How to Get Your Child Out of a Batting Slump ..…question: are kids even eligible to be in a slump?

The majority of pre-teen hitters can't really get into a slump…

Why?
 

 

Still Learning the Swing
Until a batter has learned the fundamentals of the swing, trained their actions to the point they can execute them with some level of consistency and have a rudimentary understanding of the swing, they really can’t be considered 'eligible' for a ‘slump’?

Poor results from at-bats and less than desirable statistics…..are those signs of a slump?   Or might they be indicators that a youth baseball or softball player is still learning how to swing the bat properly?

 

The Term ‘Slump’ …an easy way to sluff off accountability?
Associating (and speaking) the term 'slump' with 12U kids opens the door for making excuses and losing confidence. The word Slump can become a crutch or justification to explain away a less than desirable performance.  

 

Giving It Their Best Shot
Batters who haven’t established a somewhat sound, fundamental swing are just up there giving it their best shot - again this describes many 12U players (and quite a few players in their teens). 

Along with struggles for results-oriented success, a young batter is also dealing with their emotions and sometimes find it difficult to remain motivated. This can further effect a player’s confidence and focus while in the box. 

The following discussion shares some points that can be helpful in teaching kids perspective on the challenge of batting
in a game.

 

 

Mental Perspective We Can Share With Our Batters


1. The Pitcher Is Your Servant

When a young batter considers the possibilities of where a given pitch might go, what thoughts could be going through their mind?  They could be thinking of many things.  The most important thought for a young batter is, ‘The pitcher is required, by the rules of the game, to throw the ball through the strike zone (if the pitcher doesn’t do this, the batter doesn’t have to swing and ultimately may be awarded first base).

Mindset: the pitcher is not my ‘opponent’, the pitcher is my ‘servant’.   The rules of the game require the pitcher to serve the ball to the batter through a space (the strike zone) that is fairly small.  

We want to talk to our batters about this fact constantly, pointing out that the pressure is on the pitcher to deliver the ball to the batter, ‘to serve you’.  Then we expand that conversation to the fact (poor umpiringaside) that before the ball is pitched the batter already knows where they will be swinging…the strike zone is not a real big space, relative to where the pitch might possibly go.    

(see ‘Throwing Strikes in Batting Practice’ at the bottom of the page)

 

How cool is that?! 

 

As a batter, I know, prior to each pitch, about where I will be swinging.  I know and the pitcher is required, by rule, to throw to that space.   This thought may seem a bit simplistic, but its big news for a young batter.  Sharing this perspective, constantly throughout the season, can increase a batter’s confidence when they view the challenge of batting in a game.

 

 

2. Batting is the Most Unfair Thing in Sports (9 v 1)

Let’s educate our youth baseball and softball players (and us weekend warriors still slugging it out on the adult softball and baseball diamonds) that batting is the most unfair thing in all of sports.  It’s not a fair fight; its 9 against 1! 

A batter can get a perfect pitch every time, make a perfect swing every time and hit the ball on the screws every time and still be 0 for 4 at the end of the day. The stats say it was a bad day, but it may have been the best day of hitting the ball in the player's life*.

So the pressure is off; you aren’t expected to get a hit.  We understand there is a chance you will get a hit. We want you to get a hit; you want to get a hit, but we all understand the odds are against you.  Go up there, put a good swing on a good pitch and run like crazy to first base …and the odds just might work in your favor this time around.

Teach batters that much of what goes into getting a hit, getting on base, driving in runs, etc. is out of their control. The batter is in control of three things:

  1. Their thoughts
  2. The pitches they swing at
  3. Their swing

Let’s direct our talk, to our kids, towards the three points above: thoughts, pitch selection and the swing.  Then back up our talk with constant encouragement.

 

                        

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*An Often Used Cliché That Is Incorrect:   “Even the Best Batters Fail 7 out of 10 times”

Great hitters do not fail 7 out of 10 times.  They ‘succeed’ (square up the ball and hit it hard) six or seven times, each 10 at-bats; half or more of those well hit balls turn into an out.  Batters that ‘succeed’ (square up the ball and hit it hard) three out of ten times probably have an average of around .160

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3. The Swing Zone

We have established:

  • There is little mystery in where the swing needs to go
  • The odds are against the batter ….always have been, always will be; for every batter, every time up

 

Q: Where does a successful batter have their thoughts and focus?  

A: That small area where the swing takes place; specifically the path of the hands and bat from the launching position (hands near the shoulder) to contact point    ….this space is the Swing Zone.

At the youth level, while some pitchers throw different types of pitches, many don’t locate them well.  Regardless of what type of pitch a pitcher throws, the pitch still has to be a strike.  Thinking of what the ball might do on the way to the strike zone takes away from the batter’s focus on executing a good swing.

The batter can’t make a hit happen; their input is limited to putting a good swing on a good pitch.  Thoughts of what the ball might do after the ball leaves their bat interferes with the quality of a batter’s swing.

Batters who have consistent success keep their thoughts and focus in ‘The Swing Zone’.

 


Using the term Slump is Cliché …Let’s Toss It Out

We often hear baseball commentators make reference to this or that player being in a slump.  Pro players, over the course of a 162 game season and hundreds of at-bats, do have ups and downs in their production, they have hot streaks and have times when they struggle.  They Do have slumps.

It can be easy to attach that term to a young player who goes a couple of games without getting a hit.  Perhaps, unintentionally, we are offering an excuse or crutch to a young player by tossing out this easy to use cliché …or possibly we are trying to numb some of our own disappointment?  The reality is, in most cases, our young player simply has more to learn and needs more practice in developing the skill of swinging the bat properly and effectively. 

Until that time, we have the opportunity to simply, ‘Love Watching Them Play’   …the video at the top of the page, specifically, 8:35-9:10, has some pretty good stuff for a parent and youth coach.

 

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Throwing Strikes in Batting Practice

In batting practice we must not ask our batters to swing at poor pitches.  How do we pitch more accurately in Batting Practice?

 

  • Baseball Positive YouTube Channel re: ‘Pitching Batting Practice’   ...watch, 0:00-4:00 (the pitching action is demonstrated 2:00-4:00; there is more info beyond 4:00, but primarily more repetition of the same info)

 

 

 

 

 

  • Baseball Positive YouTube Channel re: ‘Soft Toss’

 

 

 

                        --- A lot of good stuff top to bottom

                        --- Delivering Strikes:  top of the page: Video Part 3  -  0:39-2:22

                        --- Short Front Toss: approximately a third of the way down the page is a series of four pictures.  See the set up for Short Front toss.  The pic is of a high level team that has access to a                                  lot of equipment; you can take the concept and modify the set up for a youth team/player.

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