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It's All In The Prep: Where Bad At-Bats And Hitting Streaks Start

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Bud Black (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/Denver Post via Getty Images)

As the 2019 season gets ready to begin, let's remember that every at-bat is a precious gift. Over the course of the season, minimizing wasted at-bats is key for both personal and team production.

Below is a list of just some of the factors that could derail your plate appearances today, in order to make sure they don't show up tomorrow.

  • A lackluster night of sleep the night before because you were trolling on Instagram or playing Fortnite until 2:00 a.m.
  • Fast food for lunch since you were rushed for time and then three coffees and an energy drink before the first inning.
  • No JOG (journal of greatness) review to rekindle the great moments from the week before.
  • No dry swings during pre-game batting practice.
  • Hitting specific types of pitches with your eyes closed because you are concerned about what your teammates would say.
  • Spending two-plus hours before the game slamming, cramming and jamming your eyes into your phone.
  • On-deck preparation was spent reviewing swing mechanics, which has nothing to do with hitting success in the game, versus getting the eyes ready to predict ball flight.
  • The visual and mental habits practiced during the week were replaced by result-oriented thinking.
  • You allowed the the back of your head (your thoughts) to control your pre-pitch routine instead of the front of your head (your eyes).
  • While in the batter's box, you felt the need to get a hit to drive in runners instead of putting an easy swing on a good pitch and trusting that your eyes will lead the body to a good swing path.

You got all that? Well, we have more.

  • DEBs (deep exaggerated breaths) were replaced by chest-blowing and throat-breathing.
  • Your inner-voice was critical and condescending rather than calm and positive.
  • Your body was tight and tense, and all of your big muscles were ready to take over.
  • Body language that appeared Olympian when you were on fire but is replaced by a scared look and slumped shoulders.
  • Your vision was hard and fine as you stared excessively at the pitcher's release point and hoped for the "window" to open.
  • You decided to swing when the ball was barely out of the pitcher's hand, and there was no quiet "library" to settle into early. All great hitters are in "quiet-and-read" mode longer than others, "Yes, yes, yes, no," is replaced by "Read, read, read, go!"
  • Your only true tool to hit—your hands—were taken over by the evil shoulder and hip monsters.
  • You had no plan, and you didn't hit the pitch you wanted to see.
  • Your at-bat was rushed, fast and over with before you could even blink because you didn't control the runway, which is the hitter's term for the space between the plate and the pitcher's mound.
  • You found no time to reflect and reset as you marched out to play defense with a chip on your shoulder, and the cycle continued until you were 0-for-4 and the game was over.

The great hitters autopsy all of the possible reasons that could lead to wasted at-bats, and then they adjust. The rest of the players look to their swing for answers and promise themselves to really "focus" on the ball harder during their next at-bat. That's wrong!

No one is expected to hit .600 and getting a base hit is beyond a hitter's control at times. However you define a QAB (quality at-bat), allow yourself the best chance to have a meaningful at-bat by avoiding the pitfalls listed above.

Hitting is hard. Realize that during your preparation.

Don't fall into the category of most players thinking that more is always better. Keep it real, and the transition to live at-bats becomes easy.

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