If we really want to maximize every opportunity as a hitter it’s important to keep things simple. We need to have a process at the plate that’s going to allow us to be present, repeat our mechanics, and learn from the results we produce. Regardless if we’re hitting off a tee, live batting practice or facing a pitcher in a game there are 4 simple steps that you can perform to get the most out of each practice session or maximize your performance in a game.
Set your Intention
The first thing I like to do is set an intention for the at-bat. An intention is just a fancy name for a goal. But unlike a goal it’s flexible in that it’s open to the possibility of something even better happening. For example: you may have the goal of moving the runner from second to third but instead of simply giving yourself up by hitting a 16 hopper to second you leave yourself open to the possibility of driving him in with a ball in the gap. So before we set our intention we must ask ourselves a few questions… What is the situation? What result am I trying to produce in this at-bat?
Once you have the answers to these questions you can ask yourself the most important question… How can I put myself in the best position to produce that result? Your intention for your at-bat can’t be producing a particular result but rather must be focused on the step or steps you must take to produce that result. It can be something physical like getting your front foot down early or something approached based like getting a good pitch to hit in the location that’s going to allow you produce the result your desire to produce.
After we set our intention it’s important that we then focus on our breathing and bring our awareness back to the present moment. You see, by staying rigidly focused on that intention and trying to “make it happen” you cause yourself to become tense which decreases the likelihood that you produce the result you desire. By becoming present you are essentially releasing your attachment to the desired outcome allowing yourself be to more relaxed and as a result more precise in the execution of your mechanics. The best way to do this is by becoming aware of your breathing. Simply control and listen to yourself breathe, slowly in and out through your nose.
Focus on Execution
When the time comes to swing the bat focus on executing proper mechanics at a quality pitch. Those are really the only two things you can control anyway. Focusing on anything else leads to mental and muscular tension created by fear. Fear of NOT creating your desired outcome. That tension leads to mechanical breakdown decreasing the likelihood of you performing to your full capacity.
Evaluate and Adjust
Now it’s time to evaluate how you did and form you’re new intention for the next pitch. Ask yourself… How’d I do? What adjustments do I need to make for the next pitch? Remember to keep your answers process oriented. Were you able to execute? What adjustment needs to made mentally or physically so you can execute your swing? Whatever the answers are use that information to then become your intention for the following pitch.
So there you have it. 4 steps to hitting success. If you take this approach and consciously use these steps on each swing in practice or on each pitch in a game I bet you’ll see tremendous growth in yourself as a hitter. Remember… Play hard, Be Present, and Have Fun!!!