Introduction

A certain level of stress is needed for peak performance in sports. If one is functioning with too little stress, one might find the task at hand too unmotivating; however, excessive stress proves damaging to one's performance as well, provoking feelings of anxiety, and self-doubt. Also, stress in large quantities can inhibit motor control and judgement, and consume energy that could be better devoted to maintaining composure and technique ("www.rvermey/stresscn.html" 1-2). One sports psychologist, James E. Loehr, claims that, in fact, "at least 50 percent of the process of playing well is the result of mental and psychological factors" (Fixx 36). Therefore, every athlete must know certain techniques to stay calm and focused during times when stress levels may rise. Baseball, which involves performing the hardest task in all of sports (hitting the ball), is said to be approximately ninety percent mental. On any given day, a player, batting a measly .236, could hit a 98-mile per hour slider, from a pitcher with a 1.47 earned run average, 410 feet into the right field bleachers. Unlike any other action, hitting a baseball demands full concentration mentally and physically. However, only a select few players can perform under this desirable circumstance, and these players are generally the most consistent, and consequently the most productive. But, how can one achieve consistency in stress management? Several methods may be employed, but sports psychologists alike seem to refer to the same, presumably effective methods: controlled breathing, meditation, visualization, and relaxation music. All of which can be applied prior to one's at bat.