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Tag: hitting (Page 1 of 2)

Handling Slumps in Baseball

The dreaded hitting slump is something every baseball player wants to avoid. When the hits stop falling in it can bring a lot of frustration and added pressure.

As I’ve mentioned previously, one of my favorite mental coaches is Dr. Patrick Cohn of Peak Sports Performance. Dr. Cohn is a sports psychologist out of Orlando Florida.

He’s always preaching about mental preparation – as well as the techniques athletes can use to grasp it to improve performance…and handling a slump is right in his wheelhouse.

He sent out an e-mail blast recently that I’ve posted below regarding slumps in baseball – and how to best get through them.

Peterson’s Example

Here’s a portion of his piece, with a great example from Joc Peterson, the Chicago Cubs’ outfielder:

Chicago Cubs left fielder Joc Pederson utilized a mental cue to break out of his early season slump in 2021. Pederson had one of the best pre-seasons in the Major Leagues, hitting .372, 11 extra base hits and 7 homeruns in 17 games for the Cubs.

Unfortunately, Pederson started the regular season with a bit of a slump going 0-15 at the plate in his first few games. Pederson ended his little slump by hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

After the homerun, Pederson was awarded a waffle maker in the dugout by teammate Ian Happ. After the game, Pederson explained the meaning of the waffle maker.

PEDERSON: “We haven’t really been getting too many hits as a team. So I texted him and a couple of (other teammates) last night. He said, ‘Yeah, I’m bringing the waffle maker.’ You know, going to waffle some balls. It was pretty funny.”

The mental cue of a “waffle maker” kept Pederson focused in the present on what he wanted to do, “waffle some balls,” and not on the slump itself.

Cause and Effect

What is the main cause of slumps? Per Cohn, if a player was to look back at their past slumps or performance ruts, they would probably identify the inability to focus as the primary cause of staying stuck.

Yet, when most ballplayers are in the middle of a slump, they look for a physical or mechanical solution. Many players will take additional batting practice, work with their hitting coach, change up their mechanics, and even switch bats trying to get back on track.

Cohn states: “When you ruminate and replay strikeouts, failure to move runners, missed opportunities to drive in runs, and difficulty making contact with the ball, strong negative emotions arise and battle for your attention.

When you pay attention to all the distractions during an at-bat, your body tenses up and throws off your timing.

Breaking out of a slump requires you to change your thinking or what you focus on. For example, a mental cue is a verbal or visual reminder to narrow your focus on what you want to happen”

More from Dr. Cohn

You can find more from Dr. Cohn here:

Peak Performance Sports, LLC
Mental Training for a Competitive Edge
888-742-7225

https://www.baseballmentalgame.com/
https://www.peaksports.com

The Mental Side | 4 Keys to Success in the Batter’s Box

Instead of measuring success by how many hits you have (or don’t) in a particular game…how about having achievable, repeatable objectives (call them “attainable goals”)?  This will absolutely help your consistency and keep your emotions in check.

More importantly, you will be a much better teammate and competitor.  The object of the game is a team win, right?

Tying your self-worth as a player to getting hits is a guaranteed ticket to an emotional roller-coaster, and in the end, it’s counter-productive to getting the results you want.

Big shout out to  DOUG BERNIER for much of this content – go here, for the full version….

Attainable Goal #1 – Situational awareness

Being aware of the situation has multiple benefits. In addition to being a mentally stabilizing attainable goal, it also increases the likelihood of having a quality at-bat!

Step 1 – Study the Pitcher

From the dugout you should be watching and studying the pitcher – check for tendencies and track pitches in counts.

Step 2 – Be Situationally Aware

Remember, baseball is actually a team sport. Take a look on the bases and know the outs, is there a situation that needs executing?

Attainable Goal #2 – Aggressive vs Passive Mentality

Once we are ready to hit in the batter’s box, our goal is to find a way to be 100% confident and ready to do damage all the way until the ball is either hit or caught by the catcher. This 3-5 second period should have no doubt, worry, or fear, penetrate its walls.

Step 1 – Identify Who You Are

To make this a truly attainable goal, you need to identify which way your thoughts are leaning.

In between pitches or at-bats take a deep breath and either continue with the aggressive attacking mentality, or realize you are a little passive or defensive and regroup and give yourself assertive and confident self talk.

Step 2 – Make the Adjustment

There is no one way to get your mentality where it needs to be. Find a way that works best for you, to get your mind right when you get into the batters box.

It’s important to remember that nobody can tell themselves to stop thinking something. The thought has to actually be replaced by a new thought.

Attainable Goal #3 – Choose your velocity

By trying to be ready for both fastball (FB) and off-speed (OS) pitches, a hitter will often find his timing isn’t great for either one. The hitter ends up being somewhere in the middle – too slow for the FB and too early for the OS.

Looking hard velocity or softer velocity can simplify an approach that will still allow you to be able to hit the pitches in that group.

With 2 strikes, all bets are off, of course.  Just battle and put the ball in play – and if you see a mistake, crush it!

