Sunday, August 15, 2010

How Does a Baseball Player Get Out of a Slump?

Avoiding the dreaded batting slump is something every baseball player wants to do. When the hits stop falling in it can bring a lot of frustration. Take it from someone that had plenty of slumps himself. I have had my share and have tried my best to help counsel plenty of other players out of their woes.

First, let us take a look at some of the causes of slumps. Second, we will turn to some slump buster remedies that may bring us out of the slump.

How Did I Get In a Slump? I was Hitting So Good Last Week.

Rac Slider, my former minor league manager I played for with the Boston Red Sox used to say, Holty, It is a round ball and a round bat. Rac meant that two round objects are trying to meet up square, which is not a very easy thing to do. Slumps are going to happen because hitting the ball square is hard to do in the first place.

We will analyze four slump causing scenarios leaving out the one that I fall under which is I probably was not that good of a hitter.

1. Over-thinking: Carl Yastrzemski, the HOF star of the Boston Red Sox said that when he was hitting his best his mind was unaware of any consciousness of his body. In other words, your mind is free of any physical parts of your body. You are not thinking of where your feet are stepping, or what your hands are doing. Nothing, just complete mind freedom. The baseball pitch looks like a big huge softball coming in so clearly.

During slumps though your mind can be cluttered with all kinds of garbage. Garbage in-garbage out. While you waiting for the pitch you start thinking stuff like, where is my elbow? Are my knees bent? Don't forget to squish the bug. And wham, you now have so much on your mind that the pitch coming at you looks like a teeny little pea that gets on you so quick you thought a bullet was going by.

That is why professional baseball coaches do very little if any coaching when a hitter is in the box. They know the more you coach-the more mind clutter you give the hitter. Youth coaches and spectators are usually just the opposite. They barrage the hitter before the pitch and after the pitch with several mind cluttering suggestions and reprimands. Their helpful intentions turn out to be quite harmful to the batters mind now swimming in coaching instructions.

2. Are You A Maybe Guy? Professional hitters know they have to meet the ball out in front of the plate. To meet it out in front they have to be aggressive. Yes, they have to have a good eye, too. But, they have to have a mindset that they are going to swing at every pitch. If you let doubt creep in your mind and think, well maybe I will swing-let me take a look at the pitch first. Then if looks good I will decide to swing.

This maybe thinking likely makes your swing too late. Preventing you from meeting the ball in front of the plate. You will hit a lot of lazy, routine grounders and fly balls or foul balls. And if you unlucky these type hits will be mostly easy outs.

3. Law of Averages: Baseball has a way of averaging out over the course of a season. Sometimes slumps are just a natural baseball progression that you can blame on statistical averages. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Say a batter gets ten hits in a stretch of twenty at bats. His average is.500 in this 20 at bat stretch. But he is a.300 average career hitter. Then somewhere over the season he will have to go through a stretch of at bats to balance out the average to get back to down to.300. So, his next 20 at bats he may only get three or four hits for maybe a.150 average.

4. Flying Open: Most hitters like to pull the ball. That is where most players display their most power. But, constantly pulling the ball can lead to the front shoulder flying open too soon. If you facing mediocre pitchers you can probably continue pulling the ball with success. But when you face the better pitchers they will exploit your holes in your swing.

When the front shoulder flies open too soon you give a good pitcher too many openings to get you out. This can cause hitters to slump. That is why power hitters are sometimes low average hitters. They can hit the inside pitch but have many holes on the outside half of the plate.

Hitting Slump Busters

There is no one size fits all slump busting remedy. Every player's situation is unique. Here are some common busters that fit the majority of scenarios.

1. Try to keep the mind clear. The problem is everyone is going to want to help. Dad will give his two cents when you get home after the game. Maybe mom, too. Grandpa Bob who used to play a little back in his day gives you his thoughts. You go to the batting cages and the batting instructor adds his prescriptions. You are down at the barbershop on Saturday morning and the barber gives you his fix.

Now the problem is compounded. Your head is spinning. You start pressing, worrying, thinking of every tip, and the slump likely gets worse before it gets better. Too much mind clutter. All the helpers without knowing it end up being part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Bottom Line: You cannot think and hit at the same time. You have to do whatever it takes to keep the mind free of clutter. Kindly thank all your advisors. Now file all the advice away before your get in the batters box. Erase the chalkboard and begin each at bat with a clear clutter-free mind.

2. Be Aggressive: Anticipate swinging the bat at every pitch. Hit the ball out in front of the plate. Swing It! Look to swing at the pitch before you see it. Let it Fly! Do not let that maybe I will swing thought creep into your little mind. He who hesitates loses.

3. Hard Through the Middle: One of the greatest hitters of all time, Ted Williams gave some great advice to our minor league ballplayers in spring training every year. Ted, who probably never suffered through many prolonged slumps, would advise when facing any adversity to think in your mind...Hard through the Middle. Whenever the back ground was tough, weather was bad, opposing pitcher was really good, count not in your favor, umpire with a big zone, lights are bad, or were slumping...think hit the ball hard through the middle.

Why? Because this would likely help keep your shoulder form flying open too soon. You can usually cover more of the strike zone. You probably will keep your head and eyes on the ball longer. And, most importantly, your mind is clear of any other garbage thoughts that clutter it up.

4. Best Swing You Have: One of my former coaches and later on e of my coaching colleagues, Doug Camilli, who played several seasons in the Major Leagues, told us some great advice to help keep the mind free during your at bat. Douger would tell you to only take your best swing that you have that day up to the plate with you and go with it. In other words, do not try to over analyze your swing. Do your swing fixing and tinkering during batting practice. When you get in the game just try to put your best swing you have on the pitches.

These are suggested remedies for getting out of slumps. Remember, there will be peaks and valleys as a ballplayer. Stay humble always because hits come easy at times and the game will seem so easy. But, get to cocky and it will be harder to get though the down times. That is why the professionals say to play baseball at and Even Keel. Not too high, not too low...even keel.

Dave spent 19 years in professional baseball as a catcher and field manager. Signed with the Boston Red Sox in 1979 he went on to play 5 years in the minors. Managed for the Sox from 1984 to 1994. spent 3 years managing Independent Ball. Formed the Salinas Packers Baseball Club in 2000 as a member of the California Coastal Collegiate League, a summer wood bat league for college eligible players. Coached varsity baseball at Mt. Whitney HS in Visalia, Ca from 2005-2008. Grew up in a coaches family. Dad is Bert Holt, member of the California Community College Baseball HOF. Played collegiately for Bob Bennett at Fresno State. Named Coach of the Year four times. Awarded the 25 year Coaching Award by the ABCA this past convention in Dallas. Now lives in Charleston, SC with wife Sheila. Operates his website to teach the much needed professional baseball developmental style coaching to the win-at-all-cost youth baseball environment. Has a B.A in physical education from Fresno State 1981, and Masters in Education from National University in 2008. Has a SC teaching credential in Physical Education.

Article Source:

No comments: