Same team, same position and opposite ends of the spectrum. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are like night and day. Cain’s on top of his game, just achieving the 22nd no-hitter in baseball history and  a 1st time no-hitter for the San Francisco Giants. Lincecum’s struggling with 2-7 record and wondering why his 94mph pitches are getting hit.

How could two pitchers for the same team be at odds? Well, when you strip it all down it’s not about the mechanics of pitching. Cain and Lincecum possess what it takes to be top of the line pitchers. What Cain has, that Lincecum wants, is a winning mindset.

Pitching a no-hitter requires powerful focus, strong confidence and the ability to stay in the moment. Letting the possibility of what he was about to do, throwing a no-hitter, would have interfered with the job at hand. It is impossible to pitch well and wonder if you are going to strike out each batter up.

Lincecum knows what it’s like to possess laser focus. His record proves he’s more than capable. He’s just lost confidence at the moment. The harder he tries to get it back, the longer he will remain in his slump. “I’m just looking for that break where I’m trusting myself out there 100 percent of the time,” Lincecum said, “giving myself the benefit of the doubt 100 percent of the time and knowing that I’m out there for a reason.”

Here’s the 5 steps for Lincecum’s pitching mojo to return:

Re-focus: When a backslide in performance sets in then focus shifts from what’s possible to avoiding another upset. At this point, Lincecum is pitching to avoid a loss. Avoidance eats up a lot of energy. Unfortunately, focusing on the problem just prolongs the very thing he is attempting to avoid.

Re-Assess for strengths: Our minds so easily grasp the problems. My bet if I were to talk with Lincecum is that he is spending 80% of his time focusing on what’s not going well and possibly 20% on his strengths. To break free of his slump requires a 180 degree turnaround. If I were working with him, we’d work from a strengths based approach to rebuild his confidence.

Return to basics: When a slump sets, athletes wonder what’s wrong with their technique. This begins the sequence of change. Technique, equipment, stance become open to scrutiny. It’s impossible to discover the problem when too many pieces are in motion. Testing is the name of the game. Return to the basics for the foundation, then reconstruct one piece at a time from there.

Relax: Ever notice how negativity tightens up your body? Pitching, like most sports performance, requires relaxed muscles. His mind is running interference preventing his body from doing it’s job. He’s trained countless hours pitching and could probably pitch it exceptionally well even with closed eyes.

Reconnect: The recent past is a testament to what Lincecum is capable of doing. I applaud Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner, Giants coaches, for bringing out old video of Lincecum’s prime pitching against Atlanta in the 2010 Division Series opener.  Too really optimize it’s effectiveness requires he believe it’s possible again. The “yes, but’s” which could easily surface would counteract the benefit of this exercise.

Even Lincecum realizes confidence is the key to turning it all around. Matt Cain might be the boost necessary for Lincecum to reclaim his pitching mojo. There’s nothing better than a little healthy competition to motivate an athlete.

Cain is continuing to absorb the reality of his no-hitter perfect game last week. How did it occur? He was relaxed, confident and focused. There’s a system for zone performance, particularly on the pitching mound.

Bottom line is for Lincecum to retake command of the pitcher’s mound. It is his office, where his greatest work has been done. He admits his confidence is interfering with his performance. Trying to struggle through it on his own is not the best solution when the clock is ticking.

Let’s face it, if it was a pitching matter he would seek out his pitching coach. This is a mindset matter. He needs to seek out the best person to help him turn it around, a sports performance coach. It’s not necessary to struggle through on your own anymore, Lincecum. Let’s talk so your fast ball is winning games once again.

Challenge: When I talk with clients about the weaknesses, I receive a long laundry list for improvement. Asking to list strengths, however, seems to take more thought. Today’s challenge is simple, but takes focus to execute.

List your strengths. Find at least 10 strong points about your athletic performance. If you can list more than 10, even better. When you practice this week, I want you to focus only on the positives. Become aware of what’s going well, where you excel and your successes. Give the majority of your attention to the performance highlights. You’ll have to disregard the negatives, just acknowledge them and let them slide by. This week dedicate to celebrating the successes.  Any successes share with the community.

Post a comment of what went well. Share your achievements. Allow yourself to brag right here. You’re bragging will inspire others. So post your success. Share the joys of high performance.