Everyone wants more confidence right? It’s probably the most common thing I hear as a mental skills coach. The problem is that while being confident is a much better mental state then being unconfident it still falls short of peak performance. Why? Glad you asked… Continue reading
One of the most difficult things as a hitter is to accept when things aren’t going our way. Unfortunately for us that is usually most of the time. As you’ve probably learned by now hitting is difficult to say the least. If you fail 70% of the time you’re considered one of the game’s elite. So how do we stay mentally focused on the present moment and put ourselves in the best position to succeed to that we don’t waste pitches or at-bats? Continue reading
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!!!
Growing up there were 3 men that had a major impact on my life and who I have become as a man. Of course my Father and Grandfather are at the top of this list but surprisingly a man I never met isn’t far behind. I became a Tony Gwynn fan pretty early in life. I don’t really remember exactly when and I don’t really know how it came about. As probably the only Padre fan in Orange County, Ca I’m sure it was because he was the best player on my favorite team. I had no idea the impact he would eventually have on my life.
Probably one of the most powerful tools I discovered didn’t occur to me until the very end of my playing career. Not really having mentors, so to speak, my career was very trial and error. It was me spending time alone trying to figure out how I was going to maximize my abilities as an athlete. As such many of the Aha moments that I had didn’t come until the very end of my career or in many cases came years after my career ended. What I didn’t realize was how the work I was putting in was going to have such a profound influence on my daily life.
My last season as a baseball player came in the Texas town of Laredo. I was there, playing in a brand new league, for a brand new team, at probably the lowest level of professional baseball. For me however, it didn’t matter. I was as excited as I would have been if I had been playing in Yankee Stadium.
Ugh! Situational Hitting!!! It’s the one aspect of hitting that most coaches work on more than anything and I have to say it destroys swings like you wouldn’t believe. Now don’t get me wrong I completely understand that winning teams are able to successfully hit and execute in the different situations that present themselves. Unfortunately, more often than not, it causes athletes to alter their mechanics, change their focus at the plate, and ultimately develop inconsistencies in performance.
Yesterday I was reading an article about a minor league player who I’m familiar with. This player had an outstanding amateur career at both the high school and college level and was able to parlay that success into becoming a first round draft pick. Unfortunately, he hasn’t as of yet lived up to the expectations that people anticipated when he was coming out of college. Even though his work ethic and level of commitment to his craft is second to none he still hasn’t been able to shed some of the early season struggles that seem to some what derail his seasons.
In the article he was being asked about his slow starts to which he replied, “I just try to go out to the field every day and stay positive.” Immediately I thought and posted on my Facebook page, “It’s not about being positive, it’s about being present.”