I wrote "Hitting Slumps: 23+ Ways To Overcome Them" as a way for hitters to have a set of mental-models to rely on when times are tough at the plate.
My buddy Steve Springer refers to "Slumps" as a bad word. I tend to agree with him.
"Slumps are yesterday. Slumps are for hitter's who care too much about their batting average." - @Qualityatbats
But struggles at the plate do happen, and how quickly hitters are able to adjust and bounce back from failures at the plate will ultimately dictate how much playing time they earn throughout the year.
So with that said, here is a list of 23+ ideas for hitters to think about to avoid poor plate appearances and, well..."Hitting Slumps"
1. Have an Opening-Day Mindset
Chances are, you've stepped in the batter's box at least once with very little confidence.
More than likely it's because you're facing a pitcher who's really shoving it or because your mind is still on your previous "bad" at-bat or game instead of the present moment.
Here's a question. Why does seem to NEVER happen on Opening Day?
Because there's no yesterday getting in the way of today, that's why.
Imagine how confident we would feel at the plate if we played every game like it's Opening Day.
Approach every day as a new game, facing a new pitcher with no yesterday.
Noone's every "slumped" on Opening Day. So make everyday Opening day.
2. Redefine your definition of success
Since baseball is a game of failure, how a hitter responds to failure will have a dramatic effect on their performance at the plate. Period.
It's important to have a definition of success that goes beyond stats.
Why? Because stats are not within a hitter's control.
You can hit the ball right on the screws four times in a row and still have nothing to show for it.
Going 0-4 with four line-outs right at a fielder is frustrating.
I've done it. If you haven't yet...you will.
Here's the reality. Good hitter's lineout more.
- make hard contact
- make the pitcher work on the mound by running the count full while making them throw extra pitches
- move the runner over
- get on base any way you can
...you've won. None of the above ends in a "hit", but you've done your job, successfully.
Hit or not, Winning The At-Bat is how you eventually achieve peak performance at the plate.
The more at-bats you win, the better your stats will be.
But you have to start by shifting your definition of success from a hit to Winning The At-Bat.
3. Have the right approach
If you're in a "hitting slump" and I ask you what your approach is...
...and you can't explain it to me or WORSE, you shrug your shoulders...you have no chance at peak performance at the higher levels.
The approach is everything because the game situation forces you to make adjustments.
If you can't make adjustments, you will underachieve.
The approach always starts with:
- Staying inside the ball
- Driving the ball up the middle (Using the big part of the field
- Swinging w/ controlled aggression
- Competing your tail off
We stay inside the ball to avoid lunging and hitting weak ground balls, pull-side.
Swinging with controlled-aggression puts the hitter in the right mindset to drive the ball with authority. We swing to make hard contact, instead of to "not" miss. Big difference.
Lastly - how we compete says everything. As hitters, we must believe we can BEAT the pitcher. You achieve that mindset by becoming a better competitor than you are a ballplayer.
4. Use this "reframe" trick to avoid hitting slumps
Sometimes, dealing with struggles at the plate can be managed with reframing. When we change how we look at things, the things we look at change.
Each at-bat that ends with you not getting on base simply means you're closer to an at-bat where you do get on base.
A strikeout early in the game is a chance to make a key adjustment for later in the game.
If something bad happens on the field, good. It's a chance to get better, period.
A hitter will always be left with two choices after failing at the plate:
- You can get frustrated and pout
- You can respond with determination and poise
As far as I'm concerned, if what you want is to perform well at the plate, then choose wisely.
Start by reframing how you interpret a failed at-bat and respond in a way that allows you to achieve peak performance.
Every failed at-bat is a step towards a successful one.
5. Think big picture
Chances are, a year from now, your last bad at-bat, game or tough month won't be as big a deal. It's important to keep things in perspective.
If you enjoy this game enough to have your performance dictate how you feel, you're probably going to play this game for a long time, so you might as well keep this in mind.
You have time to develop and to learn from your mistakes.
Making a key error, striking out with the bases loaded or going 0-4 with four strike-outs IS NOT the end of the world.
Two things will happen for sure:
- The sun will rise tomorrow.
- You will get another shot.
Keep things in perspective.
6. Never let them see you pout
Want to know the QUICKEST way to turn off a college coach or recruiter?
Showcase bad body language.
Look - I get it, you're going to get emotional. You're not a robot, neither was I.
The key is having the self-awareness to know how long you're staying emotional for.
Keep it to a one-pitch minimum.
After that one pitch, you hit the reset button. Your focus is back on the present moment.
If you're taking an entire inning to pout, kick dirt and dwell on a past performance...guess what...you're letting your team down.
Your team needs you.
It's hard to be a good teammate when all your focus is on YOU.
Which leads to my next point.
7. Stop making it about you
The moment you make it less about you and your stats and more about helping your team win, the better you'll avoid "slumps" at the plate that arrive from performance anxiety.
There are hidden reservoirs of confidence and mental toughness that we'll tap into when we start playing to help the team win.
8. Simplify the process
It's hard to battle at the plate when we're focused on the our mechanics, who's in the stands, how good our swing looks, what our coach thinks of us and trying to hit the fastball, curveball, and change-up.
Once the time to execute arrives, you have to clear the mechanism. Once you're in the batter's box, forget the mechanics.
