Going through a rough stretch at the plate? Don’t immediately assume you need to make a mechanical change to get back on track.
Too often we see young hitters who string together a couple oh-fers and immediately jump into the cage to make a swing change. They move their hands to a different spot, change their stride, try to implement a new trigger, and make any number of other physical adjustments in an effort to “fix their swing.”
Often times the swing is fine—it’s other factors that are causing the issues.
At Baseball Factory, our goal is to build complete hitters. Here’s a checklist to evaluate the next time you’re struggling and before you need to make a mechanical change:
1. PITCH SELECTION: Am I swinging at strikes? Have I offered at pitches I can do damage to, or have I been expanding the zone and/ or swinging at pitcher’s pitches?
2. TIMING: Am I consistently on time, or am I reaching and hitting balls off the end, or getting jammed by being late?
3. VISION: Am I concentrating on seeing the ball out of the hand and doing my best to try to track it to contact? Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has been heard working with hitters at our Baseball Factory events saying, “If you stay on the ball with your eyes one count longer, I can guarantee you will be a better hitter.”
4. MINDSET: Am I going to the plate with confidence? A confident hitter is a dangerous hitter, and you need to step into the box expecting to do damage in every at-bat. Clouding your mind with worry about your average or previous bad at-bats is devastating.
5. GAME PREPARATION: Have I watched the opposing pitcher warm up to see what pitches he has, and what appears to be working for him today? Did I study how the pitcher has attacked similar hitters to me in our lineup? Preparation even includes a consistent on-deck routine and between-pitch plan that includes proper breathing.
6. WELLNESS: Don’t forget that true preparation starts even earlier. Am I getting the proper amount of sleep each night? Am I eating right and fueling my body for success?
The next time you have a couple rough games, don’t panic!
Run down this checklist to make sure these items are in order before making an in-season swing change, which can often do more harm than good.