​Hannah Thurley - Philadelphia Phillies Mental Skills Coach

Power Posing and Self Talk: The Actual Steps A Player Must Take to Calm the Nerves And Play Their Best

Hannah is the Mental Skills Coach for the Philadelphia Phillies and has previously worked with the Pittsburgh Pirates and also played D1 softball at University of Tennessee Chattanooga.


Amy Cuddy TedX talk on Power Pose

Summary and Action Plan below


Hannah has faced all of these stressful situations a ballplayer has so can personally relate to most problems.

Confidence: “Stay confident” is perfect advice but terrible instruction!

Confidence is so tricky because it comes and goes with the wind.

Have you ever had a game where you felt confident but you then played poorly...and have you ever not felt confident and ended up playing well. Of course. So *feeling* confident or not confident doesn’t necessarily dictate your outcome. Know that you can still play well if you aren’t feeling your best instead of “oh boy I don’t feel good today is going to be rough!”

Just because you feel a certain way doesn’t mean you have to perform that way.

Amy Cuddy: Fake it till you make it...fake it till you become it!

What does a confidnet player look like, how does he stand, how does he walk. Start to emulate those acttions physically and you will message your brain and body to feel more confident.

Don’t have confidence in your physical ability, but have confidence in your ability to bounce back.

HOW to be confident when you don’t feel confident: Everyone is different, some need to be hyped and loud to play at best, others need to be quiet.

Powerposing: Taking up space, broaden yourself, stand taller, put your arms up has actually proved to increase testosterone and decrease cortisol (stress). Before any performance “get big” and have a self talk statement (you can do it, you are ready)

This works in all fascets of life: school, work, life.

Self talk is the most powerful tool we have and we are “crushing” ourselves relentlessly.

Platinum Rule: Treat yourself like you would treat a teammate

It’s ok to be mad and hold yourself to a high standard, that is what successful people do, but don’t berrate yourself when something goes poorly.

It’s ok to be mad, but can only be mad for a certain amount of time.

You’ve got until the time you make an out to the time you get out to your position on D to be frustrated...then you are done - ready to play.

Your brain messages your body and if you say “I suck I suck I suck” you will mesage your body to play poorly.

A couple of deep breaths will help reset.

You can’t always control the stimulus (making an out) but you can control your response. The best do.

Stimulus, reaction, response (what you control and will determine your long term success)

If you aren’t mad that you failed its ok, it just means you don’t care. It’s ok to be mad about it, not just stew on it.Winning all of the time isn’t really the goal, that’s not fun. The challenges are what make this game so satisfying.

Mental skills must be practiced. Often clients come to Hannah once and think “OK got it!” but it’s just like any other baseball skill you need repetition.

Mental skills are curls for your brain but you have to keep doing it or else you will resort to old habits - and if old habits cause you to feel anxioius then you will be fail.

This should be introduced off the field but you have to practice these methods on the diamond during practice.

What you practice is what will come out during a game, so if in practice you always use a breath before stepping into the box that is what you will do in a game.

Proper breath: inhale through nose into the belly (not chest)

When you focus on the body movements during breath it brings you into present moment and not “hope i get a hit, I struck out last time” which is past or future.

Must remember that nerves are normal - your heart rate should be up. You should be a little nervous.

You are going to have butterflies in the stomach you just want to make sure your butterflies are flying in the same direction.

The more you message your body to be the person you want to be the better your performance will be.


Create a self talk routine.  When you're in the on deck circle say positive things to yourself, "I've got this.  I'm ready.  I'm excited.  This is fun.  I'm prepared."  This will literally change the way the brain processes the emotion...changing what may be perceived as a negative emotion to a positive one.  Do this EVERY time you're on deck or about to hit.

Next, power pose.  Get big, take up space.  Puff your chest out, don't cross your arms.  Stand there like *The Man* for a few seconds.  This will increase the testosterone in the body and lower cortisol (stress hormone).  It sounds corny but the science is there....you literally get a shot of increased physical strength and confidence when you stand taller and wider.  

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