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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sports Psychology, The New York Yankees, And The Emotional Impact of Walk Off Wins

By Jay Granat

Walk off wins like this can have a profound impact on a team's success for several reasons.

The New York Yankees now have twelve walk off wins this season. This amounts to a walk off win in almost one of every ten games they have played thus far in the 2009 baseball schedule.

First, the walk off win signals to the team, the coaches, the opponents and the fans that their team is confident and resilient. They believe in themselves and they are unlikely to give up in a close game. You can never count this kind of team out of a game.

Second, it tells you that the pitching, the coaching and the defense are keeping the team in a lot of games. Staying close in games and winning close games is a mark of a championship baseball squad.

Third, walk off wins show that the team can win in its home ball park. Winning at home tells you that there is good chemistry between the fans and the team. This is certainly the case with The New York Yankees right now. The city has once again embraced this squad, despite some controversy which existed earlier in the season.

Fourth, the walk off win acts as a natural team builder. The celebration at home plate helps the players to feel connected to one another and allows these highly paid professionals to feel like playful kids once again.

This kind of win is fun for the players and for the fans. The enthusiasm that they feel and demonstrate at the end of the win carries the team into the next game with a great deal of camaraderie, enthusiasm, confidence and joy. These are great emotions to have when you are competing on a constant basis.

Fifth, this kind of dramatic victory can damage the confidence of the losing team which may have felt that they played well and had the game won, until the dramatic comeback unfolded in the last inning.

In my view, these walk off wins will help to propel the Yankee franchise to a victory in this year's world championship. The team is playing great ball and they seem to be gaining more and more momentum as the season draws to an end.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and the founder of He has written several books and developed several programs to help people perform to their fullest potential at sports, at work and at school. Dr. Granat, a former university professor, has appeared in The New York Times, Good Morning America, AP, ESPN, Golf Digest, The BBC and The CBC. He can be reached at His books include Zone Tennis and Get Into The Zone In Just One Minute. He is also the author of How To Get Into The Zone With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, How To Lower Your Golf Score With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, 101 Ways To Break Out Of A Hitting Slump and Bed Time Stories For Young Athletes. Golf Digest named Dr. Granat one of America's Top Ten Mental Gurus. He was recently featured in a documentary film on long distance running. Dr. Granat writes a weekly column for three newspapers.

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