It is spring time and that means that baseball and softball are in full swing. It also means that my phone is ringing and my email box is full with players and their parents wanting help to end a hitting slump.
When these players walk into my office most are dejected, down, and frustrated with little confidence. Many of these hitters were “tearing it up” earlier in the season and then hit a slump that has lasted a while.
The sad thing to me is that a 2 for 12 slump is catastrophic in the eyes of many coaches so they start tweaking and changing the hitting mechanics of a good hitter. These changes take a hitter who is only struggling mentally and creates a physical struggle too. Frustration heightens, players and coaches become more and more impatient. The hitting slump usually worsens meaning a drop in the hitting order from 3 or 4 to 7, 8 or 9. Some end up out of the line up all together.
If coaches and players could recognize that this approach only increases the ‘get it right” mindset of the hitter they would understand that this increases pressure, tension in the body, and in most cases erodes self confidence. Stressed out, tense hitters with low belief and low self confidence rarely hit the ball well.
Instead of altering mechanics try creating a relaxed atmosphere in the cages and games. Teach your players how to relax during each hitting rep or at bat. By learning how to get in their “zone” before each pitch hitters approach each at bat with a consistent mental and emotional temperament. They are focused and relaxed. They leave behind the “get it right” mindset and return to loving the game.
I worked with a major leaguer who was hitting .248 for the season in late July. He had lost the love of the game and was focused on the changes his coaches were making to his swing, scouting reports, videos and all the other interventions to try to get him to reach his potential. He was locked in to trying to get it right and please his coaches. By learning how to breath the right way, get in his peak performance zone before each pitch, reconnect with his love of the game he ended the season hitting .281 and hit 17 HR’s and 36 RBI’s during this time.
His slump wasn’t physical in nature is only required a mental adjustment. He reached his potential and has continued this upward trend for the last three seasons.
Hitting slumps are rarely physical in nature. The mental and emotional pressures that coaches put on players and players put upon themselves can make the best hitters in the game struggle.
Where the mind leads the body follows. Wherever you point your mind as a hitter will determine how well you hit the ball. Become mindful of your mental approach, how you handle your emotions during the game, and learn how to breath in a way that creates a calm mind and body.
The game becomes fun again, confidence soars, and hitters move back up in the batting order.