The Art of Batting in Baseball begins with the mind. Here are some of my personal insights about reaching peak performance at the plate. I hope you enjoy it. More importantly, I hope you do something with it.
Batting In Baseball Is About Having a Plan
We are only as good as the pitches we swing at.
During our at-bat, our goal is to get a good pitch to hit.
Hitting is about being on time, pitching is about upsetting that timing.
Out job at the plate is to be on time, on every single pitches.
This means - not getting cheated by the fastball. Especially in hitter-counts. 1-0, 2-0, 3-1, and even 0-0.
It takes about 400 milliseconds to for an elite-level fastball to reach home plate.
Takes about 50 milliseconds for the brain to tel the body to swing.
It takes about 150 milliseconds to actually get the bat to point of contact.
That means a hitter has about 300 milliseconds to recognize the spin, speed, and location of the baseball to put a good swing at where they think the pitch will be at point of contact.
Notice how I didn't mention anything related the importance of the perfect batting stance?
Hitting is Hard
The moment we step in the box, the inner critique shuts off.
We're not thinking about our mechanics, who's in the stands, what our coach thinks, or what happened in our last at-bat.
We're focused, present and prepared to be on time.
How do we do this?
We do it by focusing on winning the at-bat.
Here are 4 steps to do it.
- Look for something up in the zone by posting up.
- Keep your finger on the swing trigger - geared up for the fastball if that's what you're sitting on.
- Attacking the inner half of the ball while using the big part of the field.
- Compete our tail off today, fighting tooth and nail for each pitch. (If you need an example, check out my breakdown of Pete Rose on hitting.)
When we do this - we will Win At-Bats.
Do it enough, you'll get some knocks.
Stop Pouting In The Batter's Box
There’s a saying that goes:
"If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
In other words: if you struck out or can’t buy a hit,
Stop pouting. It only makes it worse.
Its hard to make adjustments when you're kicking dirt and throwing helmets.
How you deal with failure says more than you know.
What You Resist At The Plate Persists At The Plate.
Be aware of the words you use to describe your struggles at the plate.
Not a magic bullet. Just a simple little trick.
Instead of, I'm late on the ball, think I'm not meeting the ball on time as consistently.
I’m in a slump. I’m not putting together quality at-bats.
I feel unconfident or I’m second-guessing myself think, I’m not as trusting in my abilities or I’m not taking control of the at-bats as well as I can.
When we can address issues while using words that reflect what we want instead of words that we don’t, we embody a very important principle.
What we resist, persists.
When we stop resisting, we can stop taking our bad at-bats to defense when it's time to perform in the infield and outfiled.
Hitting is Mind Over Mechanics
I believe that baseball is one of the most over-coached sports in the world.
Hitting, in my opinion, is one of the most natural athletic movements if left alone.
Let me be clear, mechanics & fundamentals are crucial to an effective swing.
But when mechanics are the first and only thing addressed when striving for peak performance, you’re teaching a hitter to be two things.
A perfectionist and a hitter with no mental game.
There’s no such thing as a perfect swing, and 90% of hitting is how you feel when walking up to the plate.
Make sure your approach and mindset are on point.
The approach, the mind, and then the mechanics.
The same goes for your performance on defensive or while doing glove work defensive training.
Fear of Failure
Your fear of failure doesn’t stop bad at-bats from happening. They stop quality ones.
Your focus on stats doesn’t bring the best competitor out of you. it prevents it.
Your obsession with mechanics doesn't create an efficient swing. it hinders it by taking away the feel and instinct out of the barrel.
In essence, the law of competing to win the at-bat stands firm like the pyramids in Giza.
If you want to stick around in the lineup, learn a swing, approach, and mindset that lasts.
You can't hit and multi-task at the same time.
Choose one approach or mental framework, then apply it.
The moment you step in the box, nothing can get in the way of competing and swinging with intent.
Keep a singular focus.
7 Things All Great Batters Have In Common.
- Efficient & repeatable swing mechanics.
