One of the great barometers for a hitter is his ability to really tee off on pitches that look like they should be crushed. You know the ones I’m talking about. Say you are watching a Major League game on the tube, your favorite team is up to bat and your favorite player is in the batter’s box. The count goes to 3-1 and you are just waiting for that pitcher to make a mistake with his fastball. You know he wants to paint a strike somewhere and keep the ball out of the fat part of the plate, but as you watch the pitch release it is about as straight a fastball as you have ever seen… right down the center cut of the plate. Your eyes get big… and you know your favorite player’s eyes are big! He swings… and man oh man does he ever crush that ball waaaaaaay out of the ballpark.
A good hitter’s motto and one of the best compliments a hitter could ever receive: Crush the Mistakes.
How do you think that happens? Luck? Not likely. The more you hit, the more at bats you have, the more instruction you receive, the more likely you will begin to recognize the importance of looking for your pitch in your zone when you are in a hitter’s count. Then, because you are ready… you can take advantage of those mistakes when the pitcher tries to paint a corner and misses by about 4 inches. Yea, those 4 inch mistakes leave the ball right down the heart of the plate. You must be ready for them. You must take advantage of them. You must Crush them!
There is one constant ingredient in every great hitter; they understand and take control when they have the advantage. It’s not unlike a boxing match, if you think about it. The great fighters are able to capitalize on every little tiny mistake of their opponent. It doesn’t come by accident. It happens from training and imbedding the proper thought processes for each situation. You could go a step further and say that soldiers do the same in war. Ty Cobb was quoted as saying that baseball was a lot like war and that the hitters were the heavy artillery. Can you see where his mind set was?
What do you need to work on to develop this type of mind set? The same things police officers, war heroes, great fighters and great hitters work on; mental preparedness for any possible situation. You have to visualize situations, all types of situation that may arise
Have you ever heard a player describe a tremendous at bat in a game winning situation, one where he came out on top? Has it ever sounded something like this: “Yea, I remember when I was a kid in the back yard playing whiffle ball with my brother. We used to pretend it was the bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, runner at 2nd and down by a run over and over until one of us hit a homerun to win the World Series!” That is a form of visualization and mental preparedness. You have to see yourself succeed in these situations. Actually doing it physically, even in a play situation is tremendous for your memory and plants the seeds for success in those situations as they occur in your real life.
Not to mention there are dozens of fabulous CD’s available that help you develop this mental skill. One that immediately comes to mind is the The Hitting Zone and Mental Visualization CD by Alpha Achievement. The great thing about the CD is that you can plug it into your CD player on the way to your game. I have seen tremendous success from some of my players after just such a trip. Yea, like it or not, I controlled what they listened to. I plugged in this CD on the way to the game and lo and behold, one or more of the players in my car had an awesome day at the plate. They work because the mind is a powerful tool and cannot differentiate visualized success from real success. The same positive reinforcements occur in the memory banks from either source. So, let me ask you… why wouldn’t you listen to something like this if it simulated the real thing?
If the more times you experience a situation leads to a greater recognition of the opportunity at hand… which generally leads to success, why wouldn’t you want more opportunities to experience something? Take advantage of the many tools out there to help you in your hitting, especially in the mental aspect. You want to have supreme confidence that you will succeed when you are in an advantageous situation at the plate. The more times you have succeeded… real or imagined, the greater your chance to repeat the same results.
If you are going to Crush the Mistakes you will need the experience of recognizing and taking advantage of your situation. You need to be relaxed and confident as though you have done this same exact thing on thousands of occasions. You need to look for your pitch in your zone up until you have two strikes… when you get it you simply cannot be surprised and miss! You must be prepared to get the mistake and Crush It! Just like you have done thousands of times in your backyard and even more in your mind!
If you are one of those hitters that is in a 3-1 count and says to himself, “oh, he isn’t gonna give me anything here. It’s a hitter’s count. He’s gonna nibble.” You are the same guy we all look at and say, “how the heck did he miss that ball right in his wheel house?” The pitcher was trying to nibble, he just missed. Because of your mindset, you weren’t ready. You were surprised to see that ball right in your zone. You just can’t do that.
Pitcher’s make mistakes, just like everybody else. In fact, have you ever tried to hit a target with a 90mph pitch from 60 feet? Even if you are Roger Clemens you are likely to miss by a few inches. You have to look for your pitch in your zone. When you get it you have to Crush It. You have to be ready for the mistake… look for the pitch in your zone and Crush the Mistakes!