A lot of baseball players, particularly young players, can get pretty anxious
when they get up to the plate. Some kids are nervous because they are afraid of
being hit by a pitch. Other are anxious about performing well with others are
watching them. Some players can feel themselves getting nervous
when they sit in the dugout or when they get into the on deck circle.
You really can’t hit effectively if you are tense or anxious. In order to
swing the bat well and generate a significant amount of centrifugal force,
you need to hold the bat with the right amount of tension. Lots of players
grip the bat too tightly when they are nervous or anxious. I sometimes
encourage baseball players to hold the bat like they would hold a bird.
That is, firmly enough to protect it, but not tight enough to hurt the bird in
any way. This analogy seems to register with a lot of baseball players.
In addition, I remind the hitters who I coach that there is some research
to prove that their vision gets worse if they are tense or anxious. Conversely,
if they are relaxed, their vision can improve. They will pick up the ball sooner
and see it more clearly. This is why baseball players tell you they see the ball
better when they are in the zone. The zone includes a relaxed state for the body
and the mind.
When hitters are tense, their bodies look rigid as they stand in the box and can affect their hitting mehanics.
In order to relax when they face a pitcher, I encourage player to step out of
the box, breathe deeply in through their nose and out their mouth and take three practice
swings before they get back into the batter’s box. These simple techniques help them
to remain loose and calm as they wait for the pitch.
In addition, stepping out of the box can help to disrupt the pitcher’s rhythm a
via: Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., is a Psychotherapist
My son struggled at the 16 year old JV level this season. The bottom line is he just doesn’t pick up the ball consistently. The zone he has the most problem with is that first zone, leaving the pitcher’s hand to the first 10-12 feet. He fights off a lot of pitches because they get on top of him, sees it too late. He can’t ever attack it out in front of the plate. When he sees it early and likes it, he most of the time jumps at it and gets out on his front foot, either topping the ball or getting under it. I have Harvey’s Vision Training, have used it a bit, he’s into his Legion Ball now for the summer and I want to help him NOW ! That’s where you come in, Dave. It’s not as easy as saying “See it coming out of the pitcher’s hand”. What now !!????
The first action that needs to take place is that when his stride foot comes down, the hands have to go back. This will get him into a good position of power and allow him to see the ball. It sounds like he usually starts too late, and gets beat on balls, or he starts too early and all his weight comes forward. I would rather him start too early then too late, if he starts too late he will get beat on balls every time.
However, he can start as early as he wants if he gets into the position of power. Once he is in the position of power, don’t have him thinkn about seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, have him only think about seeing the ball. If a hitter thinks about seeing the ball out of the hand he might follow the hand instead of the ball. Have him start early, and only think about seeing the ball. Good luck with the season.
Once you do have your hitting fundamentally correct, to set yourself above your competition, not merely resting on your laurels and thinking that your current success will be enough, you need to concentrate on these three keys to success:
What is your work ethic like? Are you the first to come and the last to leave? If you are not doing more than your coach asks, it’s not enough.
Ability to make adjustments
Don’t wait 2 weeks to make an adjustment. Adjustments should be made game to game – at bat to at bat-pitch to pitch. I used Jordan’s at bats as an example. Learn to make the adjustments necessary to get you past your present difficulties. Believe me, the difficulties will come. The sooner you make the adjustment the shorter the duration and severity of the difficulty.
Not being afraid to fail
Sorry but I have to jump to another sport to illustrate this point. Tiger Woods will possibly go down in history as the greatest golfer ever. What did he do after he had so much success including winning the Masters at his young age, something no one had ever done before? He changed his swing. His critics thought he was crazy. Having had so much success, why would he change? We frequently hear the saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” I disagree. Just because it’s not broken, doesn’t mean you can’t make it better. Tiger obviously agrees. He wasn’t afraid to change – to make himself better. He wasn’t afraid to fail. The results speak for themselves. You will only improve when change takes place. You’ve heard me say this before, you either will get better or worse, you won’t stay the same.
My 11 year old son hits much better in the more competitive AAU than in LL. In AAU, he really drives the ball. Line drive extra base hits. His mechanics are good. quick hands, uses legs, stays down on the ball. In LL, he doesn’t use his legs, swings at bad pitches, doesn’t drive the ball. I know its a mental thing. He says he is tense. I think its a holdover from last year. His first year in LL majors, he did not hit well then either. (partly because he got hit on the elbow.) He works really hard, takes extra BP. But this is primarily mental. How can I help him overcome this psychological barrier.
It’s true when people say that this game is more mental then physical. You talked about him taking extra batting practice, which is very good, however how muck time is he spending creating good mental habits. As much time as he spends in the cage he should spend visualising himself having success. Let him go over mentally all the success he has had in his AAU league. Have him go up to the plate with nothing on his mind except him knowing that he going to have success in that at bat. With this attitude he will always dominate.
