Thursday, February 11, 2016

Adjustment Making

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Hitting success is not about doing one thing well. Great hitters fine tune their swings, work relentlessly in the cages, and they play with confidence. Most importantly, they make adjustments quickly.

One of the greatest compliments a coach can pay a hitter is that he makes quick adjustments. Adjustment makers at the plate know what they do well, and know how the pitcher will attack him (dependent on the pitcher's stuff). When you are struggling at the plate, or get out with a certain pitch type or location, expect to see that pitch again. Did you get roasted on a fastball in? The first or last pitch of your next at bat will likely be the same pitch. Popped up on breaking ball away? Expect to see that same pitch early or late in your next count.

Conversely, once you establish a track record of high level success, smart pitchers and pitching coaches will try the opposite. If you're Miguel Cabrera, and the pitcher roasts you inside in your first AB, you may sit on a fastball away your next at bat. That pitcher expects a great hitter to make an adjustment, and works to confuse him by throwing the opposite.

This isn't over-thinking. This is simple human behavior.

Bad hitters get themselves out the same way over and over. They are fearful of missing a pitch. They are distracted by much, so they are committed to nothing.

These hitters don't know who they are. To be the best hitter you can be, you must be real with yourself. Sure, you want to be a doubles, triples guy...but you aren't...yet. So, understand that pitchers are going to attack you with fastballs, particularly in, until you show the ability to hit that pitch hard.

Many hitters don't know who they are, and no one has helped them identify who they are, so they simply look for what they want to hit (usually a fastball down the middle). Hitters who don't know who they are often have been taught or have learned to have an approach that actually minimizes success by maximizing contact, albeit weak. Envision the compact, linear hand path mechanics with an approach that says hit the ball up the middle. Stay back. Hit the top of the ball. Vomit.

Coaches must help hitters understand their physical limitations (if any) and help that hitter, encourage that hitter, to have swing mechanics...and approaches, for goodness sake, that match those mechanics.

This is adjustment making of a different variety. Truly, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, that's idiocy. I say this not out of cynicism, but rather from a perspective that we can and should work smarter than this.

Here are a lists of types of adjustments that hitters can and should think about making:

1.) Grip: so many young hitters simply pick the bat up incorrectly.

2.) Separation: a Porsche 911 Turbo GT cannot accelerate from 0 to 60 in 20 feet. Acceleration requires space. Create separation to allow for the creation of bat speed.

3.) Load and stride tempo: If you load quickly, you will hit inconsistently. If you load too slowly, your body will stop movement at the furthest most point of separation, and you will struggle to re-accelerate your bat. A body in motion stays in motion.

4.) Pre-at bat body language and self-talk. No one wants to coach or be an energy vampire: they suck.

5.) On deck routine: establish one that promotes positive energy, a cohesive and committed plan, and swing mechanics that will actually be used in the at bat.

6.) Box position. Standing in the same place in the batters box every pitch is as brainless as never swerving to avoid an accident. In life, we must position ourselves for success. Pitchers make the ball sink, run, dive, they attack us in, they pitch up in the zone, they pitch down in the zone. Make adjustments.

7.) Track your at bats. If you don't take notes in class, you won't do well on the test. Our memories are very, very poor at recall without practice.

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