Why Do Hitters Slump?
Short Answer: It's the hardest thing to do in all of sports.
Long answer: Hitter's slump because their focus is on the wrong goal. Slumps happen because the hitter is focused on getting a hit instead of competing their tail off and doing whatever they can to Win The At-Bat.
Let me explain.
Like I said, "Hitting dang is hard".
Steve Springer calls baseball, "the biggest self-esteem destroying sport in the world."
No kidding, right?
Hitting Slumps Happen Because Hitting Is Hard
Ted Williams was quoted as saying...
"hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports.
The hardest thing - a round ball, round bat, curves, sliders, knuckleballs, upside down and a ball coming in at 90 miles to 100 miles an hour, it's a pretty lethal thing." - Ted Williams
If the last guy to hit .400 say's it's hard, then it's hard. Period.
Let's put a few things into perspective before you start judging the performance of a hitter as a parent, player or coach.
First off, it takes about 400 milliseconds for a pitch to arrive at home plate.
On average, it takes 100 milliseconds for the brain to process a visual cue.
Then, it takes about 25 milliseconds for the optic nerve and brain to tell the body to swing.
Then, take into account that an average MLB swing is about 150 milliseconds.
In other words, a hitter has about 125 milliseconds to gauge spin, speed, and location and decide whether to swing or not.
To give you an idea of how quick this is, it takes around 300-400 milliseconds just to blink.
Hitting Slumps Happen Because Baseball is Constant Failure
Now let's say your pitch recognition is on point and you're seeing the ball well.
You get a good pitch to hit, take a good controlled-aggressive swing and hit the ball right on the button...
It's nine against one. You have to get it past nine guys with oven mitts.
It's not fair!
QUESTION: If we know that 3 hits out of 10 ab's is a monumental task, why are we surprised when the hits don't come?
Why are we judging slumps based on results when we know that not only are the odd stacked up against us...it's an almost impossible task.
Why aren't we basing on success on things we CAN control like Quality At-Bats?
So How Do We Deal With Slumps?
First off, being confident at the plate when you’re not getting your hits is one of the hardest things to do
Trust me. I get it.
It's fun when you're getting hits right? The ride home is fun. The food tastes better, you sleep better at night.
But the reality that you can't avoid is this, you’re going to experience your share of tough at-bats, games and weeks.
Here's what you need to know
What really matters is how you respond.
Are you going to go into “pout mode”, kicking dirt while stuck in the past bad at-bats?
Or are you going to establish an Opening Day Mind-Set?
What's the most confident day of the year?
Opening Day, right? Why?
Because there's no yesterday getting in the way of today.
It's easier to focus on the process because there's no "results" to obsess about.
It's easier to focus on helping the team win.
Staying within your approach is effortless because you're not worried about yesterday's 0-4.
But then what happens when you go hitless in the second, third and fourth game?
Performance anxiety starts creeping in!
You begin pressing, thinking you have to get a hit to be successful.
DON'T GET ME WRONG. The quickest way out of the line-up is to go hitless for long enough.
This is why changing what you think success is the critically-counter-intuitive.
If you want to get more hits, forget about hits!
Instead - focus on only the things you can control:
- Having the right approach
- Have your finger on the Swing Trigger. In other words, be READY to swing!
- Be aggressive on pitches up in the zone
- Compete your tail off with the belief that you can beat the pitcher
If we don't have the right approach, our mechanics will break down and we'll lose our confidence.
If our finger isn't on the Swing Trigger™, we won't be ready to hit. We'll be late on the fastball and hesitate on the breaking ball.
When we're not aggressive on pitches up in the zone, we lose chances to make the pitcher pay when they throw a mistake pitch.
Lastly, without the belief that we can beat the pitcher, it's hard to be a better competitor than we are a ballplayer, and our compete level is everything.
Hitting slumps happen because:
- hitting is so dang hard
- the odds are stacked up against us because it's nine against one
- it's constant failure
As hitters, we need to reframe our performance at the plate when things don't go our way.
Instead think, if we don't get a hit it means:
- we have an opportunity to make adjustments that will make us better
- we're a step closer to an at-bat where things do go our way
- it's time to get more determined
There's no such thing as a pitcher who is going to give you a great at-bat.
You have to take it.
Lastly, you have to want to Win The At-Bat MORE than the pitcher wants to win the inning.
Feedback-Why Do Hitters Slump?
In closing, what are some reasons you believe you've slumped in the past?
Let me know in the comments below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
If your mechanics are on point, and your approach feels good but you're still underachieving at the plate...
...how good is your pitch recognition?
Come check out the Applied Vision Baseball Pitch Recognition App and test your baseball vision skills.