Have an iPad, Kindle, or some other tablet, here’s something for every baseball player in your family.
Here’s a chapter from, “Hitting is Simple, Have Your Figured it Out Yet?”
Learning To Talk To Yourself
The re-occurring theme of what it takes to become a successful hitter is, recognizing your brain as a powerful tool. The process is simple; load in the correct knowledge, then use it! However, most prevent themselves from accessing and effectively using the most powerful tool in our body.
Imagine, our own super computer, capable of processing billions and billions of actions instantaneously, simultaneously, yet when it comes to hitting, most operate their brains like a mechanical robot [think about something, tell yourself what to do, then do it]. Rather than waste time explaining why you don’t use it, let’s move on and find what it takes to start using it.
The key is as simple as learning to “talk to your self.” Not just when you have done something wrong (which is what most of us do), but also talk to yourself when you have done something right.
Remember, success is relative.
The Act of Hitting; “The Opportunity to Improve”
As simple and as clear as the statement, “The Act of Hitting,” is, I believe it is critical to not assume here and make sure each hitter gets the message. The action (what a hitter needs to focus on) is about hitting and not about getting a base hit! So, when learning how to talk to your self consider an at-bat from two angles;
- Hitting the ball correctly and
- Hitting the ball incorrectly.
First, let’s assume you get a base hit in both scenarios. If nothing is said, meaning we don’t talk to ourselves mentally about the swing with respect to the pitch we hit, the natural focus becomes the base hit. Eliminating all opportunities to “reinforce what we did correctly,” or eliminating the opportunity to “correct any mistake made.”
Hitting the Ball Correctly
Because of its importance I feel a need to reiterate a critical point; “For this example we agreed to have the hitter get a base hit, but the focus is and always will be the action (how well did the hitter hit the ball) not the outcome (did the hitter get a base hit).” So, for this example, a hitter hitting the ball correctly and getting a base hit needs to identify what they did right!
Example of How: Talk to yourself, either mentally or saying it out loud, describing what you did, what you saw, and how you reacted.
“Pulling back slowly, I could easily see the change-up coming. Thinking off-speed, I pulled my bottom hand 90º off my back shoulder, and exploded my hips and hands at the same time making contact perfectly out in front of my body. I hit that one right on the sweet spot of the bat. Man that felt good.”
Don’t just say it, feel it; in fact I would recommend you go through the motions almost as if you where hitting again. See it! Not only did you reinforce the right action to take for a particular pitch, in this case off-speed, but you provided your brain with knowledge, knowledge you can call on time and time again. Just as important you defined success.
Hitting the Ball Incorrectly
Believe it or not the ability to reinforce the right way (defining success) to hit a particular pitch can be equal whether the hitter hits the ball correctly or not. Again, the focus is the Action not the outcome. So, for this example, a hitter hitting the ball incorrectly and getting a base hit needs to identify what they should have done!
Interestingly enough most hitters do talk to themselves when they miss-hit a ball. However, what they say is a detriment instead providing knowledge or defining success. Most conversations are filled with negative descriptive emotion designed to punish them selves.
“I can’t get a clean hit for nothing…I seem to be out in front of everything…I have no clue what I am doing wrong…”
Unfortunately these negative statements do reinforce success, but this success is about identifying failure. STOP IT!
Do not ignore mistakes, because mistakes, if correctly identified, help a hitter improve. Again, focus on the Action; recognizing the mistake, then in a positive, constructive manner, talk to your self emphasizing what should have been done.
Imagine, a hitter miss-hits the ball, resulting in a “bloop-hit” just over the infielders head allowing the runner to ending up safely at first for a single.
Example of How: Simply put, to become a successful hitter, how a hitter talks to themselves is the same whether they crush the ball or miss-hit the ball; Talking to themselves mentally or saying it out loud, a hitter must describe, “what they did, what they saw, and how they reacted.”
“The pitch I miss-hit was a change, but in the future I know by pulling back slower increases my ability to concentrate, allowing me to recognize the change sooner, a pitch I will attack with my bottom hand starting 90º off my back shoulder, then exploding my hips and hands at the same time making contact with the ball perfectly, out in front of my body. What is great, I know it was a change I miss-hit, and I know how to hit the change. It won’t fool me next time!”
Before you panic, trying to memorize a paragraph to talk to your self about, the majority of what a hitter says or thinks is just accessing knowledge they should already have in place. All you do is reinforce what you already know. Just tie your comments to the Actions you expect in response to the initial question you ask your self while you are at bat, “Where’s this pitch?”
Just as important, talking to your self prevents filling your brain with emotion, “focusing on either high fives, the fans, the adrenalin,” or in the second example above, a “sigh of relief for just getting on base or the fact you did not make an out.” Neither helping a hitter improve or become the true definition of a successful hitter.
How you talk to your self and what you say is the same if you strike out or swing perfectly, hitting the ball right at someone. In both cases you have made an out. The key is to focus on the Action not the outcome!
“Striking out is not fun, but I got to see the pitcher’s fastball, curve and change. Pitches I have hit in the past and using my knowledge on how to hit the fastball and the off speed pitches it is just a matter of time before I get a base hit.”
Make “talking to yourself” a habit. A habit we perform whether we do well or not. There will come a time we Strike-Out, Pop-Up, Miss-Hit a ball that is caught, or Rip-One that is caught.” Every case presents an opportunity to improve. Don’t miss it.
Until Next Blog