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How Hitters Can Achieve the Most Underrated Mental Skill: Commitment and Trust

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One of the most underrated aspects of being a good hitter is fully committing to your plan. Everybody talks about the mental game and its importance, but I would characterize commitment and trust as one of the least talked about skills within the mental circuit.

Recently I had a hitter ask me what he should do when he’s consistently late on upper 80’s and lower 90’s fastballs. This particular player has very good bat speed and has previously shown no problems hitting fastballs. In fact, most of his issues usually stemmed from his inability to hit off-speed pitches. Which could have started this issue (I’ll get to this later).

Anyways, this player starts texting me a whole long spiel on how he thinks his leg kick is inconsistent causing him to be late on fastballs. Blah Blah Blah. It should be noted that this is one of the first players I worked with, and a majority of our first couple months were spent refining his swing through proper sequencing and swing plane. So believe me, I understand the importance of swing mechanics entirely. It changed this players career, and he’s gone on to have a good amount of success, hoping to hear his name called in this years 2016 MLB Draft after getting minimal playing time his first 2 years in college. As a side note, this is one of the 2 hardest workers I’ve ever encountered, so his success didn’t happen over night.

But recently he’s been struggling with fastballs, and reached out to me wondering why. I’ve seen his swing, and although I admit it’s still not perfect, it’s pretty darn good.

I asked him about his approach. What he’s looking for at the plate. Is he looking for the fastball? Off-speed pitch? Reacting to all of them?

He said, “Well, I was looking off-speed first pitch, but he came with a first pitch fastball. After that I looked fastball hoping to get another one.”

Right away I knew what the issue was. He wasn’t late on fastballs because of his swing. He was late because he lost trust in himself after he guessed wrong on that first pitch. He was looking fastball, but he wasn’t FULLY COMMITTED to it! He was in the middle. Unsure. Hesitant. Afraid to be wrong again.

I told him my thoughts. I said, “I don’t think you’re fully committed to the pitch you’re looking for, and it’s causing you to hesitate and be late. You guessed wrong on the first pitch. Who cares! It’s strike 1. Don’t let that affect your trust and commitment on pitch 2. If you guess wrong on pitch 2. Who cares. Now you battle and react with 2 strikes.”

He had a good swing, he had a good approach, he had a plan; but he wasn’t fully committed to it. And it was causing him to be late on 88 mph fastballs that he usually crushes.

Trust and commitment to your plan are hugely important! Think about some of the slumps you’ve had.

A lot of times it’s because you’re not fully committed. You’re swinging at curveballs in the dirt and taking fastballs down the middle because you’re not committing to one or the other. Then you find yourself very unconfident in your decision making with 2 strikes. At that point, in your next at-bat, you’re taking 2 strike swings early in the count and grounding out softly because you’re afraid to get to 2 strikes. This is a pattern and trend that can be tough to break.

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ll know that I love aggressiveness. But aggressiveness without a plan and a commitment to that plan will eventually be taken advantage of at higher levels.

Early in the count, you should be selectively aggressive. Selectively aggressive means anticipating a pitch in a certain zone and taking a good aggressive hack on it. Every other pitch you’ll concede to the pitcher until you get to 2-strikes.

COMMIT TO THIS PLAN!

There will be times where you anticipate fastball and the pitcher flips in a breaking ball for a strike, or vice versa.

SO WHAT!!!

There’s a reason you get three strikes. Use them to your advantage by being selectively aggressive on pitches you can do DAMAGE with!

Let’s illustrate what selectively aggressive looks like by using what I call “the box approach”:

hotzone_right

If I’m the hitter, the white box on the outer third of the strike zone illustrates where I’m anticipating a certain pitch. For this example, we’ll say I’m looking fastball.

I’m fully committed to taking a good aggressive hack with intent to do damage on any fastball that enters this box. Any other pitch, I’m conceding to the pitcher.

If you combine this level of commitment with a good understanding of what the pitcher is trying to do (I discussed this in my previous blog http://baseballtoolshed.com/are-you-watching-the-game-with-a-purpose/), you have a recipe for success.

Trust that. Commit to that. Believe that.

I discuss the “box approach” in further depth in my eBook, The No-Nonsense Baseball Players Guide To Peak Performance. You can access it for FREE by entering your email below!

 

About Brian Hamm

My name is Brian Hamm and I am all about "Baseball Development". Through my journey as a high school and college player, I always felt that a competitive advantage eluded me. I constantly researched and discovered new resources, ideas, and theories that have shaped how I coach today. It’s my goal to work relentlessly in order to give my players, clients, and coaches the biggest competitive advantage that will allow them to reach their full potential. My mission is to spread my knowledge to baseball players around the world and help change the developmental process forever.

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