10 Skills to Develop... For More Hits
Do you think it is possible for your son to develop his baseball skills, get better, and even improve his mental game, if he does not get any hits in a game or even a few games?
I want to suggest to you that IT IS possible for your son to develop and even display some of his greatest assets, and not have it show up on a scoreboard.
You as a parent probably believe this because you have the life experience to know that things like attitude and character count.
The challenge of course, is that your kid is concerned with swinging and missing, striking out, and getting hits.
He is evaluating his experience and development based on results.
Your goal is to help him evaluate his game and performance based on a different type of results.
Below I list different skill sets that your son should value
Even though nothing in the list has anything specific to do with hits...
...they can contribute to getting hits.
There is a better outcome than hits he’ll want to value and that’s being someone that consistently hits the ball hard.
The list below will put him do just that but he will most likely need a new mental approach to what he's trying to improve.
Here is a list of some skills that will contribute to a newfound way of thinking. There are more but let’s take a look at some of these:
1. Seeing the ball
2. Tracking the ball
3. Situational awareness
4. Pre-pitch plan
5. Mental routine when mistake/error is made
6. Hitting attitude/mindset on a given pitch or situation
7. Playing with intention
8. Swinging at good pitches
9. Ready in the moment
10. Aggressive swings
Nothing on this list above will have a stat next to it in a scoring book.
And it’s not like his teammates are going to wonder or know to ask him how well he’s seeing the ball.
So how do you get him to care about this list?
Your son’s goal is not to get hits.
That is completely out of his control, will leave him frustrated and you will find that his confidence wavers because of that focus.
The list above consists of things that are completely in his control and have to do with an attitude and mindset that you can affirm him in after every game regardless of how many hits he gets.
When you start affirming these things every game regardless of hits, he may start to realize that how he approaches an at-bat, how he thinks after striking out, and how he prepares himself in-between pitches are all skills, habits, and routines that will ultimately help him play with more consistency.
Ultimately, for you to shift his mental game from being focused on getting hits to focused on more of the process, you will need to use different language.
Instead of talking to him or asking him about his hits, average, etc., use the list above to ask questions.
Let’s take a look at the list again, this time with some questions that you can ask:
1. Seeing the ball – “Are you seeing the ball well? Does it look clear or blurry?”
2. Tracking the ball – “Are you seeing it early out of the hand, or do you feel like it gets on you pretty quick?”
3. Situational awareness – “During your second at-bat, do you remember what you were trying to do, accomplish?”
4. Pre-pitch plan – previous question could apply here as well
5. Mental routine when mistake/error is made – “When you made that error in the third inning, how’d you feel? What were you thinking after it happened?”
6. Hitting attitude/mindset on a given pitch or situation – “What are you focused on accomplishing when you are hitting?”
7. Playing with intentionality – “That first at-bat that you struck out on, you swung and missed. Was that the pitch you were looking for?”
8. Swinging at good pitches – “Do you feel like your swinging at the right pitch?”
9. Mentally Ready and present – “do you find yourself thinking about previous plays?”
10. Aggressive swings “out of all the balls you swung at in the game, do you feel like you put your best swing on them?”
These questions are more specific to aspects about the process that will lead to the desired result.
And remember, the desired result is a hard hit baseball. You want your son to embrace an attitude and an identity that his job is to consistently hit the ball hard. If he is known for anything, help him take pride in the fact that he hunts for fastballs and crushes them.
So instead of tracking hits and talking about hits, you start tracking and talking about different outcomes:
- How many times he swung at a pitch versus swinging the bat hard and aggressively. If he swung the bat 5 times in a game and only one swing looked hard and aggressive, that can turn into a conversation about why he was not aggressive on the other swings. Remember, his identity is “he crushes fastballs.”
- How many times a strike was thrown, and how many times he swung at a strike. If he saw 10 strikes in a game and he only swung at one, that can turn into a conversation as to why he was not swinging at strikes. Swinging at strikes and being ready to hit is the outcome you and he should care about, not the hit.
- How many times he went up to the plate versus how many times he was committed to what he is trying to accomplish. This would speak to situational awareness and being intentional.
You want your son to value having a plan and committing to a plan. That will influence his attitude of being aggressive and fearless because he is playing with conviction instead of doubt and fear.
Instead of worrying that he swung and missed, you want to care more than he swung, missed, but swung the bat with some aggression and authority.
The goal is for him to be okay with swinging and missing as long as he’s swinging like someone that does damage to a baseball! It's his identity!
The key is, do not evaluate his performance based on how many hits he gets.
Base it on something from that list above…
Things he can control and things you can therefore affirm every game regardless of the hits.
Praise him for being aggressive, even if he swung and missed a few times… that shows a fearless attitude.
Praise him for swinging at strikes, even if he popped some balls up for outs. That shows he is executing on a good plan to swing at strikes.
By using different language in your conversations he may start to value his inside game.
That's his foundation.
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