The Lending Coach

Coaching and teaching - many through the mortgage process and others on the field

Tag: hitting

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!

Some Sage Hitting Advice – The Best Laid Plans

Coach Paul Petricca is the former hitting coach for the Wheaton College softball team is a true student of hitting – both baseball and softball.

His website is one of my favorites and I highly recommend that you check it out.

As a matter of fact, he’s just written a book on the subject – and I’d encourage you to purchase it here !

One of Paul’s latest posts is called “The Best Laid Plans” – and you can find it here – The Best Laid Plans

Some key takeaways….

Flawed Mechanics

“Poor hitting performance is usually an indication of weak hitting mechanics. At least that’s a good place to start. Mechanical issues can range from a weak set-up position, hands that are too forward, an ineffective load (leg lift and initial weight transfer), poor extension at the point of impact with the ball, and an abbreviated or awkward finish.”

Too Many Voices and Too Much Noise

“Hitters with cluttered minds in the batter’s box focus on the last few failed at-bats, a recent error in the field, history with the opposing pitcher, expectations of friends or family members in the stands, or any other negative thoughts. A mind that is filled with loads of non-hitting information can negatively affect the physical swing by causing hitters to be tentative, tense, and guess too much before the pitch is thrown.”

“Another common reason for poor hitting performance is confusing hitting advice from multiple sources. In the post “One Voice”  http://wp.me/p3zdlH-S5, I emphasized the importance of finding the right hitting instructor and remaining loyal to his or her voice. Loyalty means having faith in the primary hitting mechanics and overall philosophy of the instructor [or coach].”

In Closing

“I like to tell my hitters when they are struggling that baseball and softball are games of second chances. A hitter can strike out the first three times in a game and then hit the game-winning home run. Hitters also have the opportunity to follow-up a challenging season with a great one by working hard on the right mechanics with the right hitting coach with a positive attitude.”

Great advice from a great coach!

The Great Hitting Debate – Ground Balls or Fly Balls

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite reads is Justin Dedman’s “Hitting Mental” blog – he has great content for players looking to better themselves at the plate.

He’s recently written about the current ground ball versus fly ball debate – and has shed a little clarity on it. I highly recommend you view his entire post here….

Dedman states, “there are so many mis-teaches in hitting, and coaching players to hit predominantly ground balls is one of them.”

“Nor should we ONLY practice hitting fly balls….and it isn’t OK to strike out a billion times. Let’s get this straight.”

He calls this micro-management at its worst. Teaching players to simply make sure they put the ball in play exhibits a lack of trust in their ability, or in our ability to understand hitting and teach it the proper way.

The Data

Justin shows that most college baseball statistical programs log all extra base hits as line drives. In programs like Statcrew and Dakstats, fly balls are outs.

For example, all hits are categorized in college as only line drives or ground balls. Justin states that “this is absolutely asinine. This epitomizes much of the statistical confusion at lower levels.”

He goes on to say that MLB gets it right. Their stat programs note that HRs can be both fly balls and line drives. MLB’s excellence in statistical analysis, data and measurement are second to none.

With that said, Major League Baseball does have the  financial capacity to create highly sensitive visual analysis by computers as well as real, live human beings track every pitch and evaluate each contact.

Dedman’s scorecard

We all know that every ball hit comes off of the bat at a different angle. Dedman continues “At Lee University, we call these angles ‘ball flights’, and we grade and value each ball flight separately, giving our hitters great perspective on what they hit, and what we want them to hit.”

Here’s his breakdown:

We encourage our hitters to hit 5’s, 6’s, and 7’s. When you hit a barrel in practice, we track it as a 567. To hit a ball at these ball flights requires certain approaches, timing and contact points to be made.

A “1” flight is a ball hit sharply into the ground, first bouncing near home plate. A “9” is the equal, but opposite angle, hit straight up into the air.

A “4” flight is a hard contact that bounces in the back infield dirt. A “5” is perfectly squared up and cuts straight through the air. A “6” has backspin and “extra-base energy” (lots of doubles and triples here). Most HR’s are “7” flight, though our strongest players can crush an “8” flight and have it sail out of the yard.

567’s win. They require aggressiveness in approach and swing.

Our weaker hitters, who have exit velocities typically between 80 and 90, have ball flight identities of 456. They can crush a “7” and not have the same success. Sitting there hitting “7” flights all day is a bad idea when you don’t possess the bat speed or strength to create distance on the baseball.

His conclusions

Justin continues, “our final misstep in the coaching puzzle is the type of linear hand path/lacking separation/pushing the barrel forward to ensure we make contact swing that coaches dis-empower their hitters with.”

“Hit the ball on the ground is a misnomer. I don’t care if you run a 6.5 60. Hitting 456s or 567’s will result in having an ability to drive in runners from first, create a higher slugging percentage, higher OPS, more runs created, and make a greater impact on the game.”

“We chart hitters on-field batting practices to ensure they have accountability and visual reference for what types of balls they are hitting on a consistent basis. We have a goal for each hitter to hit 40% of their batted balls within their identity (either 456 or 567).”

More

He also talks about hitters making in-game adjustments depending on outside factors. Windy day? Let’s focus on 456’s. He states, “hitting is all about adjustment making, as is coaching.”

I agree with Justin in teaching our hitters that hitting the right type of balls in the air. It’s clearly advantageous and is an adjustment that many programs can make.

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