Free Your Mind

A famous pop song in the early 1990s by the group En Vogue had a lyrical chorus of “Free your mind, and the rest will follow.” That sentiment also applies to baseball.

So many young batters are besieged by worry, doubt, confusion and indecision when they step into the batter’s box.  The overwhelmed batter believes there are too many variables and too many possibilities for failure and thus often succumbs to his fears. His nightmare comes true!

Many times, this nightmarish scenario results because the batter fails to prepare beforehand. Meaning, an underachieving batter often lacks the confidence borne of dedicated practice. An under-performing  batter often has no history of drills, swings, or other preparation outside a game setting. And if you only swing a bat during a game, you are likely doomed to fail.

A great hitter, on the other hand, possesses the clear-headed confidence that comes with hours of practice time. The great hitter challenges himself in practice and performs drills that make a game scenario seem routine and uneventful.

For example: 1) During each practice, focus on one attribute, i.e. “shorten your stride.” Before every pitch of every drill, remind yourself, and also have the pitcher remind you, to take a short stride. Swing away without another thought of any other attribute of the swing. The next practice, focus on another attribute, say “swing through the target to full completion.” Perform your pre-pitch reminder and swing away. In this way, accustom yourself to have only one technical reminder per at-bat, instead of a whole litany. Pick one, and only one.

2) Use different bats, during drills, as often as possible. Force yourself to be uncomfortable, until you come full circle and become comfortable,  with any type, size, style or weight of bat. Teach yourself that the bat doesn’t hit the ball, you do. Nothing external to you matters during an at-bat. Wear different hats, different clothes and varying shoes. Hit barefoot if you must, like all-time great Shoeless Joe Jackson; just hit!

Each drill, force yourself to surpass a difficult factor, or to hone your focus to a lone item of deliberate concentration. Succeed in spite of the self-imposed obstacle you arrange, and your confidence soars. Hitting during a game becomes a relaxing respite from the pressure of a drill. In a game setting, clear your mind of anything other than “see ball, hit ball.” Free your mind and the hits will follow!


About twskipton

Todd W. Skipton created the Raising A Man enterprise to provide examples, biographies, quotes, stories, and inspiration about great men and women throughout history and sports. These high achievers tapped into their inner conquering spirit in order to fulfill their maximum potential. Begin the journey from hope to reality; from possibility to accomplishment; from boyhood to manhood. Be great at everything and be great at life!
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