- Approach and plan that matches their strengths as a hitter.
- A love for adversity.
- High compete level
- The ability To take 100% ownership of everything that happens in the batter’s box.
- Is geared up for the fastball
- Superior pitch recognition skills.
As hitters, we’re only as good as the pitches we swing at.
Our approach and mindset will dictate our performance the moment we step into the box.
Master these seven, and see just how much the game slows.
Think In Slow Motion.
Slow motion gets you there quicker.
To swing quicker, think loosey-goosy. loose muscles are quick muscles. Tense muscles are slow muscles. Think slow, to go fast.
To master a movement, perform it slowly. Get every aspect right. Then when it’s time to perform, let loose and let it fly. To be under control, be free.
To achieve something great, break the goal down into small tiny blocks. Attack it with small daily efforts. Think small, to go big.
We get to where we want to go, slowly at first, then all at once.
Infinite patience brings immediate results.
To cut the tree, first, sharpen the ax.
To be fast, go slow.
Baseball Time Machine.
If I had a time machine and could go back to being an underclassman again, and wanted to be an elite hitter by my SR year, here’s what I would do step-by-step.
Be aggressive on mistake pitches up in the zone.
The furthest balls you will ever hit are the hanging breaking ball and chest-high fastball. if the pitcher leaves it up, make them pay.
Don’t get cheated by the fastball.
if you wanna hit at the highest level, start on time to be on time, and be geared up for the fastball.
Learn to truly compete.
So much of hitting is about performing when you don't feel great physically. Have a plan. Execute the plan. Get dirty. Be a bulldog. Find a way to get the "W".
Every at-bat where you fail to get on base is an at-bat closer to one where you do. A coach riding you just wants you to achieve better results. injuries are a way to learn more about taking care of your body.
It's also a chance to work on your mental game and pitch recognition.
In all, all bad things can be turned into good things. you can turn $hit into sugar.
Build your teammates up.
When you realize that this game isn't about you, instead it's about you helping your teammates win, the pressure disappears and you begin playing with freedom.
The ability to take 100% ownership of everything that happens in the batter’s box.
When you can do this, you will reach a level of potentially regulated only for the elite-of-the-elite.
Build superior pitch recognition skills.
How good you get a slowing the ball down is everything.
This is a skill that anyone can learn at appliedvisionbaseball.com
You can sign up for $1 and train with over 1,000 different vision pitching drill sequences.
The Point of Baseball.
Not everyone is born with the skill set of Ohtani, Trout, or Harper, and that's the point.
To use the cards we were dealt.
To test our limits
To make sacrifices, and set priorities.
The point isn't to be an All-American or big leaguer, though that would be nice.
The point is to slowly become a better version today compared to the player we were yesterday. The reward isn't the stats, scholarship, or pro contract.
It's the person we've become and the lessons we've learned in baseball that translate to the real world.
Hitting is a Habit.
When playing the game with intention becomes a habit - you've taken a giant leap toward playing the game with instinct.
When you commit to the daily practice of:
- turning on the inside fastball, with a controlled-aggressive swing, attacking the inner-half of the ball.
- looking and feeling the same when you're 0-4 w/ four strikeouts or 4-4 with four doubles
- letting the ball travel and hitting the ball the other way with authority
- making the pitcher pay on mistake pitches up in the zone
The more likely it will begin to happen in the game, naturally, and without you having to think.
When it becomes a habit, a natural part of your skillset, the game will slow down.
Situations begin to unfold for you, and you learn to trust your abilities.
This is the space we should all be striving for.
Competing with effortless effort.
Making success a habit.
Do you really think you can hit a 93 mph middle-in fastball at the knees, the curveball away, changeup down, and slider all at the same time?
There's a reason why good pitching beats good hitting.
Because it's friggin hard!
As a hitter, you have to sit on speeds, zones, and location.
This is the art of getting a good pitch to hit.
