The Psychology of Baseball: Inside the Mental Game of the Major League Player

The Psychology of Baseball: Inside the Mental Game of the Major League Player

by Mike Stadler
     
 

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Get inside the minds of the stars of the diamond in this extraordinary tour of brain power, psyche, and sheer will.

Yogi Berra once said, "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical." Even so, the Yankee great may have underestimated the brain power professional baseball players routinely draw on to perform such astounding feats of athleticism

Overview

Get inside the minds of the stars of the diamond in this extraordinary tour of brain power, psyche, and sheer will.

Yogi Berra once said, "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical." Even so, the Yankee great may have underestimated the brain power professional baseball players routinely draw on to perform such astounding feats of athleticism as hitting 98-mph fastballs and diving to catch line drives. In The Psychology of Baseball, Mike Stadler goes beneath the surface of the game to explore the psychology behind the actions of the game’s greats--and breaks down legendary moments from baseball history, such as Willie Mays’s full-sprint over-the-shoulder grab in the 1954 World Series.

Stadler begins with the mind’s role in the game’s basic skills, explaining the anticipatory thinking that can make a hitter see a "rising fastball," the complex muscular coordination required to throw a major league heater, and the intense spatial calculations the brain must perform in a split second in order for a fielder to catch a struck ball. Stadler then discusses the hidden nature of streaks and slumps, explaining why a "hot" hitter is most likely just getting lucky and why there’s no such thing as a clutch hitter, and also looks at the psychological basis of the so-called "sophomore slump" and the effect that a big-money contract has on a player’s performance. He also examines the personality types that are best suited to baseball, and explains what traits are most associated with success at the highest levels.

A revolutionary new look at America’s pastime that will appeal to the many fans of bestsellers like Moneyball and Three Nights in August, The Psychology of Baseball is a must-read book for the serious baseball fan.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Psychology promises access to the deepest recesses of the human mind, but once we get there, they strongly resemble neural synapses. Baseball at least lends itself to discussions of psychology, as it is the national sport that depends least on sheer strength or speed and most on hand-eye coordination, and its leisurely pace elevates nerve over adrenaline. The yawning chasm separating Tony Gwynn and Mario Mendoza (the latter famous for not hitting well) seems to reside more than usually inside the cranium. University of Missouri psychology professor Stadler splits his book evenly between the neurology of performance and the more workaday issues of pressure that fans ponder. The sections on hitting a pitch and tracking a fly ball, with their emphasis on optics and motor reflexes, are more successful than the chapter on pitching, as it may be more difficult to reduce the act of "painting the black" (i.e., putting a hard pitch exactly in the right place) to a mechanistic feedback loop. The book picks up interest when Stadler turns to the true mysteries of baseball: the storied streaks and slumps, its dismaying chokes, that ineffable X factor that makes this draft pick an All-Star and that one a dud. Showing a pleasing tendency to avoid cant and received conclusions, Stadler deftly marshals a wide variety of evidence to arrive at some canny conclusions. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Baseball has had plenty of skilled psychologists among its managers, none of whom likely studied the science of skills acquisition or cognitive distortions. Yet they were successful. Would they have been more so if they'd had this book? Certainly, they would have understood better the "science" of hitting, catching, and throwing and the infinite variations of results even when replicating the same basic actions. Here are near blindfolded workouts (for developing outfield assurance) and the way to parse home field advantage. Recommended.


—Bob Cottrell, Margaret Heilbrun, Paul Kaplan, Gilles Renaud Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440623257
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/05/2007
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
923 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Mike Stadler is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Missouri, where his career in cognitive psychology has given him unique insight into his passion for baseball. His research on consciousness, implicit learning, and memory has been published in leading professional journals and he has earned grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the McDonnell-Pew Foundation.

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