Shut off the inner swing-critic.
Hitting isn't a looks contest, it's about competing with max confidence.
If you're in a "hitting slump", keep it simple.
Drive the ball up the middle. Compete your tail off.
9. Take controlled aggressive swings
The more aggressive you are at the plate, the more accurate your hard-contact percentages will be.
If hitting is a game of inches, which it is...
...then our ability to compete with controlled aggression is how we stay consistent.
10. Understand Count Leverage
Hands down, one of the most common reasons why hitter's throw away at-bats is because they don't understand the count.
As a hitter, understanding the count gives you the ability to make educated guesses at the plate.
A 1-0, 2-0, 3-1 count is a great count to take an aggressive swing on a good pitch up in the zone.
A 0-1, 2-2 are counts where a pitcher will try and get you to chase.
If you're taking pitches you should be driving and chasing pitches you should be chasing, you probably have a low hitter's I.Q. and poor instincts.
Understand Count Leverage.
11. Hunt Pitches
Understand: It will always be easier to hit one pitch when you know it's coming instead of three different pitches when you don't know what's coming.
Trying to hit the fastball, curveball, and change-up all at the same time without being selectively aggressive with speeds and location...
...is like trying to play darts blind-folded.
When you hunt pitches, you're being selectively aggressive.
As the hitter, the idea is this: you're looking for a specific pitch, and when you get it, you will not miss.
If the pitcher makes a mistake, you do damage. Period.
12. Be your own hitting coach w/ Positive Self-Talk
The reality is, you won't be able to keep your hitting coach in your back pocket.
Learn to utilize positive self-talk.
Keep in mind the approach you want to execute.
Visualize positive outcomes.
Being your own personal hitting coach means taking 100% responsibility for your athletic performance.
13. Focus on the result that you want
Can you imagine Derek Jeter at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs saying to himself, "Don't strike-out, don't strike-out"?
Exactly. Winners focus on the result that they want while ignoring the results they don't want.
What you focus on, expands.
If you have a bad at-bat, focus on the adjustment you need to make and refuse to have negative mental chatter.
14. Leverage Gratitude
If you're in a "hitting slump" summon gratitude.
Gratitude gets you out of your own head.
Playing baseball is an incredible privilege. Take it for granted at your own peril.
15. Zone up
Most of your weak groundballs or strike-outs chasing balls in the dirt are from not seeing the ball up.
If a breaking ball starts down, it will end in the dirt once it crosses the plate.
If it starts up in the zone, it will end up a strike as it crosses the plate.
See the ball up. If you have to leave your posture, it's NOT a strike.
16. Keep your finger on the Swing Trigger™
I talk about having the finger on the Swing Trigger™ often because it's so important and seeing hitters not being ready to hit is so common.
If you're at the plate and you're not geared up to swing, you will not be on time with the pitch.
Here's the idea: You must approach each pitch as the best pitch you're going to see all day with the assumption that you are going to swing.
Think: it's a strike until it's not.
"Yes, yes, NO" on a ball and "Yes, yes, GO" on a strike.
Always ready. Finger always on the swing trigger™.
17. Develope a solid two-strike approach
There are roughly 15 DHs in the world. Chances are you won't be one of them, so you won't be expected to hit 40+ bombs a year.
Be a good two-strike hitter. If you're not making some sort of adjustment with two-strikes, you're just a dressed up out.
This means having a good B-Swing.:
- Shorten up
- Shrink or expand the zone-based on what the pitcher is throwing and what the umpire is calling for strikes
- See the ball up
- Drive the ball back up the middle
18. Get the bunt down
Can't buy a hit? Get the bunt down and make something happen. It works.
19. Fall in love with adversity
One thing is guranteed if you step on the field enough times in a year. You are going to experience adversity as a player and as part of a team.
How you deal with it says everything. Learn to love adversity and you will find countless ways to outcompete your opponent.
20. Keep the chip on your shoulder
If you've ever been pigeon-holed, told you were too small, too slow, or lacked the right action...good.
Use it. Great hitters get locked in by drawing motivation from their surroundings..
A nicely placed chip on your shoulder is a great reminder that playing with a purpose is powerful.
21. Get your uniform dirty
If all else fails, find a way to leave the field with a dirty uniform. Funny how the hits come after you decide to grind.
22. Have a repeatable routine
Much of our pre-game and pre-at-bat confidence will come from rehearsing success and summoning the feelings of consistent preparedness from a repeatable routine.
A routine primes your mind for the task at hand. Strive to do the same things in the same way.
This doesn't mean you become obsessively compulsive. Just obsessively prepared.
23. Go from hoping to knowing
As you walk to the plate, do you KNOW you can hit or are you HOPING to get a hit? Big-Big difference!
Are we swing to just make contact, or to not miss or strike-out...or are we swinging to do some serious damage and to Win The At-Bat any way we can?
In other words, are you playing to "not fail" or playing to win?
Two different mindsets that will lead to two VERY different outcomes.
Hitting Slumps: 23+ Ways To Overcome Them PDF
That's it! I hope you enjoyed this Hitting Slumps: 23+ Ways To Overcome list.
If you read one that spoke to you, share it in the comments below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Until next time.
Be bold. Make something happen.