If you want to play at the next level, you have to be able to dominate at the current level you're at.
When and if a pitcher leaves a pitch over the heart of the plate, giving you a good pitch to hit, strive to be the hitter that does not miss.
In order to do this, you need to have developed a repeatable, efficient, and compact swing with an approach that matches your strenghts.
Here are a few concepts to help hitters who want to begin dominating at the plate.
Stop Trying to Create Lift In Your Swing
The further out front you hit the ball, the more lift you're gonna generate, assuming you make solid contact.
The problem with lift is - you have to make the decision to swing earlier because it takes longer for the bat to get to point -of-contact.
Now - you're susceptible to anything off-speed or pitches out of the zone. Your chase-rate goes up, you start pulling pitches you have no business pulling, and you begin hitting weak ground balls pull side.
The more lift-heavy your swing is, the less your bat head stays in zone.you'll hit for more power overall, but you will never be a well-rounded hitter.instead of lift - think "hard line drives."keep the bat in the zone, early and often.
Use the whole field.
Realize You Have Nothing To Lose
Swing, hit, and throw as if you have nothing to lose. Because you don’t.
All the hits you collect will be just numbers in a stat sheet. The win and losses will belong to columns that will never dictate your character. The amount of playing time you earn on the field will pale in comparison to the amount of awareness and character you build off the field.
The only thing that matters are the lessons you learn from failure, struggle, and competing. The only things you’ll remember are the friendships you'll make and the adversity you'll overcome.
And those are impossible to lose because in a game of failure, they’re guaranteed.
Play as if you have nothing to lose.
Crush Your Enemy
In baseball, only the relentless & paranoid survive.vigilance is the key-word here. I don’t believe in every single unwritten rule of baseball. Not swinging 3-0 when you have taken a good lead.
Not bunting during a no-hitter in the later innings during a close game.
I think you should always be competing.
The mistake is to take the foot off the gas pedal when you think you’ve got the win.
that’s a mistake.
If you’re 4-4 on the day, don’t let up. Go 8-8. Always pushing forward. never allowing the opponent to gain momentum.
If they score, you score.
If we score, they don't score.
If the pitcher executes a quality pitch, we execute quality swings.
This is part of competing. when you compete, someone's feeling should get hurt.
Make sure it's not yours.
Embrace Your Flaws
You are full of flaws. You obsess over a bad at-bat. you get over-emotional over an error or bad call by the ump. You forget your priorities and eat the wrong foods or don't get enough sleep.
At times, you get selffish and start thinking more about yourself and less about your team.
your ego gets in the way.
These flaws are shared by every single ballplayer.
From the player who sat the bench and never played past junior varsity to shohei ohtani.
There will always be flaws.
But we're not defined by them. we succeed despite them. we continue to train, learn and compete.
Slowly chipping away at the flaws so they affect our performance less, as we learn to play the game the right way. some days you will win. Others, you will lose. But you continue to fight and play this game.
Getting just a little bit better today,
Keep The Same Energy
One of the biggest challenges ballplayers face, especially at the collegiate and pro level where you're having to juggle school with the game or a schedule that has you playing baseball six days out of the week, is being the same player every day.
Brining the same energy when you're feeling sharp and ready to compete on the days when you don't feel fresh or you're in a mental funk.
It's in these moments that we have to remind ourselves why we're playing and what our motivations are.
Here are a few mental adjustments you can use to keep the fire in the belly.
Keep a chip on your shoulder - play like you've been slept on your whole life. Step on the field and prove "them" wrong regardless of how you feel today.
Remind yourself of the big picture goal - your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have.
Just be tough & positive - don't worry about results. focus on being a tough at-bat and spend the rest of your energy on building your teammates up.
Bottom line, it comes down to how good you are at competing with fierce energy while making your teammates better.
This game will break you down.
Wether you were 0-4 or 4-4 in your last game, keep the same energy.
Break The Rules
If you can’t solve a problem, sometimes it’s because you’re playing by the rules. Sometimes we fall short of our abilities as a hitter because we're trying to hit like someone else or apply the cookie-cutter mechanics of a micro-managing coach.
Don't get me wrong.
Modeling other players is valuable.
Being coachable is also valuable.
But sometimes, you gotta just say "yes, sir" to coaching, and then trust your gut and do your thing when it's time to execute.
Don't be afraid to go against conventions to find your swing.
If all hitters followed the rules, there would be no ichiro suzuki, gary sheffield, kevin youkilis, jeff bagwell, etc.
Some swings you can't teach, but the mentality and mindset can be embodied.
Understand Swinging vs. Hitting.
Your swing is as unique as you are.
Eventually, your swing will become your most natural movement.
Once you've mastered the fundamentals, get out of your own way.
Once you've learned how to swing, learn how to hit.
A ballplayer is someone who has learned how to smile after failure.
Sharpen Your Toolbox.
Players: how many ways can you hurt your truly hurt opponent?
How quickly can you adjust to the situation of the game?
How effectively can you change your rhythm and tempo as the game speeds up and or slows down?
can you do it all?
- drive the ball in the gaps
- drag bunt/push bunt
- hit & run
- go from 1st to 3rd or score from 2nd
- turn singles into doubles, doubles into triples
- drive the pitcher's count up
- pick up the pitcher's tendencies
- know the runners
- be a seriously tough out with two strikes?
