How to Help Struggling Hitters
- Updated: October 14, 2010
I am so grateful for my major league baseball career. Most of you are probably thinking, “Of course, why wouldn’t he be?” The reason I am most grateful may be different than you think, though. Reflecting back on my playing days, I realize that at one time or another, I made every mistake in the “How to Play Baseball” book. Why is that reflection important? It has helped me to become a baseball and softball instructor that can relate to ballplayers, based on my experiences. I believe this is the reason that star players do not always make the best coaches. They never made the many mistakes that I made. Additionally, star players usually play with great amounts of confidence so they have a hard time relating to players who do not play with confidence.
This gets me to the point of my article. Upon reflection over the years, I realize that I made it to the major leagues and played at that level with very little self-confidence. As mentioned, the good news is that I can relate to the many young ballplayers that play baseball with little self-confidence. Nowhere is confidence more important in baseball than when batters are standing at home plate, trying to hit baseballs of varying speeds that move left, right, down and maybe even up, as it approaches home plate.
With this in mind, good coaches are constantly helping hitters to maintain confidence. Helping players keep an optimistic frame of mind, especially when players are struggling, is the key to helping kids from getting so discouraged that they do not want to play anymore. Following are some tips that I learned the hard way and that I pass on to my young baseball students.
Coaching statements to keep optimistic, confident hitters:
1. Do not get yourself out by swinging at bad pitches.
2. You are only one swing away from putting it all together.
3. The results will be there if you stay focused on the fundamentals and timing in practice, and on the ball in games.
4. Your confidence may not be high, but never give up hope.
5. There will be times when no one thinks you will get a hit, but always believe in yourself.
6. Remember the good at-bats and forget the bad ones.
7. No one will remember if you make an out with the game on the line but everyone will remember if you get the game winning hit, so you have nothing to lose.
8. Remember, the pitcher is nervous too.
9. The famous line – “It only takes one (pitch).”
10. Stay aggressive, no one walked their way to the big leagues.
11. “I believe in you,” (even if you have doubts in yourself).
Many of these are different ways of saying the same thing and words that will keep players optimistic when trying to perform one of the most difficult things in sport. Finally, coaches may have to employ a little small fib at times like these. Telling a struggling batter that, “There is no one else that I want up to bat in this situation than you,” is acceptable.