If you're a baseball parent, player or a coach and you're looking for information on the mental side of hitting, this Ultimate Guide will walk you through the exact steps you need to understand.
The Mental Side of Hitting is easily the most important aspect in the game of baseball for two main reasons.
- 90% of hitting is how you feel when walking up to the plate.
- There are two players in every hitter. Confident Player & Non-Confident player.
See - if hitting is about confidence. The question is, how do we create more confidence?
After 30+ years in baseball as a minor leaguer, big leaguer & as a scout for the Diamondbacks and then as a big-league scout and mental hitting coach for the Blue-Jays, there's one thing that I have learned.
Baseball is so mental it's MIND-BLOWING.
In this guide you'll learn:
- What is a Quality At-Bat?
- My Quality At-Bats story
- Why The Mental Side of Hitting is so important
- How to have a Quality At-Bat
- Step 1: Walk up to the plate with 100% confidence
- Step 2: Have an attainable goal to hit the ball hard
- Step 3: Attack the inner half of the ball on a pitch you're hunting
- Step 4: Help your team win
- Getting rid of the batting average
- Changing the culture of youth baseball
What is a Quality At-Bat?
You step in the batter's box. The pitcher throws the ball and then you hit it right on the screws, but right at someone.
You beat the pitcher. The pitcher's mom knows you beat him, but you walk back to the dug-out with your head held down because you didn't get a hit.
As a result, you go into a funk at the plate because you're not getting hits. This is a mind-screw.
This can't happen. We have to change what we think success is from getting hits to having Quality At-Bats.
This game is way to mental to not have a great mental game.
There's a reason why you see a first-rounder never make it out of A Ball while a 50th rounder plays 10 years in the big leagues. It's because this game is so mental it's mind-blowing.
First - let's talk about what a Quality At-Bat is.
A Quality At-Bat is any plate appearance that ends with a:
- Ball hit hard
- Walk or Hit by pitch
- Moving the runner over w/ less than two outs
- 8 pitch at-bat
- Sacrifice Bunt of Fly
- Base hit
Did you notice how I put "base hits" at the bottom?
Here's why. If your goal is to get a hit, or if your definition of success is whether you get a hit or not, you're screwed.
In other words, you can't have a goal where you do everything right and still go 0-4-. This is why I say the Batting Average is the biggest trap in baseball.
Above all, get rid of the batting average! When I was the performance coach for the Toronto Blue-Jays, we would give the hitter a $100 Best Buy gift card every time he lead the week in Quality At-Bats.
Think about that.
Imagine playing for a team where you don't have to get a hit to be in the line-up.
Now, this doesn't mean you don't have to perform. It means, knowing that if you hit the ball hard YOU win. Now you're able to play with freedom.
You can walk up to the plate with calmness, toughness and focus instead of pressure, tension and anxiety because you're not trying to get a hit. You're trying to hit the ball hard. If you get a hit, it's a bonus.
My Quality At-Bats Story
When I was in the minor leagues, Clint Hurdle was my manager. During the game, anytime a hitter had a Quality At-Bat, he'd put a "Q" next to the hitter's name on the line-up card. When he put one next to mine, it was like the weight of the world was lifted off of my shoulders.
Why? Because I knew I didn't have to get a hit to be in the line-up the next day.
My production DOUBLED when I finally said, "I don't care what I hit" and started swinging to hit the ball hard instead of to increase my batting average.
Why The Mental Side of Hitting is So Important
At the collegiate or professional level, you're getting an average of five at-bats a day, five days a week. If you don't have a mental game, you will underachieve.
The mental side of hitting is really about having the right approach. This is why say hitting is about the approach, the mind and then the mechanics because you can have the greatest swing in the league and all the confidence in the world, but if your approach stinks, your swing will break down and you'll lose your confidence.
The right approach gives you a chance for you to develop physically and tools wise.
There are two players in every hitter. Confident player and Non-confident player. How good you get at making sure the confident player is showing up to the field will dictate how far you make it in this game. Period.
If you don't have a mental game, get a mental game.
How to Have a Quality At-Bat
If I could get you to do four things every, single day, here's what they would be:
- Walk up to the plate w/ 100% confidence
- Have an attainable goal to hit the ball hard
- Attack the inner half of the ball on a pitch I'm looking for
- Help my team win that day
What do we do instead?
We walk up to the plate with less than 100% confidence because our goal is to get a hit and when we don't our batting average goes down and so does our confidence. Brutal.
Then, we roll over on pitches we have no business pulling, so we end up hitting weak grounders, and then we make it all about "me" instead of the team.
It's funny how often I get the email from a baseball parent or coach who says they had player with a break out year with their batting average while also leading the team in Quality At-Bats.
Make your at-bats about helping your team win, and you'll get your knocks.
Step 1: Walk Up To The Plate With 100% Confidence.
90% of hitting is how you feel when walking up to the plate. You're confident because while you were in the on-deck circle, in the hole, and in the dug-out, you were studying the pitcher instead of screwing off with your teammates, right?
The pitcher is the test. Study the pitcher. When you watch baseball, you watch it as a ballplayer, not a fan.
Step 2: Have An Attainable Goal To Hit The Ball Hard
Your goal isn't to get a hit. Your goal is to hit the ball hard. If you get a hit, it's a bonus. Now you're playing with freedom.
Say to yourself, "Hit ball hard you win".
Now you're ready to compete with confidence because you've become a better competitor than you are a ballplayer.
Once you buy into this principle, you'll realize that batting slumps don't exist.
Step 3: Attack the Inner Half of the Ball On a Pitch You're Hunting
Most of your thrown away at-bats are because you're pulling pitches you have no business.
Instead, let the ball travel, use the big part of the field and focus on driving the ball back up the middle.
Since you're locked in, you'll be ready to hit a line drive right back at the pitcher.
Step 4: Help Your Team Win
Remember - it's not about YOU, it's about YOU helping your TEAM win.
There's freedom in this thinking. All players with good baseball instincts, are great at helping their team win and making their teammates better.
Now you're a player with a real mental game. Now you're a player who never let's them see you pout.
Getting Rid of the Batting Average
I call the batting average SATAN in my Quality At-Bats CD.
Why? Because it's evil. It's the biggest trap in baseball. Trust me, I get it. I chased .300 in pro ball.
I know what it's like to do the math in your head while running the bases. It's a mind-screw.
Again, get rid of the batting average. Instead, have a "Balls hit hard" stat! That will increase your production.
Bombs, doubles and RBI's, that's what it all about.
Changing the Culture of Youth Baseball
At the end of the day, what I'm really trying to do is help hitters achieve their highest batting average, but we have to change what we think success is.
It's not getting a hit. It's hitting the ball hard. When you understand this concept, you'll realize that the batting stance is overrated.
Parents, these concepts are just as much for the player as they are for you because you are your player's #1 coach since you live with them.
Build them up. Never let them forget that you love them and that you love watching them play.
Players, if you love your abilities but your abilities aren't showing up, it's not your abilities fault, it's your mind, get it right.
Quality Baseball Parenting & Coaching
We need to be the biggest source of positivity for our players. We need to avoid the common baseball parenting mistakes that force our kids to quit because of the pressure that's being put on them.