3 Keys to Building Mental Toughness on the Baseball Field

The underdog is often times one of the most exciting parts of sporting events to this day. We all want to root for the guy or girl who is not the favorite because as human beings we are wired to love the upset. Each one of us has an inner dog within us that comes out in the most drastic of times. When our backs against the wall, how are you going to respond?

Ray McIntire has battled the uphill battle that all underdogs must face to get to where they want to be. As an 18-year-old kid, Ray was told that he was number 36 out of 35 baseball players at the University of Nevada, Reno. Shocked with his back against the wall, his future was over. All his hopes of becoming a college baseball player, winning a national championship, and suiting up as a member of the Wolfpack were shattered.

“Coach Powers called me into his office and told me ya know Ray, you battled your butt off all fall but I’m sorry to tell you that you’re the 36th guy on our list.” Ray was stunned when he was informed by Hall of Fame Coach Gary Powers that he did not make the team. Most guys would have quit. They would have thrown in the towel, waved the white flag, and surrendered to adversity as the common athlete would. But Ray is different. He looked at this as an opportunity to work on his craft. Ray worked his tail off to come back the next year and make the team.

“That coaching staff gave me a shot and I’ll forever be grateful for that.”

One year after being told he wasn’t good enough to play division 1 baseball Ray McIntire was informed that he indeed had made the team and will be competing for a starting spot. The underdog rose to the occasion and stared adversity in its face, conquering the moment.

This displays incredible perseverance. The ability to come back after being told you are not good enough defines mental toughness. Ray’s work ethic is incredible as I was able to witness this for 4 years; 2 as a player and 2 as a coach. To say he is a “gym rat” is an understatement. This guy lived and died at the field and put every ounce of energy into achieving his dreams, hopes of playing collegiate baseball.

Mental toughness is something we preach at Major League University because we believe it’s what separates the average from the good and the good from the great. So let’s dive into a little bit about what we mean by “mental toughness.”


Control The Controllables

Controlling the controllables is a frequently used term in the athletic world. Coaches and peak performance experts often say to their athletes “control the controllables!”

But what does this actually mean?

Controlling what you can control, such as your emotions, body language, work ethic, and response to success and failure.

Are you the guy who sits in the corner of the dugout after you make an error or are you the guy always on the dugout rail supporting your teammates? These are easy actions to control.

Each day we have a new opportunity to contribute to our team. Don’t be mistaken; helping the team doesn’t always come from a grand slam home run. We can help our team win games by being a good teammate, making a play in the field, or driving in a big run late in the game.



Our attitude ultimately determines how we perform on and off the field, not vice versa. But often athletes allow their attitude to impact their performance on the field. We always have control over our attitude.

We dictate our attitude, not the other way around.

Carrying a positive attitude not only looks good in the coach’s eyes but in the eyes of your teammates. Understand that only you are in control of your attitude when you show up to the field. Leave yesterday in the past, and do not worry about the future. Stay in the present moment, be where your feet are, and make the most out of the day in front of you!


Be a Good Teammate

“Building a culture isn’t an overnight thing,” Ray McIntire said in our previous podcast.

What does he mean by this?

Culture is an interesting subject because it ties into being a good teammate. As a team, we want to focus our attention on the common goal: winning a championship. In order to win a championship, we must do the little things on a day-to-day basis that are going to help get us to that point.

Just like culture is not an overnight deal, neither is winning a championship.

Championship teams begin the process of competing from the very beginning of fall ball. We have the opportunity every single day to push the guys next to us to become better than they were the previous day. This is something to take pride in because being a good teammate is not a hard thing to do if we put our focus on the team aspect. The more you help the guys around you, the better the culture will be, resulting in more success for everyone!

All good teams have great people in the organization. Look at the New England Patriots. They have a solid foundation and a game plan that sticks to their strengths. As ballplayers, we should understand what makes us GREAT and how we can help the team win a ball game.

Mental toughness is not an overnight deal, just like culture is not an overnight success. But if we focus on what we can do on a daily basis to make the team better, we will ultimately be rewarded with more success personally and collectively!

Check out the full podcast episode below with University of San Diego’s assistant coach Ray McIntire. Be sure to subscribe, like, and share with your friends so we can bring you more amazing wisdom from the best in the game!


Byler Bombs – The Dog Within


Austin Byler
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Austin Byler

Major League University at majorleagueuniversity.com
Major League University is an online baseball training platform focusing on the mental and physical sides of the game. Our mission is to help athletes develop the mental and physical tools necessary to become the best ballplayer they can be!
Austin Byler
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