It's early in the season in Major League Baseball and even earlier in the minors. Some guys have as many as 50 at-bats, others far less. 50 at-bats in high school in North Carolina, is about half your season though! So what are some things you can do if you're starting off the season a little behind where you want to be? What can you do to make sure you continue on the successful tear you're on if you're having a great season? Here are some quick ideas you can try to make sure you're staying ahead of the pitchers and get your season back on track if needed.
courtesy of @derekhassel4 on www.twitter.com
Nothing frustrates players and parents more than 'bad calls' from the umpire. That being said, that bad call almost never is the reason a hitter strikes out or struggles with weak contact. Most often, those players afflicted with 'bad-call-itus' are the same ones who are TAKING STRIKES early in the count or fouling balls off that are crushable pitches. Pitchers want to work AHEAD in the count, so make sure you're ready for that first or second pitch fastball strike and punish it! Nothing makes a pitcher work like backing up bases and watching the scoreboard for the hitting team light up...a few extra pitches thrown won't chase a pitcher as fast as a few doubles or homers in an inning.
Often times, after a bad game, a hitter will head to the cages. 2 hours later, bloody hands and sweated through gloves in tow, the hitter heads back to his or her car no closer to solving whatever 'problem' caused the bad day at the ball field. These type of marathon hitting sessions can, in some cases, have a good purpose. However, the lion's share of these types of sessions just erode the body and the mind and bring more negative thoughts and negative swing movements. Ditch the 300 swings post-game after an 0-4 game and get in some low-intensity mirror work on your stride. Get your tempo right and your mind relaxed so the next game you're working towards success instead of still recovering from the blisters and frustration of the long session postgame.
Want to be a great infielder? Put down your iPhone & grab a tennis ball! The Wall Ball Drill is a simple drill that can be done to help cover multiple hop variations. It also allows young infielders to get themselves into a good fielding position while trusting their glove hand pic.twitter.com/LNDDA8MDFt
— Baseball Rebellion (@BRrebellion) March 6, 2018
Many players are relying on their coaches to give them the practice they need in a team setting. Unfortunately, there is simply not enough time to get all the individual work you need in with a team setting, where there are often 15 players who need to hit. From a defensive perspective, a tennis ball and a wall are all you really need to get pretty handy with the glove. Hitting wise, grab a tee, make sure you're giving your swing the time it deserves and needs to stay primed and ready. Team practice has tons of value, but from an individual development perspective, you've must be willing to work while no one else is so you can gain ground on those who are more naturally gifted than you and keeping the distance between you and those who are coming for your spot from behind.
Up all night playing Fortnite after a bad game? Eating fast-food every day? How you recover and fuel your body is everything to an athlete. Make sure you're getting the vitamins, minerals, protein and water intake needed to keep you in prime physical condition come practice and game time. High school kids have tons of activities to do: homework, practice, and having a social life. Sleeping well (and enough) and eating well (and enough) are hard for many driven kids who have good grades and high expectations on the field as well. Make sure you've gotten a good night sleep (7-8 hours) before games and that you have your protein bars and water bottle during the day and on the bus to the game so you aren't running on empty by the 2nd inning.
Nobody likes a Negative Nancy or a Debbie Downer. Be positive not only with yourself but also with your teammates. Look for ways you can help the team that doesn't just involve going 3 for 5 with a few doubles or making 3 diving catches in the outfield. Are you picking up the other team's signs? Are you figuring out patterns in how the other team is pitching your top players or you? How about how long the pitcher holds the ball with runners on first base or 2nd base? After a K or an error, are you taking that back out to your position or into your next at-bat? If you're positive with your self-talk and trust your preparation, you can take an 0-2 and turn it around! Get your mind on a positive wavelength and prepare for your next chance for success!
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion