One year I started the season 0 for 19. Was I going too fast for you? Okay, let me say it again slower: 0 for 19! A “zero” and then a “one” with a “nine” next to it. Nineteen at bats. Zero hits. Ouch!!!
Most well-intentioned coaches will address the problem with a thousand suggestions related to MECHANICAL issues; in other words: they will try to “FIX” your swing.
Well intentioned, si!!! Effective, no!!!
If you have hit well in the past with your present mechanics then you CAN and WILL hit again… with the SAME mechanics. A tweak maybe but not major surgery.
You don’t need to GET OUT OF your hitting mechanics. You need to GET OUT OF your SLUMP.
You need to get INTO your own head.
So … what about your MENTAL game?
Do you even HAVE a mental game? I teach mental toughness and peak performance. What separates the players; especially in pressure situations like slumps is a player’s mental game; his/her mental toughness.
ESPECIALLY at the UPPER levels where EVERYBODY is a VERY good player MENTAL TOUGHNESS is what makes the difference. MAYBE if you're under 12 you can "out athlete" baseball. At the upper levels, 99.9% of the game is mental.
Aren’t you tired of “dreading” your at bats? Aren’t you tired of being AFRAID to go to the plate? Aren’t you tired of constantly being “moved DOWN” in the batting order?
A mental toughness program is the device which is going to get you from POINT A where you are in a slump; tense, impatient, anxious, anticipating bad results to POINT B where you are performing at your best and crushing the ball. I have a major league level mental toughness approach for all issues at the plate. Call me and together we will get you where you want to be.
There is a lot of “noise” banging around in your head but there are solutions.
First off; let’s face it … baseball is the hardest sport to play or perform consistently at a high level and that’s JUST the physical skills involved. Mentally? Nothing comes CLOSE to baseball for requiring mental toughness. Here’s why …
1. (see above) Baseball is hard to play.
2. Baseball ISOLATES your performance. You are all ALONE out there and EVERYBODY SEES YOU when you boot the ground ball, walk in the “go ahead” run, strike out with the bases loaded, etc., etc., etc. Think Billy Buckner. If you don’t know who that is … ask a Red Sox fan.
It is embarrassing; PAINFULLY embarrassing; especially in an important game or situation. You feel as if there is a gigantic SPOTLIGHT beaming down on you. (In your head you imagine that) EVERYBODY is pointing or laughing; calling you names, shaking their heads, maybe even booing.
When you fail to get a hit … AGAIN!!! you hang your head and shuffle to a corner of the dugout, curl up in a fetal position with your lower lip quivering or … you scream and curse and throw your glove, helmet, bat (whatever you can get your hands on) and give your best imitation of a crazy person.
You look like an idiot but maybe your teammates and parents and the coach will forgive you because at least you sure LOOK LIKE you care.
You let down your team; your coach, your parents, your family.
Did I mention the family dog?
I worked with one young player who would walk back to the dugout, sit down with his head down and not move. The coach had to take him out of the lineup. His parents used the term; “froze”. He froze.
3. Maybe the most difficult part of baseball is that it deprives you of any IMMEDIATE opportunity to “redeem” yourself. When you make any of the above mentioned mistakes it may be minutes, hours, days, weeks, etc. before you get another “at bat” or another “pitch” or “ground ball” or … whatever … and a CHANCE to shine or “fix” the problem and redeem yourself; not only for yourself … and your own mental state but for your teammates and everyone watching you play.
Don't think I'm right? Ask a catcher. It's the best; no time to think. You're in on every play. No time for thinking.
In a nutshell, when you make a mistake RATHER than making an adjustment (which is what you SHOULD do), you begin to see or PERCEIVE and even LABEL yourself as a FAILURE. Worse, you begin to carry that feeling/perception with you … like a backpack with a thousand pound gorilla sitting in it. You carry it with you all the way to the “next” at bat or ground/fly ball, pitch, etc.
It becomes a “cycle”; round and round and when this goes on for an extended period of time, it can get into your head and gain “permanence”.
Instead of just being something you DID; i.e. FAILED to get a hit …
… it becomes who you ARE!!!
… a FAILURE!!!
