I think there are times when hitters lose the realization that they are competing. I don’t think they place enough importance on this simple fact: You must compete against the pitcher for each and every pitch! Every single pitch he throws has one purpose; to get you out! If you are not placing the same amount of importance on each pitch, I guarantee you are at a disadvantage. You must compete. Every pitch!
If you are one of those players that only gets “fired up” for those at-bats that mean something at the end of the game. You probably better reconsider your approach to the game.
By competing for every pitch in every at-bat you can likely raise your batting average by .100 or more points! Think about it. Lets say you have 3 games a week for 12 at bats. Probably only 3 of those at-bats were “meaningful” situations. By “meaningful”, I mean some close game situation with a man on and a chance to make a difference in the game. In the other 9 at-bats during the week, you simply took a lackadaisical approach and got 2 hits. Lets say you also got a hit in one of the 3 “meaningful” at-bats when you were fired up and competing. So for the week you went 3 for 12: a .250 batting average. Not horrible.. Just not great.
Had you been fired up and competing on every pitch for every at-bat, you likely would have had at least one more hit and quite possibly 2! 4 for 12 is a .333 average and 5 for 12 is over .400! Those are pretty awesome numbers, don’t you think? Factor that out over the course of a season and you have the difference between an All-Star and an average player.
If that doesn’t convince you to compete, let me throw this one at you: You are standing up at the plate all by your little lonesome. You have your thoughts, your mental approach and your athletic skills to use in the best manner possible to try and have a Quality At-Bat as often as possible. Just you and you alone determine how successful you are.
Meanwhile, the pitcher AND the catcher AND sometimes even the manager are all collaborating to get you out! With every pitch they are scheming over what it takes to get you out. The catcher is watching everything you do. How do you react to this pitch? What kind of swing did you put on that pitch? Can he get you out with something soft and away or should they try hard and in? The pitcher is also ruminating over the same information from a different viewpoint. Plus, like I said.. You likely have a third individual involved if the Manager is into calling pitches, etc. The three of them can even hold a conference on the mound just to discuss HOW TO GET YOU OUT!
So, my point is; with all of this going on against you, when are you going to realize how important every pitch is and start competing against these guys on EVERY pitch? Don’t take a single pitch off . You are on the job. A job you chose. And guess what? Yea, a job you can lose because you are not competing on every pitch.
That’s right. Those guys are trying to take your job! You keep batting .250 when you could have been batting .333 or better and see how long you keep your job. I guarantee you somebody in your dugout will compete for every pitch if it means he has the chance to play every day.
Do yourself a favor and start looking at that pitcher like he is the guy responsible for taking the food out of your mouth, or the roof over your head. Place that kind of importance on it. Study him. You have all day to study the pitcher. You can study him while he warms up. You can study him while he pitches to your teammates. What is even better, you get to study him during identical situations that you will face. You get to study how he handles pitch counts with the bases empty, how they change when the bases are occupied. You get to study him like a book. Why are you not pounding this guy? Oh, is it because you are jawing with your buddy on the bench instead of paying attention to the most important adversary you face, the pitcher? Probably.
If mental approach is a huge contributor to your success on a baseball field (and it is!), then this section of the mental part of the game is as important as any other. You MUST compete. You vs. HIM. You vs. THEM. That is the mentality you should adopt. That simple thought process will put you in a fight or flight, juices flowing, enhanced state of awareness mindset that will lead to a much greater success at the plate.
You simply cannot afford to allow THEM to place a greater importance on every pitch than you do. If so, the law of averages will sway in their favor and your average will plummet. The game is hard enough. Stop making it harder. Pay attention. Compete. You’ll be a better hitter, I guarantee it.