Every player and coach has an offensive game plan. Offensive strategies, in particular, are constantly used throughout a game: when to lay down a bunt, how to best hit against an opposing pitcher, where to hit it with runners on base.
Strategies are all around the plate. But do you have a mental strategy? Do your players know how to think correctly while playing or know how to coach themselves while at the plate?
Here are three mental strategies every hitter can put into play today:
Get One Percent Better Every Day
Every time a hitter steps into the batting cage, the goal should always be the same: get one percent better. Too often a player wants to see monstrous results immediately, where most of the time that is not the case. Focusing on just one percent makes it a much easier target to accomplish daily.
On the flip side, many players physically go into the batting cage but mentally check out. They start going through the motions, swing after swing, without thinking about what they are doing or how to improve their swing. This mental absence either makes the body and swing stay stagnant and get zero percent better or can even make the player worse.
By focusing on getting one percent better, a player can take small steps toward their goal every batting session.
Put this strategy into action: Before every practice starts, ask yourself, “What’s one small thing I can get better at today?” After every batting practice ask yourself, “Am I leaving the batting cage a better hitter than when I came in?”
Do you know a player who has a really hard time letting go of past mistakes? We have all seen them - the player who makes one defensive error or strikes out their first at-bat of the game, and you know the rest of the game is going downhill from there. They just mentally can’t let go of that one mistake, which in turn, makes them continue to make mistakes throughout the game.
That’s where the idea of “flushing it” comes in. When a mistake is made, learn from the error and then “flush it” away. Mentally let it go down the drain and start fresh. This mental strategy can be used for any size mistake: from mentally flushing away one bad game to quickly flushing away one bad swing.
Players who can make the quickest adjustments the fastest will be the most successful.
Put this strategy into action: After you make a mistake at practice or in a game, take one deep breath. Think about what you did wrong, and how to fix it. Then quickly, picture that mistake going down the drain and starting new.
Don’t Think About Elephants
If I were to tell you, “Don’t think about elephants. Don’t think about how big they are or how large and round their legs are. Don’t think about how gray an elephant is, and don’t think about an elephant’s trunk.” Even though I told you, “Don’t do it,” what did you just think about? Elephants!
This is exactly how the brain works while hitting. If a player is up to bat and is mentally repeating to herself “don’t strike out” or “don’t be late” or “don’t drop your hands,” the only picture she is giving to her brain is an image of herself striking out, swinging when the ball is passed her, or dropping her hands and popping up. Obviously these “don’t” sayings aren’t reaping the results a hitter wants.
Instead, those mental cues a players repeats to herself should bring an image to mind of herself doing the correct thing!
Positive Correct Mental Cues (Try repeating to yourself):
- “hit it up the middle”
- “hands through the ball”
- “line drives”
Statements that are framed in a positive way will bring a more effective picture to mind, which will bring worthwhile results.
Put this strategy into action: Pick one or two positive hitting cues to focus on each day, week, or season. These hitting cues should be a short phrase that bring upon a mental picture of yourself hitting the ball correctly. Repeat only those cues to yourself in the batting cage, off the tee, and in the batter’s box.