Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Mental Game Of Baseball - Making The Decision To Hit


What does the Green Beret, an elite trained branch of the United States Special Forces, and members of the World Register of Intellectual Elite, the greatest scientists on earth, have in common? They both strongly proclaim the "mind" is the most powerful tool on earth.

I'm rather lazy and since the smartest and toughest men in the world agree the mind is the ultimate weapon, I see no need to try and reinvent the wheel. So let's take a look at how the most powerful weapon in the world, can be used to help us improve our skills on how to hit a baseball.

The initial issue to address is our belief we can accomplish the task of hitting, our self confidence if you will. This begins with visualization, the ability for the mind to see the actual physical accomplishment of hitting the ball. This may at one time been considered hocus pocus, but it has been scientifically proven visualization of a particular task solidifies two distinct issues....

1. It convinces the mind, body and subconscious that it is totally capable of achieving the desired goal.

2. It initiates muscle memory, which is required to walk the mind and muscle through the sequence of tasks which will result in accomplishment.
Bottom line is we train ourselves to have self-confidence in our talents.
Another, and possibly the second most important mental issue, is approaching the task of hitting as an "Offensive Attack," meaning we have full intention of swinging at every pitch. We know of course, that will not be the case, as a hundred other factors enter into the equation of to swing or not to swing, but it's essential to never go to the batters box hoping for a walk.

There's a coaching philosophy, which I whole heartily agree with, which states "It's easier to stop a swing, than start one." We all have seen major league baseball players attempt to stop their swing, a check swing, where the base umpire calls him out as a swinging strike. This vision, which will be caught on television at least once every game, would tend to render my philosophy as incorrect or at least suspect.

However, how many times a game do you see a batter punched out on a called third strike? There will be the argument the hitter was fooled, or he was looking for a fastball and got a curveball, but the fact remains when you have a 2 strike count, you become a defensive hitter ready to swing at any pitch which may be considered a strike. The hitter wasn't ready to swing, or else he would have, even if it resulted in a feeble attempt.

It's probably impossible to accurately classify how many "called" 3 strikes occur during a game by not being prepare to swing, but giving way to a 50-50 split, there are far more strike outs from not swinging than attempting a check swing.

Visualize you successfully swinging and making solid contact with the ball, then go to the batters box with the intention of swinging at every pitch. Obviously there is much more involved in the mental game of hitting, but this will give you 2 basic starting blocks on which to build.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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