Master Thesis

An Investigation of Mental Approach: Methods used by NCAA Division I Baseball Coaches for Producing Peak Performance

Abstract

Seven NCAA Divison I Head Baseball Coaches were interviewed from the West Coast and Pac 10 Conferences in an effort to expand the existing knowledge base of Coaching Effectiveness.  Effective coaching techniques involve the application of principles from both sport and psychological sciences to produce high performance athletes.  The ‘art’ and psychology of effective coaching has been studied in expert coaches in many sports but this study represents one of the only studies that examined expert baseball coaches. More importantly this is the first research to attempt to elicit the knowledge of multiple high-level baseball coaches regarding a mental approach to the sport.  Results from the study support the literature on coaching effectiveness emphasizing the subjective nature of coaching.  It was found that seven high-level coaches were knowledgeable about the concept of a mental approach and offered numerous principles and practical exercises for instating and fostering a mental approach for their athletes.  For instance, all coaches regarded mental training as essential for success in collegiate baseball.  More specifically, the participants cited the importance of being able to utilize visualization, set specific goals, establish routines, play the game one pitch at a time, and have emotional control.  Also the results indicate that while the coaches’ ideas regarding a mental approach were similar, the ways in which they spoke about these approaches were quite different.  The findings support the highly subjective and individual nature of coaching approaches that is described in the empirical research literature.  Upon completing the project I decided to take some time away from the sport of baseball, coaching and teaching.  A sabbatical of sorts led me on a separate path of spiritual inquisition, art and travel.

Baseball players stretching out on the baseball field

You can reference the entire MA Thesis here