Whats up guys?
Today I’ll talk a little about the pre-pitch routine and what that means for a hitter.
Often times the pre-pitch routine is conducted wrong or completely overlooked by younger players who have not been taught or just are not mature enough to realize the importance. I categorize the pre-pitch routine as the time spent in what is known as “the hole” which is the 3rd batter in line, on deck, and actually batting. Each different stage must be approached in a slightly different manner.
I’ll discuss “the hole” first. This is the time spent as the 3rd batter in line.
Mentally this is the time we must fight to gain an edge over the pitcher. Think back to your previous AB’s or the scouting report. Use your knowledge of the pitcher to think through any potential scenarios you may face. For example, you struck out your first AB on an inside fastball after he threw two change-ups away to get ahead. By going over this situation while in “the hole” you can begin the process of mental preparation. This is the best time to really grind the gears mentally as a hitter. Go through each defender, if you hit a ball in the gap, can you stretch a single into a double on the right fielder’s arm? That type of stuff is crucial at this time.
Now we are on deck.
This isn’t just a time to swing a weight bat and check out the girl in row 5.
Let’s get serious. Now your focus turns to a more direct plan. Each AB has a specific scenario that goes along with it. Leadoff men need to see 7 or more pitches. Guys hitting with runners in scoring position must be aggressive. Hitters hitting with 2 outs need to find a way on second. These are all situations that no one ever thinks about. You must approach each at bat with a plan, an AB without a plan is useless and will more often than not lead to failure.
Here we go. Walk up song comes on. Fans are cheering. What’s going through your head?
Now is when we enter the stages of actual sports psychology. You have taken care of the mental preparation in “the hole” and on deck. You know what you have to do in order to execute. It is CRUCIAL that we find a way to relax at this point. Each hitter has his own personal ways of relaxing immediately before he steps into the box. Think of Nomar Garciaparra’s toe tap and batting glove thing or Ryan Howards crouch and bat point. These are things that help these players get comfortable in the box.
Clear the mind, take several deep breaths, inhale and exhale, find something to focus on other than a player or the crowd. Once you find something to focus your attention on, visualize yourself executing the situation at hand to perfection. If any doubt creeps into your mind, STOP! Just start over again, your in no rush. At this point you’re the best player alive, no one can beat you. The last thing you think of is a great success, then the mind clears and all focus is turned to the pitcher and pitch he is about to deliver.
The key here is to find that one thing, unique to all players, that makes YOU feel comfortable in a stressful environment. Use what I told you, but also experiment, there is no exact science to this kind of thing. It will be different for everyone.
Remember, more important than anything I will ever say to you, the day the game of baseball is no longer fun for you is the day you hang it up.
Until next time, see you in the cage!