The Mental Pregame Workout: Improve Your Performance Using Your Brain

The act of mental visualization is one of the most underutilized tools in the field of performance psychology. Not utilizing visualization and the mental pregame on a daily basis, is basically short changing your success on and off the field!

Before I go on to explain the 3 Keys of of a Mental Pregame are and how it can benefit you, I need to let you in on a little secret….

Any single solitary person can apply and develop this skill. It can be used by athletes, business people, or even those that are looking to better prepare for their day in general.

I will explain to you in my own knowledge how you can utilize these three key concepts to improve your game. First, you will have to read this article to understand the idea of how to go about the pregame. When you’re finished and understand the concepts, close your eyes and give it a go!


Key #1 Visualize in the First Person – Details, Details, Details

You’re on the mound staring 60 feet 6 inches down at your catcher’s mitt, you feel the cool breeze against your jersey as the crowd and teammates quiet down. You receive the sign and prepare the pitch, wind up and you deliver the pitch to the glove as the batter swings and misses! STRIKEEEEEEE!!!!


I want you to visualize this in your own mind with as much detail as possible.

Don’t worry if you get distracted or are unable to really focus as detailed as you may have wanted. Each time you use the mental pregame try to incorporate more and more detail each time. For example: the weather forecast for the day, what the field looks like, the opponents team jersey, the green grass beneath you on the mound.


Key #2 Emotion & Confidence – Feel How You Want To Feel

The mental video you play needs to capture the emotional experience you want to have.

Through visualization you have the ability to create an alternative reality and reality involves emotions and feelings. The goal is to feel and experience confidence in your mental pregame, visualize how you will perform and how you want to feel when you get there on game day.

You may already be asking yourself, “why the heck am I doing this.” But if you got up to this point there’s a reason why you kept reading on, because you want an edge and you want to improve your game for yourself (that’s the real first step).

When you visualize the actual situation, you will be in during any point in time, and how you will feel during it, you are preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for what is to come. When this happens the frontal cortex of your brain has basically “seen the future” before you actually did with your eyes. Your brain is now subconsciously ‘priming’ itself to better handle your emotions and confidence level.

When you are more prepared for a situation, you improve your ability to react positively during game time.


Structured practice is all well and good- anyone can go on the mound and throw 50 pitches without any repercussions for miss pitches or hits. But if you’re a good player, basic practice is often little more than exercise. You want to simulate game conditions, put yourself in that mental frame of mind like when you are competing. Having this extra piece added to your practice can help you exponentially over time when added to your repertoire.


Key #3 Visualize in Real Time

Watch your mental pregame in real speed – the speed you want your performance to be. The key is to visualize the most important & specific moments of the game you may encounter, not in generalities.

For pitchers, it may be making that first strike to start the count, making that strikeout on a 3-2 count when the pressure is all on them or maybe pitching to the toughest player on the team.

Feel and see the speed of the game, the speed of the pitch, the speed of the swing. This will aid in making your mental picture more realistic.


Key Points to Improve Your Mental Game

Key points to take away from why you should incorporate a mental pregame as part of your routine:

  • When you are more prepared for a situation, you improve your ability to react positively during game time.
  • It can improve your confidence because in your ‘’mind’s eye’’ you have been here before.
  • Taking that extra step in your practice, over time, when utilized the correct way can exponentially improve your mental focus and performance.


Michael Macchiarulo
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Michael Macchiarulo

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Dr. Michael Macchiarulo is a Physical Therapist from Queens, NY. He has worked with all athletes from youth to the professional level to enhance their performance on and off the field. Currently, he practices at ProMet Physical Therapy in Middle Village, NY.
Michael Macchiarulo
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