Every baseball player struggles from time to time. In these moments of searching for answers it’s easy to fall into the trap of chasing hits.
Tying your self-worth as a player to getting hits is a guaranteed ticket to an emotional rollercoaster, and in the end, it’s counter-productive to getting the results you want.
During those slumps and moments of struggle, it’s critical to have attainable goals that can be achieved every at-bat.
On any given day, the outcome may not be what we would like – but if we stay consistent with our process and mental plan, the results will follow.
Attainable goals are a series of repeatable objectives the you can control. There are days when you do everything right. You put a beautiful swing on the ball and the outfielder makes a diving catch… and you just don’t get the results you were hoping for.
That’s why it’s important to make your list of attainable goals things that you CAN control. In the next couple posts, I’m going to give you some examples of this, and finally a checklist that I was given by a very smart hitting coach with the Texas Rangers.
The Mental Side of Hitting – Attainable Goals
We choose objectives that force us to pay attention to what is happening on the field and form a mental plan around our strength as a hitter that we feel will give us the best chance of victory for the next battle against the pitcher.
When I would struggle as a youngster I’d hear coaches and parents tell me to “make an adjustment.”
The problem is I only knew 2 adjustments… I’d either choke up on the bat or widen my stance. They were both physical and weren’t able to get me out of a funk or keep me consistent when I was going well.
In 2002, my first year of pro ball is when I saw the importance of having attainable goals as they relate to hitting. The Rockies taught us to work on a mental 2 strike approach as opposed to physical adjustments. Many big leaguers didn’t like to make a physical adjustment with 2 strikes because they were trying to compete with a stance or feel that was not overly practiced. Their thought was, if they were a better hitter by making certain physical adjustments, they would use them the entire at-bat.
One key that I will go into more detail in the next post is having an aggressive vs. passive mindset. Early in my career I had a mindset of “put the ball in play”, “swing at strikes”, “work the count”,”hit the ball on the ground.” I thought this was how a smaller guy with not a lot of power was supposed to hit. In some cases I was taught to think like this at the plate. I was constantly feeding myself passive thoughts.
One of my attainable goals was to realize this passive self talk and change it. I started to think, “hit this pitch off the center field wall”, “drive this ball in the gap”, “hit this ball hard”. This simple goal of changing my self talk is one key that turned me into a more aggressive hitter that drives the ball much more than I did early in my career.
The Mental Side of Hitting – Creating a plan that works for YOU
During most of my pro playing career, I struggled to explain this process with clarity. Then I talked to Texas Rangers minor league hitting coach, Chase Lambin who I played against for years. This guy was a grinder who got everything out of his ability. He has been really trying to relay this information to his players and he has helped me a lot to simplify this mental process.
The next few posts will explain this process in great detail about concrete attainable goals, and I believe it will help hitters get the most out of their ability. At the end of the day this is what we are all trying to achieve.
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Your content and approach to teaching the game is incredible, thank you! I coach a highly competitive 11u travel team, which we have incorporated many of the mechanics as well as the mental approach. Keeping it simple for sure, but important for the kids to better understand the game and develop.
My son has benefited tremendously in his development, and has aspirations for playing the game a long time. He recently came home with a school assignment to interview someone who has a job they would like to do. He asked me if I knew any professional baseball players, to which I had to tell him “no”. However, we talked and thought to ask if you would have 5-10 minutes for a brief conversation with him. The questions are scripted from his teacher and he could send them in advance. If you are able to possibly make time for this, it would be an incredible thrill in the life of an 11 year old who wants to be a MLB player :). Please let me know, and thank you in advance for your consideration and time.
I think the mental side of hitting is at least half the battle! Great post. Our players need more of this. I’ll be sure to share!