It seems like I'm always talking about Invisible Mechanics -that is the things that occur in which we do not see. It is the mindset of the hitter. In a world where so many hitters are mental midgets, it is difficult to develop the proper mindset in an individual. However, if the we can teach hitters how to think as they engage in the various drills we prescribe, we can help them win the battle they often fight against themselves.
Most hitters do not understand this: The Best Hitting Coach I Will Ever Have is Me. If more young players understood this, there would be so many good hitters and it would be difficult to make out a lineup card. But seriously, I would like to stress the importance of helping hitters to understand the finer details of the swing, especially what they are feeling and then correct their own errors. Here are a few tips on mindset training:
In drills such as tee-work, side-toss and front-toss, hitters should focus more on where they want to hit a ball. For example, looking to take the ball up the middle is always great. You would be surprised how many hitters are thinking about hitting the ball somewhere other than the middle. It is also surprising to me, how many hitters cannot execute the simple task of hitting a ball off a tee up the middle consistently. As a coach, if you make the middle a priority, so will your hitters.
As a coach, don't allow your hitters to swing at pitches out of the strike-zone. NO MATTER WHAT!
Unless of course you are working on the hit and run. In order for hitters to understand the decision making process, you must be strict about this. It is difficult to unlearn the bad habit of swinging at everything in practice -which ultimately translates into a lack of discipline in the games. Again, this is mindset training.
If a hitter for example, pulls consecutive outside pitches, a correction needs to be made. I watch too many batting practices where coaches allow hitters to commit the same errors consecutively. Hitters can only make adjustments if someone coaches them through the thought process -they won't do it by themselves at first. Once you correct a hitter enough times, they will begin to make coach themselves. This is a sign of a mature hitter.
What are you working on? This question must be posed to the hitters as a group and/or to the individual hitter. It's perfectly fine to take one or two hitters out of the normal team or group routine and assign them to specific tasks more relevant to their individual issues. I feel like basketball players, golfers, and tennis players do this more than hitters do. I'm finding that so many hitters are practicing with the group but have their problems that are specific to them. Be sensitive to the needs of everyone. A coach should give the group a word or objective in the beginning of the session. I usually pick one or two objectives and establish corresponding drills. Any specific issues a player may have individually, I will address throughout the session.
Mindset training certainly transcends the actual mechanics of the swing. Keeping in mind, that mechanics are not why hitters struggle -especially not at the highest level. It is mostly focus, attention, and game plan. Whether you play at a high level or not, you should prepare as though you are playing against the best team in the country tomorrow! That is a mentality. Mentality begins and ends with the coach, the CEO, the Pastor, the parent, the leader.
| Rob Crews is based in Southern New York, and is one of the most sought after hitting coaches in the country. He is the Author of the book, Complete Game: The Emotional Dynamics of In-Game Focus.Rob provides consultant services for hitting coaches and develops hitting models for professional, olympic, and amateur softball and baseball programs. He served as the hitting coach for USSSA Pride (NPF) in their 2010 championship season, along with Tim Walton (UF), and Beth Torina (LSU).
As a consultant to companies like SKLZ, AXIS Bats, Bratt Sports, and MicroGate USA, Rob is continually developing comprehensive accelerated training systems that involve modern sports psych, neuromechanics, and visual strategies for efficiency in recognition and tracking.
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