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We have officially reached that time of year. Hitters have enough at-bats to either be on top of the world and crushing it or talk themselves into being in a slump. For all you hitters crushing, this article isn’t for you, you guys just keep crushing. Now, for all of you struggling, first off it’s not that bad. However, there is no need to panic and throw away everything you have worked all off-season to train. Baseball is a funny sport and hitters will do desperate things to get out of a slump. This article shows 4 ways to get out of a hitting slump, ways that don’t include sacrificing a live chicken.
The very first step in addressing a swing issue is finding exactly what the problem is. Often times in lessons I will ask a young player who just mishit a ball, what the flaw was that created the mishit. At first, it was alarming how often the hitter didn’t know or just guessed the answer. So I honed in on it for a couple of weeks and they’re now starting to not only understand the flaw but also understand how to fix it.
How is a hitter supposed to get out of their struggles if they don’t know what is causing the struggle? One tool I suggest using to identify a flaw in the swing is video. The video is able to show us what the body doesn’t feel. Often times hitters feel is not real. A video is always real. And not just video of swings in a cage or a friendly environment, but also game swings.
Some of the common flaws we see with hitters struggling in games include:
These aren’t the only problems that could exist, just the first and most common issues to be addressed. Without these three keys to the swing being in line, it is very hard for any hitter to get out of their slump. These are also very easy simple keys to fix. It is important when trying to get back on track to remain simple and concise with your thoughts.
Now that the hitter knows the problem, they must address the issue. While there may be multiple flaws or issues that need to be fixed, it is important to address the flaws one at a time. Again, simple is better.
As you watch the hitting video the first thing to look for is the hitter’s approach. What I mean by approach is the intent and aggressiveness of your swing. Is the hitter swinging to do damage or just swinging in hopes of making contact. Often in a slump, the hitter slows down trying to just put the ball in play which often puts the hitter in a worse position to be successful.
Swing Accuracy is a major issue when a hitter is in a slump. The slower and more conservative a hitter swings, the worse their swing accuracy becomes. When hitters are on a tear and can’t seem to get out, they feel as if they can hit any pitch anywhere they want. A great drill to check for swing accuracy and maintaining an aggressive approach is the Launch Angle Ladder drill.
One of the most valuable tools in hitting is also one of the easiest things to get off track. It is easy for the approach of a hitter to affect their timing. Whether timid and late or eager and early a hitter must control that and realize that their greatest margin for success comes when they turn on time. Hitters will never be perfect on time more than not, but the more they’re on time to the pitch they want to hit, the more damage done. Most hitters look to their stride for timing when in actuality, the turn is what needs to be timed. One drill we do at BR to reinforce that is Rack Timing drills. This drill reinforces to the hitter what exactly should be on time in the swing and how to adjust that timing to different pitches.
As the season goes on and hitters start to tinker, the easiest thing to lose is their posture. This is vital in the swing and demonstrated perfectly by Phillies Hitting Coach John Mallee.
John Mallee on posture. pic.twitter.com/21dBqBut9L— Jonathan Gelnar (@JGelnar7) March 30, 2019
As you see this move is vital for getting the bat on plane with the pitch. However, as the season goes on this is often an afterthought for amateur hitters. One tool we utilize here at BR to emphasize the importance of posture is the Rack Bat.
Often when a hitter is struggling the first thought is that they have to hit more to figure it out. However, this often magnifies the struggle. When hitting the hitter is feeling for what is right, but as I said earlier, feel is not always real. There is something to be said about working hard and putting yourself in a good position to be successful, but there are much more efficient ways to be productive.
In a long season, the last thing your body needs is 200 more swings. This can cause fatigue or even pain over the course of a season. We want our bodies to be healthy and our thoughts to be simple. The Rebel’s Rack is a great tool to work on your turn and footwork, without the wear and tear on your hands.
The Rebel’s Rack is a simple tool used to create an emphasis on rotational speed and power in the swing. Baseball Rebellion has a whole library of drills for the Rebel’s Rack at your disposal.
6 words or less. The hitter should be able to describe what allows them to take a good swing in 6 words or less. Whether its “turn fast, hands high, finish balanced” or “Start early, turn all the way”. This is a phrase that is often repeated and understood by the hitter. While in a slump it can become very easy for a hitter to overthink and begin having a million thoughts going through their head. SIMPLE IS BETTER. The less information going through a hitters head in the box, the faster and more confident the turn. The hitter must understand what makes he or she good and be confident in attacking that plan. The phrase can change and adjust to what the hitter needs that day, but it must remain in six words or less.
Slumps are going to happen. If you’re currently in one, it’s probably not your first and definitely won’t be your last. The best hitters in the world slump every single year. However, the best hitters get out of them faster than others. Why? Because they know how to fix it. Don’t let the anxiety of struggle creep in. Stick to what makes you good, and be confident in doing so. And remember, SIMPLE IS BETTER!