Sometimes ballplayers need to be reminded. Hitting is one of the hardest things to do in all of sports, period. Here are 4 reasons why hitting is so dang hard.
1. Hitting Happens Within The Blink of an Eye
It takes 400 milliseconds for a pitch to arrive at home plate.
Then - it takes 100 milliseconds for the brain to process a visual cue.
Finally, it takes about 25 milliseconds for the brain to tell the body to swing.
Crazy right? Now get this...
An average MLB swing is about 150 milliseconds.
That means a hitter has about 125 milliseconds to gauge spin, speed, and location and decide whether to swing or not.
To put things into perspective, it takes around 300-400 milliseconds just to blink.
To make things worse, elite level pitchers have learned how to spin it, sink it and change speeds while locating consistently on both sides of the plate.
For hitters, a HUGE portion of this pitch recognition process is COMPLETLY unconscious.
This is why I'm constantly preaching the importance of hitters having their finger on the Swing Trigger™.
Baseball vision is so important that it blows my mind that it isn't talked about more often.
When young high-level prospects are evaluated, their eye-sight plays a huge factor in the level of investment an organization banks on with a high school or college hitter.
2. Hitting is Mental
Hitting is so mental it's mind-blowing. You have a pitcher with a dominant fastball, your teammates are depending on you, the other team is cheering, your coach has expectations, the umpire is horrible and you're expected to execute even when statistics say you have on average a 30% chance of success.
It's a mind-screw right?
You have to combine and implement the mental, emotional and physical aspects of a good at-bat.
This means, understanding what to focus on, keeping an even-keel, minimizing head movement, having quick hands, staying inside the pitch with a swing that gives you good lift on the ball...
...oh yeah and you have to do this all without thinking because if you've already forgot, you only have four-tenths of a second.
One of my favorite Steve Springer quotes is:
"I give you permission to NOT get 4 hits today. I give you permission to NOT be perfect. But can I please get you competing with confidence with an attainable goal to help your team win?" - Steve Springer
Hitting is mental, so having goals that are within your control is crucial.
Which leads us to the next reason why hitting is so dang hard.
3. You Have To Deal With Constant Failure
We've heard it so many times its cliche.
Even the best fail three out of 10 times. As a hitter, if you don't have a plan to deal with the ups and downs of playing this game, you'll fall short of your potential or worse, you'll quit...
...all because you don't like the feeling of things not going your way.
Baseball is a failing man's game. How good you get at competing with confidence despite your past failure will dictate how far you play in this game. Period.
4. You Have To Battle Externalities
There are three dragons you have to slay in baseball.
The game. Your opponent. Yourself.
Make sure you don't become your worst enemy.
You can't control Johnny Testosterone Coach who's a yeller and a screamer who will sit you on the bench because you didn't get three hits today.
You can't control Nut-Job mom or dad who expects you to be the next Mike Trout.
You can't control the umpire who can't help but be a factor in the game.
But - you can control your approach, your self-talk and ultimately how you respond to adversity.
Learn to love it all. Take it all in. See everything as a chance to develop into a better ballplayer.
Lastly, develope some serious pitch recognition skills.