At a major baseball convention, a sports psychologist in attendance unknowingly paid HEAD GAMES a great compliment. His critical comment to the company selling the book was, “yeah, I’ve read it, but It’s written on an eighth grade level.” Au contraire! I’m thinking that if an eight year old can read it, understand it and attain baseball excellence, then it must be written on maybe a third grade level? In order to scale the pinnacle of performance potentiality, simplicity is an absolute necessity. If you’ve just got to have a complicated methodology that doesn’t work, then HEAD GAMES is not your answer. E-mail me and I’ll give you the name of the other guy’s book which sold a total of one at the convention compared to many written on “the eight grade level.” If you want something simple to use that works and works immediately from youth leagues through the major leagues, then make HEAD GAMES yours and maximum potential for success can be realized. I talked with a major league pitcher this week that I worked with toward the end of last season. His subsequent success was close to perfect after struggling all season. Now, he can’t wait for the season to begin. Barring injury, this WILL be his best season ever, and he’s had some really good ones. His comment on the book: “I have never liked to read, but I love THIS book. I don’t want to put it down. The techniques are so easy to use.” To insure success, one must mentally embrace a simple approach that allows consistent play “in the zone.”
The HEAD GAMES methodology is exceedingly simple and fun to use. This simplicity is an absolute requirement if an athlete aspires to attain the “seventh heaven” of Baseball Excellence. If there are those who desire or have tried complex theories, which are doomed to failure, I recommend that they get on board with hundreds of athletes who have discovered the awesome power of HEAD GAMES. Accolades, testimonials & endorsements continue to pour in from across the world. The success of HEAD GAMES has been and continues to be unprecedented and unparalleled. Ladies & Gentlemen, start your powerful “mental engines” by choosing the holistic philosophy of HEAD GAMES, and begin to enjoy life and success on and off the field.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR -Walter Herbison - He consulted with Mississippi State Baseball from 1988-1992, the Atlanta Braves in 1990, LSU in 1991 and 2000, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs organizations and many other amateur and professional teams. Nationally, he has consulted with many players individually — from youth leagues to Major Leagues.
As you look around the baseball and softball world, you will see all types of different stances. From Little League to the Major Leagues the stances will vary. As a young player it is good to initially experiment with different types of stances. I’ve heard Ted Williams says that he would see a new player come into the league and like something this player was doing with his stance and he would try it. He always went back to what he was comfortable with buy he wasn’t afraid to try something new.
You shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, but at the same time you should not be changing your stance everyday. Find a stance that is comfortable and workable and stick with it. When something is no longer working for you, make and adjustment!
My son just went through the worst possible winter of his playing career. He had worked very hard this past off season to develop some serious “pop” in his bat. We measured his bat velocity while doing some heavy duty overload/underload training. His bat speed really increased and I could really see the pop.
The problem is that it is just in batting practice. In games he wasn’t making contact. When he did, it was a rocket. The first thing that I saw was that he was pulling off theball. The next thing was a loop in the swing. After that I saw the early rolling of the hands and then too much weight passing through center onto his front side. Do you have any suggestions?
It sounds like your son has improved his bat speed and therefore his power. Now, he expects to hit the ball out of the ball park. That may be the problem – he feels he should be hitting the ball out of the park. He is probably over swinging and his effort level is too high.
He must get back to thinking “hard contact” and “line drives”. An excessive effort level leads to many break downs – head movement, front side pulling off, rolling top hand, etc. Get him back to basics so that his goal is consistent hard contact and line drives. Look for good balance, correct head position throughout the swing, and a short hand path to the ball.
THE EYES CAN DELIVER!! This season, a Double A player called for help. After one telephone consulting session with him, he increased his batting average from .180 to about .250 in a short time, but had reached a plateau. According to him, he was missing too many pitches that he felt he should be hitting. My analysis was that his eyes were not always under control while swinging. The next game this player went 2-4, with a double, a triple, an r.b.i. and a run scored against a pitcher with a 1.59 e.r.a. The team had only five total hits.
What did I tell him? The eyes must be relaxed and focused only on the ball. If the eyes are not in control, then the body does not know exactly where the bat is supposed to be swung. The body can do a great job with proper guidance from the eyes. HEAD GAMES techniques are simple to use and the success stories are astounding. Choose to maximize your performance!
Let’s talk about the bat angle. At what angle should you have the bat? Should it be up at a 90 degree angle? Should you tilt it back towards the catcher? What is most comfortable for you? The most efficient place to put the bat is at a 45 degree angle behind your back shoulder. This is the best position to launch the bat from.
It is the most efficient way to get the bat through the zone. Since this is hard to see you may either use the mirror drill or have a coach help you with this. The reason why I don’t recommend a 90 degree bat angle is because in order to hi, you must first get the bat into a 45 degree bat angle. If you start at 90 degrees, you will cause unnecessary movement to get the 45 degree angle that is necessary to swing from.
The reason why it is difficult to hit the ball for power on the outside part of the plate is because you have to make contact with this pitch deeper in the contact zone. This doesn’t give you as much time to reach maximum velocity. When you do see a hitter that does hit the outside pitch to the pull side for a homerun, it doesn’t mean he got around the ball, it just means he hit the ball out front and stayed on the ball longer. Most players can’t do this because of their lack of strength.
For young hitters is very important to learn how to handle the pitch on the outside part of the plate. If you are handling this pitch your mechanics are sound. Many times a hitter can pull off driving the outside pitch to the opposite field he is staying on the ball with his front side and letting the ball travel, these are two things that are difficult for young hitters because most want to go out and get the ball as oppose to letting the ball come to them.