Helping Your Hitter Out Of A Slump

Written By: Chas Pippitt

Dealing With Hitting Struggles

High school seasons are ending here in North Carolina and Playoffs have started. Most high school seasons are over and almost all travel ball is in full swing. Many players are struggling with new teams or to find their stroke at the plate. Here are some helpful tips on how to help your hitter when he or she is struggling at the dish. And what NOT to do if you want to actually help them hit better fast!

Don’t: Overwhelm them with Mechanical Advice

Most of the time, hitters look at their swings when they struggle as it is. Parents, many of whom never played past high school and all of whom mean well, will give lots of advice about a hitter’s swing. This is almost always the WRONG thing to do. Even if you, the parent, are correct about what your son or daughter is doing incorrectly, they just don’t want to hear it from you. Oftentimes, they tune out, or worse, talk back and that leads to an argument.

What to do Instead: Let them Cool Down, then Ask Questions

“Tough game there bud, what did you feel went wrong?” has a much better chance of starting the ‘fixing process’ than telling them the 3 things you saw from the stands that they could have improved upon. This gives the hitter a chance to vent some, and work through the frustration of failure before landing on a plan to do better in the future.  If questions like the one above still illicit little to no response, then just let it be. Trust me, no one feels worse about a 3 strikeout day than the hitter who did the striking out.

Dont: Blame the Umps or Coaches (or Let the Hitter Blame them Either)

This leads to excuse making and a ‘transfer of blame’ mentality. Sure, bad calls happen, but the 3rd strike that was outside didn't cause your hitter to foul off the 2 middle middle fastballs early in the count did it? Blaming the umps for a bad call is weak minded. So is blaming the coaches for taking a player out or batting someone in a different spot in the lineup. Baseball and softball are both games of dealing with failure. The better a hitter learns this from their coaches and parents the better player they will be in the long run.

What to do Instead: Talk about Execution of an Aggressive Approach Early in the Count

Every game is a chance to succeed or fail, there are always two sides to that coin. Embrace the chance to compete even in adverse conditions. Not every umpire is great! We all know this. So take the ‘ball or strike’ call out of his or her hands! Hunt fastballs early in the count, talk about swinging at strikes with confidence and aggression. Help your hitter understand that being aggressive early is going to help them have more success and enjoy the game more. No one hits well with 2 strikes, no matter what stories you hear. The facts are the longer the at bat goes, the more likely the pitcher is to win. Ambush fastballs, and watch your hits soar!

Don’t: Blame the Bat/Buy a New Bat

It’s the carpenter who builds the best benches, not the tools he uses to build them. The batter gets the hits, not a magical ‘hot’ bat that’s $399 with overnight shipping at $49.99.

REFUSE to allow ‘different bats’ that ‘work better’ in different situations. That’s just not reality. Grab your club and wield it like Thor’s Hammer. This isn’t golf. You’ve got one bat, use it like a beast. And make sure the time your hitter spends with the bat is more with it in his hands instead of the back of your car while the hitter drinks his 4th Gatorade of the day.

Own the failure. Run towards the competition. Own your swing and your thoughts. The slump will be over soon if you execute the right plan with the right mindset.

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