How many tools do you have in your toolbox, really?
How often do you sharpen them?
"Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness ever ready to flow if you will keep digging."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.59
We all want ability.
The ability to play with confidence.
The ability to hit high-velo fastball with effortless effort.
The ability to compete and thrive against better competition.
The ability to play at the next level...and then the next after.
The ability to model and emulate the prowess of big leaguers we see perform on TV and Instagram.
Here's the thing about abilities.
They're not given the moment you come out of the womb.
They're not delivered by mail.
They're not given without an expiration date.
So if you're not going to be given these abilities, what do you do?
You must dig deep to form, refine and sharpen your abilities with your habits, actions, and priorities.
You don't have to face infinite amounts of failure on the ball field.
You get to.
You don't have to struggle at the plate and in the cage to finally find your swing.
You get to.
You don't have to deal with adversity.
You get to.
You don't have to learn that the game isn't about you, it's about you helping your team win.
You get to.
When you realize that the challenges you face aren't burdens, rather opportunities, you can finally relax.
When you can let go of your stats and stay in process while enjoying the little things about the game, you can finally relax.
Baseball is a game. it's meant to be played.
Let loose. chill. vibe out.
Make Your Own Luck
Ever left the field after a game feeling like you had a no-leaf clover in your back pocket the whole time?
You hit three balls right on the screws, but two of them were right at someone. one would have been a base hit, but the SS made a web gem, and then the umpire calls strikes so far out the zone you'd think his glass eye was fogging up.
Now you’re going home feeling “unlucky”.
All you can do is smile.
Here's the reality. You’re not unlucky because the game will even you out over time.
You’ll get a judy over the second baseman’s head. You’ll roll over a groundball in the 4 or 6-hole for a base hit.
The ump will miss another call and you’ll take advantage.
If luck is ever truly involved, it happens when you’re in the cage or on the field getting in extra work.
You make your own luck with preparation.
Stay in Flow
How would you describe the feeling of the game slowing down and utilizing our instincts?for me, it would be:
- feeling in control.
- an identify that is embedded in the task.
- full of purpose and in the zone.
If you've ever heard the term "be the ball." this is what they mean.
Ever hit the ball so perfectly that you didn't even feel it come off the bat?
Best feeling in the world, right?
Master the mental game.
Have an approach that matches your strengths and role in the lineup.
Compete to win the at-bat.
Do these things, and you will achieve flow.
Optimism is Courage
It's easy to be confident when you're 4-4 with four doubles.
it's easy to enjoy the bus ride home after winning the game or series.
it's easy to be mentally tough when in your last at-bat you hit the ball off the pitcher's neck.
How about when you're 0-4 with four strikeouts?
When you're on a five-game losing streak?
Or after striking out with the bases juiced and you were down by one, and all you needed to do was put the ball in play?
Those are the moments that will test your character
Can you still be optimistic? Can you still cultivate courage? Can you muster mental toughness?
competing while facing adversity is THE separator of the "common" players from the "uncommon" players.
Optimism is courage.
Rehearse Success In Your Mind
Can’t get on the field today?
Visualize yourself making the routine plays. Getting the good hop and making good reads off the bat.
Rehearse Success in your mind.
Not feeling confident at the plate
Visualize yourself getting to point-of-contact on time, driving the ball hard to the big parts of the field.
Rehearse success in your mind.
Gone hitless in your last 20 at-bats.
Visualize yourself hitting a linedrive right up the middle and taking an aggressive turn around firstbase.
Rehearse success in your mind.
Not in the starting lineup, and you haven’t gotten a shot to prove yourself?
Visualize yourself making the adjustments you need to make. see your name reappearing on the lineup card.
Rehearse success in your mind.
Visualize & rehearse success in your mind - when the time comes to execute in the real game, you’ll feel like you already succeeded.
The mind doesn’t know the body is not doing it.
Know Your Role In The Lineup.
Where you hit in the order reflects your skillset and role on the team.
You shouldn't be swinging like a donkey if you're hitting leadoff or in the 2-hole.
You shouldn't be swinging just to make contact if you're in the 3,4, of 5-hole.
the idea is simple.
For some hitters, their job is to get on base by any means necessary.
For others, their job is to drive in runs by any means necessary.
Leadoff hitter - be selectively aggressive, especially early in the count. make the pitcher work and earn strikes. put pressure on the defense. take the extra bag.
2-hole - be selectively aggressive, especially early in the count. avoid the double play. hit behind the runner. use the big part of the field. be able to lay down the bunt. move players out of position. take the extra bag when you can.
3-hole - be geared up for the fastball. capitalize on mistake pitches left up in the zone. use the big parts of the field. swing with intent to do damage. be an athlete.
4, 5, and 6-hole - do not get cheated by the fastball. capitalize on mistake pitches left up in the zone. use the big parts of the field. swing with intent to do damage. consider sitting off-speed, especially with runner in scoring position. don't go home without taking a few hell-hacks.
7 and 8-hole - blend roles of 1-8. compete your tail off. be so good that you can't be ignored. fight tooth and nail to get up in the order.
Both require that the hitter wins the at-bat.
Both require that they compete.
Perfection Is The Enemy
On the path of becoming a better ballplayer, be thankful for even the smallest step forward.
don't let perfect be the enemy of "good enough".
You don't need to be the next mike trout or all-american to play this game for a really long time.
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