The Mental Approach to Hitting
Young hitters often work on their hitting mechanics, but they neglect the mental side of hitting. In this article, Boston Red Sox coach Wendell Kim sheds some light on the mental approach to hitting as well as choosing the proper bat and grip.
The Mental Side to Hitting
•Be positive. This is an absolute key to a successful at-bat. When you believe that you will hit, you will hit!
•Great hitters fail more than twice as many times than they succeed. You cannot carry the baggage of a previous strike-out or poor at-bat with you when you step up for your next at-bat. Your present at-bat is the only one you can do anything about! How you deal with your failures determines how successful you will be.
•"Attack" the pitcher. When you leave the bench, be ready to swing the bat. Don't be passive and dig yourself a hole. In each at bat, you want the pitcher to feel that you are the hunter and he is the prey.
•In every RBI situation, you must remember that the pitcher is the one in trouble.
•Control your emotions if you do make an out. Pitchers take great pleasure in seeing batters suffer and your anger will act as a "reward". Do not give pitchers the satisfaction of seeing your anger!
•Use the bench and on-deck circle! Watch the pitcher very carefully. What is he throwing? What is the release point? What are the pitcher's tendencies (e.g.- fast ball- fast ball- breaking ball)? When in the on-deck circle, use your warm ups to get your timing lined up with the pitcher.
•Have sound practice habits and practice with a purpose. Learn to use the whole field.
•During the game, go to the plate with a plan. Know the pitcher and the game situation.
•Once in the batter's box, trust your swing and focus on tracking the ball.
•Keep it simple. The bat should be a size and weight that feels comfortable to you and one that you can handle with ease.
•The bat should be held in the base of the fingers; not back in the hands.
•Hold the bat loosely, free of tension. Tension is the number one enemy of hitters.
•For most hitters in normal situations, middle knuckles should be close to being in line.
•BE COMFORTABLE. The set up should be whatever is comfortable as long as there is proper balance and plate coverage.
Wendell Kim is a former minor league player and is currently the third base coach of the Boston Red Sox.