Attainable goal #4 – Shrink the zone

Home plate is 7 baseballs wide. But if we are looking at the strike zone I would say its closer to 8 baseballs wide and lets say 10 baseballs tall.

If we are looking to hit every strike in that 8 x 10 box we are not going to be very successful.

There are high percentage strikes we should swing at (more likely to get good results) and there are low percentage strikes that if we swing at will usually result in weak contact and/or an out.

We need to shrink up our hitting zone until we get to 2 strikes. I like to think of making my own 3 x 3 box within the strike zone. I place this imaginary zone where I most want to hit the baseball.

In Conclusion

Having a plan isn’t guaranteed to give you the results you are looking for every time. However, taking your best swing on the pitch and location you wanted will result in better at-bats and better overall production.

And you can best help your team win that way!

Trust in the process which will clear our mind and that will allow you to take your “A” swing on more pitches in the zone that you want to hit.

Great Christmas Gifts for the Baseball Minded

Paul Petricca’s Hitting With Torque

This is a fantastic read – not only from the physical adjustments that must be made, but to the mental side, as well. Get in your ready hitting position early, players!

Paul is the hitting coach at Wheaton College in Chicago, and I know him pretty well. He works with both softball and baseball players to maximize their power from the ground up.

Ken Ravizza and Tom Hanson’s Heads-Up Baseball 2.0

Two of my favorite and “go-to” mental guys in the baseball world are Dr. Ken Ravizza and Tom Hanson.  I’ve mentioned them before – and I’d highly recommend that you read their book and take it to heart.

Steve Springer’s Quality At-Bats “Mental Side” CD

Steve Springer is the former mental hitting instructor for the Toronto Blue Jays and one of the best instructors out there.  I’d invite you to visit Quality At-Bats site to find out more about him. His “Mental Side” CDs are fantastic and can really help a player learn how to find the right mental state prior to competition.

Jeff Passan’s The Arm

For three years, Jeff Passan, the lead baseball columnist for Yahoo Sports, has traveled the world to better understand the mechanics of the arm and its place in the sport’s past, present, and future.

Totally worth the read for parents and players

Zepp Baseball Swing Analyzer

The Zepp product helps players by giving information on everything imaginable From hand speed to the amount of time it takes to make an impact, this device provides a wide variety of data. It can even help by pairing to the camera on your phone or tablet to create HD videos that players can use. Hitters can compare their videos to the 3D models that the tracker makes.

This device can create custom training programs to help the hitter figure out what they need to do to improve.

A Great Hitting Lesson – An Analysis

Two of my favorite and “go-to” mental guys in the baseball world are Dr. Ken Ravizza and Tom Hanson. I’ve mentioned them before – and I’d highly recommend that you read their book, Heads-Up Baseball 2.0.

I’ve worked with Ken for 30 years…he’s made me a better teacher of the mental game and helped me help players become better at being what I call ‘present moment guys’ – Joe Maddon

You can also go here to learn more about them and their other content.

Their latest article has to do with a great hitting lesson that they were a part of – and here’s the link to the complete post. I’d invite you to check it out in full.

The Anatomy of a Great Hitting Lesson

Here are a few key highlights:

Yesterday I, witnessed what I considered to be an outstanding hitting lesson.  I’ll take a few moments now to explain what made it so powerful.  The bottom line:  The player came in feeling frustrated, a bit lost, and out of sync with himself.  He left feeling excited, renewed, re-connected with what makes him good, and highly confident.

Before the first swing was taken, the coach took the time to connect and listen to the player. “What’s been going on?”  “How have you been feeling?” “WHAT have you been feeling?”  Questions like that… and then he took the time to hear the player’s responses, and ask follow up questions.

This put the player at ease, made him feel respected, and gave the coach essential information. The dialogue made it less likely that the coach would pile additional thoughts on top of what the player was already thinking.

Here’s the secret sauce to the whole thing: The player likes, respects, and trusts the coach. Contributors to this are all of the elements listed above that address how the coach relates to the player, plus the coach is a “learner” who is open-minded and always looking to get better (as opposed to a “knower” who has all the answers.

“It’s the relationship, stupid” is a worthy mantra for coaching.  Not a buddy, like “lets catch a movie after the lesson,” but a respectful, adult-to-adult relationship.  As Joe Maddon said: “With a great relationships, anything is possible.  With poor relationships, almost nothing is.”

2018 Hitting Resolutions

One of my all-time favorite hitting instructors, Paul Petricca, has come up with a fantastic blog post for 2018.  It’s his “Hitting Resolutions” and I highly recommend that players read through them.

Notice that a fair amount of these “resolutions” are mental, yet they require concentration and practice, just like the physical skills of hitting.

Paul’s 2018 Resolutions – Make Them Yours

From controlling the batters box, to pitch recognition and selection, and becoming a “student of the game” are all things that are controlled between the ears, not with the hands or bat.

For the entire list, the link is here….2018 Hitting Resolutions – and Paul’s book, Hitting with Torque can be purchased here.

I’d highly recommend that you pick up a copy if you don’t already have one!

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