Finding and Maintaining Confidence as a Hitter

Written By: JK Whited

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Confidence: A feeling or consciousness of one's powers or reliance on one's circumstances.

Have you ever met a professional athlete at the highest level?  If you have, you've probably noticed their presence, their swagger, their aura.  There is a way about them that sometimes is hard to quantify. It's a trait they all seem to carry with them in and out of the arena. That trait is simply confidence.

I want to share with you today a concept that we want all our athletes to obtain.  That is the concept of baseline confidence.  An ability to always believe their potential to do damage at the plate, no matter what their stat line might be.  Baseball is a hard game.

As we all know, a good hitter will usually have a batting average near or over .300.  Which also means their "failing" 70% of the time.  There isn't another endeavor in the world that can say a success rate of 30% is high level. Because of this, it can be very easy to perceive "failure" as not batting .300 on the year, month, or weekend.  Believe me, there is a way to go hitless for the weekend and still feel great about what you're doing. Let's look at where achieving high baseline confidence starts.

Your Work

High School Sophomore Working on His Stride at BRHQ
High School Sophomore Working on His Stride at BRHQ

It goes without saying, the time that you put into your craft will directly relate to the height of your success.  Now, that also depends heavily on working smart during that time.  Having a good understanding of your swing is crucial to having high baseline confidence.

One of the best things for me as a professional instructor is when I see a student of any age, self-correct.  They just know.  They can feel the flaw and immediately change something in their swing to get the desired result.  It is important here to make sure the information you are receiving and paying for is correct.

If it's not, you can work really hard at something that is completely incorrect.  I myself am a great example of this.  Be sure to ask questions and make sure you know exactly what you are doing every single time you swing the bat.

Having Goals

Sounds simple right? You would be amazed how many new clients come it with absolutely no idea what they want to do at the plate.

Chas Going Over HitTrax Numbers with New Clients
Chas Going Over HitTrax Numbers with New Clients
Eric Discussing Swing Mechanics to New Client
Eric Discussing Swing Mechanics to New Client

Usually, the answers we get are some sort of regurgitated version of cultural baseball nonsense.  These things include things like "hit the ball", "put it in play", "get a hit", and so on and so forth.  I mean what are those?  Does Javy Baez, Christian Yelich, or Mookie Betts look like that's all they're trying to do at the plate?

Let's get one thing clear, those guys are up there looking to do damage.  Train accordingly.  I've found that the more a player trains to do damage the better the results are in games, the more fun they have, the higher their confidence gets.  Even if they are 0-4 one game, they are fully aware of their abilities.  One at-bat, one game, one weekend doesn't define who they are.  Their baseline confidence doesn't allow them to think any less than what they are fully capable of.

Short Term Memory

Like I have said already, baseball is hard.  There are days where everything is feeling great and balls are jumping off the bat.  Other days, not so much.  The key here is to learn and move on.  Too many players take one at-bat, swing, or game into their next one.  Once this happens, the issues seem to get worse.  If you've put in the work and can correctly identify the issue the only thing left is a slight adjustment.  Could be just timing but if it's a swing adjustment, time in front of the mirror or cage work could be the only thing you need.  Don't let small sample sizes freak you out and think your swing needs a major overhaul.

By creating a high baseline confidence level a player can quickly overcome poor performance and feel excited about the next opportunity to play.  There is nothing worse than fearing your next at-bat due to feelings of uncertainty about what you can do.

Re-define Failure

The word "fail" always carries a negative undertone when it doesn't have to.  Change that today.  A great example of this is my daughter.  She just celebrated her first birthday last month and has begun trying to walk more.  In her attempts to walk from point A to point B she ultimately falls down.  Would you look at an infant and say she is failing?  No, you would say she's learning.  The same goes with your swing.  No matter how much progress you have made so far, there will always be a new period of "failing".  If you look at is a learning opportunity or simply the fact your actually doing something different, the tone is positive and much easier for growth.  Too many kids feel as if they let their team, coaches, and family down in a major way if they "mess up".  This could be anything from striking out in a game or mis-hitting a ball in practice.  The negativity just oozes from their body and growth cannot happen.

Learn to use these learning opportunities to get better and your confidence will not waiver because of the simple positive view you are taking.  You know that you'll figure out whatever your working on, you just know it takes time.  Trust your process and good things can happen.

Understanding Mishits

I thought I'd leave you with a very applicable baseball idea.  We have written many times about good vs bad mishits.  Understanding this can help you develop and raise your baseline confidence to a new level.

As we've discussed already 0-4 never looks good in the stat books right?  While statistically, that is correct, the confidence lies in the details.  Below we will discuss low baseline confidence remarks from both the player and the parent perspective:

Player Response

Example 1: Hitless Game

Low baseline confidence response:

"I really struggled today, man I hope I do better tomorrow."

High baseline confidence response:

"Man, I was all over the pitcher today, just have to get my timing a little better.  I'll get'em tomorrow"

Example 2:  Fly ball caught by the left fielder.

Low baseline confidence reaction:

"I just can't seem to buy a hit!"

High baseline confidence reaction:

"Wow, that pitcher was lucky I just got under it.  That swing felt great!"

Example 3.  Strikeout

Low baseline confidence reaction:

"Striking out is so bad, I can't believe I did it again"

High baseline confidence reaction:

"I struck out, but I took my hacks early and just missed my fastball opportunity.  He better not throw that again"

Parent Response

Example 1: Hitless Game

Low baseline confidence response:

"You really didn't play well today. We're going home to practice until we get it right"

High baseline confidence response:

"You really played hard today. I know that you didn't do as well as you wanted but I'm proud of your effort"

Example 2:  Fly ball caught by the left fielder.

Low baseline confidence reaction:

"He/She hasn't gotten a hit in forever I'm done watching these games"

High baseline confidence reaction:

"Oh what a hit! You were so close to getting that over the fence. Keep swing hard!"

Example 3.  Strikeout

Low baseline confidence reaction:

"I can't believe they just struck out for the fourth time this weekend. What a waste of money"

High baseline confidence reaction:

"Even though you struck out you really looked like you were swinging hard today, the hits will come if you keep swinging like that."

A Visual Understanding of Baseline Confidence
A Visual Understanding of Baseline Confidence

This concept might be new to you or maybe you already practice these types of things to make sure you or your player is always feeling on top of their game. Either way, as baseball gets harder, it becomes even more important to believe in yourself.

Baseline confidence can be a sliding scale.  Hopefully, the better you get at using these techniques, your lowest point of confidence will still be higher than it was a month before.  Therefore not stunting your growth for too long.  When used correctly, these techniques will become a habit, and you won't even know your using them.  Do this, and you've mastered the concept.

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