The Mental Game of Hitting: Confidence vs Preparation

Written By: Eric Tyler

The Mental Game of Hitting: Confidence vs. Preparation

Why is Confidence so Importance in Baseball?

Baseball is a game of failure. We’ve all heard this same recited phrase hundreds of times because it’s true. The best hitters in the world will always fail more than they succeed. Which also contributes to the constant lack of confidence in hitters.

 

There is no mystery why MOST (not all so please don’t @ me) of the best hitters in the world are also the most confident. Whether they show it outwardly or not, the best hitters believe they are the best hitters.

As to why we can get into that another time, that’s not what this article is about. 

So how, in a game of such failure, can we expect the athlete to remain confident in their abilities?

Sure we can talk about persevering and controlling what you can control but where does the athlete get their confidence from?

Bryce Harper Confidence
Bryce Harper is viewed as one of the most confident players in MLB.

Where Does Confidence Come From? 

Yasiel Puig Confidence

When confidence comes from results on the field, it can often be hard to find. However, when the athlete finds confidence from their preparation and how they get themselves ready to perform, it becomes controllable.

The environment that the athlete is trained should promote confidence in that hitter. They should find confidence in the work they put in and how prepared they feel when they get into competition.

If the hitter has only faced 20-mph front toss and 40-mph batting practice, why should they be confident against live pitching? They shouldn’t. They haven’t prepared for it. 

By creating an environment that puts the hitter in a stressful, challenging environment you are training that hitter to perform in an arena similar to what they compete in.

By facing that as an athlete, they are prepared for their competition.

How Can I Put This Into Practice?

It is important that I mention, you don’t and shouldn’t train in this environment year-round. Hitters have to have movement patterns that allow for success inside of these constraints.

Without those, constraint training is just preparing a bad swing to survive, which I get is needed in some cases.

However, this type of training has its place which is in the time leading up to the season as well as the season itself. In the middle of the off-season, there is no need for huge amounts of confidence.

For example, we held a 12-week high school group training program this winter. The group was broken down into 3 segments appropriate for the time of year.

  • The first segment covered movement patterns and mechanics.
  • The second begun preparing them for the live at-bats they would face during the third segment. This included mix rounds, curveballs off the machine, high-velocity work off machines, and flat ground at-bats.
  • Then, in the third segment, they took live at-bats against the high school pitching group and learned how to prepare for their at-bats both mentally and physically.

Group Training Program Phases

Group Training Competition

The Struggle is OK!

It is important to stress to your hitters that struggle is ok in training. You’re going to fail in the game so you might as well learn how to deal with it and overcome in your training. Many hitters feel that if they aren’t doing well, they are getting worse or something is wrong.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you create the right environment, failure is inevitable. By dealing with these failures in practice the athlete is training how to overcome struggles in the game. 

Would you rather be unprepared and delusional about your abilities, or prepared and confident in your training? 

When The Lights Come ON 

Confidence is a trait often looked for and seldom found. However, in order for the proper confidence that lasts throughout the competition, the right training environment must be present. No one knows who the best hitter is during the off-season. It’s ok to struggle. But when the lights come on, the hitters who are prepared shine the brightest.

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