, for different sports. But it gives them some accountability, and kind of a little ritual you got to run through, instead of just being surprised when there's a hit, when it's coming at them. Casey Bass: Alright, well Crissy, thank you so much. We really appreciate you joining us. If you've got any question, you want to discuss these topics, or may be, you have even tried some of these techniques with your team, and want to talk about how successful or even unsuccessful they have been. Go to our message board, start to post, we'll reply to one. That's what you are going to do for us today. We'll see you right back here tomorrow, on the ClubHouse Gas.