Youth Baseball Hitting with Confidence

 

Youth Baseball Hitting with Confidence – As the season begins, I always start getting emails from coaches and parents asking how they can help their hitters be successful during games. It may be a general question for their team or for a specific player who is struggling at the plate. I try to provide some general information that I hope will be helpful in moving things in the right direction. Here are some of my beliefs about helping young hitters out.

The problem is most likely mental rather than physical.

Some kids aren’t that athletic and may never become great hitters because of that limitation, but if a hitter can pick up the pitched ball in practice and make contact then most likely he will need more work on the mental side of hitting than he needs more batting practice.

Mental approach to hitting a baseball

I tend to err on the side of making small changes to a player’s swing, and that is indeed true once the season starts. Making a bunch of changes to a player, once the games begin, can make things worse rather than better. Not only has a player lost confidence, now you’ve added the addition of him not being comfortable when he gets into the box.

(There are changes to be made during the season, but try to introduce the changes at practice and remind and work on that during practice, not at the game.) So unless you know that there is something in the player’s stance, timing, or swing that is messing him up, start by working on the mental side.

Mental Side Of Hitting

Hitting is not routine, but getting ready to hit should be

Hitting is difficult for many reasons at all levels of the game, but I believe there is one thing that makes it almost impossible to succeed and that’s going up to the plate with no confidence and negative thoughts. As a coach spend time with your team to improve each player’s ability to step up to the plate with confidence.

Youth Baseball Hitting with Confidence. One of the best ways is to help players come up with a routine that they can use as they step up to the plate and between each pitch.

Make sure the routine includes both a physical and mental side. The physical side is to have the player breath and move to reduce tension and relax. The physical side can also be the catalyst for the mental side.

Here is a sample that might work for a player. Give them the example and then let them modify it. They should be able to tell you what it is from both a physical and mental standpoint.

    1. Take a deep breath before getting into the box and let it out.
    2. As you step into the box, quickly visualize hitting the ball hard somewhere.
    3. Keep loose as you get ready for the pitch and have a positive thought.
    4. Focus on picking up the pitch as early as possible.

Before hitting drills, this is something you can practice as a team for 5 minutes. Then tell your kids to practice it during batting practice. After batting practice, gather the group together and ask how they did? Did they have negative thoughts? Did they forget to do it and lose concentration?

Confidence and Mental Toughness

Youth Baseball Hitting with Confidence

Youth Baseball Hitting with Confidence

Helping kids be confident when they step up to the plate will go a long way to helping them succeed. In addition to that, you need to help them get over failures quickly and refocus on the next task. How many times does a big league player go 0-4 with two strikeouts?

Players are doing that every night across the league. Help the kids understand that it’s okay to strike out or not get a hit every at-bat. It’s going to happen to everyone, so if they want to become a great hitter, they have to be able to let go of their failures. Quickly learn from them and then let them go.

It’s important for players to work on a routine that they can use over and over again when they go up to bat. I also believe that in addition to having a useful method in place, you talk to them about having a right approach.

Coaching Plan to Get Hitters Out of a Slump

There will be players that are consistently hitting the baseball for base hits, and other kids are struggling and going through a rut. As a coach, you desire to give confidence by showing each player that you believe in him. Sadly, you can’t give confidence through words alone.

Try helping them improve so they can gain confidence. Mid-season is a good time to adjust your practices and provide attention to players that are struggling. Whether at the plate, mound, or field, getting players to perform better will give a big lift to the team. In this post, I’m focusing more on hitting but pitching as well as fielding will benefit from the extra attention.

Plan Practice Time – To be successful, plan on having some individual time. Assign your assistant coach to run the regular part of practice? The availability gives you the time with a player that needs extra attention. If you only practice for one hour then plan on spending half of it working with an athlete that must regain his confidence and get out of the slump.

Analyze – Everyone has a phone, that has a camera, that can record video these days. Have an assistant record video of the player you want to work with during a game. Go home and use some time you made available to view their at-bats in detail. It’s one thing to watch someone’s swing during batting practice, but it’s another to watch it during a game.

The Mental Side of Hitting

For some athletes who are slumping you may be able to point out what you think is causing problems, but for several players, it’s mental and not necessarily a problem with their swing. Not that underdeveloped swing mechanics can’t contribute to a hitting slump, but usually, the most significant barrier is lack of confidence. I pick one item that seems like the most significant problem and have that player concentrate on improvement.

A Short List of Swing mechanics to look for: 

  • Vision – Is the player tracking the ball from the pitcher’s hand?
  • Balance – Is the player entirely balanced through the swing?
  • Pitch Selection – does the player swing at bad pitches while letting some good balls go?
  • Lunging – does the player commit to early and lunge at pitches? Is he a front foot hitter? Lunging happens when transferring all the weight to his front foot during the stride.
  • Stepping in the bucket – Does the player worry about being hit? Are they backing out of the batters’ box on curveballs?

 

Plan drills/instruction for the player – Now that you have watched the game film and picked out a swing problem to concentrate on, it’s time to start working with the player. The goal is to improve the part of the swing that’s most troublesome, but you’ll also work on re-building their confidence during the corresponding time. Youth Baseball Hitting with Confidence!

Youth Baseball Hitting with Confidence

Youth Baseball Hitting with Confidence

How To Get Out of a Mental Hitting Slump

Let’s assume the player is swinging at bad pitches because he is having trouble picking up the baseball from the pitchers’ hand, more precisely, when the ball is releasing from his hands.

A conversation might go like this:
In the discussion, the coach starts out by providing the player a compliment, shows interest in him as a player, not only talking about the game film but making particular time for the player.

For the next 5 to 15 minutes, the focus should be on Pitchers Release Points(arm motion and delivery of pitch).
Make sure the player understands the where to focus upon pitchers delivery.

  1. Have the player take a stance and from the distance of the mound throw balls at him without hitting him. The player should just be watching the baseball from your hand to the fence. The player should be moving his head, following the ball where ever it is thrown.
  2. Have the player tell you if the pitch was a ball or strike.
  3. Next, have the player take live batting practice and again focus on watching the baseball all the way. Hopefully, you’ll notice a player that is regaining confidence.

Youth Baseball Hitting with Confidence

No matter the problem, talk to the players about their goals for the game. Most kids think it’s to get a hit. I tell players a better goal is swing at good pitches and hit the ball hard. If a player can swing at good pitches, then the hits will follow.