Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pre-At Bat Preparation

Credit: Newscom

When do your hitters begin to get ready for their at bat?

Most hitters begin preparing for their at bat in the on deck circle. For the first time, their eyes are on the pitcher, though there may not be much focus. So many hitters look in the stands for their Dad, see where their girlfriend is seated, or laugh at someone's toddler picking his nose. Where's their preparation? No wonder hitting is so hard!

While on-deck, some hitters begin to notice how hard the pitcher really is or isn't throwing, the shape of his breaking ball, or the movement of his fastball.

We tell our hitters that the at-bat is the test, and the pitcher will give us the answers, if only we will pay attention.

Here is how we approach pre-AB preparation in our program:

1.) We demand that our hitters get their helmet, batting gloves, pine tar and any other accessory they need to hit prepared when they are in the hole. When a batter steps into the box, our hitter in the hole is fully prepared to hit, and keenly watches the pitcher.

2.) We won't pretend that many student-athletes can focus with intensity for three hours, so we don't ask them to. Hitters have to be able to space out and lock back in. This is natural human behavior, and it's how our minds often best learn. However, we want to give our hitters the best chance to learn what the pitcher is going to challenge them with. All of our hitters are required to be on the dugout rail nearest home plate, and we don't allow pitchers near our area - they stay at the other end of the dugout while we are on offense.

3.) Every game, our lineup card has our lineup on the left, and uses the other team's lineup to write in a second lineup for our team. This second lineup is for our "Mental ABs." Every one of our non-starting players on the right is matched up with a starting player on the left. When the starter pushes his helmet down, pulls his batting gloves on tight and lines his bat with pine tar, our "Mental AB" hitter does the same.

While the starter is on-deck and hitting, our backup hitter visualizes his approach, takes dry swings and goes through his pre-, during and post-AB routines. The mind can not truly separate real experience from that which is imagined, and these hitters are gaining preparation and confidence that gives them a better shot at success when called upon.

Last year, we had a freshman catcher take advantage of his mental reps, and when our number one guy went down with a knee injury, the freshman stepped in, had 3 QABs his first game and rolled to an .830 OPS in 100 ABs.

1 comment

  1. hey friend. Thank you for sharing. It's really good information.