Mental Strategies to Get Out of Hitting Slumps
When you get into a slump, how do you attempt to get out of it?
Do you blame your swing and then take extra batting practice?
Do you seek the advice of an expert hitting coach and take more hitting lessons?
Many players get in trouble because they blame a slump on faulty mechanics.
Over-thinking your swing may actually interfere with your batting performance.
Think about it… you have a few bad at-bats, you begin feeling anxious in the batter’s box…
You work on your swing more in practice causing you to think more about your mechanics at the plate…
You become so focused on how you should swing that you cannot focus on recognizing pitches…
You are stuck in a practice mindset.
You become too mechanical and you swing late on pitches you normally would hit.
Over-thinking can keep you in a slump.
Josh Reddick, 27, an outfielder for the Oakland As, has experienced inconsistency in the batter’s box throughout his six year major league career.
Reddick has a career .239 batting average and hit .226 last year while being hampered by a wrist injury. Reddick showed promise in 2011 when he batted .280 and he hit 32 home runs in 2012.
Reddick seemed to finally hit his stride during spring training this year with a .333 batting average in 19 games. But Reddick slumped through the first seven games of the regular season with a batting average of .103 and has 22 strike outs in 25 games.
Why the dramatic change from spring training to regular season?
As manager Bob Melvin ruled out hitting mechanics:
“I don’t know how he’s missing some of them. It’s not like he’s lunging. It’s not like he’s having to catch up with his hands. He looks pretty balanced at the plate.”
Melvin, in an attempt to regain his confidence and form, has given Reddick a mental day off:
“Giving him a break and some time to sit back and think a little bit.”
But that may very well be the problem… over-thinking!
Over-thinking causes you to focus too much on mechanics, outcomes, the last at-bat, statistics, the pitcher’s stuff and the need to “get a hit.”
Over-thinking interferes with the fluidity of your swing, the timing of your swing, and your ability to recognize pitches.
Melvin stated that Reddick’s thought processes have interfered with his swing:
“For me, more than anything, he has to get out of his own way. I think he’s got some negative thoughts. We’ve talked about it. Try to get back to thinking positively and drawing from his positive experiences, and there have been a lot of those.”
Try These Tips to Get Out of a Slump:
- Don’t always blame poor mechanics for a hitting slump. This can cause you to get stuck in a practice mindset in games. Trust your abilities and your swing – You know you can hit. You have hit in the past. Stick with your method and know that the hits will come.
- Focus on feeling natural with your at-bat routine. Instead of over-thinking mechanics, you should focus on a routine prior to each pitch. Your routine should help simplify your at-bat and not make it more complex.
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I think it starts with a physical thing; too slow on the swing, reaching too far, off weight, etc. Some kind of physical mistake that leads to a few bad turns at bat. Then it turns into a mental issue because they psych themselves out after a while and get extra nervous before they step into the batter’s box.
Awesome stuff here Dr Cohn! No doubt that the slump is mental. As soon as your thoughts in the box become mechanical/physical, your focus shifts from seeing the ball well and hitting it hard to an internal focus of bodily movements. Hitting in baseball is difficult enough! We don’t need to make it more complicated.