Let's look at some "mental toughness" solutions:
ACCEPT the fact that hitting is difficult.
Great hitters FAIL seven out of ten times … in the big leagues. You’re not SUPPOSED to be successful every time.
ACCEPT the fact that baseball isolates your performance.
Learn to say “so what”? So what … even if you make a mistake.
I was at a game wherein MIKE TROUT (good enough for you?) was in a slump and a slump with a LOT of strikeouts. He hit a horribly weak ground ball back to the pitcher and pumped his fist as he was called “out” at first base.
“All right,” he grinned as he trotted back to the dugout. “Contact … at LAST!!!”
MIKE TROUT boys and girls. Mike Trout.
Pittsburgh Pirates manager (and former star big league player himself): CLINT HURDLE is fond of saying that, “There are two kinds of players in baseball; those who have been humbled and those who are about to be humbled.”
Mental toughness guru Steve Springer says, "You're not a ballplayer until you have gone 0 - 20 at least six times."
You know who the ENEMY in baseball is? (Clue: It’s not the other team or another player).
It’s the BALL. That little round white thing with the red stitching makes a fool out of everybody … sooner or later so don’t get mad at yourself …
… get mad at the ball and HIT it!!!
Baseball deprives you of any IMMEDIATE opportunity to “redeem” yourself or “fix” your mistake. Okay, NOT immediate BUT … you WILL get an opportunity. It is strictly a “timing” issue. The exact same thing happens in other sports; only the “time frame” is different. Basketball and football have “clocks” which dictate the rhythm of the play. In basketball you shoot and miss. You run down the court, play defense and then come back and shoot again. There’s not enough time to “think”, is there? Not enough time for negative thought.
So when you’re playing baseball … “Don’t think.”
I recall listening to an interview with a pitcher, “What if (so and so player) gets a big hit off you?” the reporter asked.
The pitcher shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t think about it. I'm too busy thinking about the "next pitch" I have to throw."
The ultimate solution is to realize that (until you quit playing the game): there’s always going to be ANOTHER ball; another at bat, another ground/fly ball, another pitch, another GAME and whatever happened in the past even if you go 0 for 1000 it still is not THIS at bat.
Keep in mind that in reality there are NO FAILURES; only MISTAKES. Mistakes are temporary. They are valuable because they give us the INFORMATION in order to make adjustments and get better.
So … learn and make adjustments.
Change your goals. Don’t go to the plate with the goal (worse; the DEMAND on yourself) to “get a hit”.
That’s impossible. Literally impossible.
What IS possible is to … A. Be Prepared … to see the ball and put your best swing on it. B. Have a Plan (for success) to … C. Help your Team Win and start with just … (D. Make contact. Put the ball somewhere between the white lines and make the defense work.
Have fun with the process; with the challenge and stop sweating it.
It’s fun to get better at stuff and not the the hitting but ESPECIALLY includes your mental toughness game. Have fun with being better at mental toughnessl Nobody ever went to jail for a batting slump and the cold hard truth is that no matter how poor your performance it has NOTHING TO DO with what you can do on the NEXT pitch.
Are you ready? Here it comes.
GOT A QUESTION? Need some help?
I work to address a broad range of issues in the articles and give you all the best information possible. If you have a question or feel you would benefit by advice or counseling, give me a call.
I realize that sometimes it is difficult to ask for help; especially with mental skills. However, all of us can improve something with our game or field of endeavor.
Believe me … at the highest levels of performance which you all aspire to … mental skills are the MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR GAME. Working on mental skills is stigmatized. Players and their parents think that, if you work on your mental game, you are broken. Nothing could be further from the truth. All major league teams have mental skills coaches. Mental skills enable to clear the distractions and put you in a place where you can perform you best CONSISTENTLY. Fixing mechanical skills or getting bigger stronger faster without being tough mentally simply DOES NOT WORK!!!
Sometimes we need help but don’t know who to ask … or how. Contact me and I can explain all our programs including sports mental toughness programs which can easily improve your own mental game or that of your son/daughter or the players you coach.
I work with athletes and their families at every level of performance from all over the world using ZOOM over the internet!!!
CALL ME FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
Karl Avdek, Founder, GC-GP-GH