Hitting And Your Mental Game
Young baseball players have a hard time objectively gauging their success at the plate.
Hitting is a difficult endeavor.
Even the best hitters in the Major Leagues will fail more than they succeed.
If you hit .300 you are considered a great hitter and thus you fail 70% of the time! You find that many factors go into “getting a hit.”
These factors are often outside the control of the hitter, such as the ability and positioning of the fielders and the pitcher.
One important factor to your success in hitting is your mental approach to hitting.
Allen Craig, first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, has been dealing with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot since September causing him to miss the last six weeks of the season.
Craig was activated for the World Series despite missing the NLDS and NLCS. Craig is a clutch hitter who has a .454 batting average and .500 on-base percentage in 152 plate appearances with runners in scoring position this year. Through the first four games of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox, Craig has been amazingly consistent with a .444 batting average and a .500 on-base percentage.
Craig prepared for his comeback in the World Series by consistently preparing and working on his mental approach to hitting.
“I haven’t been playing but I’m always watching what’s going on in the games. During the games, I go back and forth from the video room to the dugout. I try to keep my mind on the game as much as I can. It’s tough to replicate Game 1 of the World Series, but I feel I’ve done a good job of preparing.”
Consistency doesn’t happen by accident, it takes repetition and study.
Staying sharp requires a consistent mental approach to your hitting including commitment to focus on what you need to do now (the present moment) and not what has happened in the past, such as injury.
Craig is clearly focused on what he can do to improve his game by watching, evaluating and analyzing.
“The mental side of it is something I never really turn off. I don’t think any of us do that when we’re hurt. We watch the game, we think the game.”
When asked to dissect his approach late this season, Craig declined.
“I don’t want to talk about approach or how I do it. I just want to let it ride out.”
Many players do not want to over analyze their game when performing well.
Hidden within Craig’s quote contains the most valuable advice for a hitter… do the work in practice, study the pitchers, trust your ability, and let it unfold during the game.
And when you are hitting well, don’t analyze what you are doing well.
Four Keys to The Mental Game of Hitting in Baseball:
- Focus – You need to be focused on the present pitch, not on the last game, last at-bat or last pitch.
- Work – You should prepare diligently by studying video and practice consistently.
- Confidence – You need to have confidence in your preparation and practice.
- Let it ride – You should just play and let your game happen. Try not to over-think or force performance.
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