Selective-aggressiveness doesn't mean you're swinging at everything.
It means you know what pitch you're looking for, and you're not missing when you get it.
How good you get a pitch selection, and making the pitcher pay when he gives you what you're looking for will dictate how often you dominate at the plate.
Creating Luck In The Batter's Box
We look at big leaguers and we think they make it look so easy.
How do they do it?
They must have been born like that.
Trust me, not one big leaguer came out of the womb an elite hitter.
Except maybe Griffey, Rose or Bonds.
Bottom line: don't call that big leaguer lucky.
He sacrificed, prayed, and did the work.
You're no different.
Put. In. The. Work!
Something great will be in store for you.
How To Stay Motivated
In baseball, you get broken down when you deserve to be built up.
You might get benched when you deserve to be in the starting nine.
You might get bumped down in the lineup when you deserve to be hitting at the top of the order.
Never stop doing your best just because someone doesn’t give you credit.
Baseball can be a thankless sport.
Learn to be intrinsically motivated.
Stop playing for validation.
Continue playing to be a better competitor on the field, and a better person off the field.
The Chemistry of Confidence
There's a scientific component to building confidence, motivation, and compete-ability that i think ballplayers can find interesting.
We have to increase our dopaminergic baseline.
First of all, what's dopamine, and what role does it play?
Dopamine is a feel-good molecule that is responsible for multiple neuro-chemistry processes in our mind and body.
Mainly, it's a pleasure-reward pathway responsible for our levels of motivation, drive, and confidence.
We do something good, the body releases dopamine to get us to repeat the same behavior. Addiction is tied into this as well.
Athletes like Jordan, Kobe, Brady, and Jeter probably had very high dopaminergic baseline levels.
Here's the flip side. when we fail to repeat the behavior that created the dopamine response (confidence) the body instead releases cortisol which is a stress hormone. (negative emotions, lack of confidence, regretting the past, worried about the future, etc)
Main question: How can we activate the dopaminergic reward response pathways when we are presented with adversity, failure, and the unknown?
We have to change our definition of success.
ex: if the reward pathway only fires when you get a hit, or when things go your way on the field, the opposite happens when you don't get a hit.
It's no wonder hitters struggle with confidence.
Instead, we have to learn how to activate the dopamine response from things within our control.
- proper preparation
- staying within the process
- rising to challenges
- playing against high-level competition
- building our teammates up
There have also been studies showing that even intending to rewire how we view success and building confidence can help release this reward pathway.
We are what we repeatedly think.
Bottom line: you have to love the grind and base how you develop confidence on things within your control.
Instead of hits, lean into the challenge of being a ballplayer.
Playing and competing IS the reward. not the hits, the win, or the validation from the coach.
See failure as a feedback mechanism. failure is how you take a step toward a better outcome.
Self-interest is worth about as much as the ballplayer who has it.
Forget what's in it for you.
Instead - build up your teammates and then see your skills, and scale up.
The Art of Batting in Baseball Outro
All in all, regardless of the type of batter, and where they hit in the lineup, what they all must have in common is the ability to:
- Be on time on the fastball
- Execute plate coverage
- Have the bat head stay on the play of the pitch
- The ability to drive the ball to the opposite side of the field.
Where do you hit in the lineup, what are some of your hitting characteristics?
What are some things you've been working on to improve your overall knowledge of batting in baseball?
Let me know in the comments below.
As always, be and stay, a student of the game.
Join Us For $1
Master your plate discipline and pattern recognition by training your pitch recognition and timing in the Applied Vision Baseball App. You can get access to over 1,000+ pitch sequences while simulating at-bats against pitchers from all levels. Join us and start your VR and non-VR vision training for $1.
When Your Eye's Improve, You Improve.
Get $30 off your pair of Vision Training Strobe Glasses from Applied Vision Sports to increase the difficulty of your training as an athlete. Your code: REFLEX30
Instagram - @Applied Vision Baseball
Youtube - Applied Vision Baseball