Chengalis: Bakich Remaking Michigan Baseball

Submitted by Raoul on February 14th, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Interesting article from Angelique Chengelis—Erik Bakich remakes Michigan baseball with mental training, community presence—in advance of Michigan baseball's first game tomorrow.

"The reason we do perspective posters and visit the hospitals is so these guys have a true appreciation for how fortunate they are," Bakich said. "But also with baseball, you build up these bottom-of-the-ninth, game-winning situations like they're life and death. When we actually go visit people who really have struggled with life and death, you understand we're playing a kid's game. We can actually perform better knowing it's not really a life-or-death situation. It's about execution and we'll make the opponent make it life or death."

. . .

Bakich has enlisted the help of Brian Cain, a mental conditioning coach who has worked with several college baseball programs. Cain's purpose is to give players tools to understand the mental aspects of baseball.

"They've learned how to implement routines and use breathing and visualization and self-talk to not only help them maintain their confidence, but be able to focus on one pitch at a time," Bakich said. "Brian has been great for routine implementation and getting these guys to stick to the process."

And part of that process is, very simply, having the players work on their breathing, whether he's a pitcher, hitter, or playing defense.

The players also have been taught to recognize "signal lights," when game situations are getting tight and players begin to talk to themselves negatively. Every player, Bakich said, has a release, whether it's kicking dirt, taking his helmet off or adjusting his batting glove. Next, the player finds his personal focal point, whether it's the left-field foul pole or a spot on the bat, for example, and he then returns to positive thinking.

And here's the official Michigan baseball preview video:

UPDATE: Michael O'Neill was named to 50-man preseason watch list for the Golden Spikes Award



February 14th, 2013 at 4:12 PM ^

Angelique is the only writer in the market who has proven, time and again, that she can be trusted not to hurt the school.  I am guessing that is why the Athletic Department seems to give her a tiny bit more access than other writers.

Section 1

February 14th, 2013 at 7:11 PM ^

Good call.  Well said.

I expect that we might both agree, that Larry Lage, the Detroit stringer for the Associated Press, also rates along with the lovely and talented Angelique.  But he is not a Michigan beat reporter. 

Angelique is second to none.  We are lucky for her being on our job.

Mr. Yost

February 15th, 2013 at 9:33 AM ^

I think it's about being fair and balanced and not making up news or spinning news for website hits or reads.

She never does that. Sure she'll do her fluff "feel-good" pieces. But it's not like she didn't write about Stonum or Fitz when they had their troubles.

My issue with other beat writers is that they make up their own news or twist the information.

I come to you for NEWS. Period. I want to know what happened because I wasn't there. Just give me the NEWS, plain and simple. AC is the best at doing just this. Whether positive or negative. She doesn't have to add bias or opinion in it like the Freep.


February 14th, 2013 at 6:34 PM ^

I hope all the touchy feely self help guru stuff helps them hit a curve ball. It sounds all fine and well, but it's yet to be seen if it results in a Big Ten 'ship


February 14th, 2013 at 7:02 PM ^

I'd be wrong too, of course. One of the things some young people lack due to nothing more than being  young is perspective. A program like this advances their life experience and gives them just a bit of perspective, among other things. 

Remember, Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.


February 15th, 2013 at 10:41 AM ^

Great read. Very interesting strategy. Hope it works. Bakich has impressed the hell out of me all along. Hopefully the on field results will support that.